Jim’s WebLetter for 1-7-17

Hi-ya friends and techie neighbors!  

Now that we’re in the new year, this makes a good time to do some strengthening of your password security in an era when hacks are rampant. Also, eliminating the junky electronics you have accumulated over the years and doing some maintenance on your current electronics would ensure it all runs smoothly this year.  

I quit believing in New Years resolutions, instead deciding on what is important and doing something about it.  

So this year, based on an article I came across this week … here are 5 things I’m going to check off my list.  You might want to take notes …

1. Clean Up Password Hygiene
When I began creating passwords for email accounts, websites and the like, I realized I needed to write these things down because it’s not healthy to have one password for everything. I keep a list of EVERY password in a safe place online where I can access it anywhere-anytime. When I make changes to accounts, I refresh my list. This year, I am going through all my accounts and changing my passwords and updating my entire list. If you find that to be challenging, you can use applications like LastPass or 1Password, which are password-managing apps that let you use one master password to unlock a vault of passwords to log in to all of your internet accounts. They also automatically generate strong passwords for you.

BONUS POINTS can be had when you add an extra layer of protection by enabling two-factor verification on your accounts whenever the option is available. When you enter your password, you will receive a message (usually a text) with a one-time code that you must enter before logging in.

2. Maintain Your Devices
As with most computers, our smartphones and devices start to feel sluggish and short-lived after regular usage. But a bit of maintenance can make them feel brand new.

First, check the condition of your batteries. With iPhone and iPads, you can hook the devices up to a Mac and run the app coconutBattery, which reveals battery statistics. With Android devices, you can use the app Battery by MacroPinch. If your battery is on its last legs, it’s time to order a new one or schedule an appointment at a repair shop to replace it.

If your devices feel sluggish, freeing up some storage can also make a dramatic difference. Start by purging apps you never use anymore. Then do something about those photos you never look at: back up all your photos to the cloud using services like Google Photos and then delete them from your device to start the new year with a fresh photo roll.

Give your screens a good wipe with a cloth. If you own a desktop computer, open it up and use compressed air to blow out the dust.

Do this basic maintenance every six months and your devices will run smoothly for many years.

3. Mind Your Infrastructure
When’s the last time you pulled out that Wi-Fi router you have tucked away and given it a good cleaning? Among all tech headaches, there is nothing more annoying than a sluggish, spotty internet connection. Do some checks on your internet infrastructure. If your router is more than three years old, you probably need a new one that is compatible with today’s faster, smarter wireless standards. 

If you are relying on a router provided by your broadband provider, you should probably buy a more powerful stand-alone router. There are several on the market that will simply plug into your cable system and provide better coverage, faster speeds. I use a higher rated Linksys router plugged into the Comcast box and get speeds much faster than theirs emits.  

4. Be Less Wasteful
All the old gadgets and power cables you don’t use take up lots of space in drawers and attics. Sell or donate to someone in need, or recycle them for their precious metals. Companies like Amazon and Gazelle offer headache-free trade-in services for selling used electronics. Best Buy locations will take your used electronics and recycle them for free. Just bag the items up and drop them off at the store’s customer-service counter, and the retailer will take care of the rest.

5. Be a Smarter Shopper
To get great deals on electronics, there is no need to wait until Black Friday or Cyber Monday. Carefully research high-quality, long-lasting items you want and buy them when their prices drop a significant amount. 

Web tools like Camel Camel Camel and Keepa make price tracking on Amazon.com easy. On their websites, just do a search on the name of the item, and the sites will pull up a price history. From there, you can create a tracker to alert you via email whenever a price drops to a desired amount.

So, there you go. Make 2017 the year of better, safer computing. Get started right away!

>>> A special thank you to Brian X. Chen for his article in the New York Times. <<<
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New stories about the new tablets in iTab Magazine. Click and read … http://iTab.jimonline.com

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That’s it this week. Have a great weekend and may God bless you and keep you safe.
c-ya!
Jim

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