Support Local Schools & Charities With Amazon Smile

As a local small business owner myself, I know how important is to shop at other local businesses as much as possible. In my case, many of the tools and parts I need to repair computers can’t be found locally, so I shop for them online. But there’s a way to shop online and still support local schools, charities and other organizations by using Amazon Smile.

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Undoubtedly the biggest online retailer in the world is Amazon.com. You can find almost anything, and if you have a Prime subscription, you can get most orders in two days with free shipping or overnight for $3.99. (You also get access to Amazon Prime video, a Netflix alternative, and Amazon Photos, a free cloud backup service for your photos and videos). With service like that it’s no surprise people use Amazon from everything from books to electronics.

There’s a way you can shop on Amazon and still support local schools, charities and other organizations of your choice. All you need to do is go to Smile.Amazon.com instead of Amazon.com, and a percentage of some of your purchases will be donated to the charity of your choice.

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Sign in with your amazon account, and you can select a charity.

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There are some great charities suggested on the right hand side of the page, or you can search for one in the box at the bottom. I decided to search for my hometown of Norwood, Massachusetts.

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There are literally dozens of great local organizations, but I decided to refine my search and specifically look for something to support local schools.

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I chose the Willett PTO because I have a child in the school now and one who will be attending in 2 years and I know they really need the help with fundraising.

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Whenever I place an order that qualifies, Amazon Smile notifies me with a little message to remind me that a donation has been made to my charity.

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Here are my contributions to the Willett PTO so far and the total they have brought in from all Amazon Smile users.

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It feels good knowing I am helping an organization that’s important to me while I shop. There’s no extra cost to do it and all you have to do is use smile.amazon and you can be raising money for a cause that’s near and dear to you. You can also change your charity at any point, so you can spread your donations around.

 

Find, Like, and Review Local Walpole Businesses

Check out this quick way to find local Walpole businesses on Facebook, and while you’re there, consider clicking the “Like” button. You can also click directly on the business to leave them a review.

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Click here to see, like and review local Walpole businesses.

 

Lastpass – The only password Manager You Will Ever Need!

How often does this happen to you?
How often does this happen to you?

I’ve got more passwords than I can count. Work email, Personal email. Facebook, Twitter. Instagram. Snapchat. Pinterest. LinkedIN, Online Banking. Every single credit card. The Patient portal for my doctor’s office (and my childrens portals as well). Netflix, Hulu, Plex, Reddit, Ancestry,  Xbox One, Playstation 4, Verizon for cable, Sprint for my cell phone,  Online shopping at Amazon, Kohl’s, Target, Old Navy, Home Depot, Sears, eBay… it’s easy to forget all the places where we have online accounts. and how many passwords we’re using.

in fact, the average computer user has over 130 passwords to remember. And the worst thing you can do from a security standpoint is use the same password for every site because it makes a hackers job much easier.

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Lastpass is a web based app that allows you to save all your different passwords in one vault, out in the cloud,  and set one master password to get that vault open.  Your password vault is encrypted so even the team at LastPass can’t access your passwords. Set one secure password for the vault and never worry about remembering each and every site password ever again. I suggest a long phrase that’s easy to remember and type. For example, I might choose Chara33BigZchamps2011 or Gronkspike87NEpatsSBx4

With my one master vault password, I can log in and access literally 1000’s of passwords I would certainly have forgotten. This is especially true for those sites you only visit once or twice a year.

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Another nice feature included in Lastpass – you can create multiple profiles containing all your contact info, like the stuff they ask for every time you sign up for a website – and lock them down with the vault password too.  My PC Overhaul profile has my name, street address, phone number, credit card, date of birth and credit card numbers for the business. When I go to a site to buy parts for a customer, the checkout process is simple. I click on my PC Overhaul profile in lastpass and it fills all that information in for me. And you can have as many different profiles as you want. I have a profile for work, another for personal purchases, and a 3rd for web forums (using my spam email account).

Lastpass also has the ability to create randomized secure passwords for you. This is handy if you always plan on using Lastpass to log in to sites, but won’t be helpful otherwise.

Once you have it installed, whenever you go to a site with a saved password, lastpass offers to autofill the username and password fields for you. You enter the vault password and can choose not to be prompted for the vault password for a period of time.  If you know you will be in front of the computer for 3 hours, you can set it to leave the vault open for that long, and after that time anyone with access to your system will be asked for the master vault password again to get in.

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There are literally dozens of handy features to lastpass, especially considering it’s a free app, I highly recommend you check it out.

Lastpass

 

Use GWX Control Panel to Block “Get Windows 10” Notifcations

Millions of people have already made the switch from Windows 7 or 8 to Windows 10, but millions more have no interest in upgrading at this point. Many people have accidentally agreed to the Windows 10 update not understanding it was an entirely new Operating System.

GWX Control Panel is a great free tool developed by ultimateoutsider.com.

Once installed, GWX Control Panel gives you multiple ways to stop Windows 10 from either downloading or from nagging you to install it.

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Most people have no idea how they ended up downloading the Windows 10 upgrade offer to begin with. It’s actually included with all your other Windows updates. To prevent it from installing the update that offers you Windows 10, choose the top right button, “Click to prevent Windows 10 Upgrades”.

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If you’ve already installed the update, and just want to make the “Get Windows 10” nag screen disappear forever, choose the top left button, “Click to Prevent “Get Windows 10” App.  On my particular Windows 7 computer, I haven’t downloaded the Windows Update that includes the Windows 10 notification, but clicking this button will keep me from seeing it if I ever download it in the future.

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For complete instructions, check out the full User Guide at ultimateoutsider.com.

 

 

Small Business Facebook Likes Comments & Shares

Supporting a local small business on Facebook is simple to do, takes very little time and is absolutely free.

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When you like, share or comment on a Facebook post, all your friends can potentially see it. That kind of exposure is incredibly valuable for smaller locally owned businesses who don’t have the budget for lots of paid advertising.

You can also check in to local businesses on your smartphone.  This shows that the business is active and has a good customer base.

If you buy their products or use their services, consider leaving them a review on Facebook, Yelp! or Google. Reviews are vital to your online presence.

A business with lots of activity on their Facebook page is likely to show up closer to the top of Google’s search rankings than a page that has little to no activity.

For example, if there are two pizza restaurants in town, Google has to decide which order to rank them when you search for pizza. If one has a Facebook page with lots of likes, comments and reviews, and people are checking in regularly but the other has no Facebook page, or a page without any activity, Google uses that information (among other factors) to make their decision.

Even if you don’t buy the product or use the service, your likes shares and comments can make a huge difference for a local small business, so please take the time to help them out.

 

Back up your iPhone

pcoverhaul iphone 1Having a current backup of the files on your iPhone is always a good idea, in case it’s lost, stolen, or damaged. Most iPhone users don’t know how to run a local backup and end up relying on the iCloud for their backups. iCloud can be a great option for small numbers of files, but the free account is limited to 5GB of files.

Backing up your phone to your computer is a better option because your computer’s hard drive is huge, so you can keep multiple backups of your files.

You can back up your iPhone using iTunes. In my case, I have a PC, but it works the same way on a Mac. Apple creates and encoded copy of your files and settings and puts them into a temporary folder. If you need to restore from the backup later, iTunes can copy all your information back to your phone, or to a new phone if you are upgrading or lost or damaged your phone.

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iTunes will back up all of your Camera Roll Photos, SMS messages (texts), settings, contacts, and your app data. It will not backup any synced music, videos, or podcasts.

iTunes performs this backup automatically anytime you sync your iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch with your computer, but it’s a good idea to do it once in a while for backup purposes.

If you need help backing up your iPhone, please contact me and I’ll be happy to help you out.

 

Leaked Google Photos app appears, showing off automatic image sorting capabilities | PCWorld

We’ve known for some time that Google Photos would be broken away from Google+ into an app of its own, and as someone who uses Google Photos to backup photos from my phone, I’m very happy with the results.

The app will make a clean break from Google+ and give you a ton more editing, sharing, and privacy controls.

Source: Leaked Google Photos app appears, showing off automatic image sorting capabilities | PCWorld

 

Flickr Now Gives You 1TB of Free Online Photo Storage

Flickr has revamped their website and smartphone app and is now offering 1TB of free photo storage for every user. That’s 1,000 GB! You could fit 1 million photos into that much space and still have room to spare.

You need to have a Yahoo account to sign up, but they’re free and easy enough to create if you don’t have one.

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You can upload through the web, but I suggest downloading the Flickr Uploadr

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At this point, if you don’t have a Yahoo! ID, you need to create one.

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It took me about 1 minute to create my yahoo account and sign in to the Flickr service.

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Once I logged in, I was greeted with a status screen letting me know how much of my free 1 Terabyte of storage I had remaining. In this case, I haven’t uploaded anything yet so I have the full amount.

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Flickr gives you some default locations where you may or may not have photos so you can just check them off. I keep all my files on a drive on my network, so I won’t be using any of these defaults, but most people will check off the Pictures folder and possibly some or all of the others.

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If you keep photos somewhere else or want to include other locations in addition to the defaults, click the + sign at the bottom left and navigate to the folder you’d like to add.

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At this point, the Flickr Uploadr app will scan the folders and subfolders to make a list of all your files prior to uploading. In my case, it was over 250,000 photos so it took several hours before the uploading actually started.

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Now I can sit back and wait while my photos and videos are backed up online for free.

If you are a Google user, you can check out my post on how to automatically use Gmail to backup your photos taken from a smartphone.

 

Unsend an email in Gmail using Google Labs

Everyone has sent an email they wish they could get back. Now with Google Labs, Gmail users can create a window of time where you can take back that nasty reactionary email, possibly saving your relationship or job.

  1. Go here to be taken to Gmail Labs.
  2. Search for Undo Send, and click Enable.
  3. Scroll to the top or bottom of the page, and click Save Changes
  4. Gmail will reload. Once it’s done, go to General Settings, and find Undo Send. It should be enabled already; if not, check the box to enable it.
  5. You can change the period within which you can cancel an email with the dropdown box just below the checkbox.
I have highlighted the tab in Google Labs.
I have highlighted the tab in Google Labs.

 

 

Prevent Unwanted Software Installation with Unchecky

One of the greatest things about the internet is the amount of free software available at the click of a button. You can download Zone Alarm Free instead of paying for Norton Internet Security,  GIMP instead of Adobe Photoshop, and LibreOffice or OpenOffice instead of Microsoft Office. In most cases the free programs have all the same basic functions and are great alternatives for the majority of people.

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One of the downsides to downloading free software are the additional junkware programs that may be included in the installation. Sometimes it’s easy to just click “Accept” in every window without reading them , only to find out later that you installed 2 or 3 programs unknowingly.

As an example, I downloaded the installer for a popular FTP program, FileZilla. The FileZilla logo is displayed at the top of the first two screens, and the giant ACCEPT button is just begging to be clicked on. A little reading makes it clear that you’re agreeing to install both the Vosteran Browser and Super PC Tools.


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Since we are all guilty of getting a little click happy, someone decided to make a program to un-check those boxes for you- Unchecky. A simple, lightweight program that runs in the background waiting for you to install software. When it detects unwanted junkware, it un-checks those boxes to help prevent you from installing them. And in the event that you check off the box by mistake, unchecky warns you about it.

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If you download software on a regular basis I highly recommend installing this to save yourself the headache of unwanted toolbars or browser search re-directions.