COMPUTERS

Safer Online Shopping

New Mobile Phone Systems New App Improves Pictures Satellite Internet Protect Files Backup New App Color Your Home Business Mobile Apps Boost Tops and Gadgets

Five Tips For Safer Online Shopping

(NAPSI)—According to Forrester Research, online shoppers in the United States will spend $327 billion in 2016, up 45 percent from $226 billion in 2012.

Online Shopping Research

Even consumers who make their purchases in stores start with online research. Nearly 70 percent of online shoppers who shopped in-store during the 2011 season said online research influenced the brands they bought, the retailers they shopped and the gifts they selected, according to a Google/OTX Post-Holiday Survey.

As people spend more time shopping online, there is more potential for hacker attacks, compromised passwords and stolen identities. What can consumers do to protect themselves? Mozilla—the mission-based organization that aims to promote openness, innovation and opportunity on the Web—put together this checklist for keeping consumers safe while shopping online.

Safe Online Shopping: The Mozilla Firefox Checklist

1.) Download a secure browser: Download a Web browser like Mozilla’s Firefox, www.mozilla.org/firefox, that supports anti-phishing and anti-malware to protect you from spyware and warn you about potentially fraudulent sites.

2.) Keep your software updated: Make sure any software you download to your desktop or your mobile phone—including apps and add-ons—stays up to date. Manufacturers regularly release security updates to protect customers from evolving threats.

3.) Secure your passwords: Using a variety of upper- and lowercase letters, numbers and punctuation, create a unique password for each account you log into. The Firefox Password Manager securely stores user names and passwords.

4.) Look for the S: Never buy anything online from a site that doesn’t have SSL encryption. You’ll know because the site’s address will start with https:// instead of http://, and make sure not to provide your credit card information via e-mail.

5.) Don’t sacrifice security for mobility: Don’t just stop at your home computer. Extend your security to shopping from your mobile phone by making sure you’re always connected to a secure wireless network or your mobile provider’s 3G network before you enter any personal information or passwords.

Talk To The Entire Family About Online Safety

If your kids are active on the Web, get smart about privacy settings and set parental controls: http://support.mozilla.org/en-US/kb/block-and-unblock-websites-with-parental-controls. Just like in “the real world,” there is no better way to protect your children than giving them the knowledge and tools to make smart decisions. The FBIhttp://www.fbi.gov/stats-services/publications/parent-guide/—and American Academy of Pediatricshttp://safetynet.aap.org/—both have comprehensive guides to Internet safety for parents.

Find further facts online at www.mozilla.com.

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Are You Smarter Than Your Cell Phone Plan? Cost Of Data Usage Creates Shift In Household Budgets

(NAPSI)—Does your cell phone bill seem like it is consuming more and more of your budget? If so, you are not alone. Today’s average U.S. families, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, are spending over 261 percent more on cell phone bills than they would have 10 years ago. They’re bypassing things like weekend outings, clothing purchases and dinners out in favor of game downloads, watching TV and surfing the Internet on their smartphones.

With the average per-user cell phone bill starting at $65 per month, consumers are becoming increasingly dissatisfied with cell phone companies that have consistently increased the cost of data service—and the definition of what constitutes “unlimited” seems to be different depending on the carrier.

Cell phone companies have been able to continuously increase data fees because consumers are becoming increasingly dependent on their smartphones for Internet access, GPS functionality, work e-mail and entertainment, which make it seem that giving up any functionality is a major lifestyle sacrifice.

According to Pew Research, nearly half of all U.S. cell phone owners carry a smartphone, a shift that has unsettled household budgets across the country. Even in the midst of this country’s recession, we’ve seen increases in cell phone spending year over year. According to the Department of Labor, the average household’s annual spending on telephone services rose to $1,226 in 2011 from $1,110 in 2007, when Apple Inc.’s iPhone first hit the market.

To try to avoid hefty overage fees, consumers are spending even more on their data plans and using it as insurance against a “surprise” monthly bill. But those plans often come with a huge price tag, leaving some consumers searching for a different type of cell phone service.

A new mobile option from Republic Wireless just might be the answer. It threatens to shift the entire dynamic of mobile communications, using Wi-Fi hotspots as the primary method of smartphone functionality.

Using a Motorola Defy XT smartphone, Republic Wireless provides nationwide voice and data service for just $19 per month plus the one-time cost of the phone. Republic Wireless does not charge overages, regardless of how much you use the phone. Since the device runs primarily on Wi-Fi and roams on the Sprint network when Wi-Fi is not available, Republic Wireless can offer all the functionality of the smartest smartphone at a price that’s much more affordable.

When the CEO of Republic Wireless, David Morken, was asked about how he got the idea for Republic Wireless, Morken chuckled and said, “We have six children. Each was promised a smartphone if he or she brought home straight A’s. It didn’t take long for our cellular bill to become one of the largest monthly expenditures behind our mortgage.”

Morken said Republic Wireless is driven to challenge the status quo. “We believe anyone who wants a smartphone should be able to get one. Many people, such as those who are working from home, have and are paying for Wi-Fi coverage already, so why not put it to good use? College students are another great example—most colleges are Wi-Fi enabled—and we know that age group comprises heavy data users. Bottom line: At $19 a month, no contracts, no gimmicks, we are offering smartphones with a smarter phone plan.”

One thing is certain: Consumer demand for smartphones will continue to rise. Finding alternatives to traditional c

(NAPSI)—Does your cell phone bill seem like it is consuming more and more of your budget? If so, you are not alone. Today’s average U.S. families, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, are spending over 261 percent more on cell phone bills than they would have 10 years ago. They’re bypassing things like weekend outings, clothing purchases and dinners out in favor of game downloads, watching TV and surfing the Internet on their smartphones.

With the average per-user cell phone bill starting at $65 per month, consumers are becoming increasingly dissatisfied with cell phone companies that have consistently increased the cost of data service—and the definition of what constitutes “unlimited” seems to be different depending on the carrier.

Cell phone companies have been able to continuously increase data fees because consumers are becoming increasingly dependent on their smartphones for Internet access, GPS functionality, work e-mail and entertainment, which make it seem that giving up any functionality is a major lifestyle sacrifice.

According to Pew Research, nearly half of all U.S. cell phone owners carry a smartphone, a shift that has unsettled household budgets across the country. Even in the midst of this country’s recession, we’ve seen increases in cell phone spending year over year. According to the Department of Labor, the average household’s annual spending on telephone services rose to $1,226 in 2011 from $1,110 in 2007, when Apple Inc.’s iPhone first hit the market.

To try to avoid hefty overage fees, consumers are spending even more on their data plans and using it as insurance against a “surprise” monthly bill. But those plans often come with a huge price tag, leaving some consumers searching for a different type of cell phone service.

A new mobile option from Republic Wireless just might be the answer. It threatens to shift the entire dynamic of mobile communications, using Wi-Fi hotspots as the primary method of smartphone functionality.

Using a Motorola Defy XT smartphone, Republic Wireless provides nationwide voice and data service for just $19 per month plus the one-time cost of the phone. Republic Wireless does not charge overages, regardless of how much you use the phone. Since the device runs primarily on Wi-Fi and roams on the Sprint network when Wi-Fi is not available, Republic Wireless can offer all the functionality of the smartest smartphone at a price that’s much more affordable.

When the CEO of Republic Wireless, David Morken, was asked about how he got the idea for Republic Wireless, Morken chuckled and said, “We have six children. Each was promised a smartphone if he or she brought home straight A’s. It didn’t take long for our cellular bill to become one of the largest monthly expenditures behind our mortgage.”

Morken said Republic Wireless is driven to challenge the status quo. “We believe anyone who wants a smartphone should be able to get one. Many people, such as those who are working from home, have and are paying for Wi-Fi coverage already, so why not put it to good use? College students are another great example—most colleges are Wi-Fi enabled—and we know that age group comprises heavy data users. Bottom line: At $19 a month, no contracts, no gimmicks, we are offering smartphones with a smarter phone plan.”

One thing is certain: Consumer demand for smartphones will continue to rise. Finding alternatives to traditional cellular/data plans can mean big savings for consumers—and perhaps bring a welcome sense of balance to the family checkbook.

ellular/data plans can mean big savings for consumers—and perhaps bring a welcome sense of balance to the family checkbook.

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New Smartphone App Improves Your Pictures

(NAPSI)—Picture this: an app that turns your smartphone or other mobile device into a way to capture, edit and share photos without compromising the original quality of the photo.

In addition, it lets you explore and discover a world of gorgeous photography taken by others in a vast community.

The new app is designed to put the photo first and lets the photographer choose how to capture, share and discover images.

Helpful Hints

Here are a few tips to make picture making a snap:

• Try to match the height of the subject, such as kneeling down to snap a picture of a toddler. You’ll get better shots when you’re at eye level rather than angling the phone up or down.

• Take candid shots, not just posed photos. Some of the best pictures happen when subjects don’t realize they’re being photographed. Just be sure to get permission to upload.

• Pinch and zoom. You can pinch and zoom any photo so it looks crisp and clear, no matter how close you zoom in. Unless you’re aiming for a landscape shot, move in close for the best view of the subject. That way, you can capture more detail—a charming dimple or soft, pale blue petals. Try filling your frame with the subject.

• Use the photo editor. With it, you can quickly correct, crop, retouch or enhance your photos using cool custom filters. You simply tap the pencil icon in the filter screen and you can crop the photo, change the brightness, tune up the saturation and remove red eye.

• Apply a single filter to multiple photos at once. It’s easy to apply the same filter to multiple photos at once. You simply select the photos from your camera roll, then go to the filter screen and tap and hold the filter you want for your photos.

• Pay attention to the details. The back of the photo is sometimes just as important as the front. Every photo includes details on the type of camera, lighting and more—so others can see how you got the shot.

• Discover more. The new app lets you explore 8 billion photos from around the world. Many may prove an inspiration for your own picture taking. You can even follow your favorite people, places and groups.

• Share more. With this Flickr app, you can upload unlimited photos and instantly share with Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and e-mail.

Acquired by Yahoo! in 2005, Flickr continues to be one of the world’s most popular photo-sharing sites.

Learn More

For more tips and facts about Flickr, visit www.flickr.com. The new Flickr for iPhone app is available to download in the Apple App Store.

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Satellite Internet Delivers The Speed You Need

(NAPSI)—For the past decade, Iowa corn and soybean farmer Jay Schaaf has struggled with slow Internet from four different providers. Says Schaaf, “First, I tried dial-up, and that didn’t work at all. Then I tried three other providers and just wasn’t happy. The experience was so slow and frustrating; I’d end up just shutting the computer off.”

All that changed for Schaaf this year, when he learned about a new broadband service called Exede Internet, which works by using a satellite connection. The difference, according to Schaaf, has been extraordinary. “Exede is 10 times better than anything I’ve had in the past,” he explains. “Speed is the main thing. The reliability has been great and the ease of use is excellent.”

More than ever, the Internet is a place where people have daily access to millions of online resources, such as shopping sites, educational information, music and movies, social networking sites and e-mail. However, according to a recent FCC report, 19 million Americans are living in underserved areas where fast and affordable Internet can be hard to find or extremely costly.

Satellite services like Exede by ViaSat are good choices for consumers searching for high-quality Internet service at a competitive price. In recent years, satellite technology has made a quantum leap forward in both speed and capacity, allowing providers to offer much faster Internet speeds. Exede Internet has speeds of up to 12 Mbps, which is four times faster than average DSL speeds and eight times faster than traditional satellite Internet services. The actual speed of the Exede service varies by location, so be sure to visit the website to find the speed available in your area.

The service is saving Schaaf and his family precious time, both at work and at home. He says, “At the shop, I check the grain markets every day, explore the agricultural websites, and send and receive e-mail.” Additionally, his home now functions as “communications central” for his family of five, with laptops and tablets simultaneously being used for college studies, e-mails and surfing the Web.

The Internet has become an indispensable part of life for many families like the Schaafs—whether it’s needed for a job, education or just keeping in touch with family members who live far away. The result has been a dramatic increase in demand for faster Internet among residents in rural and exurban areas. Consumers who may have traditionally relied on slower DSL or 3G/4G wireless service connections for high-speed Internet service now have options as fast as those in urban areas.

“Since launching in March 2012, we’ve added over 100,000 Exede customers and 40 percent of them have come to us from DSL and 3G/4G wireless services,” said Lisa Scalpone, Vice President of Marketing for ViaSat, the provider of Exede and satellite service WildBlue. “We created this service with speed and performance in mind, and now residents across the country depend on us to provide fast and quality Internet service to them every day.”

Having access to faster Internet also creates greater access to multimedia online that slower services cannot support. These activities include downloading movies, games, music and software updates, as well as uploading photo galleries or videos and running backups. Exede’s “Late Night Free Zone” benefit also means that consumers can download data during the overnight hours, without it counting toward their monthly data usage.

Schaaf says, “Many people in rural areas have low expectations because slow service is all we’ve had. Once you’ve used Exede, you won’t go back. It’s a night and day difference.”

For more information, please visit www.exede.com.

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Computer Backup Made Easy With Windows 8

(NAPSI)—PC users rejoice: Windows 8 is here and many experts agree that the new operating system for PCs will provide much greater flexibility for creating, sharing and enjoying all the content that consumers have collected and stored on their computers. However, experts urge consumers to back up all the digital content on their computer before upgrading to the new Windows 8 software, as missteps during any operating system transition could result in loss of digital data or corrupted files.

Call for Backup

Backup is crucial for any and all computer users. By storing second and even third copies of precious digital files, such as family photos, home video, financial documents and more on separate external hard drives, users protect their important files in the case of theft, lost computers, viruses or environmental damages, in addition to the occasional failure of the storage mechanism(s), including hard drives and solid-state drives.

New Features

Microsoft recognizes the importance of regularly backing up even after the transition to the newer operating system, which is why it has included two new features: File History and Storage Spaces. File History allows users to schedule regular backups to any hard drive directory on their computer. Additionally, Storage Spaces affords users the ability to make multiple external hard drives appear as a single storage volume for those who need the extra storage, or as multiple storage volumes for multiple, extra-safe computer backup options.

Some Solutions

Storage vendors like WD offer a variety of backup solutions for everyday consumers, including portable and desktop external hard drives that connect to the computer via ultrafast USB 3.0 connections, such as WD’s My Passport line of portable drives or My Book line of desktop drives. The fast transfer speeds of these drives means regular backup will be quick and painless. Another option for consumers is network storage, which includes paid-for “cloud services” or WD’s personal cloud network drives, which connect to a home network and can be accessed from any computer or mobile device anywhere in the world, and offer the security and peace of mind that only a personal hard drive can provide.

The same WD drive can be used to back up a computer both before and after a user makes the switch to Windows 8, as all WD products—including hard drives, personal cloud network drives, and wireless storage routers—are 100 percent compatible with Windows 8, allowing for fast, easy and automated backup.

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On-The-Go Color Resources

(NAPSI)—Answering the call for a better way to pick paint colors are new mobile apps that can help you find the colors best suited for your personality, style and interests.

According to color expert Dee Schlotter, consumers often recognize the feelings they associate with specific colors, but have a hard time developing these feelings into the right color palettes for their homes.

It helps, she says, to consider the colors of places where you spend time. Why did you choose the picture on your living room wall, prefer a particular wooded trail or have 20 blue shirts and only three yellow ones? Does your vacation preference draw you to the clear blues of the ocean or the crisp neutrals of the mountains? Are you inspired by the bright rainbows of produce in the grocery store or the sleek metallic color of vehicles on a highway?

Once you focus on the colors around you, you may be surprised by what you learn about your own preferences and tastes. With newly developed technology, mobile apps are becoming the go-to resource for capturing and transforming those inspirational, natural hues into colors for specific paint palettes.

Offering materials to redefine the world of color, mobile apps can make paint projects easier by letting you view, match, coordinate and search for colors on the go. Some of the more intuitive resources even let you order products directly from the smartphone.

Paint Selection Tips

• It’s never about choosing just one color when you’re redecorating a room. Every room has a theme, and color is what ties that theme together. That’s why you should choose colors you can use more than once—in paint, fabric patterns, furniture and decorating accents. Colors that echo help unify your room’s design and create a sense of harmony that makes everything and everyone in it feel “right at home.”

• Many mobile paint apps offer suggestions for similar and complementary shades based on the selection, so additional colors can be ordered and viewed together on the walls of a space.

PPG Pittsburgh Paints’ mobile app ties directly into its Voice of Color program, adding three ways to view, select and subsequently order any of the more than 2,000 colors offered by The Voice of Color to the program’s already robust set of digital tools. The app is also the first to let users order free 8” x 12” sample color sheets. The app can be downloaded, free, directly from the iPhone or iPad App Store or the Android Market.

Visit The Voice of Color website at www.voiceofcolor.com to order samples in seconds, all from the palm of your hand.

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Boost Energy Efficiency At Your House

(NAPSI)—You may be able to avoid getting hot under the collar when you see your energy bills if you heed a few hints that offer a good way to focus your home improvement efforts where they count.

• Upgrade Your Attic Insulation. Heat escaping through the attic may account for half your home’s heat loss. Make sure there’s at least 12” of insulation up there. Upgraded insulation can even help soundproof and weatherize your house for optimum living quality.

• Install Storm Windows and Doors. This can cut heat loss at those sites in half. If you can, replace single-pane windows with double- or triple-pane windows.

• Install an Automatic Setback or Programmable Thermostat that can adjust the house’s temperature around your schedule. When you’re away or asleep, program it to a cooler temperature. When you’re around, raise it and you could save up to 10 percent of your heating and cooling costs.

• Check Your Furnace. Change filters frequently. Also clean air registers, baseboard heaters and radiators as needed. Change forced-air heating system air filters monthly as well.

• Take Advantage of Solar Energy. Simply opening the drapes on sunny winter days can let sunshine in to naturally warm your home. Similarly, closing them at night can reduce heat loss.

• Use a Humidifier. If your furnace doesn’t have a built-in humidifier, get one for frequently used areas. The additional moisture can make it feel as much as 8 warmer than the actual temperature.

• Insulate the Concrete Slab That Supports Your House. It’s estimated that 10 percent or more of a home’s energy loss can come from an uninsulated foundation. By adding the EnergyEdge system from CertainTeed, you can cut back on bills and help save the environment. Featuring PVC rails with expanded polystyrene insulation, it can be applied by handy homeowners or professional contractors to the exposed slab edge or other exposed foundation of the house.

The system provides an R-10 thermal resistance value and meets International Energy Conservation Code requirements. Plus, the Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization and Job Creation Act entitles you to an energy tax credit of up to $500 on this kind of energy-efficient building material.

Learn More

For further facts on foundation insulation products and sustainable efforts, visit www.certainteed.com or call (800) 233-8990.

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Give Your Gifts A Boost

(NAPSI)—All those electronic toys and gadgets you’ll get and give this holiday season will be appreciated even more when you give them a boost.

Tech devices rely on a strong indoor cell phone signal for calls, texts, e-mail, gaming, downloading music, uploading pictures and streaming high-definition video. Now you can add a booster that will maximize these devices so they stay “smart.”

Recent studies found more than 75 percent (77 percent) of cell phone Internet users experience slow download speeds that prevent data from loading as quickly as they would prefer. This holiday season, help family, friends and co-workers stay connected wherever they go. A booster lets you now take full advantage of voice, data and Internet services on a mobile phone—including high-speed data and video, instant messaging, pictures and more—at home, in the office or on the go.

Wi-Ex, a leading provider of consumer and commercial cell phone signal booster kits, now offers the zBoost DataBlast, which provides consumers using Verizon LTE and T-Mobile AWS a solution to slow download speeds. The device increases the signal strength, which can increase 4G data speeds up to 20 times faster and extends it up to 2,500 square feet—and can work on multiple devices, simultaneously. It’s simple to set up and includes everything you need. It even extends your phone’s battery life because a stronger signal means less need for power. Learn more at www.wi-ex.com.

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