Internet tips

New health site lets the crowd rate treatment effectiveness

You have a back ache. Like millions of others in your situation, you open your browser and search for "back pain." The various health sites in the search results instruct you to apply ice, to apply heat, to rest it, and not to rest it.

They advise you that the pain should go away on its own within 72 hours, while simultaneously informing you that your achy back could be a symptom of a serious, even life-threatening illness, so you should make an appointment to see your doctor right away.

In other words, your guess is as good … Read more

Spot and avoid the latest online scams

Netflix users are receiving bogus e-mails telling them their account has been suspended and instructing them to call a toll-free number to regain access. The fake Netflix/Microsoft support person tricks them into giving the criminal access to their computer, as Techlicious's Fox Van Allen explains.

Not only is their personal information stolen, the victims are blackmailed into paying the crooks $400 to "fix" the problem.

Here's the real solution: Don't ever click a link in an e-mail message. Instead, open your browser and enter the URL in the address field manually. You just can'… Read more

Google Chrome's shutdown glitch defies an easy fix

When diagnosing PC problems, sometimes it pays to take the easy route.

About every other time I open Google Chrome lately, an error message alerts me that the browser failed to close correctly. I'm then prompted to click the Restore button to reopen the tabs that were active when Chrome last closed.

Who's got the time to figure out what's causing the browser to hiccup when it closes? Just go the restore route or start the browsing session afresh. No big deal, right?

Having nothing better to do over a holiday weekend, I decided to look into … Read more

Change your Facebook privacy settings with a click

If you're a Facebook user who has never bothered to change the service's default privacy settings, you're not alone. In May 2012, Lance Whitney reported on a Consumer Reports study that found millions of Facebook users don't use, or aren't even aware of, the service's privacy controls.

The Facebook interface certainly doesn't make it easy to adjust your privacy settings. As I explained in last September's post on how to secure your Facebook account in six easy steps, the social network has 40 individual privacy settings listed in four separate categories.

Israeli … Read more

Prevent unauthorized use of material you share on social networks

"Going viral" is a sure sign of success for a video, image, or other post to a Web sharing service. But what happens when someone starts making money from the unauthorized use of your creation?

You establish your copyright on the material you create the moment you publish it. The simplest approach to enforcing your copyright on your creations is to send the infringing party a cease-and-desist notice. That's usually all that is required to have the item removed from the offending site.

However, if you seek to recover damages for the unauthorized use of your copyrighted … Read more

Avoid these common Facebook mistakes

Facebook has so many features it can be tough to keep them straight. Even experienced social networkers can sometimes get a post, share, or other action not altogether right.

When one of your Facebook activities doesn't come out as you expected, use one of the service's many management and editing tools to effect repairs on errant status updates, messages, and other shares.

Timeline tune-ups It isn't unusual to see an item on your Facebook timeline and wonder, "How did that get there?" Your next thought may be, "How do I get it out of … Read more

Time-saving tips for the new year

Workers are more productive than ever. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, "nonfarm business sector labor productivity" increased 3 percent in the third quarter of 2013 over the same period a year earlier.

Much of the increase in worker productivity can be attributed to technology. But as anyone who uses a computer at work can attest, technology giveth and technology taketh away.

These tips will help ensure you're on the positive side of the technology equation.

A 5-minute video that can save you hours Last spring, New York Times technology writer David Pogue gave … Read more

Make sure your donation gets to the people who need it

Charities bring out our best and our worst. In our desire to help people in need, we respond unselfishly. The fact is, our gifts might have greater effect if we looked at our donations as capital investments in people.

Last December's "How to make the most of your charitable contribution" described several sites that help you vet charitable organizations before you give to ensure as much of your donation as possible reaches the people who need it most. One of those sites is Charity Navigator, whose home page is shown at the top of this post.

Two … Read more

Three privacy-focused browsers compared

Which is the safest browser? In terms of privacy, the answer may be Internet Explorer. According to NSS Labs' 2013 Browser Security Comparative Analysis: Privacy (PDF), Internet Explorer tops Firefox and Chrome by blocking most third-party cookies by default and offering a built-in tracking protection list.

In terms of security, the answer may be Firefox. When Mark Stockley of the Sophos Naked Security blog polled readers last September about which browser they considered the most secure, Firefox was the big winner, gleaning more than 50 percent of the votes, followed by Chrome with just under 27 percent and IE with … Read more

Best free sites for learning how to write code

Not so long ago, typing was for secretaries, journalists, and would-be authors. Now we're all tapping away at keyboards and screens from morning until night.

The number of people who spend their workday coding continues to soar. In the not-too-distant future, writing code may be as commonplace as typing and other forms of text-keying are today.

Learning how to code has never been easier. Whether you're a programming newbie or an old hand looking to learn a new skill or two, these four free services have you covered. (Note that all but requires that you register … Read more