Safe Zones for your Internet Transactions

Screen Shot 2016-06-07 at 7.32.18 PMSelling things on the internet can be rewarding and fun. That’s the good news. The bad news is that it can also be dangerous. There are many terrible stories of horrible things happening during Craigslist transactions, for example.

I’ve used Craigslist myself probably about a dozen times, and I’ll admit I was a wee bit uncomfortable about completing the deals. I sold an old set of outdoor furniture, a large couch and even a hot tub through online ads. All of these sales were big items and the exchange took place at my home (not advisable, but I couldn’t move any of it to a different location). Happily the people who came by were all delightful, friendly folks and everything went smoothly.

Selling on the internet is a wonderful way to clear out your closets and downsize your life. The BIG worry is where to meet these strangers to complete the transaction? There are many articles and lists on the internet describing all the things you can do to keep yourself safe. Suggestions include meeting in a public place, sharing the location with friends, etc. etc. ….

But here is some GREAT news:

Screen Shot 2016-06-07 at 7.41.13 PM Recently many local police stations are now setting up SAFE ZONE transaction areas to deal with this problem. These spots are usually close to a police station (possibly in the parking lot), and sometimes the spots are actually IN the police station, in an area set aside for this very purpose. Recently, my local newspaper alerted our community of a new ‘safe spot’ for Craigslist, etc, transactions right next to a police station. This spot is well marked, well lit and under video surveillance.

And so …… if you plan to sell through the internet, and complete your transaction in person, please call your local police station and ask if they provide this service. More and more communities are getting on board and setting up these safe areas. It’s such a wonderful idea!!! I think it might finally be time to get rid of all those old 60’s LPs cluttering my basement …… 🙂

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I Lost My Kindle ….. Now what?

Screen Shot 2016-05-22 at 11.15.35 AM Yes, I did. I lost it. The new one. The new, very expensive one. I have only had it a few weeks…… and yes, I’m so sad.

But this post is not about my stupidity or my angst (although I could rant about both!). This is to tell you about the experience I had with Amazon after losing the Kindle …..

My first thought (well, ALMOST my first thought, after a good hour or so of spouting un-repeatable words directed at myself and my carelessness) was to protect my account. After all, you can buy books directly from your Kindle by tapping on any book in the store. If someone had my Kindle, I worried that they could ring up some massive bills by downloading a boatload of books.

And so, once I could think rationally, again, I took several steps to protect myself. I hope you never need this information, but in case you also lose your Kindle some day,
here is what you should do:

First, go to your Amazon account, then drill down a bit. Go to “Manage Your Content and Devices” and then “Your Devices”.

Select your Kindle (If you have more than one registered, make sure you select the one that is missing.)

Click on that Kindle. You will then see an option to “deregister” that device. Go ahead and deregister it. Now it is no longer connected to Amazon, and no one can buy anything from it.

But you’re not done, yet.

You absolutely should call Amazon: 1 (888) 280-4331

I connected with a very nice fellow who kindly sympathized with me for a few minutes before getting down to the nitty gritty.

He told me that deregistering it was exactly the right thing to do (although he could have also handled that in the phone call).

Beyond the deregistering of the Kindle, Amazon then takes it a step further. He explained to me that because of my call, he would flag my Kindle. This means that if anyone “finds” my Kindle and tries to register it, they will be unable to. (YAY!) He said that Amazon will tell the person that this particular Kindle has been reported as lost or stolen, and, NOPE, it can NOT be registered. So the “new owner” of my Kindle will own a brick, not a reading device.

And finally, I asked that IF my Kindle is returned, would I be able to register it again, myself? They have that covered, too. He sent me an email while I was still on the phone, with confirmation that I’ve reported it missing, and with a number to use to re-register it if it is found, proving that I am the owner. Well done, Amazon.

I still can’t believe I was so careless…….. ARGH!

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Future Tech to make Smaller Screens Practical: SkinTrack

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I’ve never been good at “seeing” the future.

80’s me: (to my son, sitting at his Commodore 64) “What are you doing?”

Son: “Leaving a message on a computer bulletin board. If another computer dials in, they can read the message … and then leave one for me!!”

80’s me: “What’s the use of that?”

Duh.

Yes, that was me, dissing the whole possibility of the internet. I just didn’t get it. I didn’t see it.

So, it is with open eyes from that lesson learned that I look at this new fangled invention: SkinTrack.

SkinTrack is a way of using your skin as a touch screen.

So, if “future you” has an Apple watch on your wrist, and the screen is just too darned small to tap on things, with SkinTrack you’ll just use your skin as the touch screen.

Small screens can be difficult to tap on, yet small devices are popular. Obviously the inventors of SkinTrack see this as a way of solving the small screen problem.

It boils down to this: The user wears a ring. The ring communicates with the device as you move your finger around on your arm. It even works if your arm is covered with clothing.

So will this become a real thing? A common thing? Don’t ask me. I didn’t see the whole internet brouhaha as any more than a curiosity.

(if you’d like to learn more, here’s a link with a detailed video: SkinTrack Turns Your Arm Into a Touch Screen )

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Find Safe, Healthy and Socially Responsible Products with Good Guide

Screen Shot 2016-04-26 at 8.23.48 AMThis app was promoted on our latest Earth Day. I learned about it then, and downloaded it immediately.

I’m delighted!

With a massive database of over 210,000 products, this app rates them on a scale of 1 to 10 on health, environmental and social impact.

You can search for a product or you can browse through categories such as pet products, oral care, food, household cleaners and more. I especially like seeing the ingredients listed with ratings on EACH ingredient about its safety (or not). You can even scan the barcode of a product while you are shopping.

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I searched for several products that I use regularly and was surprised to see a very low rating for one in particular that I use all the time (oh my ….. a change will happen.🙂 ).

This app has been featured in the NY Times, USA Today, TIME, Oprah, InStyle, Newsweek, TechCrunch, ABC, CBS, and more. Truly a valuable resource at your fingertips.

Good Guide is FREE in the iTunes store.

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Amazon releases the Newest Kindle: Oasis

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This morning Amazon went “live” with it’s newest Kindle, available now to pre-order.

Improvements seem to be mostly the hardware: It’s thinner and lighter. It’s shaped differently, giving you a wider side on one edge to hold it. It comes WITH a cover, and that cover acts as an additional charging source for the Kindle, giving it the battery power of months (yes…months).

It’s pricey, and so it will be interesting to see if this model flies off the shelves ….

I’ve been reading on the Kindle Voyage, and it hasn’t been my happiest experience. The improvements on the new Oasis seem to have addressed the shortcomings of the Voyage. The price tag gives me pause, but I’m such a new-tech-stuff nerd ………. I just might……. (and if I do, I’ll be sure to let you know.🙂 )

Reviews are coming out, and they are looking good.

This short video, made by my favorite Kindle podcaster, Len Edgerly, examines the new Oasis.

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Use the “Near” Feature on Google Maps to Find What you Want

Screen Shot 2016-04-02 at 6.05.37 PMNot a day goes by that I don’t click on Google Maps. I use it ALL the time.

I use it for directions, of course, and daily for traffic. I use it to look for shortcuts, and I use it for street view so that I can recognize my destination when I get there.

Another great feature of Google Maps is the “near” feature. I was not very familiar with it, but now that I’m using it …… well, it’s simply invaluable.

Let’s say you are standing in Manhattan, near the Empire State Building. You want to visit a book store, but you have no clue of the name of any local book store let alone where one might be.

Google maps to the rescue.

Simply search for “book stores near (your location)” In this example case, I searched for “book stores near the Empire State Building” and the map below shows the result of that search. A bunch of book stores to explore!

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This is obviously a great feature to have when you’re away from home, but lately I find myself using this trick at home, too, to discover unknown-to-me restaurants and other places.

Just search using your own address (or “me” if Google maps knows your home address):
“Mexican restaurants near me,” for example, and, poof! All kinds of new places to explore.🙂

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