WITH SCHOOL BACK in session, it’s a good time
to look at how to keep your devices and information
safe during the year. The old excuse “The dog ate my
homework” can work only a few times. Here are a
few important tech tips to keep in mind to help you
avoid a costly loss of homework, notes, term papers,
personal information and other vital school-related
Back it up
There’s nothing worse than accidentally losing
all of your work—because of a hard-drive crash, a
nasty virus or a power surge—and then realizing
there’s no duplicate somewhere. It’s critical for students to back up their important files, such as all
documents, research notes, important calendar
entries and contacts, and so on.
Along with a local backup solution, such as an
external hard drive, be sure to take advantage of free
cloud services you can upload your PC or tablet files
to, such as OneDrive, Dropbox, Google Drive or
iCloud. Once they’re uploaded to your password-protected locker, you can access your files from multiple devices, anywhere in the world, as well as easily
share large files with fellow students or collaborate
on projects in real time.
Whether it’s your school’s free wireless network or your local coffee shop’s, be careful when
using public Wi-Fi, or “hot spots,” as they’re not as
secure as you might think. These open Wi-Fi connections are fine for filing your essays, checking
your social media feeds and reading emails, but
resist activities like online banking or shopping.
Some Wi-Fi networks appear to be legitimate— with names such as “University Connection”
or “Café Free”—when in fact they’re fake. Nearby
criminals can create “rogue” networks that look
legitimate, but they’re out to defraud you. When in
doubt, check with the establishment to confirm
their official network name.
The Costco Connection
Costco is an excellent source for school-related
electronics, from laptops and tablets (including
nabis) to backup drives and surge protectors, and
much more. Check your local warehouse and
Costco.com for the complete selection.
Question for Marc?
Send your technology and
computer questions to:
or mail to:
Q&A with Marc Saltzman
The Costco Connection
P.O. Box 34088
Seattle, WA 98124-1088
or fax to: 425-313-6718
“Marc Saltzman Q&A”
in the subject line. Marc
will answer selected
questions in his column.
He regrets that unpublished
be answered individually.
Marc Saltzman, a leading high-tech reporter,
contributes to dozens of leading publications,
appears on radio and TV, and is the author of 15
books. He’s on Twitter @marc_saltzman.
WHAT’S A good computer
ONE OPTION that’s garnering a lot of attention is a
series of tablets from a
company called Fuhu.
The company’s nabi
tablets for kids, including
the new nabi Dream Tab,
have a distinctive red bumper for easy handling and
durability. The idea behind
nabis is to offer kids a
tough, easy-to-use tablet
featuring games and apps,
including educational ones.
The Dream Tab features themes and characters from Dream Works, the
popular movie studio. It
comes with a suite of creative tools that allow kids
to draw and animate (with
an included stylus, if
desired), write their own
books and edit movies.
To please parents, the
nabis have time controls to
set limits for daily use, plus
a grown-up utilities suite
with a calendar.
These are clever tablets that introduce kids to
computing, but they go
well beyond that.
You can also download free virtual private network (VPN) software, such as Hotspot Shield, to
surf anonymously. Another option is to bring your
own cellular network, such as using your smartphone to create a personal hot spot, which is more
secure than public Wi-Fi, but be aware that you
may incur data charges with your carrier.
Protect your stuff
Finally, be sure to put safeguards in place to
remotely lock, wipe clean or, better yet, locate a
missing smartphone or tablet.
A number of free apps can help you do this—
such as Android Device Manager, Find My Phone
( Windows Phone), BlackBerry Protect (BlackBerry)
and Find My iPhone (iPhone)—but you need to set
this up before it’s too late.
All of these apps let you see where your phone
or tablet is on a map (or a computer or other mobile
device), though it’s recommended that you provide
the information to authorities instead of trying to
retrieve a stolen device yourself. C
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