Happy Birthday Betty White!

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Amazon Prime is $27 cheaper this weekend by Kim Komando

I'm sure you've heard of Amazon Prime by now. It's a popular one-stop shop for just about anything cut the cord on cable once and for all.
you could want from mega-retailer Amazon that can help you

The service not only gives you free shipping on any product, it give you access to millions of TV shows, movies, as well as a music library that has more than a million songs. Oh yeah, and did I mention unlimited photo storage and unlimited access to the Kindle library, too?

If you've been on the fence about signing up for Amazon Prime, this weekend could be the right time to finally pull the trigger. Amazon is discounting the service, but for a limited time only.

For this weekend only, Amazon wants views to check out, and essentially binge-watch, its original and Golden-Globe winning TV show, "Transparent" starring Jeffrey Tambor, Gaby Hoffmann and Amy Landecker.

Disclaimer: The show "Transparent" and its subject matter might not be for all of my viewers. Be sure to read the description of the show before viewing.

The show is normally reserved for Prime-only members, but this weekend, anyone can watch every episode of the show for free. Amazon is also slashing the Prime membership price by from $99 to $72 for a year subscription, with the hopes that you will sign up and watch some of its other original programming, like "Alpha House" starring John Goodman.

Oh yeah, and there's monetary motivation too, of course! According to Business Insider, Prime members on average spend twice as much as non-members.

If you think that Amazon Prime could save you some money, then click here to check out what the service has to offer.

Microsoft is rolling out a brand new Office suite by Kim Komando


Microsoft is on a roll with product announcements this week. So far, we've heard about Windows 10, the huge Surface Hub TV/tablet and the groundbreaking HoloLens. Now, Microsoft is releasing details on one of its biggest properties.

Yep, it's the new version of Microsoft Office, the gold standard of productivity software the world over. Microsoft is making big changes in its other departments, so is Office getting a minor upgrade or a complete overhaul?

It's actually a bit of both. After the fiasco that was Windows 8, it seems Microsoft is done with the "one-size-fits-all" mentality.

To that effect, it's releasing Office in two versions targeted at different audiences. Don't worry, they'll still be compatible with each other and past Office versions, but how you use them will be different.
The new Office option is called "Office universal apps." These are apps designed for touch screens and will work on any gadget that runs Windows 10, whether that's a smartphone, tablet, touch screen laptop or the giant Surface Hub.

The free Office apps for Android and iOS already paved the way for this, and the universal apps will be included free on smaller gadgets running Windows 10.

The universal apps are meant for touch control. They'll have the features and general interface of modern Office programs, but they'll have special modes for smaller screens and added touch gestures to make using them easier.

Microsoft says, "You won't even miss your keyboard and mouse." Somehow I doubt that, but I'm sure they'll be fine for getting work done on the spot.

For the mouse-and-keyboard user, Microsoft is releasing Office 2016 in the second half of the year. This is the direct upgrade to Office 2013 and, while details are light, I expect it will be the same general layout and features with a bit of polish here and there.

Naturally, every version of Office is going to connect to the cloud, namely Microsoft's OneDrive, so you can easily sync your files between your gadgets and collaborate with co-workers.

5 most important features your new TV should have by Kim Komando

Did you miss out on the Black Friday doorbusters and those ridiculously cheap TVs over the holidays? You're definitely not alone. And if you're in the market for a new TV, you actually made the right decision.

The Consumer Electronics Show ended earlier this month, and the next wave of bleeding-edge TVs are about to be shipped out to retailers. TV prices drop to their lowest point in late January as companies start cleaning out their stock for the next generation or offer sweet deals for the Super Bowl.

Unlike the typical Black Friday doorbuster deal, these TVs are from big brands and have the latest technology. That means if you're looking for a TV that will last, this is the time to buy.
Of course, if you want your TV to last, you want to make sure it has the features that you'll need in the coming years. In the whirlwind of features you'll see promoted at the store, it can be hard to know which ones matter. Here are five that you want to focus on, and one you don't.

Note: I'm going to jump over LED backlighting, since that's standard on just about every TV you'll find in the store, and OLED screens aren't cheap enough yet for the average consumer.

1. Resolution

Resolution is how many pixels, or points of light, are packed onto a screen. The more pixels there are, the sharper the image is going to be.

At this point, 720p resolution screens are only found on the most bargain-basement TVs, and I would avoid them unless you just need a really cheap second TV for a kids room or guest room.

On most TVs, you'll get 1080p resolution, which is the mainstream standard. While the higher-resolution 4K UltraHD is replacing 1080p, it will be a few more years before the transition is complete.

Right now, there's very little content that takes advantage of 4K screens. So, unless you find a really good deal on 4K, or it has features you can't live without, stick with 1080p.

Want to know more about 4K? Click here for the full details of what it is and why it's the future.

2. Size

With TV prices in a freefall, that gorgeous 72-inch TV is now within your grasp! Unfortunately, in your small living room you'll only be sitting six feet away from it.

Moving your head back and forth to catch the action at the edges of the screen is going to be tiring. Of course, if your living room is larger you don't want to be straining to see a 32-inch monitor from 10 feet away.

That's why picking the right size for your space is important. Also, think about if you'll be moving in the next few years. If you know you're in one spot for the life of the TV, buy a TV that matches your space. If you're planning to move to a larger (or smaller) house, or you want to turn the garage into an entertainment room, then buy a TV size with that in mind.

There is a formula to help you choose the ideal screen size. Measure the distance between your couch and your TV. The size of the TV should be between one-half and one-third that distance. That gives you the minimum size and maximum size you would want to buy.

To help you out, here are some examples:
Distance Minimum size Maximum size
6 feet 24-inch screen 36-inch screen
8 feet 32-inch screen 48-inch screen
10 feet 40-inch screen 60-inch screen
12 feet 48-inch screen 72-inch screen 
When you’re in the store, stand back from the TV the same distance you will be at home. That should tell you if it will be too big or small for comfortable viewing.

3. Smarts

Streaming video over the Internet with a service like Netflix, Amazon or Hulu is the future of watching TV and movies. So, use this upgrade opportunity to buy a "smart" TV.

A smart TV will have support for the major streaming services (aside from iTunes; for that you'll need the $100 Apple TV), as well as lesser streaming services, music streaming services and even games.

Naturally, every manufacturer has its own system and app store. So, you'll want to make sure the TV you get supports the services you use. If you don't use any services yet, make sure the TV covers as many as possible and has the ability to install more apps for future services.

Getting a TV that runs Google's Android TV (Sony, Sharp) or Roku TV (TCL, Hisense) software is a good option. Both Google and Roku are major players in the streaming game and will keep current with new services and developments.

Just be sure you try out the smart features in the store to make sure they're easy for you and your family to use. You don't want a system that's impossible to understand or that frustrates you.
Of course, you never know what's going to happen in the future of entertainment, or what new gadgets you'll need to give you the experience you want, which brings us to the next point.

4. Ports

If you look at the back of a modern TV the number of ports can get overwhelming. HDMI, USB, component, DVI, VGA, Optical, coax and more. Fortunately, most TVs will have the types of ports you need.

What's just as important as the types of ports a TV has, however, is the number. A TV with a single HDMI port isn't going to handle a cable box, a Blu-ray player, a receiver, a video game console, a streaming gadget, or a smartphone or tablet, all of which can connect via HDMI.

You'll want at least two HDMI ports, but three or four would be better so you aren't swapping out cables. Also, make sure it's HDMI 2.0 (1.4b is also OK if everything else about the TV is what you want), as that offers the best future compatibility with any new entertainment gear you might get.
In addition to HDMI, get a TV with USB ports. This will let you plug in a flash drive with pictures or video to display them. Also, some third-party gadgets that plug into HDMI can plug into a USB port as well for power, so you aren't running another cable around your living room.

Finally, many TVs now include Wi-Fi for connecting to your network. That's fine, but try to get one with a wired Ethernet port as well. If you have weak Wi-Fi or a busy network, being able to set up a wired connection can save you some headaches.

5. Refresh rate

A lot of TV displays you'll see in the store make a big deal about the refresh rate. TVs used to be 60hz, or 60 refreshes a second, but now they're 120hz, 240hz or some proprietary technology that's supposed to be even better.

The idea is that the faster refresh cuts down on motion blur in fast scenes. It's also required for 3-D viewing because the screen has to send separate alternating images to each eye.

The jump from 60hz to 120hz does make a difference, and you should definitely avoid 60hz TVs. However, 240hz and higher doesn't really have any benefit, so don't buy a TV based solely on that.
"Refresh rate" isn't the only strange term you'll find when buying a TV. Click here for my TV buying guide that covers the basic technologies and terms you'll encounter.

Also, when you get your TV home you might find the image quality isn't as good as it was in the store. Don't return it; instead click here for simple steps to make the TV work in your home.

One feature you don't want

The TV industry has fads, just like every other industry. A few years ago, for example, every manufacturer was pushing 3-D TVs, and now no one cares.

Well, the latest fad is curved TVs. You'll find these in high-end models from the major manufacturers.
The manufacturers say the curve gives viewers an "immersive" experience, but tests show that it doesn't give any benefit for screen sizes under 100 inches. And even then, it's only "immersive" for one person.

In other words, if you have tens of thousands of dollars to spend on a TV, don't get one that's curved. Hang on to the money for the new screen technologies that will be available the next time you go to buy.

Stop using these 10 words on your LinkedIn profile by Kim Komando

When looking for a job, you should always try to stand out from the crowd. But, that's easier said than done. That's why LinkedIn has offered some help to all the job hunters using its social network by releasing its annual list of most overused buzzwords.

For five years now, LinkedIn has created a top 10 list of the most overused buzzwords. It looks through all of the English-language profiles on its site to see which generic terms people are using most.

When you're creating a resume or LinkedIn profile, it's easy to fall into the trap and use a vague word like "motivated," but what does that really say about you? Just about everyone applying for the same job would probably say they're motivated, too, so you want to use more descriptive and unique terms that will set you apart.

The words that fill out LinkedIn's list aren't all that surprising. They're all the generic buzzwords that every hiring manager and HR department has probably seen a million times.

In the U.S, the top 10 most overused buzzwords are motivated, creative, passionate, driven, extensive experience, organizational, strategic, track record, responsible and problem solving.

LinkedIn also generated a list of the most overused buzzwords globally and many of them are the same. They are expert, motivated, passionate, creative, driven, extensive experience, responsible, strategic, track record and organizational.

Friday, January 23, 2015

How to cull your iPhoto library of duplicates and bad photos by Chistopher Breen


Reader Phil Rogers has more images than he cares for. He writes:
Because digital photos are so easy to save, my wife and I developed the bad habit of downloading, and downloading, and well, downloading. If we needed to show each other something at the store, we’d snap a photo and email it. Then at some point, that orange, or stapler, or whatever, would eventually get downloaded. Net result? Over 50,000 photos in iPhoto, with many duplicates.

How does one even begin to cull the herd? I’ve tried many of the duplicate-finder programs with varied success. But what about just plowing through to get rid of the clunkers?
This is a common problem, particularly now that so many of us carry around cameras (in the form of mobile devices) each day.
duplicate annihilator
Start by annihilating your duplicates.
Varied success though you might achieve, I’d start with the duplicates. For this kind of thing I like Brattoo Propaganda Software’s $8 Duplicate Annihilator for iPhoto. Unlike some other utilities I’ve tried, it allows you to search by a variety of factors, including SHA1 checksum, creation date, EXIF creation date, first x characters of title, first x characters in filename, width, height, and file size. It also provides you with plenty of results options—what to do with the duplicates that the app finds (trash them, rename them, and so on). If your iPhoto library is anything like mine, eliminating the duplicates will put you way ahead of the game.

Detective work

With that done I’d then create a strategy for eliminating the clunkers based on their EXIF (EXchangeable Image Format) data. When you take a picture with a digital camera, metadata (the EXIF data) is embedded in it. This metadata is searchable within iPhoto and other apps and if you can pinpoint those images that are likely to be crummy based on information in the EXIF data, you’ve made a better start.

For instance, if you enter 240 in iPhoto’s Search field, any 240 by 180 thumbnail images will appear. These are surely candidates for the scrap heap. (Note that such a search will also cause 2400 pixel images to appear in the list of results, so be sure you’re tossing an actual thumbnail rather than a larger image that has 240 somewhere in its EXIF data.)
iphoto thumbnails
Much as I love my cat, I don't need these thumbnail images.
Do you have a less-than-terrific camera in your past? Though it may have captured a few precious memories, perhaps a lot of its images are no longer up to snuff. Find out by searching for its name—CrudCam A200, for example. Weed out the ones you don’t want.

Or consider the situational camera. You say that you snap pictures of items at the store. I'm going to guess that you didn’t do this with a DSLR bur rather with your phone. If this is a habit, maybe you should search for any images taken with an iPhone 4s (or any iPhone model you’ve owned) and remove its worst efforts from the results.

Get smarter

This is all well and good, but sometimes it helps to search for more than one bit of information. For example, pictures shot in really low light with your iPhone 4s. The Search field does no good because you can’t combine queries. But you can with a smart album.

Choose File > New Smart Album and in the resulting sheet configure the first condition to read Camera Model is Apple iPhone 4s. Click the plus button to create another condition and configure it to read ISO is greater than 1250. Make sure that the Match pop-up menu reads All, name your smart album, and then click OK.
low light iphoto rule
A cleverly configured Smart Album can help pinpoint poor images.
Any images that meet these conditions—an iPhone 4s pushing really hard to capture images in low light—will appear in the smart album. Again, some of them may be keepers because they document important events, but they’re not going to be great-looking pictures.

You can use this smart album technique with a wide variety of conditions. For example, if you’ve used iPhoto’s Faces feature to identify the people who appear in your pictures and never want to see that miserable worm JoJo again, just search for any images that contain him and banish them.
low res images
Who needs images shot in very low light with an under-performing camera?
The rub is that you can’t delete images from a smart album, so you’ll have to consider your next steps. One option is to select a poor image and choose Show Event from the small menu in the image’s bottom-right corner. This will take you to the event that holds this image. With luck, other images in this event are also not worth keeping. Delete those you don’t want.

Another option is to select all the images you don’t care for within the smart album and then rate them with 1 star (once they’re selected press Command-1 to assign the rating). Repeat this process with other smart albums and images. Once you’ve finished the job, select Photos in the Library column, click on the Search icon in the bottom-left corner, choose Rating, and click on the first star. Any images you’ve assigned a single star rating to will appear. These you can select and delete.
Finally, at the risk of appearing to be a scold, you may wish to be a bit more careful about which images you choose to import in the future. Do so and you won’t have to go through this kind of thing five years from now.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Without your Recovery Key, your Apple ID could be lost forever by Glenn Fleishman

Here’s a question that could change the rest of your digital life: Where is the Recovery Key for your Apple ID account?

If you haven’t enabled two-step verification on your Apple ID (or on multiple such accounts), you don’t have to answer that question, because you don’t have such an animal. If you have turned on this extra account protection, that question is vital, but don’t panic quite yet if you don’t have an answer.
Owen Williams of The Next Web documented the many hours of cold sweats he went through after someone attempted to crack his account, and Apple disabled normal access, as described in this support document. He couldn’t find his Recovery Key, and Apple said without it, his account data and access would be lost forever.

And that’s true. Apple has designed its two-step recovery system, just like iOS 8’s passcode protection and Mac OS X’s FileVault encryption, so that if the necessary credentials are lost, the firm cannot recover your data. It’s not just being perverse. Apple doesn’t retain information in a way that lets it gain access without key pieces of data or devices only you possess. If it has the secrets, then attackers can gain them, too, or it can be compelled to surrender them to government agents. (The one exception: FileVault offers an escrow option for your drive recovery key, but even then you have to provide precise information to Apple to unlock the encryption that’s surrounding your key.)
icloud 2fa login
Without your Recovery Key, Apple can’t let you back into your iCloud account—and you’ll lose everything you don’t have backed up locally. 
The fact that an attacked account is locked means that a malicious party could even weaponize that behavior into you losing your account access forever if you don’t know where you stashed your Recovery Key. Some of us set up two-factor authentication nearly two years ago when Apple first offered it.

It’s time to rummage through your records and make sure you have what you need to prevent someone’s attempt to poke your account—or you fumble-finger entering the wrong password a few too many times in a row—into a digital-life disaster. If you can’t find it, it’s past time to reset your Recovery Key and figure out a better way to retain it.

(Owen had a happy ending: Digging through Time Machine backups, he eventually found a picture he’d taken that had the key and was able to get back into his account.)

Recovery Key is your last-ditch effort

Apple built two-step verification around the notion that you’ll always have access to at least two of three things: your password, a trusted device, and your Recovery Key. If you lose your password, you enter the Recovery Key and get a message on a trusted iOS device or phone. If you lose all your trusted devices, you can use your password and Recovery Key to add new ones. Lose the Recovery Key, and you can log in and generate a new one.

However, this goes out the window if someone repeatedly enters the wrong password for your Apple ID into any of the places that Apple lets you use that account information. It’s as if your password were lost, because Apple has thrown it away. Now you absolutely need the Recovery Key, plus a trusted device.

It’s unlikely you’ll find yourself without all trusted devices, because Apple requires that you use SMS with at least one phone number, and a phone number isn’t tied to a physical device. In fact, if you can’t find your phone, and you’ve got iOS 8 installed on it, Yosemite on your Mac, and the phone remains logged into the same iCloud account as your Mac, SMS forwarding will deliver a trusted-device token right to the Mac OS X Messages app. (I raised some minor security issues about SMS forwarding a few weeks ago.) You can also get a carrier to put the number on another phone.

But that still means you need your Recovery Key. If you’re using two-step verification, likely because you’ve read this far, where is it? Did you print it out, take a photo, stash it in a password or data storage program? Tattoo it on your bicep? Do you know? If you can’t find it in less than five minutes, it’s time to reset it.
icloud replace recovery key
If you don’t know where your Recovery Key is, it’s time to get a new one. (The old one is invalidated.)
Go to the Apple ID page, click Manage Your Apple ID, and log in, if you haven’t already. Now you can click the Password and Security item in the left navigation bar, and click Replace Lost Key. Follow the steps here, and your old Recovery Key is made invalid and a new one created.
icloud replace key
Unlike Google, which gives you 10 recovery codes at a time, you only get one valid iCloud Recovery Key. 
Now, whether or not you just reset your Recovery Key, you need to keep good track of it from now on. And you need to ask yourself whether anyone else you know or any other location can be trusted with it, so that you’re not a single point of failure. By itself, a Recovery Key has no value: someone needs that plus one of your trusted devices or your password.

Thus, it would be smartest to put a backup copy (not the only copy!) somewhere that you can gain access to it, but someone else can’t, even if they hold it for you. Encrypt the key using ZIP-based archive encryption or an encrypted disk image via Disk Utility, put that on a USB flash drive, and give it to a friend or partner. Print it out, place it in an envelope, and put it into a safe-deposit box, or perhaps tape it into a drawer at your parents’ or children’s house. (For years, an old roommate and I had our alarm system emergency disable word taped inside a bookshelf for when we triggered it and inevitably forget it.)

This is certainly a significant drawback to Apple’s two-step verification: it’s actually so strong, that you can find yourself locked out when you haven’t reset your password—when you’re the victim of an attack. You can avoid this by making sure you know precisely where your Recovery Key is from now on.

5 Android apps that will make you say “Wow!” by Kim Komando

The Android operating system along with a huge range of gadgets from multiple manufacturers already offers users tons of options when picking out a tablet or smartphone. Better yet, the Android system has more apps available than any other mobile operating system out there. The more than 1.3 million apps listed in the Google Play Store can make you gadget do nearly anything you wish!

But with so many available apps to choose from, how do you make sure you find the best ones? After all, it would take nearly 150 years to download and try out every app in the store! But you can relax. I've done the leg work for you, sifting through the best, the most useful and the most unique apps.
For instance, how about an app that can read and translate messy handwriting to turn note pages into searchable documents?
MyScript screen shot
I also found great apps for streaming to your home big screen, improving your photography, recording dramatic time-lapse video and more. So come along as I share with you 5 amazing Android apps that will definitely make you say "Wow!"

MyScript Smart Note

Sometimes it seems like handwriting is becoming a lost art, yet there are still times when you have to jot down notes old school style. In the past, you then had to rewrite your scribbled handwriting on your gadget or computer if you want to store them or share with others.

Here comes MyScript Smart Note. This free app can read some of the worst handwriting and accurately convert it into searchable text files. Now this is not the first app from MyScript that can make sense of handwriting. Earlier I've told you about their amazing handwriting calculator app, MyScript Calculator, which calculates answers from handwritten math equations.

Using MyScript Smart Note, you can also draw, annotate, and insert pictures right into your notes.
MyScript screen shot 2
Then when MyScript Smart Note turns your handwritten words into interactive text, you can easily search your notes, such as the search for "word" in the screen shot above. Words and sentences can be quickly moved, split, joined, and erased by simple gestures. Searching for a word or sentences is simple, allowing handwritten notes to be managed with the same ease as any digital document. You can even interact with words you have written such as looking up definitions or checking your spelling.

MyScript Smart Note is a very practical application that help you save time and stay more organized. But when your work is done, how about a little entertainment? Coming up next is an app that makes your Android gadget the center of your home entertainment system.

AllCast

Your Android gadgets are great for finding and storing all kinds of photos, music, videos and movies. But admittedly, there are times you'd probably like to enjoy your content on a screen just a bit bigger than a phone or tablet, right? That's where AllCast comes in.
 
Chances are, you may already have some sort of streaming gadget at home hooked up to your big screen. AllCast lets you stream your Android screen to at least half a dozen different kinds of hardware. Right now the list includes Chromecast, Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, Xbox 360, Xbox One and Roku, plus Samsung, Sony and Panasonic Smart TVs.
AllCast Screen Shots
Note, this free version of AllCast has a five-minute streaming limit, which is probably OK for songs or short YouTube videos. If you enjoy AllCast, you may want to consider upgrading to the Premium version that allows unlimited streaming. AllCast Premium is available in the Google Play Store for $4.99.

After you've relaxed with a good movie, how about putting your own creativity to work with your Android gadget? Harness your camera, computing power and these next apps to make your own spectacular photos and videos.

VSCO Cam

I'm surprised when I see folks still toting around separate point-and-shoot cameras these days. Smartphone and tablet cameras now rival the quality of point-and-shoot camera in the $100 to $200 range. Plus, your Android gadget camera has something those little point-and-shoots can only dream of. Your Android has apps!

Photo apps on your Android tablet or smartphone can take your average snapshots from zero to "wow" in just seconds. But with so many photo editing, filter and organization apps in the store, where do you even begin. This is where I have you covered again. VSCO Cam (Visual Supply Company) is getting rave reviews for its simplicity and amazing results.
VSCO Screen Shots


But VSCO Cam is much more than just a photo editing app, it is kind of like social media that lets you share your photos with others and see other photos from around the world. But in the spirit of "beauty triumphs all," you won't see and "likes" or ratings on photos in the VSCO community. Just enjoy the ones you like and perhaps get some inspiration for your next photo adventure.

And if your next photo outing includes shooting some video, I've found a really interesting app for that, too.

Framelapse

Time-lapse photography is a powerful tool for showing events and changes that we usually can't see with the naked eye. Whether it's clouds boiling up over the horizon, the tide flowing out or a huge construction project, time-lapse photography condenses very slow changes down to just a few seconds of video, showing us the drama first hand. But while it may look pretty simple, time-lapse photography is actually pretty complicated to accomplish well. Not only do you need to do some basic arithmetic to convert hours of action into frames and seconds of video, there's also a huge challenge of dealing with changes in light over the time you want to shoot.

Framelapse is a very impressive app that handles all of these variables and more. With this free app, it is easy to program the period of time you wish to photograph and how long you want it to play back in video. You may also control your camera's exposure and white balance during the time-lapse run.

For example, if the sun is going in and out of clouds, you'd probably want the camera to automatically adjust the exposure according to the available light. But if you are shooting a sunset, you'd usually set the exposure to remain the same so your video shows the creeping darkness rather than constantly brightening up the scene.
Framelapse Screen Shots
I am very impressed with this easy-to-use app. However, as with any time-lapse photography, one of the most important considerations is to keep your gadget completely still while recording. But unlike tradition cameras with a secure socket to mount on a tripod, smartphones and tablets are a lot more difficult to secure for lengthy time-lapse photography. However, I found a clever little inexpensive three-leg stand that's perfect for holding your Android steady while shooting time-lapse. In fact, I liked this Flexible Tablet and Phone Stand so much, I've put it in my store and marked it down to less than $10 just for you. Plus, when you are not using it to shoot time-lapse video, it is also a handy little stand for watching videos.
Props-Phone-Stand-Resize
Besides shooting amazing photos and video, your Android gadget holds the power to render and display graphics that would have required a dedicated computer just a few years ago. To take show off all that graphics firepower, I found a beautifully crafted little game that's not only fun to play, it's even a feast for your eyes. Intrigued yet? Follow along and I'll show you.

Monument Valley

For all the practical utility we get out of our mobile gadgets day-in and day-out, it's also nice to take a break with a fun little game now and then. Monument Valley is not only a relaxing way to spend a few minutes, it is also built to take advantage of your gadget's graphics capabilities. Monument Valley is a surreal exploration through fantastical architecture and impossible geometry. Guide the silent princess Ida through mysterious monuments, uncovering hidden paths, unfolding optical illusions and outsmarting the enigmatic Crow People.
Monument Valley Screen Shots
Throughout Monument Valley you'll glide smoothly through 3-D designs, optical illusions and palaces and temples inspired by historic architecture from around the world. Every new screen is a unique, hand-crafted world ready to explore.

5 iOS apps that will make you say “Wow!” by Kim Komando

A new iPad or iPhone right out of the box is already an impressive piece of hardware. It's an oldcliche by now but well worth repeating: the computing power in your Apple gadget is about a million times more powerful than the computers that flew astronauts to the moon and back.

Yet for all that awesome power in the palm of your hand controlled by the slightest touch of your fingertip, you need more than what came in the box with your iPad or iPhone. You need apps! But fire up Apple's App Store on your screen and prepare to be overwhelmed.

At last count, the App Store featured 1.2 million titles all just begging for your download attention. By the way, if you tried to download an app every hour around the clock, it would take you nearly 140 years to try out every title in the App Store.

Perhaps you might consider narrowing your search to something more specific like "photography." Great! Now you only have 30,000 apps to sift through. With so many, many choices, what's an Apple fan to do to find fantastic, amazing apps that are worth your time and effort? Relax. I've already done the leg work for you.

Today, I want to show you my latest five favorite apps that take full advantage of iOS' amazing power. I found a couple of amazing photo apps, a beautiful graphics app with stunningly gorgeous visuals, plus my new favorite idea-sharing app and the easiest way to deal with passwords.

First, let me show you the photo apps. With every new model, Apple's cameras keep getting better and better. These days, the back-facing camera on current Apple gadgets rivals nearly any point-and-shoot camera. But there's something your iPad and iPhone can do that's well beyond the point-and-shoots.

Paper Camera

While both point-and-shoot cameras and iOS gadgets take great pictures, the apps we can install on Apple gear take photography to a whole new level. Paper Camera is an app that does an amazing job converting your snapshots from traditional photographs to incredibly convincing hand-drawn, sketched or painted versions.

Sure, filters like these have been around nearly as long as Photoshop, but Paper Camera does it with ease and delivers incredible results. That's why Paper Camera makes my list of Wow apps. Here's an original iPhone 6 photo along with a couple of Paper Camera treatments.
Paper Camera Examples
Paper Camera's free collection of cartoon, sketch, comic book, halftone, noir, neon and many other effects can be painted directly in your still or video camera all in real time. It's truly "What You See is What You Get." Or you can step through all the filters on existing photos. Plus, Paper Camera's controls give you nearly unlimited abilities to tweak and adjust your photos any way you wish.

Litely

If cartoon or sketch effects on your photographs are not your style, then check out Litely to transform your photos from average into the dramatic or dreamy.
Litely photo example
The free Litely Starter pack includes 9 gorgeous, professionally-crafted presets. There are dozens of additional pre-sets available as in-app purchases or strike out on your own with traditional editing controls to customize your master pieces. Best of all, you can change or undo any adjustment at any time, in any order. Your original photo is always preserved.

Now ready for something really amazing? Your Apple gadget can render graphics in real time that would have required a super computer not that long ago. So get ready to "wow" your friends with this impressive display!

Epic Zen Garden

Epic Zen Garden is not exactly a game. There are no opponents, scores or time limits. Instead, it is a vivid 3-dimension animated environment that you can explore to your heart's content. Throughout the app are stunning visuals of textures, reflections, fluttering cherry blossoms, swimming fish and flying birds.
Epic Zen Garden 1
But Epic Zen Garden isn't just for looking. As you explore, you'll discover surprise areas where you can interact with the environment. For instance, trying raking the sand or playing with the fish in the koi pond.
Epic Zen Garden sand rake
This free app is an amazing display of your iOS gear. I tried it on an iPhone 6 running the latest iOS 8 release and was very impressed with the smooth animations and deep, rich graphics. However, the publisher warns that even though it will install on older iPhones and iPads, the intense graphics may crash the app. It is recommended to run only on an iPhone 5s, iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, iPad Air or iPad mini with Retina display.

After you have properly impressed friends and family with your gorgeous Apple screen, let's get serious with an equally amazing yet very practical and handy app. This one also uses your gadget's camera, but it helps you organize your ideas and even shares them with others.

Post-it Plus

Ideas can be fickle little rascals when you are trying to wrap your brain around one and especially when you try to explain them to others who just can't see that which is so vivid inside your own head. That's exactly where this amazing little app comes in.

I know lots of folks use sticky notes to jot down ideas and arrange them into some sense of order. Depending on how complex your concept, these sticky notes could cover a board or even an entire wall. Which is fine, as long as you do all your work and thinking time right in front of your sticky note collection.

But we're mobile! We have gadgets with rechargeable batteries! Who wants to be stuck indoors just because that's where your "idea wall" is? Here comes Post-it Plus to the rescue. Post-it Plus is from 3M, the inventor of the little sticky Post-it Notes. This app gives you dramatic options for capturing, rearranging, sharing and carrying around your sticky note based ideas.

It all starts with a simple snapshot of your sticky note collection of up to 50 individual notes. But the magic of this app is what comes next. You can name, tag and rearrange individual notes plus add to the collection from other photos, all from your iPhone or iPad screen. Post-it Plus allows you to share and collaborate with others through other services including Evernote, Dropbox and Tumblr. You can also export versions to other file types like PowerPoint for presentations and such.
PostIt Plus Screenshots

Now for one last app that will not only make you say "wow," it may just help you sleep better at night. No, it's not one of those sleep monitoring apps, it's something that will help you feel safer, more secure and wonder how you ever got along without it!

1Password

2015 is already predicted to be "The Year of the Hack," as online crooks pull out every trick in the book to invade your privacy, steal your personal information and haul off your money. Your very first line of defense against the bad guys is using a strong password. There are several common mistakes that most people make when picking passwords. Find out what they are and how to avoid them.

Because you can't control which sites might get hacked and expose your passwords, you really need a different password for every single online account. I know it's a pain, but trust me, for your own safety, security and peace of mind, you need to do this.

Realistically, though, how's a person supposed to remember dozens or more different passwords, each with wacky combinations of letters, numbers and symbols? That's where the free 1Password app comes in. 1Password creates strong, unique passwords for every site, remembers them all for you and logs you in with a single tap.
1 Password Screen Shot A
1 Password screen shot
1Password is a simple-to-use, easy-to-understand app that keeps all your vital information in one secure vault. It stores your logins, credit cards and identities, along with anything else highly confidential such as home alarm codes, etc. You can log in to websites without having to remember any of your passwords.

When shopping online, it fills in your credit card numbers and identities without any additional typing. The built-in search function lets you easily and quickly find any of your stored information. Best of all, everything in your 1Password vault is protected by a Master Password that only you know. So instead of risking reusing old passwords or trying to remember dozens, just remember your one, single password to unlock all of your accounts.

Windows 10 will be a free upgrade for Windows 7 and 8.1 users by Nathan Ingraham

Microsoft's Windows 10 event is just getting started, and it sounds like the company is eager to make it as easy and cheap as possible for those running older versions of Windows to upgrade. Terry Myerson just announced on stage that, for the first year after Windows 10 launches, any device running Windows 7, Windows 8.1, or Windows Phone 8.1 will be able to upgrade to the latest version of MIcrosoft's OS — for free. How exactly this program will work isn't clear just yet — it'll certainly be subject to some hardware requirements, particularly for older machines running Windows 7. But a simplified upgrade path will likely do a lot to help Windows 10 adoption — rather than dealing with a number of different versions of Windows and different upgrade costs, most consumers will simply take this free update and enjoy running Microsoft's latest.

Beyond this, Myerson shared Microsoft's vision for Windows as a service, not just an operating system. A big part of that is Microsoft's new commitment to keep devices consistently updated throughout the "supported lifetime for the device." It sounds like that means those upgrading from Microsoft's older versions of Windows will consistently receive updates to keep it as up-to-date as possible. Myerson noted that this will let developer "target every single Windows device" when they build apps — anything that makes it easier for developers to reach more users will certainly be appreciated by both the developer community as well as end users.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

5 ways to free up space on your iPhone or iPad by Kim Komando

Your iPhone and iPad can help you do so much: communicate around the world, play games, take   pictures and videos, wake you up, help you sleep, keep your schedule, shop online, the list is endless.  Click here to get apps that help you do that and more.


While there's no limit to what you can do with your Apple gadget, there IS a limit to the amount of stuff you can store on your gadget, especially if you have a gadget that only had 16 gigabytes of space to begin with, like this one:
Full iPhone or iPad
You don't want to be taking video of your kid or grandchild's first step only to get an "out of memory" message. I've even heard from a number of people who couldn't upgrade to iOS 8 because there wasn't enough room for the download.

If your gadget fills up, though, don't worry. Clearing out space isn't too hard if you know the steps, and I'm going to give you step-by-step instructions.

1. Clear out apps

Look at your iPad or iPhone now and tell me how many of those apps you really use on a regular basis. I'm pretty sure there are one or two you can live without. If you can't decide which apps to clear out, I've got a trick that can help you decide.

In iOS 8, go to Settings>>General>>Usage>>Manage Storage. For iOS 7 and earlier it's just Settings>>General>>Usage. Here you'll see a list of apps and how much space they use. This helps you make an informed decision about where to go fat-trimming.

The screen you want looks like this:
Manage storage ios
Start with the largest apps (remember that one gigabyte is 1,000 megabytes) and decide which ones you really need them. To delete an app you don't want, simply tap its name. Then tap the "Delete App" button on the next screen.

Bonus tip: Of course, you can always delete an app from the home screen as well by tapping and holding the app icon and waiting for it to wiggle. Then tap the X that appears in the upper right corner of the icon.

Some apps cannot be deleted because they're built into iOS, and others you might not want to get rid of. If they're hogging too much space, however, there is another option.

Tap the app's name in the Manage Storage list and look at the "Documents & Data" area. That will tell you how much of the app is downloads or new information. You might discover you can keep that handy app if you just open it and clean out some of the music, movies, photos, documents and messages it's storing.

Speaking of cleaning out information, let's start with managing your photos.

2. Manage your photos

Look through your Camera Roll. Are there any accidental photos there. You know, photos of the floor, sky or doorway? Are most of your good photos already posted to social media?

To free up space, you can transfer and organize photos and videos on your home computer using iTunes, iPhoto and other programs like Dropbox or Picasa.

For Macs using iPhoto

Connect your phone (or tablet) to your Mac and iPhoto should open its import window showing the gadget's images and video clips. Then, click "Import All" or select which specific photos to transfer. There will also be options here to keep or delete photos.

It will look like this:
iPhoto photo sync menu

Photo from Apple.com

For PCs

For Windows 8 users, connect your iPhone or tablet to the computer then click on the magnifying glass icon in the upper right hand corner. Type "computer" and hit Enter. Right-click the logo for your phone or tablet and click "Import pictures and videos." Selection "More Options," then "Browse" and select where to import the photos to, which is the "My Pictures" folder by default.

From this window, you can select which photos to import, and which ones to delete. Click "Import" and you're all set. You also have the option to delete the photos from your phone or tablet after they are imported.

Duplicates

You can also think about the photos that you've already shared online. When you post to Instagram for example, the Instagram version of the photo is saved to the camera roll along with the original photo. You can clear out some room by getting rid of the duplicates.

And speaking of duplicates, did you know that your iPhone saves your photos not just to the Camera Roll, but to the Photo Stream as well? Photo Stream saves up to 1,000 of your most recent photos. That's a lot of duplicates.

First, see how much space the Photo Stream is taking up by using the steps I showed you earlier. If you've backed up your photos to another device, you can kill the Photo Stream completely. Go to Settings>>Photos & Camera>>My Photo Stream and turn it off.
sharing

3. Stream your music

If you have a really large music library, you can still carry it with you without filling up your gadget.
Apple's iTunes Match will hold your entire music library in the cloud and stream to you the songs you want. Sure it costs $25 a year, but that's better than spending hundreds on a new gadget with more storage.

Google Play Music is another one solution. This service can hold your entire iTunes library and stream your music to you whenever you want. The only space it takes up is for the Google Play Music app, not each individual song or album. There's also an option to get a subscription to add new music and movies, much like iTunes.

Of course that's not your only option for streaming music instead of storing it. Click here to start exploring all of your streaming music options. 

4. Stream your movies

Five feature-length HD movies loaded on an iPad will take up 15GB or more of space. A dozen one-minute videos you shot at birthday parties and other celebrations can add another 1GB. There's all of your storage gone, or at least a large chunk of it depending on your gadget's storage size.

If you purchased movies via iTunes, it's safe to assume that those are backed up on your computer. If they are, then you can delete movies and TV episodes from your mobile gadgets with ease.

To remove an entire series, go back into the Usage menu (Settings>>General>>Usage) and tap Videos. Then, select the series you want to delete by sliding to the left. Otherwise, you will need to tap Edit and hit the minus symbols to delete them one by one.

5. iCloud

Let's move on to iCloud. Apple's cloud service backs up your information daily so that if you lose your gadget or upgrade to a new iPhone or iPad, you can make the new gadget nearly identical to the old one.

By default, iCloud backs up data for every app you have, but with only 5GB of space for free, you're probably going to fill it up quickly. You can save iCloud space by backing up data only for your most critical apps.

For instance, it's probably more important to back up an always-changing, critical productivity app, such as Keynote, than to back up the data for a utility app, such as Calculator.
Go to Settings>>General>>Usage again and scroll down to iCloud. You'll see how much online storage you have available.

Under iCloud, tap Manage Storage, then the gadget you want to manage. Now you can choose the data you want to back up. When you deselect an item, it will be removed from iCloud.

The big hog in iCloud is usually the Camera Roll. Whenever you take a picture or video, it gets filed in Camera Roll. If you have hundreds of different files scattered across Camera Rolls on multiple gadgets, iCloud makes a complete copy of each one.

This is why you get a warning about deleting a photo from iCloud when you try to delete photos on your gadget. If you don't need the picture anymore, go ahead and delete it from iCloud and follow the instructions I detailed above for backing up your photos without taking up all this storage space.

Other tips

  • Do you save all of your text messages? If you never clear those out, now might be the time. This goes for voicemails, too.
  • Delete Safari history and cache by going to Settings>>Safari and click Clear History and Clear Cookies and Data.
  • Clear out your Reading List in Safari. Open the Safari app (assuming you browse with Safari), and click the Bookmark icon option at the bottom. It looks like an open book. From there, click on the glasses icon and swipe left on any pages you want to delete.

The ultimate guide to how and where to use Apple Pay by Leah Yamshon


Roughly one month after we first saw a demo of Tim Cook scanning an iPhone at a cash register to Apple Pay arrived for the rest of us to check out. But before you go blowing your entire paycheck on everything from big handbags to Big Macs, there are a few things to keep in mind about the platform. Read on to learn more about how Apple Pay works, how to get your iPhone ready for it, and most importantly, where you can go test it out yourself.
buy stuff,

What's the latest?

Apple rolled out Apple Pay compatibility with 15 more credit unions and banks on Tuesday, bringing the total number up to more than 45. These just-added banks and credit unions are:
  • A+ Federal Credit Union
  • Amegy Bank of Texas
  • America First Credit Union
  • Bethpage Federal Credit Union
  • California Bank & Trust
  • Connex Credit Union
  • Goldenwest FCU
  • Huntington Bank
  • KeyPoint Credit Union
  • Meijer Credit Union
  • National Bank of Arizona
  • Nevada State Bank
  • The Bank of Greene County
  • Vectra Bank
  • Zions First National Bank
While we don't have broad numbers about how successful Apple Pay has been with banks across the board, Bank of America reported that around 800,000 of its customers have linked 1.1 million cards with Apple Pay between its launch on October 20, 2014 and the end of the year.

Want to use Apple Pay? Get your iPhone ready

In order to use Apple Pay, you need to have a compatible device and the right version of iOS. For in-store purchases, Apple Pay is compatible with the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, which are the only iPhones equipped with the requisite NFC radio antennae. Besides NFC compatibility, the other piece of the hardware puzzle is a Touch ID sensor, but iPhone 5S owners are out of luck. For in-app purchases, Apple Pay works with the iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, iPad Air 2, and iPad mini 3—again, thanks to the Touch ID sensor.


You’ll also need to update your iPhone to iOS 8.1 or newer, which will turn on your phone’s Apple Pay feature.

Once your iPhone is in order, you’ll need to link up a credit or debit card to use for payments. As of January 20, Apple’s confirmed credit and debit partners are: 
  • A+ Federal Credit Union
  • Amegy Bank of Texas
  • America First Credit Union
  • American Express
  • Associated Bank
  • Bank of America
  • Barclaycard
  • BB&T (Branch Banking & Trust)
  • Bethpage Federal Credit Union
  • Black Hills Federal Credit Union
  • California Bank & Trust
  • Capital One
  • Chase
  • Citi
  • Commerce Bank
  • Connex Credit Union
  • Consumers Credit Union
  • Customers Bank
  • Cyprus Federal Credit Union
  • Dupaco Community Credit Union
  • FAIRWINDS Credit Union
  • First Tennessee Bank
  • Fremont Bank
  • Goldenwest FCU
  • Huntington Bank
  • Idaho Central Credit Union
  • J.P. Morgan
  • KeyPoint Credit Union
  • L & N Federal Credit Union
  • M&T Bank
  • MasterCard
  • Meijer Credit Union
  • Merrill Lynch
  • Mountain America Credit Union
  • National Bank of Arizona
  • National Institutes of Health FCU
  • Navy Federal Credit Union
  • Nevada State Bank
  • Partners Federal Credit Union
  • PNC
  • Regions Bank
  • Security Service Federal Credit Union
  • SunTrust
  • TCF National Bank
  • TD Bank N.A.
  • The Bank of Greene County
  • U.S. Bank
  • U.S. Trust
  • USAA
  • UW Credit Union
  • Vectra Bank
  • Virginia Credit Union
  • Visa
  • Wells Fargo
  • WesBanco Bank
  • Zions First National Bank
If you already have one of these partner cards linked to your Apple ID for making iTunes and App Store purchases, you can opt to keep using that card with Apple Pay.

You can also add different cards—just launch Passbook and tap the plus-sign in the top-right corner. You'll then be prompted to add either a credit or debit card to use with Apple Pay, or another pass to store in Passbook. Tap "Add Another Card," then follow the entry fields on the next screen. You can speed this up by taking a picture of your card with your iPhone.

Whether you're using the card already linked to your Apple ID or adding a new one, your iPhone will guide you through the setup process, which includes verifying your card, granting Apple Pay access, and then storing it in Passbook. Be sure to have your card handy so you can verify the card with its security code.

The card linked to your Apple ID will be listed as your default Apple Pay card, but you can always change that by going to Settings > Passbook & Apple Pay and updating your transaction defaults information.

How it works

When buying something at a brick-and-mortar store, you’ll hold your iPhone up to a wireless payment terminal near the cash register, and then use Touch ID to complete your purchase. These sensors are the same ones you’ve already seen in stores, often equipped with both card swipers and a tap-to-pay contactless terminal. The beauty of Apple Pay is that you don't even need to wake up your iPhone or launch Passbook—your phone wakes up automatically when it gets in range of the terminal and initiates the payment process.
mcdonalds apple pay McDonald's
Scan your phone, and press Touch ID. That's it. 
If you’re buying something through a partnered online store on your iPhone, iPad Air 2, or iPad mini 3, you’ll just use Touch ID to complete the purchase. Depending on the app, you may have to toggle on a setting to allow the app to access Apple Pay, or to set Apple Pay as your default method of payment.

Get shopping 

What makes Apple Pay such a game-changer is how many retail partners the platform has, with new stores being added constantly. Besides the Apple Store, you can use Apple Pay at these brick-and-mortar stores:
  • Aeropostale
  • American Eagle Outfitters
  • Babies ‘R’ Us
  • Bi-Lo
  • BJ’s Wholesale Club
  • Bloomingdale’s
  • Champs Sports
  • Chevron and Texaco, including retail stores like ExtraMile
  • The Disney Store
  • Duane Reade
  • Foot Locker, including Kids Foot Locker, Lady Foot Locker, House of Hoops, and Run by Foot Locker
  • Footaction
  • Harveys Supermarket
  • Jewel Osco
  • Macy’s
  • McDonald’s
  • Meijer
  • Nike
  • Office Depot
  • Panera Bread
  • Petco and Unleashed by Petco
  • RadioShack
  • Sephora
  • Shaws
  • Six:02
  • Sports Authority
  • Staples
  • Star Market
  • Subway
  • Toys ‘R’ Us
  • United Supermarkets
  • Walgreens
  • Wegmans
  • Whole Foods Market
  • Winn-Dixie
A few more stores will rollout Apple Pay compatibility sometime in 2015:
  • Acme
  • Albertsons
  • Anthropologie
  • Free People
  • Urban Outfitters
  • Walt Disney World Resort
For in-app checkouts, Apple Pay works with a handful of apps:
  • 20Stamps
  • Airbnb
  • Apple Store app
  • Chairish
  • Dapper
  • Dealflicks Movies
  • Disney Store
  • Drync
  • Eventbrite
  • Fancy
  • Flextrip
  • Gametime
  • GoldieBlox and the Movie Machine
  • Groupon
  • Hotel Tonight
  • Houzz
  • Indiegogo
  • Instacart
  • JackThreads
  • Keep Shopping
  • Levi's Stadium
  • LIFX
  • Lyft
  • Merchbar
  • MLB.com
  • OpenTable
  • Panera Bread
  • Pose
  • Postmates
  • Priceline
  • Print Studio
  • Sephora
  • Sosh
  • SpotHero - Parking Deals
  • Spring
  • Staples
  • Stayful
  • Target
  • ThirdLove
  • Threadflip
  • Ticketmaster
  • TouchOfModern
  • Uber
Starbucks' and StubHub's apps are expected to start supporting Apple Pay sometime in 2015, as well.

Microsoft unveils Windows 10 details by Kim Komando

Windows 10 is the next major version of Microsoft Windows, and it's due out later this year.

Microsoft is hoping 10 will placate its customers after Windows 8 turned out to be really unpopular, not without good reason.

Over the last year, Microsoft has been slowly releasing details about the new release, but today it gave a full demonstration of the upcoming operating system. So, is there anything in there that's going to make you upgrade? Let's find out.

Basic tweaks

As promised, Windows 10 is going to fix many of the mistakes in Windows 8. It brings back a version of the Start Menu, and ditches the Start Screen on desktops and laptops.

Apps are now loaded in windows, just like traditional programs, so you can move them around the screen however you want. Windows 10 will also streamline tablet and computer settings so you aren't hunting through multiple areas for the settings you're used to. In other words, it works more like Windows 7.

There will also be some new features like improved notifications and virtual desktops, which I've mentioned before. However, there are five new things Microsoft revealed.

1. Universal Windows

Despite the problems computer users had with Windows 8, it actually worked well on tablets. Windows 10 will also still work on computers and tablets, as well as smaller gadgets like smartphones. However, now it's smarter thanks to Continuum.

Continuum detects what kind of gadget you're using and adjusts the interface so you have the best one for the screen. On desktops and laptops, it works just classic Windows. On a tablet, it works like Windows 8 with the Start Screen and full-screen apps.

The payoff is when you have a tablet that plugs into a keyboard or a convertible laptop that turns into a touch screen tablet. Windows can seamlessly switch between modes as you change how you're using the gadget.

That means your open full-screen apps in tablet mode turn into windowed apps in desktop mode. You can even arrange your windows in desktop mode and they'll remember where they were when you switch back from tablet mode. It's truly like having two separate gadgets in one.

2. Always-on personal assistant

A while back, Microsoft debuted Cortana, which is its answer to Apple's Siri and Google's Google Now personal assistants. So far Cortana has only been available in Windows Phone, but now it's going to be in Windows 10.

So, you simply need to say to your computer, "Hey Cortana," and she'll be ready to help you out. You can ask her if you need a jacket tomorrow, to show you family photos from Christmas, run Web searches, look for files on the computer and much more. She's powered by the Bing search engine, so she's good at understanding requests and finding helpful answers.

Cortana has a notebook, which records everything she knows about you. So, if you're on a special diet, you can ask for recipes and she'll know which ones she shouldn't show you. She'll know if you're married, have kids, have pets, upcoming flights, hobbies and much more. Of course, you can open up the notebook and edit or delete the information at any time.

3. Connected gadgets

Microsoft's big push with Windows 10 is ecosystem. It wants your computers, tablets and smartphones to be completely interconnected. It's doing that with universal apps that work the same on every gadget and sync everything do on one with every one using the cloud.

So, if you ask Cortana for directions on your computer, she'll remember it for you on your Windows smartphone. Office documents, messages and anything else you do on one gadget will be available on every Windows gadget.

Microsoft is even going to allow music on its OneDrive cloud service that you can then stream to any Windows gadget, similar to Google Play Music, Amazon Music or iTunes Match.

4. New browser

That's right, Microsoft is releasing a new browser to replace Internet Explorer on every gadget. Right now it's code named Spartan.

It has a new rendering engine that's going to be faster and display websites better. There's a newer, sleeker look that takes a back seat so you can better focus on the content you're looking at.
Microsoft specifically highlighted three new features.

1. Note-taking mode. This lets you annotate Web pages either by drawing or typing comments. You can then save and share the page with the annotations with your co-workers or friends.

2. Reader mode. This makes any webpage easier to read by stripping out extra confusing elements. It also includes a reading list so you can save content to read later, even when you don't have an Internet connection.

3. Cortana built in. Cortana will pop up answers to questions before you can finish asking them. So if you're headed to an airline site to check on a flight status, she'll show you the flight details before you even finish typing the address. If you're on a restaurant website she can show you directions, hours of operation and even if there are dishes that fit your diet. You can also right-click any word or phrase online and Cortana will give you more information.

5. Gaming

Microsoft isn't just bringing together computers, tablets and smartphones, it's also bringing the Xbox One gaming console into the mix. Certain supported games will allow gamers on computers, tablets and Xbox to play together in the same game.

Windows 10 will also let you stream games from the Xbox One to your computer or tablet so you can play anywhere. Windows-based games will also now have links to Xbox Live for uploading game videos and chatting with Xbox Live friends.

Conclusion

So far, Windows 10 is shaping up to be a great Windows release. It looks like Microsoft is learning from its mistakes with Windows 8 and making the right moves.

I know plenty of people are going to still stick with Windows 7 as long as possible (it will get security updates until 2020), just like people did with Windows XP. However, if you're buying a new computer, Windows 10 is going to be much more friendly than Windows 8.

I'm not sure yet how useful Cortana is going to be on a desktop or laptop, but it's an additional option not a replacement for the keyboard and mouse, so having it around can't hurt.

Our Collective Mobile Security Blind Spot by Jason Ankeny

Jose Quintero knows all too well how much havoc a lost smartphone can wreak on a business. Years before he became director of information services at law firm Bush Gottlieb, Quintero worked as an automated systems analyst at an international firm with more than 700 attorneys across 15 offices.

Unknown to Quintero and others on staff, one of those attorneys transferred all his documents, photos and data from his laptop to his new iPhone, failing to back up the content onto a separate hard drive in the process.

"Not long after, his laptop got hit with a virus. All of its data was lost," Quintero recalls. "Then he lost the iPhone, and all of that data was lost forever."

Quintero refused to let history repeat itself when he joined Glendale, Calif.-based Bush Gottlieb last year. He enlisted mobile security solutions firm Marble Security to implement a cloud-based, companywide program safeguarding phones and tablets against loss and theft, as well as malware, Trojans, phishing attacks and other cyber threats.

"Mobile devices are practically laptops in pockets," Quintero says. "We have people reviewing sensitive documents and sending documents to colleagues. Mobile security technology allows me to lock down a device that's been stolen or gone missing, wipe it remotely (i.e., delete all the files) and change the password if necessary. The hardware is not the concern here. It's the data."

Mobile security isn't a concern that's exclusive to law firms, healthcare providers and other verticals dealing with hypersensitive client data. Fifty-three percent of companies surveyed by internet security provider Check Point Software Technologies store sensitive customer information on mobile devices, and that percentage is expected to skyrocket as business continues to migrate from the desktop to phones and tablets. This is especially true given how many organizations are embracing money-saving "bring your own device" (BYOD) policies that allow staffers to use their own Apple iOS and Google Android products for professional purposes.

Threat #1
Malicious apps
Once downloaded to smartphones and tablets, these apps--often disguised as spinoffs of popular apps and games--engage in malicious activities like sending messages to certain numbers and registering users to premium services, or installing adware.

Protect yourself: Download apps only from trustworthy sources such as Apple's App Store and Google Play.
 
Roughly 60 percent of small businesses have implemented BYOD initiatives, according to a recent survey conducted by Spiceworks, an online community for IT professionals. But more than half of small to midsize enterprises that support BYOD are either unaware of or defenseless against mobile security hazards like malicious apps, domain-name system poisoning (changing an IP address to divert visitors to a rogue website) and jailbroken devices (in which the user removes operating system limitations imposed by manufacturers and network operators), a Marble Security survey reveals.

Small Business at Risk

While cyber criminals have historically targeted large enterprises, that dynamic is changing as corporations make heavy investments to apply more sophisticated security measures. The move has pushed digital predators' focus to smaller, more vulnerable targets: In its most recent findings, cyber-security firm Symantec reported that in 2012, 31 percent of targeted attacks were aimed at businesses with fewer than 250 employees, up from 18 percent the previous year.
Mobile Insecurity
Shockingly, many businesses don't seem to care. Among 1,000-plus U.S. SMBs surveyed by Office Depot and digital-security giant McAfee, 66 percent expressed confidence that their data and devices are secure and safe from hackers, and 77 percent said they haven't been hacked. Experts say the discrepancies between the Symantec and McAfee reports suggest that many small businesses are not even aware they've been attacked.

"Small businesses feel that cyber threats are not relevant to them and that attackers are only going after larger companies. But they have many of the same valuable customer assets, like credit card numbers and e-mail addresses, just on a smaller scale," says Adam Ely, co-founder and COO of San Francisco-based mobile data security vendor Bluebox Security. "SMBs typically run fast and loose to get things done in a cost-effective way, but they have to realize that security is part of running a business."

Threat #2
Malicious mobile sites
Cyber criminals use fake URLs that can auto-fill mobile browsers to ensnare and infect devices with malware and spyware. Security firm Symantec reports that 61 percent of malicious websites are legitimate sites compromised by nefarious code.

Protect yourself: Bookmark websites you frequent, manually input the complete URL to other sites, and be cautious when opening hyperlinks.
 
The shift to mobile computing dramatically expands the risks facing small businesses. Security-software firm Trend Micro identified 1 million malicious and risky Android applications in the third quarter of 2013, surging from 425,000 at the beginning of the year. But Ely maintains that internal data leaks pose an even greater peril.

"It's a different world from 10 years ago, when only people with certain permissions were allowed access to data," Ely says. "Now we're in a situation where data is spread across Salesforce and Dropbox, and moving around everywhere it can possibly creep into. That's why small businesses must reduce risk by managing data and applying basic controls like device security and data security."

BYOD Concerns

The rise of BYOD further complicates the issue. It's a strategy that makes obvious sense for businesses: Networking titan Cisco reports that U.S. companies can save as much as $3,150 per employee per year by implementing comprehensive BYOD programs that allow personal smartphones and tablets to access all the resources employees need to perform their duties. The savings derive from estimated productivity increases as well as from shifting mobile hardware and services costs to employees: The average BYOD staffer spends $965 on devices and an additional $734 per year on wireless network coverage, Cisco says.

Threat #3
Smishing
SMS-based phishing ("smishing") schemes send consumers text messages containing a link to a fraudulent website or phone number created to collect personal information such as bank-account data.

Protect yourself: Avoid clicking links within text messages, especially if the sender is someone you don't know. Never respond to texts that request personal data, and beware of messages sent from "5000" or other numbers that are not conventional 10-digit phone numbers.
 
But because employees own these devices outright, they feel free to use them however they wish--activities that may include downloading potentially nefarious applications from third-party storefronts or jailbreaking their phones. Some staffers also may balk at letting employers implement comprehensive security controls on their devices.

"Small businesses need to focus on the people-and-process side of mobile security," says Sean Ginevan, director of business development for Mountain View, Calif.-based enterprise mobility management provider MobileIron. "It's critical to ensure that the end-user is opting in and trusts their IT department. Recent studies say that end-users believe IT has more Big Brother tendencies than are actually possible, and that causes wariness to participate [in mobile security efforts]."

Ginevan says employers should clearly define the security protocols in place for BYOD employees, assuring them that the goal is to safeguard their mobile devices against hackers, theft and loss, while guaranteeing that IT staffers have no interest in probing any personal content stored alongside professional tools. That means implementing mobile security protocols that protect sensitive business data without monitoring personal usage, complete with tools to remotely wipe business information, documents and e-mail accounts in the event a device is lost or stolen, or if the employee moves on to another organization.

"Building a relationship with the end-user is essential," Ginevan says. "You need to assure them that you're not going to look at photos of their family or look at their music library, but you will make sure their device is properly secured."

What Can Be Done

So what kinds of mobile-device checks and balances should small businesses implement? Marble's cloud-based security client application integrates real-time intelligence derived from machine data, as well as mobile user and device attributes like location, installed apps and network connection data, to apply dynamic risk scores to each device. The result is that IT administrators and users can detect threats and remedy them instantly. The solution costs $3 per user per month and spans all of each user's devices.
Threat #4
Unsecured Wi-Fi attacks
Shopping, banking or even accessing company documents over unsecured Wi-Fi connections can enable hackers to access your phone or tablet and steal its data.

Protect yourself: Limit all online banking and shopping to your secure home or office network. Eschew voice-over-IP apps and instant messaging services that automatically connect to nearby hotspots.
 
MobileIron's Anyware solution touts enterprise-grade data privacy protection tools for company e-mail, apps and content. The cloud-based service offers easy configuration and personalized app and content catalogs, as well as app ratings and recommendations from co-workers. Firms running the Salesforce platform may use Anyware to block untrusted devices, wipe business apps when required, configure Wi-Fi and e-mail, and manage all mobile devices companywide via the Salesforce interface.

"We can tailor Anyware to tackle the SMB use case for about the price of a cup of coffee per month--$4 per device," MobileIron's Ginevan says. (At press time, Bluebox was in beta and unable to divulge specifics on its programs and pricing.)

While that price may feel steep to some SMBs, at the very least they can follow the advice to put into practice some kind of written security-enforcement policy, even if they opt against adopting premium-price protections. "Telling employees, 'Don't jailbreak your phones' or 'Don't download these apps' is better than nothing," Jevans says. Still, he estimates that 75 to 80 percent of companies have yet to put even bare-minimum security protocols in place.

Those laggards are likely going to be sorry. The issue is only going to grow more serious as mobile technology expands and more of our personal, financial and business lives flow through smartphones and tablets. With so much sensitive and meaningful data stored on each device, any kind of data breach has the potential to be catastrophic.
 

Vulnerable Things

As the internet expands, it's not just your phone that will be hacked
The internet's migration from desktop PCs to mobile devices is just the first stop on its journey to total hardware domination. Web connections are rapidly expanding beyond computing devices to everything from parking meters to refrigerators. Research firm BI Intelligence forecasts that the so-called Internet of Things will account for 9 billion device connections in 2018, roughly comparable to the number of smartphones, tablets, PCs, smart TVs and wearable computers combined.

As the internet bleeds into all corners of daily life, security concerns will follow. Researchers already have identified malware capable of hacking a car through its infotainment system and warn that something as seemingly innocuous as a Wi-Fi-enabled digital picture frame could allow intruders to access a home's entire network of connected devices and private information.

"Old technologies were not built to be interconnected and slapped on the internet, so they're not the most secure things," says Adam Ely, co-founder of San Francisco-based mobile data security vendor Bluebox Security. "That means we're going to see attacks by people looking to compromise these devices."

Because hackers typically target devices that have achieved widespread adoption, it isn't worth losing sleep over Internet of Things security--at least not yet. But as connected devices become commonplace, watch out.

"Just like we didn't have PC viruses and then suddenly we did, we will have viruses for the Internet of Things," Ely says. "Once any device becomes popular and powerful enough, it will be attacked."

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Last chance: Watch these Netflix movies while they last, plus what's new in February by Kim Komando

It's that time again! Licenses for individual movies and TV shows are set to expire on Netflix at the end of the month, so that means it's time to watch certain titles before they disappear forever. But don't worry, the streaming video service also regularly adds news films as well.


So what's going to be new in February? And what should you watch before it goes away at midnight on January 31st? We've got lots to look forward to.
There's Season Three of Netflix Original "House of Cards," the first five seasons of "M*A*S*H" and cartoon favorites "Mr. Peabody & Sherman."

But first, don't miss these favorite titles before they disappear. Three different Batman movies - "Batman & Robin," "Batman Forever" and "Batman Returns" - will all heading back to the bat cave. "Goldfinger," "Dirty Rotten Scoundrels," "Nacho Libre," "Spaceballs" and the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie from 1990 are also set to drop out of Netflix's streaming list.

Get your sweatpants on, fire up the popcorn, grab a blanket and enjoy! It's binge-watching time! 

What's going - Last chance to watch!

  • Airheads
  • Ali
  • Apocalypse Now Redux
  • Arbitrage
  • A View to Kill
  • Blackadder: Seasons 1-4
  • Babes in Toyland
  • Batman & Robin
  • Batman Forever
  • Batman Returns
  • Cocoon: The Return
  • Dirty Rotten Scoundrels
  • Dredd
  • Down Periscope
  • For Your Eyes Only
  • From Russia With Love
  • Goldfinger
  • Hotel Babylon: Seasons 1-4
  • Jane Eyre
  • Jem and the Holograms: Seasons 1-3
  • Live and Let Die
  • Mad Max
  • M*A*S*H
  • MI-5: Seasons One-Ten
  • Monkey Trouble
  • My Little Pony Friendship is Magic: Seasons 1-4
  • Nacho Libre
  • Never Say Never Again
  • Panic Room
  • Pound Puppies: Seasons 1-3
  • Red Dwarf: Seasons 1-9
  • Revenge
  • School Daze
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Movie (1990)
  • The Juror
  • Transformers Prime: Seasons 1-3
  • Transformers: Rescue Bots
  • Wishmaster

What's new

Note: Not all titles will be available February 1st. They will gradually be rolled out over the course of the month.
February 1
  • Bleach the Movie: Hell Verse
  • The Brothers Bloom
  • Dark Ride
  • Departures: Seasons 1-2
  • Gimme Shelter
  • Gucci: The Dictator
  • Hot Pursuit
  • Houseboat
  • Into the Blue 2: The Reef
  • Joe
  • King Arthur
  • Magic City: Seasons 1 and 2
  • M*A*S*H: Seasons 1-5
  • Naruto Shippuden: The Movie
  • NOW: In the Wings on a World Stage
  • Proof
  • Spartacus: The Complete Series
  • We Could Be King
  • We’re No Angels
  • Zapped
Being added after February 1st: 
  • 1,000 Times Good Night
  • Blood Ties
  • Boys
  • Catch Hell
  • Danger 5
  • Dead Snow: Red vs. Dead
  • Dwight Howard: In the Moment
  • Earth to Echo
  • Elsa & Fred
  • Ever After High: Spring Unsprung
  • Hawaii Five-O: Seasons 1-4
  • House of Cards: Season 3
  • In Secret
  • The Fluffy Movie
  • The Little Rascals Save the Day
  • The Overnighters
  • Mako Mermaids: Season 2
  • Mr. Peabody & Sherman
  • Open Windows
  • Ralphie May: Unruly
  • Richie Rich: Season 1
  • RoboCop
  • Russell Brand: Messiah Complex
  • Save the Date
  • Scary Movie 5
  • Young Ones