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Welcome to this week's edition of the Computer Kindergarten Newsletter.
Today is Sunday, June 9, 2013

In this Issue:
Special Feature: New Travel Scam Alerts for the Upcoming Vacation Season
Special Series: Twenty Things I Learned About Browsers and the Web: Open Source and Browsers
Special Series: Windows 8: What You'll Need to Relearn
This Week's Topic: Seven Ways to Make Your PC Last Longer
Special Feature: iPad Basics - Setting Up iCloud
Websites of Interest: Flag Day; Pet Friendly; Gas Buddy; Long Island Summer Guide 2013


Special Feature: New Travel Scam Alerts for the Upcoming Vacation Season

The following article is by Audri Lanford of scambusters.org

You are not the only person looking forward to your upcoming vacation. The travel scam artists share your eager anticipation. They have dreamed up some new tricks they hope you do not know about, and put a new spin on some of the old favorites. Here are some travel scams to be on the lookout for this summer:

Fake Car Park Attendants

Previously prevalent in Italy, this travel scam now pops up in many big European cities, where parking can be notoriously difficult.

The trick can take many forms. You may just drive onto a piece of wasteland where other cars are parked or you may enter a big, official parking lot. Either way, a "parking attendant" approaches you and hands you an official looking ticket, usually demanding a fairly exorbitant fee. You are tired, frustrated and there is a language problem, so you just hand over the cash.

Later, you discover you're either parked illegally or there's another fee to pay -- this time, the real one.

Action: You put yourself at risk if you do not know who owns the place where you are parking or what the real arrangements are for payment. Check them out the best you can. You can ask the attendant to show credentials -- but avoid confrontation.
Phony travel guides.

At a famous venue, a local offers to show you around for a fee. This may be a fairly obvious and transparent ruse, where he is just trying to make a quick buck. But some scammers pose as agents for official guides, taking your money and telling you to wait at a particular spot. Of course, they never return and there is no official guide.

Action: Guidebooks and online sites will tell you the arrangements for official, paid tours.

Free Holiday Awards

Although a well known travel scam, we can't miss out mentioning the "you've-won-a-free-vacation" scratch card trick because it's probably the number one scam on many European and Caribbean beaches this year.

There are numerous angles but the scam boils down to two things -- you'll either have to pay a "processing fee" to get your otherwise free vacation, which is really non-existent, or you'll be asked to attend a tedious presentation where they try to sell you timeshares or expensive vacation add-ons with high pressure sales tactics.

Action: Every one of these cards is a winner -- that ought to be enough to tell you what to do, but we will say it anyway: Treat these the same way you would an email that says you have won a lottery -- trash them.
Credit card problems

This is our catch-all for numerous tricks you need to be on the lookout for this year. These are the key ones:

- Try not to let your credit card out of your sight when you're using it in an unfamiliar place. Out of sight, the number and the crucial security code printed on the reverse could be written down.

- Don't be taken in by a trader in a foreign country who offers to bill your card in dollars, thereby saving you a foreign exchange fee from your card issuer. The trader will almost certainly use an extortionate exchange rate and you will end up out of pocket.

- Check how much your credit card issuer charges for foreign transactions. Some charge nothing, others as much as 3% of the value of the transaction.

Paying for Paper Tickets

When you book a flight online, you usually have the option of just using an "e-ticket" (basically a printout of your booking confirmation that you take to the check-in desk) or having an old-fashioned paper ticket mailed to you for an additional fee.

Usually, this is $10, which is what the International Air Transport Association says it costs.

But some unscrupulous travel agents and organizers are charging up to $40 or $50 for this questionable privilege.

Action: Do not take paper. But if you do, make sure you know what the fee is before committing yourself to buy. If the fee is too high, consider taking your business elsewhere.


Special Series: Twenty Things I Learned About Browsers and the Web: Open Source and Browsers

Many of us these days depend on the World Wide Web to bring the world’s information to our fingertips, and put us in touch with people and events across the globe instantaneously.

These powerful online experiences are possible thanks to an open web that can be accessed by anyone through a web browser, on any Internet-connected device in the world.

But how do our browsers and the web actually work? How has the World Wide Web evolved into what we know and love today? And what do we need to know to navigate the web safely and efficiently?

“20 Things I Learned About Browsers and the Web” is a short guide for anyone who’s curious about the basics of browsers and the web. Here’s what you’ll find here:

First we’ll look at the Internet, the very backbone that allows the web to exist. We’ll also take a look at how the web is used today, through cloud computing and web apps.

Then, we’ll introduce the building blocks of web pages like HTML and JavaScript, and review how their invention and evolution have changed the websites you visit every day. We’ll also take a look at the modern browser and how it helps users browse the web more safely and securely.

Finally, we’ll look ahead to the exciting innovations in browsers and web technologies that we believe will give us all even faster and more immersive online experiences in the future.

Life as citizens of the web can be liberating and empowering, but also deserves some self-education. Just as we’d want to know various basic facts as citizens of our physical neighborhoods -- water safety, key services, local businesses -- it’s increasingly important to understand a similar set of information about our online lives. That’s the spirit in which we wrote this guide. Many of the examples used to illustrate the features and functionality of the browser often refer back to Chrome, the open-source browser that we know well. We hope you find this guide as enjoyable to read as we did to create.
Happy browsing!
The Google Chrome Team

Open Source and Browsers

Today’s Internet stands on the shoulders of giants: the technologists, thinkers, developers, and organizations who continue to push the boundaries of innovation and share what they’ve learned.

This spirit of sharing is at the very heart of open-source software. “Open source” means that the inner workings (or “source code”) of a software are made available to all, and the software is written in an open, collaborative way. Anyone can look into the source code, see how it works, tweak it or add to it, and reuse it in other products or services.

Open-source software plays a big role in many parts of the web, including today’s web browsers. The release of the open-source browser Mozilla Firefox paved the way for many exciting new browser innovations. Google Chrome was built with some components from Mozilla Firefox and with the open-source rendering engine WebKit, among others. In the same spirit, the code for Chrome was made open source so that the global web community could use Chrome’s innovations in their own products, or even improve on the original Chrome source code.

Web developers and everyday users aren’t the only ones to benefit from the faster, simpler, and safer open-source browsers. Companies like Google also benefit from sharing their ideas openly. Better browsers mean a better web experience for everyone, and that makes happier users who browse the web even more. Better browsers also let companies create web apps with the latest cutting-edge features, and that makes users happy, too.

Browsers aren’t the only part of the web that can take the open-source approach. Talk to any group of web developers and you’re likely to hear that they use an open-source Apache HTTP Server to host and serve their websites, or that they developed their code on computers powered by the Linux open-source operating system — just to name a few examples. The good work of the open source community continues to help make the web even better: a web that can be the broad shoulders for the next generation.

In our next edition: 19 Things Later...


Special Series: Windows 8: What You'll Need to Relearn

By Mike Williams of techradar.com

How will you cope with the move to Windows 8?

There's plenty to like about Windows 8. It can synchronize settings across all your devices; the File History tool is perfect for simple backups; there are a host of useful new tools in the Windows Store; it's fast, includes some excellent repair options, and the list goes on.

What really matters this time, though, isn't just what Microsoft has added to the Windows mix: it's what it has changed, or taken away.

And that's because this is no gently incremental upgrade. Rather, Windows 8 has undergone a major redesign which sees the Start menu scrapped, the desktop demoted, and years of interface conventions thrown away.

Can you learn to live in a Windows 8 world, then? That all depends on how you feel about what Microsoft has done. Let's take a closer look.

The Start Screen

Log on to Windows 8 for the first time and you'll notice that the Start menu has been replaced by the colorful new Metro Start Screen. This looks so good that you may not mind, at least initially, but it won't take long before you run into problems.

The Start menu provided easy access to every aspect of your system, for instance: search, Windows tools, settings, installed programs, recent documents and more. There simply isn't room to display all this on the Start Screen, though, and so many functions have now been scattered around the system, making them much harder to find.

After launching Windows 8, for instance, experienced users may want to customize it - but there's no Control Panel tile. The Start Screen does have its own Settings dialog, but this is so hidden that many users will probably only find it by accident (you need to move your mouse cursor to the top-left corner of the screen to launch the Charms menu, and click Settings). And even then they'll be disappointed, as it doesn't contain very much.

Installing applications isn't difficult, and they'll extend the Start Screen with tiles of their own. What you won't find is a Documents menu, though, or a clear way of pinning files to the Start Screen.

And it's not even obvious how to perform a simple task like shutting down or restarting your system. In Windows 7 clicking the Start button was enough to point you in the right direction: now you have to move your mouse cursor over to the top-left corner of the screen, hit the Settings option (not the most obvious location), click Power and choose the option you need.

It's not all bad news, though, fortunately. The Start Screen does include a simple menu which provides easy access to some system tools: Control Panel, Task Manager, the Command Prompt and more (press Win+X to see it).

And better still, if you press Win+F, or just start typing a search term, then you'll launch the Windows 8 search tool. Type "Note", say, to see a link for Notepad, or type part of a recent document name to list that file. And if you ever find yourself unable to figure out how to perform some task, just type a relevant term - "shut down", say - and click Settings for more helpful links.

These techniques aren't a complete solution, of course. If anything, they present some issues of their own. When we search right now, for instance, Windows 7 displays matches for Control Panel, Documents, Pictures, Music and Files, all on the same display.

Windows 8 displays results only for Apps, Settings or Files, though, and while there are many more options available (News, Travel, Store, more) it takes an extra click to view each one.

Still, the Win+X menu should reduce your initial frustrations, and if you find you're still lost then the Search tool does a reasonable job of tracking down the information you need.

Task Management

One notable problem with Windows 8 is that it tried to bring together two largely separate worlds: one for the programs you're running now, and another for its Start Screen apps. And this can complicate the way you work. Let's take task management as an example.

If you want to launch a regular Windows program, for instance, then clicking the Start Screen "Desktop" tile will launch something which looks much like the Windows 7 desktop (less the Start menu, anyway). Run programs here, matching buttons will appear on the taskbar and you'll be able to switch between them with a click, as you can now. But you won't see buttons for any Start Screen apps you have running. It's as though they don't exist.

Press the Windows key to switch back to the Start screen and everything changes. You can launch multiple apps, but there's no taskbar to switch between them, so instead you must move your mouse cursor to the top left corner of the screen to see the previously used app, then drag down to see all the others. And while this will show you the desktop as one of the apps, you won't be able to switch directly to a specific program which you've launched from there.

Again, there is a sort-of solution here: just use Alt+Tab. This displays all your programs on a single screen, whether desktop or Start Screen-based, and allows you to switch to the one you need. But this may not necessarily be straightforward - switching from one running program to the next might take a while, especially if you've lots of Metro apps running in the background - and the underlying problems still remain.

The taskbar isn't as reliable a way to show running programs in Windows 8; users have to learn a whole new Start Screen task management technique which is similarly incomplete; and so even simple task switching can require a little more thought and effort than it did before.

That's just the start, though. The real problem with Metro apps comes when you want to run them alongside something else, because by default they run full-screen. It's possible to run two alongside each other, if your screen resolution is high enough (move the mouse to the top of the screen, click, drag and drop the thumbnail to the left to move one app to a sidebar, then run another), but that's your limit.

While the desktop still allows you to run multiple regular applications next to each other, in windows sized and positioned to suit your needs, that simply can't be done in the Metro world.

These issues won't be a major concern for everyone, of course. If you live solely on the desktop, or make only occasional visits to the Start Screen then they may not bother you at all. But the fact remains that Metro apps are very inflexible in how they can be displayed, and as Microsoft seem to think they're the future then you may not be able to avoid that problem forever.

Interface Issues

Another Windows 8 irritation comes in the way it sometimes splits functionality between similar Metro and desktop tools. There's an Internet Explorer app on the Start Screen, for instance, but it doesn't have all the functionality of the desktop version. And there's no way to switch from one to the other.

Or maybe you'd like to customize the look of your PC? You might launch "Personalize" in the Start Screen's PC settings, or maybe "Ease of Access". But there are more options in the full Control Panel's "Appearance and Personalization" and "Ease of Access Centre". Again, the Search tool can help, but of course you only need to use that so often because Windows 8 has added these extra complexities in the first place.

Install applications and you'll discover other issues. In the past, if programs added ten items to the Start Menu, say, it wouldn't matter as they were neatly hidden in a Start menu folder. Now, though, many are automatically pinned to the Start Screen as separate tiles, so you're likely to spend rather more time manually removing any you don't need (right-click, select Unpin...).

And even figuring out how to close Metro programs can pose another challenge. There's no "x" top-right, no "File > Exit" option, because Microsoft's intention is that Metro programs should happily run in the background until the system decides they can be closed (if your PC needs more resources, say).

You can shut them down with the mouse, though: just move your mouse cursor to the top of the screen until it changes to a hand icon, then click, hold, and drag it to the bottom of the screen. But as usual with Metro, there are no interface cues to even show you this is possible. And so the best approach might just be to press Alt+F4, which always closes the active program, whether you're on the desktop or running a Metro app.

This, and many of the other Windows 8 problems we've raised are mostly just a matter of familiarity. They may be confusing at first, and perhaps take an extra click or two, but once you've learned the basics then life will mostly return to normal.

But other issues still remain, in particular with Metro, which just doesn't feel like it belongs on a desktop. If someone has a 27" monitor, will they really want to be restricted to displaying a maximum of two apps at the same time? And if the answer is, as we keep hearing, "don't use Metro if you don't want to", then why does Windows 8 force you to boot into its Start Screen at all?

Don't let all this put you off entirely. As we said earlier, there's plenty to like about Windows 8 and it's worth taking a look at the Release Preview. Just be ready for some frustrations: there are many significant changes, and even mastering the Windows 8 basics could take quite some time.

In our next edition: The Windows 8 Lock Screen


Today's Topic: Seven Ways to Make Your PC Last Longer

From hp.com


A primary concern for most computer owners is how to get the most bang for your buck. When you’re purchasing expensive technology, this becomes an even more valid point of consideration.

Buying computers is one of the larger investments you make. To avoid surprise crashes and loss of data, it’s not recommended to hold onto a frequently used computer for more than four to five years. However, there are things you can do to help prolong its life span and enable it to perform better over time, saving you money in the long run.

Keep it clean

Dust, dirt, food and other particles tend to accumulate in the crevices of keyboards, mice and monitors. If not removed, these particles can scratch hardware components and eventually build up enough to cause overheating, shortening the life of your computer. To avoid this, make sure to dust and clean your computer and its accessories on a regular basis. Compressed air is a great way to get small particles out of keyboards and tight cracks. Read How to Clean a Dirty, Dusty PC for more detailed information on how to clean a computer.

Keep it dry

PCs and liquids do not go together well. Never drink or rest water, coffee, soda or anything liquid near a desktop or notebook. A spill could mean you’ll be buying a new one much sooner than you had planned.

Give it space

This tip applies mostly to notebooks. The nice thing about them is that they’re portable. On business trips, it can be tempting to set them down on a hotel pillow or bed while you’re casually answering emails or doing research. But soft, padded surfaces do not allow airflow into the ventilation holes underneath the notebook, which leads to overheating. To limit this risk, make sure you always rest your notebook on a cool, solid surface, allowing air to travel underneath it.

Protect it

Viruses could be the biggest threat to the health of a notebook or desktop. One of the very first things you should do when you buy a new computer is install anti-virus software. Some popular, effective applications include Microsoft Security Essentials, Norton and McAfee.

Give it more memory

Painfully slow processing is a sign that your computer may be starting to fade on you. Add extra RAM (random access memory) to relieve the strain of an overloaded machine. Once it stops relying on hard disk memory, your computer’s performance will become exponentially faster.

Keep it uncluttered

All of the programs that you don’t currently use on your computer are taking up valuable space. Getting rid of them will improve performance and save memory. Most PCs have a “disk cleanup” function that will delete “unseen” files and empty caches. You can also go through your files manually and remove anything you haven’t been accessing.


Special Feature: iPad Basics - Setting Up iCloud

From gcflearnfree.org

If you elected to set up iCloud when you first turned on your iPad, good news—you're all set! If you didn't, the process is still quick, easy, and hassle-free. All you have to do is open your device's settings, then turn on the service.

To Set Up iCloud on an iPad:

Tap the Settings icon on the Home screen.
Tap iCloud in the left pane.
If you're asked to confirm your Apple ID and password, enter them, then tap Sign In.
Follow the on-screen instructions to allow or block certain features of iCloud.
You'll see a list of all of the iCloud features you can use. Tap the controls to turn each one ON or OFF depending on your personal preferences.

Setting Up Your Other Devices

Remember, in order to use iCloud, you need to set up your other devices too (for example, iPhone, iPod Touch, Mac, or PC). This is what will allow you to to access your files and information anywhere—no matter which device you're using. It will also sync information from your other devices to your iPad.


In our next edition:
Syncing with iCloud - Enabling Automatic Downloads


Websites of Interest:

Flag Day
June 14 is Flag Day. Read about the history and celebration of this observance at these websites:

Pet Friendly
Question: We’d like to bring our dog along on vacation with us. Are there any websites that will help us find accommodations and information about other pet friendly establishments?

There are many! These should help get you started:


Where are the best prices in your area? Find out at this website.

Long Island Summer Guide 2013
Event and concert calendar.