Tag Archives: laptop

Re-Sell or Donate Your Old Technology

pile-o-cellphones-702573-870x400Christmas is done and as always many of us found a new techno-gadget under the tree. Its a great feeling to finally get your hands on a new laptop, tablet or smartphone. But keep in mind that that old phone or computer could put some money back in your pocket or a get you a nice tax write-off.

Re-selling technology is a big business. Thanks to the combined efforts of the technology industry and gadget hounds. Gadget hounds can’t wait for the next new gadget to hit the market. And the manufacturers are happy to oblige. They quickly trade in a smartphone or other device just to have the newest thing on the market. The result is that millions of devices end up for sale as re-furbished. Great devices, nearly new, at a greatly reduced price.

But a trade-in is not always the best option. You won’t always get the best deal for your old phone or laptop. The profit margin for re-selling refurbished devices is huge because the buyers keep the prices low for buying your stuff and high for selling it. Its a simple game that benefits the re-seller. But re-selling your old smartphone or computer can get you a few dollars and giving it to charity can get you a nice tax write-off and a good feeling inside.

Here are the best places to re-sell your old computer for top dollar.

gadget salvationGadget Salvation – Gadget Salvation is accredited with the Better Business Bureau and has an A rating from them. Users of ResellerRatings  give the company an average 8 out of 10 score and the site is rated 4 out of 5 stars based on the 55 reviews on Trustpilot. The company will provide you with a shipping label for your device and pay using PayPal. But the website has a couple of issues you need to be ready for. First is that it may be difficult to find the make and model of your device and you may find more than one listing creating some confusion. The second is that they have a strict standard for getting the best price for your device. When they say ‘like new” they mean it. Gadget Salvation warns sellers that only about 1 in 10 devices are considered to be in “flawless” condition. Most used laptops only qualify for “good.” But their prices are still above average compared to other companies.

macmeanofferMac Me An OfferRemember the old saying; “If it sounds to good to be true it probably is?”  Well the price difference between their MacBook offers and the other sites will have you thinking it’s a scam. But Mac Me An Offer has an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau.

This website requires that you complete some forms and be a little more detailed about the cosmetic and working condition of your computer. Then you have to wait for a price quote that comes via email. Of course the site only deals in Apple products.

amazon-logoAmazon.com – Amazingly Amazon will accept a host of devices for trade-in. You can trade in old smartphones, tablets, cameras, laptops,video games, wearable devices, MP3 players, TVs, movies and CDs, other assorted electronics and even books and textbooks. Your trade-in will not get you cash but you can get an Amazon gift card.

PCWorld.com has a great list of electronics buy back programs

Donating to charity is another great way to dispose of old electronics. Many charities put the electronics to good use buy re-selling them for a profit. Many homeless shelters use old computer and laptops to help the homeless find jobs, fill out job applications online, and various other tasks.

Some women’s shelters provide cellphones and computers to abused women as well. Check in your local area for shelters that are taking donations. Also check out the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence.  Most of these donations are completely tax deductible and the charities will provide receipts for your donation’s value.

Another place to donate old electronics is the World Computer Exchange. These computers are used in schools in under-developed countries and private education programs. These too are normally tax deductible.

There is also Cellphones for Soldiers.  This  charity accepts used cellphones which are refurbished and sold. A portion of the profits is used to purchase prepaid calling minutes for soldiers deployed overseas so they may call families back home.

Most charitable organizations such as the Salvation Army and Goodwill Industries accept electronic donations.

Check out the MoneyCrashers.com website for more charities accepting electronics donations.

Now you know.

 

 

Fox’s ‘Empire’ to Stream on Hulu Plus

fox-empireFox’s new showEmpire is big! Really big!  In the history of television the show is unequaled.  In the 23 year since Nielsen began tracking TV ratings no other program has grown its audience show after show, week after week. Last week’s finale captured over 16.5 million viewers leaving CBS’s Survivor in the dust by 7 million viewers.

Streaming media company Hulu has grabbed exclusive streaming rights for all past and future episodes of this record setting program.  Currently the entire first season is available for Hulu Plus subscribers. Future episodes will stream on the service the day after it airs on Fox. Hulu Plus is the paid, commercial free version of the service.

facebook_share_thumb_default_huluplusThe streaming media business is an extremely competitive business. Hulu is not publicly traded so it is not required to release financial data.  Netflix, Hulu’s biggest competitor, ended 2014 on a high note with a 26 percent revenue increase and adding over  four million more subscribers. The company earned $5.5 billion last year.

Amazon Prime is the other big player in the streaming game.  Amazon is usually quiet about its subscriber base but recently announced it has over 20 million Amazon Prime members globally.  This subscriber base is bringing in an an estimated $1.7 billion annually according to Forbes.com.

Apple is also launching a streaming television service that would let users stream up to 25 channels to Apple mobile devices and the Apple TV set top box. According to the Wall Street Journal Apple is negotiating with broadcasters to offer a slimmed-down bundle of TV networks as soon as this fall. ABC, CBS, and Fox are reported on board.

Hulu used its advantage to get Empire. The streaming service is owned by Twenty-First Century Fox,  the Walt Disney Co., and Comcast’s NBCUniversal. But even though Hulu would appear to have a fighting advantage over Netflix and Amazon Prime the war over streaming rights is hot and expensive. Netflix picked up The Blacklist for a reported $2 million per episode. It grabbed rights to Gotham before the show even premiered.

Hulu will not be outgunned in the streaming war. Hulu CEO Mike Hopkins announced the company is extending its relationship with CBS. It has also signed an exclusive deal for ABC’s Nashville and improved it’s children’s selection with exclusive access to Fraggle Rock spin-off  The Doozers.

Some content will be available to all Hulu subscribers for free. This includes CBS’s Everybody Loves Raymond and Wings. 

Hulu offers 1,650 shows, 2,500 movies, original programs and broadcast favorites including:

  • Scandal
  • Grey’s Anatomy
  • Brooklyn Nine-Nine
  • The Mindy Project
  • Glee
  • Blue Bloods
  • Elementary

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Netflix offers over 9,000 titles and original programs along with these popular television shows:

  •  Mad Men
  • Breaking Bad
  • The West Wing
  • Friend
  • 30 Rock

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Amazon Prime offers the following programs and original content:

  • Justified
  • 24 Live Another Day
  • Falling Skies
  • The Good Wife
  • How I Met Your Mother
  • The Americans

Breaking It Down

What you see happening is the death of three different forms of video entertainment. Cable, broadcast television and movie rentals are all dying! The streaming media business is offering everything the consumer needs and wants on demand, anywhere they want it, and on any device they want. For black people this means saving yourself a lot of money by getting rid of your cable or at least reducing it to basic service.

Let me explain. Broadcast television has slowly been dying since the invention of the VCR. If not for live sports they would be gone already. Why? Because broadcast television held to a rigid schedule. All programs were aired on a certain date and time. The VCR changed all that allowing you to record your program and watch it when you wanted to. Cable came along offering movies and more adult oriented programming. Television has been fighting, with some success, to compete. But it is a struggle.

Cable television had the same problem but they were airing programs a few times a day so if you missed a show you could catch it later. But some cable bills are as much as $300 a month. And there is the DVR. That costs too.  Yeah, if you could master the technology you could access your DVR away from home using a computer or laptop. But again, it is expensive. Have you seen the cost of the data plans lately?

And let’s not leave out Red Box movie rental. That big Red Box is slowly becoming a big red coffin. Same as BlockBuster and those other movie rental stores.

Streaming media like Hulu, Netflix and Amazon Prime do it all. Now you can pretty much watch any movie or television show anywhere you want anytime you want. Even on your smartphone.  You are completely in control of your time and entertainment choices. Cable can’t do that. Television can’t do that. Red Box can’t do that. And they sure as hell can’t do it for less than $10.00 a month as these services do. Cut the cable and save your money.

 

Is Your Router Wide Open?

When it comes to the Internet black people are sometimes unaware of the little things that are happening all around them.  For example how many black people knew that there are maps online that can show every house and every WiFi network and even the devices that are on the network in your home?

Everything in your house that is online has two distinct numbers. One is a MAC address and the other is an IP address. These are exactly what they say they are, addresses. A MAC address or media access control address is a unique set of numbers assigned to each device on a network. It is a permanent number that is assigned when the product is manufactured. Sometimes it is called a physical address.

The other number or address is the IP address. An IP address is a unique set of numbers separated by periods that identifies each computer using the Internet Protocol to communicate over the Internet. Your laptop, your printer, your set top box, your smartphone, your tablet and your router all have a MAC and IP address. And that is where the problem begins.

Every home that connects to the Internet has a router. Its the front door to your home network. Its the entry and exit  for everything on the Internet you ask for and many things you don’t.  You probably leave it wide open.

The router can be hard wired and all your equipment is connected to it via a wire of some type. Or it can be a wireless router that allows the devices in your home to connect via radio waves. That router is the only thing standing between you and the jungle we call the Internet.

A wired and wireless router

The one thing you need to know about that router is that it has a password and if you have not changed that password then any hacker can, and may have already, been on your home network.

Anyone can get the password to your router simply by going to any one of several websites that have a list of default passwords. One of the sites that reveals default passwords is Routerpasswords.com. This site allows you to search by the brand name of the router. Just select the brand name and the password is revealed. Another website for router passwords is Portforward.com and there is PCwintech.com. The message being; it is easy to get your router password if you have not changed it.

The next question you may ask is how would someone know what router is in my house? That is a simple answer as well. They simply go to a website that displays maps of home networks. Yes; I said that your home network is located on a map on the Internet. Wigle.net will show you what networks are on in any neighborhood in the world! Simply go to the site and enter the needed information and you will probably find your own network. Not only will you find your home network mapped out but your equipment may be identified by brand name. Google has mapped every WiFi network in England.

Here are a few steps you need to take if you have not already. First get a hold of your Internet provider and ask them to help you rename your router to keep it from revealing who you are and where you are. Don’t use any information that will tell people who that router belongs to. Something simple such as an odd mixture of numbers and letters like JK44RC578. Then change your password so no one can break into your network. Its the simple things that will protect you.

Now you know.

 

 

Computer Misuse Will Get You Fired

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Courtesy of stockimages

More and more jobs involve the use of a computer. And working with a computer has its hazards just as a job driving a bus or cooking for a living does. African-Americans understand that sometimes we are judged more harshly than others in the workplace. So you need to beware of computer misuse on the job. These mistakes could get you fired and even destroy your career. Companies are extremely sensitive about their computers and networks. The least little thing could cost millions of dollars in data loss and man hours to repair the damage.

AACR Rule #10. You are always one click from destruction.

Lets look at the ten computer mistakes that will get you fired.

1) Using storage devices to transfer data. Transferring your employer’s corporate data back and forth to your home computer using a thumb drive or other storage device may seem harmless but you are asking for trouble. You could lose the drive containing sensitive information such as customer names and information or that of a business partner. You may unintentionally infect your company’s network with a virus you didn’t know you had.  Its smart to keep your computer and the company’s computer separate. If you need to take information home or travel then ask for a company laptop and use a secure pass phrase and encryption in case it gets stolen in the airport or hotel.  If it happens kiss that job goodbye.

2) Stay off social media! That means Facebook, BlackPlanet, Twitter, Instagram, shopping online on black Friday, March Madness all of it. Your boss could easily assume you are wasting company time and  resources. And you know he will. You could also get involved in office gossip and accidentally expose company data, or voice an opinion best kept to yourself. Remember that the computer in the workplace is monitored. They told you that didn’t they? Whatever you do on it is their property. Hackers often use social media as a stepping stone to get into company networks or discover tidbits of information used to break into networks.  You should be extremely suspicious of anyone asking for contacts or emails of other employees or someone sending you files or links. One click could put you on the street.

3) Using the wrong  tone of voice. Black people will speak their mind. It’s not a good idea in the work place, in company emails or when dealing with customers. Some companies use chat tools, online bulletin boards and even intranet websites. Be professional. Damaging your employer’s reputation is bad and will definitely get you fired. You don’t want a customer or business partner complaining about rude or un-professional communications. Don’t say whats on your mind. Eliminate the slang and the attitude. One out of place phrase about a co-worker, your boss or your own dissatisfaction could be disastrous. A frivolous photo from the office party may damage co-worker relationships and cause other problems in the office. I’ve seen an email go off track and turn an office upside down.

4) Don’t use personal email for company business. Most companies will suffer a minor server outage every now and then. And yeah, it can really be a pain when it happens. But using your Gmail or Yahoo email  for sending corporate email is bad idea. What if your email is hacked? Don’t think it can’t happen. Cybercriminals may target you to get at your company networks. It happens all the time.  And don’t use the company email for your personal stuff. I told you that it is not your machine and your boss can easily get a hold of the email. Don’t send jokes, images or links through your company network.  Any joke, no matter how harmless it may seem, will offend somebody. And you never know what that link will do once you click on it.

5) Sending encrypted personal information. Using encryption on the office computer! Really? You could be branded a corporate spy, fired and may find yourself unemployable in your chosen field. Especially if you work in a financial services institution or any place handling sensitive data.  The security manager may believe you’re up to no good or sharing confidential data with others outside the company. Even if you’re not you may still be fired or at least under suspicion. Most bosses will fire you or even report the matter to the police as matter of caution. Do you need that headache?

6) Don’t load personal software on company computers. This includes laptops. No games or apps. You could accidentally install malware or viruses or a worm and get shown the door. In addition some software hog and wastes company resources. I already told you that its the company PC or laptop and, yes, they can monitor it remotely. The IT guys don’t have to be standing behind you to know you’re playing Candy Crush.

7) Security policy violations. Don’t share passwords.  Sometimes they can be hard to remember so you may write it down on a Post-It note and stick it on your monitor or on the underside of the keyboard. All bad ideas. Don’t think for a second that all your co-workers are trustworthy. Don’t ask anyone to monitor your email either. Don’t forward information. That “reply to all” button has killed a few careers. Don’t share company files with an employee who doesn’t have permission. If they don’t have the password for a certain file then don’t let them use yours. Keep your job by sticking to the rules.

8) Downloading or streaming content.  Streaming music, movies, YouTube or Skype is another bad idea. Your employer is paying for that bandwidth and will frown upon its mis-use. But people still do it and then get hammered for it.

9) Company Cellphones. Using the company cellphone as your own is not smart. Maybe your company is OK with it but its still their phone and so are the text messages and voice mails. Now they’re in your business. You can also make the mistake of going over the limit with minutes or downloading an infected app. If someone notices your bill is exceeding the limits you could have some explaining to do. My best advice is keep you phone and business separate from their business.

AACR Rule number #4,  Your life has been digitized. Everything you say and do is recorded somewhere.

10) And it will be used to both support and ruin your career.

Now You Know