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Fun and Useful Features Lighten Up With New App Back to School Tips

Interactive Whiteboards

Independent School Website Meet From Anywhere Online Security Savings Keep Connected Social Support

“Hidden” Technology Features

(NAPSI)—Throughout most homes, there are a number of technological features built into products you probably use daily that could make lives easier...if only you knew they existed.

For example, smart kitchen appliances let you connect to the Internet to download recipes and create a grocery list that’s accessible from a mobile device while shopping. Many newer model microwaves even have a message center for family reminders.

Furthermore, with 75 percent of cable customers now enjoying digital services, the home entertainment room may be wall to wall with innovation. For instance, many customers can now use a smartphone or laptop to set the DVR from anywhere. Once the app (often free) is downloaded, it’s simply a matter of entering in the show title and clicking “record.”

Digital cable customers can also rent the hottest new movies with a push of the remote button. Movies On Demand provides instant access to top hits, most available the same day as the DVD and Blu-Ray releases and often weeks before they’re on Netflix.

Great flicks being offered these days on Movies On Demand include the “Source Code” starring Jake Gyllenhaal, “The Lincoln Lawyer” with Matthew McConaughey and Marisa Tomei, “Arthur” with Russell Brand and “Limitless” starring Robert De Niro and Bradley Cooper. When you’re ready to enjoy a little family fun, you can watch Johnny Depp as he entertains in “Rango.” To make it a double family feature, add the inspirational story of “The Perfect Game.” Go to www.rentmoviesondemand.com to see the latest titles and trailers.

If that still doesn’t satisfy your inner geek, there are new iPad, Xoom and other tablet apps that provide instant in-home access to a friendly, searchable program guide. With one tap on a Movies On Demand poster image, you can have the film rolling on the big screen in the living room. Plus, a growing number of studios and cable networks have created apps that add social and interactive dimensions to the TV viewing experience.

It takes only a few minutes to discover the convenience and fun of technology features that may already be available in your home and on your mobile device.

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New App Shows How To Lighten Up

(NAPSI)—Picture this: your home bathed in natural, all-encompassing daylight, courtesy of skylights. Now you can picture it with the help of a new interactive app for personal devices including iPhones, iPads, iPods and Androids.

Just go to veluxusa.com and enter “planner” to download the free app. Then you just snap photos of your rooms and click through the app to see how different skylights make a dramatic difference. You can locate nearby installers, get product information and even e-mail your pictures. Among the places you may care to consider installing a skylight are:

• The bathroom: According to American Standard, homeowners say the No. 1 option for the ultimate dream bathroom would be a skylight.

• A child’s room: Students perform significantly better in environments that are lit with natural light.

• An older person’s room: Researchers McFarland and Fisher report that to accommodate the aging eye, the amount of light required doubles every 13 years after age 20.

• The kitchen: This crucial space should be as comfortable and functional as possible, with natural light and ventilation being the key elements. According to Chan Hoyle, national marketing and communications manager for skylight manufacturer VELUX America, “Venting skylights can passively exhaust heat and cooking odors as well as VOCs from the kitchen and other areas of the home.”

The company offers ENERGY-STAR®−qualified No-Leak Skylights with many energy-saving features.

For government information on window and skylight energy efficiency, visit www.energystar.gov. For skylight selection or installation information, visit www.veluxusa.com.

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Three Ways To Cope With Back-To-School Stress

(NAPSI)—For most parents, the start of a new school year can't come soon enough. Sixty percent of moms and dads polled in a new Yahoo! Shine survey (Ipsos OTX MediaCT) say they are extremely excited for summer break to end. But ramping up for the first day of classes can be hectic and frustrating, as parents race to gather school supplies while watching their wallets.

The pressure to buy trendy brands is as fierce as ever. Half of the parents surveyed said they buy their children "hip" or "trendy" brands to help them be more "popular" or "cool" at school. And families also say they are gearing up for a busy year of after-school activities. Three-quarters of the 2,001 adults surveyed say their children participate in at least two extracurricular activities.

How can families enjoy a fresh start in the Fall while keeping the stress at bay? There are lots of ways technology can help parents manage spending and scheduling. Here are a few tips from Yahoo! Web Life Editor Heather Cabot:

• Organize Your In-box. For starters, you can get a handle on electronic clutter in your in-box by making use of the new Yahoo! Mail service. The new mail format allows you to access the Web tools you use most without leaving your in-box.

From tracking your back-to-school purchases with the All My Purchases App to instantly responding to Facebook messages and sending PTA meeting Evites, Yahoo! Mail is the hub for all your e-traffic and will help you earn "Supermom" status.

• Get More Done With Apps. Instead of wasting time searching through a marketplace of hundreds of apps to find the best grocery list maker, calorie counter or comparison shopping tool, now you can take all the guesswork out of finding the apps you need most. Yahoo! AppSpot is a fast, easy way to discover new apps that are just right for you. Each day, you get daily picks based on the apps you already use and that are most important to you. For more information, visit appspot.yahoo.com.

• Don't Miss Out On Deals. Don't waste time surfing the entire Web for sales and promotions. Instead, let Yahoo! Deals do the coupon clipping for you. The deal website scours the Web to find coupons, sales and bargains to save you money.

At deals.yahoo.com, visitors can find everything from cheap daily deals to codes for online coupons, free grocery coupons and printable local coupons for all their favorite stores and products.

Plus, committed bargain hunters can sign up for deal newsletters from coupon sites, including RetailMeNot.com and FatWallet.com, for instant alerts on sales.

According to Cabot, a little organization can go a long way when it comes to organizing your online life, finding bargains and reducing back-to-school stress.

Using the latest technology can help you manage the flow of electronic clutter in your in-box-and stay on top of the latest trends.

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 Giving—To Help Education

(NAPSI)—Forty years ago, the U.S. high school graduation rate was the highest in the world. Today, it’s 19th, with just 70 percent of students successfully completing their high school education. But there are organizations and individuals across the country trying to change that. And they believe classroom technology can help.

What Others Are Doing

One such person is Ron Harper, who, along with his wife Katherine, founded the Harper Corporation in Charlotte, North Carolina. Harper believes ignoring the decline in education is akin to what he calls a “silent disease”—something that will slowly but surely damage the nation’s future. He believes more has to be done to keep children interested and engaged in their schoolwork, so Harper made a commitment to placing interactive whiteboards in classrooms.

In the spring of 2010, working with Gaston County Schools Superintendent L. Reeves McGlohon, Harper launched the SMART Board in Every Classroom campaign. The SMART Board has always been the most popular brand of interactive whiteboard in the U.S. Combining the simplicity of a whiteboard with the power of a computer, SMART Boards let teachers deliver dynamic lessons, write notes in digital ink and save their work—all with the simple touch of a finger. The goal of Harper and McGlohon’s campaign was to raise $4 million so that all 2,000 classrooms in Gaston County would be equipped with a SMART Board interactive whiteboard. The campaign reached its goal in March 2011.

Ron Harper is not alone in his efforts. In Boston, the Lynch Foundation, which counts education as one of its main goals, has an ongoing program of matching grants designed to place SMART Boards in Boston-area Catholic schools.

“Technology has influenced and affected all major industries; it must be a central focus in our educational system,” said Katie Everett, executive director. “The interactive whiteboards are one vehicle we can use to integrate technology to a vast audience, tailor lessons and approaches, allow teachers to identify their students’ understanding of curriculum content and make adjustments based on real-time fact and student evaluation.”

SMART Board interactive whiteboards have also impressed Jessica Flores, president of The Riordan Foundation, of Los Angeles. The Foundation, launched 30 years ago by former Los Angeles mayor Richard Riordan, aims to provide all students, especially in low-income communities, with a high-quality education.

Each year, the Riordan Foundation provides anywhere from $2−5 million in grants to schools, with some of that going to technology, including SMART Boards. “Technology has changed the way society operates; in order to succeed, children are now required to develop not only literacy skills but familiarity with technology,” Flores explained. “Technology today permeates every aspect of life. It is crucial that classroom instruction be delivered in a manner that is engaging and that prepares students to function in modern society. SMART Boards facilitate the development of these skills.”

How You Can Help

Parents, teachers and anyone concerned about education in America today can be a part of the solution by encouraging school districts to invest in this kind of technology and by donating to these and other organizations that can help them do so. For more information, visit www.smarttech.com or call 403-407-5128.

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The Independent Option

(NAPSI)—When it comes to finding a place where their children can thrive, many parents turn to independent private schools.

Enrollment in an independent private school can vary from a few dozen to a few thousand students. Some independent schools are progressive, others traditional. There are day and boarding schools, co-educational, girls’ and boys’ schools.

“Families can choose a school where the environment and teaching style best meet the needs of the child,” explains Patrick Bassett, president of the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS).

These nonprofit private schools are governed by independent boards of trustees, rather than a public or religious school system. Each is guided by a unique educational mission and is independently funded.

To help families, the NAIS website, www.nais.org/go/parents, has a school search feature, timelines for admission, information about costs and financial aid, and questions to help you find the best school for your child.

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Making Meetings More Efficient And Effective

(NAPSI)—If you’re like many people in business these days, an ability to be in two places at once would do a lot for your bottom line.

While you can’t quite achieve that, today’s technology does make it at least partly possible. That’s because Web conferencing lets you meet with anyone, anywhere, in real time from your computer or your mobile device—wherever you happen to be. It combines desktop sharing through a Web browser with phone conferencing and video, so everyone sees each other and sees the same thing—it’s just like you’re all in the same room.

What The Research Reveals

A study by Outsource Research found half of all meetings are spontaneous and mostly in the main workplace. With Web conferencing, people in remote offices, traveling or working at home can all still join in easily and instantly—even if the meeting is ad hoc.

You can even schedule, host and attend meetings right from your iPhone, BlackBerry or any other Wi-Fi or 3G-enabled mobile device. All your meeting participants need is the app on their device and they can join your online meeting. And as the host, you give anyone the presenter role anytime you like. You can even transfer the meeting from your phone to your desktop with a flick of your wrist.

A full portfolio of Web conferencing solutions can take you from an occasional one-on-one meeting to a webinar or an online event with 5,000 participants.

What You Get

Web conferencing lets you:

• Meet with everyone you need, wherever they are;

• Share PowerPoint, Excel and Word documents or draw on a virtual whiteboard;

• Give product demos and share information;

• Record meetings, so even if someone can’t make the meeting, he or she doesn’t miss a thing.

Peace Of Mind Included

You and your company can save time, trouble and money and even help the environment because you can cut down on travel.

You can count on the highest levels of performance and security because every meeting is delivered over a highly secure, scalable and available meeting network. Plus, you have a variety of security options—such as meeting password protection—to control who attends and ensure that all your data is safe, every time. Upgrades and patches are automatic.

Because WebEx is Web conferencing software as a service (SaaS), there’s no complicated hardware installation or software maintenance.

What Else To Get

Other types of business technology you may consider, the experts at the U.S. Small Business Administration say, include:

Accounting software. Even if you have an accountant, it can help you see your profits and losses at a glance and design and maintain a budget.

Planning software. A calendar system can help you keep organized.

Time-tracking software. It can help you determine what tasks can be eliminated, outsourced or improved.

Learn More

You can find more information online at www.webx.com or call (877) 509-3239.

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Computer Security

(NAPSI)—Security for your computer doesn’t have to be confusing—consider these tips.

The Problem

With an increasing number of free and paid security software options available, many consumers are unable to differentiate one solution from the other. According to a recent Norton survey, 60 percent of consumers don’t understand or only somewhat understand the difference between paid and free security software products.

Adding to the confusion, some software vendors give the impression that free or basic security will provide adequate protection against all types of online threats, thereby creating a false sense of security among those who use their products. However, free offerings can put consumers at risk and be more costly in the end.

An Answer

A comprehensive, up-to-date security suite can protect your computer from the latest viruses and other malicious programs that can cause it to perform slowly and your programs to crash.

Security software also protects important personal data on your computer from being stolen, exploited or used without your permission. That could lead to your losing irreplaceable data, such as photos and videos or credit card information. Most people understand the value of the information on their computer. When Norton, a leading provider of Internet security products, asked people if they would accept $1,000,000 in exchange for allowing strangers unlimited access to their computer, 71 percent said “No way!”

Fortunately, a comprehensive Internet security suite will protect your personal information against the threats of today and tomorrow.

What You Need To Know

When picking out security software, keep these tips in mind:

• Identity protection features are critical for protecting against cybercriminals stealing your money and identity. Ensuring your security keeps your identity safe as you shop, bank and surf online.

• Look for products that provide proactive protection against known and unknown threats such as viruses, spyware and phishing attacks before they do damage to your computer. Key words to look for are “proactive protection.”

• Choose a product from a trusted brand known for its expertise in security and buy from a trusted source. Hackers and cybercriminals are constantly evolving their methods and a well-known provider will have the resources and expertise to keep up. The security software from Norton offers comprehensive protection based on the way users actually behave online.

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Keep Connected

(NAPSI)—Positive news for those experiencing cancer, premature birth or serious illness and the people who care for them: Staying connected helps make health journeys easier!

Patients say going online to update family and friends about their health condition positively impacts their healing process. That may be one reason half a million people a day turn to a nonprofit that provides free websites to share health news.

A personal CaringBridge website helps patients and caregivers communicate with family and friends when juggling in-person visits and phone calls with medical appointments is challenging. An online journal allows loved ones to stay up to date before, during or after a hospital stay. Followers are notified whenever it is updated and can post messages of support and encouragement. CaringBridge users find that sharing experiences of coping with health challenges with others reduces feelings of isolation.

Create a free patient website for yourself or a loved one: www.caringbridge.org.

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