Extension Inbox from 2011
Many students are buying more than just pencils, scissors and glue as they prepare for the school year ahead. Families are finding that a computer is a necessary item that often does not make it on the traditional back-to-school supply list. More and more, students need computers to research school projects, participate in online learning modules, dissect frogs in virtual reality labs, and practice Spanish with language pals halfway around the world.
Maintaining the health of a computer keeps the computer running smoothly and the user’s sanity intact. Many computer issues can be avoided by taking preventative measures.
First, every computer should have a current anti-virus program. Many companies sell the computer with a 30-day, trial version of the anti-virus program, which then expires unless a full version of the anti-virus program is purchased.
Although 99 percent of all Mississippi public schools have access to a high-speed Internet connection, when the school bell rings in the afternoon, nearly half of all Mississippi students go home to a household with no Internet connectivity.
Types of Internet access include dial-up, DSL (through the telephone company), satellite, or mobile hotspots available from cell phone carriers. Unfortunately, Mississippi ranks last in the nation in access to high-speed or broadband Internet access, and that can hurt a student’s ability to research and download schoolwork online.
Many students still use books and encyclopedias to prepare for science fairs, research projects and book reports, but more and more students are turning to the Internet.
With the increased student use of the Internet comes a greater risk of children stumbling on harmful websites containing viruses, malware or explicit images. When allowing children to use the Internet for research or recreation, parents can take some safety steps.
Many families have emergency plans that involve flashlights, radios and bottled water, but few have a strategy for dealing with the loss of their electronic documents. Though more families now than ever before rely on computers to save important documents, store photos and even pay bills, many families fail to develop an emergency plan for their electronic information.
Having the right technology on hand after a natural disaster or emergency can make the difference between being stranded and getting back on the road to recovery quickly.
When putting together an emergency kit, think through technology issues for checking in with loved ones who will be concerned.
As students across Mississippi head back to college, many have more money invested in technology than they do in food or textbooks.
Unfortunately, few students are prepared for a spilled drink in the laptop, a virus during midterms, burnt dinners that activate the sprinkler system or careless roommates who leave the door unlocked. Precautionary measures to protect devices and renter’s insurance can minimize students’ frustrations and problems.
Paying bills and balancing the family checkbook with a bank’s online software program saves time, but few people plan for handling the accounts if there is an unexpected illness or even a death in the family.
Typically, one person in the household takes responsibility for paying the bills online or managing the online banking account. However, if something happens to that person, the whole family’s finances can be in jeopardy.
The Internet can be a useful tool for finding information, but it takes a true cyber-sleuth to distinguish between fact and fiction.
Internet Explorer and Mozilla Firefox are just two of the Internet browsers that can act as gateways to search engines, such as Google, Yahoo, Bing and Ask, which are used to find information on the Internet.
Using advanced search techniques can reduce the amount of time spent “surfing the web” for the perfect resource.
In addition to word or phrase searches, most search engines, such as Yahoo, Google and Bing, have search bars that will limit searches to images, video or shopping.
Many Internet sites require a username and password, and the stronger they are, the safer your personal information will be.
E-mail phishing attacks net more than just dollars and cents; they can also capture account usernames and passwords.
The term phishing is a combination of the words “fishing” and “phreaks.” Phreaks were early computer users who also dabbled in hacking. Later, malicious computer hackers began using their skills to hook unsuspecting e-mail users with phishing e-mails.
Phishers create e-mails that mimic those from well-known companies. More than half of all phishing e-mails impersonate a financial institution, such as a bank or credit-card company.
One of my father’s favorite sayings has always been, “A fool and his money are soon parted.” Unfortunately, criminally minded Internet users send hoaxes, scams, lotteries and giveaways bent on separating the rest of us from our money.
Fall is my favorite time of year. There is a cool breeze in the air that makes yard work bearable, and the beautiful fall colors start to appear in nature. The rich backdrop of red, yellow and orange makes fall the perfect time of year to get outside for family photographs.
Digital cameras make taking pictures a breeze. Thanks to our memory cards, we often depend on taking multiple shots rather than plan on taking a great shot the first time.
Using a digital camera to take pictures is a relatively easy task, but deciding what to do with them afterwards is another matter.
Camera memory cards can hold hundreds of images, far more than the number that can be displayed on the refrigerator and around the house. Most people keep images on their computers, so it’s important to organize and identify the images for long-term reference.
Many software programs and features can help you manage your digital photos with the click of a button.
After photos are downloaded to your computer, decide whether editing is required. Several photo editing software packages are available that can improve pictures by removing red eye, cropping or removing blemishes.
When your digital photos have been downloaded to the computer and edited, it is time to decide what to do with them. You can keep them on your computer where no one else will see them, or you can display them.
The easiest way to display digital images is on a digital photo frame. Digital photo frames are easy to use and will rotate through hundreds of photos in an automated slideshow. When you purchase a digital photo frame, there are several factors to consider, such as price and resolution.
As the holidays approach, many Mississippians find that using online coupons can help save money on gifts and food, even in local stores.
If children and grandchildren top your list, most major toy companies offer $5 to $10 coupons on select toys. Some companies, such as Hasbro and Fisher-Price, offer coupons that can be printed and taken to your local store. Others, such as Mattel, offer coupons that can be used only at their online store. When combined with in-store coupons or discounts, the savings can add up quickly.
Holiday shopping used to be so simple, but today’s technology-related gift options are very tempting, complicated and in some cases, expensive.
Electronic book readers are extremely popular this year. Whether you are shopping for someone else or dropping hints about your personal desires, look into all the options before settling on one.
E-book readers come in many different forms, but the four most common are Amazon’s Kindle, Barnes & Noble’s Nook, Apple’s iPad and the Sony Reader.
The holidays may be the only time during the year all of your extended family comes together to celebrate the season and enjoy some quality time. However, once a year may not be enough for many families.
For example, grandparents are often eager to watch their grandchildren develop. Families want to stay in contact when loved ones are serving in the military overseas. Parents need to keep tabs on college students far from home. One way to keep in touch is by using a web conferencing or desktop videoconferencing system.