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Tricks & Tips

Posts Tagged ‘Travel’



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.

Wireless Security

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.

Link:  Basic guide to setting up wireless security

There are other ways to increase security besides a simple password.  Ask us or your technology consultant for more information.

Tips for the Road – When traveling and connecting to new networks, keep these in mind:

  1. Never connect to an unsecured network
  2. Ensure website’s prefix begins with https:// (notice the S) when transferring secure data (banking, online purchases, etc) or look for the lock symbol
  3. Always use anti-virus and firewall software
  4. Keep your operating system (Windows, Mac, etc) up to date with the latest updates from the manufacture

Just because you’ve done all you can, simply having wireless or even Internet access makes you vulnerable.  Nothing is 100% secure.

In the news…

Back to school tax free weekend is coming up.  Does your state participate?  South Carolina’s is Aug. 7-9, 2009.  See complete state guide here.


How to Buy a Netbook

June 16th, 2009


The world seems crazy over these small/mini laptops, AKA “netbooks”.  Before you jump, read PC World’s How to Buy a Netbook.

Then have a look at Battle of the Netbooks for a good round up of the top options.

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.



These online maps of zip codes and area codes makes it easy for quick reference. Just enter your area code or zip on the search box across the top after clicking one of the following links:

Other options:

In the news…

Circuit City was going out of business, but CircuitCity.com is now up and running again.  They were acquired for $14 million and re-launched online only.  Interesting business direction.



  1. 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…
  2. 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!
  3. 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…
  4. 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…
  5. 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…
  6. 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.
  7. 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…
  8. 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!
  9. 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.
  10. 28 Rules For Life I Learned On the Road

Have another good idea?  Leave a comment on our site or email us.


How to Sync Two Computers

May 14th, 2009


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.

Watch the video tour: getdropbox.com/screencast

Getting Started
Visit getdropbox.com and click Download Dropbox. Choose Run to start the install.

Ready to sync to your second computer?  Just download and install there also and your ready!

Getting More…
Dropbox comes with 2GB of storage for free.  You can upgrade to 50GB for $9.99/mo or $99/yr.



Traveling soon? Here’s a great list of 6 sites to make flying easier.

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:

  1. View changes of areas with historic images
  2. Travel under the sea. Watch associated videos through partners like National Geographic
  3. 3D tours include buildings, terrain, and even Mars
  4. Record your tour, narrate and share with friends

Google Earth: Learn more or download now

In the news…
iPhone update 3.0’s is scheduled for release this summer. It’s rumored to include copy and paste and Internet sharing (tethering). Continue reading…



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.

It’s simple, and free…  try Meebo here.

In the News…
Wow. Eu is a small French town that’s changing its name.  Why?  They want better search results on Google!  Ha!.  Read more…



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.

Getting Started

  1. 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.
  2. Download and install Skype for free at www.skype.com
  3. Ask your friends or family to do the same steps above
  4. Search for your friends in the Instant Message style chat tool to start communicating

If you’ve tried Skype before (been around for years), give it another whirl.  The newest version, 4.0, focuses on bandwidth improvements for a better video experience.

In the news…
Time Change!
Spring forward – be sure to set your clocks forward before you go to sleep Saturday night.  Continue reading….


By Terry Kirby


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!

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Limit usage of external devices such as USB connected devices.
  4. Don’t open many applications at once.
  5. 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.
  6. Keep it cool.  Increased heat it puts more stress on your laptop and starts up the fan.
  7. Use hibernation when not in use vs sleep mode.
  8. Use light programs such as Word, Excel, or internet browsing. Stay away from graphic intensive applications or even media players.
  9. Avoid playing games, music, or DVDs.
  10. 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.