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DEEMABLE TECH

Q: The other day I received a direct message on Twitter from a colleague of mine that said, "Is this what you were talking about?" and a link to a web page. Like a dummy, I clicked the link. It took me to some random web page that didn't have anything to do with me. I messaged him back, and he had no idea what I was talking about. Then, I started getting messages from other friends on Twitter asking what I was talking about. Somebody hacked our Twitter accounts! What can we do to fix it?

A: Ouch! You're not alone though. In fact, Amanda Bynes, Britney Spears, Justin Beiber, Kim Kardashian, Miley Cyrus, Donald Trump, Burger King, Jeep, NBC News, the Associated Press, the New York Times, and even President Obama have all had their Twitter accounts hacked. Anthony Weiner, MTV, BET and Chipotle all lied about their Twitter accounts being hacked, each for their own reasons. Let's not get into all that.

How do you fix it? There's a lot to do, but we'll help you get your Twitter account straightened out and secure.

The first things you need to do are log into your Twitter account and change your Twitter password. In case you may have downloaded a virus, you may want to do that from a different computer than you normally use. Make sure to pick a strong password. Make sure you change your password in your password management system too. (Also, in case you did download a virus, make sure to update your virus software and run a full scan.)

If you can't log into your Twitter account because the hacker changed the password, submit a password reset request. You should receive an email with a link to change your password. If you don't, it's because the hacker also changed the email address associated with your Twitter account. Now you'll have to contact Twitter with a support ticket to get access to your account.

Once you've gotten into your account and changed your password, you want to revoke the access of any and all third party applications that have …   More

DEEMABLE TECH

Q: A classmate came over to my house recently to work on a project with me. She brought her laptop. When it came time to print, we had to print from her laptop, which meant I had to find the printer disk, hook her laptop up to the printer, and install it, just to print one thing. Is there a better way?

A: First of all, you did consider emailing it from her laptop to your computer or transferring it on a thumb drive, right? I know that probably sounds sarcastic, but sometimes we can look right past the most obvious solution.

Assuming that you did consider that, and you weren't able to transfer the file, there is a way to fairly easily share your printer with anyone you choose. Google Cloud Print allows you to print from any computer in the world to any printer, as long as both of them are connected to the Internet. Setting up Google Cloud Print so that you can wirelessly share your printer with your classmate, or anyone else, is fairly easy.

Many new printers are “Google Cloud Print Ready.” That means that once you have them turned on and connected to a network you can share them through Google Cloud Print quickly and easily. Just follow the directions for your printer at google.com/cloudprint/learn/.

If you have what Google calls a “classic” printer, an older printer that doesn't connect to the cloud, you can still use it with Google Cloud Print. The only extra requirement is that the printer must be hooked up to a computer with Google Chrome installed on it. Open up the settings in Google Chrome on that computer, search for ‘cloud printer.' You’ll see options to add your printer to cloud print and share it with your classmate, co-worker, or whoever. Once your printer is connected to Google Cloud Print, it’s a simple matter to print from Google Docs, Google Chrome, or any Google app. The Cloud Printer app lets you print directly in any app on your Mac, and Google Cloud Printer Driver allows you to print …   More

DEEMABLE TECH

Q: My son recently gave his mother an iPad as a birthday gift. He bought it earlier this year, but he decided he wanted an iPad mini instead. What's the best way to delete all of his data and accounts on the iPad, and get him moved over to the iPad Mini without losing all of his emails, contacts, music and apps?

A: It is really important to clear your iPad out before you give it to someone else. You don't want to hand out your personal information when you sell or give someone your iPad or iPhone. But, it's also good to do, even if the only reason is so that the other person has more room for their own stuff. So, here's what you do on your iPad to clear it out.

First, you want to back it up and sync it with his computer before you do anything to it. Backing it up saves his settings, Messages, photos in his Camera Roll, documents, saved games, and other data. Syncing his iPad saves all of his downloadable piurchased content such as movies, music, podcasts, and apps.  

In general, you should sync and back up any iOS device, like an iPad, iPhone or iPod touch once a day, but if you only back it up once every couple of weeks, or even once a month, it's OK. I won't tell on you. Just keep in mind, you could lose anything that's on your iPad at any time since the last time you backed up and synced your iPad. So, the more often you back it up and sync it, the better.

Just plug his iPad into his computer, and you'll be able to back it up and sync it in iTunes. Once you're done with that you can take his iPad Mini and plug it into his computer, and restore it using the backup you just made of his old iPad. Just plug it in, and tap Restore iPad. If it asks you which backup to use, make sure to choose the most recent backup. Once iTunes is done restoring and syncing his content, he should have everything back and it should look just like his old iPad. Of course, it will look a little smaller since it is an iPad mini.

Now, the next step …   More

DEEMABLE TECH

Q: I have an iPhone 4S, and I'm wondering if I can keep the number that I already have as my own personal line and have a separate phone number that I can give out to other people? I'm wondering this because there's certain people that I wouldn't mind giving my phone number, but when they start acting creepy I'd like to ignore them. Also, would I have to have Wi-Fi to make it work?

A: Several years ago, some phone carriers in the US would let you have two different phone numbers on one cell phone. You had to pay an extra ten dollars a month or so, but then you could have a personal line and a professional line. Unfortunately, that practice has fallen to the wayside in the US like the roadside attractions on Route 66. I'm not sure if the US cell phone networks stop supporting it or the manufacturers stop making phones that could do it, or both. Overseas, Dual SIM card phones have started getting popular, but there's no way to have two phone numbers on one iPhone in the US. Well, you can buy a iPhone case from China that lets you have two SIM cards, but trust me, you don't want to mess with it. However, there's a few options that you can try that will accomplish the same thing you are trying to do.

The simplest option would be to get a cheap, prepaid phone for the creeps. Give them that number, and you can toss it if you have to. Another option is to simply block them from calling your phone number. Lifehacker has a great breakdown of how to block someone from calling you depending on who your phone carrier is. However, this only prevents them from calling your phone number from their phone number. If they get a new phone number, or try to call you from somewhere else, they'll still get to you. 

A slightly more complicated trick is to use Google Voice. With Google Voice, you'll have a separate phone number that you can set to forward to your phone number. I have several for different projects I work on. Each project gets its own phone number …   More

DEEMABLE TECH

Q: I need a simple phone for use in Costa Rica. I know very little about cell phones. The New York Times recommended the Nokia 2700 unlocked GSM quad band world phone, which I found at Myworldphone.com for $79. What else do I need and how can I make sure this phone will work before my trip?

A: Finding the right phone for international travel can get complicated and expensive in a hurry. Whatever you do, don't just take your normal phone to Central America and start racking up roaming charges. They start at ridiculous and go up from there. If your phone even works, that is. There are two main types of cell networks worldwide: GSM and CDMA. GSM is the worldwide standard while CDMA is most common in the US. So you really want a GSM phone, specifically a "quad band" GSM phone. A "quad band" GSM phone will work on just about any cell network in any country. One such phone is the iPhone 4S. The iPhone 5 also supports quad band... providing you bought yours in Europe.

The type of network your phone is compatible with is determined by the carrier you bought it for. The US carriers that use GSM are AT&T and T-Mobile. Sprint and Verizon use CDMA. LTE networks are basically all completely incompatible with each other. Once you have a quad-band GSM phone, you will need to buy an international SIM card so you can make calls without racking up astronomical roaming charges.

Now, if this all sounds complicated, that's because it is, but there's a simple trick to finding a phone that is guaranteed to work cheaply in the country you are visiting. Wait until you get to Costa Rica, and buy a phone there. When you arrive in Costa Rica, go to the local mobile store and buy the cheapest prepaid cell phone there. I bet you can find one for under thirty US dollars.

Whatever you do, don't buy a phone or SIM card at or near the airport, though. Prices are almost always much higher there. Once you get out of the airport, ask a local to point you to a good cheap store. Of course, …   More

DEEMABLE TECH

Before we jump into the question, did you know we have an hour-long weekly podcast? If you like these articles go to Deemable.com or search for Deemable Tech in iTunes to hear our full hour-long show where we answer more tech questions and review apps and new tech gadgets, and we don't have any pop-up ads!

Q: Bill writes: Is there any way to completely block pop-up ads while running Chrome or Internet Explorer? I have to wonder what's the point of blocking pop-ups when so many get through anyway, slowing down the page loading to the point that it reminds me of being on dial-up.

A: It's been so long since I have dealt with a pop up, that I had forgotten Chrome and IE even had settings to block pop-ups. To turn on the pop-up blocker in Chrome click the button at the top right of the screen that has three horizontal lines. Then click on settings, and search for "pop-ups" in the search box. In Internet Explorer click on Tools, and then go to Internet Options. There you can find the setting under the Privacy tab. Recent versions of Firefox have this option too, and you can find it under the Firefox settings.

But Bill says this setting doesn't work, or at least not all the time. You have to understand that pop-up blocking is like an arms race. Every time there's some new advance in pop-up blocker technology, the people making the pop up ads just get smarter.

To make things more complicated, browser-makers can't simply ban all pop-ups. There are lots of legitimate uses for pop-ups. Half the websites on the internet would stop working.

Now, the other way to deal with pop-up ads is with what Firefox calls 'extensions'. Extensions are small programs you can download which add features to your browser, including more effective pop-up blocking.

Extensions also work for Chrome and Internet Explorer, where they're known as 'plug-ins' and 'add-ons', respectively. One of the most popular extensions or plug-ins is Ad Block Plus. You can …   More

DEEMABLE TECH

Q: My old laptop is pretty close to being completely dead. It's no longer a "laptop" since it has to stay plugged in, and it's over five years old. Any recommendations for good, inexpensive laptops? I just need to be able to run Microsoft Office and do Internet stuff.

A: We get this question all the time at Deemable Tech. No one wants to spend a lot of money on a computer, unless they want a really powerful machine. Most people don't use their computer for editing video, photography, or recording and mixing music. If you did, I'd recommend buying a Mac. Most people also don't use their computer for playing video games, programming or web design. If you did, I'd heavily recommend buying a Windows PC.

You can't buy a Mac laptop for less than $999, unless you buy something used or refurbished. Even then, you'll only save a few hundred off of that price, at most. You can buy a cheap Windows laptop for $200-$400, but you're going to get an underpowered computer that barely meets the minimum requirements for the operating system. It'll probably run fine for a little while, but once you get a few updates and install a few programs on it, it will start feeling sluggish. Cheap laptops are the worst thing you can buy for the money.

If you're like most people, you just need a computer that you can get on the Internet with and do some document creating and editing. If that's you, there is a much better option than Windows or Mac, and it is really cheap. It's called a Chromebook. Chromebooks don't run Windows or Mac OS; they run an operating system that's been out for a few years from Google called Chrome OS. If you are familiar with Google's Chrome web browser, you already know how to use Chrome OS. It's a very simple computer that boots up in 5 seconds. Chromebooks are made by companies like Acer $199, Samsung $249 and HP $329.  Chrome OS has tons of apps that will let you do almost everything you can do on a Windows or Mac computer. You don't need to worry …   More

DEEMABLE TECH

Q: This message came up on my Dad's computer after a power failure:

"STOP: C0000218 {Registry File Failure} The registry cannot load the hive (file) \SystemRoot\System32\Config\SYSTEM or its log or alternate. It is corrupt, absent, or not writeable"

What does it mean, and more importantly, how do I fix it?

A: You've probably heard of the dreaded Blue Screen of Death (BSOD). It’s one of the signs that your Windows computer is heading for the great beyond. Sometimes it’s just a warning, like a mild stroke or mild heart attack. You’ll be able to reboot, but it will never run the same. Other times, it’s gone. It will never boot again. This BSOD is the latter. This error message means that the registry has become corrupt. That basically means Windows will never start ever again. Well, that isn't entirely true. It is potentially repairable, but it’s definitely not easy. Most tech savvy people including myself would just reinstall Windows. The problem is that if you reinstall Windows you will most likely lose all of your files in the process. But, if you want your computer to really run well, you should probably do it anyway.

Here's a trick that you can do if you have a second computer that will save your Dad's precious files. Most of his files are probably still intact. Before you reinstall Windows, remove the hard drive from his computer, and plug it into an external USB hard drive adapter. You can pick one up on Amazon or TigerDirect for $10-$30. Plug the hard drive into the USB port on your computer, and copy over all of his important files. Then, unplug the hard drive from your computer, and install it back into his computer. Now, you can reinstall Windows and reformat the hard drive to your heart's content, and Dad's pictures of the grandkids are safe and sound.

If you decide you want to take a shot at repairing the operating system, check out these instructions from Microsoft. It requires a lot of command line work, …   More

DEEMABLE TECH

Q: At work I have to use a Mac and PC, (it’s a long story, I have some programs that were bought on Mac that don’t have PC counterparts and we have some applications that were built for the company and only work on Windows) and it’s really annoying having two keyboards and two mice on my desk. Are there Y-cables that you can use to share one keyboard and mouse with two computers, or is there some software I could use to do that? Both computers are on the same network, if that matters. If there is, would it make either or both of them run slow? Also, is there some way I could use my iPhone and/or iPad to control either of them?

A: The cable you talked about is called a KVM switches or Keyboard, Video and Mouse switch. It does allow you to share a mouse, keyboard and monitor with two different computers. They run anywhere from $20-$100. There are also KM switch cables that allow you to share just a keyboard and mouse with two computers that have two separate monitors. If you are using the two different computers at the same time, that might be the best option for you. The good side of using a physical cable is that the connection is the fastest, and you’ll never have any lag. The down side is that you are limited by the length of the cable, and to go back and forth between the two computers you’ll have to press a button or turn a switch.

There are two great programs that do the same thing as a KM switch over your network instead of a cable. ShareMouse works on 32 or 64-Bit Microsoft Windows XP/Vista/7 and Apple Mac OS X “Snow Leopard”, “Lion” or “Mountain Lion”. It is super easy to use, and doesn’t require a lot of tech savviness to set up. However, it normally costs $30 per computer! Another option, and my preference, is Synergy. Synergy works on Windows, Mac and Linux. It’s only a tiny bit harder to setup than ShareMouse, and it’s free and open-source, so there’s an …   More

DEEMABLE TECH

Q: I read your recent article about recycling computers and wanted to know more about what kind of toxic chemicals are inside. Can they harm the user?

A: First of all let me put your mind at ease — while there are toxic chemicals in computers, they exist in trace amounts that are unlikely to harm a human, and the computer case shields you from them. The problem arises when toss a bunch of them into a landfill. That’s why we need to manage our e-Waste.

In 2006 Greenpeace X-rayed a number of laptops to see what kind of toxic chemicals they held. They found that circuit boards contained the heavy metals Cadmium and Beryllium. The steel inside had hexavalent chromium baked into it. The wires contained PVC and the fans were coated in flame-retardent BFRs. The LCDs contained Mercury. But again, we’re talking trace amounts that are hidden away behind a plastic or aluminum case. Keep your kids from playing around inside and you should be fine.

Our worries shouldn’t be so much about how our computer’s chemical components might harm us, but how they might harm the environment after we’re done with them.

If you have a computer ready for the afterlife, don't throw it in the trash. Drop it off Tuesday through Saturday at the city's Household Hazardous Waste Facility located at 2675 Commonwealth Ave.

  More

 
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