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Welcome to this week's edition of the Computer Kindergarten Newsletter.
Today is Sunday, June 8, 2014

In this Issue:
Special Feature: Travel Scams: Watch Out For These Airport Tricksters
Special Series: Customizing Your Windows 8 Start Screen Apps
Special Feature: Intro to the Mac - Mac OS X Mavericks - Working with Files and Folders - Deleting Files and Folders
This Week's Topic: Speed Up a Slow Computer – Additional Features than can be Disabled
Special Feature: iPad Basics - Syncing with iCloud - Enabling Automatic Downloads
Websites of Interest: June 14 is Flag Day; What to Buy (and Avoid Buying) in June; See the International Space Station

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Special Feature: Travel Scams: Watch Out For These Airport Tricksters

By Audri Lanford of scambusters.org

Every year, vacationers lose a fortune to travel scams. Every year here at Scambusters, we highlight the latest cons aimed at the unwary traveler. And every year, the scammers come up with a whole new set of tricks.

So, let's review the latest travel scams -- some common, some less well-known. This time, we focus on a batch of tricks you might run into at airports, though some of them may also turn up on the streets or in other public places.

And, as more and more people travel with laptops and cell phones, travel scammers are increasingly targeting these devices. Sometimes, even perfectly legit companies pull the wool over the eyes of travelers, and we have some advice for you about these scams as well.

From the moment you step off the plane into an airport, especially an unfamiliar one, you're a walking target for travel scams. Here are tricks to watch out for.

Short Changed!

In most North American, European and Australasian countries, authorities license and carefully control money changers. Not so in some other countries, where anyone can set themselves up as a currency exchange bureau and charge whatever rates they like.

That's OK, you might think, as long as you know the rates they charge and take the trouble to compare them at one booth with another. But, when it comes to money changing, what you see is not necessarily what you get. For example, some bureaus post an exchange rate that looks really great but when you make the exchange that's not the rate they give you.

With all the hustle and the language difficulties, you might not even spot it, but if you do, you'll find either that you've been charged an additional "commission" or that the posted rate applies to sums over $1,000 or is the "day rate" when you are changing your money at night.

Action: Take some currency with you when you go, so you don't have to exchange at the airport. When you do need to change money, go to a bank or a recognized brand-name exchange bureau. Hotels are usually reliable too but their exchange rates are often poor.

When you can (and you feel in a sufficiently trustworthy situation) use a credit card for purchases (except as we outline below). You'll probably get a better exchange rate and your purchase will be protected.

Phone Sting #1

You're in an unfamiliar airport in a foreign country and you need to make a phone call. Either you don't have local currency or you haven't got the hang of it. Or maybe you just can't figure out how to use the coins with the phone.

You spot a phone that takes credit cards. Great? No, bad move. There's nothing on the phone booth about call rates. Well, you think, credit card calls always cost a bit more than cash -- but surely the bill won't be huge.

Maybe it will. In the Caribbean island of Aruba one caller recently paid more than $40 for a call that lasted less than a minute. The victim tracked down the phone operator who told him that the minimum call charged was five minutes and that calls were transmitted via satellite.

Action: Avoid using your credit card to make phone calls in tourist airports. Even when rates are posted, they often don't reveal additional hidden charges.

Phone Sting #2

At a couple of airports in Germany, travelers jump at an attractive cell phone rental offer: Return the phone within two weeks and get your rental money back.

What they don't reveal are the exorbitant rates you'll pay while you use the cell phone, plus a security deposit and other charges. Of course, you handed over your credit card and signed a form when you rented the phone, so you're sunk.

You may get the rent back but you could be hundreds of dollars out of pocket. All perfectly legal as well.

Action: These days, most people carry cell phones and have subscriptions that will work in just about any country. But if you don't, try to find airport booths selling SIM cards for a fixed price that slot into your own phone and work for a specified amount of time.

If you really must rent one, always read the fine print and make sure you know all the charges. If it's in a language you don't understand, either get someone to explain it to you or go somewhere else. Or even better, plan ahead and buy a cheap unlocked phone that will take a locally purchased, pre-paid SIM card.

Phone Sting #3

Got Bluetooth? Welcome to the world of cell phone hacking, now in full swing at an airport near you.

As you probably know, Bluetooth is a radio transmission setup that allows cell phones and PDAs to talk to each other and to use wireless headsets. To link it to other devices, it has to be set to "discoverable" mode.

If it's left that way, an airport hacker can easily pair with your device without you knowing, to steal information, send messages or even install a virus. These scammers prowl around airports and other public buildings with powerful Bluetooth detectors.

Action: Unselect the "discoverable" option on your device and keep all sensitive data safe with encryption software

Kidnapped!

Don't be alarmed, but beware.

At Caracas Airport in Venezuela, several travelers report entering the arrivals hall to see a man holding a placard bearing their name. He introduces himself as a driver for the named hotel where they made reservations. Although the travelers aren't expecting a ride to the hotel, they think he must be genuine because he knows their name and their hotel.

In fact, he got the info from someone on the airport staff who handled the immigration cards they filled in. He phones the details to his accomplice who then creates the placard.

What happens next can be anything from a meandering (and expensive) journey to the hotel, to a kidnap, where victims are robbed, then driven and dumped out of town.

Similar cases have recently been reported from a couple of regional airports in India.

Action: If someone you're not expecting meets you at the airport, check their credentials and, if you're not 100% satisfied, go to the airport information desk and ask to contact the hotel for confirmation.

Computer scam #1: Off With Your Laptop!

This is a cunning trick you might run into at any airport in the world. You're in the security line and place your laptop on the conveyor belt. You wait to pass through the passenger scanner.

Then the person in front of you triggers the metal alarm. You wait patiently as he empties coins and keys out of his pocket. The alarm sounds again, so he removes his belt, and so on.

Meanwhile, his accomplice -- yes, this is a scam -- who has already cleared security, walks off with your laptop. He may swap it into another case, walk quickly down to a gate, or just conceal it somewhere for later collection.

Action: If possible, don't put your stuff on the conveyor until you're about to go through the scanner. If you can't do this, watch your laptop like a hawk and alert a security guard if you see someone walking off with it.

If you are traveling with someone else, let them go thru the scanner, and after they are through and can watch the receiving end, put both of your laptops on the conveyor belt.

By the way, you did back up all the data on your laptop before you left home, just in case, didn't you?

Note: be aware that US border agents are demanding passwords, and scanning laptops when you enter / return to the US. (This is for citizens and non-citizens alike.)

Computer scam #2: Free Internet Service Could Be a Snoop

More and more these days, we expect to be able to use our laptops to log onto the Internet in airports and other public places, free of charge.

But when your wireless laptop sniffs out available Internet connections, it often shows there are actually several in the vicinity. These may include the free airport link and other legitimate services that happen to be close by.

You may even piggy-back onto someone else's unsecured Internet link on a nearby laptop. But that same laptop may also be just a lure. Once you jump onto it, the operator may be a hacker waiting to get access to your machine.

He might then upload malicious software, including a key-logging program to capture all your personal information.

Action: Either before going to the airport or by visiting its information desk, find out the name of its public Internet link service so you will recognize it when your laptop finds it. Even then, the link may not be secure from snoopers so don't type in personal information.

As many of our new batch of travel scams show, technology may be a blessing but it's also a route to thefts and rip-offs. By taking common sense precautions, checking facts and identities and being vigilant at all times, you can make your journey through the airport a safer experience and enjoy your vacation.

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Special Series: Customizing Your Windows 8 Start Screen Apps

From gcflearnfree.org

Customizing Your Start Screen Apps

If you don't like the way your apps are arranged on the Start screen, you can rearrange them by moving them wherever you want. You may also find that the animated live tiles are too distracting, and you can easily turn them off so that they will display a plain background with no animations.

To Move an App:

1. Click, hold and drag the app to the desired location.
2. Release the mouse. The app will move to the new location.

To Turn a Live Tile Off:

1. Right-click the app you want to change.
2. A toolbar will appear at the bottom of the screen. Click Turn live tile off, and the tile will change to a plain background.

Pinning Apps to the Start Screen

By default, the Start screen doesn't show all of the apps on your computer. However, it's easy to pin your favorite apps to the Start screen so that you can open them quickly.

To Pin an App to the Start Screen:

1. Right-click anywhere on the Start screen background.
2. A menu will appear at the bottom of the screen. Click All apps to view all of the apps installed on your computer.
3. Locate and right-click the desired app.
4. At the bottom of the screen, click Pin to Start.
5. Click the lower-left corner to return to the Start screen. Your app will now appear on the Start screen.

To Unpin an App from the Start Screen:

1. From the Start screen, right-click the desired app.
2. At the bottom of the screen, click Unpin from Start. The app will disappear from the Start screen.

Creating App Groups

To further organize your apps, you can put related apps into groups. You can also name your groups, and each group will display its name at the top.

To Create a New App Group:

1. Click, hold and drag an app to the right, until it is on an empty area of the Start screen.
2. Release the mouse. The app will now be in its own app group, and you should see a space between the new group and the other groups. This space helps to visually separate the different groups.
3. You can now move more apps into the new app group.

To Name an App Group:

1. Click the lower-right corner of the screen to zoom out.
2. All of your Start screen apps will appear as small icons organized into groups. Right-click the desired group.
3. At the bottom of the screen, select Name group.
4. Type the desired name. Shorter names usually work best, so try to use a single word if possible. When you're done, click Name.
5. Click anywhere on the Start screen to return to the normal view. The new name will appear above the app group.

In our next newsletter: Getting Started with the Desktop

Do you have a question about Windows 8 that we haven’t covered yet? Please email your question and we’ll cover it in a future newsletter article.
info@computerkindergarten.com

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Special Feature: Intro to the Mac - Mac OS X Mavericks - Working with Files and Folders - Deleting Files and Folders

From gcflearnfree.org

Deleting Files and Folders

If you want to remove some of the clutter from your computer, you can delete files and folders that you don't need. This will move them to the Trash (which is just like the Recycle Bin in Windows). Then, if you're sure you want to permanently delete them, you can empty the Trash.

To Delete a File or Folder

Click and drag the file or folder onto the Trash icon on the Dock. Alternatively, you can select the file and then press Command-Delete.
To empty the trash, right-click the Trash icon and select Empty Trash. All files in the Trash will be permanently deleted.

On some Macs, right-clicking may be disabled by default. If you're unable to right-click, you can just click and hold the Trash icon until you see the Empty Trash option.

 

To review Mac OS X Mavericks Finder, please see these articles from previous newsletters:

Mac OS X Mavericks - Working with Finder
http://computerkindergarten.com/042714.html

Mac OS X Mavericks - Finder Tabs
http://computerkindergarten.com/050414.html

Mac OS X Mavericks - Working with Files and Folders
http://computerkindergarten.com/051114.html

 

In our next newsletter: Mac OS X Mavericks - Ejecting Drives

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Today's Topic: Speed Up a Slow Computer – Additional Features than can be Disabled

As your Windows computer ages, its speed can decrease. You will notice an increase in response time when you give commands to open programs, files or folders, use the Internet and other tasks. There are several things you can do to speed up your computer.

In our ongoing series, Speed Up a Slow Computer, we will present articles discussing some of the steps you can take to speed up your slow computer.

Important: Before making any changes to your system, always create a Restore Point. If anything goes wrong with the changes you make, this will allow you to revert back to a point when the computer was operating correctly. Please visit our Newsletter Archives to read our article, All About Restore Points:
http://computerkindergarten.com/021311.html

Additional Features than can be Disabled

Note: Some of these features may not be found in all versions of Windows.
By Lincoln Spector of pcworld.com

Windows Error Reporting Service

Every time Windows experiences an error--either with its own processes or with a third-party program--it offers to report the problem to Microsoft. In theory, doing so can help the company locate problems with its OS (and heaven knows that would be a good thing). But more than likely, your report will either go unresolved or just end up in a big ol' pile of other people's reports on the same problem. Either way, you're wasting your system's precious resources on a feature that isn't doing you any good.

To disable this unhelpful service, open the Services window: Click Start, type services, and press Enter. Find and double-click Windows Error Reporting Service. In the 'Startup type' drop-down menu, select Disabled, and then click OK.

Sidebar (Windows Vista and 7)

Give Windows Sidebar the axe by deselecting the 'Start Sidebar when Windows starts' check box.

You pay a heavy performance price for the analog clock, thumbnail slide-show viewer, and Microsoft-centric RSS news feed that dock in the Windows Sidebar. Turning the whole thing off gives you a big speed boost, especially at boot time.

To remove the Sidebar, right-click anywhere on the Sidebar and select Close Sidebar. Uncheck Start Sidebar when Windows starts, and then click OK.

Internet Printing Client

Do you ever print documents over the Internet? Chances are, you won't miss out on anything by disabling Window’s Internet Printing Client.

Click on Start. Type Programs and Features in the search box. Click Programs and Features at the top of the menu.

Click the Turn Windows features on or off link on the left; you'll get the Windows Features dialog box. Expand the Print Services section and uncheck Internet Printing Client.

Click OK. The computer may ask you to restart; allow it to do so.

Tablet PC

If you don't have a tablet PC, you don't need Tablet PC Optional Components running and taking up your computer’s resources.

Turning off Window’s tablet features is a two-step process: Start in the Windows Features dialog box. If you're not already there, see the tip above for instructions on getting to it. Once there, simply uncheck Tablet PC Optional Components.

You complete the job in the Services window, which you open by clicking Start, typing services, and pressing Enter. Find and double-click Tablet PC Input Services. In the 'Startup type' drop-down menu, select Disabled, and then click OK.

Search Indexing

If you don't use the Search field often, turning off indexing can give your PC a small performance boost.

This one is a real trade-off. Turning off Window’s indexing will slow searches to a crawl. But ditching this convenient feature could very likely speed up your general PC use significantly.

In other words, turning off indexing will help your PC's performance only if you seldom search by file content, or if you use a third-party search tool such as Copernic Desktop or Google Desktop (in which case you probably have two indexing routines running at the same time, which is an even bigger waste).

If you match either of those descriptions, turn off indexing by clicking Start, typing services, and pressing Enter. Find and double-click Windows Search. In the 'Startup type' drop-down menu, select Disabled, and then click OK.

In our next newsletter: Disable Aero on Windows 7 or Vista

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Special Feature: iPad Basics - Syncing with iCloud - Enabling Automatic Downloads

From gcflearnfree.org

To get the most out of iCloud, you'll probably want to enable automatic downloads on all of your devices. This will give you access to all of your purchased items (including music, apps, e-books, and more), no matter which device you're using.

For example, you could download an album on your iPad, then listen to the same album instantly on your iPhone or computer. The information will sync automatically, so there's no need to transfer files back and forth.

To Enable Automatic Downloads on an iPad:

Open Settings, then tap iTunes & App Stores in the left pane.
Tap the controls next to Music, Apps, and Books to turn automatic downloads ON.

Setting Up Your Other Devices

To use this feature, you'll need to enable automatic downloads on your other devices too (for example, iPhone, iPod Touch, Mac, or PC).

In our next edition:
Using iCloud

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Websites of Interest:

June 14 is Flag Day

The History Of Flag Day
http://www.usflag.org/history/flagday.html

Flag Etiquette
www.usflag.org/flagetiquette.html

Evolution of the American Flag
americanhistory.about.com/library/weekly/aa040202a.htm

Flag Rules and Regulations
At this website, you will learn how to fold, display and retire the American flag, and much more.
www.ushistory.org/betsy/flagetiq.html

What to Buy (and Avoid Buying) in June
http://www.wisebread.com/what-to-buy-and-avoid-buying-in-june

See the International Space Station
The third brightest object in the sky is easy to see if you know when to look.
http://spotthestation.nasa.gov/