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Welcome to this week's edition of the Computer Kindergarten Newsletter.
Today is Sunday, July 28, 2013

In this Issue:
Special Feature: Strengthen your Online Privacy: 5 Important Things To Do
Tips & Tricks: Top 25 Most Popular Anti-Spam Tips, Tricks and Secrets: How to Disguise Your Email Address in Newsgroups, Forums, Blog Comments, Chat
Special Series: Introduction to the Windows 8 Start Screen
This Week's Topic: Nine Reasons Why a Mac is Running Slow and What to Do About It
Question: Special Feature: iPad Basics - Mail
Websites of Interest: Airline Ratings; Flower Growing Guides; Build a Body

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Special Feature: Strengthen your Online Privacy: 5 Important Things To Do

By Manish Singh of techpp.com

Regardless of how tough is the anti-virus you use, how strict you are at sharing and receiving files from others, how carefully you deal with the links in the emails you receive, and what kind of Operating System you use, criminal minds will always find ways to fool you. In recent times, most of the hacks and crimes that we have seen were all executed or at least revolved around the labyrinth of your internet browser.

So at last, it all comes down to this: how secure is your internet browser? What kind of hidden things it shares? As much as we love to use free services, is there any dark side of this coin we are not aware of? How can we use some little unknown services to prevent ourselves from these brutal hacks? And, what changes you could make to strengthen the security of your browser?

Stop Websites from Tracking You

There is an old saying, “If you’re not paying for the product, you’re the product, not the customer.” In one of my old posts I wrote about the little prices you have to pay to use free services such as Google, Facebook, Twitter etc. The advertising in recent years has come to be very targeted and personalized. One of the things that enables them achieve this sits silently under your browser and is called a cookie. Cookies track your web activity – records the kind of sites you visit, the kind of products you buy, thanks to laptop and portable mobile devices, they can even track the places you go. While it has its own benefit – getting relevant advertisement, just the idea of anyone knowing so much about you is scary.

If you are among those people who don’t like being watched, the good news is we have lots of services to avert this. Let’s start things with your browser settings. Almost every popular browser features “Do Not Track “, an option to prevent the tracking.

Chrome users can go to the settings (through the hot dog bar). Now one of the easiest way to bring all relevant results is by searching for “Do not” in the search box, locate “Send a ‘Do Not Track’ request with your browsing traffic” and make sure it is ticked. You can also disable many other features, but this much is enough.

Firefox users need to go to the settings (options), and under the Privacy tab, click on the radio button which says “Do not tell sites anything about my tracking preferences.”

Internet Explorer - To activate Do Not track on IE 9 or IE 10, you need to follow these steps:
1. Launch IE and click on the Settings button given on the right side of the browser, below the Close button.
2. Then go to the Safety menu and select Tracking Protection.
3. Here, you will be presented with a new window. Go to the Tracking Protection menu which is available on the left panel. Here, select the Your Personalized list option present on the right side and select the Enable button given in the lower right corner.

Remove Flash Cookies

Cookies, as you know, store your information, Flash cookies are no different. To set restrictions on it, visit its settings page (http://tinyurl.com/65xln), navigate to the left most tab named “Global Storage Settings Panel”, under that, untick ‘Allow third-party Flash content to store data on your computer‘. You can also check on other tabs to see how it integrates with other components of your system.

Enable 2-Step Authentication in Your Gmail

This feature strengthens your account security by, as the name suggests, getting two factors, one the password, and the other is need to receiving a message on your mobile device to get access to your account. So suppose, even if some vicious mind figured your password, they will still be requiring physical access to your mobile device as Google sends you code without which you can’t access your account. To enable 2-step authentication in your account, go to the Account Settings from your Gmail account (or simply, head to this link:
https://security.google.com/settings/security

How to enable 2 step authentication

Under 2-Step verification pane, click on Settings, and Getting Started in the page that follows. Google now will ask you to enter your phone number, and you will have to verify it by entering the code that you just received from Google as a text (or call) on your mobile device.

Get Notifications from Facebook

Facebook is the home of notifications, but not all the notifications are important, or so to speak, require your attention right at the moment. But notifications about someone else trying to access your account are very essential. With social network hack becoming so mainstream recently, Facebook has rolled out this new feature where they send you a text message and email or both, whenever there is an unusual activity in your account.

To enable this feature, go to the ‘Account Settings’ and go to the Security tab. Click on the Notification key and tick your mobile or email or both depending where you want the notifications to arrive.

Stop Chrome Extensions from Knowing Too Much

If you use many extensions in your Chrome browser, you may want to know the kind of things your extensions are sharing with the world. For this go to the settings, and click on “Extensions” tab. Or, Just hit chrome://extensions/ in the address bar. If you are using the most recent version of Chrome you will need to click on each individual extensions, and there you will find the instructions to disable it. However, if you are using an older version of Chrome, click on permission or if required, disable the extension itself.

Because Your Online Life Is Just As Permanent As A Tattoo

In his TED Talk “Your online life, permanent as a tattoo” Juan Enriquez made some sparkling analogy of physical body tattoos with our life at virtual world. He says, the day has arrived when you can retrieve all the information about anyone without their consent. Take their picture, and services like Face.com will help you gather all their information.

The things we share on the internet, all the data we produce and the other data we are part of, will live longer than our bodies. Once you post something on the interwebs, it could be used again and again for or against you and it may end up defining you. It is high time you realize how important your privacy is.

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Tips & Tricks: Top 25 Most Popular Anti-Spam Tips, Tricks and Secrets: How to Disguise Your Email Address in Newsgroups, Forums, Blog Comments, Chat

Spam, spam and spam. How to avoid spam, how to filter spam, and how to complain about spam are the items on this menu of junk mail fighting tips. With the help of Heinz Tschabitscher of about.com, we are presenting an ongoing series of tips and tricks that you can use to minimize the amount of junk mail that you will receive in your email inbox.

Spammers use special programs that extract email addresses from chat rooms, web sites — forums and comment sections of blogs in particular — and Usenet postings.

Disguise Your Email Address in Newsgroups, Forums, Blog Comments, Chat

To avoid ending on a spammer's mailing list when you post to a web forum or a newsgroup, you can disguise your email address by inserting something obvious into it.

If my email address is me@example.com, I can modify it to read me@EXAdelete_thisMPLE.com, for example. I will not get spam at that email address since all messages to it will bounce, but people who want to send me an email can still do so after they remove "delete_this" from the address.

Obscuring your email address does make sending mail a bit more difficult. But this is not always a disadvantage.

In our next edition: How to Report Spam with SpamCop

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Special Series: Introduction to the Windows 8 Start Screen

From bleepingcomputer.com

Windows 8 comes with a new user interface called the Windows Start Screen that is the first thing you see when you login to Windows 8. This is the main interface that Windows 8 user's use to launch applications, search for files, and browse the web.

The Start screen contain tiles that represent different programs that you can launch by clicking on the title. One of the features of this new interface is that the tiles themselves are able to show you real-time information directly on the Start screen. This will allow you to use the Start screen not only as a way to start an application, but also as a way to quickly see data such as the weather, e-mail information, new RSS feed articles, etc. For example, the weather tile will not only allow you to launch the main Weather application, but will also display your actual weather conditions directly on the Windows 8 Start screen.

Programs that are designed for the Start Screen interface are called Apps . These Apps are designed to work with the Start Screen so that you can share information with other Apps , synchronize them with other computers, and easily be deployed via the Windows Store.

 

In our next edition: Start at the Start Screen

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Today's Topic: Nine Reasons Why a Mac is Running Slow and What to Do About It

By Paul Horowitz of osxdaily.com

It’s a fact of modern life: Macs can run slowly for seemingly no reason, but chances are there is a reason the Mac is running so poorly and we’ll cover the most common reasons, how to know if each reason is causing the slow down, and most importantly, how to fix it. If your Mac is running slowly and it feels like a snail could launch a new app or load a web page faster than the computer could, read on.

1: Spotlight Search is Indexing
Spotlight is the search engine built into OS X, and anytime it indexes drive data it can slow down a Mac. This is typically worse after reboots between major file system changes when the index is rebuilt, a major system update, or when another hard drive full of stuff is connected to the Mac. Typically Macs with SSD’s won’t feel the slowdown quite so much, but for Mac models still using spinning hard disk drives, it can feel very slow.

How to Know: It’s easy to check if Spotlight is what’s causing the slowdowns though, just click on the Spotlight menu in the upper right corner. If you pull down the menu to see an indexing status bar, you know its running.

You can also look in Activity Monitor for the “mds” or “mdworker” processes, both of which are related to Spotlight.

Solution: Wait for Spotlight to finish indexing, it usually doesn’t take too long.

2: Software Update Loading
Whether the Mac is newer and updates through the App Store, or older and goes through Software Update, either of these processes can cause a temporary slowdown to the system while they launch in the background, query for available updates, and

How to Know: After a minute or so you’ll get a Software Update notification

Solution: Keeping system software up to date is one of the best things you can do as part of a Mac maintenance routine. Let it run, install the updates, and reboot.

3: Low Disk Space
Anytime any computer is running very low on disk space, the computer will slow down dramatically, and Macs are no different. The reason is fairly simple; between the operating system and all your apps, a lot of temporary cache files are generated, and things are swapped in and out of memory and to the disk as needed. If your disk is full, those actions take longer because older cache files and swap files must be deleted before new ones can be generated, which creates a stall before any further system process can be taken. This whole thing can be painfully slow especially on traditional hard disk drives, and can leave any Mac feeling as slow as molasses.

How to Know: Checking available hard disk space is a cinch, just go to the desktop and open any folder, then pull down the “View” menu and select “Show Status Bar”. Now look at the bottom of the Finder window you opened, if the number of available space is less than several GB’s, you should take action. If the number is 0, you need to take immediate action!

Solution: The best thing to do is clear out files you don’t need any more. First, go to your Downloads folder and remove stuff you don’t need because it can fill up awfully quick if you don’t clear it out yourself. Next, recover disk space by downloading a free app like OmniDiskSweeper to discover where all your storage went. Delete unnecessary files. When finished, reboot the Mac, because rebooting will cause temporary caches to clear out and that can often free up space as well.

4: Out of RAM
There is no bigger slowdown to encounter than when you run out of available RAM. When you run out of RAM, virtual memory takes over, and virtual memory is slow because it relies on your hard disk to store information needed for apps and OS X to run rather than keeping that information in super-fast RAM.

How to Know: Open “Activity Monitor” from the /Applications/Utilities/ folder, click on the “System Memory” tab at the bottom, and look at the colorful pie chart. If you don’t see any green, you’re running low on “Free” memory, and you can check just how low by looking at the “Free” item. “Inactive” is another potentially valuable resource to look at.

Solution: Quit apps that are no longer in use, and try relaunching ones that you are using. Web browsers in particular, like Safari, Chrome, and Firefox, will often consume more RAM than they need the longer they are left open, as past web pages are stored in memory. Also, some websites have memory leaks. Quitting and reloading a web browser can often free up a ton of RAM.

5: High Processor Utilization
If an app or process is consuming a lot of your processor, other things going on with the Mac will slow down dramatically. Tons of different things can take up CPU, and though most are temporary as a process executes and completes, some errant processes go wild and continue to hog far more CPU than what is appropriate.

How to Know: Again, open “Activity Monitor” from the /Applications/Utilities/ folder, but click on the “CPU” tab at the bottom. Watch the “% Idle” for a few seconds, if that number is consistently below 60 or so, you have something that is eating up your processor.

Solution: Still in Activity Monitor, click the “CPU” item at the top to list items by processor usage. The topmost item(s) will be your culprit, if those apps or processes aren’t in use, quit them to free up CPU.

6: Too Many Apps Open at the Same Time
This is simplified way of saying you’re either out of RAM, have an app being a CPU hog, the disk is thrashing, or any number of other problems that can occur when you simply have way too many apps open and running at the same time.

How to Know: The easiest way to tell is if the OS X Dock is a plethora of every app installed on your Mac.

Solution: Quit apps you aren’t using, the more the merrier.

7: Not Enough RAM for Your Needs
Speaking of running out of RAM and having too many apps open, it’s possible that you simply don’t have enough RAM to use your Mac at optimal speeds for your usage patterns. Thankfully this is very easy to determine, find out how to tell if your Mac needs a RAM upgrade by reading this great guide. http://tinyurl.com/p48scob

8: Your Desktop is Full of Icon Clutter
Did you know that having a desktop full of a billion icons slows down a computer? This is because each icon gets drawn as a window, and OS X renders a preview of the icons and their contents, each of which takes up resources to redraw as things are moved around.

How to Know: Your desktop is a disaster of files, documents, folders, with more icons than wallpaper visible.

Solution: Tidy up your desktop, ideally down to just a few select important things. If this sounds daunting, even creating a new folder called “Desktop Stuff” and throwing EVERYTHING from the desktop into it will dramatically speed things up..

9: The Hard Drive is Failing
Failing hard drives do not perform well, but potentially worse than that is the chance that you could lose all your important data and files. This is perhaps the least likely reason a Mac runs slow, but it’s also the worst possibility.

How to Know: You hear unusual sounds, clicks, or chunking coming from your computer and hard drive. Running Disk Utility’s First Aid fails repeatedly or throws tons of errors that are unrepairable with the “Verify” and “Repair Disk” functions.

Solution: First, stop everything else and BACK UP YOUR DATA because you could lose it if you don’t. Run Time Machine, copy all your most important files to an external drive, whatever it takes. Next, buy a new hard drive, and consider an SSD because they’re faster and less prone to some of the trouble traditional spinning drives are. Finally, consider taking the Mac to an expert, like the Genius Bar at your local Apple Store.

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Special Feature: iPad Basics - Mail

From gcflearnfree.org

Mail is probably one of the first apps you'll want to set up on your device. You can use it to catch up on email, reply to messages, and manage your inbox—all the things you're used to doing with your email account, except the app makes it much more convenient.

Mail is compatible with Gmail, Hotmail, and most other popular services. You can even add more than one account to the app; for example, your personal email, as well as your work email. That way, you can check all of your email in one convenient place.

Have More Than One Apple Device?

Most people will sync their email simply by signing into the same account on each device. This solution isn't as high tech as syncing with iCloud, but it works exactly the same way. You can sync Mail with iCloud only if you have an @icloud.com email address.

To Set Up Mail:

Open the Mail app.

Tap your email service to continue. If you don't see yours, tap Other.

Follow the instructions to enter your account information. The steps will be slightly different for each email service, because each one is unique.

Optional: Do you have your own contacts, calendar, or reminders tied to your email account? You can sync that information too, and it'll be added to the appropriate app on your device. Your options will vary depending on the type of email account you have. Use the controls next to each item to choose ON or OFF. Then tap Save to continue.

Your email will be synced with your device.

In our next edition: Getting to Know Mail

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Websites of Interest:

Airline Ratings
This website ranks over 400 airlines for safety, food and more.
http://www.airlineratings.com/

Flower Growing Guides
From Cornell University, this site features information on hundreds of flowers and foliage plants.
http://tinyurl.com/lz6ve4a

Build a Body
This is a great site for kids to learn about anatomy and the human body's systems with this drag and drop game.
http://www.spongelab.com/game_pages/bab.cfm