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Welcome to this week's edition of the Computer Kindergarten Newsletter.
Today is Sunday, October 20, 2013

October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Please have a mammogram or take someone you love to have one.

In this Issue:
Special Feature: What do Viruses, Trojans, and Other Malware Actually Do?
Tips & Tricks: Top 25 Most Popular Anti-Spam Tips, Tricks and Secrets: Domain Owners: Set up Throwaway Addresses to Fight Spam
Special Series: Exploring Windows 8
This Week's Topic: How Do I Keep My Laptop's Battery In Good Health?
Special Feature: iPad Basics - Apps for Everyday Tasks – Safari Settings
Websites of Interest: October is Adopt-A-Shelter-Dog Month; Breast Cancer Health Center; Halloween Recipes for Kids; The Beginner's Guide to YouTube

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Special Feature: What do Viruses, Trojans, and Other Malware Actually Do?

By Whitson Gordon of lifehacker.com

Everyone knows viruses and trojans are bad, but a lot of people don't know how exactly they work. Viruses, for example, are programs that copy themselves and infect a computer, spreading from one to another—just like, well, a real life virus. Trojans, on the other hand, are applications that look normal, but secretly have code that's doing something else—like letting someone else control your computer.

What is Malware?

The word Malware is short for malicious software, and is a general term used to describe all of the viruses, worms, spyware, and pretty much anything that is specifically designed to cause harm to your PC or steal your information.

The term computer virus is often used interchangeably with malware, though the two don't actually have the same meaning. In the strictest sense, a virus is a program that copies itself and infects a PC, spreading from one file to another, and then from one PC to another when the files are copied or shared.

Many of these viruses are designed to render your PC completely inoperable, while others simply delete or corrupt your files—the general point is that a virus is designed to cause havoc and break stuff.

You can protect yourself from viruses by making certain your antivirus application is always updated with the latest definitions and avoiding suspicious looking files coming through email or otherwise. Pay special attention to the filename—if the file is supposed to be an mp3, and the name ends in .mp3.exe, you're dealing with a virus.

Spyware Steals Your Information

Spyware is any software installed on your PC that collects your information without your knowledge, and sends that information back to the creator so they can use your personal information in some nefarious way. This could include keylogging to learn your passwords, watching your searching habits, changing out your browser home and search pages, adding obnoxious browser toolbars, or just stealing your passwords and credit card numbers.

Since spyware is primarily meant to make money at your expense, it doesn't usually kill your PC—in fact, many people have spyware running without even realizing it, but generally those that have one spyware application installed also have a dozen more. Once you've got that many pieces of software spying on you, your PC is going to become slow.

What many people don't realize about spyware is that not every antivirus software is designed to catch spyware. You should check with the vendor to make sure the application you are using to protect you from malware is actually checking for spyware as well.

Scareware Holds Your PC for Ransom

Scareware is a relatively new type of attack, where a user is tricked into downloading what appears to be an antivirus application, which then proceeds to tell you that your PC is infected with hundreds of viruses, and can only be cleaned if you pay for a full license. Of course, these scareware applications are nothing more than malware that hold your PC hostage until you pay the ransom—in most cases, you can't uninstall them or even use the PC.

If your PC gets infected with one of these, your best bet is to Google the name of the virus and find specific instructions on how to remove it

Trojan Horses Install a Backdoor

Trojan horses are applications that look like they are doing something innocuous, but secretly have malicious code that does something else. In many cases, trojans will create a backdoor that allows your PC to be remotely controlled, either directly or as part of a botnet—a network of computers also infected with a trojan or other malicious software. The major difference between a virus and a trojan is that trojans don't replicate themselves—they must be installed by an unwitting user.

Once your PC has been infected with the trojan, it can be used for any number of nefarious purposes, like a denial of service (DoS) attack against a web site, a proxy server for concealing attacks, or even worse—for sending out buckets of spam. Protection against trojans works the same way as viruses—make sure that your antivirus application is up to date, don't open suspicious attachments, and think long and hard before you try and use a downloaded crack for Photoshop—that's one of malware authors' favorite spots to hide a trojan.

Worms Infect Through the Network

Computer worms use a network, usually found at businesses, not homes, to send copies of themselves to other PCs, usually utilizing a security hole to travel from one host to the next, often automatically without user intervention. Because they can spread so rapidly across a network, infecting every PC in their path, they tend to be the most well-known type of malware, although many users still mistakenly refer to them as viruses.

Some of the most famous worms include the ILOVEYOU worm, transmitted as an email attachment, which cost businesses upwards of 5.5 billion dollars in damage.

As always, make sure you're running a good antivirus program.

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Tips & Tricks: Top 25 Most Popular Anti-Spam Tips, Tricks and Secrets: Domain Owners: Set up Throwaway Addresses to Fight Spam

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.

If you own a domain, you have a great anti-spam tool at hand: your mail server. All mail to an address at your domain that does not already exist (such as "quaxidudel@example.com") is probably forwarded to your main account by default.

Domain Owners: Set up Throwaway Addresses to Fight Spam

You can use this feature to create throwaway email addresses on the fly:

* If you need to give an email address to sign up for something, make one up.

For example, if you sign up for a newsletter at About, enter "about@example.com" as your email address.

If you get spam, have a look at the junk email's headers. If about@example.com shows up as the original recipient, you know who to blame: About. Nobody else even knew the address existed. Be aware, though, that spammers sometimes make up email addresses, and sometimes one they create can match one you created.

If the spam continues to arrive at the about@example.com address, get rid of both the address and the spam by making any mail to about@example.com bounce back to the sender.

 

In our next edition: Whether or Not to Unsubscribe from Spam

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Special Series: Exploring Windows 8

From gcflearnfree.org

Windows 8 is the latest version of Microsoft's operating system for PCs and tablets. Many users may be confused by this completely re-designed version of Windows, but our tutorial will help guide learners through the many changes Microsoft has made.

What is Windows 8?

Windows 8 is the most recent operating system designed by Microsoft. It introduces a lot of new changes, so if you're thinking of upgrading from a previous version of Windows, you should carefully look at these changes to decide whether upgrading is a good idea.

There have been many different versions of Windows over the years, including Windows 7 (released in 2009) Windows Vista (2006) and Windows XP (2001). While previous versions of Windows mainly ran on desktop and laptop computers, Windows 8 is also designed to run on tablets. Because of this, the interface has been simplified so that it will work with touchscreens.

How is Windows 8 Different from Earlier Versions?

There are many new features and changes in Windows 8, both small and large. These changes include a redesigned interface, online features, improved security, and more.

Interface Changes

The first thing that you'll notice about Windows 8 is that it looks totally different from previous versions of Windows. The all-new interface includes features like the Start screen, live tiles, and hot corners.

Start screen: The main screen that you'll use is called the Start screen, and it displays all of your apps as tiles. You can personalize your Start screen by changing the color scheme, choosing a background image, and rearranging your tiles.

Live tiles: Some apps use live tiles, which let you see information without even clicking on the app. For example, the Weather app displays the current weather on its tile, and you can click on it to see more details.

Hot corners: You'll navigate through Windows 8 by using hot corners. To use a hot corner, just hover the mouse in the corner of the screen, and it will open a toolbar or tile that you can click. For example, to switch to another open app, you can hover the mouse in the top-left corner and then click. If you're using a tablet, you'll swipe from the left or right instead of using hot corners.

Charms bar: Many of your computer's settings are now found in a toolbar called the Charms bar. You can access it by hovering in the top-right or bottom-right corner of the screen. If you're using a tablet, you can swipe from the right to open the Charms bar.

Online Features in Windows 8

Many people are starting to save their files and other information online (also known as the cloud). One way to do this is with Microsoft's SkyDrive service. Windows 8 is designed to connect seamlessly to SkyDrive, as well as other online services like Facebook and Twitter.

Sign in with Microsoft account: Instead of creating an account on your computer, you can sign in with your free Microsoft account. This will bring all of your SkyDrive files, contacts, and more into your Start screen. You can even sign in to a different computer that has Windows 8, and all of your important files will be there.

Social networking features: You can connect your Facebook, Twitter, and Flickr accounts to Windows 8, allowing you to see your friends' updates directly from your Start screen or from the built-in People app.

Other Windows 8 Features

Simplified Desktop for increased speed: Microsoft hasn't removed the Desktop, and you can still use it to manage your files or open many of your existing programs. However, it has removed some of the transparency effects that often caused Windows 7 and Vista to run slowly. The new Desktop should run more smoothly on most computers.

No Start button: The biggest change to the Desktop is that there is no Start button. In previous versions, the Start button was a very common place to go to launch apps, access settings, or search the computer. Although these features are now accessible from the Start screen, many people may find it disorienting to use Windows without the Start button.

Improved security: Windows 8 has a built-in antivirus program called Windows Defender, which can also protect you from other types of malware such as spyware. The built-in Windows Store also helps to keep you and your computer safe by showing you what information each app will have access to. For example, some apps have access to your location, so if you're uncomfortable sharing your location you can decide not to download those apps.

How Will You Use Windows 8?

Since Windows 8 is so different, it will probably change the way you use your computer. This may take a while to get used to, but keep in mind that these changes are designed to make your computing experience easier and smoother.

For example, if you've used previous versions of Windows, you may be accustomed to launching programs by clicking on the Start button. In Windows 8, you'll use the Start screen instead. On the other hand, you'll still be able to use the Desktop view to organize your files and folders, and to open older programs.

Most people will have to use both the Start screen and the Desktop, depending on the task. You'll probably have to switch back and forth, which may be disorienting at first. However, if you mainly use your computer to browse the web, you may spend almost all of your time in the Start screen.

Should You Upgrade to Windows 8?

As you can see, Windows 8 is a big change from previous versions of Windows. It's not just a new version with new features — in many ways, it's a different operating system. If you don't like the idea of changing the way you use your computer, you may prefer to stick with your current version, or upgrade to Windows 7. But if you like the new features that you've seen so far, then you may find that Windows 8 offers an easier and more enjoyable experience.

 

In our next newsletter: Getting Started with Windows 8

You can review all of our previous Windows 8 articles on our website.
http://computerkindergarten.com/windows8articles.html

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

 

Is there a computer term or phrase that you'd like to see an explanation of? Email it to info@computerkindergarten.com and we'll put the term and its definition in an upcoming newsletter.

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Today's Topic: How Do I Keep My Laptop's Battery In Good Health?

By Whitson Gordon of lifehacker.com

You've probably heard some people say you should drain your battery completely before charging it, or that you should keep it between 40% and 80% all the time to make it last longer. A lot of this is confusion over how batteries used to work, not how they work today. Luckily, most or all of your gadgets these days run on Lithium Ion batteries, which are easy to take care of.

Perform shallow discharges
Instead of discharging to 0% all the time, lithium-ion batteries do best when you discharge them for a little bit, then charge them for a little bit.

Don't leave it fully charged
Similarly, lithium-ion batteries don't need to be charged all the way to 100%. In fact, they'd prefer not to be—so the 40%-80% rule you heard is a good guideline. When possible, keep it in that range to prolong its life as long as you can. And, if you do charge it to 100%, don't leave it plugged in. This is something most of us do, but it's another thing that will degrade your battery's health.

Fully discharge it once a month
This may seem contradictory, but hear us out. While lithium-ion batteries shouldn't be discharged regularly, most modern batteries are what's known as "smart batteries", which means that they can tell you how long you have until your battery dies (e.g. "2 hours, 15 minutes remaining"). This feature can get miscalibrated after a lot of shallow discharges. So, manufacturers recommend fully discharging your battery once a month to make sure this stays accurate.

Keep it cool
Most people overlook this one. Excess heat is not only bad for your processor (and your lap), but your battery as well. A hot battery will degrade in health much quicker than a cool one. As such, we highly recommend using a laptop stand.

Keep these things in mind and your battery will last longer. That said, remember that you don't need to be super strict about these things. Don't sacrifice practicality just to keep your battery alive—if you're in a situation where you don't have a charger, it's okay to discharge it to 0%, or charge it up to 100% if you want to do so for a long plane ride. Remember that your battery is going to die in a few years, no matter what you do—even if you just let it sit on a shelf. So don't go overboard: use your battery as you need it. But, if you're just sitting at home or in a coffee shop, these guidelines will help you keep it healthy for as long as possible.

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Special Feature: iPad Basics - Apps for Everyday Tasks – Safari Settings

By Jeff Benjamin of idownloadblog.com

Note: please visit our newsletter’s website

For instructions on how to upgrade to iOS 7:
http://computerkindergarten.com/092213.html

To review our article on Safari:
http://computerkindergarten.com/092913.html

To review our article on Bookmarking in Safari
http://computerkindergarten.com/100613.html

Safari Settings

One of the biggest areas of change when comparing iOS 7′s version of Safari to previous version is its settings. Safari has undergone quite a change with regard to its preferences, and there are a lot of new options and features to dig through.

Some of the new features can greatly improve the user experience, so I think it’s imperative that you become familiar with them if you wish to get the most out of the refreshed app.

General
As mentioned, many of the settings have been rearranged in iOS 7. Open the Settings App and tap Safari on the left. You may see some features that used to appear in one section, now fall under the General section of Safari’s preferences. The pop-up blocking option is a prime example of this. For this part, I’ll address each major change one-by-one, and discuss why it may be useful to you.

Search Engine
The same as iOS 6 and below. You can choose between making Google, Yahoo!, or Bing, the default search engine.

Passwords & AutoFill
This section has undergone a great overhaul in iOS 7. You can now view saved passwords and info related to the password. You’ll be required to enter in your passcode in order to gain access to such information.

You’ll also notice a new section for saving credit cards. Like the passwords, you can view saved credit card data as well.

Favorites
A brand new addition to Safari’s preferences in iOS 7, favorites allow you to designate specific folders to the Favorites that display when you open a new tab, search, or enter in a URL in the address bar.

This is basically the equivalent to the Bookmarks Bar in Safari of old. What’s great about this option is that you can designate a specific folder containing all of your favorite websites and links to display using this option. This is one of the best new features to be found in iOS 7.

Privacy & Security
Not too much has changed here, but you will find a few handy toggles added to the mix.

Do Not Track
Back in 2011, Apple added a Do Not Track option to the desktop version of Safari. Do Not Track allows you to opt out from having your browsing activity tracked for advertisement purposes. There’s still quite a bit of debate as to whether or not sites actually respect the option, but that’s a debate for another time.

Smart Search Field
Inside this new panel, you’ll find two new toggles — Search Suggestions, and Preload Top Hit. These toggles directly impact the unified search/address bar that now appears in Safari. The Search Suggestions toggle allows you to disable the suggestions that appear as you begin typing search terms. These suggestions stem form the default search engine, which will more than likely be Google unless you opt to change it.

The next item, Preload Top Hit, is another useful new feature. As you search, Top Hits — previously viewed websites that appear in your list of suggestions — will load in the background.. This makes it so that the site more or less instantly appears if/when you decide to tap on it.

Conclusion

Safari for iOS 7 is Apple’s response to popular third party browsers on iOS. It’s so much better than its predecessor in nearly every single way. Whereas I used to find myself using Google Chrome without debate, these days I’m a quite torn. I’ve been using Safari much more than Chrome since I updated to iOS 7, and it’ll likely stay that way outside of a few specific usage cases.

Even with as deep as I’ve gone with this walkthrough, you will no doubt find subtle changes here and there that I’ve not discussed. It can’t be understated how much of an upgrade iOS 7 is over iOS 6 in general, and the browser differences help to accentuate how much better iOS 7 is as a whole.

 

In our next newsletter: iPad Basics - Apps for Everyday Tasks - Calendar

You can review all of our previous iPad articles on our website.
http://computerkindergarten.com/ipadarticles.html

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.
info@computerkindergarten.com

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Websites of Interest:

October is Adopt-A-Shelter-Dog Month
Check out this information on how you can help out even if you can't adopt a dog.
http://tinyurl.com/q7rdm6j

Breast Cancer Health Center
From WebMD, breast cancer and the breast self-exam.
http://www.webmd.com/breast-cancer/guide/breast-self-exam

Halloween Recipes for Kids
Spooktacular Halloween recipes.
http://tinyurl.com/9cokpn4

The Beginner's Guide to YouTube
http://tinyurl.com/klolonj