Question: One customer asks, “Can my neighbor read anything on my computer?”
Answer: If you have wireless service, you’re opening the door for this potential.It’s certainly possible. However, the likelihood is slim. Especially if you’ve done all you can to protect yourself.
The best prevention is good wireless security. Each year newer methods are developed to secure wireless networks (as well as more ways to hack them). Currently, the best wireless security available on most home routers is WPA2. Do you have to enter a key to connect a new device to your wireless? If not, you may not have security setup properly.
Remember, a netbook is an inexpensive, ultra-portable laptop. Not to be confused with a laptop replacement. They’re low-performing and for me, often too small to get anything done besides browsing the web and checking email. However, this is all you need while on the go sometimes.
In the news… Have you seen Microsoft’s new search engine, Bing? I’m still a Google fan, but it’s pretty interesting. Try it here.
Skype is awesome. Traveling international? Call home anytime for pennies. The call quality is great. You don’t need a webcam to just use for cheap voice calls around the world. Learn more…
Know your power options…
Road Trip: Power inverters convert your automobile’s cigarette lighter plug into a standard electrical outlet. This can be very handy for keeping a laptop battery charged, cell phone, or DVD player (kids!). A basic one can be purchased easily at a local store: Wal-Mart link
International: Voltage and plug adapters vary between countries. Know before you go! If your appliance supports both 110V and 220V (see the power label), you only need an adapter, and not the whole clunky inverter!
Get your voice mail. Traveling abroad makes it difficult to access your voice mail. Use youmail.com (free) to a listen to your messages online. Just turn off your phone, people are immediately directed to your voice mail, and then receive an email with the message. (Use when home too – you can check as usual from your phone). Learn more…
See it before you get there. Google Maps (or Earth), zooms you down to see actual images of streets and places you will see in person soon. Why not take a look around and be prepared? Learn more…
International Fees. Travel abroad and you might be surprised to learn Visa adds 3% on all your purchases! Use Capital One’s No Hassle card to avoid these fees. No annual fee, offers some rental car insurance, and can earn points/cash. (see their site for details). Learn more…
Speed through airport security. Clean up BEFORE you enter the security line. Place your cell, wallet, coins, and other items in a bag or carry-on luggage before entering the security line. Now just walk up, place your bags on the scanner, and walk through. On the other end, you can grab your bags and walk on, later re-locating things.
Watch your TV. Not home to see your favorite show? Point your laptop to hulu.com to watch almost ALL major networking shows from ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox, etc. For example, 24, Lost, SNL, and all the others. (free, but only works in the USA) Learn more…
Check reviews. There is power in numbers. Use tripadvisor.com to learn where to stay, what to do, and where to eat. Others place their tips so you know what is best and what isn’t!
Flying wisely. Use kayak.com or tripeedo.com to find the lowest rates. They search other popular sites to give you an over-all view. Use farecast.live.com to see forecasted flight rates to know when to buy. Seatguru.com shows plus and minuses of every single seat on the plane.
Mac/Windows/Linux: Dropbox syncs your files across two or more computers. This program makes it so easy! Basically you have a “virtual” folder. Anything you put in here is instantly copied to all the other computers.
Example: While traveling with your laptop, you make changes to a Word document. When you get home, the document is there on your desktop computer with the updated changes. No files to copy or wrong versions to worry about.
Don’t have your computer with you? You can access all your files via Dropbox’s web interface anytime. Need to send a large attachment? You can share specific files with others via a direct link.
Dropbox helps your business send large files, synchronize remote workers, easy off-site backup, and recover deleted files. This program is smart.
Example Excerpt: “Instead of using the airline sites, try using Tripeedo. Tripeedo’s an easy way to search most of the major airlines for tickets, as well as some of the best bargain sites like Kayak, Travelocity, and Orbitz.
Finding a flight’s as easy as typing where you’re coming from and going to, and Tripeedo does all the searching for you. You won’t buy your ticket from Tripeedo, but it’ll put you on the page you want to see – unlike most airline sites.”
The new Google Earth 5 is a must see. I typically only use Google Maps, as you don’t have to install anything, but the latest version includes some neat features that chair side travelers, as well as the small business could utilize:
View changes of areas with historic images
Travel under the sea. Watch associated videos through partners like National Geographic
3D tours include buildings, terrain, and even Mars
Meebo lets you connect to (most) any instant messaging (IM) social network. For example, Yahoo, AOL Instant Messenger, MySpace, Facebook, Google Talk, etc.
What’s so special? Well, Meebo lets you connect through a webpage interface. So if you’re traveling, if these services are blocked at your work place, or if you just don’t want to install the software, here’s an easy online way to connect quickly with your friends.
Does the sound of “VoIP” or “voice over IP” scare you? Have you been interested, but think it’s just too complicated? It really isn’t. Follow a few simple steps below and you’ll be happy you did! My grandparents are 600 miles away, and my cousin just left for Afghanistan. Using a webcam with Skype, it’s like we’re all chatting around the same table. No joke.
If you want to do things right and make this as easy as possible, purchase a webcam with a built in mic. I suggest the Logitech QuickCam Pro. This takes a lot of hassle and wires out of the equation. Any webcam will work – check your local office supply store. Again, look for the mic built in.
Here are 10 ways you can greatly extend the use of your battery’s charge while on the go. Extend, as in 30 minutes or more!
Reduce screen brightness – This is huge. The lower, the better. Check keyboard icons for which buttons modify this. Probably hold the Fn key while pressing up or down, or one of the F keys (F6/F7?). It all depends on your model.
Tune the radio off! Most laptops have an external switch to turn off wireless and Bluetooth radios. Again, probably an Fn + F key on the keyboard.
Limit usage of external devices such as USB connected devices.
Don’t open many applications at once.
Exit programs you aren’t using. Programs that start with your computer are just pulling away at your battery. Exit things like QuickTime, MSN Messenger, Google Desktop, etc.
Keep it cool. Increased heat it puts more stress on your laptop and starts up the fan.
Use hibernation when not in use vs sleep mode.
Use light programs such as Word, Excel, or internet browsing. Stay away from graphic intensive applications or even media players.
Avoid playing games, music, or DVDs.
Mute your sound.
Solid state drives are available in some new laptops. They’re basically a huge flash drive instead of a hard drive at all. As they don’t have any moving parts, some manufactures advertise up to 18 hours of usage. Look for this option on your next purchase.
Need power while stuck in an airport? A Microsoft employee started this wiki to detail power outlet locations.