Technology en-US 6 Pieces of Credit Card Tech That Will Blow Your Mind <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/6-pieces-of-credit-card-tech-that-will-blow-your-mind" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="mobile wallet" title="mobile wallet" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Credit cards are ubiquitous nowadays, but have you ever wondered what is going on inside those cards, or the machines that are in &quot;charge&quot; of making sure the purchases you make are credited to your account? We thought it might be an interesting series to explore the hidden technology that might impress you that's hiding in your wallet!</p> <h2>1. Chip + PIN Technology</h2> <p>This bit of technology is ubiquitous in Europe and South America, and until recently, nearly nonexistent in the United States. But, those of you that have recently applied for and received a credit card may have in your possession a credit card with a gold square in the middle of the card. This is called an <a href="">EMV chip</a>, and it makes it nearly impossible for thieves to steal your credit card and use it for purchases. To use it, a PIN is required, like a debit card. Manufacturing a fake credit card in your name is nearly impossible, according to Andi Coleman, who is part of the committee that regulates standards for credit cards in the United States. (See also: <a href="">Will New Chip and Pin Technology Stop Identity Theft?</a>)</p> <h2>2. Coin</h2> <p>This <a href="">&quot;all-in-one&quot; credit card </a>made quite a splash in 2013 with its flashy release of a card that can store all your credit cards in one piece of plastic, making some readers of this site very happy I am sure! You can take a look at this <a href="">TechCrunch article</a> to see it in action, but we may be looking at the future of card technology (or at least until they are deemed useless by future tech).</p> <h2>3. &quot;Tap and Go&quot;</h2> <p>One piece of technology that I find cool in some credit cards is the &quot;tap and go&quot; feature. This works just as it sounds &mdash; simply tap your credit card on the reader at the register, and go on your merry way. It speeds up transactions, which is good for merchants like Starbucks with long lines. There is a computer chip and antenna embedded in each card, which adds to costs but is in the best interests of the merchant (who saves time) and the credit card company (which makes it easier for consumers to use their card, increasing usage).</p> <h2>4. Tokenization</h2> <p>Those that are worried about their individual data being stolen by hackers can be relieved that &quot;tokenization&quot; is catching on. Basically, your data is encrypted into a &quot;token&quot; that is essentially worthless if stolen en route from your card to the merchant. The merchant can then convert back the token into something that it can read, and ultimately charge you for. (See also: <a href="">How to Avoid Credit Card Fraud</a>)</p> <h2>5. Ondot</h2> <p><a href="">Ondot</a>, marketed as the remote control for your credit card, gives you control over when and where your cards can be used. Location based controls can be tied to zip code, so a thief won't get far, or a card can be synced to a smartphone GPS, which means if it wanders far from your phone, it won't work. Other features include the ability to block certain stores or types of stores. It's an unprecedented level of control for those who want to manage their own &mdash; or their children's or their employees' &mdash; credit card spending. (See also: <a href="">Best Secured Credit Cards</a>)</p> <h2>6. Loop</h2> <p>The <em>smartphonification</em> of America continues apace, with several companies finding ways to put your cards into a &quot;wallet&quot; on your phone, which you then use to make payments. <a href="">Loop</a> stores your credit card data on your smartphone, and includes a special protector that wraps around your phone to communicate with payment machines. (They also offer a key fob that does the same.) Place your phone or key fob against the credit card reader, select a card on your iPhone or compatible Android phone, <a href="">press the Loop button</a>, and the transaction is complete.</p> <p>So, what do you think? Are you eyeing some of this new technology as a feature for your next credit card? Chip and PIN technology will be ubiquitous within the next two to three years here in the United States, but you'll want to secure a card with this feature if you plan on <a href="">traveling abroad</a> anytime soon. If not, you'll be stuck using your debit card or cash.</p> <p><em>Do you think any of these credit card advancements help you manage your spending more carefully? Or do you think they will make it too easy to charge another purchase? Please share in comments! </em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="6 Pieces of Credit Card Tech That Will Blow Your Mind" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Mark Jackson</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Credit Cards Technology chip and pin credit credit cards gadgets spending Tue, 19 Aug 2014 13:00:04 +0000 Mark Jackson 1168782 at 11 Terrifying Things That Can Happen When Someone Steals Your Phone (And How You Can Protect It) <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/11-terrifying-things-that-can-happen-when-someone-steals-your-phone-and-how-you-can-protect-it" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="smartphone" title="smartphone" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>A phone used to be a phone. Now, many of us live our entire lives through our phones. It's how we check our bank balances, organize our schedules, send emails and texts, and pay our bills. Most of us have hundreds, if not thousands, of photos and videos on our phones. They also house sensitive personal information that an identity thief would just love to get his or her hands on. In short, it's no longer a phone&hellip; it's our life.</p> <p>So when a phone is lost, or worse, stolen, we have every reason to panic. Here are 10 horrible things that can happen if your phone is stolen.</p> <h2>1. Your Bank Accounts Could Be Wiped Out</h2> <p>In an experiment conducted by Symantec, 50 smartphones were intentionally &quot;lost.&quot; On <a href="" style="text-decoration:none;">43% of those phones</a>, attempts were made to open the online banking apps. If you have the &quot;save user name&quot; option engaged, the thief only needs to guess your password. For some that will be easy enough to do &mdash; your phone gives out a lot of clues and if you have a guessable password you're in real trouble. That money can be transferred to another account, and you're left with nothing. The bank covers misuse of credit and debit cards, but hacked accounts are another story entirely.</p> <h2>2. Your Personal Photos Could Be Leaked</h2> <p>There is no shame in having &quot;sensitive&quot; photos of yourself or other people you are intimate with, on your phone. But those photos are for your eyes only. If someone were to access those photos on your phone, they could be uploaded to the web in seconds. It happens to celebrities all the time, but you don't hear about it happening to the public because the press doesn't have a story in it. However, it's all too common for thieves to steal those photos and spread them far and wide, which could make for a very embarrassing situation, or worse, as the next point will dive into. They could also<a href="" style="text-decoration:none;"> blackmail you for a lot of money.</a></p> <h2>3. You Could Lose Your Job</h2> <p>If inappropriate photos of you or your friends are leaked, it could quickly lead to a firing. It was obviously not your intention to let those photos get out, but that's nothing your employer will care about. If you have in any way sullied your reputation, you have also put a black mark against the company you work for. In some instances, the company won't care. But if you work in a business that requires its employees to be clean cut and professional at all times, you could see the dreaded pink slip. Even password-protected folders can be hacked.</p> <h2>4. You Could Lose Your Friends</h2> <p>Thieves are not exactly upstanding moral crusaders. They will have no problem messing with your life just for the sake of it, and that includes texting and calling people in your contacts list. There have been cases of thieves sending profane and rude texts to contacts, just for the fun of it. It's a laugh for them, but it could take more than a quick &quot;it wasn't me&quot; to mend those relationships.</p> <h2>5. Your Social Accounts Could Be Hacked</h2> <p>Your Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram channels are usually logged in automatically. If a thief has access to them, he or she could easily make your life very difficult by posting on your behalf. Suddenly, you've gone from being a nice person with nice posts, to a lurid or vicious individual hell bent on offending as many people as possible. Soon, your friends and family are unfriending you quicker than they can hit send. Employers also have access to your social channels, and it could reflect very badly upon you. You may have no choice but to shut down your accounts and start from scratch. But you'll have a lot of explaining to do first.</p> <h2>6. Your Identity Can Be Stolen</h2> <p>You have a lot of personal information on your phone. Some people I have talked to even keep pictures of their driver's license and SS card in their phone, just in case they need the numbers. Well, that's not a great idea. Using just the information you have in emails, photos, and other files, a skilled identity thief could have bank accounts set up in your name before you know what's hit you.</p> <h2>7. Expensive Calls Could Be Made</h2> <p>How much does it cost you to dial international numbers on your phone? You probably don't have that information close at hand because you don't do it too often. Well, it can cost from just 1 cent per minute, and over $3 per minute, depending on the country you call. A 60-minute call to Afghanistan on AT&amp;T will set you back $183. You can see how that can soon add up to thousands if you don't take the time to act.</p> <h2>8. Thousands of Dollars of Purchases Can Be Racked Up</h2> <p>You likely have apps like eBay and Amazon on your phone, as well as other shopping sites. Usually, you are automatically logged in to those sites, and if you do a lot of purchasing, you may very well have one click purchases set up. Once the thief realizes this, they can start shopping to their heart's content. They can set up a new shipping address, probably to an address that can't be traced back to them, and can also do a lot of instant downloads. They could even be spiteful, and just start making massive purchases just to mess with you and your life.</p> <h2>9. You Could Be Charged for Overages</h2> <p>Not everyone is on an unlimited plan. If you have a set number of minutes, texts and data every month, the thief could quickly eat those up and start costing you money every time they make a call, send a text or surf the web. Those small charges can soon add up to <a href=";topic_id=310136&amp;reply_id=206383" style="text-decoration:none;">hundreds</a> of dollars.</p> <h2>10. You Could Go To Jail</h2> <p>Now, this is unlikely. But if you work for an employer that gives you access to some very confidential information, and that information is on your phone, you could get in big trouble. Despite the fact that you had no intention of leaking this information, if it gets out because of your stolen phone the consequences could be severe, especially if you work for the government. Even if you work for a private employer, you may have signed a Nondisclosure Agreement, and this could violate it. So if you have photographs of highly sensitive data or product designs on your phone, you might want to delete them, or transfer them to a very secure location.</p> <h2>11. You Could Help Commit a Crime</h2> <p>It's quite possible that the phone was stolen from you for a specific reason, and not just a random theft. The thief may know that you work at a certain place, a bank or jewelers, and would text the boss or owner from your phone asking for information. Even worse, it may be someone looking to abduct a friend or colleague of yours, using texts or social media apps. Most of us communicate by those methods these days, imagine receiving a text from a friend asking to meet them somewhere. What would happen if you turned up and it was not your friend waiting for you, but someone wanting to do you harm? Get the picture? Yes, it's not only possible, it's easy to do.</p> <h2>So, What Can You Do to Protect Yourself?</h2> <p>Quite simply, you should prepare for the worst right now by taking steps that can protect you if your phone is stolen, or at least minimize the damage.</p> <h3>Password Protect Your Phone</h3> <p>Yes, it's a hassle. The latest data says we check our phones over 100 times a day. Having to enter a PIN every time we want to check email or send a text may be annoying, but it takes only a second or two and makes it tough for an average thief to get past the unlock screen. By entering a PIN, you will probably make the thief do a hard reset on your phone to make it usable. In that case, you have simply lost a device, not the sensitive information it holds. And if you can, use a PIN or lock code that is not easily guessable. 0000 and 1234 are all too common.</p> <h3>Install &quot;Seek and Destroy&quot; Apps</h3> <p>In conjunction with a PIN, you should definitely invest in an app that will help you find your phone, or wipe the data remotely. There are way too many to list here, so check the ratings and the number of downloads (you want a high number for both). Once installed, it will not only help you find your phone if you misplace it, but it can also wipe the data on it with a few simple steps.</p> <h3>Set Up Two-Step Authorization</h3> <p>As so much is tied to Google, and your phone, it's a good idea to add an additional layer of security. Google's <a href="" style="text-decoration:none;">two-step authorization process</a> means that if one of your accounts is compromised, you need access to another to verify it.</p> <h3>Register With an Identity Theft Protection Service</h3> <p>There a several out there, including LifeLock and Protect My ID, but your own bank may very well offer a service just like those for less money. They aren't very expensive, usually around $6-$12 per month, and will alert you if anyone opens accounts in your name.</p> <h3>Call Your Cell Phone Provider Immediately</h3> <p>You should have their customer service number stored in a place other than your phone. As soon as you notice the phone is gone, call them and let them know. They can take steps to ensure that you are not charged for anything, and can also deactivate the account. Make sure you have the IMEI and device serial numbers stored in the same place as the customer service number.</p> <p><em>Have you lost a smartphone or had one stolen? Did any of these terrifying things happen to you?</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="11 Terrifying Things That Can Happen When Someone Steals Your Phone (And How You Can Protect It)" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Paul Michael</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Technology identity theft lost phone smartphone smartphone theft Tue, 29 Jul 2014 17:00:04 +0000 Paul Michael 1169308 at Best Money Tips: The Technology Edition <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/best-money-tips-the-technology-edition" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="office technology" title="office technology" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Welcome to Wise Bread's Best Money Tips Roundup! Today we are featuring some of the best articles from around the web about technology, ranging from apps to smartphones to green tech and more!</p> <h2>Top 5 Articles</h2> <p><a href="">Save Thousands by Cutting Dying Tech from Your Life</a> &mdash; Cutting your landline and ditching cable can help you save thousands. [Money Talks News]</p> <p><a href="">From Mobile Apps To Online Storage: 10 Techy Ways to Save Money</a> &mdash; Using TextFree can save you money on text messages while Skype can save you money on VoIP. [Learnvest]</p> <p><a href="">12 Online Tools to Organize Your Life This Month</a> &mdash; Remember the Milk and Hootsuite can help you keep your life organized. [PopSugar Smart Living]</p> <p><a href="">Top 10 Green Energy Technologies &amp; Solutions for Home Improvement</a> &mdash; If you want to update your home using green energy technologies, consider solar water heaters and double window panes. [Money Crashers]</p> <p><a href="">5 Surprising Ways Your Smartphone Can Save You Money</a> &mdash; Have you ever used your smartphone to help you pay your bills on time? [Living on the Cheap]</p> <h2>Other Essential Reading</h2> <p><a href="">5 Ways Technology Will Change the Way You Travel</a> &mdash; Cars with wi-fi are now an option in certain brands of certain GMC, Cadillac, and Buick models. [Kiplinger]</p> <p><a href="">15 Helpful Apps No Single Lady Should Be Without</a> &mdash; AroundMe and Lumosity are a couple great apps every single lady should have. [Credit Sesame]</p> <p><a href="">10 Technologies Invented Less Than 10 Years Ago We Can't Imagine Going Without</a> &mdash; Can you imagine living without podcasts or Kindles? []</p> <p><a href="">Top 10 Tech Safety Tips for Parents of Tweens and Teens</a> &mdash; To keep your kids safe around technology, be aware of ALL the technology they are using. [Parenting Squad]</p> <p><a href="">5 Tips for Using Mobile Coupons</a> &mdash; When using mobile coupons, use an app that can apply multiple coupons at once. [Bargaineering]</p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="Best Money Tips: The Technology Edition" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Ashley Jacobs</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Technology apps best money tips cell phones computers laptops technology Mon, 21 Jul 2014 19:00:07 +0000 Ashley Jacobs 1147199 at How to Minimize Cell Phone Charges When You Travel Abroad <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/how-to-minimize-cell-phone-charges-when-you-travel-abroad" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="international phone call" title="international phone call" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="143" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>You can use your cell phone as usual when you travel abroad, but cellular providers charge outrageous fees for this service &mdash; and you can expect to find a huge phone bill in the mail when you get home. Instead, here aere are some economical ways for you to stay connected with your loved ones at home while traveling abroad. (See also: <a href="">Best Travel Rewards Credit Cards</a>)</p> <h2>Know Your Roaming Fees</h2> <p>The simplest way to minimize your phone charges is to keep track of them. For a short trip, this is a great solution that doesn't require much time or effort.</p> <p>Every cell phone provider has a different set of roaming fees, so contact yours before the trip. They usually have different rates for calls, texts, and data. Additionally, the rates may vary from country to country. There may also be special roaming phone plans you can get to lower your international phone rates.</p> <p>Take note of all the rates that apply to every country in your itinerary, then keep track of your phone usage. You may have to use your phone less frequently to stay within your budget, but on the bright side, you can use the extra time to explore instead. (See also: <a href="">Fantastic Phone Services for People on the Go</a>)</p> <h2>Turn Off Data Roaming</h2> <p>This is a quick and easy trick, but it can save you a lot of money during the trip. Your phone may be consuming data even when you're not actively using it, especially if you use push notifications.</p> <p>To completely stop data use while you're abroad, go to your phone settings and turn off data roaming. With data roaming off, you'll still be able to make phone calls and text. The phone will also retain the ability to connect to the Internet via Wi-Fi, which may be free at airports and hotels. When connected to a Wi-Fi network, you'll also be able to use a VoIP service like Skype to make calls over the Internet.</p> <p>Alternatively, you can choose to turn off push notifications only. This way, you'll be able to use data roaming services without having to pay for superfluous automated data use. You can then choose to use data-heavy apps only when you're connected to a Wi-Fi network.</p> <h2>Turn on Airplane Mode</h2> <p>While abroad, you'll have to pay roaming fees when you receive phone calls and text messages, regardless of who's contacting you. Even if the phone call is from your gas company, you'll have to pay for every minute the representative blabs about the new green energy program.</p> <p>To completely eliminate the risk of mounting roaming charges, turn on airplane mode. This shuts off data service, phone calls, and text messages. You can still turn on Wi-Fi and connect to the Internet, so your family and friends can contact you through chat apps, social media, and email.</p> <h2>Use a Local SIM Card</h2> <p>If you travel a lot, consider getting an unlocked phone. By placing a local SIM card in an unlocked phone, you'll be able to enjoy local rates. This is useful when you need to get online or call local contacts like hotels or airlines. You'll have to pay international call rates to ring home, though, so it's best to stick with VoIP services like Skype for that.</p> <h2>Use an International SIM Card</h2> <p>If there are multiple destinations in your itinerary, you can get an international SIM card like <a href="">OneSimCard</a> or <a href="">Telestial</a> instead of a country-specific SIM card. These global SIM cards are generally cheaper than if you were to use roaming services on your U.S. phone plan, but more expensive than if you were to buy a local SIM card every time you entered a different country.</p> <h2>Rent a Phone</h2> <p>If it seems like too much of a hassle to get your phone unlocked, you can rent a phone instead. Global cell phone providers often offer this service. You'll pay a daily or weekly rental fee, the company will deliver the rental phone to you, and you'll be able to return it by mail at the end of your trip.</p> <p>A global phone rental usually also comes with a global SIM card and a short-term phone plan, making it an easy option for short trips. However, the call, text, and data rates with a rental global phone are higher than they would be if you used a local SIM card in your own unlocked phone.</p> <p>If you'll be traveling to isolated areas with little cell phone coverage, you can rent a satellite phone instead of a regular phone. The rates will be higher, but you'll be able to use the phone in most open spaces.</p> <p>In both cases, you'll get a phone number that your loved ones at home can use to contact you, wherever you are in the world. If you set your American home and cell phones to forward calls to your global phone number, you won't miss a call at all.</p> <p><em>How do you use your cell phone or smartphone while traveling abroad &mdash; without incurring excessive fees? Please share in comments!</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="How to Minimize Cell Phone Charges When You Travel Abroad" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Deia B</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Technology Travel cell phone international calls roaming smartphone Thu, 10 Jul 2014 17:00:04 +0000 Deia B 1156615 at 6 Surprising Ways Your Smartphone Can Keep You and Your Family Safe <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/6-surprising-ways-your-smartphone-can-keep-you-and-your-family-safe" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="family smartphone" title="family smartphone" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="147" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>They used to be a luxury, but now, almost every American home has at least one smartphone. With their ability to organize and simplify so many of our daily tasks, it's no surprise that today's iPhones, Androids, and Windows-based gadgets are allowing us to be safer than ever before. Here are some of my favorite ways to use my smartphone to keep me and my six kids secure! (See also: <a href="">How Men and Women Use Smartphones Differently</a>)</p> <h2>Weather Warnings</h2> <p>Last month, my property suffered damage from a tornado. Living out in the country, we have no warning sirens, so it's important that I have an alert system that stays with me and is updated in real time.</p> <p>In addition to the &quot;alert&quot; feature on my phone that is tied into my zip code and sets my phone off when a storm warning is issued for my area, I can use any number of apps to check radar and even follow the social media accounts for the meteorologists for my part of the state. This past storm, I was able to get the kids into the cellar just in time to avoid softball sized hail and an actual tornado touch-down that tore 100-year-old trees out by the roots. I was very thankful for technology!</p> <p><strong>Tip</strong>: Check your local TV station's website for a link to their specific weather app. Most will be tailored to the viewing area. The Red Cross also has an app for a <a href="">variety of environmental emergencies</a> unique to your climate and region.</p> <h2>Traffic Reports</h2> <p>I remember the days of sitting in my car at 5:01 p.m. and listening to my local AM radio station for the traffic report. While it was helpful, it was no match for the real-time reports you can get from phone apps and even the GPS service available on most phones. While using your cell phone is prohibited while driving in my jurisdictions, it's OK to have your traffic app or GPS mode running while your phone is in your seat or placed safely on the dash. Avoiding an accident isn't just a time-saver; it could be a life-saver!</p> <p><strong>Tip</strong>:The <a href="">Google Maps app</a> does a pretty good job of alerting you to accidents on major highways and the interstate. If you don't have an Android phone, the <a href="">Mapquest version</a> works well.</p> <h2>First Aid</h2> <p>If you are a parent, you know very well that some kids have an insane desire to put everything into their mouths. For those moments, a call to Poison Control may be advisable, and, if you plan ahead, you can program your phone to connect via a shortcut on smartphone screen.</p> <p>If the situation isn't life threatening, a quick reference to some basic first aid tips might be called for. The Red Cross makes first aid apps available for the<a href="">people members</a> of your family, <a href="">as well as pets</a>!</p> <p><strong>Tip</strong>: While poison is serious business, sometimes a game is called for. The <a href="">Name Your Poison app</a> teaches kids and parents that common poisons can easily be mistaken for safe materials &mdash; like candy.</p> <h2>Emergency Contact</h2> <p>Most of us don't carry around little cards in our wallet telling medical personnel or the police who to contact if they find us unconscious. Most of us do, however, carry around our smartphones.</p> <p>If you don't already have an &quot;emergency&quot; contact designated in your phone's contact list, do so right now. Otherwise, your phone might also have some unique features to help you in a life-threatening situation. My Samsung Galaxy, for example, will automatically connect me with my designated contact with three short pushes of the power button, and it will record sound, take photos, and send along GPS coordinates until I deactivate emergency mode. Other smartphone have similar features in their settings screen. (Consult your user's guide for more info.)</p> <p><strong>Tip</strong>: Medical professionals recommend an &quot;ICE&quot; (In Case of Emergency) contact clearly labeled on your phone, but many rumors claim that doing so leaves your phone open to viruses. <a href="">Snopes clearly debunks this myth</a>.</p> <h2>Food Allergies</h2> <p>Not everyone is allergic to peanuts or pineapple, but if your kids are, it can seem like the whole world is against you. While it may be obvious to you that certain foods contain allergens, not all caregivers are savvy to the language of food labeling. Giving your kids access to information on food ingredients via a handy app empowers them to choose safe foods when they aren't obvious to everyone; <a href="">Food Additives 2</a> gets good review from parents of allergy-sufferers.</p> <p><strong>Tip</strong>: Food allergies don't go away when you dine out. <a href="">Allergy Eats mobile dining guide</a> helps you make safe decisions when on the road and at your favorite restaurant.</p> <h2>Child Location</h2> <p>If little Johnny wandered off without his phone, tracking him down may be difficult. Since most kids carry their phones with them at all times (even into the bathroom), there is a good chance you can find him with a good GPS location tool. <a href="">Securafone</a> is a comprehensive tool that not only offers geographic location services, it alerts you when a child may be driving over the speed limit or texting while driving.</p> <p><strong>Tip</strong>: In the case that your child really does go missing, having a &quot;kit&quot; on hand with their info and identifying features can be the difference between finding them and not. The <a href="">FBI offers</a> a high-tech version of the traditional &quot;ID Kit&quot; for most smartphones.</p> <p><em>Do you use any smartphone safety apps not mentioned here? Please share in comments!</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="6 Surprising Ways Your Smartphone Can Keep You and Your Family Safe" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Linsey Knerl</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Family Technology apps first aid safety smartphone Mon, 07 Jul 2014 17:00:11 +0000 Linsey Knerl 1151053 at 6 Ways to Slash the Cost of Wi-Fi When You Travel <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/6-ways-to-slash-the-cost-of-wi-fi-when-you-travel" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="laptop airport" title="laptop airport" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="141" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>When you spend most of your time either at home or at the office, you probably take your Wi-Fi signal for granted. Then when you travel, suddenly connecting to a Wi-Fi network becomes a privilege. Sometimes you can enjoy it for free; at other times you have to pay high premiums for it. But with a little bit of planning, you can get free or cheap Wi-Fi almost anywhere. Here's how. (See also: <a href="">Best Travel Rewards Credit Cards</a>)</p> <h2>Look for Free Hotel Wi-Fi</h2> <p>Many hotels have wisened up to the fact that Wi-Fi is a necessity for many travelers. Some hotels choose to use this information to charge a fee for Wi-Fi use and earn a short-term profit; others choose to provide the service for free and get long-term business.</p> <p>When you book a hotel, pay attention to the amenities included. Some hotels charge for Wi-Fi access by the hour or by the night, so it can get expensive quickly. Even if you have to pay a higher nightly rate for a hotel with free Wi-Fi, it may be worth the price.</p> <h2>Join a Hotel Loyalty Program</h2> <p>Some hotel loyalty programs provide free Wi-Fi for members. Depending on the hotel chain, you may have to accumulate a minimum number of points, stay a minimum number of nights, or acquire a certain elite status to enjoy this perk. Some programs only require you to join for free to get free Wi-Fi. For example, Omni Resorts &amp; Hotels and InterContinental Hotels Group both charge Wi-Fi fees, but let even basic members of their loyalty programs enjoy it for free.</p> <h2>Download Before You Leave Home</h2> <p>Travel involves a lot of idle time, like when you're waiting for a boarding call or sitting on a plane. If you only need Wi-Fi for entertainment, you can avoid Wi-Fi fees at airports and on planes by downloading videos and reading materials ahead of time. You may even be able to get some work done offline using only Microsoft Office programs. (See also: <a href="">10 Ways to Keep Your Laptop Safe While Traveling</a>)</p> <p>I personally like to use digital maps to find my way when I travel. Because I don't always have a data connection, Google Maps' offline features often come in handy. I simply load the part of the map I need when I have Wi-Fi connection, then have Google Maps save it on my smartphone.</p> <h2>Tether to Your Smartphone</h2> <p>If you travel to a domestic location where you're not charged any roaming fees, make full use of your smartphone data connection. Before you travel, check if your smartphone supports tethering, which allows other devices to connect to your phone's data network. It's a bit like having your own little Wi-Fi router.</p> <p>All you have to do is enable tethering on your phone, then use your other device to find and connect to the phone's Wi-Fi network. Don't forget to contact your phone provider before you travel to find out if there are any extra fees to use this feature.</p> <p>If you travel abroad, you may still be able to tether a device to your phone, but the roaming fees may make it so expensive that you'd be better off paying for the hotel Wi-Fi. Look into using a local SIM card in an unlocked phone to enjoy local tethering rates.</p> <h2>Get a USB Modem</h2> <p>If you travel a lot, you can consider getting a dedicated device to connect to the Internet. One option is a USB modem, which is a compact stick that plugs into your laptop or tablet. You usually have to install special software on your device to use a USB modem, but it's portable and easy to use after your first time connecting to the Internet with it.</p> <p>You also need a data plan to use a USB modem, but it could be cheaper than what hotels charge if you travel within the country. If you travel abroad, you may be able to save some money by getting a local data plan.</p> <h2>Get a Mobile Hotspot</h2> <p>A mobile hotspot works in a similar way as a USB modem. Known as &quot;Mi-Fi,&quot; this device is usually more robust than just a smartphone or a USB modem, with a longer-lasting battery and the ability to connect multiple devices at once. It's also not necessary to install special software to connect to the Internet with a Mi-Fi. You can probably get a Mi-Fi device for free or at a deep discount if you sign up for a data plan contract.</p> <h2>Find Free Public Wi-Fi</h2> <p>If none of the above options seem practical for you, there are often public Wi-Fi networks you can use.</p> <p>Coffee shops are your best bet, but more and more businesses are offering free Wi-Fi access. You may be able to get free Wi-Fi at fast food restaurants, grocery stores, bookstores, and even gas stations. Just look for a Wi-Fi sign at the entrance.</p> <p>Public spaces in big cities may also provide free Wi-Fi access. For example, Taipei has free public Wi-Fi at train stations, libraries, hospitals, malls, and even some commercial and residential areas. Research your travel destination beforehand to see if the local government provides this service and where.</p> <p><em>Where do you go for Wi-Fi access when you travel? Please share your connection in comments!</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="6 Ways to Slash the Cost of Wi-Fi When You Travel" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Deia B</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Technology Travel free wi-fi Internet SIM card smartphone wi-fi Wed, 02 Jul 2014 11:00:05 +0000 Deia B 1151054 at These 5 Apps Can Fix Your Finances <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/these-5-apps-can-fix-your-finances" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="finance app" title="finance app" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="137" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>They say money has wings and that it tends to fly away before we even realize it. That's a product of the time we're living in, unfortunately. The good news, however, is that some wasteful spending can be curtailed and prevented, and a great way to do that is to use something else that's a product of our time: Smartphone apps. (See also: <a href="">The &quot;I Knew It!&quot; Benefit of Expense Tracking</a>)</p> <p>Our phones do a lot of things that we don't really need on a regular basis, but one thing that they're capable of that we'd do well to take advantage of regularly is tracking our expenses. There are a lot of great apps (free and paid) that allow us to do this without having to sit down at a computer or write in a checkbook. These are the ones worth looking at.</p> <h2>1. Mint</h2> <p><a href=""><img width="130" height="230" align="right" src="" alt="" /></a>Mint is one of the most popular and widely used apps available for tracking spending, and it's completely free.</p> <p>The data itself is stored in a cloud account where it can be accessed by a number of different supported devices. Either your phone, Internet browsers, and even a Linux application can be used to access your data and track your spending.</p> <p><a href="">It works</a> by keeping all your transactions and balances in one spot and can even pull data from your respective financial institutions.</p> <h2>2. Quicken</h2> <p><a href=""><img width="130" height="230" align="right" src="" alt="" /></a>Originally one of the more popular desktop applications for tracking your spending, Intuit's Quicken provides a <a href="">mobile version of their software</a> as well.</p> <p>Some of the more helpful features include the ability to snap and store receipts, syncing with the desktop application, graphical GUI with tablet versions, and secure password protection with encryption.</p> <p>The mobile app is perfect if you're already familiar with Quicken's software and would like to use your smartphone to manage it.</p> <h2>3. iSpending</h2> <p><a href=""><img width="130" height="230" align="right" src="" alt="" /></a>Graphical reports and a sleek UI give this <a href="">free app</a> a lot of appeal for the more casual user.</p> <p>Though it lacks some of the features that you'll find with other apps like receipt snapping or a desktop counterpart, iSpending is ideal for someone who primarily keeps data on their phone with no need to sync with other devices.</p> <p>It handles all the basic spending and expense tracking the average person needs, including custom spending categories, summaries and adding income/expense transactions.</p> <h2>4. Visual Budget Expense Tracking and Management</h2> <p><a href=""><img width="130" height="230" align="right" src="" alt="" /></a>Assigning budgets to individual categories, managing multiple accounts, accessing overview tools, and taking advantage of easy-to-read pie graphs can all be done with the free version of <a href="">this awkwardly named app</a>, though it does limit you to 10 transactions per account.</p> <p>Purchasing the unlimited version is $5, which lifts the transaction limit and gives you full use of the app.</p> <p>It's also compatible with iTunes file sharing if you want to import spreadsheets.</p> <h2>5. Spending Tracker</h2> <p><a href=""><img width="130" height="230" align="right" src="" alt="" />The interface</a> is pleasant, intuitive, and easy to use, offering all the essential features for tracking your spending.</p> <p>Budget mode, spending categories, and reports are all available to you without the pro upgrade, which is only $2.99 regardless.</p> <p>If you do upgrade, you'll have the app ad free and will be able to set up repeat transactions and export transactions. Otherwise, the app is completely functional without you having to pay any money.</p> <p>It's available for iOS, Android, and Windows phone.</p> <h2>Making It a Habit</h2> <p>Expense-tracking apps are valuable tools in your hand, but they'll only make a difference if you make a habit of using them. Work it into your daily routine to either download or manually input your income and expenses of the past 24 hours. (See also: <a href="">10 Sites and Apps That Help You Track Spending</a>)</p> <p>If you keep it up, you'll eventually be able to use reports and graphs to get a clearer picture of how you're spending your money and where you need to cut back or where you could save. It's a time commitment, for sure, but it won't get much easier than being a few swipes away in your pocket. And, let's face it, it's still easier than writing everything down in your checkbook. All hail technology!</p> <p><em>Do you have an expense-tracking app that you like to use? Has it changed the way you handle your finances? Let me know in the comments below.</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="These 5 Apps Can Fix Your Finances" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Mikey Rox</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Budgeting Productivity Technology apps budgets expense tracker expenses spending Tue, 01 Jul 2014 13:00:03 +0000 Mikey Rox 1150925 at Don't Buy Microsoft Office! And Other Free Alternatives to Pricey Computer Software <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/dont-buy-microsoft-office-and-other-free-alternatives-to-pricey-computer-software" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="software shopping" title="software shopping" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="131" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>So you just forked over a boatload of cash for a shiny new PC, but before you can really do anything other than watch YouTube videos and make crude Microsoft Paint drawings, you have to shell out even more to get the software. With today's leading applications costing hundreds of dollars, editing your photos or managing your finances can leave your wallet feeling substantially lighter. But fret not, for the Internet is your bank account's salvation from pricey PC programs! (See also: <a href="">The Most Underrated Software You May Already Own</a>)</p> <h2>A Quick Word on Free/Open Source Programs</h2> <p>Software that is developed as &quot;freeware&quot; will almost always have certain limitations compared to the paid apps that they seek to emulate. As such, one simply cannot expect these free programs to offer the same range of features and/or functionality present in their costlier counterparts. That being said, many free or open source alternatives can get the job done without you having to spend a fortune.</p> <h2>Microsoft Office vs. LibreOffice</h2> <p>The Office suite by Microsoft is hands down the number one application that people spend money on. Whether by accident or by design, Microsoft Office is the tool virtually every business, school, and casual user uses to compose their digital documents. As Microsoft continues their market domination of office software, they offer a <a href="">dizzying number of products</a> and payment options, from subscription based services to one time license fees.</p> <p>If paying $100+ to write your Twilight fan fiction sounds unreasonable, you're not alone. A non-profit organization, The Document Foundation, developed <a href="">LibreOffice</a> in 2010, an office suite including (but not limited to) programs similar to Microsoft Word, Excel, Powerpoint, Visio, and Access. The programs resemble the layouts of their Microsoft counterparts, and are generally compatible with Microsoft file types. Of course, <a href="">LibreOffice has its pros and cons</a>.</p> <h2>Adobe Photoshop vs. GNU Image Manipulation Program (GIMP)</h2> <p>Whether you are a professional photographer or an amateur shutterbug, you would be hard pressed to find someone who wasn't aware of Adobe's powerful photo editing software, <a href="">Photoshop</a>. From photo retouching to image authoring, Photoshop leads the market as the software of choice for professional and home users alike.</p> <p>For those who don't necessarily need the wealth of tools that Photoshop has to offer, a popular alternative is <a href="">GIMP</a>. Although it may not be fair to <a href="">compare the two programs</a> head to head, the attractive price of zero dollars coupled with impressive features make GIMP a solid option for photo manipulation.</p> <p>Interested in making a jump from Photoshop to GIMP? <a href="">GIMPShop</a> may be the best option for you.</p> <h2>Microsoft Outlook vs. Mozilla Thunderbird</h2> <p>Finding the right email client for you can be a long and arduous process. The go-to program to tackle a wide variety of email needs has been Microsoft's <a href="">Outlook</a>. A strong competitor has come in the form of <a href="">Thunderbird</a> by Mozilla, the same team that brought the world Firefox. While development of Thunderbird is community-based, meaning that Mozilla no longer has a hand in its growth, it is a <a href=",2817,2356349,00.asp">reliable and impressive Outlook doppelganger</a>.</p> <p>Although Thunderbird is not as feature rich as Outlook, there are a wide variety of add-ons that bring it pretty darn close to Outlook experience. If you don't need to link into the Microsoft Exchange servers, Thunderbird should garner more than just a passing curiosity.</p> <h2>Reckon vs. GnuCash</h2> <p>Whether you struggle to balance your checkbook, own a small business, or do all of the bookkeeping for your local bocce club, an accounting program would certainly make your life easier.</p> <p>Powerhouse accounting software from <a href="">Reckon</a> or Intuit will supply you with a wide variety of tools to get your finances on track, and the first thing you can do with them is deduct the cost of the program itself. If the steep price of Reckon products don't fit within your budget, the most feature rich alternative is <a href="">GnuCash</a>. <a href="">Compared to popular software by Reckon</a>, GnuCash can handle most bookkeeping tasks thrown at it, and can be run on various operating systems, all for the bargain basement price of free.</p> <p>With a little bit of research and the willingness to try something a little less known, you may find yourself saving boatloads by adopting these free software alternatives. If you do find yourself perusing through the free/open source marketplace, just remember that there are many individuals and organisations which work tirelessly in order to design, develop and distribute these programs. If you appreciate their work, remember to donate (if you can) or simply say thanks!</p> <p><em>Do you any of these or other free alternatives to popular software packages? Please share in comments!</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="Don&#039;t Buy Microsoft Office! And Other Free Alternatives to Pricey Computer Software" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Ryan Lynch</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Productivity Shopping Technology Free software office suite software Wed, 25 Jun 2014 13:00:07 +0000 Ryan Lynch 1148485 at Make Your Computer Last (Almost) Forever With Some Simple Tricks <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/make-your-computer-last-almost-forever-with-some-simple-tricks" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="computer repair" title="computer repair" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="167" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>There is a piece of electronics in my house that I couldn't do without. I need it for communication, research, entertainment, work, basic household functioning, our homeschool lessons, and to occasionally keep my kids' occupied while I make an important phone call or get dinner on the table. There's a good chance it is equally as important to you, too. (See also: <a href="">Why You Should Buy a Desktop Computer</a>)</p> <p>The computer has become one of our most needed and essential items in our homes and when it breaks or &mdash; even worse &mdash; dies for good, we are lost without it and forced into an expenditure that we may not be ready to make. Keeping your computer up and running for many years is vital for your productivity, your sanity, and your wallet.</p> <p>To keep it lasting forever, it is important to practice diligence with the protection, cleaning, maintenance, and care of your computer. Read on to learn all the ways you can do just that.</p> <h2>Protection</h2> <p>A good defense is the game to play when it comes to computer maintenance. Prevent problems from occurring in the first place with these protections in place.</p> <h3>Block Viruses</h3> <p>The first order of business upon opening your brand new computer is to install virus protection. An adequately protected computer will keep you from the loss of important files and personal data and will give you a smoothly functioning operating system. While a virus, malware, or spyware will probably not cause you the loss of your hard drive, it is best to have what is internally stored on your computer as safe as possible. Free virus protection can be downloaded from <a href="">Avast</a>, <a href="">AVG Free</a> or <a href="">Microsoft</a>.</p> <h3>Clear Space</h3> <p>While viruses, spyware, and malware can slow down your computer's system, files saved to the hard-drive can do the same thing. To keep you computer running smoothly, it is best to save files on an external hard-drive. These hard drives plug into your computer and are perfect for storing data that is taking up space within your computer. The more space available on your hard drive, the better it runs.</p> <h3>Safeguard Electronics</h3> <p>A rush of electrical current to your computer can burn the components and cause you to lose data, as well as the computer, so always plug it into a <a href=";camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;linkCode=ur2&amp;node=761520&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;linkId=AYHZC3PBOB73ZSM5">surge protector</a>.</p> <h2>Cleaning</h2> <p>Like your home, car, or anything else you value, computers should be cleaned regularly to keep them from working harder than they need to. This can be as simple as wiping down surfaces or as complicated as taking your PC tower apart to do some internal clean up.</p> <h3>Monitor</h3> <p>Cleaning the monitor is a quick task that should be done weekly or as needed to keep oils and debris from breaking down the components. Using a special monitor cleaning product is usually not necessary, and LifeHacker actually suggests that <a href="">plain water is the best solution</a>. Be sure to use a scratch-free cloth made from microfiber or a clean T-shirt and have your monitor powered down before cleaning. Directly spraying the monitor is not recommended.</p> <h3>Keyboard</h3> <p>A dirty keyboard isn't just a health hazard, it can result in stuck keys or or completely dead keyboard. By unplugging the keyboard and turning it upside down, you can free any particularly loose materials right away. Blowing compressed air into the keyboard will clean out any debris that may be sticking to the keys. If you have a particularly sticky key (or when cleaning your trackpad), dip a cotton swab into rubbing alcohol and clean the area gently.</p> <h3>Fan</h3> <p>It is also essential to clean dust that collects on the fan and any other small crevices. Dust collecting on the fan of your computer can cause it to overheat and burn up. Regular cleaning with compressed air will help keep your laptop or computer working for years to come. (Much of this can be done without opening anything, but if you live in a particularly dusty area, a <a href="">deep cleaning</a> may be necessary.)</p> <h2>Internal Maintenance</h2> <p>Keeping the internals operating efficiently does not require a lot of complicated hackery, just some basic maintenance, with software tools you probably already have.</p> <h3>Defragment</h3> <p>Much like regular cleaning, your computer needs regular maintenance to keep it running smoothly. Defragmenting should be done once a month to clean out your computer's temporary files. If you are running a newer version of Windows (7 or 8), defragmenting is done regularly by your computer. However, older versions of Windows and those people who have their computer turned off during the <a href="">scheduled defragmentation</a> (usually 2 a.m. on Wednesdays) will need to manually defragment their hard drives.</p> <h3>Clutter</h3> <p>Cleaning up a cluttered desk top can significantly increase PC speed, as well as dumping the Recycle Bin at least once a month. (Tools like <a href="">CCleaner</a> are free and can assist with some of these processes.)</p> <h3>Battery</h3> <p>If you haven't thought about your computer's battery lately, you should! The battery should be completely drained at least once a month and then be allowed to fully charge before being used again. This draining and recharging cycle keeps your battery fully operational. If you are using a laptop, it is also good to unplug it regularly and rely on the battery to keep it working.</p> <h2>Care</h2> <p>More than anything you can do for your computer, taking care with how you handle and use it is the most important. Computers are damaged and ruined beyond repair due to careless and uneducated users.</p> <h3>Keep Liquids Away</h3> <p>Most of us are guilty of doing this; when you work at your desk, you want a drink handy, whether it is your morning cup of coffee, water throughout the day, or a glass of wine as you wind down in the evening. However, that beverage could easily spill and ruin your computer. It's best to keep it out of reach of your computer or, at the very least, in something with a lid.</p> <h3>Ensure Proper Ventilation</h3> <p>If you own a laptop, it's nice to take it to the couch or into bed with you while you surf the internet. However, this seemingly normal task could be destroying your computer and it's motor. They need space underneath for air to flow through and a soft surface from a blanket or cushion could cause it to overheat. If you are going to be laying in bed, place a book or a <a href=";camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;linkCode=ur2&amp;node=490924011&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;linkId=QUBZ2KBXPNH3QK35">lap desk</a> under your laptop while you work. The best place for it, is on a hard surface with a cooling pad or fan underneath. This will protect it from overheating at all times.</p> <h3>Safely Transport</h3> <p>Transporting your laptop can also be the cause for irreparable damage. Whether you are carrying your laptop in your hand or in a bag, something can go wrong if you are not doing it properly. Laptops should always be turned off and carried with two hands when walking around, and the monitor should be down. (See also: <a href="">11 Cool Uses for a Tablet Computer</a>)</p> <p>When transporting it in a bag, it is important to have it inside a case. A neoprene case that slips snugly around the laptop will keep it from being broken if it bangs into something in your bag and prevent anything like food or sharp objects from getting into the ports on the side of the laptop.</p> <p>You should also consider unplugging the power cord from the unit when not charging or in use, the small hole (or &quot;jack&quot;) where the plug goes in can become loose over time, causing your laptop to be unable to be charged and resulting in a costly $75+ repair.</p> <h2>Upgrades</h2> <p>Most manufacturers will tell you that the average lifespan of a laptop is 2-3 years and a desktop computer 3-5 years, but this is typically due to newer technology being developed. If you keep your computer running smoothly and upgrade the operating system every few years, there is no reason it can not outlive what is &quot;average.&quot; In addition, it's possible to get more life for your gadget by upgrading the following:</p> <h3>RAM (memory)</h3> <p>One of the most effective ways to give new life to your computer, giving memory a boost can be a DIY project. <a href="">This classic article from PCWorld</a> still applies, and most upgrades can run between $40 to $200 with the cost of the memory product and any tools you'll need to perform the task.</p> <h3>Hard Drive</h3> <p>If you have a drive crash, or just feel like you would like a better brand/model, switching out your hard drive may be something you can do at home. It's <a href="">not a simple process</a>, but it definitely can be one of the best &quot;CPR&quot; procedures you can do for a PC or Mac.</p> <h3>Video Card</h3> <p>If you find your computer lagging a bit, or unable to play newer, faster games, you may simply find a new video card to be the fix you need. Cards range in price from $75 to $500, so do some research to buy the least costly solution for your PC or laptop.</p> <p>Proper protection, maintenance, cleaning, and care only take a few minutes each month to ensure a long lifespan for our most-essential of electronics.</p> <p><em>How do you keep your computer running smoothly? Please share in comments!</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="Make Your Computer Last (Almost) Forever With Some Simple Tricks" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Linsey Knerl</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> DIY Technology computer care computer maintenance computers laptops Thu, 19 Jun 2014 13:00:03 +0000 Linsey Knerl 1145125 at The 5 Best Bluetooth Speakers <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/the-5-best-bluetooth-speakers" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="speaker" title="speaker" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="141" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>The days of tangled, messy cables are becoming a thing of the past.</p> <p>Wireless technology is now a part of reality instead of just science fiction. While not all electronics have cut the cord just yet, audio aficionados may be happy to hear that great wireless speakers now exist, with many options utilizing the latest Bluetooth technology to free up the way you can enjoy your music.</p> <p>Wisebread is here to help find the perfect cord-free boombox for you with our top 5 list of the best Bluetooth speakers.</p> <h2>What Is a Bluetooth speaker?</h2> <p>A Bluetooth speaker is essentially a stereo sound system that utilizes the Bluetooth electronic frequency to wirelessly connect and play music from any Bluetooth-enabled device, including your computer, smartphone, and tablet. There are generally two types of Bluetooth speakers: home speakers and portable speakers.</p> <p>Portable Bluetooth speakers are the most popular choice with consumers as they practically allow you to play your music virtually anywhere you want. But in most cases, home-based Bluetooth speakers can offer even better sound quality and more features than their portable counterparts.</p> <h2>Top 5 Bluetooth Speakers
</h2> <h3>Edifer E30 Spinnnaker</h3> <p><a href=";camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B008BSII2A&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=bguidelink-20"><img width="220" height="200" align="right" alt="" src="" /></a>Named a Consumer Reports Best Buy, the <a href=";camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B008BSII2A&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=bguidelink-20">Edifer E30 Spinnaker</a> is an excellent set of home Bluetooth speakers that has a very distinctive style to match its distinctive sound quality.</p> <p>The Spinnaker's award-winning, horn-shaped design has been specifically crafted to project audio more effectively toward its listeners. The overall sound quality is very crisp and clean, with good bass quality and decent definition and treble, but it lacks a manual equalizer for audiophiles.</p> <p>While the Bluetooth connection is seamless, the Spinnaker also comes with optical and auxiliary audio inputs to connect non-Bluetooth devices to the speakers. The speakers are very easy to use, and they even include a unique, dome-shaped wireless remote control that complements their overall aesthetic.</p> <p><a href=";camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B008BSII2A&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=bguidelink-20"><em>Currently $249.99 on Amazon
</em></a></p> <h3>Soundfreaq Sound Platform 2</h3> <p><a href=";camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B00BAQKWIS&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=bguidelink-20"><img width="220" height="183" align="right" alt="" src="" /></a>As a Consumer Search top pick, the <a href=";camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B00BAQKWIS&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=bguidelink-20">Soundfreaq Sound Platform 2</a> is a another exceptional choice for a home Bluetooth sound system.</p> <p>Many users have been impressed by its overall sound clarity and definition, with bass and midrange tones sounding especially great coming from this speaker. However, what's even more impressive is its special Dolby Surround Sound mode, which allows you to pair it up with another Sound Platform 2 unit to deliver some truly incredible stereo separation.</p> <p>Its lightweight design allows you to easily transfer the speakers between rooms, but the lack of a battery pack prevents it from being an optimal portable speaker. The primary controls for the unit are found in the Soundfreaq app that you download onto your phone or tablet rather than on a separate physical remote. There's also a universal device tray on the speakers that allows you to charge your mobile device through the speakers via USB.</p> <p><a href=";camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B00BAQKWIS&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=bguidelink-20"><em>Currently $146.99 on Amazon</em></a></p> <h3>TDK Life On Record A33 Wireless Weatherproof Speaker
</h3> <p><a href=";camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B008VMT2HQ&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=bguidelink-20"><img width="220" height="165" align="right" alt="" src="" /></a>You might be hard-pressed to find a portable Bluetooth speaker more prepared for the outdoors than the <a href=";camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B008VMT2HQ&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=bguidelink-20">TDK Life on Record A33 Wireless Weatherproof Speaker</a>.</p> <p>This Consumer Reports recommended pick delivers a pretty impressive sound performance for a portable speaker, producing enough volume to fill a medium-sized room and hitting all the right marks when it comes to audio clarity and definition. It has a pretty fair battery life of 6 hours on a single charge.</p> <p>This speaker's most noteworthy feature is, of course, its sturdy, weatherized chassis that will protect its internal parts from rain and dust damage. Beyond that, the speaker itself has a nicely compact design that's easy to transport and use, and it also comes with a convenient analog audio input for non-Bluetooth devices and a USB charging port for some extra utility. There's even a nifty built-in microphone that allows you to have hands-free phone conversations over the speaker.</p> <p><a href=";camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B008VMT2HQ&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=bguidelink-20"><em>Currently $128.99 on Amazon</em></a></p> <h3>Jawbone Big Jambox</h3> <p><a href=";camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B00G2G19B0&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=bguidelink-20"><img width="220" height="166" align="right" alt="" src="" /></a>If you're in the market for a Bluetooth speaker with some flair and style, then the <a href=";camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B00G2G19B0&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=bguidelink-20">Jawbone Big Jambox</a> is the audio boombox for you, and it's one that also comes highly recommended by the folks at Good Housekeeping.</p> <p>In terms of size and design, the Big Jambox can be seen as a bit of a hybrid between a home and portable speaker. It's certainly much larger than many other portable speakers and has a very modern look and feel that comes in a variety of cool colors that can match your own personal style. And yet, with a weight under 3 lbs and a rechargeable battery pack that provides a very impressive 15 hours of playback time, it's a good travel companion as well.</p> <p>In terms of audio, however, the Big Jambox definitely sounds bigger than it looks, delivering astounding volume and superb, high-quality audio. Simple controls on the top of the speaker make it very simple to pick up and play, and a built-in microphone gives it some extra versatility.</p> <p><a href=";camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B00G2G19B0&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=bguidelink-20"><em>Currently $299.99 on Amazon</em></a></p> <h3>Logitech UE Mobile Boombox</h3> <p><a href=";camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B0094S35C4&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=bguidelink-20"><img width="220" height="171" align="right" alt="" src="" /></a>Another Consumer Search top pick, the <a href=";camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B0094S35C4&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=bguidelink-20">Logitech UE Mobile Boombox</a> provides a great example of how a low price does not necessarily equate to low quality, as this portable Bluetooth speaker presents a truly remarkable and value-packed product.</p> <p>The sound quality from this speaker is absolutely superb, with many users amazed at how a speaker of this size could manage to output such clear and crisp sounds. More impressively, the UE Mobile Boombox has a Bluetooth range of up to 50 feet, which is 20 feet greater than the range of its competitors. Not only that, you can also have multiple Bluetooth devices connect to the speaker simultaneously.</p> <p>The UE Mobile Boombox has a durable, rubberized outer casing that's ridiculously compact and comes in many color options, giving the speaker a rugged, yet stylish appearance. With an astonishing battery life of 10 hours along with a built-in microphone, the UE Mobile Boombox is an absolute steal at the price you pay for it.</p> <p><a href=";camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B0094S35C4&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=bguidelink-20"><em>Currently $75.99 on Amazon</em></a></p> <p>And those are our recommendations for the best Bluetooth speakers. As always, be sure to check out the <a href="">Wise Bread Shopping Calendar</a> to learn when and how to buy just about anything!</p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="The 5 Best Bluetooth Speakers" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">William Tran</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Shopping Technology bluetooth speakers product reviews Thu, 19 Jun 2014 09:00:09 +0000 William Tran 1142438 at 10 Reasons Why Bank Vaults Are Much More Interesting Than You Thought <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/10-reasons-why-bank-vaults-are-much-more-interesting-than-you-thought" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="bank vault" title="bank vault" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="159" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>For most of us, our exposure to bank vaults probably doesn't extend beyond the clever bank heists we've seen in movies like &quot;<a href=";camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B00005NTNR&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;linkId=INLM74W2QRX7ZZAM">Ocean's 11</a>&quot; and &quot;<a href=";camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B00000JGHM&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;linkId=JR65NLK2ZTZA7NI3">Heat</a>.&quot; In reality, of course, those types of crimes are very, very rare. That's because bank vaults and other covert bunkers that hold valuable goods use some pretty amazing technology to keep things secure. In fact, these ultra-exclusive enclaves of riches have a lot of secrets. (See also: <a href="">The Best and Worst Places to Stash Cash in Your Home</a>)</p> <p>Here are 10 things you probably didn't know about them.</p> <h2>1. They Were Invented as a Result of the Gold Rush</h2> <p>At least in the U.S., bank vaults as we know them today emerged during the Gold Rush of 1849, when unsuccessful prospectors gave up on finding their gold in the ground and decided to get it the easy way &mdash; by robbing a bank. At that time, banks used safes to protect their goods, and bank robbers took to heaving these out the window, hauling them off, and breaking them open in a secure location. Banks quickly decided they needed a secure solution that couldn't be carried off by a determined thief. As a result, safes got ever larger and heavier until, by the 1920s, most banks were using huge, built-in vaults, with walls and doors that were several feet thick.</p> <h2>2. There's a Technological Arms Race With Burglars</h2> <p>Of course, for every genius who can invent a lock, there's another one who can learn to pick it. That sort of technology arms race is ever-present in bank security.</p> <p>Enterprising burglars have cleverly used gunpowder, nitroglycerin, and acetylene torches to pry open the tiny vulnerabilities each new bank vault provided. Today's most secure bank vaults include more technology than ever, including things like heat sensors, motion detectors, and alarms. The very most secure vaults even include things like 22-ton vault doors, machine-gun wielding guards, three foot keys, and robots. When you're guarding trillions of dollars, you can't be too careful.</p> <h2>3. But They've Stuck With a Clever and Innovative Type of Lock</h2> <p>When bank robbers learned to blast through safes with key locks, inventor Linus Yale Jr. introduced a combination lock. But it wasn't long before burglars learned to drill holes in the lock's case and peer inside at the gears to open the lock. And, of course, the simplest way to get into any lock is simply to hold the bank manager hostage until he agrees to open it. So, a man named James Sargent came up with a combination lock that wouldn't open until a set number of hours had passed. Time locks and time delay locks are still used in bank vaults as theft deterrents. Of course, for <a href="">those who work at the bank</a>, not being able to open the vault when you want or need to can occasionally prove to be most inconvenient.</p> <h2>4. They Are Built to Withstand *Almost* Anything</h2> <p>Although the latest bank vaults are built to be disassembled more easily (while still being ultra-secure), historically, bank vaults were built to last. Forever. As a result, some of them will survive almost anything. Even a nuclear blast. In fact, it was two Mosler bank vaults at the Teikoku Bank &mdash; and only those two bank vaults &mdash; that were <a href="">left standing after Hiroshima</a> was hit by an atomic bomb in 1945. In 1957, the U.S. also blasted a bank vault during nuclear testing in Nevada. The 37-kiloton nuke merely loosened the vault's trim.</p> <h2>5. But People Get Through Them Anyway</h2> <p>Most bank robbers don't even bother with the bank's vault; according to the FBI, the <a href="">vast majority of crimes happen at the counter</a>. Of course, that isn't to say that there aren't a few clever criminals who make carefully planned attempts against a bank vault's security features. Sometimes it even works.</p> <p>In 2003, what was believed to be the most impenetrable diamond safe in the world, the Antwerp Diamond Vault in Belgium, was quietly opened during the night. The thieves took so much loot &mdash; $100 million worth &mdash; they couldn't even carry it all away. They set off no alarms. To this day, no one's entirely sure how they pulled it off. You can read about what's now known about the heist in this Wired piece about <a href="">one of the men who was finally convicted</a> of the crime. It's better than fiction.</p> <h2>6. They're Used to Hold Some Unusual and Unexpected Things</h2> <p>Generally, bank vaults are used to hold what we'd typically imagine as valuable goods: Cash, gold, jewels and the like. However, many of the privately owned vaults and depositories are just as impressive, although they hold some unexpected treasures.</p> <ul> <li> <p>The <a href="">Granite Mountain Records Vault</a> in Salt Lake City holds the world's largest collection of genealogical records and records of importance to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.</p> </li> <li> <p><a href="">The Pionen Bunker</a> deep under Stockholm houses a data center that rents secure server space and bandwidth to a number of clients, most infamously WikiLeaks.</p> </li> <li> <p>The Vatican also secures a vault of secret archives in Rome. Its labyrinthine vaults and tunnels hold all kinds of <a href="">relics of Catholic history</a>, many of which have been kept secret from the public.</p> </li> <li> <p>There's also the <a href="">Svalbard Global Seed Vault</a>, a repository of crop seeds from the around the world.</p> </li> <li> <p>There's even a vault just for Colonel Sanders' secret recipe. That's right, <a href="">KFC's secret seasoning is hidden</a> in a super-secure vault in Louisville, Kentucky.</p> </li> </ul> <h2>7. Some Use Natural Protection</h2> <p>Drilling or blasting through bank vault walls has long been a concern in terms of security, which is why some of the most secure vaults are located underground &mdash; or under mountains. The Svalbard Global Seed Vault would certainly survive Armageddon in its cozy space buried 390 feet under a Nordic mountain. The Granite Mountain Records vault is under, well, Granite Mountain. And, in Germantown, New York, a <a href="">former limestone mine below Iron Mountain</a> houses historic records, a data center, and all kinds of mysterious things held by confidential tenants.</p> <h2>8. Some Are So Secure, No One Knows Where They're Located</h2> <p>There's one security feature that cutting-edge technology, armored guards, and impenetrable walls can't beat: secrecy. In Iran, the country's gold reserve remains impenetrable because no one <a href="">can say for sure where it is</a>. And that's about as much as I could find out about it.</p> <h2>9. Some Are So Private, No One Knows Who Owns the Goods</h2> <p>The Swiss are known for their banks &mdash; and their banks' secrecy. That includes top-notch bank vaults securing fortunes from people all over the world. The problem is that some of these people wish to remain so anonymous, that they won't allow their Swiss bankers to contact them. In fact, they don't leave any contact info at all. As a result, Swiss banks now hold <a href="">billions of dollars of unclaimed money</a> that goes dormant when these anonymous clients die.</p> <h2>10. Because They're So Hard to Destroy, They're Often Repurposed</h2> <p>Because many of the older bank vaults are almost impossible to destroy, they're often repurposed and incorporated into the new businesses that take over former bank buildings. You can find bank vaults, and their big, clockworks-like doors, worked into <a href="">stylish hotels, restaurants, and board rooms</a>, among other things. Well, that's one way to find yourself on the inside of a bank vault.</p> <p><em>Have you ever seen the inside of a bank vault? How'd you get there? Share your secret in comments!</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="10 Reasons Why Bank Vaults Are Much More Interesting Than You Thought" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Tara Struyk</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Banking Technology bank vaults hideouts safes storage Tue, 10 Jun 2014 11:00:36 +0000 Tara Struyk 1142089 at Miracle Device Coin Rolls All Your Credit Cards Into One <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/miracle-device-coin-rolls-all-your-credit-cards-into-one" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="credit cards" title="credit cards" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="141" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Having your credit cards all suddenly disappear is something people usually fear. But now it's something you can eagerly look forward to, thanks to <a href="">Coin</a>, a new credit-card sized wonder-device that will effectively store all of your plastic in one place.</p> <p>The device has had early adopters salivating for about a year now, but it just <a href="">debuted at tech festival Techcrunch Disrupt</a>, making its planned late summer ship date all the more real.</p> <p>So what <em>is</em> Coin, exactly? It's the size of a credit card, it looks like a credit card, and most importantly, it swipes like a credit card. But really, it's multiple credit cards stored on an electronic gadget that lets you toggle between each, eliminating the need to carry around a bulky wallet. Much of the beauty of the gadget is in its simplicity. Uploading cards, for example, is done with by simply swiping them through an iPhone attachment and then snapping a photo of each. Once uploaded, Coin lets you toggle among cards with the push of a button, allowing you, for instance, to <a href="">pay for gas with the company card</a>, then buy groceries with your <a href="">cash back card</a>, then pay for dinner with your <a href="">travel rewards card</a>.</p> <p>As with any great concentration of power (in this case, purchasing power), there's potential danger. What if you leave Coin behind, losing not only one card, but, effectively, <i>all</i> your cards? Never fear: the device uses a Bluetooth signal that syncs with your phone, meaning if the two get separated (e.g., You leave the card with the check), you'll be immediately notified.</p> <p>While first shipments are still a couple months away, Coin is accepting pre-orders now. Order now, and it may be one of the last time you actually need to dig out of one of your credit cards.</p> <p><iframe width="560" height="315" src="//" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="Miracle Device Coin Rolls All Your Credit Cards Into One" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Joe Epstein</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Credit Cards Financial News Technology credit card gadgets technology Thu, 15 May 2014 09:00:25 +0000 Joe Epstein 1138804 at 10 Ways to Keep Your Laptop Safe When Traveling <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/10-ways-to-keep-your-laptop-safe-when-traveling" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="laptop" title="laptop" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="141" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Leaving your laptop at home is supposedly going to help you relax, but what if you're more anxious without your laptop? You may not be working during the trip, but there could be possible emergencies to handle. And let's not forget that a laptop can function as a travel agent, a guidebook, and an entertainment center, too.</p> <p>If your laptop is coming with you, you'll need to take same precautions to keep it safe. Here are a few tips to improve laptop security during your travels. (See also: <a href="">Best Travel Rewards Credit Cards</a>)</p> <h2>1. Secure Laptop Bag</h2> <p>It's not just thieves who pose a threat on your precious laptop. Mundane things that happen while you're rushing to the airport can harm it too. If you drop the laptop or squeeze it into a spot that's too tight, it can scratch and crack.</p> <p>Place your laptop in a cushioned laptop bag, preferably one that's plain and inconspicuous, so you don't attract unwanted attention. For extra protection, choose a laptop bag with features like slash-proof fabric and tamper-resistant zippers. If you travel a lot, consider buying a checkpoint-friendly laptop bag that will allow you to stroll through security without taking the laptop out of the bag. Keep the bag on your person or within view at all times.</p> <h2>2. Be Safe at the Hotel</h2> <p>You can't take your laptop with you everywhere. If you leave it at the hotel when you go sightseeing, place it in the safe and hang the &quot;Do Not Disturb&quot; sign on the door. You won't come back to a clean room, but you'll be more likely to find your laptop where you left it. (See also: <a href="">Hotel Safety Tips</a>)</p> <h2>3. Get a Security Cable Lock</h2> <p>A cheap anti-theft device, a <a href=";camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B008A4F8UA&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20">security cable lock</a> works like a bicycle lock. You loop it around a fixed object, connect it to the laptop and lock it with a combination or a key.</p> <p>If you don't mind spending a little more money, you can buy a high-tech cable lock that comes with a motion sensor system and an alarm. When someone tries to remove the laptop, the movement will trigger the alarm, alerting you of the theft attempt.</p> <h2>4. Buy Insurance</h2> <p>A good travel insurance policy goes a long way. Get a policy that covers theft and loss of personal items. Make sure the amount of coverage will be enough to buy you a new laptop. A good <a href="">travel rewards credit card</a> may cover travel insurance &mdash; check the terms of your card issuer. (See also: <a href="">Laptop-Buying Mistakes</a>)</p> <h2>5. Use Antivirus Software</h2> <p>Using unfamiliar Wi-Fi networks can lead to security breaches. Keep your antivirus software updated and running when you use the hotel or airport Wi-Fi. (See also: <a href="">Where to Get Free or Cheap Internet</a>)</p> <p>If possible, avoid shopping online or logging on to your online banking website on a public Wi-Fi network. If you really have to do it, always check that your Internet browser shows a URL beginning with &quot;https&quot; and a padlock icon.</p> <h2>6. Use a VPN</h2> <p>If you often use public Wi-Fi networks, consider spending some money on a Virtual Private Network (VPN). This service protects your Internet connection by encrypting all the data you send and receive online. Another perk of using a VPN while traveling is being able to access online content that's not available in certain geographic locations.</p> <h2>7. Install Theft Recovery Software</h2> <p>Your chances of getting your stolen laptop back are a lot higher if you have a theft recovery software installed on your laptop. This software allows you to locate the laptop so you can have the local authorities retrieve it for you. A good theft recovery software works even if the thief has erased all data and installed a new operating system.</p> <h2>8. Record Laptop Details</h2> <p>Take down the specifications of your laptop before you travel. The laptop make, model, and serial number will come in handy if you have to report a theft. Also take photos of the laptop, focusing on any distinguishing details, such as scratches and dents.</p> <h2>9. Backup Your Data</h2> <p>The information stored in a laptop can be more valuable than the laptop itself. Protect yourself from losing your data by backing it up on a hard drive or in cloud storage online. (See also: <a href="">Cloud Computing and Your Wallet</a>)</p> <p>If you won't be using the sensitive files during the trip, consider deleting the copies on your laptop. If you lose the laptop, you won't have to worry about those files and can use the back-up data to carry on where you left off.</p> <h2>10. Use Data Encryption</h2> <p>You probably have sensitive information stored on your laptop. Copies of your IDs, your home address, contact details of your associates, personal photos, banking details &mdash; all this information can be used for identify theft if it falls into the wrong hands.</p> <p>To minimize the risk of unauthorized access, you can encrypt your data and use strong passwords.</p> <p>Full-disk encryption protects all the data on your laptop, but it's a little overkill unless you regularly work with a lot of sensitive information. For most people, it's easier to pick and choose the files to encrypt. Many common programs and applications like Microsoft Word, Microsoft PowerPoint, Dropbox, and Evernote have options for you to encrypt specific files and set passwords for them.</p> <p>Use strong passwords with a good mix of uppercase letters, lowercase letters, numbers and symbols. If you find it hard to remember these passwords, use a password management software or write the passwords down on a piece of paper stored separately from the laptop.</p> <p><em>How do you keep your laptop safe while you travel. Please share in comments!</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="10 Ways to Keep Your Laptop Safe When Traveling" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Deia B</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Technology Travel laptop security laptops travel security Tue, 29 Apr 2014 08:36:14 +0000 Deia B 1136819 at New App Ondot Is a Remote Control for Your Credit Card <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/new-app-ondot-is-a-remote-control-for-your-credit-card" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="smartphone" title="smartphone" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="167" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>What's the good of ordering food via your smartphone's Grubhub app or ordering a car via its Uber app if you don't also have an app to make sure there's some money left on your credit card when it gets there? (See also: <a href="">Apps to Manage Credit Card Rewards</a>)</p> <p>Well soon you will, thanks to <a href="">Ondot</a>, a San Jose-based company that just unveiled Card Control, a mobile command center for defeating fraud, all built into your phone.</p> <p>At the most basic level, the app serves as an extra line of protection against fraud, allowing the user to toggle the card's use on or off, or set the card to only function within certain parameters.</p> <p>For example, a location-based control means one can set their card to work only in a specific zip code, meaning it will automatically shut off if it gets nabbed and taken for a ride. Or, the app can sync a phone's GPS to the card, effectively disabling it if they're separated (e.g., the card is left behind).</p> <p>Other users might choose to toggle types of merchants the card will work with, disabling e-merchants until the user manually unlocks them before making a purchase, for instance. (See also: <a href="">Credit Card Safety When Shopping Online</a>)</p> <p>And here's where &mdash; even for <a href="">those unconcerned with fraud</a> &mdash; the app gets really interesting. That same technology allows parents to limit or toggle types of spending on their kids' credit cards, meaning one might allow food purchases but bar clothing expenditures on any particular card. And the app would even allow parents to monitor their kids' card use in real time.</p> <p>While the company's been around since 2011 and already raised $18 million in funding, the app itself is just now rolling out, having already partnered with four major card processors working with 10,000 banks and credit unions across the country.</p> <p><img width="605" height="446" src="" alt="" /></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="New App Ondot Is a Remote Control for Your Credit Card" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Joe Epstein</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Financial News Technology credit card fraud online shopping smartphone apps Sat, 26 Apr 2014 04:14:40 +0000 Joe Epstein 1136959 at Why I Love Using Skype to Keep in Touch With Family and Coworkers <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/why-i-love-using-skype-to-keep-in-touch-with-family-and-coworkers" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Skype has been a daily part of my life and the life of my family for over four years. I depend on Skype every day for my professional life, and my family counts on it to keep in touch with relatives in Canada, Europe, and the Philippines.</p> <p>If you&rsquo;re a Wise Bread reader, you&rsquo;re probably already savvy enough to be using Skype to make free Skype-to-Skype calls. But I would like to introduce you to <a href="">Skype Credit</a>, which allows you to call landlines and mobiles in the U.S. and across the globe at extremely low rates.</p> <h2>Why I Love Skype Credit for Personal Use</h2> <p>I emigrated from the Philippines to Los Angeles nearly 30 years ago, and most of my extended family are scattered across the globe. Before discovering Skype Credit, my frugal parents had to be very careful about how much time (and money) they spent on international calls. But these days, my parents and I use <a href="">Skype Credit</a> to call family members in Canada, Europe, and in the Philippines on a regular basis. Skype Credit&rsquo;s per-minute rates for calling internationally are much cheaper than other options, allowing us to never think twice about calling up our relatives.</p> <p>For example, my mom uses Skype Credit to talk to her aunt in Toronto frequently. My grand-aunt is the oldest living relative in our family, and she serves as an important connection between my mom and the previous generation of our family. Thanks to Skype Credit, my mom and grand-aunt now talk a couple of times a week on the phone. (Although, to my chagrin, they usually use these calls to discuss my love life.)</p> <h2>Why Skype Is Essential for My Small Business</h2> <p>Since Wise Bread is a virtual company (we all work from home), Skype is an invaluable tool in my day-to-day work. Our team is spread throughout the world: LA, New York, Italy, New Zealand, Manila, and more. Being able to communicate with my team at any time of the day, whether they&rsquo;re in the U.S., Europe, or Asia, has been invaluable. It&rsquo;s hard to imagine how we could have built this company 10 years ago, before the advent of Skype Chat, Skype&rsquo;s iPhone and Android apps, and Skype Credit for cheap calls to my teammates on the other side of the world.</p> <p>Here are some of the reasons I love using Skype for our day-to-day business operations.</p> <h3>1. Skype Is Available on All Devices</h3> <p>I love that Skype is available on computers (<a href="">Skype download</a>) and on tablets and phones (<a href="">iPhone</a>, <a href="">Android</a> apps). Whether I&rsquo;m sitting at my desk on my laptop, watching TV with my tablet next to me, or gardening in the backyard and only have my smartphone, I&rsquo;m always available on Skype. That means I&rsquo;m in constant contact with the team, clients, and partners outside the company.</p> <h3>2. Skype Chat</h3> <p>Skype Chat is the virtual water cooler that keeps the Wise Bread team united, even though we&rsquo;re physically thousands of miles from each other. Our company Skype Chat windows are filled with work stuff, as well as gossip and pop culture discussions. This daily chatter is what keeps the team on the same page for work, but it&rsquo;s also what bonds us together. If we didn&rsquo;t have Skype Chat, we wouldn&rsquo;t have the team morale and cohesiveness that&rsquo;s necessary for keeping a virtual company alive.</p> <p>Furthermore, Skype Chat allows me to stay in constant contact with people outside the company. For example, I regularly chat with other finance bloggers like Jeff Rose (<a href="">Good Financial Cents</a>), Jim Wang (<a href="">Microblogger</a>), Steve Chou (<a href="">My Wife Quit Her Job</a>), Phil Taylor (<a href="">FinCon</a> and <a href="">PTMoney</a>), and others. Skype allows us to stay in touch regularly, and I can say that it has helped me develop both professional and personal relationships with these bloggers. I wouldn&rsquo;t be able to call these people &ldquo;friends&rdquo; now if it wasn&rsquo;t for the candid chats we've had on Skype over the years.</p> <p>If I had to sum up the business benefits of having Skype Chat with other bloggers, I would say that we&rsquo;ve landed hundreds of thousands of dollars&rsquo; worth of deals and media opportunities because of the contacts and referrals made through friendships developed over Skype.</p> <h3>3. Skype Number</h3> <p><a href="">Skype Number</a> gives me an actual number (eg., 310-961-XXXX) for five bucks a month. I can forward calls made to this number to any laptop, mobile, or tablet.</p> <p>I put this phone number on my business card, and that way, I&rsquo;m reachable by clients and partners, regardless of whether I&rsquo;m at my computer, doing yard work, or on vacation in Europe. They think I&rsquo;m sitting in my Los Angeles office, when really, I&rsquo;m wandering the Van Gogh museum in Amsterdam. Really, it&rsquo;s impossible to be a location-independent small business owner without a Skype Number.</p> <h3>4. Skype Credit</h3> <p><a href="">Skype Credit</a> has been critical to Wise Bread&rsquo;s success. Since Wise Bread deals with both U.S. and international partners (clients and other websites), being able to call anyone in the world for low per-minute rates has really helped our business.</p> <p>For example, while on a family vacation in Scandinavia last year, we had a problem with the Wise Bread server. I needed to talk to my partners in LA and to my hosting company&rsquo;s admins in New Zealand. If I had made the call using my cell phone provider&rsquo;s roaming rates, I would have paid $2-3 <i>per minute </i>for the privilege. But instead, I called people in LA and New Zealand using the Skype app on my phone, which saved me a lot of money.</p> <h3>5. The Call Quality Is Superb</h3> <p>Finally, Skype&rsquo;s call quality is amazing. I almost forgot to mention this because it&rsquo;s been so reliable.</p> <p>I have done media interviews using Skype, and they were better than if I had made the call using my cell phone or landline service. Listen to <a href="">this interview I recorded using Skype</a> and hear for yourself.</p> <div id="kamidarticle" class="ggnoads" style="text-align:center;"> <div id="kamidarticle-middle-content"><center></p> <!-- Skype_midarticle_300x250 --><!-- Skype_midarticle_300x250 --><div style="width:300px; height:250px;" id="div-gpt-ad-1396271961711-0"> <script type='text/javascript'> googletag.cmd.push(function() { googletag.display('div-gpt-ad-1396271961711-0'); }); </script></div> <p></center></div> </div> <h2>Downsides of Skype</h2> <p>I really like Skype, and I think it&rsquo;s absolutely critical to my business. But I do want to point out a couple of drawbacks.</p> <h3>1. It Requires Decent Internet Connection</h3> <p>Skype works best when you have a decent internet connection. From what I&rsquo;ve seen, Skype works well with almost any basic cable/DSL/data packages. Unsure whether Skype will work well with your internet connection? Fortunately, you can try out the free version of Skype before you buy Skype Credit, so you know before you spend any money whether Skype works for you.</p> <h3>2. Does Not Call 911</h3> <p>You cannot use Skype to call 911. However, this is not much of a problem, since when you&rsquo;re at home you can easily use your landline to call 911, and according to the <a href="">New York Times</a>, you can make 911 calls from &ldquo;any wireless phone &mdash; even one that no longer has a phone number or service contract.&rdquo; (This is why <a href="">Lifehacker&rsquo;s tip</a> of keeping a couple of old cell phones around for emergency purposes is a great idea.)</p> <h2>Bottom Line</h2> <p>It&rsquo;s hard to imagine how my business and personal life was without Skype five years ago. The tool has been essential to both my day-to-day interactions with business teammates and partners, and to keeping in contact with relatives overseas. I&rsquo;m grateful that Skype has helped me, my employees, and my family to stay in contact.</p> <p>I highly recommend that you check out <a href="">Skype Credit</a> and see for yourself.</p> <p><a href=""><i>Skype Credit</i></a> <i>has provided me with compensation for my time and efforts on this article. I was a happy Skype customer well before they became a Wise Bread sponsor. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.</i><i><br /> </i></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="Why I Love Using Skype to Keep in Touch With Family and Coworkers" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Greg Go</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Budgeting Productivity Technology Skype Credit Mon, 21 Apr 2014 11:12:29 +0000 Greg Go 1134741 at