Microsoft will give you $200 for that old iPhone

On October 31, 2013, in Business Technology, by Staff Contributor

Would you like to have $200 for that old iPhone of yours? Maybe the one with the cracked screen? According to CJ Arlotta, a writer for MPSmentor, Microsoft will make it happen. Microsoft is offering consumers a $200 gift card when they bring in an old, unwanted iPhone 4S or iPhone 5 to a Microsoft store.

The deal

According to Arlotta, customers who bring one of these used phones to a Microsoft store will receive a $200 gift card. They’re able to use this card towards any item in the store.

A similar move

This isn’t the first time that Microsoft has gone directly after Apple’s existing customers. The company has previously offered a similar $200 trade-in for consumers who traded in gently used iPads. Again, these consumers received a $200 gift card that they could use at a Microsoft Store.

What you need

If you wish to participate in the offer, you will have to follow some rules, Arlotta writes. First, you’ll have to make sure that your devices aren’t password-protected. Secondly, you’ll have to meet a time limit; the offer is only good until Nov. 3. Finally, Microsoft prefers that you turn in your device’s power cord together with the phone itself.


Two-step verification can help protect your online accounts from hackers since the process requires you to not just enter a password but to supply a code or some other form of identification to log on. And now, as CNET writer Ed Rhee writes, Microsoft offers this extra protection to its online accounts.

Roll out

Rhee writes that Microsoft introduced is two-step verification system on April 17. If you enable Microsoft’s two-step verification you’ll first need to enter your password to log onto your Microsoft accounts. Next, you will need to enter a security code. Only then will you complete the log on process.

Personal security code

The security code is the key. It makes it far more challenging for hackers to break into your online accounts. In Microsoft’s system, the company sends you a security code through either e-mail or by using an automated message sent to your mobile device. Rhee writes that you could also download and use a Microsoft app to access your security code.


It’s true that two-step verification takes more time. But it’s relatively easy for the savviest of hackers to crack passwords. Accounts protected only by passwords, then, are far too vulnerable. The addition of a security code will mean that most hackers will ignore your accounts and focus on the ones that are more exposed.


System Lens can cure a sluggish Mac

On October 22, 2013, in Business Technology, by Staff Contributor

Your Mac was fast. Now it’s slowed down. The problem may be your apps. They may be sucking up too much of your machine’s resources. Fortunately, writer Matt Elliott with CNET has a tip: Download one additional app, System Lens. This app will analyze the apps currently running on your Mac and tell you which ones are consuming an excessive amount of power.


Apps are a fantastic way to boost the usefulness of your computer. But they can also be resource hogs. A great number of apps drain power and efficiency from your Mac.

How System Lens helps

As Elliott writes System Lens will help. This app lists all of the other apps running on your Mac at any given time. But most importantly, System Lens tells you which apps are consuming the greatest amount of your Mac’s resources. The app also tells you how stressed your Mac’s systems are in overall.

Your response

System Lens can help you decide which apps to eliminate or shut down. If an app is gobbling too much of your Mac’s resources, you can choose to either close it or erase it entirely if you no longer want to use it.


Is this the best portable hard drive?

On October 17, 2013, in Business Technology, by Staff Contributor

There are plenty of portable hard drives out there. But which hard drive meets your needs? Seamus Bellamy, a writer for The Wirecutter, has a recommendation: Western Digital’s 2TB My Passport Ultra. In a recent review Bellamy stated that this portable hard drive has all the things a computer user could need.

Powerful and still affordable

According to Bellamy, the My Passport Ultra is both affordable and powerful. It retails for $150 and, Bellamy writes, boasts a nice mix of features, warranty protection and storage space.

Storage space

What’s most important in a portable hard drive? Space. Bellamy in his review states that users should always purchase as much storage space as they can possibly afford. The good thing concerning My Passport Ultra is it offers the most storage space available in a portable hard drive.


What else does a top-ranked portable hard drive need? Speed. And, as Bellamy writes, the My Passport Ultra is as fast of a portable hard drive as there is available today. If Bellamy is to be believed, you’ll be very impressed once you plug this hard drive into your computer.


Debunking the most common tech myths

On October 15, 2013, in Business Technology, by Staff Contributor

Think you’re tech savvy? Well, you’ve probably fallen for more tech myths than you know. For example, Mac computers aren’t really virus-proof and emptying your recycle bin doesn’t entirely delete the files it once held. And also if you’re using private browsing you’re still not surfing the Internet anonymously.


Caroline Moss, writing for Business Insider, recently ran a column exposing some of the more common technology myths. And one of the most prevalent? That Mac computers are magically virus-proof. The reality is that Macs can suffer from viruses. And now that these computers are becomming widely used you can expect a rise in the number of hackers targeting Apple’s operating system.

The recycle bin

Many users believe that emptying their recycle bins will permanently destroy any files in it. This isn’t always true, Moss said. Deleting these files will clear up the space on your hard drive that they once used. But even emptying the recycle bin leaves fragments of files which could subsequently be retrieved.

Private browsing

Then there’s private browsing, which is less private than you may realise. Just because you’ve told your browser to go incognito doesn’t mean that the Web sites you visit are not recording details from your stay. And whenever you download files while in private-browsing mode, these files will remain on your computer when you return to normal browsing mode.


Video games can make your brain younger?

On October 10, 2013, in Business Technology, by Staff Contributor

Maybe mom was wrong: Those video games might not rot your brain afterall. Actually, they might actually make our brains act more youthful. The New York Times recently ran a feature story highlighting research from brain scientists that suggests that certain video games can boost the power of our brains.

Short-term and long-term gains

According to the study, older adults who played an easy video game in which they had to drive a car past other vehicles while identifying key road signs displayed the neurological patterns of much younger adults. How much younger? The study discovered that some 80-year-olds boasted patterns more usual in the brains of 20-year-olds.

Carry over

Even more importantly, the story states that researchers discovered that the brain improvements did not take place only while players were involved in the video game. The improvements continued outside the game while study participants took part in other tasks.

Crack out those old games!

So, it may be time for our older readers to crack out their long-abandoned copies of Pac-Man and Space Invaders. Any scenario that helps build a younger brain needs to be embraced. If it will require a few hours of shooting down aliens or gobbling dots to do it? That’s better still.


You probably don’t nap while at work. And for good reason: Your boss probably wouldn’t appreciate it. The thing is, napping would likely make you — and your fellow employees — more productive. A recent story on the Lifehacker Web site by health writer Melanie Pinola takes a closer look into the advantages of napping on the job. Maybe you can show the story to your boss the next time you’d like a post-meeting snooze.

A Short One

A power nap of 10 to 20 minutes can provide you with a boost in alertness and energy, Pinola writes. And since this is a lighter nap, you are able to more easily jump back into action once this snooze is over.

Not Short Enough, Not Long Enough

There are some naps that don’t work though. Pinola writes that the 30-minute nap is neither long enough nor short enough to get results for workers. The reason why? You might feel groggy for up to 30 minutes after waking up.

60 Minutes

The 60-minute nap, however, can help you remember facts, faces and names, Pinola writes. This duration of nap includes slow-wave sleep, the deepest type of sleep you can experience. Of course, getting your boss to approve a 60-minute nap in the heart of the workday might prove a nightmare.


Breathing new life into a sluggish iPhone or iPad

On October 3, 2013, in Business Technology, by Staff Contributor

Does it take your iPad ages to play your favorite videos? Does your iPhone’s Web browser creep on the web? The odds are that your iPad or iPhone are old. And when these products get outdated, they get sluggish. The good news? You don’t have to spend the big bucks on a new iPhone or iPad. Alternatively, you can try taking some simple actions to boost the speed of your slow devices. Lifehacker writer Whitson Gordon recently provided some tips.

No Updates

We know that you want to keep your iPad or iPhone updated. But Gordon in his Lifehacker story states that the owners of older devices should avoid the lure of Apple updates. The reason? Those new versions of iOS or those latest upgrades can prove too powerful for older devices. And they could make those older devices run even slower.

Use Apple’s Own Apps

Third-party apps can prove challenging for old iPhones and iPads, too, Whitson writes. Apple’s own apps are designed to work best with these devices. You may prefer Chrome to Safari, but stay with Apple’s Web browser if you’re using an old phone or iPad.

Clearing Space

Your iPhone or iPad may just have too many programs stored on it. Gordon suggests uninstalling any apps that you never use. You might also remove music or videos that you no longer use.


What features should your smartphone boast?

On October 1, 2013, in Business Technology, by Staff Contributor

Wearable tech is hot. And smartwatches are, too. But what should consumers expect from smartwatches? What features are important?


Thomas Claburn, editor-at-large with InformationWeek, recently explored the issue, writing his own take on what he considers the most important features that smartwatches should have. First, he writes, smartwatches need to act as sensors. This means that they ought to be able to tell us the temperature, tell us where we are at any given time and let us know if our hearts are beating too rapidly.

Easy to Charge

A smartwatch shouldn’t be a hassle to charge, either, Claburn said. Preferably, smartwatches will charge themselves as we walk throughout our day. If not, we should be able to charge them simply by setting them on a charging plate.


And here’s a suggestion near and dear to every consumer’s heart: Smartwatches ought to be affordable. They’re not at this point, what with the Samsung Gear smartwatch retailing for a high $299.