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Prevent Identity Theft Smartphone Safety Help From Friends Online Cell Phones for Transit Riders Presidential Politics Online Essential School Tech Guide Home Decorating on Your Phone

Why Are Some Americans Still Not Connected To The Internet?

(NAPSI)—For most Americans, using the Internet is a routine activity that's often taken for granted. Whether it's for work, to research school assignments, read the latest news, access healthcare information, or for entertainment, going online is part of the day to day. But while a majority of America has become a digital nation, many low-income families are still at a disadvantage because they don't have a PC or Internet service at home.

Research by the Federal Communications Commission and the Department of Commerce's National Telecommunications and Information Administration has shown that more than 33% of American homes are not connected to the Internet. A closer look at the data reveals a disproportionately large number of those households are low-income families. To help close this digital divide, Comcast is offering a new program called Internet Essentials.

Experts have identified three primary barriers to broadband adoption: a lack of understanding of how the Internet is relevant and useful to one's daily life, the cost of a home computer and the cost of Internet service. Internet Essentials is an ambitious and comprehensive broadband adoption experiment designed to address these barriers head on. The program will provide low-income families, those with children eligible to receive free lunches under the National School Lunch Program (NSLP), with low-cost Internet access, a voucher to buy a low-cost computer and digital literacy training in print, online and in-person. Beginning in the 2011-2012 school year, the program will be rolled out in more than 4,000 school districts in 39 states as well as Washington, D.C.

Comcast's goal is to help try to close the digital divide and help level the playing field for low-income families by connecting students online with their teachers and their school's educational resources, by enabling parents to apply for jobs online or for families to use the Internet to learn more about healthcare and government services available where they live. However, in order for a program like this to be successful and make a difference for many families, it requires support. Comcast is asking for help from parents, educators, community leaders and government officials to join in this effort, so that those who are eligible can get connected to the Internet, get a computer and receive training.

For general information about Internet Essentials, visit: www.internetessentials.com (for English) or visit www.internetbasico.com (for Spanish). Educators and third-parties interested in more information should visit www.internetessentials.com/partner. Parents looking to enroll in the program can call 1-855-846- 8376 or, for Spanish, 1-855-765- 6995.

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Don't Let Bad Links Happen To Your Family

(NAPSI)—Clicking on the wrong link could land you in a lot of trouble—exposing your personal data and digital devices to spam, scams and malware. That's a message more people need to hear.

Links found in ads, IM, e-mail, wall posts and comments on websites may look innocent but they can make your digital devices vulnerable to criminals, hackers and spammers looking to gain control of your device and data. According to research by Javelin Strategy & Research, one in 10 Americans has already been a victim of identity theft.

Often, it's kids who are tempted to click on risky links, and it could be happening in your home. A recent Harris survey found that 48 percent of mothers have no idea what their kids are doing online.

If your kids are clicking on the wrong links, it will take more than a virus scanner to protect the devices in your home. Parents need to talk to their kids about the online dangers they face. One easy way to start the conversation is to show kids the funny, edgy videos found at iKeepSafeANYWHERE.org. The videos show how promises made by some of these links, such as hot singles or male enhancement, are really designed to get your money or your data.

The site also offers helpful resources for parents and a curriculum plan for educators.

For more information, visit www.iKeepSafeANYWHERE.org.

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Practical Tips For Smartphone Lovers To Stay Safe

(NAPSI)—Smartphone adoption has continued to skyrocket and for good reason. You can now talk, e-mail, text, shop, use social media, bank and do thousands of other valuable things through downloadable apps.

Recently, however, high-profile security breaches have caused a lot of people to think a little more carefully about the safety of personal data on their phone.

Attackers are deploying a variety of increasingly sophisticated techniques to take control of your contacts, personal data and money through your mobile device. According to a recent report (Lookout Mobile Security Threat Report, August 2011), three out of 10 Android owners are likely to encounter a Web-based threat on their mobile device each year. App-based threats are also on the rise. There were over 400 Android apps infected with malware in June 2011, up from 80 infected apps in January.

Protecting your phone with a password is always a good idea, but may not be enough. Here are more ways to protect yourself from smartphone security threats:

1. Treat your phone like your PC and get protection. Most people protect their PC from malware and viruses and now the phone needs the same level of protection. Protect yourself and your private data from malware, spyware, phishing attacks and malicious apps by downloading a security app like Lookout Mobile Security. Lookout can even help you locate a lost or stolen phone.

2. Download the updates for your phone and mobile apps. Hackers are always looking for new ways to attack a device and vulnerabilities in the phone software can provide that opportunity. Often, these updates include patches to security flaws recently found in the software that can put your information at risk.

3. Use discretion when downloading apps. Download apps only from sites you trust, check the app's rating and read the reviews to make sure it's widely used and respected.

4. Use discretion when clicking links from your phone. On a smartphone, because of the small-form factor, people are three times more likely to submit their personal login info on a phishing site than if they were using a PC. When you surf the Web, e-mail, text and enjoy social networking from your phone, you can be exposed to some of the same malware and phishing scams found on the PC. Lookout Mobile Security will examine every link in real time and automatically warn against phishing attempts and unsafe sites-guarding users from identity theft, financial fraud or malware.

For more information on the security issues on your phone, go to www.mylookout.com.

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Facebook Feedback Can Help Make Life Decisions

(NAPSI)—You have a Facebook profile and you're surfing the social media wave like a pro. Not only has Facebook enabled you to connect with family members, co-workers, long lost friends and sweethearts, you now also have insider knowledge about the latest news, gossip and recent vacation destinations shared among the members of your online social network. There is unlimited potential when connecting with others on social media.

The ability to survey your online network is a strategic way to collect opinions and insights. Recognizing that today's consumers are social beings, Zoomerang has released a new Facebook application that makes it easy for users to quickly get feedback from their online communities. The free and simple application allows you to post a survey or poll on your Facebook page and then quickly and effectively draw together feedback from the breadth of your social ecosystem. You can even include photos or videos in the question and answer options to make the choices more descriptive.

With Zoomerang's Surveys & Polls for Facebook, you can ask your friends to help you decide on a myriad of topics—personal and professional. Ask your network to:

• Rank the Halloween costume most likely to help you win the "most frightening";

• Help you identify the All-Stars for your fantasy football team;

• Rate the most romantic idea for an upcoming first date;

• Solicit votes for the next ice cream "flavor of the month" for your business;

• Choose the best color scheme for the homecoming dance committee.

"Feedback is priceless in this day and age," said Alex Terry, general manager of Zoomerang. "Consumers trust their inner circle of friends and family and, at the end of the day, their opinion is heavily valued."

Effectively engaging with your network on social media allows you to get more insights and input from those that you already trust. Using Zoomerang's Surveys & Polls for Facebook is one way to effectively gather and share these insights. Now is the time for you to make better decisions with others' input-your Facebook friends are listening.

For more information on this free application, check out Zoomerang's Surveys & Polls for Facebook at https://apps.facebook.com/zoomerangsurveys.

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Cell Phones: The Right Call For Transit Riders

(NAPSI)—A new way to pay is said to be just the ticket for mass transit riders. The method, which first involved the use of microchip technology on "smart cards," is designed to streamline fare collection, increase system efficiency and provide riders with a satisfying experience.

This means the ridership, using compatible cell phones and applications, can use a cell phone in place of transit smart cards or credit cards to pay for their fare.

This type of payment system is starting to gain mainstream acceptance and implementation through many large firms including Google, Verizon, AT&T and various credit card agencies.

Increasing Convenience

The creators of the fare collection system—a company called VIX Technology-saw that various types of cards, such as student and employee IDs and credit cards, were using microchip technology to record transactions with much success.

It reasoned that applying that same kind of technology to mass transit would make it possible for riders to pay their fare with technology that they already had in their possession—any card or device with a standards-based microchip in it.

"The system is easy for riders to use. They never have to fumble for exact change or even wonder how much their fare is," said Michael Cook, vice president of open payment systems at VIX Technology. "And it's open because they can link any participating card to it."

The System in Action

Here's how the system—named eO for "easy open"—works:

• A rider taps a card against a device called a validator in order to ride the system.

• The validator either permits or denies access to the system.

• To leave the system, the rider once again taps a card against the validator.

• The information is transmitted to a server, which calculates the cost of the ride and subtracts money from the rider's account.

Other Applications

The technology platform created by VIX is now being applied to other devices as well. For example, Salt Lake City, Utah, recently committed to a pilot program that would let mass transit riders use their mobile phones to board the transit system instead of using a card with a chip in it.

The system activated by the phone—called Isis—would perform the same calculations, such as access to the system and deducting a fare, as if a rider had activated it with a card.

The current on-board infrastructure is standards based and will support any of the commonly utilized wireless card and chip standards used around the world. As a result, any device with a chip in it, be it a cell phone, a university or employee ID, a credit card or even a smart card-like sticker applied to the back of a phone, can be used by this system to accept fare payment.

To learn more about eO and new electronic fare technology, visit the website www.vixtechnology.com.

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New View On Presidential Politics

(NAPSI)—According to a recent Pew Research study, 22 percent of adults used social networking sites to plug into the last elections. Social media use in the next presidential election race promises to be even higher, with innovative sites already sprouting up to help citizens voice their opinions, show support for their favorite candidates and even get a chance at the ballot themselves. Seasoned political pundits and novice voters are rapidly adopting new online media that aim to level the political playing field and get involved in ways never before possible.

"In recent history, presidential candidates have needed very deep pockets, knowledge of the complex campaign process and a huge network of support resources to even get noticed," said Bryan Lee, co-founder of Votocracy, a new social media site where anyone can toss their hat into the presidential ring for as little as $1. "We aim to be the great political equalizer, providing anyone of the 200 million voting-age Americans a shot at getting on the presidential ticket and gaining millions of supporters, simply through the power of social media."

The site offers members free access to find and interact with political candidates, then helps those candidates amass support from the American people after registering their own presidential campaign—which takes only minutes. The Votocracy process culminates in a nationally televised reality show in which the candidates who generate the most support compete for America 's support.

Other political networking sites, online communities and tools have emerged to help people engage and learn more about upcoming elections, participate in political discussions and keep tabs on specific politicians. This new wave of social media sites means a new breed of "political entrepreneur" can quickly gain momentum without having deep pockets, years of political experience or even notoriety—just the drive to compete and a passion for change.

The campaign season promises to be more accessible and interactive than ever before, making it easy to get involved, either to support a favorite candidate or campaign. For a look at what many are calling the future of politics via social media, visit www.Votocracy.com.

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The Essential School Year Tech Guide

(NAPSI)—Forget spiral notebooks; today's college students are shopping for tech. These days, technology purchases are just as important as textbooks. Whether your major is English or Engineering, you'll benefit from the tips below:

Study and Play

College is all about integrating work and play. The HP Pavilion dv6 with Windows® 7 keeps you connected and allows you to get ahead. The laptop is an entertainment powerhouse that will prevent you from falling asleep when pulling all-nighters. Pump up the jams with built-in Beats Audio™ technology and optimized on-board quad speakers while cranking out an assignment. And when you're ready to reward yourself? Movies look crisp on the notebook's vivid 15.6-inch diagonal HD BrightView LED display.

Entertainment

It takes more than a microwave to make an awesome dorm room. Outfit yours with a free Xbox 360 to ensure it's the coolest one on the hall. Students receive a complimentary Xbox 360 4GB with the purchase of a Windows® 7 PC priced at $699 or higher. Provide your .edu e-mail address when shopping online or flash your student ID in store to take advantage of the deal, which runs until Sept. 3.

Portability

Textbooks are heavy enough, so it's important to have a lightweight laptop for dashing around campus. Measuring less than 1" in front and weighing 3.3 lb., the ultraportable HP Pavilion dm1 is perfect for class. With a battery life of up to 9.5 hours, you won't have to worry about searching for an outlet in the lecture hall.

Necessary Tools

Some students go to college swearing they will never take another math class while others pray that their high school thesis was their last paper. However, with prerequisites and changing majors, students have to be ready for any assignment. Microsoft Office Home and Student 2010 comes equipped with Word, Excel and PowerPoint, arming you for success whether your passion is creative writing or economics.

In addition to the larger tools, smaller gadgets such as USB drives and Wi-Fi mice are essential for the mobility that college life requires. These devices help create a temporary work space so you can compute from the library, the student center or the quad. For more school tech ideas and great savings, check out www.hpdirect.com/go/classofnow.

 

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Customize Your Life With Beautiful Colors At Your Fingertips

(NAPSI)—The next time you see a bright blue sky, a vivid red sweater, a flowing lavender curtain or any color you wish you could take home—you can. A new mobile phone tool lets you photograph, match and preview paint colors on the go.

With a free download of an easy-to-use and convenient tool now for Android and iPhone, you can match, coordinate and preview beautiful colors for all your paint projects.

With a range of unique features, such as the capability to decorate a room image digitally with touch-and-tap technology and preview color on walls, trim and accents, the application lets you become your own color expert and act on whatever color inspires you in the moment.

Creating a color palette for your home can be simple, fun and personally satisfying. A coordinated color palette unifies your space, creating an environment that is beautifully harmonious. Cool colors impart a calm, serene effect, while warm colors bring an invigorating, energizing feel to a room. Therefore, a room set aside for peace and quiet is enhanced with the calm and cool shades of green or blue. If, on the other hand, you want your space to be uplifting and high-spirited, try decorating with warm colors such as yellow or orange.

Incorporating the color selection, coordination and preview features from ColorSmart by Behr online at behr.com, the Color-Smart by Behr Mobile application has many easy-to-use features for selecting the right color palette for you, including:

• Explore Color—Browse over 2,000 colors by color families or color name or number. Once you find a shade you like, you can preview it in a room image.

• Photo Match—Take a photo or select an existing photo. Tap on an area in the photo and the application will pull up the three closest matching paint colors.

• Preview Colors—Access interior and exterior images in a variety of styles to test your color choices on the walls, trims and accents. Zoom in to see details of the photo or remove a color and add another for the color combination you want. You can then share your color selections with friends and family by posting them on Twitter and Facebook. The color selections can also be saved to behr.com.

• Favorites and More—Favorites lets you save favorite colors, coordinated palettes and room images. In addition, it has a handy paint calculator to help you figure out how much paint you'll need and a store locator to provide directions to the nearest The Home Depot store.

The ColorSmart by Behr Mobile application is available for Android and iPhone and is a free download in both the Android Market and Apple iTunes App Store.

For more information about the application and how to use it, visit behr.com/colorsmartmobile. You can also "like" the paint company on facebook.com/behrpaint and follow it on twitter.com/behrpaint.

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