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Welcome to this week's edition of the Computer Kindergarten Newsletter.
Today is Sunday, September 22, 2013

In this Issue:
Special Feature: How Secure Are You Online: The Checklist
Tips & Tricks: Top 25 Most Popular Anti-Spam Tips, Tricks and Secrets: How to Submit Spam to SpamCop via Email
Special Series: Organize Apps and Create Groups on the Windows 8 Start Screen
This Week's Topic: PC and Mac: Get Your Messy Desktop Under Control
Special Feature: iPad Basics - How to Upgrade to iOS 7
Websites of Interest: Autumnal Equinox; Funny Cute Stuff; Famous Quotes; Google Earth Blog


Special Feature: How Secure Are You Online: The Checklist

By Thorin Klosowski of lifehacker.com/

Think you do enough to secure your passwords, browsing, and networking? Prove it.

Not all computer security is about tin foil hats and anonymous browsing. Everyone who uses a computer has a horse in the security race. For the purpose of this post, we're breaking down online security into four essential parts: passwords, browsers, at-home Wi-Fi and networking, and browsing on public Wi-Fi. Within those categories we'll give you a checklist of everything you should do, from the bare minimum to the tin-foil-hat best.

Password Security Checklist

Password security has been popping up a lot in the news recently, but how much you should care is entirely dependent on what you do online.

The Bare Minimum of Password Security

Just because you don't use a lot of online services doesn't mean you can neglect basic password security. Sure, you don't need to take any complicated measures, but everyone should at least do a couple things.

Pick strong passwords: Regardless of what your password is for, it's always good to pick a strong, random password. Don't use your child's name, or a birthday.

Use unique passwords for every site: Don't ever reuse the same email and password combo on multiple services. It might seem like it doesn't matter, but if a hacker gets your account information on one site, that means they can use that login information on every other site you're registered at. Keep all your passwords different.

Use Should I Change My Password? to track security breaches: If you don't keep up with tech news you probably don't see most minor security breaches. To help out, the webapp Should I Change My Password? notifies you when a major service is hacked.

That's the minimum you should do if you want to play it safe and secure with your passwords. But you can do better than that. Let's step up your game.

Level Up: You're a Password Pro

If you're the type to conduct a lot of work online, then you need more complicated security measures. With that in mind, you should do the steps mentioned above, and a few other things.

Use two-factor authentication whenever possible: Two-factor authentication is a simple way to lock your computer to an account so you have to verify your identity when you log onto a different computer. Not all services have it, but Google, LastPass, Facebook, Dropbox, and more all do. Use it.

Use a password manager: We get it, you have a lot of passwords and you don't want to remember them all. Instead of reusing the same junky password, a password manager is a simple way to save them all securely. We like LastPass, but KeePass, and 1Password are equally solid solutions.

Shut down and unlink services you don't use: If you're the type to try out a lot of different webapps or mobile apps then you probably have a ton of passwords scattered around everywhere. When you decide you don't want to use a service anymore, remember to delete your account. This way, if the service is hacked you don't have to fumble around trying to remember your login information. For added protection, make sure you clean up your app permissions on Facebook and Twitter.

Use misleading password hints: Finally, don't answer password hints truthfully. Instead, you can use word association, or just pick a random response (that you'll remember).

If you're doing all of the above, your passwords are about as safe as they can get. Nice work, and stay vigilant!

Browser Security Checklist

With all your passwords in check it's time to ensure your browsing is both secure and private. Of course, many people don't care about privacy, but security—even after your passwords are in order—is still important.

The Bare Minimum of Browser Security

Password security is just part of the battle. You also want to make sure your browser is secure. This is what everyone should be doing:

HTTPS Everywhere: You likely know by now that you should never hand over personal info unless you're doing so over a secure connection (HTTPS in the browser URL). The HTTPS Everywhere browser extension highlights secure sites, and ensures you're always on HTTPS whenever it's available (including on social networks, shopping sites, and more).

Log out of your accounts: If you're sharing a computer in a house full of people, or you do most of your browsing on a public computer, always remember to logout of any account you use. It's a simple, obvious step, but it's worth repeating to yourself until you remember. When you don't log out of an account, you're giving authorization to snoop.

Understand the basics of online fraud: Phishing scams, malware, and other nasty things are all easy to detect if you keep a cautious eye on what your browser is doing at all times. Be skeptical of odd emails, brush up on the FTC's guide to identity theft, and don't trust your personal information to any website that doesn't use HTTPS.

The basics of browser security are great for most people, but if you want to keep advertisers and The Man off your back, you need to take a few more measures.

Level Up: Keep Everyone from Tracking You

We know that pretty much everyone is tracking your every move on the web. The data collected from your browsing is used for ads, targeted coupons, and plenty more. Let's put a stop to that.

Adblock Plus: Adblock Plus isn't just an ad blocking extension, it also helps keep the likes of Twitter, Facebook, and Google+ from transmitting data about you.

Ghostery: Ghostery is an extension that's all about eliminating tracking cookies and plug-ins used by ad networks. With Ghostery installed, no advertiser can snoop on what you're doing online.

Do Not Track Plus: Do Not Track is an extension that eliminates sites with Facebook and Google+ buttons from tracking you. By default, a data exchange happens when you visit a site with one of these buttons, even if you don't click on them. Do Not Track stops that from happening.

The above extensions and measures can ensure you have a private and secure browsing experience.

Home Network Security Checklist

Once your internet data is secure it's time to secure your data on your home computer. This means backing everything up, and keeping your network safe from prying eyes.

Keep your software up to date: Software updates aren't just about adding new features, they're often about patching security holes. Thankfully, the update process is very simple. On Windows, click the Start Menu > All Programs > Windows Update. On Mac, click the Apple menu, and choose Software Update. Both update programs run periodically on their own, but it's always good to check for a new update if you hear about a security issue.

Change your router's security settings: If you're still running your router's default settings, then pretty much anyone can get into your home network and peek in on your computers. It's not hard to crack WEP passwords or WPA passwords, but you should at least enable a non-default password and network name on your router.

Backup your photos and documents: Perhaps you're not all that worried about what would happen if your $200 computer dies because you don't do that much with it. Still, chances are you have a resume or some vacation photos on the hard drive. Backing up those few important files is easy. Cloud storage like Dropbox, Box, and Skydrive take very little time to set up. Once you do, your few important documents will be saved online.

Prevent downloaded software from installing automatically: Malware often comes in the form of a download you don't notice happening, but it's easy to stop. On Windows, disabling AutoRun can stop around 50% of Malware threats, and all you need is the free software Disable Autorun. On Mac, downloads shouldn't run automatically, but if you're using OS X Mountain Lion you can set up GateKeeper (System Preferences > Security & Privacy > General) to only allow applications from the Mac App Store for added security.

Public Wi-Fi Security Checklist

Using public Wi-Fi exposes everything you do online (and your computer itself) to anyone else on the network. It’s surprisingly simple how people can sniff out your passwords on public Wi-Fi. Let's stop that from happening to you.

Let's say you occasionally check email on public Wi-Fi when your internet is down or you're on vacation. You're always tempting fate when you don't completely lock down your computer, but here's the minimum amount of effort you should always do.

Always use HTTPS: We mentioned HTTPS Everywhere above, but it's worth repeating here. If you're checking your email, or doing anything else with a password on a public network, always use HTTPS.

Turn off sharing: When you're at home you might share your files with other people on your network. That's great, but you don't want that on public Wi-Fi. Disable it before you even connect. In Windows, open Control Panel, then head to Network and Internet > Network and Sharing Center. Then click Choose Homegroup and Sharing Options > Change Advanced Settings. Turn off file sharing, print sharing, network discovery, and the public folder. On Mac, open System Preferences > Sharing, and make sure all the boxes are unchecked.

Don't connect to Wi-Fi unless you need it: This might seem like common sense, but if you're not actually using the internet connection, turn it off. In Windows, right-click the wireless icon in the taskbar and turn it off. On a Mac, click the Wi-Fi button in the menu bar, and turn off Wi-Fi.

Doing these three things will keep most of your data secure.

Security is important to everyone from the tech illiterate to the tech savvy. The precautions you decide to make are your own choice, but always keep in mind that your security online is just as important (if not more) than the security in your own home.


Tips & Tricks: Top 25 Most Popular Anti-Spam Tips, Tricks and Secrets: How to Submit Spam to SpamCop via Email

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.
Reporting spam via SpamCop's Web interface is a great way of fighting it.

But the constant view-message-source — copy — open-SpamCop-page — paste — submit cycle can get time consuming and tedious if you get lots of spam. That is why I prefer to submit my spam via email.

To submit spam to SpamCop via email, you first need to find out your personal submission email address. Every registered user has one, and it is displayed on the SpamCop home page, right below the welcome message.

Now forward unrequested, unwanted emails to this address to have it parsed by SpamCop.

It is important that you forward the message as an attachment and not inline. One of the big advantages of submitting spam via email is that you can insert multiple messages at once: just forward them in one email.

Once SpamCop has processed the spam, it will send a mail back to you containing the URL you can use to report the spammer.

In our next edition: Use a Good Anti-Spam Program


Special Series: Organize Apps and Create Groups on the Windows 8 Start Screen

By Steve Sinchak of tweaks.com

The new start screen in Windows 8 can easily look cluttered as more apps are installed. Finding what you need becomes difficult unless you have a keyboard and type in the name of the app which will bypass the start screen tiles. Your best option for both touch and keyboard users is to organize your apps into groups and name them. Groups will allow you to quickly jump to the apps you want by using the start screen zoom features.

First, it is important to understand how to organize the app tiles. If you are on a desktop or laptop, just use your mouse by dragging the tiles around the screen where you want them and into groups. If you are on a tablet just touch and drag down on the tile until it breaks free and you can drag it wherever you want.

Create a new group by dragging the tile to an area between groups or to the very end and then release it when you see the divider appear.

After you have your apps organized in groups it is helpful to put labels on them. In order to do that you need to use the smart screen zoom feature. On tablets it is very easy to zoom in and out on the start menu. Just use the universal pinch in and pinch out gesture. Pinch out to zoom out and you will see all of the apps on the start screen.

On desktops zooming out is not as intuitive. You need to click the zoom out icon located in the lower right corner next to the scroll bar.

Once you are in the zoomed out view you will be able to drag around your groups and also name them. While zoomed out on a desktop or laptop right click on the group and select Name Group to set a name. If you are on a tablet drag down slightly on the group and then select Name group.

After you have all of you apps organized into named groups your start screen will look much better. As your start screen continues to grow, you can also use the start screen zoom feature to quickly jump between groups.


In our next edition: Where did the Classic Games go in Windows 8?

You can review all of our previous Windows 8 articles on our website.

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.


Today's Topic: PC and Mac: Get Your Messy Desktop Under Control

By Adam Dachis of lifehacker.com

Question: I have a messy desktop. It's gotten so bad that there are files on top of files. I periodically throw various documents into folders to try and clean it up, but then I just have disorganized folders and the mess comes back. How can I get my desktop under control?

You may have a few problems contributing to the mess. This is the case with most, as few people toss just one kind of file on the desktop. Disorganization problems generally occur because you've found a single repository for several items. At one point you realized this space was a convenient location for your documents, photos, screenshots, and so on. If you were just dumping text files onto your desktop, you might not have such a problem. Before we get into how to solve this issue, let's outline the various culprits:
Text Documents - When you create a text document, your first inclination is to save it on the desktop.

Screenshots - Your screenshots are automatically saved to the desktop, so they become part of the clutter by default.

Web Links - You save web link files to the desktop, which creates a series of very unnecessary files and actually takes longer than many alternatives. We'll talk about some of these a bit later, but don't forget you can just use the bookmarking tool built into your web browser.

Photos, Videos, and Other Media - You drag media you want to save onto your desktop, but there are much better places to save these files that will make them easier to find and view.

Random Folders - You keep regular folders on the desktop that have no specific purpose.

Folders for Organization - Your folders, which you're trying to use for organizational purposes, are unspecific. If they don't have a direct purpose:

Step One: Declare Desktop Bankruptcy

The first step is the easiest and can help you feel a bit of immediate relief. All you have to do is create a new folder called "Old Desktop" and put everything on your desktop into it. Leave it in there so that it is the only item visible (outside of your hard drive, or anything else that shows up automatically). Now you have a clean desktop. Without more work, it isn't going to stay that way, but it helps to have the overwhelming mess is out of sight while you work to make your desktop something more useful than a glorified garbage can.

Step Two: Create a Desktop Organization Plan That Actually Works

To keep yourself organized, you need a little structure to guide you. I use a system for my desktop. It keeps me very organized but the system has also become very specific to what I do. You need to come up with a specific system that meets your needs as well, and understand that it's something you can evolve over time. That said, you have to start somewhere, so let's look at the core items you should have for a well-organized desktop.

Start by creating the following folders:

The Dump - Anything you're currently working on goes in this folder.

The Landfill - Anything you've finished working on that you don't need any more and want to archive goes here. (Archiving can involve copying them to an external hard drive or some other kind of storage that isn't a part of your computer. (Many web hosts offer unlimited storage for a low monthly fee and you can just upload the contents of your landfill to a private directory on their server. This gives you online access to all the files whenever you need them and you don't have to keep them on your machine.)

Incoming Media - Any photos, music, or video that you need to sort go here.

Get in the habit of saving your work to The Dump rather than the desktop, and at the end of each day (or periodically during it) you should decide what should stay because it's actively being worked on and what can be archived or sorted. To help you get into the habit of saving to the dump instead of your desktop, it helps to set it as the default folder for new windows and save/open dialogs. To do this on a Mac, go to the Finder and choose Preferences (or press Command+,). In the General tab, find the drop down menu under "New Finder windows show" and use it to select The Dump. Windows users can do this by right-clicking on the Windows Explorer icon in the taskbar, right-clicking on the Windows Explorer icon in the resulting jump list, clicking on Properties, and then heading to the Shortcut tab. From there, just fill in the "Start in" field so it contains the path to The Dump.

Once you've got this all set up, you have a basic sorting method on your desktop. This won't be enough, but it's a start. You'll probably want to add another folder or two to suit your needs, but you're definitely going to need to set up some other helpful apps to help you avoid sorting so many things in the first place.

Step Three: Use Apps and Services to Put Desktop Clutter Elsewhere

There are many apps out there that are incredibly helpful when it comes to keeping track of the things you create and find on the web. They can help you keep clutter off of your desktop, help you sort the information you give them, and easily search for anything you can't find outright. You should make as much use of these tools as possible.

Evernote is an everything bucket, which is generally not the sort of thing we like. It's kind of how you've been using your desktop. That said, if you use Evernote for specific purposes it can be extremely helpful when you're trying to organize. Basically, if you want to save photos, text, or anything else on the web, you can use Evernote's web clipping browser extension to send content directly to any of your Evernote notebooks.

Windows users don't really have the problem of screenshots getting saved to their desktop by default—it's more of a Mac thing, so this section is really only applicable to people running OS X. Skitch is our favorite screenshot tool and it integrates right into Evernote. This means you can send your screenshots to Evernote rather than the desktop, and have more control over what you capture on your screen. If you just want to change where your screenshots are saved, open up Terminal (in Your Hard Drive —> Applications —> Utilities) and enter this bit of code:

defaults write com.apple.screencapture location ~/Desktop/Screenshots

That'll save all your screenshots to a folder called Screenshots on your desktop. If you want to save them to a different location, just change the path (i.e. ~/Desktop/Screenshots) to the location of the folder you want to use. If you're not sure of that path, you can just drag a folder right onto the Terminal window and it'll tell you.

It's a great, free, plain text note syncing webapp that has great desktop apps for all platforms. It's the best place to store your plain text notes and retrieve them easily. I highly recommend using this for to-do lists, text snippets you want to save, groups of links you want to visit, thoughts you want to jot down, or any other piece of text you want to remember. There's very little organization required as you can search for the contents of any note you create and have it in front of you in seconds.
Instapaper, Pocket, or Kippt

Instapaper and Pocket are both services that are great for saving web articles you want to read later. They're also great at putting them in a more readable format that isn't rife with advertisements and other distractions. Kippt is a service that helps you save more than just articles you want to read, but generally things you like on the web and want to save for later. If you want to be able to easily share those things with friends, and get recommendations of other things from friends, you may prefer using Kippt instead. (Most of these services have mobile apps as well.)
Belvedere and Hazel

Belvedere (Windows) and Hazel (OS X) are apps that help you automate various things, such as the cleaning of your desktop. You can follow these instructions and they'll help you clean up any remaining clutter on your desktop. This isn't going to be as exact and perfect as sorting everything yourself, but can help you out while you're working to change your messy habits.
All of this software isn't going to automatically make you neater, of course, but can give you more suitable locations for your stuff than your desktop. It'll take practice and time to get used to using them, but stick with it. These apps and services can make organization much easier.

Step Four: Start Sortin'

I hope you didn't forget about all the clutter you put into a single folder on your desktop in step one! We've finished all the fun steps, so now it's time to get down to the tedious dirty work: you have to sort that folder. This will not be fun, but now that you have a bunch of sorting folders on your desktop you'll know where to put your work. Presumably you also have other folders on your hard drive for specific types of files, such as the defaults in your home directory that contain photos, music, video, and other items. Also, you may find that the new apps and services you set up in the last section are great places to store some of the items you need to sort as well.

Sorting can take a while, but once you're done, you're well on your way to a more organized desktop. You'll need to keep making an effort for a while before tidiness becomes a habit, but if you keep evolving your methods of organization so they work better for you then you should get there in no time.


Special Feature: iPad Basics - How to Upgrade to iOS 7

By Serenity Caldwell of macworld.com

iOS 7 has arrived, and eager users everywhere are getting ready to upgrade their devices. If you’re concerned about the upgrade process, or if you simply want to know all your setup options before making the big switch, let us help you upgrade your iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad to iOS 7 with this step-by-step guide.

What Devices Will Run iOS 7?

Before you consider upgrading, you must make sure that you have a compatible device. Since iOS 7 packs some new features and a graphics-heavy new design that require serious processing power, Apple has limited the operating system to the following models.

iPHONE MODELS: iPhone 4, iPhone 4S, iPhone 5, iPhone 5c, iPhone 5s
iPAD MODELS: Second-, third-, and fourth-generation iPad or later; iPad mini
iPOD TOUCH MODELS: Fifth-generation iPod touch (16GB, 32GB, and 64GB)

If you have an earlier model of any of these products, you’ll have to stick with your current version of iOS.

Missing iOS 7 Features

While certain older devices can run iOS 7, they may not be able to take advantage of all the iOS features available on a new iPhone or iPad.

Prepare to Install

Once you’ve double-checked that your iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad is capable of running iOS 7, you need to decide how to install the OS. If you plan to install wirelessly, confirm that you have an available Wi-Fi connection; if you intend to install via iTunes, you need your computer and the latest version of iTunes. (If you don’t have it, you can download it from Apple’s website.)

We also suggest that you make a backup of your device before proceeding: If you’re doing a straight update, a backup prevents you from losing data in case something goes wonky down the line.

Back Up Via Your Computer
To make a backup using your computer, you can go through iTunes. Just plug your device into your computer (or use the Wi-Fi Sync option) and open iTunes.

Once the program is open, click the Devices button, select your device, and scroll down in the summary section to Backups. There, under ‘Manually Back Up and Restore’, click Back Up Now.

Back Up Via Your Device
To make a wireless backup directly from your device, you need an iCloud account. Once you’re logged in to iCloud, make sure your device is connected to a Wi-Fi network—you can’t create a backup over a cellular network.

After you’ve done so, just go to Settings > iCloud > Storage & Backup, turn on the iCloud Backup toggle, and tap Back Up Now.

Upgrade to iOS 7

You have two ways to update your iPad, iPhone, or iPod touch to iOS 7: over the air (by way of a Wi-Fi network) or from your computer. Over-the-air updates are easier—assuming that you have a reliable Wi-Fi network—but tethered updates are faster.

Install Over the Air

If you’ve used an iOS device before, you’re probably familiar with the process of downloading app updates from the App Store app: When a red badge appears in the upper-right corner of the App Store icon, you open the App Store, navigate to the Updates tab, and download your app updates all at once or one by one. The update process for iOS 7 is similar, although instead of going to the App Store, you use the Settings app.

Just as they do with App Store apps, iOS devices running iOS 5 or later periodically check for new iOS updates. When one is available, a red badge appears on the Settings app; to download the update, open Settings and navigate to General > Software Update. There, you see some brief information about the update and a button to install it.

You don’t want your device to shut down before installation is complete, so make sure that it has 50 percent or more of its battery charge remaining, or is connected to a power source, before you start to install an update over the air.

These OS updates are called delta updates, because they contain only the parts of the operating system that have changed between the new version and the one your device is currently running. Delta updates are much smaller than full updates, so you can download them just about anywhere you have a decent Wi-Fi connection—you don’t have to worry about having to wait an hour while a 500MB file downloads.

Your device proceeds to download the update, and then restarts and installs it before greeting you with the customary welcome screen.

Install the Update from Your Computer

If you’re not that adventurous, you may prefer to install software updates the old-fashioned way. No problem: Just plug your phone into your computer and open iTunes.

In theory, the first time you open iTunes with an iOS 7–compatible device connected to your computer, iTunes will prompt you to download iOS 7. In practice, that may not happen automatically—for example, your computer may not have been notified of the update’s availability, because Apple rolls out updates gradually. You can force iTunes to check for an update: Just click the Check for Update button in the Summary screen for your device. Assuming that everything is working properly, iTunes should begin downloading iOS 7 from Apple’s server.

You can do other tasks while waiting for the download to finish; once it does, your device restarts and begins installing the software. When the update is complete, you’ll see a message saying that your device has been updated and is restarting. The process should preserve all your data and apps—you’ll simply have a shiny new version of iOS once your device restarts.


In our next edition: Apps for Everyday Tasks - Safari

You can review all of our previous iPad articles on our website.

Do you have a question about your iPad that we haven’t covered yet? Please email your question and we’ll cover it in a future newsletter article.


Websites of Interest:

Autumnal Equinox
September 22 is the autumnal equinox. Learn more about it here.

Funny Cute Stuff
Family friendly site featuring humorous commentary, photos and videos about pets and animals.

Famous Quotes Popular quotations and famous sayings on a number of subjects.

Google Earth Blog
All about Google Earth: news, features, tips, satellite photos, and applications.