How to Move Your Tech and Home Theater Safely and Without Hassle

17 December, 2012 Life No comments
How to Move Your Tech and Home Theater Safely and Without Hassle

Oh, boy. Moving. Some people love pulling up their roots and starting anew in a strange new world. Others detest the act and need plenty of good reasons to shift themselves out of their comfortable groove. Love it or hate it, moving can prove to be a major source of stress for one reason in particular: the packing and moving of electronic devices. Though some tech is sturdier than we give it credit for, stuff gets jostled in transit and becomes scratched, broken, or (horrors!) lost. But if you take precautions, moving technology and networks can be done safely and easily. 

From talking to your provider to storing up those all-important monitor/television boxes, here are five tips to help you move your tech easily and without hassle. 

Deal with ISPs ahead of time – Sometimes it’s easy to forget how much our day-to-day lives rely on a sturdy Internet connection, but you’ll remember in a hurry if that Internet connection vanishes for days at a time. Before you move, make sure you tell your providers what they need to know at least two weeks before the actual move date (a month is ideal). Also, make sure service is turned off at the old homestead. 

Shut down everything – Turn everything utterly off before you move it. Seems like an obvious piece of advice, but with so many of our electronics running off batteries these days, sometimes we forget that “Hibernation Mode” is not the same as a full-fledged shutdown. You don’t know how long your gadgets are going to be in a box, so make sure they’ve been completely put to bed before you hit the road. 

Label cables – Here’s a guarantee: When the last box has been shoved into the living room and you’re ready to set up your computer in its new home, you’re not going to feel like digging through a ratty wad of cables in order to sort out what belongs to what. Make sure you label each cable before packing it away—you’ll save yourself a lot of hassle when you reach Point B. 

Backup data first, if possible – It’s never a bad idea to make regular backups of your most important files, but it’s especially important when you’re moving. For some unexplained reason, computers, etc, get temperamental when you move. The worst probably won’t happen, but if your data goes kaput, you’re definitely going to want a backup on hand. 

Store monitors, TVs in boxes – When you bought that new HDTV, you kept the box, right? Right? Ideally, easily-scratched electronics like TVs and monitors should be moved in their original packaging. If you disposed of your boxes because space is at a premium in your house (or if the cats claimed it as their personal fort), give yourself time to ask computer/electronics shops if they can spare any extras. Make sure you remember the exact measurements! 

For more tips on moving your electronics with as few tears as possible, visit 

How to Move Your Home Network and Media Center With Minimal Stress at CNet

Kids and Internet Safety: MMOs and Online Play

Kids and Internet Safety: MMOs and Online Play

Family Tech

Technology for parents & kids: Hints, tips, online safety strategies & more.

While online virtual worlds are an incredibly popular way to have fun with friends on the Internet in a seemingly trustworthy environment, the truth is that there are a number of potential concerns and dangers that parents and users of all ages should be aware of.

The European Network and Information Security Agency (ENISA) reports that the biggest concerns for parents about virtual worlds for both kids (7 an under) and tweens (8 to 12) is online safety and exposure to online predators.

This is made possible due to the very social nature of these virtual worlds, which are essentially forms of social networks for kids with more of an emphasis on graphics than words.

Common Concerns

Going beyond general online safety fears, key concerns parents have about virtual worlds from the ENISA report include:

–          Exposure to harmful or illegal content, such as pornography or gambling

–          Interaction with ill-intentioned adults masquerading as children

–          Identity theft

–          Health issues related to spending too much time on computer and not enough time outside

–          Unauthorized spending

While these are all legitimate concerns, all reputable virtual world sites take steps to prevent misuse or abuse by users which parents should be aware of.

For starters, any service aimed at kids age 13 and under must be compliant with the U.S.’s stringent COPPA regulations, designed to protect the online privacy of minors.

The creators of these sites that are used by kids also offer many parental control options via a parental control panel, which also can generate usage reports and monitoring about not only how long kids are playing, but what types of activities they are participating in.

And because gamers in these virtual worlds are always connected online, the game’s developers can track and record every movement, interaction and purchase that gamers do while online.  Companies do this not necessarily with the player’s best interest in mind, but rather to be able to better tune and enhance their worlds based on how players are using them.  But for parents concerned about online safety, this practice is a nice consequence. 

It is definitely worth noting though that for those parents more concerned about online privacy that are lax to share ANY information about their children, obviously you’re giving up some anonymity by participating in virtual worlds, even if the data collected can’t be connected to your specific children.

A Bit More About Chat in Virtual Worlds

A key part of these online virtual worlds is also the chat function. There are many solutions available to help prevent unwanted and undesired contact from others.

There are two ways that chat can be moderated in virtual worlds.  The first is by controlling which other users players can interact with, and the second involves the types of communication they can engage in.

As a basic option, many virtual worlds offer “restricted chat.” This means that not only are users restricted to talking with others on their dual-approved friend list, but there are also limited, pre-written chat options for them to use.

Older kids may be allowed more chat freedom, but most virtual worlds still have a list of words they will not allow, as well as restrict interactions with others.

And nearly all have live, human moderators that are on hand roaming the world to watch out for any bad or questionable behavior, or who can immediately respond should you click the handy and usually prominent “report” button.

Other Tips for Keeping Kids Safe in Virtual Worlds

The US government has a website at OnGuardOnline.gov that offers many online safety tips, including those specific to virtual worlds.  Among the recommendations are for parents to check out online destinations themselves and engage in specific conversations about how and when they’ll be visiting these virtual worlds.

Parents can also look for third-party certifications on sites such as the TrustE online privacy Trustmark, the kidSAFE Seal or the FamilyFriendlyVideoGames.com Seal of Approval.  All of these indicate that the site has been checked out by a third-party for safety, privacy and other concerns.

While we looked at earlier at a basic introduction to online virtual worlds, next we’ll take a look at many of the key terms and details in our top 10 terms for online virtual worlds.

How to Stream Music Around the Home

12 December, 2012 Life No comments
How to Stream Music Around the Home

In the past, sharing your music with the household meant turning up the living room stereo to 11—a gesture the neighbors didn’t always appreciate. In recent years, wireless digital technology has made it possible to pipe your tunes to any room, at any volume (11 is still an option, provided you’re willing to risk the neighbors’ wrath). 

Whether you’re engaged in work, chores, spring cleaning, or just want to feed some gentle music into a toddler’s bedroom as the day winds down, there are plenty of easy and relatively inexpensive ways to  stream music throughout your house. Here are five.   

AppleTVAppleTV is a handsome little box that lets you stream music (and other media, including video and pictures) from your iTunes account to household televisions. It’s easy to set up, it’s user-friendly, and you can rent or purchase digital movies when the mood strikes. AppleTV is compatible with Macs and PCs. 

Xbox 360/PlayStation 3 Video game consoles like the Xbox 360 and the PS3 have become major media hubs across the past few years. You can use both to wirelessly access media in other rooms of your house, though doing so with the Xbox 360 requires a wireless adaptor, sold separately (the latest model of the Xbox 360 has built-in Wi-Fi).   

Sonos Multi-Room SystemSonos’ Multi-Room System pretty much delivers what it promises. Sonos is easy to set up, and you can use it to stream one song through the house—or different songs to different rooms. Sonos’ music menus can even be controlled with your iPhone following the download of a free app. 

Rocketfish Wireless SpeakersRocketfish’s  speakers are an easy, cost-effective way to place your household music where you crave it the most. The speakers operate via a wireless transmitter, and plays music from almost any MP3 player. 

D-Link Media Lounge – The D-Link Media Lounge is a popular streaming option thanks to its affordability (you can typically find it for under $200 USD) and performance. The Media Lounge can stream music, video, and still pictures.    

For more tips on how to stream music throughout your house, read: 

How to Stream Audio and Digital in Your Home at DigitalTrends

Make Your House Rock from Any Room at PCWorld

How Can I Stream Music Around my House? at PopSci