Monthly Archives: March 2012

10 Ways iPads are Used in Schools

The power and portability of Apple’s iPad line have been catching the attention of progressive educators; some schools have actually begun distributing the devices to students and making them a major part of the curriculum. Here are ten of the ways that the iPad is making waves in the modern classroom.

  1. To Replace Textbooks – The lightweight iPad not only eliminates the need for heavy, bulky book bags; there are also apps that allow teachers to design and distribute their own textbooks to their students.
  2. As a Collaborative Project Aid – Group projects and collaborations are made significantly easier by utilizing the iPad. Students can work together from home or while in the same room. Easy sharing and editing can help to foster a sense of teamwork.
  3. Collecting and Storing Student Information – One of the iconic pieces of teacher’s equipment is the grade-book; the often leatherette-covered volume required manual entry of grading information. With the iPad, teachers can manage all required student data quickly and efficiently.
  4. Bringing the Computer Lab into Every Classroom – Instead of a trek down the hall to a dedicated computer lab, kids that attend a school with an iPad program have the power of the computer lab at their fingertips.
  5. “Go-Green” Paper Saving Programs – Eliminating grade books, text books and many other paper-based products by distributing iPads to every student is a powerful “go-green” initiative, and has been one of the greatest sticking points for proponents.
  6. Interactive Learning – Instead of simply reading about a subject, students can use their iPads to locate pictures, diagrams and even to watch related video content. This interactive approach to learning may help disinterested kids become more excited about learning.
  7. Homework Planners and Scheduling – Teachers can create a syllabus, share homework assignments and classroom schedules with their students and coordinate projects, all from their iPads. This organized approach can often prove beneficial for kids that crave structure, as well as helping less orderly children keep everything in one place. Instead of several notebooks filled with information dedicated to each class, students can store all of their information in one place.
  8. Creating a Digital Portfolio – Creating a portfolio of classroom work has never been easier than it is for kids with access to iPads. The ability to carry their work with them and to transfer it from one digital device to another is another way that the iPad is making inroads into the education system.
  9. Taking the Classroom Home – Students participating in an iPad-based curriculum are no longer dependent on the classroom for all of their needs; even situations such as collecting homework during an illness are a snap when the work can be sent directly to the student’s iPad.
  10. Virtual Field Trips – An actual field trip to the pyramids may not be feasible for most school kids, but the iPad can often serve as the next best thing. Students can immerse themselves in these virtual field trips, which all take place from the safety of the classroom.

Portability and affordability are continuing to bring technology to new levels in our education systems; a benefit for educators and students alike. As technology becomes a bigger part of our lives, education can empower kids to make it useful as well as entertaining.

Is There Truly a Way to Delete a Facebook Account?

As social media continues to become more deeply integrated into our everyday lives, we are slowly becoming more aware of the fact that using social media carelessly doesn’t only affect our online lives. When you start thinking about how it can also impact our offline lives the idea of completely erasing a Facebook footprint starts to become exponentially more appealing. Whether the desire to delete a Facebook profile stems from an awareness of personal branding, disagreements with the networking giant’s business practices, or distrust regarding privacy issues, it’s not an altogether uncommon one. However, as many users have discovered, it’s not as easy as simply clicking a “delete” button.

The option to deactivate a Facebook account is found rather quickly within the user menus, though it does come complete with a not so subtle guilt trip. Once you begin to deactivate your account you’re met with a very passive-aggressive confirmation message that includes the profile picture of one of your friends and the statement, “Your friend will miss you”, something that is sure to make some user’s think twice before going through with the deactivation.

Deactivating your account is the first step to deleting an account, though it’s certainly not the end of the process. A deactivated account ID is for all purposes and intents disabled, but all of your information remains on the Facebook servers. Deactivated accounts can still be tagged in photographs and invited to events, which means that you’ll still receive notification emails from Facebook after the deactivation unless you opt out of their automated email system. Reactivating an account can be done by signing in to the Facebook site deliberately, or even by accidentally using a Facebook ID login on an unrelated site. Upon logging in, your full profile will be restored.

If you truly want to delete all traces of your account, following the somewhat difficult-to-locate Delete Your Account link will ostensibly remove all of the information you’ve shared on Facebook. A look at the fine print reveals, however, that this only deactivates your profile initially, leaving you with a 14 day period in which you can change your mind; logging in, deliberately or inadvertently, will restore your “deleted” profile to all of its former glory immediately. If you seriously want to delete your profile then during this 14 day period it’s best to avoid any services or sites that allow login with Facebook ID, otherwise you will have to complete the process all over again from the beginning. Deleting all cookies and clearing your browser cache, avoiding the Facebook Share button on other sites like the plague and removing any Facebook apps from your phone will help you avoid any accidental logins, but it’s important that you also pay close attention to your login activities during the two-week waiting period. Any Facebook connected accounts on other sites should be removed before beginning the profile deletion process as further insurance against an accidental restoration due to inadvertent logins. Sending an email to [email protected] requesting that your account be fully deleted may also speed up the deletion process, though even a profile deleted by the staff is likely to be subjected to the two-week waiting period.

In addition to making it difficult for novice web users to delete their accounts, Facebook has also been unclear about how much information is retained from an account once it has been deleted, and how long any retained information is stored. Though you may not be able to access your old account information, police and other authorities will still be able to obtain any data that Facebook has retained. This deliberately difficult deletion process makes a strong case for Facebook being invested in the data-mining industry, rather than being purely committed to social media and networking.

10 Blogs with Tax Advice for the Average Joe

Do you do your own taxes?  Should you do your own taxes? What are the risks of doing your own taxes?  Questions like these and many more can be answered by checking out some blogs with tax information.  Do you have a ton of money that you are trying to avoid paying taxes on?  No, then you probably don’t need investment advice or details on shelters.  You just want advice on what you can do to save some money on your taxes and not get audited.  Check out these ten blogs with tax advice for the average Joe.

  1. Tax GirlA great blog where real people submit questions and the blogger answers them.  She tackles many issues, but I found the one about charitable contributions especially interesting.  Definitely worth your time to check it out.
  2. Tax Mama:  This blog has a humorous side and that is saying something when you are talking about taxes.  I found this blogger to be amusing and full of information.  Her content consists of interviews with tax experts or money experts, articles about new tax laws, and something funny.  She also has daily audio clips and quips as she puts it.  This is an update blog that you can be certain to find something useful.
  3. The Tax Lady: Not a daily blog, but still has tons of information on it.  Articles about deduction losses incurred by natural disasters as well as thefts.  She does post quite a bit though since in 2011 she had 298 posts.  There are stories regarding finances and updates on what the IRS is doing.  The writing is pretty matter of fact and doesn’t include much personality.
  4. Uncle Fed’s Tax Board: This board has a LOT of information.  You can find forms and rulings regarding tax issues.  You can find explanations on how to fill out your tax forms and what to do if you get audited.  He even supplies help regarding documentation for your deductions.
  5. Tax Debt Help: An extensive source for a lot of tax related questions.  Articles about the new 1099K reporting form.  Information about deadlines and charitable donations.  They help you determine what is and what’s not a charitable donation.  An example of their information: If you are at a silent auction and you bid on a $50 gift certificate and you get it for $30 can you deduct anything?  No, because you got more than what you spent.  What if you paid $75 for that $50 gift card?  Yes, you could deduct $25 because you paid more than what it was worth.
  6. Back Taxes Help: A great resource if you owe back taxes, but you are not clear on exactly how much and what you need to do to pay them. They will go over what the penalties are and what you can do about any of them.  There is even information about tax liens and audits.
  7. Hodgen International TaxIf you travel for work or incur taxes in multiple countries this site is the one for you.  This blog is by an international tax lawyer.  There are forms, general information, and general tips for travel.  I found his recent article about avoiding high cell phone bills when travelling internationally very interesting.
  8. Tax Tips Blog: There are tons of answers to questions on this blog.  New laws and rebates are out there and it is often difficult to know if you qualify for something or if it would even benefit you even if you do qualify for it.  Sometimes you are better off letting your college age child file their own taxes versus you filing them and taking the deduction.  Most times this is probably not going to benefit you, but if you read on this blog it will explain how you can compare and possibly qualify for additional rebate monies.
  9. Gina’s Tax Tips: Gina posts pretty often and has great information.  The government has recently increased what is allowable for mileage for work and work related travel.  Gina has that new information posted.  She will answer your tax questions and post up to date articles on what is new in taxes and tax preparation.  Gina is a CPA and qualified to answer questions accurately.
  10. Tax Buzz: Lee Reims posts twice a week on Tuesday and Thursday with timely and informative articles.  His latest post talks about people who have previously been unable to take the earned income credit may be able to take it this year since many people have earned less due to hard economic times.  His posts are well written and easy to read.

No matter what your tax situation or questions are, one of these great, informative, and easy to read sites should be able to help you. Check out a few of them and see what new things you can learn. You might just find a way to save hundreds of dollars on your tax return this year.

10 Ways Drug Dealers Have Abused the Web

The internet has made life easier for millions of people, but not always for the betterment of society as a whole. Bad guys benefit from technology as well, and the web has been a boon for them in many cases. Here are just ten of the ways that drug dealers have abused the web:

  1. Buying – There are a whole host of websites where drugs can be purchased without a prescription. Highly addictive drugs such as steroids, uppers, downers and pain killers can be bought, despite the fact that they are illegal to buy and sell with a prescription.
  2. Trade – Such drug dealers will sell their product from countries where there is no control over these sales. They can work their illicit trade without fear of obstruction from local laws, and outside the jurisdiction of U.S. laws.
  3. Solicitation – Dealers create slick, effective websites to entice young people to buy drugs, who may not even be aware that prescription is required for legal purchase. The websites look safe and professional, but are operated illegally, and dangerously.
  4. Stealing – Some of these so-call pill mills don’t even provide the product that the consumer paid for. They will simply take the payment and not ship anything in return.
  5. SEO – Drug dealers will not only create professional looking sites from which to conduct their illicit business, they will even work the search engines for high rankings, as in the case of drugdealer.net.
  6. Quantity – According to a study by the Treatment Research Institute at the University of Pennsylvania, there are more than 2 million websites around the world where addictive and potentially lethal medications can be bought without a prescription.
  7. Teens – Largely due to ready availability online, it was determined by a University of Michigan survey that 12th graders were 12 times more likely to have taken Vicodin as they were to have taken heroin in the past year.
  8. Anonymity – Drug-dealing at websites like Silk Road have made it possible to peddle even LSD, marijuana, hash, ecstasy, and heroine. Billed as “an anonymous marketplace” whose URL can be accessed only via TOR, an anonymizing network download. Visitors can get in, score drugs, and get out, in complete anonymity.
  9. Chat – Chat rooms are another venue that small-time drug dealers will exploit online in order to sell their products. The lack of supervision, and the anonymity provided there make the use of most chat rooms an easy and effective means by which to connect with buyers.
  10. Encryption – Sophisticated drug dealers utilize highly advanced encryption technology to foil attempts by law enforcement agencies to intercept their transmissions. It can frequently take hours for computer experts to crack even a 30-second transmission.

Beyond just drugs, criminals of all kinds have exploited new technology for their own purposes. Be aware of what’s going on around you and don’t trust a website just because it looks good. For your safety, do not buy prescription medication online. You never know what you will get.

10 Technologies Gilligan Could Have Used on the Island

If only they’d known that their three-hour tour would last for three seasons plus five decades of syndication. And if only they could have gotten their hands on some 21st century gizmos. Our favorite stranded castaways may have made it back in time to catch The Flintstones. Then again, we would have missed out on their zany attempts to get off that island.

Here are 10 technologies that could have changed TV history, which Gilligan could have used on the Island:

  1. Sat Phones – Satellite phones would have come in mighty handy back then. The Professor could have picked up a satellite signal in a snap, and dialed up a rescue detail ASAP.
  2. GPS – As long as we’re sending modern-day satellites into orbit for the island folks, why not set them up with a global positioning system that could have pinpointed their location to facilitate a rescue.
  3. DirecTV – And while we’re at it, they could have been catching The Flintstones before they ever left the island if they had just a basic package with TV Land and Nickelodeon.
  4. Video Game Console – Kids spend more time playing videos than Gilligan spent on that island; and it would have gone by a lot quicker with an X Box. Then again, a Nintendo NES system would have allowed the castaways to play their video game namesake. Is this getting weird, or what?
  5. Sirius Marine Weather – This technology could have helped them avert that whole “weather starting getting rough, the tiny ship was tossed” thing and gotten them home safely.
  6. Video Camera – As it was, they had some pretty wild adventures on that island over the years. It would have been nice if they had at least left with some cool vids to post to YouTube. They’d be internet millionaires by now. Speaking of which …
  7. Internet – Think of the possibilities: Skype, Facebook and Twitter. The whole planet would have known overnight exactly where they were, thanks to Gilligan’s GPS.  With that video camera, they could have pioneered reality TV and game shows like Survivor 30 years ahead of time.
  8. MRE’s – A good supply of these meals ready to eat would have made dinner time a lot less of a hassle. It at least would have cut down on all of those Fish Fridays, and surf ‘n turf recipes.
  9. Home Brewing Kit – We think life on the island would have been a whole lot more bearable with one of these babies churning out some suds. It’s good to have a hobby.
  10. Coconut Juicer Machine – At the very least, it would hav3e been nice to have one of these gadgets with them on the island. It may not have made coconut juice taste any better, but it would have given them ore time to set up for happy hour.

10 Ways to Speed Up Your Internet Connection Without Spending a Dime

If you’re looking for an inexpensive way to boost your network speed, you’re in luck. We’ve got some proven methods for getting faster connections, at no cost. Check out these 10 ways to speed up your internet connection without spending a dime:

  1. OpenDNS – Free software protection against malware, botnets, and web filtering, thus providing faster internet speeds and greater reliability.
  2. AnalogX FastCacheInstall a DNS server on your computer that caches queries that you make to websites, which will speed access to data at websites you visit regularly. Think of it as a sort of internet speed dial.
  3. Defrag Your Hard Drive – De-fragmenting your drive essentially reallocates where your data is stored in such a way as to make access to it more streamlined and, therefore, faster.
  4. Run a Virus Scan – If your computer speed has dropped off significantly, it may be the sign of a virus present. Use a quality anti-virus program to scan your computer files, and delete, clean or quarantine as necessary.
  5. Switch from wired to wireless where possible. – A short-run ethernet cable will always be faster than a wireless connection. If you can position your computer close enough to the router for a wired connection, do so.
  6. Check for wireless interference. – Your wireless router may be getting some interference if there is a cordless phone, or wireless camera nearby, as they may share frequency ranges.
  7. Check for RF leakage on cable coaxial connectors. – If your cable network has slowed down noticeably, you may have too many splitters, or a faulty connection, causing RF leakage, either indoors or externally. Check with your provider for troubleshooting.
  8. Upgrade router firmware. – Your router manufacturer has a website for each model, where you can access firmware updates as well as admin settings. Check for any available updates  which could boost your speed.
  9. Check Your Start Menu – Some programs and applications are set to launch as soon as your computer boots up. Not all of these programs are necessary, and some of them are probably apps or programs you’ve downloaded and may never really use. Do a CTL -ALT- DEL  and select Start Task manager. Look for any programs that you can safely disable, to speed up your computer.
  10. Optimize your Internet Options – Set your internet options (under “Tools” in your browser menu) to cache automatically, and save temporary internet files in order to alleviate your computer having to repeatedly load pages that you access frequently.