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Welcome to this week's edition of the Computer Kindergarten Newsletter.
Today is Sunday, November 17, 2013

We will not be publishing this newsletter for the next two weeks so the writers and editors can prepare for and enjoy Thanksgiving and Hanukkah with their friends and families. We wish all those who celebrate a very Happy Thanksgiving and Happy Hanukkah!

In this Issue:
Special Feature: How to Spot a Holiday Scam -- and Find Genuine Bargains
Tips & Tricks: Top 25 Most Popular Anti-Spam Tips, Tricks and Secrets: Spam is Named After Monty Python's Spam Skit
Special Series: Windows 8 - Working with Start Screen Apps
This Week's Topic: The Twitter Guide
Special Feature: iPad Basics - Tips to Keep iOS 7 From Destroying Your Battery Life
Websites of Interest: Traveling for the Holidays?; Help Homeless Children Enjoy the Holidays; Thanksgiving; Chanukah

To our readers:

Over the years that we’ve been publishing this newsletter, we’ve received thousands of emails thanking us for our articles on computer safety and online and offline scams and hoaxes. We wish we had the time to answer each one. We appreciate your thanks and are glad we can help!

Here at Sharper Training Solutions, one of the things we are very dedicated to is educating all of our friends about all the identity theft schemes, computer dangers, and fraud that are out there. We’ve found that some of these scams can be pretty clever and can easily fool most of us. Because of that, we encourage you to pass on our newsletter articles to your friends and family to help educate them as well.

And don’t forget, you can always email us with any questions or issues you may encounter.

Stay safe out there !

We’re on Facebook! Please like us at
We’ll be doing gift card raffles for the holidays. Like us to automatically enter.

Please consider the environment before printing this email.


Special Feature: How to Spot a Holiday Scam -- and Find Genuine Bargains

By Audri Landford of scambusters.org

Bogus online stores and websites peddling cheap knock-offs of branded products masquerading as the real thing are at the top of the big holiday scams. As we head into one of the busiest shopping and traveling periods of the year, it pays to wise up to the holiday scam risks that the increasingly smart crooks have lined up.

There are three things that make the threat even greater this year:

1. The massive increase in online shopping that retail experts are expecting. More than half of all consumers are expected to buy online. That includes some who are dipping a toe in the Internet buying waters for the first time, especially new computer users who now feel comfortable enough to try their hand at the convenience of web shopping.

2. The economic woes of the past several years have made shoppers more bargain-conscious than ever. The lowest price is often the biggest draw -- even when the buyer has never heard of the retailer before.

3. The move online of the busiest sales promotion of the year -- the so-called Black Friday sales that follow Thanksgiving. Instead of turning up for the 4am doorbusters, more shoppers will be staying home and logging on and battling for the midnight bargains.

All of these things play on a human weakness: when someone appears to sell at rock bottom prices or even just tells us that they slashed their prices, we just want to believe we got a bargain. That won't be the case if the item you ordered doesn't turn up or, even if it does, it's not what you expected. You've just fallen for a holiday scam.

Countries where copyright laws hardly exist and forgery isn't a dirty word are churning stuff out, often bearing well-known brand names; other times just cheap lookalikes whose only guarantee is to tarnish the sparkle of your holiday season.

And remember, the sellers likely will have your credit card number and other personal details to do with what they will.

So, here are 5 quick tips to help protect you from online holiday shopping scams:

1. Buying from reputable dealers should be a safe bet. But always check the address bar in your browser to make sure you're where you should be! Scammers are experts at creating phony lookalike sites where you land after mistyping an address or by following a link.

2. However, don't rule out newcomers and smaller firms. We don't want to stifle enterprise or genuine bargains! But if you don't recognize the name, check it out -- Google it and look for scam reports. Do your research and, if you're even slightly suspicious, follow your instincts.

3. If the seller accepts it, especially if you're buying from an auction site, consider paying with PayPal. They can safeguard your purchase -- and they do safeguard your credit card info. However, when you get to the PayPal site, especially if you used a link to get there, make doubly sure you're at paypal.com, not some bogus rip-off site that will harvest your sign-on details and clean out your account.

And, of course, never pay by money wire; they're untraceable and the biggest clue to an online holiday scam. And be careful using cashier’s checks as well.

4. When you're bargain-hunting, use recognized price comparison sites like Pricegrabber.com, Shopzilla.com, Nextag.com or special offer sites like Bargainist.com or Techbargains.com -- to name a few. Looking for the best price on books? Try Addall.com, which will do all the searching for you. Of course, they don't guarantee the legitimacy of the firms they reference but your chances of becoming a Christmas scam victim are significantly lower.

There are also a couple of daily bargain sites -- Woot.com and Yugster.com -- that you can buy from directly.

5. Make sure it really is a bargain. Retailers of every shade are experts at making prices look like bargains, claiming things like "75% off." And maybe they are 75% off -- but do a price comparison check with others first.

Online shopping may be the major target for this year's holiday scam crooks. But here are a few other things to watch out for this season:

* People selling stuff at your front door. Holiday light installation services are the big thing this year -- mostly enterprising individuals who have perhaps lost their jobs and have seen a profitable gap in the market. You'll get a flyer offering to provide, install and uninstall the lights for anywhere between $100 and $250. We're not recommending that you not use them. They can save a lot of hassle. But don't pay upfront, not even a deposit if you can avoid it. Don't fall for the line that they need all the money to buy the lights. Also, make sure you get a written guarantee that they'll remove them (hold back part of the payment till they're taken down) and make sure you know who owns the lights once they're down.

* Fake eCards. This is a whole subject in itself. But you can be sure they'll be as big a hit as ever as holiday scams. You get a message with a link to an online greeting card but, when you click it, you end up with a virus on your PC. A couple of simple rules here: Delete any messages that come from someone you don't know or that don't address you by name. If they do come from someone you know, email that person to check that they sent it before clicking the link.

* Holiday rentals. There has been a surge in ads offering bogus vacation rentals. You pay a deposit or even in full to get a key and that's the last you hear of them. Classified websites are fraught with this danger -- and it can be very difficult to check their authenticity. Of course, there are many legitimate owners offering rentals this way -- and countless more online. But investigate them carefully; check testimonials, do a search for other references. And again, don't wire cash. There are now a large number of online rental agencies who vet owners and this may be a safer bet.

* Phony seasonal jobs. Yes, real seasonal jobs do exist, mainly in retail but also a few in packing and manufacturing, but this year there are fewer of them and more people chasing them. Seasonal work at home schemes, like toy assembly, are usually scams. For retail and packing jobs, deal directly with the employer or a reputable agency -- and never pay to get work. It's a scam.

For the law-abiding majority of citizens, the winter holiday season should be a time to celebrate and rejoice. For the holiday scam artists it's one of the biggest money-making opportunities of the year. Make sure you don't give them yours!


Tips & Tricks: Top 25 Most Popular Anti-Spam Tips, Tricks and Secrets: Spam is Named After Monty Python's Spam Skit

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.

Have you ever wondered what unsolicited email messages have to do with canned meat?

Etymology of Spam: Canned Meat and Vikings

Have you ever seen episode 25 of Monty Python's Flying Circus? In the Spam skit, customers can order only dishes containing SPAM, SPAM, and SPAM.

Similarly, you can't have email without spam.

In our next edition: Don't Delete Spam Automatically


Special Series: Windows 8 - Working with Start Screen Apps

From gcflearnfree.org

Start screen apps are different from the "classic" Windows apps you may be used to. Apps fill the entire screen instead of opening in a window. However, you can still multitask by opening two apps side-by-side.

1. On the Start screen, locate and click the app that you want to open.
2. The app will open and fill the entire screen.

To Close an App:

1. Hover the mouse at the top of the app. The cursor will change to a hand icon.
2. Click, hold, and drag the top of the app all the way down to the bottom of the screen and then release. The app will close, and you'll return to the Start screen.
When dragging the app down, it may look like it's "stuck." However, just keep moving the mouse down until the cursor gets to the bottom of the screen, and the app will then close.

Viewing Two Apps Side-By-Side

Although apps usually fill up the entire screen, Windows 8 lets you snap an app to the left or right side and then open a second app. For example, you might want to keep your calendar visible while you're using another app.

To View Two Apps Side-By-Side:

1. From the Start screen, click on the first app to open it.
2. Click, hold, and drag the top of the app all the way to the right or left side of the screen.
3. Release the mouse, and the app will snap to the side of the screen. You cannot change the size of the snapped app.
4. Click anywhere in the empty part of the screen to return to the Start screen.
5. Click the second app to open it
6. Both apps will now appear side-by-side.

Snapping is designed to work with wide-screen monitors. You will need a screen resolution of at least 1366x768 pixels to use this feature.


In our next newsletter: Using SkyDrive with 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: The Twitter Guide

By Tim Maurer of forbes.com

“I just don’t get Twitter!” my boss grumbled to me yesterday. “Why would I waste my time?” This was precisely my opinion of Twitter when I was first introduced. I saw it as something that would sap my productivity, but if you are a busy professional who has only now given Twitter a second glance because its IPO is making headlines, consider using this productivity enhancing unofficial guide to the micro-blogging phenomenon:

I tried Twitter for the first time about five years ago, prodded by a well-intended arm twister encouraging me, “You’ve gotta be on Twitter!” The first time, I gave up on it in spirit after about two days. I was lost. The Twitter canvas was too broad for me to understand and appeared to lack any depth or genuine import. I struggled to know why I should care what anyone is doing multiple times throughout the day. I cancelled my first account after only weeks.

But as the medium started to become more ubiquitous, most of those whom I respected as communicators in more traditional veins began to embrace Twitter. I started to explore the concept more and read how others I respected were using it effectively. The second time I approached Twitter, then, I came willingly, not out of compulsion. Now, it is a valued resource that I rely upon.

First Things First: What is Twitter?

It’s a communication medium in which messages are sent and read—the catch is that these messages are limited to no more than 140 characters. They’re not captured, like an email, but instead they scroll as they are submitted. Like me, you might wonder what of much value can be said in little more than a short sentence, but among those 140 characters, you’ll often find a link to an external URL—a web address that takes you to a particular article or blog post. Now, when each of my favorite reporters at institutions like the Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Money, Kiplinger’s Personal Finance or the New York Times, or online outlets like Forbes.com or CNBC.com, writes an article they send a Twitter notification to all of their followers.

What if you don’t have anything that you care to communicate? The revelation I had about Twitter was that although it can be a very effective tool for sending a message, it’s an even better mechanism for scanning and receiving information—quality information, not just where B celebrities are having lunch. So, even if you don’t care to say anything on Twitter, you’re welcome to open an account and just start following the people whose writing and preferences interest you. And, if they start sharing too much information for your taste, you simply stop following them.

Twitter Terminology

If I’ve tempted you to consider Twitter, let me bring you up to speed on the vital Twitter terminology you’ll want to understand to make yours a beneficial experience:

Handle: A handle is the actual string of letters and numbers preceded by an @ sign with which you’re identified on Twitter. You can keep it simple, like me, and use some variant of your name—@TimMaurer—or you might use something more creative and clever, like my buddy Carl Richards, @BehaviorGap. Twitter sign-up is free and can be done at www.twitter.com.

Tweets: Tweets are the 140 character messages you create and read. (I guess that makes those of us utilizing the medium either a Tweeter or a Twit!)

Retweets (RT): When you read something you like or support (or disagree with), you can retweet the original message, as-is or with your comments.

Direct Messages (DM): Direct Messages are private messages sent to someone you follow, but they will only go through if they also follow you.

Followers: Whether you’re on Facebook or not, you’re no doubt familiar with their terminology by now. On Facebook, you collect “friends.” On Twitter, they’re called “followers.” When you search a particular person or information outlet, you are given the option to follow them; if you do so, you become their follower. If you’re broadcasting information, those you attract will be your followers. Unlike Facebook, however, you don’t need permission to follow someone; but they’re under no compulsion to follow you back unless they choose to do so. Initially, I was taught to just start following people for the purpose of attracting followers—and indeed, you’ll see a lot of people out there who have thousands of followers, but who follow almost exactly the same number. I don’t have the time or desire to follow thousands of people, sorting the wheat from the chaff, so I follow only those whom I want to follow. I view Twitter not as a popularity contest (a conviction more likely to fall on Facebook), but as a resource.

Stream: Your stream is the running commentary of those you follow viewed on your computer or mobile device in chronological order.

Lists: Lists are the way to make Twitter work for you. Undoubtedly, you have various interests in life—vocational, financial, recreational, spiritual and beyond—and the creation of lists will help you hone what it is you want to read. For example, create your own newspaper list; a list with reporters from all of your favorite traditional and online news outlets. Each morning, wake up and see what they’re reporting. For example, I enjoy the Wall Street Journal reporter, Jason Zweig’s, market commentary, so I’m following @jasonzweigwsj. I can hear about New York Times writer, Ron Lieber’s, new book project on kids and money via @ronlieber and Jean Chatzky’s latest personal financial wisdom by following @JeanChatzky. But be careful—if you follow an entire media outlet, you’re going to get ALL the news they’re sending and that may clutter your Twitter stream. Some of the lists I’ve created are “Best of,” “Personal (and other) Finance,” “Writing & Publishing,” “News,” “Music & Art” and “Life & Faith.” Your lists can be public or private (I keep a private list of “Friends”), and you can subscribe to the lists of those you follow and respect.

Twitter Terminology: There is a lot of Twitter code out there, most of which I probably don’t know or understand, but the most common and powerful is no doubt the hash tag—#. Hash tags can be created by anyone and they are ways for people to track particular discussion threads or trends. The best example I can give you is that when I attended a recent financial blogging conference, many of the attendees were using a common hash tag tweeting out great quotes from various sessions. The hash tag was a way for all of the attendees to track the conference, even if we weren’t following each other. This works for everything from #financialplanning to #mozart to #bacon.

Late Adopters

I’m not an early adopter. I didn’t use email or buy a cell phone until 1999. I scoffed at the notion of reading a book on anything other than paper pages until 2009. Even now I feel guilty reading fiction.

Facebook? Meh. But Twitter? Twitter was a steep learning curve for me, but it has become my number one resource for quality information intake.

Twitter may not be something in which you’ve been able to find value, so I’m not twisting your arm, telling you you’ve got to get involved with Twitter. You don’t. But I do think it could bring value to your pursuit of topics relating to money, work and life.


Special Feature: iPad Basics - Tips to Keep iOS 7 From Destroying Your Battery Life

By Eric Limer of gizmodo.com

Note: please visit our newsletter’s website for instructions on how to upgrade to iOS 7:

While your iPad and iPhone's new operating system comes with plenty of advantages, iOS 7's not without its drawbacks. Battery life just isn’t quite what you'd want it to be, but we've got some tips to squeeze the most out of it and stay juiced all day long.

Many of iOS 7's fancy new features are handy if you need or want them. If you don't, they're just eating away at that precious battery life behind the scenes, and give you exactly zero help for your trouble. So shut 'em down.

Turn Off Parallax

Parallax is fun, but it's the definition of "extra." And maybe it even makes you dizzy. Who needs it? Not you. You can turn it off in accessibility settings, by going to Settings>>General>>Accessibility and setting Reduce Motion to on.

Turn off AirDrop/Bluetooth If You're Not Going to Use It

AirDrop is great when you are AirDropping. The rest of the time it's just fidgeting in its seat, looking for another device to play with. Turning it off is easy, just swipe up your Control Center, and hit the toggle.

Stop Searching for Wi-Fi

There's no need to have your phone searching for Wi-Fi when there's no trusted network in sight. You'll save yourself some trouble if you get in the habit of turning of Wi-Fi from the Control Center when you leave the house. Alternatively, you can go to Settings>>Wi-Fi and turn Ask to Join Networks to off. This way your phone will hop on Wi-Fi networks it knows, but won't look around for more without direct orders.

Disable Location Services (for apps that don't need it)

Google Maps needs to know where you are, yes. But Facebook? Hop over to Settings>>Privacy>>Location Services to get a full list of the apps that are asking about where you are. You can probably turn off about half, and cut down on a lot of GPS polling.

Turn Off Background App Updates

Immediate app updates are rarely a huge deal, but having enough battery always is. Go to Settings>>iTunes & App Store and then scroll down. You'll see Updates under Automatic Downloads. Turn it off. Just don't forget to stop by the App Store and update manually now and then.

Turn Off Background App Refreshing

The brutal downside of good multitasking is running things in the background. But if you go to Settings>>General>>Background App Refresh, you can disable background-running for the apps that aren't important. Or all of them if you want to go all the way.

Disable Auto-Brightness

Chances are, auto-brightness keeps you more well-lit than you need to be. You can shut it off and get your mood-lighting on by going to Settings>>Wallpapers & Brightness and flipping the toggle. While you're there, crank that backlight all the way down, or as far down as you can handle. If you step outside, that's what the Control Center is for.

Go On a Push Notification Diet

Not every app needs to push its notifications; that stuff takes power. Go to Settings>>Notification Center and scroll down to the Include section. Then go on a toggling spree.

Don't Push; Fetch

If your email isn't that important, or you have a couple of accounts, go turn the low-priority ones to Fetch instead of Push, which means your phone will go retrieve mail at set intervals instead of having it pushed to you every single time Uncle Harry or a spam blasts you. This one is pretty dependent on how often you get emails and how crucial they are, so you'll have to feel it out, but you can set to fetch in Settings>>Mail, Contacts and Calendar>>Fetch New Data

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:

Traveling for the Holidays?
Traffic Pulse monitors 19 major cities and their surrounding areas and updates its reports every 60 seconds with info on congestion, constructions and accident reports.

Help Homeless Children Enjoy the Holidays
Learn how at this website.


Visit the Better Home and Gardens website for some Thanksgiving decorating ideas:

The First Thanksgiving website features a picture timeline from 1620-1621, and discusses what life was like in Plymouth.

Thanksgiving Recipe Central

This website has over 1,400 recipes – all for pies!

Here are some craft ideas for decorating your home and table.

Visit the Kids Domain website for crafts, games, stories, coloring pages, and other activities for children.


Laws, customs, recipes and inspiring videos and articles.

Hanukkah Recipes
Menus, dinner ideas, latkes and more

Choose from thousands of recipes for holiday fun, including cookies, cocktails, edible gifts, and more.

Chanukah Traditions Around the World