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The Updated Nintendo Switch Solves Battery Life Woes

Nintendo Switch
Wachiwit/Shutterstock.com

Hot on the heels of the new Switch Lite, Nintendo announced an updated Switch that ups the battery life from 2.5 to 6.5 hours to a much more reasonable 4.5 to 9 hours. That’s a pretty significant improvement.

RELATED: How is the New Switch Lite Different from the Nintendo Switch?

What it’s not announcing, however, is what made this battery improvement possible. Still, we can speculate, and it’s most likely due to a processor upgrade. Not only does the Switch Lite feature a slightly tweaked chip to bolster its battery life, but, but a recent FCC listing showed off a slightly updated Switch with a new CPU and storage. That’s what this new Switch is.

But here’s the real fun part: you’ll have to pay close attention to which model of Switch you’re buying to get the best battery life—at least in the short term while Nintendo sells all the backstock of the original unit. The new Switch has a Model Number of HAC-001(-01), while the original is just HAC-001. You’ll need to take a close look at that, but you can also confirm by checking the serial number—the original model starts with XAW, while the upgraded model starts with XKW. They couldn’t make this easy, could they?

Nintendo Switch battery life

Now, all that said, it doesn’t look the upgraded Switch is available just yet. According to Kotaku, you should be able to pick up the new console starting “this August.”

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The Best Ways to Watch VHS Tapes on Your HD or 4K TV

A picture of an HD TV playing a The Big Lebowski VHS tape.

People assume a VCR won’t work with HD and 4K TVs, but that’s not the case. If you want to watch those old VHS tapes and home movies, all you need is a VCR and some cables.

Well, it’s not that simple. VHS is a long-dead format, so many people might not even have one. Also, newer TVs lack the cable inputs that work with a VCR, and tapes can look like crap on a big screen.

That’s why we’re going to cover each of your cable options, along with some tips on how you can improve VHS quality or buy a new VCR.

A quick warning: VCRs are ancient, fragile machines. Don’t expect high-quality video from a VHS tape, and always test your VCR with a tape you don’t care about before risking your most precious films (even if it’s been tested by someone else).

A Quick List of Your Cable Options

If you’re already an expert on video cables, there’s no reason to drag things out. Here’s a quick list of your options (from best to worst picture quality) before we get into the nitty-gritty:

  • HDMI Converter Box: The easiest (and most expensive) way to play VHS tapes on a big screen. These boxes work with RCA and S-Video cables, so you don’t have to worry about compatibility issues or quality loss.
  • S-Video: If your TV and VCR have S-Video ports (your TV probably doesn’t), use S-Video. It produces a better image than RCA or coaxial.
  • RCA: Even some new TVs have an RCA port, and you probably have a few RCA cables lying around. They aren’t as good as S-Video cables, but they’re still an easy option.
  • Coaxial: In a worst-case scenario, you can use coaxial cables. There will be a decent loss in quality, though, which can make the shoddy picture from a VCR even worse.

If you’re ready for some more in-depth cable info, tips on how to improve tape quality, and info about where to buy a VCR, read on.

Use a Converter Box for HDMI Input

The Tensun HDMI converter box.
Tensun

Your TV might not have S-Video, RCA, or coaxial ports. This can be a problem, as VCRs don’t have HDMI ports unless you’re using a DVD/VCR combo.

In this situation, you have no choice but to use a converter box. These boxes simply take the signal from a set of RCA or S-Video cables and shoot them to your TV through an HDMI cable (without any quality loss). We suggest using an S-Video cable with a converter box, as S-Video produces a cleaner signal than RCA. This is your best-case scenario when it comes to picture quality, especially if your TV doesn’t have an S-Video port, but your VCR does.

Use S-Video Cables for a Sharp Picture

Cmple s-video cables.
Cmple

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How to Clean Your HVAC Return Vents

A floor-level air return vent in a home with hardwood floors.
Claude Huot/Shutterstock

Your central air and heating system (HVAC) is equipped with supply and return vents. While both types of vents could use some cleaning from time to time, you should pay special attention to the return vents.

Supply vents blow hot or cold air out, while return vents pull the air in for recycling into your heating and cooling system. If your supply vents are on the floor, stuff can fall into them, but when the system is running, they push air out, which tends to keep things like dust bunnies away. Return vents, on the other hand, suck air in when the system is running and tend to get a lot dustier a lot faster.

How to Find Your Return Vents

If you don’t already know which vents are the returns, there are some easy ways to find them:

  • Return vents are generally larger than supply vents.
  • Return vents don’t have adjustable louvers like supply vents often do. You don’t want to block off or close them because they’re pulling in air, and they can’t do that if they’re blocked.
  • They’re sometimes located in the ceiling but, typically, are near the floor.

Not sure if you’re looking at a return or supply vent? When your HVAC system turns on, place a piece of paper by the vent. If the paper is sucked to the vent, it’s a return. Your house will have at least one return vent.

Why Should You Clean HVAC Return Vents?

Keeping your return vents clean helps your HVAC system run more efficiently, but there’s more to it than that. Clean return vents reduce the allergens in your home and keep the furnace filter cleaner, longer (so it can trap more dust and allergens).

Cleaning Return Vents

So, how do you clean those returns, and how often should you do it? Here’s a breakdown of what you should do and when you should do it.

Things to Do Monthly

Every month there are some things you can do to help keep your HVAC system running smoothly:

  • Change the Filter: In larger homes, the filter is typically located at the furnace itself. In smaller homes and apartments with only one large return, it’s often located there for easy access. The filter should be changed monthly when your HVAC system is in use. If a filter doesn’t have a place to write the date on it, put it on your calendar, so you’ll remember to change it when it’s time.
  • Clean Out the Vents: Turn off your heat or A/C and cover furniture if your vents are in the ceiling. Vacuum your vents with a dust attachment, and then use a microfiber duster to loosen anything missed by the vacuum. Avoid using water and cleaning products, as they smear the dust around and turn it into a paste.

What to Do the Rest of the Year

There are some things you can do less often to keep your return vents clean. Aside from the filters and basic vacuuming, twice a year, you can do an extra deep clean, including:

  • Cleaning the Vent Covers: Again, turn off the heat or A/C. Completely remove the vent covers and wash them in the sink in hot, soapy water. Be sure to use a microfiber cloth and only soak them for a short time. Also, don’t rub too hard, or the paint might start to come off.
  • Removing Oil From Vent Covers: If you burn a lot of candles or have vents in the kitchen, you’ll need to remove grease during your deep clean. Rubbing alcohol cuts grease quickly and doesn’t require a lot of rubbing.

If the intake covers don’t fit in the sink, take them outside to clean them or use your bathtub—put an old towel down in the tub first, though, to protect it from being scratched by the metal edges of the vents. No matter where you wash them, be sure to dry the vent covers completely before reattaching them.

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How to Enable/Disable Multiple File Downloads in Chrome

chrome logo

By default, Google Chrome asks for confirmation when a site tries automatically to download files in succession. However, if you want to block all attempts regardless of the site, or maybe you would rather blacklist a specific website, here’s how.

Sometimes when you download a file in a browser, the website will try to download another file immediately after the first finishes. While there are legitimate circumstances—like a file conversion site—there are sites who used it maliciously to force virus or harmful scripts to download without your knowledge or permission. However, for security reasons, Google Chrome now prompts you when a website tries to download multiple files.

How to Disable Multiple Automatic File Downloads

Fire up Chrome, click the menu icon, and then click “Settings.” Alternatively, you can type chrome://settings/ into the Omnibox to go directly there.

Click the menu button, and then click Settings

Once in the Settings tab, scroll down to the bottom and click “Advanced.”

Under Settings, click Advanced at the bottom of the page.

Scroll down to the Privacy and Security section and click on “Site Settings.”

Click on Site Settings

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Daily News Roundup: Google Bans Touchpal App Dev from the Play Store

Google has banned CooTek, the developer behind the Touchpal keyboard and hundreds of other apps, from its ad network and the Play store. CooTek had a history of disruptive ads in its apps, that displayed even after users closed the app.

It was only a month ago that security firm Lookout discovered CooTek’s terrible app practices. CooTek loaded disruptive apps in hundreds of apps that could pop up even when users close the app. The ads were so prevalent they could render the phone unusable.

CookTek developers injected the ads with a BeiTaAd plugin and made an effort to hide what they were doing, even pausing the ads for a day or two after the app was first installed. By holding off on the ads, you might blame a newer installed app instead.

After Lookout reported its findings to Google, the offending apps were removed from the Play Store. CooTek apologized, promised to stop the practice, and uploaded “clean copies” of the apps, with the ad code removed.

While it’s true the company removed the BeiTaAd plugin, Lookout discovered the apps still could display equally disruptive ads. And again, CooTek made an effort to disguise what it was doing. Lookout reported its new findings to Google, who investigated and confirmed the presence of new code to load disruptive ads.

Because of those discoveries, Google banned CooTek from both its ad platform and from publishing apps in the Play Store. In a statement to Buzzfeed, a Google spokesperson said: “Our Google Play developer policies strictly prohibit malicious and deceptive behavior, as well as disruptive ads. When violations are found, we take action.”  [The Verge]

In Other News:

  • Microsoft will auto-update older Windows 10 machines to the May 2019 Update: Last month, Microsoft said it planned automatically upgrade machines running older versions of Windows 10 to the May 2019 Update. Now the company is moving forward with that plan, starting with a slow rollout of the upgrade process. [Microsoft]
  • Apple may fund original podcasts: Spotify and other podcasting companies have been busy funding original (and therefore exclusive) podcats. Now Apple may be jumping into the fray. Bloomberg cites “sources” who claimed Apple reached out to express interest in buying exclusive rights to podcasts. Apple does have a podcast app, so exclusives to drive usage is a sensible move. [Bloomberg]
  • Google Maps now shows bike-sharing stations worldwide: About a year ago, Google Maps began showing bike-sharing station locations in New York City. Now the company is expanding that service in 23 cities across the world, from Barcelona to Zurich. Users can find the closest station, whether to pick up a bike or drop one off. [VentureBeat]
  • Tesla raises Full-Self Driving option by $1000: Tesla offers a Full-Self Driving option add-on you can purchase with its already expensive car. The option doesn’t do anything, as Full-Self driving (or Level 5 Self-Drive) is a dream of the future. Starting in August, that promise of a dream will increase by $1000, to a total cost of $7000. [Ars Technica]
  • Nintendo upgrades the processor in the Switch for longer battery life: When Nintendo announced the Switch Light, it included a better processor than the original Switch used. Now Nintendo is bringing that processor to an upgraded version of the original Switch. Pricing remains the same, but the better processor adds 2 hours of battery life to the handheld — extra time for the tiny buttons to kill your thumbs. [ReviewGeek]
  • Apple is automatically patching latest Zoom vulnerability: In an update to the ongoing Zoom saga, Apple is patching the vulnerabilities in the RingCentral and Zhumu apps. The apps use Zoom’s software and are vulnerable to the same webcam hijacks Apple previously addressed. Apple’s updates are automatic and silent, so you don’t have to do anything to get the patch. [MacRumors]

When he’s not building cars, launching rockets, or drilling holes in the ground, Elon Musk is apparently researching brain implant technology.

His latest venture, Neuralink, came out of stealth mode last night to show off a new thread-like brain implant tech and a robot that sews it into your head. Scientists have been experimenting with brain-computer interfaces for some time, but the current technology is very invasive. The hope has been to solve brain disorders and better understand the human mind.

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How to Download Your Save Games From Steam Cloud

Steam Store on a laptop and desktop.
Casimiro PT/Shutterstock

Steam synchronizes many save files to its servers. They’re automatically downloaded via Steam when you install a game, but that’s not the only way you can get them. You can download them directly from Valve’s website in your browser, too.

Enable Steam Cloud Sync in Steam

If Steam isn’t automatically downloading your old save games after you install a game, ensure Steam Cloud is enabled for that game within Steam.

To do so, locate the game in your Steam library, right-click it, and then select “Properties.” Click the “Updates” tab and ensure the “Enable Steam Cloud synchronization” option is checked for the game. If this option isn’t checked, Steam won’t automatically download your cloud saves—or upload any new ones.

If you don’t see a Steam Cloud option for a game here, that game doesn’t support Steam Cloud. Not all games on Steam do—it’s up to each game developer.

Click "Updates" tab and check the "Enable Steam Cloud synchronization for" option.

Download the Files in Your Web Browser

Valve lets you download your Steam cloud save files via a web browser, too. You can download just your save files without re-downloading the entire game.

To find your save files, visit Valve’s View Steam Cloud page in your web browser and sign in with your Steam account.

You’ll see a list of games using your Steam Cloud storage. Locate the game in the list (hit Ctrl+F to use the browser’s search)—and click “Show Files” to see all the files for a game.

List of Steam Cloud's saved games on the web.

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How to Remotely Open a GUI Application With PuTTY

SSH on laptop concept
Eny Setiyowati/Shutterstock.com

Want to remotely access a Linux machine and launch a graphical application? PuTTY to the rescue, thanks to the “enable X11 forwarding” option. You can even do this from Windows—all you need to do is quickly install an X server.

The PuTTY program was initially written for Windows, 20 years ago. It has been ported to many other platforms since. It is a graphical application that provides a terminal window and remote connection to other computers. Typically, the connection is made using SSH, but other protocols are supported.

As well as the traditional terminal window command line interface, PuTTY can be configured to open graphical applications on the remote computer.

Installing PuTTY

If PuTTY isn’t already installed on your computer, you can install as follows.

On Windows, download PuTTY from the web.

To install PuTTY on Ubuntu, use this command:

sudo apt-get install putty

sudo apt-get install putty in a terminal window

To install PuTTY on Fedora, use this command:

sudo dnf install putty

sudo dnf install putty in a terminal window

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What Is Slack, and Why Do People Love It?

Slack's logo

Slack is a workplace chat app that’s so popular, the company that owns it was valued at more than $20 billion. You’ve probably seen it mentioned in the news. If you haven’t used it yet, here’s what you need to know.

What is Slack?

Slack is a workplace communication tool, “a single place for messaging, tools and files.” This means Slack is an instant messaging system with lots of add-ins for other workplace tools. The add-ins aren’t necessary to use Slack, though, because the main functionality is all about talking to other people. There are two methods of chat in Slack: channels (group chat), and direct message or DM (person-to-person chat). Let’s take a quick look at the user interface.

The Slack interface with the instance name, list of channels and DMs, and the chat window
Slack

There are four main things to pay attention to in Slack:

  1. The name of the Slack instance.
  2. The list of channels you’re a member of.
  3. The list of people you’ve direct messaged.
  4. The chat window.

When a customer wants to start using Slack, they choose a name for their Slack instance. This then becomes part of the unique URL. So, if Wile E. Coyote wants to create a Slack instance for ACME Slingshots, his Slack instance would be https://acmeslingshot.slack.com/. Wile E. can then invite anyone he wants to be a member of his Slack instance.

Channels in Slack can be public, meaning any member can see and join that channel, or private, meaning only members of that channel can see it or invite others to join. DMs are always private, although they can include up to 8 people.

The chat window is where all the actual communication happens. You can read any reply to messages, use emoji reactions, add gifs, see RSS feeds, set reminders, get add-in notifications, and various other bells and whistles. But more than anything, this is where you talk to people.

What’s So Great About Slack?

When Slack came along, there were no real competitors in the market. That’s not to say there weren’t other chat apps, but Slack combined an intuitive UI with both group and person-to-person messaging. It also allows companies to have a measure of control over who can use it through the invitation system. Other tools could do the same, but without the same usability (Campfire, now BaseCamp, was an obvious one). None of the traditional vendors (Microsoft, Apple, IBM, Sun, and so on) had anything comparable to Slack.

This lack of corporate size was also a benefit. Slack was small enough to be responsive and quick when it came to adding new features, like emoji reactions (great for users) and 2-factor authentication (great for admins). For some users, the fact that Slack wasn’t owned by a big traditional vendor was benefit enough, but that doesn’t explain why Slack is so popular.

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How to Sell Your Old iPhone for Top Dollar

iPhone 8s Plus lying on top of three $100 bills.
Mykola Churpita/Shutterstock

The iPhone has one of the best resale values of any smartphone. You’ll get more money if you sell it yourself and skip the trade-in. Here’s how to prepare your iPhone, pick a price, and make the sale.

Before You Start, Create a Backup

If you’re selling your old iPhone to buy a new one (rather than switching to an Android device), the first thing you should do is create a backup. This allows you to transfer the backup to your new device, along with all your personal data, apps, and other information.

The best way to create a backup of your iPhone is by using iTunes on a Mac or PC. You can also create backups using iCloud, but these can take a long time to complete if you aren’t already doing so, and the restore process takes a lot longer, too. iCloud backups are limited by the speed of your internet, so the backup and restore procedure can take hours or even days.

Windows users can download iTunes from Apple’s website.

  1. Launch iTunes and connect your iPhone to your Mac or PC using a Lightning cable.
  2. Wait for the device icon to appear in the top-left corner (screenshot below), and then click it and select your iPhone.
  3. On the Summary tab, click “Back Up Now” and wait for the backup process to complete.

Click the Device Icon in iTunes.

Check “Encrypt iPhone Backup” to save sensitive data, like passwords, Wi-Fi network credentials, Health data, and HomeKit data. You’ll need to create a password to do this. You’ll also need this password to restore the backup to your new iPhone at a later date. We recommend using a password manager to save it for you.

Click the Box next to "Encrypt iPhone Backup."

When you’re ready to restore this backup to your new iPhone:

  1. Turn on your new iPhone and follow the setup procedure to activate the device.
  2. When prompted, choose “Restore from iTunes Backup,” and connect your iPhone to the same Mac or PC you used to back up your old iPhone.
  3. Click on the device icon in the top-left corner, and then choose your new iPhone.
  4. On the Summary tab, click “Restore Backup,” and then choose the backup you made previously. Type your password if you chose to encrypt your backup, and then wait for the process to complete.

Create an iCloud Backup

If you’re backing up your iPhone to the cloud, you can always restore it from iCloud instead, when prompted. However, restoring from iCloud takes much longer than restoring from a Mac or PC, so we recommend doing it locally.

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Geek Trivia: What Tune Was Used For The First Space To Mission Control Wakeup Call?

What Tune Was Used For The First Space To Mission Control Wakeup Call?

  1. Morning Has Broken
  2. On Top Of The World
  3. Come Fly With Me
  4. Going Back To Houston

Think you know the answer?

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How to Clean Up Your Messy Car (And Keep it That Way)

woman cleaning her car with a vacuum cleaner
lightpoet/Shutterstock

If you spend a lot of time in your car, be it commuting for work, shuttling the kids around, or both, you know how messy things can get. Here’s how to get things tidy and keep it that way to avoid your car turning into an embarrassing dumpster.

Messy cars happen easily, even if you’re the only person who is ever in your vehicle. You get fast food and drop a fry or two. You toss a tissue or napkin to the side to pick up later, only later never comes. The change falls out of your pockets. Sand and gravel come in off your shoes.

Just like cleaning your house or maintaining your yard, keeping your car clean is an ongoing project, but there are some things you can do to keep your car more organized and make cleaning less of a chore.

Let’s start with cleaning the car so that you have a fresh slate to work with and then look at tips and habits to use to keep it clean going forward.

Cleaning Your Messy Car

There’s a big difference between getting your car detailed to the point that it looks showroom fresh and just getting things tidy. There’s something to be said for cleaning a car to the point where you’re using q-tips in tiny crevices, but if that’s not your style, all that really matters if you give the car a decent cleaning to get rid of garbage, debris, and dust.

Empty Your Car

The first step in cleaning your messy car is to pull everything out of it, whether it’s trash, clutter, or your favorite CDs. Pull out floor mats while you’re at it. You may as well get a nice deep clean while you’re in there.

Toss the stuff that’s trash in the trash and set the things that need to go back in the car to the side. Anything that’s left should get put wherever it belongs inside your home or garage.

Vacuum

Grab a hand vac and vacuum all the nooks and crannies in your car. You’d be surprised what’s hiding under your seats (and in the seats as well). If you don’t have a vacuum at home, take your car to a car wash and use the ones there.

Vacuum the floor mats as well. If you have plastic mats, you can use the hose to clean them off and then let them air dry while you’re reorganizing your car. Some bay-style self-wash car washes will have clips on the wall of the bay where you can clip your mats and use the spray wand to really deep clean them. If so, you can give them a good spray down and then take them home to dry in the sun.

Wipe Down the Surfaces

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Everything You Need to Get Started with Indoor Rock Climbing

A couple indoor rock climbing.
wavebreakmedia/Shutterstock

Rock climbing is accessible to virtually anyone, and it can be done anywhere in the world. It requires a minimal investment to get started, but it’s a fun way to get active either by yourself or with friends and family.

If you’re ready to take your first steps into this world, this guide to indoor rock climbing is for you. 

Climbing Walls 

While outdoor rock climbing might seem like the most exciting version of this engaging sport, there’s much more to it than meets the eye. Aside from being physically and mentally demanding, it also involves a few limitations, such as location, weather, and the availability of a climbing partner. This is why it’s recommended that beginners start on an indoor wall. In this setting, you can independently work on your technique and learn about the risks involved without having to travel too far. 

Most climbing gyms offer introductory courses for people of all ages and provide you with a certificate of completion once you master all the basics. At certain walls, they take experience very seriously and only allow entry to people who have taken the course or who can prove a certain degree of expertise.

Thus, indoor rock climbing is as practical as it is convenient. Given its recent rise in popularity, indoor walls are now in most cities, and many offer different walls and the gear to practice the most common styles of climbing: bouldering, top-rope, and lead.

Climbing Styles 

Young woman indoor climbing.
Poprotskiy Alexey/Shutterstock

There are three main styles of climbing that can be done both indoors and outdoors, and they differ in gear and skill requirements.  

Bouldering 

Although just as demanding as the other disciplines, this is the most accessible form of rock climbing and the most popular with novice climbers. Bouldering involves low walls with intricate routes that call for good technique, a solid grip, and plenty of strength, as you navigate from the first hold to the last. Thick crash pads are located on the floor along the wall as protection in case of a fall. In some gyms, they require that you have a spotter, which is a person there to prevent you from falling headfirst. 

Like every other style of climbing, the routes are graded according to their level of difficulty. Every new grade requires an increasing amount of core and finger strength, as well as flexibility, rendering this discipline much more challenging than it might seem at first.

Bouldering only requires footwear and a bit of chalk to prevent sweaty hands from slipping from the holds. It’s a great training option for those who are afraid of heights or those who want to build upper body strength and skills.

Top-Rope Climbing

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How to Cancel Amazon Prime

Amazon Prime logo

Amazon Prime normally costs $119 per year unless you can score a discounted Prime membership. If you’re ready to give up free two-day shipping, the Amazon Prime Video library, Prime Day, and other perks, here’s how you can quit Prime.

Here’s the good news: You might be able to score a refund if you’re paid for Prime but haven’t used your benefits in this period. So, if Amazon just automatically renewed your Prime subscription and charged you, you may be able to get your money back. Even if you can’t get a refund, you can cancel Prime and you’ll keep your benefits until the end of your paid membership period. Amazon won’t automatically charge you to renew.

To get started, head to Amazon’s website. Sign in with your Amazon account if you’re not already signed in. Mouse over “Account & Lists” near the top right corner of the page and click “Your Prime Membership.”

Option to manage Prime membership on Amazon.com

Click the “End Membership and Benefits” link under Membership Management at the left side of the page. This begins the process of canceling your membership.

Option to end Prime membership benefits on Amazon.com

Amazon will remind you what you’re giving up. You can click “End My Benefits” and go through the prompts to continue the cancellation process.

Amazon's Prime cancellation wizard

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Are Extended Warranties Ever Worth Buying?

A group of people looking at an iPad screen displaying an offer for extended warranty.
Rawpixel.com/Shutterstock

Extended warranties are everywhere. But whether it’s on a car or an appliance, extended warranties are almost always a waste of money.

The Best Warranty Is a Savings Account

Extended warranties are rarely worth your money. Products don’t break on their own, and when they do, the price of repairs is usually lower than what you’d spend on an extended warranty.

Sure, some people have saved a lot of money with extended warranties. That’s great! But take a moment to ask yourself why a company would offer you an extended warranty. The answer is: because they’re profitable.

According to Warranty Week, a newsletter dedicated to service plans, extended warranties are a $40 billion business. This figure alone indicates that extended warranties are grossly overpriced and rarely used.

In most cases, it’s best to skip the extended warranty and use your extra cash to build up an emergency fund. But every situation is different, and some extended warranties are more useful than others. That’s why we’ve researched some popular products that usually offer extended warranties and explain whether it’s worth your money.

Extended Warranties for Cars Are Scams

A man's hand handing a stack of money to another man's hand over a table with a contract and a car key sitting on it.
Syda Productions/Shutterstock

Extended warranties for cars are a giant scam. They don’t exist to make people’s lives easier, and they’re not worth your money. Of course, everyone’s situation is different. If you’re offered a cheap extended warranty for a car with a lot of mileage, for example, it might be worth going over the pros and cons.

Dealerships offer extended warranties to supplement reduced prices on the showroom floor, to push people into high-interest, low-payment deals at the last second, and to ensure that people go to dealerships (instead of small businesses and competitors) for servicing. On top of all that, dealerships don’t always honor extended warranties, and most of the money from them goes toward a dealer’s commission, not a vehicular social security program.

The average extended warranty for a car costs between $350 and $750 a year (plus interest, if you add the warranty cost to your loan). And, in most cases, an extended warranty won’t cover routine maintenance (which costs less than $100 a year when paid out of pocket and prevents most unexpected breakdowns).

If you take that $350-$700 and stick it in your savings account, you’ll have more than enough money to pay for any surprise repairs. If you do run into a problem that’s too expensive to deal with (an engine replacement, for example), you can sell your car and use your savings as a down payment on a new one. This way, you also avoid Blue Book depreciation and future breakdowns (after one serious failure, cars tend to suck the money out of your wallet).

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How to Create and Update a Table of Figures in Microsoft Word

word logo

A table of figures is a list, sorted by page number, of the captions pulled from figures, images, or tables in your document. It’s like a table of contents, but it’s a table of anything to which you can add a caption.

Insert a Table of Figures

Adding a table of figures is a useful tool for allowing the reader to quickly navigate to specific parts of the document (or as a personal quick reference guide). This is especially true for longer documents with an excessive amount of media. It’s important to note, however, that adding a table of figures is only possible if you add captions (not to be confused with alternative text) to your figures, images, and tables. We’ll assume that you have already captioned the relevant material in your Word document in this example.

Once you’re ready to insert your table of figures, go ahead and click the location of the document in which you would like the table to be added. Next, head over to the “References” tab and select “Insert Table of Figures.”

Insert table of figures option in reference tab

Once selected, the “Table of Figures” window will appear, displaying the print and web preview of the table of figures. Here, you can also adjust several options and customize the format of the table.

Once you’ve tweaked your settings, click “OK.”

Edit the Table of Figures options

Your table of figures will now be inserted in your Word doc.

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Daily News Roundup: Sprint Got Hacked Through Samsung

Sprint sent letters out to customers informing them someone had breached the company’s servers and stolen user data. The data included phone numbers, billing addresses, names, and more. Oddly, instead of a direct attack, the hack went through Samsung’s website.

Samsung sells phones on its website. To make the process easier, it works with carriers directly to offer financed prices. As you are checking out, you can choose your carrier (Verizon, Sprint, etc.), whether or not to take advantage of any phone deals the companies are offering, and set up activation.

A hacker used this connection between Samsung and Sprint to break into customers’ accounts and stole personal information including phone number, device type, device ID, monthly recurring charges, subscriber ID, account number, account creation date, upgrade eligibility, first and last name, billing address, and add-on services.

What’s unclear is how long the hackers had access or how many customers were affected. Sprint says it was informed of the breach on June 22nd and reset customer pins to secure their accounts three days later. No customer action is needed at this time, but it would be wise to keep an eye on bank accounts, credit card statements, etc. especially if you received a letter from Sprint. [ZDNet]

In Other News:

  • Huawei plans extensive layoffs in the United States: The bad news continues for Huawei. The company reportedly plans to layoff U.S. workers, likely as a result of the ban preventing it from selling phones or even working with Android. The number of layoffs is expected to be in the hundreds.  [Wall Street Journal]
  • Twitter’s redesigned website is rolling out now: Twitter.com might look different today if you’re using it from a desktop browser. The new look sports a coat of fresh dark theme paint, a reorganization of the sidebar and headers for easier navigation, and a multi-paned direct message screen. Twitter says the changes are rolling out to all users now. [TechCrunch]
  • Apex Legends will put cheaters in a corner: Like all online games, Apex Legends has a cheating problem. Respawn, the developer behind the game has a solution we can all get behind: quarantine cheaters and have them play against each other. That should make cheating less fun for them and the game more fun for the rest of us. [Engadget]
  • RingCentral and Zhumu affected by the same flaws as Zoom: Just when you thought the Zoom saga had come to an end, more bad news rears its ugly head. Two apps, RingCentral and Zhumu, use Zoom software to power video conferencing, and so have the same underlying flaws allowing bad actors to start your webcam without your permission. You should update the apps now if you have them installed. [The Verge]
  • Alexa may come to your Windows 10 lock screen: Microsoft released a Windows 10 Insider update that included an interesting new change: users will be able to choose which voice assistant activates with a wake word from the lock screen. Right now, only Amazon offers a PC app, but Google could release one as well. [How-To Geek]
  • Microsoft pulled the Windows 10 May 2019 Update from Surface Books: Microsoft put an update block on Windows 10 May 2019 update for Surface Book 2 laptops. Some of the devices with integrated graphics cards stopped detecting that hardware after the update. Given that Microsoft makes the Surface Book 2, it’s surprising the company didn’t catch the issue before release. [TechSpot]
  • Fernando Corbato, inventory of the computer password, dies at 93 years old: Dr. Corbato faced a unique challenge during the 1950’s. Multiple people needed to use MIT’s computers, but the machines could only one person at a time. Not to be stopped by small limitations, Corbato first created an OS that could handle multiple users by dividing processor time between them. Then he went on to create passwords to keep files private on shared computers. He leaves behind a legacy of privacy and trying hard to remember if your password was Tr0ub4dor&3 or Tr0mb4ne&3. [BBC]

Fifty years ago today, Apollo 11 launched—destination: The Moon.

The successful launch would take three men to space, where two of them would eventually become the first people to step foot on the moon.

It’s a testament to human ingenuity that we could successfully create a giant controlled explosion beneath three people, launch them into a place where humans were not meant to be, and bring them back safely.

Surprisingly, to this day, the Saturn V rocket that Nasa used to launch the men into space is still the largest and most powerful rocket ever built.

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How to Disable Twitter’s “News For You” Notifications

Twitter "News For You" notification on an iPhone

Twitter typically notifies you about likes, retweets, or mentions. But sometimes it notifies you about “News for You,” inviting you to read the latest news on Twitter. Here’s how to turn off those news notifications on your iPhone or Android.

First, open the Twitter app on your phone. Tap your profile picture and then tap “Settings and Privacy.”

Launching Twitter's settings in the iPhone app

Tap “Notifications” in the list of settings categories.

Opening Twitter notification options in the mobile app

Tap “Push notifications” under Preferences.

Opening Twitter push notification options on mobile

Disable the “News” slider under “From Twitter.”

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How to Fix a Frozen Windows PC

Windows 10 PC showing a blue screen error.
Mashka/Shutterstock.com

Windows PCs freeze for a variety of reasons. One instance might be a fluke, but repeated freezes suggest a problem you’ll want to fix. Here’s how to unfreeze and recover a stuck PC—and stop it from freezing again.

How to Unfreeze a Frozen Windows PC

There are several ways you can recover your frozen PC, depending on what caused the problem. Sometimes, all you have to do is wait a few seconds—the PC might get hung up while doing some work and unfreeze itself a few seconds later.

If a full-screen application, like a game, freezes and prevents you from leaving it, press Alt+F4. This closes the application if the game is just experiencing graphical problems, but it won’t work if the application has frozen completely.

To see if the computer is still responding, press Ctrl+Alt+Delete. From this screen, you can open the Task Manager (and close any running applications), or log out of or restart your PC. If this screen doesn’t appear, you might not be able to recover your PC without rebooting it.

Open "Task Manager" from the Ctrl+Alt+Delete screen.

If you can open the Task Manager, you might be able to recover from the freeze. (You can also press Ctrl+Shift+Esc to open the Task Manager.)

Select the “Processes” tab—if you don’t see it, click “More Details.” Locate any processes using a lot of CPU—you can click the “CPU” column header to sort by CPU usage and see the most demanding processes at the top of the list.

Click a process to select it, and then click “End Task” to forcibly end the program. You’ll lose any unsaved work in the program, but if it’s crashed and is using a lot of CPU, there might be no way to recover your unsaved data, anyway.

Click the "CPU" column to sort by CPU usage. Click a process to select it, and then click "End Task."

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How to Fix Crashing Apps on an iPhone or iPad

Hand holding an iPhone XS showing the home screen.
N.Z.Photography/Shutterstock

Apps can crash or freeze on iPhones and iPads, just as they can on any other platform. Apple’s iOS operating system disguises app crashes by closing the app. If you’re experiencing crashing, freezing, or buggy apps, here’s how you can fix your problem.

Is it an App or Device Crash?

First, you have to figure out whether it’s an app crash or a device crash. This is pretty simple: if you’re using an app, and it suddenly closes for no reason, the app crashed. If you’re using an app and it becomes unresponsive, but you can still access other apps, the app has crashed. If you’re trying to launch an app and it keeps disappearing, the app is repeatedly crashing.

If your phone has become unresponsive, it’s likely a device issue. Your phone will display a black screen or remain stuck on the Apple logo if the device has crashed. Also, if your iPhone or iPad is slow for no apparent reason, and across multiple apps, it’s a device issue.

If you cannot connect your wireless headphones, send files over AirDrop, or see AirPlay devices, it’s possible a service used by the operating system has crashed.

Troubleshooting App Crashes

Apps are third-party software that runs on your iPhone. Despite the, “it just works,” perception of Apple devices, there’s plenty that can go wrong and cause apps to crash, become unresponsive, or refuse to open at all. Problems usually stem from issues with the code, unexpected input, and even hardware limitations. Apps are made by humans, after all, and humans make mistakes.

If an app suddenly disappears, it’s due to a crash. In most cases, reopening it resolves the problem. If you’re sharing analytics with developers (more on this later), they receive a crash report they can use to prevent the problem from reoccurring.

How to Kill an Unresponsive App

If an app is unresponsive, you can kill it using the app switcher. There’s no need to routinely kill apps using this method unless they’re causing issues. The app switcher is accessed using different shortcuts, depending on your iPhone model:

  • iPhone 8 and earlier (devices with a Home button): Double-tap the Home button until you see a list of recently-used applications.
  • iPhone X and later (devices without a Home button): Swipe up from the bottom of the screen and flick to the right or Swipe up from the bottom of the screen and hold until you see a list of recently-used applications.

You can use this list to switch between apps quickly. Find the application causing the issue, and then touch and swipe up on it to “throw it away” and close it. The app will disappear from the list of recently-used apps.

The iOS App Switcher on an iPhone.

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Xeon vs. Core: Are Intel’s Expensive CPUs Worth a Premium?

Desktop computer and headphones on a desk in a low-lit room.

Apple made a big splash in June 2019 when it introduced an overhauled Mac Pro desktop computer dripping with processing and graphics power. The primary components behind the new Mac beast are Intel Xeon processors. They range from an unnamed eight-core, 3.5 GHz Xeon W (possibly, the Xeon W-3223), to another as-yet-unnamed 2.5 GHz, 28-core Intel Xeon W processor (likely the Xeon W-3275 or W-3275M).

The new Mac tower inspired discussions around the How-To Geek watercooler about whether packing one of these multicore behemoths into your next PC build is worth it.

Let’s face it; Apple’s new workstation isn’t realistic for most of us. Pricing for the new Mac Pro starts at $6,000 and escalates up to “small business loan.” The new desktops also have restricted upgrade possibilities due to proprietary connectors, and they lack the vast gaming potential on the Windows side.

So, should you leave the bounties of Core i7 and i9 processors behind to experiment with the world of Xeon?

Probably not, and here’s why.

What’s a Xeon CPU?

Xeon is Intel’s CPU lineup, and it’s aimed primarily at business workstations and servers. These CPUs typically offer more cores than mainstream PCs, but the clock speeds are a little wonky when compared with their Core i7 and i9 counterparts.

The Intel Xeon W-3275/W-3275M, for example, has clock speeds that start at 2.5 GHz and go up to 4.40 GHz, with a further boost to 4.60 GHz under certain loads. Compare that to the popular Core i9-9900K, which has a base clock of 3.60 GHz and a boost of 5.0 GHz. Clearly, the Core i9-9900K’s clock speeds are loads better for the average PC user.

Intel's Xeon processor package.
Intel

Then, you have the Xeon W-3223. This is also an eight-core, 16-thread chip, like the Core i9-9900K, but its clock speed tops out at 4.0 GHz, and its MSRP is about $250 higher than the i9-9900K. In short, Xeon clock speeds can either be close to a top Core part or well below it.

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