technology

Weeks ago in this column, I reviewed several Android and iPhone apps that can be used to possibly locate lost or stolen phones and tablets. While several of the apps were free, most were limited in capabilities without a paid, usually nominal, subscription fee. Now Google, known for its innovation and services, has offered a pair of very simple and free ways to locate almost any lost or stolen Android device, totally for free. 

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I have been vehemently advocating for many years that all computer users (including Mac users) absolutely need a comprehensive security suite in order to protect them and their machines from the malware that has become endemic. While I have one of the top rated commercial (paid) comprehensive security suites on all of my computers and other smart devices, I am also cognizant that for a myriad of reasons, there are many who prefer one of the numerous decent security suites that are available for free.

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As many of you have seen firsthand, I have been doing a series of free presentations for local and national groups titled “Are We Under Cyber Attack?” With the constantly increasing volume of information that has indicated that we are indeed under an increasing level of cyber attack, it has been difficult for me to keep my presentation up-to-date without it becoming excessively long.

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Over the past several years, I have written columns praising Google for its Herculean efforts in digitizing and compiling massive amounts of historical data, digitizing and archiving millions of pages of old newspapers, creating an outstanding historical resource that could be searched as easily as today’s Web pages. In more than one column, I documented the enormous library of millions of old books and magazines that had been digitally preserved by Google, making them freely available to the public.

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Over the past several months you may have seen Sal Khan, founder of the Khan Academy (khanacademy.org) appearing in a commercial for the Bank of America, announcing its free online “Better Money Habits” (bettermoneyhabits.com) education program.  Started in April of 2013, utilizing the educational and academic expertise of the Khan Academy, and funded by the Bank of America, this free online learning program offers basic financial education to all.

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Always on the lookout for interesting new security software, I recently came across an interesting new security concept. SecureAPlus, currently available as a free download with a one year license, is unusual in that its cloud-based malware scan utilizes up to a dozen different scan engines rather than the single-cloud based scanners used by its major competitors.

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Over the past two weeks, I have taken two long road trips. I purposely and concurrently tried several of the popular and not-so-well-known Android road routing apps, and arrived at some conclusions that may be helpful as we approach the upcoming summer travel season. I found is that what may be an excellent app under some travel circumstances approaches uselessness under other road situations.

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I just returned home from the annual convention of the Texas Community College Teachers’ Association (TCCTA), held this year in Dallas. The decrease in demand for traditional bound textbooks was clearly evident in the exhibit hall of the TCCTA convention.

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As I type this, the extremely popular streaming media company has in excess of 50 million paid subscribers. Originally known for its mail based DVD rental service, Netflix is currently the world leader in streaming media subscriptions. Once thought of in monopoly terms, Netflix is now facing serious competition from a multitude of sources, including the online retailer Overstock.com, retailing megalith Walmart, and the marketing powerhouse of Amazon.

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In recent months, I have written several columns about Internet and smart device privacy issues. Apparently, a large number of popular apps for both Android and Apple iOS devices utilize access to personal information of various types for other than the legitimate functioning of those apps.

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