Tools Toys and Technology

About the Tools You Use and the Toys That Make Life Interesting

Tools Toys and Technology - About the Tools You Use and the Toys That Make Life Interesting

Is Windows 10 Really Free?

Even though I thought I had already overdone writing about Windows 10, questions keep rolling in! Six months after introduction, Windows 10 has been installed on over 213 million computers; this is an adoption rate even greater than Windows 7, the previous record holder.

Upgrading to Windows 10 is currently free to those who have Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 already installed on a personal computer. The offer does not extend to those who have Windows XP or Vista, nor can businesses participate in this promotion. The promotion officially ends on July 29, 2016, but there are rumors that the offer will be extended.

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Planning Your Digital Estate

Approximately 55 percent of American adults do not have a will or other estate plan in place, according to LexisNexis. Since SaddleBrooke residents regularly get offers of free eats and presentations from estate planners, I’m guessing that nearly all of us have given estate planning more than a passing thought.

If you haven’t revisited your estate planning recently, you may not have considered what should be done with your digital assets. According to a recent survey, 63 percent of people don’t know what will happen to their digital assets when they die. A 2014 survey funded by McAfee found that the average digital device holds $35,000 worth of information by the owners estimate. The largest part of that value was attributed to irreplaceable personal memories, photos and videos. Over half of those surveyed felt their computers held information that is impossible to recreate, download or purchase again.

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Has the “Internet-of-Things” Gone Too Far?

Oral B introduces IoT Toothbrush

The “Internet of Things” (IoT) is the hot topic these days. IoT involves connecting physical objects, everything from cars to refrigerators, buildings and homes, even entire cities, to the Internet. IoT objects contain electronics, sensors and accompanying software to collect information and communicate the data over the Internet or local network to other devices, for the purpose of displaying and/or analyzing the data.

IoT has the potential to be very useful for monitoring and communicating critical information, like medical issues. It also offers all kinds of possibilities for home automation. The potential for IoT is unlimited, with many applications that are yet to be imagined. And then there are those that have an uncanny imagination on how to apply this technology.

IoT-tbTake Oral B, who has just introduced a “smart” tooth brush. It is equipped with gyroscopes, accelerometers, and Bluetooth to communicate with your smartphone camera, so it can watch you brush your teeth. And you thought your mother was a stickler for making sure you brushed your teeth correctly!

Did I mention you can store your brushing history in the cloud?

Hmm? I wonder what could happen if someone hacked your toothbrush and installed some malware? The Stephen King film, “The Mangler.” comes to mind.

Spring Cleaning

If you missed the observance of National Clean Up Your Computer Month this January, never fear! This is a chore you can do any time of the year.

Cleaning video screens and the outside of your devices is fairly straightforward. Turn the device off or, better yet, unplug it. Blow off loose surface dust with canned compressed air, then wipe with a microfiber cloth using a gentle circular motion. If any smudging remains, lightly dampen the microfiber cloth with distilled water (moist, not dripping!)  and wipe again. For stubborn spots, use 50:50 distilled water and vinegar in the same fashion. Never use Windex or other household cleaners and never spray any liquids on electronics. Do not use paper towels or old cleaning rags – they can cause scratches on video screens.

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Getting to Know You

Spending hours on the internet exposes all of us to seemingly endless swarms of advertisements on a regular basis. While acknowledging that many websites could fade away without ad revenues, the ever increasing aggressiveness, duplicity and disregard of privacy displayed by ethically challenged marketers has become a constant annoyance.

The introduction of Windows 10 with its detailed delineation of the depth and breadth of personal information routinely tracked, ostensibly to “let Cortana get to know you very, very well”, may well have rekindled public awareness of the relentless electronic surveillance routinely imposed on all of us.

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9 Steps to a Safer, More Secure Windows Computer

Let’s face it. Bad guys are out there; they are lurking on the Internet; and they are looking for YOU!

To protect yourself from muggers, pickpockets and thieves, you take certain steps. You keep your hands on your wallet or purse in a crowd, and you lock your door when you leave home and at night.

Similarly, you have to take certain steps to protect your cyber life. And these are a bit more complicated and involved that locking your door. But they are equally important if you intend to keep your computer, data, and even your identity safe. Here are 9 steps to a safer, more secure Windows computer…

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Use 10 Minute Mail for Spam Control

Did you ever want to sign up for a promotion that required you to submit your email to get the free offer? You know what happens then. You will start to get spam from the promoter, or even worse, your email address will be put on a list that is used by lots of companies to promote offers you have no interest in at all. And your email spam load starts to grow.

To avoid this, you can just give them a fake email address, right? Wrong. Frequently you will first get a confirmation email that requires you to respond or click to confirm that the email address you provided is really you. Even more frequently, access to the free offer is sent to you by email. If you sign up with a fake email address, you never get the offer.

But the offer is too good to pass up. What do you do?

The answer is 10 Minute Mail. When you go to the 10 minute mail Website  (, you receive a temporary, throw-away email address that will last for 10 minutes. You can add another 10 minutes, if necessary. This should give you enough time to sign up for the promotion, receive an email confirmation link and get the offer, whatever it is. But after the allocated time, the email address will self-destruct and is no longer functional. YOU will receive no further communication from the promoter or spam from other people who might share the email list.

Windows 10: Naughty or Nice?

Although I have written about Windows 10 earlier this year, I’m still fielding questions on a regular basis. Although many computer users befuddled by the idiosyncrasies of Windows 8 welcomed the arrival of free copies of Windows 10 as if they were early Christmas gifts, electronics vendors are still wistfully longing for improved new computer sales this holiday season. Nearly 132 million computers are now running Windows 10; this represents about 8.8% of the 1.5 billion PCs around the world.

While the early adoption rate exceeded that of Windows 7, that initial surge of interest appears to be dwindling. Microsoft is changing strategies to encourage more installations of Windows 10.

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Amazon Prime Bundles New Premium Channels


Amazon Prime just made two premium additions to their streaming TV bundle: Starz and Showtime. Amazon Prime started out to be just an expedited 2-day shipping option for a fixed price (now $99 a year). Then they began to add other services and benefits, including free streaming of a wide collection of movies and TV shows at no additional charge. Now they are offering optional streaming channels that has removed one of the last major objections to “cutting the cord” and ditching your traditional expensive cable or satellite TV service.

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