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IN ADDITION to the links on the Security Baseline page, you might find the following website links interesting, helpful or amusing.  PLEASE NOTE:  While some or all of these sites have proved useful, we make no representations that these links or the software downloadable from them are suitable for any purpose, or even legal.  They have not sought, nor have we in any way been compensated for, their recommendation.  Use them at your own risk.

[ * See the Mac page for links specifically related to Apple computers.]

 When I was a kid, I learned a lot about computers and other mechanical devices the old fashioned way; by taking them apart and putting them back together again.  Now, with the invention of the Internet, there are lots of sites where people have already done this for you and posted the photos or diagrams for you to see.  For example, if you want to know more about hard disk drives, see  Also, TechRepublic has a number of “Cracking Open” links that are superbly done, see Cracking Open”.  Similarly, has a number of “teardowns” on its site showing how smartphones, pads and game consoles are made and can be repaired.

  Talking about do-it-yourself machines, if you want to create a computerized machine that actually does something, like turns lights on and off, you should look into the Arduino, which is kind of an electronic Erector Set (if you remember that, otherwise forget this reference).  Or the Raspberry pi mini computer.  Or UDOO, which combines both.  It’s great for learning computers and electronics and actually creating something useful at the same time.  When I was a kid, we only had “crystal” radios that we could build.  Things have progressed much further.  This would be a great gift for a kid interested in these things, or an adult that just likes to tinker.

As the saying goes, you're entitled to your own opinion — but you're not entitled to your own facts.  An interesting site to visit for trusted information about scams, urban legends which are not really scams and other information about the on-line world, see Other sites:;; PolitiFact; Wikipedia.

 For a reliable site with useful downloads of free software utilities, as well as relatively impartial reviews, go to CNET.  CNET also offers its “tracker” utility, which remembers the programs you’ve downloaded and reminds you when upgrades become available.  CNET also has some useful tutorials, such as how to chat with MySpace IM, erase data on your old PC, and set up surround sound theatre speakers, which can be found on the “How To” drop-down menu bar on the C/NET home page.

 Looking for a simple note-taking program to keep your shopping lists and the like, and share it across devices if you choose to.  Try Simplenote, an easy to set up and use basic note taking app.  It’s even simpler than Evernote, for those of us who just want to keep lists or notes on our phones.  And it does have some advanced tag and search features for those of us who require it.

 One of the more reliable sites for downloads of the latest versions of utilities (anti-spyware, firewall, compression, etc.) is filehippo.  For more advanced users, there are other more complex programs, but beware - many of these programs can delete files that can result in harm to your computer as much as they can help.

 The old Home Architect programs have been updated into smart phone apps that let you take photos of the rooms and furniture in your home, convert it to 3D and then see how changes would look.  Apps ike Build-App Pro (Android) and Home Design 3D (iPad) make the job easier, but there’s still some learning curve.

 Wanna avoid spam?  As discussed in the passwords section of this site, try using 10minutemail, which gives you an account good for 10 Minutes, long enough to confirm a purchase or reply to a possible spam message.

 Looking for freeware downloads, try these sites:;; The safest: Cnet, which has both Windows and Mac downloads, as well as mobile and webware.

 If you’re interested in editing graphics and photos, but don’t really want to spend the relatively high price for Photoshop (up to about $649), there are several free alternatives.   Some are simpler than others; some are limited; some are advertising supported.   My current favorite is Gimp.  There’s also -, Photos Pos Pro (now free) and PhotoPlus Starter edition.

 If you’re looking for an answer to a specific question, Google searches work fairly well.  But there are other, more in depth question and answer sites available:  There’s Yahoo Answers,, FaceBook Questions, Formspring, Aardvark, ChaCha, WikiAnswers, eHow, AnswerBag and others.  The current new favorite:  Quora, a site created by two former FaceBook executives, which has developed a loyal Silicon Valley following.

 If the standard do not track software doesn’t seem to be working for you, there are three major software programs that come up most often:  Disconnect, DoNotTrackMe, and GhosteryEach works somewhat differently, so try them until you find the one that works best for your needs.

 If you want to transmit PDF files, but they’re still too large for your ISP to handle, there are free PDF “splitters” available that will properly divide the document into sections that you can transmit.  Try PDFSplit! or PDFsam or PDFill PDF ToolsSome have more features than others, but all of them work. 

While we’re at it, there are some useful PDF utilities available:   If you want to both convert and edit pdf files and autosign them, you can try FormSwift.  You can create a document or import one from ready made libraries of personal, small business and real estate legal forms and tax forms, edit pdf’s and sign documents electronically, all free and all in an easy-to-use interactive format. Also, Free PDF to JPG (free) converts PDF files to image format and Primo PDF (free) converts documents to PDF format. Wondershare PDF Editor (free trial/$59.95),  ParmisPDF (free trial + $59.95) and DeskPDF (free trial/$79.95) all provide creation, editing and signing of PDF documents as well.  Lots less expensive than a full version of Adobe Acrobat.

 Links to file compression programs such as PKZip, WinRAR, SecureZip, jZip and WinZip are also provided in the Glossary.

  Yes, you can sync your iTunes with Android.  Use DoubleTwist.

  If you want to watch YouTube videos off-line, there are several good downloaders to do this:  Solid YouTube Downloader and Converter lets you download YouTube videos and convert them to a variety of formats, including AVI, MP4, FLV, and WMV.  YouTube Downloader is a free utility which can convert downloaded videos to a variety of formats, including MOV, MP4, 3GP, WMV, AVI, and even MP3.  GetFLV is a tool for downloading videos not only from YouTube, but also from a number of other sites, such as Hulu, MTV, and Fox.  Free YouTube Downloader is quite basic, but gets the job done well. Finally, there’s GetGo YouTube Downloader, another basic but acceptable downloader.  All are available for download from CNET.

  Photoshop can be an expensive program and, unless you use it all of the time, may not be worth it.  There are alternatives, however.  One of the best free ones is Gimp.  This isn’t a stripped-down entry level program, however.  Even though it’s free, it serves the same purpose as Photoshop, so there’s a lot to it.  Here’s also a link to a group of 25 tutorials for using it.

  Did you ever wonder how computers are used to take an original photo and turn it in to a particular artist’s style.  Check out the Prisma app, discussed under that definition in this Glossary.

 Spam Control: There are lots of ways to avoid or control spam in your emails.  Separate accounts, blacklists, junk filters all work to some extent.  [We can advise you how to set up your emails so you don’t get this stuff, or at least filter it out.]  But, if you’re already set up and receiving spam on an existing account, there are still things you can do.  Nowadays, most programs such as Outlook and most webmail apps have their own spam filters, whitelists and blacklists, so for most of us, a separate program is usually unnecessary.  However, if your e-mail provider doesn’t offer sufficient spam filters, try InBoxer, Cloudmark, or SafeSubcribe.   I used to recommend against unsubscribing from spam, as it only let’s the spammers know they’ve hit a live address, but experience has shown that legitimate (corporate) e-mail which is removed using the unsubscribe button seem to work well.

 Popular free/free trial hardware benchmark test software, see benchmark definition.

 Trying to monitor your kids on Facebook without being obvious?  Try ZoneAlarm SocialGuard.  It’s from Check Point Software Technologies, and costs $2/mo. or $20/yr. after a free trial period.  This program isn’t invasive, allows your kids their privacy, but still monitors your kids’ Facebook accounts for potential predators, cyber bullying, age fraud, account hacking and links to inappropriate or malicious websites, all without disurbing your kids’ privacy by allowing you to read their posts.

 Tired of your Internet Service Provider?  Wanna make a switch, but it seems like such a bother.  A service named TrueSwitch claims to make changing your ISP easy. It copies all your personal data to the new account, notifies everyone with the new email address, forwards emails sent to your old email address and helps you cancel the old account. 

 Travel compiles an itinerary of all flights, hotels or car rentals if you forward the e-mail confirmations.  FlightTrack Pro (for iPhone and Android) shows details of every flight, obtains flight information in advance of airline computers, synchs with TripIt.  Airlines have various check in apps, Delta is the best.  Kayak is an app for searching, but not purchasing, tickets. tracks a flight’s process, useful not only for the flier, but those who are picking them up. If you will be traveling to Europe, is a hotel database that focuses on lodging in Europe, monitoring 802 chains with over 16,000 hotels in 32 countries.  And TripBuzz provides a list of activities for any travel destination if you enter a destination, theme and mileage range.

 I have always thought that one of the finest applications of the World Wide Web has been to spread knowledge and information resources (like the Library of Congress), without charge, to the people of the world, and that it is especially useful to those persons who, because of their physical or geographic limitations, are unable to obtain these resources.  One of the most creative of these sites that I have found is called TED:Ideas Worth Spreading.  It is a compendium of “riveting talks by remarkable people” and is a searchable list of lectures by the movers and shakers in their respective fields, in several languages, discussing important topics of the times.

 Check for comprehensive, up-to-date and unbiased wireless communication service information.  It provides lots of answers to questions about selecting a wireless carrier, definitions, etc.

 Check M-Law’s Wacky Warning Labels for a great collection of stupid warning labels (e.g. “Don’t Iron Clothes While Wearing” on an iron).  I love these things.  It makes you wonder whether someone actually did the stupid things which led to the disclaimer.

 Check for open source, free portable software for your mobile devices.

 Interested in the latest trends and products?  Conversely, want to jump-start your product with some free advertising:  Check out DailyCandy, Thrillist (more guy-centered), coolsiteoftheday, and grubtrotters (food oriented).  If any of these sites accept your product as unique, cool and trend-setting, you are virtually guaranteed success!

 If you’re a big fan of online shopping, but want to get the best deals, sign up with, an online service that tracks products on your favorite sites and notifies you when they go on sale.  It’s an app that installs a button on your browser for this specific purpose.

 It’s not exactly cloud computing or whiteboard sharing, but Skype does have a service that allows you to share your desktop - for free.  Let’s say you’re trying to explain to a friend how to do something on the computer.  You’re looking at your computer screen and trying to explain yourself, but it’s not working.  If you have Skype, you can call them, share your screen, and show them how it’s done.  Click this LINK to find out how. ’Course, I still like LogMeIn free,Team Viewer or Citrix, if you do it much.


 Looking for more security when using your laptop to sign into your network from the road.  Try Phone Factor, a service which authenticates your sign-in with an automated phone call or text mesage to which you must accurately respond before you will ge granted access.  see

 If all of the clutter on web pages bothers you, there is a botton that you can add to your browser’s menu bar named Readability.  With one click, this app eliminates everything from the web page you are viewing with the exception of text and photos.

 If you’re interested in different types of computing awards, check out the Webbies, Shorties and Ig Nobel awards in this glossary.

 For those of you interested in typography and fonts, there is a wealthof information all over the Internet.  There is a thread, for example, dealing with the negative feedback that Ikea got when it changed its 2010 catalog typeface from Futura to Verdana.  It’s amazing to think that people even notice such things, but they do, and it can seriously affect your web business.  Click HERE for Typofile online magazine, which includes a system for selecting the right type for your purpose.  Also, an excellent ten-step guide about typography written by Stephen Shaw.

 There are now several sites where you can view television shows that you might have missed in the past few days: Hulu, Joost, TV.COM and Fancast are the most popular sites, but there are others, including TVGuide.  And, if you have a TV in your car or van, check out FlowTV for getting live mobile TV.

 A great source of census information may be obtained from the ZIPskinny site.  Enter your zip code and you find census information about education, marital status, income, demographics, occupation, schools, etc. for that area, all in one chart.  A truly useful, and absolutely free, marketing information source.  [10/15/16 update - I just found out that this site has disappeared. Very disappointing, it was wonderful.]   There are several others, though, at this LINK.  You can also try Callersmart, which provides zip code breakdowns for educational, crime, politics, environment, climate and other interesting data, although not on one chart. Also, for researching zip and area codes, try these links: zipcodes, areacodes.]

 If you are provided with a “short” URL, say in an e-mail or tweet, don’t click on it unless you can verify the entire address.  To do this, use the free utility LongUrl.   If you’re looking for a way to convert long URLs into smaller ones on a computer (most smartphones and software like Twitter automatically do this) use TinyURL or

 If you upgrade to Windows 7 and have scanner driver problems, it may be worth the $40 to get a copy of Vue-Scan, a generic device driver that works with a overwhelming variety of scanners.  It is written fy a programmer and former NASA/Jet Propulsion Lab staffer Ed Hamrick.

 You can fax from your computer for free without a fax machine or phone line.  FaxZero uses your internet connection to send faxes for free from your web browser.  This is for the occasional faxer that only needs to fax once and a while.  The service is completely free, no signup required.  If you require full fax sending and receiving on a more consistent basis, but don’t want the bother of a fax machine and telephone line, you can sign up for eFax, which runs about $15/mo.  See also, MyFax and RingCentral.  If you have a telephone line available, there are still many shareware programs available for sending and receiving faxes (I used to use Fax Talk Communicator); It seems to work about as well as WinFax or the more expensive programs for occasional faxers. For apps which you can use with your iPad and Android smart phones to send faxes, see the Phone page of this site.

 Years ago, traveling to a foreign country meant at least trying to learn the language or lugging around a dictionary or guidebook of phrases.  Now, smartphones act as instant translators.  You’ve probably seen the commercial using the Apple app (in that case, Jibbigo; see also linguo (no longer available) & iLingual) where you speak into the phone and see and hear the translation.  Google, too, has the Google Translator and the Google Googles app for the Android phones, where you can use the built-in camera to photo, perhaps a French menu, then use your finger to create a box around the text you want translated, then translate or reverse translate the text.  iLingual snaps a photo of your mouth, puts it on the phone screen, then moves it as it translates pre-programmed phrases.  You’ve gotta see this (HERE), if nothing else than to be impressed by its ingenuity.  This stuff truly amazes me. Then, of course, is the Google Translate app built in to the browser for translating words, phrases and web pages into a variety of foreign languages.  Presently Microsoft and other companies have been perfecting translation programs that are virtually instantaneous and even sound like the voice of the original speaker, inflection and all.  See Microsoft Translate app at Translator Apps (link below). Also, Waygo, an iPhone app which translates Chinese characters like those found in restaurant menus.  For even more, see FAQ #78, including links, and Translator Apps .

  If you’re wondering what the smart phone app is used on the TV commercial to identify the night time star constellations using its camera, it is Star Walk.  At $2.99 it is only available for iPhones only right now. Starmap is also good, for iOS at $5.  And, also for iOS, Pocket Universe ($2) has lots of extra graphics, like a walk on the moon, star quizzes and audio prompts for stars and planets.  For both Android and iOS, try The Night Sky Lite. An Android only app, Sky Map, is free.

 I always forget that not all of us can type, much less type well.  I was forced to learn typing in high school, in addition to such other archaic things as latin (dates me, doesn’t it?).  Luckily, there are alternatives other than learning typing (I recommend the DVD Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing for that purpose) that can solve this deficiency.  In the RANT section of this website, I discuss Livescribe, the pen that actually takes notes (classes, meetings, conversations) and digitally transcribes them.  For heavy duty dictation, there’s Dragon Naturally Speaking, which has been around for many years and, with some training, is quite perfected.  Also, if you have an iPad, the five-dollar Note Taker HD lets you write notes with your finger or a stylus and transfer the digital documents to a computer by e-mailing them as PDF files (not editable, unfortunately).  Some manufacturers such as Lenovo make tablet computers that let you enter handwritten notes with a stylus, which then use a Windows O/S feature to convert the hand-written notes into typed (editable) text.  Rather than post the links, which are readily available, you should look on YouTube for demos of these devices to see how they actually work.  At Computer Coach, we have lots of experience with dictation and transposition software, both residentially and commercially, so please call is if you are considering these products - we can advise you, install the software and train you in its use.

 You may be surprised to learn just how much information you have shared with others over the Internet.  Now, there’s an internet tool “I Shared What?!?” (at that displays the information that Facebook connect and Facebook apps share with others.  The same developer also has a site,, which lets you preview what you’re about to share on Facebook, allowing you to adjust your info or privacy settings before clicking.

  For a comparison of various streaming audio/music services available on the Internet, see Streaming Audio in the glossary.

  For those of you who are traveling where electricity may be unavailable or in short supply, there are viable solar alternativesVoltiac Systems makes a solar charger for your tablet, smartphone and digital camera.  They claim 10 hours in the sun will provide sufficient power for all three.  Netbook Samsung NC215s has a built-in solar cell in the lid which, Samsung claims, provides an hour of life for each two hours of sun.  The Logitech wireless keyboard K750 charges with sunlight and also ambient indoor lighting.

  Bing is adding airport maps. Starting with 42 airports in November, 2011, via the desktop version of Bing, users can now type the name of an airport into Bing Maps, then zoom all the way into the building itself.  Airport maps will include everything from information about parking garages, terminals and gates, baggage claims, currency exchange, eateries and more.

  Scanner Pro is a smart phone app that lets you use your smart phone as a scanner.  It’s quite good for capturing receipts, quotes, articles and the like.

  If you are concerned about malware being transmitted to your home or business computer via USB drive, you can lock down your USB ports using USB Security Suite from Dynamikode, which is easy and works with all Windows operating systems, including Win 8.

Thinking about free security and utility software?  It may be just as good as paid for most home users.  Also, Windows 7 includes many utilities you used to have to purchase separately elsewhere.  For more information, click HERE.

MURPHY’S LAWS OF COMPUTING #10:  A computer program will always do what you tell it to do, but rarely what you want it to do.


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