Tag: tech hacks

Send & Receive SMS on Computer with This App!

Forget messaging apps like WhatsApp, Line and Viber, sending and receiving free text messages should not and is no longer restricted to smartphones only.

If you’re looking for a cross-platform iMessage-like service, this post is for you.

Today, we’re going to introduce to you a powerful cross-platform messaging app – mysms, which allows you to send and receive free text messages to other mysms users right from your desktop computer, regardless of it being a Mac or Windows.

Mysms may eventually be the only messaging app you’ll ever need on your smartphone.




Mysms Android & iOS App

To begin using mysms, get it on your smartphone first.

  1. Download and install mysms messenger app on your smartphones, iOS or Android.
  2. Register and activate your phone number by keying in your phone number and password for desktop and web access.

That’s it! Now let’s have a look how mysms Messenger works on different platforms.

Mysms on Smartphone

Mysms works like any other messaging app for smartphones: both sender and recipient must have mysms installed to start texting for free.

Then, they can start sending all sorts of messages, files, images, videos or even word documents.

Mysms on Computer

To send messages straight from your Mac or PC, just get mysms installed on your computer. Best of all, your messages will always stay in sync, no matter which device you’re using.

For Android users, you can even use mysms to send SMS via your network service provider, charges will apply.

If you want the flexibility to be in contact with anyone on the go via smartphone yet still have the comfort of sending messages from your computer, all for free, give mysms a shot.

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Pass it on: Popular Science

3 Ways To Cure The Cell Phone Dead Zone At Home

Can you hear me?” “Can you hear me now?” If most of your cellphone conversations begin this way — or if you’ve taken to hanging out a window just to get a signal — you’re not alone.

Spotty cellphone service can be especially frustrating when you have full bars in your building’s lobby or hallway but one measly bar as soon as you set foot inside your home.

It turns out, there are good explanations for why this occurs (no, the cellphone gods aren’t trying to punish you for posting too many selfies) and solutions that renters can easily implement. Here’s how.




Cause #1: The position of your building’s cellphone antenna

Cell carriers in all major cities position their cell sites close to the ground because that’s where most of the people are,” says Graham Caparulo, principal consultant for Diligex, a New York, NY–based managed IT services provider.

On the corners of buildings, you’ll see them 20 to 30 feet up, and they’re angled toward the street.” That doesn’t do you much good, especially if you live on the 30th floor of a high-rise.

Cause #2: Building materials can block radio signals

Tinted windows (especially the ones found on “green buildings”), concrete, and metal all interfere with cellphone reception — which is why you can often get more bars if you hold your phone out your window or step onto a balcony.

Cause #3: You live in a densely populated area

Have you ever noticed that your service is slower at night or on weekends, or when you attend a packed basketball game? The more people using a network, the slower it runs.

Each cell tower only has limited radio channels it can use,” says Caparulo. “When it’s full, you’ll have bars but can’t make a call or use data.

Solution #1: Invest in a cellphone booster

Invest” is the right word here, because a cell signal booster will typically set you back between $400 and $1,000.

A traditional cell signal booster takes in a signal on one end, amplifies it, and spits it out on the other end,” says Caparulo, who cautions that you have to have a good signal to work with in the first place, which may mean putting the booster’s antenna outside your window — a no-no in some apartment buildings.

Solution #2: Enlist a femtocell

A femtocell, also called a microcell, basically uses your Internet connection to back up your cellphone,” says Caparulo.

The device plugs right into your modem or router and uses your Internet connection as a cell signal booster.

Solution #3: Enable Wi-Fi calling on your smartphone

This feature, available on the iPhone 6 series and many Android phones, allows your phone to use your in-home Wi-Fi connection to make calls. (On the iPhone 6, go to “Settings,” then “Phone,” and it should be the first option.)

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3 Self-Destructing Messaging Apps Adults Need to Know

Let’s face the facts: most kids don’t spend a whole lot of time on Facebook and Twitter anymore. We know this because people don’t want their information shared with the entire world.

Self-destructing messaging apps with end-to-end encryption are taking over; these are apps that automatically destruct messages when the receiver reads them and/or sets a limit for how long the receiver can see a message before it gets deleted.

Both kids and young adults use them to prevent certain people (i.e. parents, and future employers, etc.) from seeing things in their chat histories.




These apps are dangerous in their own ways. Some of them aren’t as private as they say they are, while others might be too powerful for their own good.

We chose the 6 that give you the most variety in their usage and the ones we can all learn from the most.

So without any further ado, here are 6 self-destructing messaging apps your kid might have on their phone.

1. Snapchat

We’ve all heard of Snapchat. (It is the ultimate self-destructing messaging app.)

Snapchat is one of the most popular social media platforms in the world and is by far the most well-known self-destructing messaging app out there.

It’s so well-liked within the younger generations that, in 2016, Snapchat surpassed Facebook’s number of video views per day (10 billion vs. 8 billion).

It attained its popularity once people learned they had the option to share videos and photos in a ‘safe’ online environment with all kinds of lenses and face effects. You can set timers for these photos and videos to self-destruct once the person received it.

This allows teens and young adults to share goofy or embarrassing photos without the risk of them going public.

2. Telegram

In a nutshell, Telegram is WhatsApp with the ability to self-destruct messages.

There are a number of cool features you can use in the app. Its features includes a Secret chats section. This part of the app includes a self-destruct timer, which basically gives recipients a limited amount of time to read the message.

To use the timer, click the three-dotted button in a secret chat and tap ‘Set self-destruct timer.’ All the message you send afterwards will be received and self-destructed in that amount of time once the recipient opens the message.

3. Wickr

Wickr is a private messenger worth discussing… for good reason.

In one of their YouTube videos, they mention how end-to-end encryption is important, but it doesn’t tell the full story.

The real challenge is to distribute the user’s encryption key securely; an encryption key is what turns the data in your text message into an unreadable text, making it impossible for the human brain to understand.

Wickr has not one, not two, but five different encryption keys for every message you send.

It goes above and beyond limits by not only encrypting the message, but by adding more layers so that the sender knows that the recipient is the only person to decrypt the message.

In cryptography, this is called perfect forward secrecy. No one will be able to surveil the messages you send: not the FBI, not the NSA, not even Wickr themselves!

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You Probably Don’t Need A New Computer — Here’s Why

Computer shopping is fun for a select group of people and a big hassle for everybody else. There are plenty of terms you need to know, plus PC components you have to think about and computer-buying mistakes you need to avoid.

You’ll have to determine exactly what you need out of a new machine — you’ll need to think about the hardware you want and the software you need.

It’s also important to figure out when you should buy a new computer, both in terms of seasonal sales and product upgrade cycles.




But you also need to know when you really need a new computer and when you’re just itching to upgrade a machine that may work just fine for another year or two.

Read on to check out some of the reasons why you may not need a new computer as soon as you think.

You may be surprised to figure out that you actually can wait to spend all that money (and save the hassle of computer shopping for another day).

1. Your old computer is working fine

We all want the latest gadgets. They’re fun to read about and even more fun to get our hands on. But if you don’t need a ton of power to perform most of your computing tasks, chances are good your old computer is still working fine.

Checking email, editing documents, and browsing aren’t typically tasks that demand a lot of power from your computer.

Even if your computer is slower than it was when you first got it, chances are good that it isn’t sluggish enough to really slow you down.

2. You haven’t been maintaining your old computer

If your primary reason for shopping for a new computer is that your old one is too slow, then you may want to make sure that the slowness isn’t fixable.

Have you been running antivirus scans? And have you been uninstalling unneeded software? How about clearing out unneeded files to free up hard drive space?

Have you made sure that only the programs you need are starting up when you turn on the computer? And have you been keeping the operating system and all the apps you use up to date?

If you’ve been neglecting your computer, you should perform some much-needed maintenance before deciding it’s time for a new computer.

3. You can speed up your old computer

There are many reasons that your old computer may be running slow. But as it turns out, there are also some easy ways to speed up a slow computer.

You can make sure that your operating system and other software are updated. Or, you can clear out the clutter that accumulates over time.  You can also free up some hard drive space, and even check for spyware.

The point is that before you throw in the towel and give up on your old computer, it’s probably worth it to make sure that you can’t speed it up with an hour or two of maintenance.

You can even completely reinstall the operating system and start fresh with the computer you already have.

There’s one more practical reason to put off buying a new computer — to avoid the annoyance of setting up a new computer.

Unless you’re truly a computer nerd (and if you are, you probably aren’t looking for reasons to avoid buying a new computer), setup is annoying.

It can get time-consuming to do correctly and often involves uninstalling a lot of bloatware.

If you aren’t going to see much in the way of performance improvements or new functionality with a new computer, you may want to wait until the hassle of setting up a new machine is really worth it.

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How To Keep Your Sensitive Files Safe In The Cloud

As some starlets found out the hard way over the weekend, just because you upload private files to the cloud it doesn’t mean they’re safe.

Computer systems can (and will) be broken into, and that cool, convenient cloud can quickly become the storm that rains on your parade.

Everyone has sensitive files they’d like to keep private: medical records, love letters, tax documents, and, yes, maybe even the occasional image of you or a loved one au naturale.




The problem is, once you upload files to the cloud, you give up some control over who can see them.

But there are some steps you can take to keep your most private data safe from prying eyes. All it requires a little diligence and time.

Check your phone’s settings

If you have cloud apps installed on your phone, there’s a good chance they are automatically uploading every photo you take to the cloud. Dropbox, Google+, and iCloud do this by default.

That sounds scary, but it’s actually meant to be a convenience: If your phone gets wiped, destroyed, or stolen, you still have the photos online.

But this means you really have to think before you take each shot. If the subject matter of your images isn’t something you’d share, open your app settings, look for automatic photo upload, and toggle it off.

 

And remember deleting an image from your phone doesn’t necessarily mean it’s gone from the cloud, too.

We had some of the PCWorld staff test various services, and Google+ kept a photo in the cloud even after it was deleted from the phone’s gallery.

If you want that photo to be gone for good, be sure to log into the cloud service and check manually. As a wise Marine sergeant once said to me: Inspect, don’t expect.

And while you’re at it, encrypt your phone’s storage so that if it’s stolen, the data stored on it stays private.

Encrypt your sensitive files

Sure, you could keep all your files locally, but sometimes you have to share them or otherwise make them available online. Encryption offers the best protection when you do.

There are many ways to encrypt files nowadays, but I’ve got the three methods you should be aware of. Each has its own features, uses, and limitations.

Easy mode: 7-Zip

7-Zip is a quick-and-dirty way to encrypt your files in an archive. The 7z format supports AES 256-bit encryption, which is plenty strong for most purposes. The files in the archive are encrypted using a passphrase.

For Windows, download the 7-Zip software from the project’s website. The installation should only take a few seconds.

Once installed, Windows’ File Explorer (Windows Explorer for Windows 7 users) will have a 7-Zip submenu added to the context menu.

Keeping your digital life private isn’t that hard, but it does take a little effort. If you use good judgement, keep aware of your device settings, and follow the security measures outlined here, you won’t get caught with your pants down.

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How To Set Up Windows Hello Facial Recognition On Your Laptop

Using your Windows 10 laptop or tablet’s built-in webcam, Hello uses facial recognition to get you in and working in under two seconds.

It also works with more than a dozen apps like DropBox, iHeartRadio and OneDrive, so you can skip typing in a password.

Unfortunately, not every webcam will work with Windows Hello.

Your PC will need an infrared (IR) camera to use the feature, which are more common in new laptops and two-in-ones from the past couple years, including those from Dell, Lenovo and Asus.

If you’re not ready for a new PC, you can opt to buy a supported external webcam like Logitech’s Brio 4K Pro or Razer’s Stargazer. They’re pricey, but cheaper than buying a new laptop just to get facial recognition.

If you’re not entirely sure what, if any, Windows Hello support your computer has it’s very easy to check.

In the Cortana search bar at the lower left of your screen type “sign-in options” or simply click on the the microphone icon and ask Cortana for sign-in options.




Once you’re on the sign-in options screen, you’ll see the Windows Hello options available to you. If your system’s webcam supports face recognition, you’ll see the option to set it up.

Click “Set up” and you’re on your way.

Note that if the “Set up” button is grayed out, it’s because you must set up a system password before you can use other sign-in options.

On the same screen, you click the Add button under the Password heading and create a password. Once that’s done, your Windows Hello options should no longer be grayed out.

Once you click through to set it up, you’ll hit a “Welcome to Windows Hello” screen, which simply gives you a last chance to back out of setting it up.

Don’t worry, though: If you decide you don’t want to use face recognition, you can delete the profile later.

Click the “Get started” button and the IR camera will turn on and scan your face. Just keeping looking directly at the camera until the blue status bar below your picture finishes.

It takes just a couple seconds to finish as long as you keep your head still and looking at the camera.

Create a PIN

Once it completes, you’re given the option to improve recognition by running the IR camera scan again. You should do this if you regularly wear glasses or a hat so you can run the scan with those things on and off.

Or run it with your head at slightly different angles while still looking at the camera.

After that, you’ll be asked to set up a PIN to get you into Windows if for some reason Hello is not available or is having trouble recognizing your face, which is a pretty rare experience in my testing.

First, you’ll be asked to enter your system password, and then you’ll be asked to create a PIN, which cannot be the same as your password.

Look to unlock

In the Windows Hello settings under sign-in options, you have the option to automatically dismiss the lock screen if Windows recognizes your face.

This means that as soon as you boot up or wake your PC from sleep, it will scan your face, unlock and take you to your Desktop or whatever you were working on last in less than two seconds.

If you have this option off, you’ll be asked to dismiss the lock screen manually after Windows recognizes your face, which means clicking a mouse button, keyboard key or swiping your touchscreen.

Otherwise, you should be all set up for facial recognition with Windows Hello.

If you’ve skipped using a system password in the past because you hate having one more password to remember, face recognition is a good better-than-nothing compromise.

And it works so well, you might find yourself locking your computer down just to use it.

Let your fingers do the unlocking

Windows Hello can also be used with integrated or add-on fingerprint readers.

They accomplish the same task, but require you to lift your finger to a sensor to quickly sign you into your computer and apps, make in-app purchases or sign into websites with Microsoft’s Edge browser.

The setup process is essentially the same as the facial recognition, you’ll just use your finger on a sensor instead of looking at your camera.

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Here’s How To Purge Your Browsing History — No Questions Asked

Your online privacy is just as important as your offline privacy — if not more so. However, it’s not always easy to maintain.

Although surfing the internet in incognito mode is a great way to do so, it’s a good idea to know how to clear browsing history too. In this guide, we’ll walk you through it, no matter what browser you’re running.

If you want to go a step beyond this and keep your browsing history secret from remote services (and anyone who might be snooping on your connection), these are the best VPNs for both Windows and MacOSPCs.




Google Chrome

As the most popular web browser in the world, most of you are probably using Chrome. For the rest of you, scroll down, but if Chrome is your main browser, here’s how to clear your browsing history.

Step 1: Click the button represented by three vertical dots — it is located in the upper-right corner of your browser — to open a drop-down menu. Then select “Settings”.

Step 2: Scroll down and click the “Advanced” link next to the down-arrow.

Step 3: Scroll down until you see “Clear browsing data” and click it.

Step 4: This will open a window in which you can select the specific data you want to clear, including download history, passwords, and cookies. For our purposes, you should select Browsing history. You can also select the window of time you want to delete data from, whether it be the past hour or since the start of your browsing history.

Once you have decided how much data you want to delete, click “Clear browsing data.”

It’s a similar process for Chrome in MacOS, except that the three-dot button doesn’t exist. Instead, just click on Chrome in the menu bar and select on “Clear browsing data…” to get the screen options above.

Safari

The most common browser choice on Apple platforms, Safari, and its browsing history, is just as easy to clean out as Chrome’s.

Step 1: Find the “History” tab at the top of your screen and click “Clear History…

This will open a window that includes a drop-down menu, allowing you to decide what window of time you want to delete.

Once you select the time frame you want to delete, simply click the button labeled “Clear History.”

Firefox

Firefox’s new Quantum release could help return the browser to the popularity it once enjoyed. Here’s how to clear browsing history in Mozilla’s latest major release.

Step 1: Click the three-line button in the top right-hand corner and select “Options” from the resulting drop-down menu.

Step 2: Click the “Privacy and Security” tab and click “clear your recent history” under the “History” heading.

Step 3: A window will open, along with a drop-down menu where you can choose the amount of data you want to clear out. Click the “Details” arrow for more in-depth options if you prefer. Once you’ve made your decision, click “Clear Now.”

Opera

A long-running alternative to the big name browsers, Opera has remained competitive for more than two decades with good reason. Here’s how to clear its browsing history.

Step 1: Click the History icon in the left-hand menu. It looks like a small clock face.

Step 2: Click the “Clear browsing data” button on the right-hand side of the screen.

Step 3: Select the information you want to clear and the specific timeframe you want to be deleted, then click the blue “Clear browsing data” button.

Edge

The true successor to Microsoft’s Internet Explorer, Edge has proved to be a very capable modern browser. This is how to clear out your browsing history in it.

Step 1: Click the Hub button — it looks like unequal lines — then click the History button, which looks like a clock with an arrow running counter-clockwise.

Step 2:  select “Clear All History.” This will provide you with options outlining the types of data you can delete. Be sure to select “Browsing History.”

Step 3: Click the gray “Clear” button.

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How To Increase Your Virtual Desktop Space

Feeling overwhelmed by all the windows you need open for various jobs or tasks? Virtual desktops can help, by letting you sort your windows and reduce clutter.

But what are virtual desktops, and how do you set them up in Windows?

It’s hard to explain just how useful virtual desktops are, but once you start using them you’ll wonder how you ever functioned without.

There’s something about sorting the many things you need to do throughout the day – communication, research, productivity – to different spaces. Not seeing everything at once makes getting started on your tasks simpler.




If you need lots of windows open to do your job, but feel stressed by all the clutter, virtual desktops are for you.

Mac and Linux users can set up virtual desktops out-of-the-box, but Windows computers prior to Windows 10 don’t come with this feature.

Don’t worry, though, because there are plenty of great apps out there that set up desktops for you. Let’s go over a few, and explore which work best.

Desktops (Free) from Sysinternals: Basic and Stable

Windows does come, built-in, with support for multiple desktops – there’s just no way to turn it on within Windows itself. Free app Desktops gives you a quick way to use this built-in process.

It’s no-frills, to say the least, but coming from Microsoft-owned Sysinternals you can expect stability.

Switching desktops is done with keyboard shortcuts.

Note that this app, last updated in 2012, doesn’t work perfectly with Windows 8. In my tests, the Start Menu would only load on the first desktop.

It’s also impossible to move a window from one desktop to another, meaning you can only easily launch applications you’ve pinned to the taskbar.

Still, it’s fast and stable – and perfect for Windows 7 users.

Pros:

  • Lightweight and fast.
  • Uses keyboard shortcuts.
  • Very stable: built on functionality already built into Windows.
  • Quick-look view of all desktops from the system tray.

Cons:

  • Windows 8 users can only use the Start button on the first desktop.
  • There’s no way to move applications from one desktop to another.
  • Not much here for mouse-heavy users.

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How To Find Out Everything Facebook Knows About You

If you use Facebook, then you know the deal.

Facebook is free to use and fun, and sometimes necessary if you belong to groups that use it to communicate with their members.

But in exchange for that service, you have allowed it to track your activity so that advertisers can find you, hopefully to show you stuff you’ll want to buy.

In other words: you can’t opt out of ads on Facebook without opting out of Facebook itself.

But there’s still a lot you can do to control the ads you see.




And there’s also stuff you can do to stop Facebook from watching what you do on the rest of the internet in service of its advertisers.

Besides all the usual arguments about privacy, there is another good reason to figure out what Facebook knows about you and participate in that.

It shows you ads based on what it thinks you like. The better it does this, the more likely you are going to see ads on things that truly interest you.

Facebook has three ways to figure you out.

1. What you tell it directly (name, age, marital status, parental status, where you live, work, went to school, etc.).

2. What you do while you are on Facebook, including stuff you’ve “liked,” groups you joined, photos and links you’ve shared, things you click on.

3. What you do on the rest of the internet outside of Facebook such as websites you visit.

Many sites track this information via cookies and Facebook reads those cookies and uses that information to serve up ads both on its site and on other websites, it says.

It’s easy to see the things you’ve directly shared with Facebook on your Timeline profile page. But to see a fully tally of what Facebook thinks you like, you need to find a tool called Ad Preferences.

This tool is not easy to find. Locate it by using the controls Facebook has embedded into the ads themselves.

Head to your Facebook news feed.

Hover your mouse over any ad you see in the right-hand column and look for the little “x” to appear in the corner of the add. Click on it.

You can make Facebook stop tracking you on the internet.

Facebook does watch what you do outside of Facebook to show you ads.

For example, if you visit travel websites, you might then see ads on Facebook for hotel deals. We call this online interest-based advertising,” it explains.

You can tell it to stop showing you ads based on you do on the internet. Click on the lock icon in the blue bar. Then click on “Ads” in the left column, then choose “Off.”

This will not stop Facebook from showing you just as many ads, but it won’t be using your web activity for them.

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How To Track App Store Sales And iTunes Price Drops

Who doesn’t like App Store sales — or even better, sales on iTunes movies and music?

A few months ago I stumbled on an app called CheapCharts and I’ve been using it ever since to monitor App Store sales on apps I want to keep an eye on.

Aside from App Store sales, CheapCharts can also monitor sales across pretty much every other category including music, movies, books, and TV shows. CheapCharts is completely free to download and use.

Once you have CheapCharts installed, you can instantly launch it and start browsing through current apps and games that are on sale, or you can take things one step further.




How to track App Store sales and iTunes price drops with CheapCharts

  1. Launch the CheapCharts app and tap on the menu icon in the upper left hand corner.
  2. Tap on the search button.
  3. Type in an app, game, song, book, movie or TV show you want to track price drops for and search for it.
  4. Find it in the results and tap on its name.
  5. Tap on the Add to Wishlist option towards the top.
  6. The first time you do this you’ll be asked if you want to allow CheapCharts to send you notifications of price drops, choose Activate.

That’s pretty much it. Any apps you add to your wishlist, you’ll get a push notification every time the price changes. I use this frequently for movies that are new releases.

While they’re typically expensive right when they come out, they tend to drop in price fairly quickly.

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