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New Tool For Exploring Your Family’s History

(NAPSI)—If you’re like most Americans, you like to feel connected: to the past, to a place and to others. Discovering your family history can be a rewarding way to establish those connections and help uncover who you are and where you came from.

It can start simply by identifying who is in your extended family. You may be able to find the names of your ancestors—grandmothers, uncles, cousins—going back hundreds of years.

Next, you can get to know them, learn where they were born, whom they married, how they made a living, where they lived and how they died.

The ability to make such connections is getting an unprecedented boost this year with the release of the 1940 U.S. Census. Research shows that 87 percent of Americans alive today should be able to find a relative in the 1940 Census. That’s almost 275 million people who have a connection to these records.

This is the census of The Greatest Generation. It showed 16 million American men and women safe at home on the brink of joining the deadliest war in human history. For the more than 400,000 who never returned from World War II, it’s the last census to record their names.

The census tells the story of a country grappling with the greatest economic hardship it had ever known, something many find particularly relevant today, as the country starts to emerge from its current economic troubles.

Because modern technology lets you access the census at home as never before, Tim Sullivan, the president and CEO of Ancestry.com, the world’s largest online family history resource, says his company has made the 1940 Census free to search at www.ancestry.com/1940. Millions of people can literally sit down with neighbors, friends or relatives who were actually there in 1940, find the census page with their name on it, and get them talking.

You’ll find an address for their home, names of family and neighbors. You’ll see the highest grade they had completed in school and the family’s yearly income in 1939. While they talk, you may get to know them better and get a better understanding of that place in time. You may even get to know a little more about yourself and how you fit into the larger arc of your family’s history and the world’s.

For example, Sharon Harris had only been looking at the 1940 Census for a brief time on Ancestry.com before she came across a record of her uncle. She couldn’t believe her luck: Not only had she found him quickly, but he was married to someone she didn’t recognize. This short search into the new census has already given her a clue to an aunt that Harris never knew about. Next on her list for discovery is her family’s biggest mystery: her great grandfather’s disappearance in the 1930s.

It could help you understand—and share with your family—the essential human question of who you are and where you came from.

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Tips For Parents Juggling College, Career And Family

(NAPSI)—Balancing work and family is a familiar challenge for many parents, but when you add college classes to the mix it can become a real juggling act.

According to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, parents of dependent children comprise nearly a quarter (3.9 million) of America’s 17 million college students and half of those (1.9 million) are single parents. For many college-bound parents, career success depends on advancing their education and refreshing their job skills.

“Today’s careers are longer and more complex than in the past,” says Dr. Tracey Wilen-Daugenti, vice president and managing director of Apollo Research Institute. “Continuing education is critical to staying employable over a career that may last 50 to 60 years and require 10 or more job changes.”

But don’t rush back to college if you don’t have a clear purpose or plan for managing your time. Apollo Research Institute surveyed more than 4,400 adult students and found that 56 percent experience anxiety over not spending enough time with friends and loved ones. Here are some tips to help college-going parents stay the course:

•Seek a program with flexible class scheduling. Evening classes, online learning or hybrid programs that combine online and on-campus classes are designed for working adults.

•Look for programs that use innovative technologies. By building technology skills, you will increase your value to an employer.

•Don’t underestimate the time you’ll need to complete assignments outside of class. Ask faculty and fellow students about time requirements.

•Talk with your employer about your goals and educational plan; explore tuition-assistance programs that your company may offer.

•Explore resources that your college may provide, such as work-life balance consultants to help you locate child care and manage your time.

•Engage your children in your learning process by taking them to the library or setting up shared space to do homework together. Dialogue with your kids about what you are learning and the role education plays in your lives.

•Read up on the financial impact of earning a degree. According to Apollo Research Institute, college goers who obtain a degree while employed can expect to increase their salary and lifetime income and earn on average a 22 percent return on their tuition dollars. The return is higher for graduates in high-demand fields such as engineering (53 percent), IT (49 percent), business (43 percent) and nursing (36 percent).

•Consider earning a certification if you are not sure about a degree program. Certifications are respected and increasingly required in industries such as manufacturing and IT.

Learn more at www.apolloresearchinstitute.org.

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Is Internet Service On Your Back To School List?

(NAPSI)—The Internet has changed the way Americans communicate, work, shop, play games and access information. However, research indicates one in four Americans have access to a residential Internet service, but have not purchased it. It’s hard to believe, but while the majority of America is online, many low-income families and their children remain at a disadvantage because they don’t have a computer or Internet service at home.

To help close this so-called “digital divide,” Comcast is offering a program called Internet Essentials. The goal of the program is to help level the playing field for low-income families by connecting students online with their teachers and their school’s educational resources, and by providing adults with critical access to job openings and to health care and government services.

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 a groundbreaking, ambitious and comprehensive broadband adoption program designed to attack these barriers.

Internet Essentials provides low-income families, those with children eligible to receive free or reduced price lunches under the National School Lunch Program (NSLP), with low-cost Internet access, the option to buy a low-cost computer and receive digital literacy training in print, online and in-person. The program is available to more than 30,000 schools in 39 states as well as Washington D.C.

New in 2012

Now in its second year, Comcast has improved the program by making the following enhancements:

• Expanded eligibility criteria to include families with children eligible to receive reduced price school lunches under the NSLP. This means nearly 300,000 additional households are now eligible for the program, bringing the total to 2.3 million eligible families;

• Doubled broadband speeds of up to 3 Mbps downstream and up to 768 Kbps upstream;

• Upgraded the free Internet safety software to include the Constant Guard Protection Suite, which includes top-rated Norton Security Suite, identity theft protection and more;

• Enriched digital literacy training efforts both online and in-person, including offering a series of short videos featuring NBC and Telemundo news personalities Al Roker, Kate Snow, Jenna Wolfe and Jose Diaz-Balart discussing how to use job search tools and social networking sites, as well as tips on what parents should know about cyber bullying;

• Streamlined the approval process by providing an instant approval process for all students who attend schools with the highest percentage of NSLP participation, which includes Provision 2 schools;

• Introduced a bulk order program that empowers community-based organizations to purchase Internet Essentials accounts so they can connect the eligible families they serve.

For this program to be successful, however, it requires support. Comcast is asking for help from parents, educators, community leaders and government officials to join in this effort and spread the word to those who are eligible so they can get connected to the Internet, purchase a low-cost computer and receive training.

For general information about Internet Essentials, visit www.internetessentials.com (for English) or www.internetbasico.com (for Spanish). Educators and third parties interested in more information and free, downloadable materials 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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A Social Media Approach To Learning

(NAPSI)—Good news for teachers and those with a thirst for knowledge: A social learning company that has helped to prepare students for success in higher education has created a new social media learning platform meant to help anyone learn something new.

Since a site called Learnist was launched recently, tens of thousands of online experts have curated the Web's best resources into "learn boards"—multimedia mash-ups of videos, podcasts, e-books, blog posts, pictures and quizzes.

The topics covered on the learn boards range from how to multiply complex fractions to how to play the guitar. Visitors to the site can browse and learn about subjects in categories such as Art & Design, Education, Food & Drinks, Travel & Places, Sports and more. The emphasis is on social learning, so users collaborate and help each other learn through comments and recommended learn board additions.

Influential experts are adopting Learnist, including fashion designer Melissa Fleis, contestant on reality TV series "Project Runway," and best-selling author of "The Lean Startup," Eric Ries.

"The Lean Startup movement has spread around the world through social learning and Learnist helps that by leveraging the wealth of Lean Startup content online and using that to create sequenced resources to help people learn more from and with each other," says Eric Ries.

Reaching the Online Learner

The site offers an innovative way to reach a social media−savvy learner both inside and outside the classroom. Several university instructors have created learn boards with multimedia postings that reinforce their classroom material. The site has focused on creating Common Core State Standards content for students in grades 7−12. Lifelong learners of all ages explore and share information on a variety of academic and nonacademic topics.

For example, a learn board on wave theory might start with a definition of the theory, then move into a video of a lecture from an expert in the field, then into slides being displayed in the video lecture, all in an effort to explain a topic. English teachers might take a similar approach by creating a board for a class on "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn."

The site also functions as a DIY resource, so cooks who want to master a recipe can get step-by-step instructions with helpful videos while handymen can learn how to build and stain a bookcase.

Like other social media sites such as Facebook, visitors can interact with learn boards by asking questions, leaving comments or "liking" posts, increasing the social aspect of the learning experience.

Whether it's to meet academic standards, brush up on existing knowledge or learn a new skill, the idea behind Learnist is to organize the world's information online in a way that encourages the sharing of knowledge and learning.

Going Mobile

Additionally, the company created Learnist for the iPhone and the iPad so users can create and curate content from anywhere at any time, making it easier to learn and share information on the go.

To request an invitation to Learnist, please visit learni.st or download Learnist for the iPad or Learnist for the iPhone on the Apple App Store.

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Program Steers Students Toward STEM Subjects

(NAPSI)—Science teachers and the U.S. Army are on a mission. Their joint objective is to promote student achievement in STEM subjects—science, technology, engineering and math.

An online collaborative learning competition called eCYBERMISSION—Is designed to inspire student interest in STEM by encouraging students in grades six through nine to develop solutions to real-world challenges in their communities.

Solutions to Real Problems

Through the program, managed by the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA), teams of three to four students are asked to identify an issue in their community related to one of seven mission challenges.

According to Dr. Gerry Wheeler, interim executive director, NSTA, the competition en- courages students to be resourceful and to think critically while pursuing real solutions to real-world challenges.

After selecting a mission challenge, teams—under the guidance of a team adviser—apply the scientific method/inquiry or engineering design process to propose a solution. Each team then submits a mission folder, the official write-up of its project, via the program’s website.

A panel of virtual judges evaluates and scores the mission folders on the basis of several criteria to identify state winning teams. The state winning teams then move on to the regional competition, where they compete with other teams in their grade across the region for an all-expenses-paid trip to the National Judging and Educational Event, taking place June 2013.

Teams have the opportunity to win state, regional and national awards and the students on the four national winning teams can receive up to $8,000 in U.S. EE Savings Bonds, valued at maturity.

Promoting Interest in STEM

Mr. Dale Ormond, the director of the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command (RDECOM), said, “Our nation relies more and more on advances in science, technology, engineering and mathematics to solve real-world problems and ensure our national security. We encourage students to take an active role in their STEM education, and we hope they will continue to find that eCYBERMISSION is a fun and effective way to do that.”

The eCYBERMISSION competition is part of the Army Educational Outreach Program (AEOP). The AEOP is comprised of Army-sponsored research, education competitions, internships and practical experiences designed to engage and guide students and teachers in STEM education.

Registration for the 2012−2013 competition is now open. To learn more about the program and to register, visit www.ecybermission.com or call (866) GO-CYBER (462- 9237) or send an e-mail to missioncontrol@ecybermission.com.

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Update Your Software To Keep Your Computer-And Your Information-Safe

(NAPSI)—Viruses, worms, Trojans—you’ve likely heard or read about them. They’re the nefarious “creatures” that can take advantage of vulnerabilities in the software applications you have installed on your computer—but you can defeat them. That’s good news, because if they find their way into your computer, they can wreak havoc, destroying your files, stealing your personal information, even taking control of your computer to help with other insidious cybercrimes. Chances are, if you haven’t already been a victim of some kind of malware, you could be soon, especially if you don’t keep your software applications current by installing the security updates that software vendors provide.

Staying up to date on the latest security patches is critical given today’s threat environment. In addition to the many security initiatives that software companies engage in to keep their products and users safe, the single most important advice they give is to always stay up to date. “Research shows that up to 99.8 percent of successful cyberattacks today exploit software that is not current with the latest security updates,” says Brad Arkin, senior director, security, Adobe products and services. “We strongly recommend that users install the latest security updates.”

Recently, Skype, the popular service that lets you make phone calls using the Internet, commissioned a survey that revealed:

• 40 percent of adults don’t always update software on their computers when initially prompted to do so.

• Approximately 25 percent of those surveyed said they don’t clearly understand what software updates do and an equal percentage don’t understand the benefits of updating.

• While 75 percent of adults receive update notifications from their software, more than half admitted that they needed to see a prompt between two and five times before downloading and installing the update.

For most people, then, updating software is more often than not an afterthought. Many complain that the process is intrusive and bothersome. It’s just easier to click the “remind me later” button when you’re busy finishing up the weekly sales report or adding your latest vacation photos to your online album. If you do, however, you leave yourself vulnerable to threats that could take you off-line for a long time-or worse.

Making Updates Easier

The good news is that times have changed. Companies continuously look for ways to make the update process less cumbersome for users. For example, the very widely used Adobe Reader—which lets you open and read ubiquitous PDF documents—uses a new update mechanism designed to keep you current in a much more streamlined and automated way. With the new updater, Windows users have the option to choose to download and install updates automatically. You can literally “set it and forget it.” Once your update preferences are set to update your software automatically, Adobe Reader and Acrobat will automatically check for new updates and download and install available updates—you won’t have to think about it again.

So the next time you get a pop-up window telling you to update that software application, your best move is to do it right then. If your software offers an automatic update option, enable it. Don’t wait. It’s too easy to forget and it’s too easy for cybercriminals to get to you.

If your software reminds you again a few days later (and maybe again a few days after that), it’s just doing its job, reminding you to do yours. It’s not another update, just a friendly way to tell you how important it is to stay up to date.

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How To Choose The Right Smartphone

(NAPSI)—Smartphones make us “smarter” but how smart are we about the smartphone selection process? More and more people—from soccer moms to hardcore gamers—know they want a smartphone but don’t know how to find the right one.

The good news is that doing your homework before you buy can help you find the smartphone that best meets your needs. Here is the three-step process to help you make the right mobile device purchase.

1. Find the One That Fits

Start with the obvious. You should like the size of the mobile device and how it feels in your hand. Chances are, no matter its features, if you are not physically comfortable using the mobile device, you won’t be happy.

2. Find Your User Profile

Before you walk into the store, take a deep breath and identify your profile based on how you will be using the phone and the features you really want and need. Following are a few profiles to get you started—feel free to mix and match:

No Frills, Please: You want a phone that lets you talk, text and check your e-mail. Apps, bells and whistles will only confuse things and clutter your phone.

Smart and Social: You like to be connected and want a phone that will help you take social networking to the next level. You also like sharing and comparing the latest eye-popping tricks and features on your smartphone with your friends.

Gaming Guru: You want a phone that lets you get your game on-and that means one with the capacity for rich graphics and streaming video.

Multitasking Maven: You go through life 100 miles per hour and you need a smartphone that can keep up with you. From easy-to-read touch screens to GPS apps, you are looking for a partner to help you multitask on the run without having to recharge.

The good news is that whatever your profile, chances are you can find a phone that matches it.

3. Look for a Smartphone with a Strong Heart!

Processors are the “heart” of a mobile device and literally bring it to life. Not all processors are created equal. Just like our human hearts, you want a processor that allows you to go farther, last longer and do everything you want to do. So the key is finding the mobile device with a processor that will provide longer battery life, an enriched mobile experience and ultimate connectivity.

“Our research has shown consumers are more reliant on mobile technology than ever and are taking the time to make informed decisions about their mobile device selection,” said Tim McDonough, Vice President of Product Marketing at Qualcomm. “To purchase the mobile products that best meet their lifestyle needs, we believe that more and more smartphone and tablet users are considering the processor brand when making a mobile purchase.”

Qualcomm’s Snapdragon processors are powering the extraordinary experiences that consumers have come to expect from superior mobile devices. They help devices do more without having to constantly recharge the battery, providing seamless, high-speed Web browsing, e-mail connectivity, GPS, multimedia, best-in-class gaming, social networking and 4G LTE connectivity.

It is believed that the mobile community is aware of the Snapdragon point of difference. In order to enhance the overall mobile experience, leading manufacturers and operators have selected Snapdragon processors to power more than 420 of the most popular smartphones and tablets. Plus, it’s estimated there are 400 additional Snapdragon-powered devices currently in development.

To learn more, visit www.qualcomm.com/snapdragon/devices.

 

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Capturing And Keeping Tomorrow’s Memories

(NAPSI)—Whether you’re a college freshman off to school for the first time or a returning student getting ready for a new semester, preparation is key.

One way to start is by making sure you have the technology you need to capture all the new memories you’ll be making.

That means choosing a camera, camcorder and printer that can help to make sure your college experience is remembered forever.

It Starts With the Camera

A picture may be worth a thousand words but the right picture can be priceless. These days, that means in addition to having the capacity to take great pictures, the camera should make it easy to share photos with family and friends as soon as you take them.

For example, the Canon PowerShot ELPH 320 HS digital camera features built-in wireless capabilities. That means brilliant images and videos can be captured and quickly shared by signing up with Canon iMAGE Gateway. This allows for linking to sites such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

The camera is equipped with a 16.1-megapixel sensor and the ability to capture Full HD 1080p video.

Get the Whole Story

When it comes to classes, taking notes by hand or using an audio recorder is very last century. Now it’s possible to capture every vivid detail of your professor’s lesson in Full HD video for up to three hours with the Canon VIXIA HF R30.

With the camera’s 51x advanced zoom, users can get a close-up view of the action while the SuperRange Optical Image Stabilization and Intelligent IS provide assurance that the highlights will be steady and clear.

Let’s Make it Last

Once all of these images and videos are captured, the next step is to bring them to life. The Canon PIXMA MG4220 Wireless Photo All-In-One Printer and SELPHY CP900 Wireless Compact Photo Printer make it easy to print beautiful images thanks to their wireless capabilities.

When using the Canon Easy-PhotoPrint application with compatible Apple and Android devices, users can unlock the images trapped on the devices to be printed in a short amount of time.

With “My Image Garden” software, photos stored on computers can be easily organized into three categories—Calendar, Event and People—so they can be easily accessed.

Canon has also developed the “Print Your Days” Facebook application. It allows those users, while on their Facebook page, to print one single photo or combine a maximum of five images into one collage from their Facebook photo albums.

For more information, visit the Canon U.S.A. website at www.usa.canon.com.

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