Every Microsoft product has a lifecycle. XP expired in April of 2014, Vista expired in April of 2017, and soon Windows 7 will be coming to an end.
With the relative ease of finding information about anyone via the internet, search engines and social media, sleuthing around is now par for the course. But it goes deeper than that. Every institution that you plan on dealing with wants to glean your history, whether you want it or not.
Applying for a job? Planning on renting an apartment? Trying to get insurance? It's more than likely that the companies, institutions and even individuals you've come in contact with will all run a background check on you.
Simply put, information and privacy go both ways and it's all in the name of security -- you want to know more about them, and vice-versa, they want to know more about you. And mind you, these reports are comprehensive and they may include your income level, loans, debts, criminal records and other sensitive data.
This is why it's important that you run a background check on yourself and see what data these institutions, prospective employers and various companies can request about you.
It's recommended that you occasionally check your records and always make sure they're accurate and complete. Why? Well, these background checks can drastically affect various aspects of your life.
Amazon’s Echo Dot is quickly becoming a household staple, and for good reason. It’s the personal assistant, smart home accessory and voice-activated speaker that’s tough to pass up.
If you’ve recently purchased one of these nifty gadgets, or have had one but haven’t maxed out it’s full potential, you may be wondering how to make the most of your purchase.
Bonus: Amazon's Alexa can now remind you to turn off the lights and feed the dog. Is this a great breakthrough or just plain creepy? In this episode of Consumer Tech Update, Kim looks at a new feature of the Amazon Alexa that can learn your behavior and then predict what you're going to do next.
The artificial intelligence function built into the device, Alexa, does so much more than play songs from your phone’s playlist. The Echo Dot can make life simpler. All it takes is a few quick words and viola! Before you know it, you’ve re-ordered you shampoo on Amazon and put together a shopping list for tomorrow’s grocery store trip.
So, you’ve made the leap. You’re the proud owner of an Echo Dot. Now that you’re ready to get all you can of your device, there’s a few things you should know.
When you want to ask your Echo Dot to do something, the default setting requires you to call it "Alexa." Just say it’s name and it will wake up and start listening to your request.
But what if there’s already a human or pet named Alexa living in the household? Fortunately, there are a few other options. In the settings on the Alexa app, you can change the device’s "wake word" from Alexa to "Amazon," "Echo" or "Computer."
You may have heard that the Echo Dot can tell kids bedtime stories. With a simple request, Alexa will tell a short, five minute story to help your little ones drift off to sleep.
What you may not know is that the story can be personalized to include their name. Just include it in your request by saying something like "Alexa, tell a bedtime story to Jacob." Alexa will then incorporate the name "Jacob" into whatever story she tells.
For those living in a home where more than one family member has an Amazon account, creating separate profiles for your Echo Dot can allow everyone to enjoy the device with their own preferences. It’s easy to set up in the Alexa app under Alexa Account > Alexa Household Profile.
Using multiple profiles allows for shared content and collaboration on to-do lists, calendars and shopping lists. If you want Alexa to change preferences when you are talking to it versus, say, your teenage child with wildly different taste in music, you can set up voice profiles, allowing Alexa to recognize your voice when you make a request.
As smart home products become more mainstream, it’s easier than ever to turn your home into a smart home using your Echo Dot. When you purchase compatible smart home devices, you can use Alexa to turn on and off lights or electronic devices.
Some new smart home appliances allow you to do even more like preheat your oven, check if your laundry is done drying, or ask your refrigerator what to make for dinner.
If you’re lucky enough to own more than one Amazon Echo device, you can turn your home into a full-blown communication hub.
Make a call from one device to the other or send messages to your family member in the other room. You can even ask Alexa to "Make an announcement" and it will share the message across all connected devices. When it’s time for dinner, you can let the entire family know without leaving the kitchen or yelling up the staircase.
The Echo Dot has revolutionized the way we operate in our homes. The device provides entertainment, utility and hands free operation of a growing number of appliances and other devices. No matter how you use your Amazon Echo Dot, there’s sure to be a feature that makes your life easier.
Open sesame! It sure would be nice if you could just shout a simple passphrase at your phone and unlock all its secrets. It might not be quite that simple, but we’ve got some cool iPhone features to show you that you may not know about.
There’s a lot going on in Apple’s mobile operating system, and it’s hard to know about every little trick. Sometimes they’re not obvious. Sometimes they’re overlooked.
Check out these seven cool hidden features that will make your iPhone experience even better. They’re all present in iOS 12, but you may also find them in earlier operating systems. It’s a good idea to update to the latest version of iOS 12 if your phone is compatible. A lot of these features also work for iPads, so feel free to experiment with your tablet as well!
You’re in Safari and you’re way, way down a web page, but now you want to get back to the top. You don’t have to wear your fingertip out scrolling back up. Just double-tap in the bar at the top of the page, without double tapping the URL.
This tip works for other apps as well; just try a single or double tap at the top to get back to where you started. You may have to play around a little bit to find the sweet spot.
There’s a secret touchpad hiding out in your keyboard. Depending on your phone or tablet, there are a couple of ways to access it. On many newer iPhones, you just need to press down on any key and you will see the keyboard become blank. Now, you can move your finger around and the cursor will move with you.
On some iPhones and iPads, you will need to hold down on the space bar to access this mode. It’s a great way to move around in a document, or just simply place your cursor somewhere specific in an email, text or note.
Do you write a lot on your iPhone or iPad? You’ll never be at a loss for the right word again when you enable Apple’s thesaurus option.
Open Settings, tap on General and then Dictionary. Tap on British English Oxford Thesaurus of English. To try this out, head into Notes and type the word “cat.” Double-tap on the word and choose Look Up. Now you will see a list of synonyms along with the usual dictionary definitions.
You don’t have to start over if you accidentally tap in the wrong number in Apple’s iPhone Calculator app. Just swipe left on the Calculator display to delete the last digit. And don’t forget that you can access more advanced mathematical functions just by turning your phone to landscape orientation.
Sorry, iPad users, you’re out of luck. Apple doesn’t include the Calculator app with its tablet, so you might want to download one from the App Store
Your Control Center probably looks pretty standard with basic controls for Wi-Fi, Airplane mode and other features at your fingertips. But you can get even more out of it by customizing what’s included.
Head into Settings, tap on Control Center and then Customize Controls. Here, you can remove options or add more, like Screen Recording or Voice Memos. This puts you in control of your Control Center.
This little trick works for some game apps: You can block the game from serving up ads from the web by putting your iPhone into Airplane mode. Keep in mind that if you like a game and want to support the developer, then look for a paid upgrade option that removes ads. If you’re trying out a game or find the ads are too intrusive, then give this Airplane mode trick a shot.
You can go all Beach Boys on your iPhone and create some good vibrations that you customize yourself. Head into Settings and tap on Sounds. Tap on Vibration and then Create New Vibration. On this screen, tap to create your new pattern and then hit Stop. You can play it back to see if it’s what you want. Save it and name it to use it as a new vibration option for your iPhone.
Have fun trying out these hidden iOS features. The touchpad will feel like a game-changer, but even the little tricks will make your time on your iPhone easier and more convenient for you.
"7 Shortcuts And Secret Features In Your Iphone." The Kim Komando Show. N. p., 2019. Web. 27 Feb. 2019.
There’s a secret world inside your Android phone, a whole host of hidden features that you may not know about or that you may have overlooked. These can make your mobile experience more convenient, faster and more fun.
We’ve uncovered some cool Android tricks that will help you translate your writing, type numbers more quickly and even improve your mobile gaming experience.
Android versions can vary quite a bit on different smartphones and tablets. The latest operating system is Android Pie (Android 9), but not every gadget can run it. That means you may have to hunt around to find these features, or that some of them might not be available on your particular device.
You can fit two open applications onto your display at one time when you use split-screen mode. The traditional Android way of doing this involves opening an app and then holding down on the square button until the screen splits. You will see your open app on one side and be able to choose from recently used apps on the other. Tap on the one you want to use in split-screen mode. To unsplit, hold down on the square button (which is now split to indicate the new mode) and you will go back to just seeing your original app.
For Android Pie phones with gesture navigation, the process is a little different. Swipe up on the home button to see your Overview. Tap on the icon at the top of the first app you want to use in split-screen mode. This opens a small menu. Tap on "Split screen." Now pick out your second app in the lower part of the screen.
Chances are good you’re using Google’s default Gboard keyboard. This capable keyboard puts translations right at your fingertips. Here’s one handy way to use this feature: With the keyboard open, tap on the G symbol (if the top menu isn’t already visible). This opens up an array of options. Tap on the one that has a small G that looks like it’s folded over a symbol. This opens up a text box you can type into. Use the drop-down menu to choose the languages. Google will automatically translate what you type.
Let’s say your friend wants to borrow your phone to look something up online. You can hand it to them with Chrome open and pinned to the screen. The app will stay pinned until you unlock it. It’s an easy way to keep someone else from exploring what’s on your phone.
To enable screen pinning, go to Settings, tap on Security & Location and tap on "Screen pinning," which you may find listed under Advanced settings. Make sure it’s toggled on along with the option to ask for your PIN, pattern or password.
To try this out, go to Chrome. If you’re using Pie, swipe up from the middle of the screen, tap the app icon and tap the pin-shaped icon. You will get a confirmation that the app is pinned. To unpin, touch and hold the angular Back button and the pill-shaped Home button and enter your PIN.
For earlier Android systems, tap the square icon at the bottom and swipe up until you see the pin icon. Tap on the pin. To unpin, touch and hold the triangular Back button and the square overview button and enter your PIN to unlock.
There’s more than one way to open all your open Chrome tabs in Android. The obvious route is to tap on the square with the number of open tabs inside it. The lesser-known way is to simply swipe down from the address bar. You’ll see all your tabs and can open a new one or close open ones. This may not really save you much time, but it’s nifty to access your tabs with a swipe rather than a tap.
There’s more to the icons on your home screen than just pretty pictures. Try long-pressing on an app icon and you may see a helpful shortcut menu appear. When available, these shortcuts usually lead to common tasks you would want to do with that app. For example, long-pressing on the Google Maps icon gives me an option to open up navigation to my home. The Contacts app gives me an option to go directly to adding a new contact.
To save screen space, Gboard doesn’t display a full number row like you would get with a physical keyboard. But look closely and you will see small numbers on the top row of letters. Touch and hold down on one of these letters and the number option will appear above it. Just slide your fingertip up to type the number.
You’re trying out a new game and you feel like you’re battling the advertising just as much as the villains. For some apps, you can quash those ads by putting your phone into Airplane mode. This works by blocking the app’s ability to serve up online ads. Airplane mode can be a little inconvenient, so also check into upgrading to an ad-free version of the game if you enjoy playing it and want to support the developer.
These clever and cool tricks and features will make you feel like an Android insider. Try them out and enjoy how they enhance your mobile experience.
"7 Hidden Android Features You Should Use." The Kim Komando Show. N. p., 2019. Web. 25 Feb. 2019.
Your money is at risk. If you shop online, your ID, your Social Security number, your home address, credit card numbers and passwords are in danger of being stolen by hackers.
It's a problem that far exceeds your worst fears. There are billions, with a "b," breached accounts for sale on the dark web.
Incredibly, up to 90% of people going online to shop at popular retailers are criminals using stolen information, according to a recent study. In other words, criminals outnumber the good guys on store websites.
There's a really good chance you shop at some of the stores that have suffered data breaches in the past year, including Macy's and Panera Bread.
Keep reading for details about 10 retailers where you may have shopped and where your data may have been stolen.
Macy's websites Macys.com and Bloomingdales.com suffered a data breach that exposed credit card information to hackers. That's the bad news.
The good news is, like many other breached companies, Macy's contacted customers who were affected by the breach and offered them free ID protection services. They also implemented new and stronger security measures.
Data breaches, in general, are bad. They're worse when they drag on for months.
That's what happened with Panera's website, which leaked millions of customers' information before it was corrected. That information included home addresses, birthdays and partial credit card numbers.
There are big and bad data breaches, then there are truly terrible, massive data breaches like the one that happened at Marriott Hotels, including hotels it owns like W and Aloft. The data stolen included passport information.
Marriott said about 500 million customers were affected by this breach. Its computer database was affected from 2014 to 2018, according to the Federal Trade Commission, which suggested that customers consider freezing their credit reports, among other tips.
You may have heard about the truly scary data breach at Jared's parent company, Signet Jewelers. A customer discovered that a simple change to his order revealed a trove of details about other customers' orders.
This data breach, which was only recently fixed, revealed data such as your order's tracking number, your address and email address. Keep reading for tips to protect yourself from data breaches.
Jared's parent company, Signet, also owns other jewelry stores. That includes Kay, which was also affected by this breach.
Talk about security breaches that drag on and on. That happened at the restaurant chain Cheddar's Scratch Kitchen.
Customers' credit information was stolen by hackers for about two months. This affected more than a half-million customers. Were you one of them?
The shoe and apparel maker Adidas said that millions of its website customers' information may have been stolen by hackers. The company was quick to release a statement, saying in part, "the limited data includes contact information, usernames and encrypted passwords."
Under Armour's fitness app, MyFitnessPal, was breached. It affected about 150 million users and exposed data such as email addresses and user names.
Hackers are criminals. They steal your information; they use it; and sell your information to other criminals.
It's a crime network that occurs online, behind the scenes. One of the most notorious online criminal groups is called JokerStash.
They stole credit card information from about 5 million Hudson's Bay Co.'s customers. That includes customers of Lord & Taylor.
The Hudson's breach that affected Lord & Taylor also affected Saks Fifth Avenue. The hackers began releasing credit card information last year.
There are several ways to protect yourself from data breaches but these key strategies start with using complex passwords. Use passwords or passphrases that are difficult for hackers to figure out, something like My!daughterISmindy838, and not common passwords like, password or 87654321.
Make sure your credit card companies know that you want to be alerted to unusual spending, like a purchase in another country. One bonus of making purchases with a credit card is that you may not be liable for fraudulent charges.
You should also review your credit reports from the three credit bureaus to check for fraudulent activity. Pass this tip onto your friends: Instead of getting all three reports at once, get one every four months, so you're checking for data breaches for free throughout the year.
When it comes to technology, we often learn computer tips and tricks either via doing our own research or by having someone show it to us.
On your computer, phone or tablet, there are tons of secret tricks you may not even know about! These tricks can often save you time, make you much efficient and can be downright impressive.
From using your voice to type to making your smart speaker do your bidding, here are 7 great digital tricks that you'll be using time and time again.
For most busy individuals, typing is life. We take tons of notes - both at work and at home. We jot down emails, texts, status updates, reminders, schedules, things to pick up at the grocery - the list goes on.
But let's face it, typing all day, on a cramped keyboard or screen at that, can take a toll on you. (Carpal tunnel syndrome, anyone?)
To give your fingers a well-deserved break, you can always use voice-powered transcription and let your gadget do the typing for you. Not only can this save you time, but this can make your life safer, too.
You can dictate notes while you're driving, reply to messages while you're cooking, compose a literary masterpiece while you're on your bed - the possibilities are enticing.
And you don't even have to download a separate app to use voice typing on your smartphone. Your iPhone or your Android's keyboard has a built-in voice to text feature. Just pull up your phone's keyboard, tap the mic icon and dictate away.
Some voice transcription apps will even learn your own vocal patterns and most-used words to correct misheard words automatically, saving you from manual edits.
But did you know that you can also type using your voice in Google Docs, and it's completely free? Not only that, but Google's transcriber really works well. You can try it for yourself right now.
Simply open a new document in Google Docs, then enable Voice Typing from the Tools menu. Then start dictating. Voice Typing recognizes commands like "comma," "period" and "new paragraph" as well.
Ever wanted to automate a string of tasks with just a single command? With Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa's "Routines," you can! If you're not taking advantage of this feature, you're missing out. It's one of the coolest things your smart assistant can do.
For instance, you can simply say "Alexa, I'm home!" and Alexa can greet you, turn on your living room smart lights, read the daily news then play a specific music playlist.
Or you can say "Alexa, good night" and have her reply back with "Sweet dreams," lock your doors, set your thermostat to a certain temperature, turn off all your lights then play binaural white noise to lull you to sleep.
You can also set a scheduled routine and have your virtual assistant perform a set of actions each day.
Note: Soon, you can even set time-delayed tasks and timers with Alexa.
Once you get the hang of making your own routines and have your virtual assistant greet you and do your bidding, it does feel like you are living in the future.
To create a Routine in the Alexa app, go to the menu then tap Routines. Tap the + sign to start a new sequence. Select "When this happens" then choose your trigger. The trigger can be a phrase, a schedule or a motion sensor event. Next, select "Add action" to start building the Routine. To wrap it up, select the device you want to trigger the routine from, then tap Create.
For Google Home Routines, tap "Menu" on the upper left corner of your Google Home app. Tap More Settings>>Routines.
Under "When," tap "Add commands," enter your trigger phrase then click OK. To add an action, tap "Add action" under "My Assistant should ..." If you want to schedule a Routine, tap "Set a time and day" under "When" instead.
Do you remember the television and radio commercials that promised you the ability to read faster than ever before and still retain your newfound knowledge? With the explosion of so many different podcasts, there are now people who are “speed listening.” They are not happy listening to a podcast in real-time.
The premise is simple. The faster you listen to a podcast, the more podcasts you can consume. In the process, there are no concerns about filling up your device. You listen, and you delete. Boom.
I’ve tried it and for podcasts without many interviews, you can speed listen and still get the gist of the story.
When you listen to a podcast, there is a player at the bottom of the screen. You might have to swipe up to see it. On Apple’s Podcast app, for example, there is a number in the lower-left corner. The default is 1x and this option lets you hear the podcast at normal speed.
Speed listeners can tap this button and change the playback speed to 1 1/2x or 2x. There’s also the option for 1/2x playback speed. I’m not quite sure when you would actually want to listen to a podcast very, very, very slowly, but it’s there if you need it.
A while back, YouTube limited the length of videos that could be uploaded, but verified accounts can now post very lengthy videos. This brings its own set of problems. Scrubbing through long videos can be a pain. Never fear.
If you see something you want to share at a particular point in the middle of a video, you can get a link that takes people directly to that moment.
Click the "Share" button below the video. Look for a checkbox below the link. It will automatically display the time at which you currently have the video stopped.
You can stick with this time or even choose a different time. Next, simply copy the link and share it over your preferred social media service or email it to a friend. When someone views the link, the YouTube video will automatically skip right to the point you chose. Handy, huh?
With all the privacy troubles the company's been going through lately, have you been thinking about deactivating or even deleting your Facebook account?
Something may be holding you back, though. You're probably afraid to lose all the status updates, the photos, videos and shares you've accumulated through the year.
But did you know that there's a way to save all of your Facebook data for yours to keep? That's right -- Facebook allows you to download all the personal data you've been feeding it all this time.
1. Log in to your Facebook account and go to "Settings" >> "Settings & Privacy."
2. Scroll down then select "Download Your Information"
3. In the next section, you can select (or deselect) the categories you want to include in your download data. It's quite extensive so choose wisely. Obviously, the more categories you choose, the larger your file will be.
Once you've checked all the categories and the date range you want, select "Create File." (HTML and medium quality media are fine for most people.)
For security reasons, you'll be asked to confirm your password. Then you'll get an email from Facebook notifying you that the request has been made.
Now, depending on what and how often you post, your archive file can be massive and it could take days before it becomes available. (Facebook will send you another email informing you that your file is ready for download.)
Keep in mind that this file will be available to download for a few days.
Do you juggle multiple social media accounts at the same time? Maybe you like cross-posting on different platforms at the same time to save time. It's terribly inefficient to keep copying and pasting the same status update on different sites, right?
Then tools like Buffer and Hootsuite are exactly what you need. With their ability to post on different sites simultaneously (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.), they are a social media manager's dream.
Compose your post, add links, photos or videos, choose your platforms, then post. It's that simple. For the power user, these tools even have scheduling features and analytics to gauge how effective your posts are.
For casual use, both Buffer and Hootsuite have free plans that are good for three social media accounts. On the other hand, professionals who want to manage 8 profiles and beyond can opt for their paid plans.
Ever looked at an online photo and you just had to know more details about it? Maybe you're searching for its location, the date it was taken, a better resolution or other angles of its subject.
Well, with Google Images reverse search, you can. Reverse image search acts like a regular Google search but uses an image instead of text. You can even reverse search faces or profile pictures to dig more information about an individual.
To do this, head on over to Google Image's search tool, click on the little camera icon then upload (or point it to the image's web address) and let Google do the walking.
For example, I saw a toy called "Spirograph" in a store and I wanted to know more about it. So, I took its picture with my phone to look it up with Google Image reverse image search.
Technically, Google's reverse image search only works on desktop browsers, but there's this little trick that will let you use your phone, too. Just ask your mobile browser to load the desktop site. Here's how:
1. First, open the Chrome browser app on your smartphone.
2. Next, navigate to images.google.com
3. Now, tap the three dots on the bottom-right corner to bring up the Menu
4. Select "Request Desktop Site" (On an iPhone's Safari browser, tap the up arrow then select "Request Desktop Site"
5. Tap the camera icon then select "Upload an image"
6. Now, you can take a photo or upload one from your photo library. (I uploaded the Spirograph photo I took earlier.)
With these tricks, you'll make your digital devices just a little bit easier to use - and it's fun, too!
The main driving force in this age of targeted advertising is data - tons of it. And it's not just the smaller companies who are looking to mine your patterns and habits to sell them to marketing and research firms. Everyone wants to be in the game.
At this point, we all recognize the possibility that our phones are tracking us. Whether it is the apps we use or our locations, there are certain features that record our day-to-day habits.
Sometimes, in exchange for a free service, we unwittingly give up something else in return.
More often than not, these data-sharing policies are buried within pages and pages of privacy policies and terms of agreements. You know how difficult and confusing these privacy policies can be, right?