After 20 years of bright yellow covers (apparently Poor Visibility for Dummies isn’t offered), the For Dummies® series has returned to its roots: offering an olive branch to the technologically illiterate among us. With the new title Web Hosting for Dummies, the series brings back memories of classic titles like DOS for Dummies and Windows for Dummies, which helped make the line of books so wildly successful in the first place.
Just like those older programs, there can be an air of exclusivity that makes web hosting seem like an elite members’ club—For Nerds Only! But, just like with older versions of the For Dummies® books, this new version could make web hosting an approachable and maybe even fun experience for new users. By leveling the theoretical playing field, anyone (yes, even you!) could successfully and easily host a website thanks to easy to follow instructions and guides.
Author Peter Pollock covers such topics as switching to dedicated hosting, setting up emails, analyzing server logs, performing your own backups, installing a platform of your choosing and much more. Obviously, the breadth of these topics is already impressive; one must also consider, however, that these questions are simplistically explained (perhaps for the first time) to uninitiated site builders. What’s more, the manual is expected to utilize the typical For Dummies® blend of encouraging relatability that never turns into condescension. Especially for do-it-yourselfers (small business owners and bloggers come to mind) this could be a one-stop shop class of custom cyber carpentry.
Web Hosting for Dummies is available online, at book sellers, and in many e-book formats, making the information ever easier to access in whatever medium readers would prefer. Do you think that this could help initiate you or other newcomers to the webmaster game? Weigh in below, and let us know what you think.
Less than a week ago, Amazon announced plans to further unify our lives, entertainment, and cultural experiences by boldly going into a medium it hasn’t before: the small screen. Yes, with a recognized and wildly popular platform—the company’s innovative Kindle tablet—already streaming video to millions of faithful denizens, Amazon is seeking to maintain this success while upping the coziness quotient. Through a set-top box that provides widespread television, web, and mobile integration, The “Kindle TV” (as it’s been dubbed by certain press outlets) could revolutionize comfort and convenience.
The company obviously stands to benefit greatly from horizontal expansion. Between their streaming software Amazon Prime gaining rights to hit shows, the production of their own television pilots and a growing market for apps, Amazon could develop a media strong hold. Such a prospect could challenge competing multimedia set-tops Roku and Apple TV, as well as broader devices from Playstation and Xbox. Given their potential market permeation, they may not even have to reach out to competing video streaming services Netflix, Hulu or YouTube to gain any clout.
Is this overstatement? Theoretically, no. With a built-in membership base and Amazon.com (the eighth most popular website) to convince and convert consumers in a trusted environment, momentum and enthusiasm seem inevitable. Imagine finding exactly what you’ve been shopping for, streaming your favorite videos, and organizing your time with convenient apps all from the comfort of your living room couch. Who would say no to that? You could even control it with your Kindle, providing a potent sales double whammy for the home shopping behemoth. Home control through your TV, tablet, or other future mobile developments wouldn’t be that much harder to accomplish, letting you turn on the heater or unlock the doors without needing to get up.
Of course, this is almost all conjecture, and we can’t quite ascertain what Amazon intends from our current vantage—only people working on the set-top project know that. But with participants who have developed impressive systems for Cisco, Apple and TiVo in the past, it seems Amazon could develop another technological game-changer like the Kindle. Only time will tell.
Microsoft just released its quarterly Security Intelligence Report, which covers general computer security and various related fields in order to help inform consumers just like you on trends in global virus threats. So what did they find that consumers need to know to ensure the safety of their electronic devices?
According to the study, 2.5 out of every 10 computers lack fully-updated security software, which could help protect them from viruses and other hacking attacks. In fact, the report claims that without these crucial safeguards, computers are 5.5 times more like to be infiltrated than computers with fully up-to-date software.
How can people become so prone to these attacks? How do their systems become so vulnerable? There are a number of reasons that antivirus software may become outdated or ineffective. Some more sinister malware can actually disable installed antivirus software, making regular vigilance and security scans important.
But more often, a security lapse occurs because the computer’s owner hasn’t properly equipped their machine for such invisible threats. Most obviously, a trial period may end or the antivirus software may no longer be compatible with the hardware—which means you could solve many security problems in minutes while you’re on our site. Even more alarming, many people don’t realize the importance of antivirus software and never even bother to install it on their hard drives.
For people worried about virus threats, finding security solutions for your system is incredibly easy. So often it just means clicking that “annoying” little box that offers to update your computer’s antivirus protection. If you don’t already have protection, many effective and inexpensive solutions are available through our site or your hardware provider, which could spell the difference between total safety and total data loss.
With the coinciding rise of both social networking and online dating, their intersection might not seem too far away. Dating site Zoosk even markets itself as a “romantic social network.” Zoosk is indeed social, designed to introduce you to local singles specifically interested in dating. Facebook is also social, but designed to help you interact with people you (for the most part) already know, and also carries no inherent implication of romantic interest.
Facebook seems like it’s trying to bridge this gap by offering messaging to strangers, which charges you a dollar for a chance to make a random connection. Shortly after their Pay to Message Strangers feature, Facebook also introduced the Graph Search feature that shows you who shares your common interests in your area (among other things). You both live in Tucson, listen to Muse, and watch Parks and Rec. Why not pay a dollar for a shot at love?
But here we hit a wall. Within a romantic confine, there is a certain acceptability (even necessity) of interacting with people you’ve never met. Facebook, on the other hand, is designed to keep you in touch with already established relationships, developed from face-to-face interaction. Receiving a message from a total stranger can feel like a huge invasion of privacy, especially when money comes into play.
But dig this: in a sense, Facebook already is a dating site. Or at least a site that daters use. If you meet someone at a party, for instance, you can add them on Facebook instantaneously (if you have a smartphone) or wait until you get home that night. The face-to-face interaction coupled with the wealth of knowledge you’ve gained from being their friend on Facebook allows you to determine if you’d like to follow up. And all without having to awkwardly ask for their phone number on the spot!
Facebook is very good at being a neutral social networking site. People can use it to connect with and learn about interesting people and/or long-time friends. But it may never be completely comfortable to ask out total strangers on Facebook.
Here at Consumer-Rankings.com, sometimes we like to get just a little bit personal. So I’ll start by telling you about my weekend. I visited with friends and met and played with a grand total of four of their children all under the age of five. My college roommate called to say that she’d given birth to a healthy baby boy just three days after my sister-in-law informed me of the same thing. And then I went shopping.
Fortunately, this wasn’t all at the same time. But if you’re a parent, sometimes leaving the kids behind while you pick up the week’s groceries or even do some clothing shopping just isn’t an option. If you’re being an even marginally responsible parent, chances are good that you’ll be shopping distracted and will probably be in a hurry to get the job done. All the smart consumer tips that we’ve discussed here in the past will go out the window in favor of getting in and out of the store before any old ladies start glaring at you or the cashier makes you buy a toaster oven that got smashed by an experimenting four year old.
So as a tribute to my brother and sister-in-law, my college roommate and all the other parents out there, today Consumer-Buzz is going to focus on shopping with kids.
Let’s start with the basics: Don’t shop during naptime. The same is true of snack-time. Tired, hungry kids are a public tantrum waiting to happen. If you must do this, and even if you’re getting there at ideal shopping time, pack some extra equipment. Toys and games that can be played with while sitting in a shopping cart or on the floor of a dressing room are the best. Snacks are also very helpful but if you’re not in a food store anyway, try to bring options that won’t leave crumbs and stickiness all over the merchandise.
Once your kids are old enough to understand, don’t be afraid of bribes. Of course, it’s probably best to keep them small and use them sparingly but the most important thing is to stick to your guns and make sure that your child understands the direct correlation between good behavior and the reward.
Perhaps the best tool however, is delegation of responsibility. Put your child in charge of something like carrying the bananas or picking out what color your new dish towels will be. Try assigning new items to look for, such as milk, or something purple. If done right, this feels to kids like a cross between a scavenger hunt and being inaugurated to an important public office.
Although we can all use a refresher, this ideas may be old to you and so I’ll include a bonus here courtesy of my mother. When we were young, she often cared for the children of a neighbor in addition to her own daughters and so would find herself with anywhere from 2 to 6 children to keep track of in public places. And so she carried a jump rope. No, we were not tied to her. Instead, we were lined up in reverse age order so the oldest was farthest behind, and each told to take hold of the rope. We then walked through crowds like an adorable snake. It was fun for us, we were kept track of easily and the cuteness of the sight translated to a lot more indulgence from other busy shoppers.
Today we’re going to take things from a slightly different angle. Sure, you’re a savvy consumer but in order to finance that little habit we all have of wanting to buy things periodically, you need some sort of income. And a lot of our readers here at Consumer Buzz do that by running their own small businesses.
Thanks to the magic of the internet, it’s becoming more and more possible to turn a hobby into an income. You can reach a wider audience than ever before and you save money by skipping the physical store. So if you weave watchbands from recycled electric cords or are an artisan of paper-mache prom dresses, there’s probably a way for you to sell your handicrafts.
The most popular site is Etsy: which is known for being a place to buy every kitschy, adorable or just plain weird item that someone can make in their home. But actually there is no end to the list of websites where you can do this. Each one has its advantages and disadvantages and some of them will vary depending on what your business is: What you make, how much capital you have, where you’re located and whether this is your primary income. So take a good look and feel free to send us some free samples!
Etsy has an automatic advantage over all other sites thanks to its size alone. More sellers attract more traffic from buyers, which means more customers seeing your stuff. Note than Etsy does charge a small listing fee.
Although Zibbet is relatively small, its pricing structures are pretty attractive for smaller merchants. There’s no listing fee for the first fifty items you list and after that you pay a monthly or yearly subscription fee.
This is the second largest in size, although it still doesn’t hold a candle to Etsy. It’s best if you’re in Europe or trying to sell in Europe since all prices are listed in Euro. They’ve also got some cute community sharing features.
Unsurprisingly, ArtFire focuses more on design and fine art than simple handicrafts. To complement that, they also have a lot of information, resources and community features for artists, designers and amateurs who are just interested.
Of course, eBay does not actually specialize in handmade goods at all, but that doesn’t mean you can’t sell them here. Of particular note, is eBay’s World of Good, a specialized Fair Trade marketplace.
You can only sell on Folksy if you’re in the UK, but it’s a great place to check out if you’re a shopper anywhere. There are also a lot of how-to tutorials for crafters.
MadeItMyself has one major factor that is pretty unique. As a seller, you can choose to make your price on an item negotiable, which means you can get some good old fashioned haggling.
8. Big Cartel
This is a great place for a seller who wants to really customize their online store. It’s more of a way to set up an ecommerce presence than to actually take place in a larger marketplace.
Canadian based iCraft is small, but they care for their niche. Each item for sale is reviewed by the site and only truly original handmade crafts are allowed.
This is similar to Big Crater in that it focuses on letting you create a personalized ecommerce storefront but it also integrates nicely with eBay and Google checkout.
The season is upon us. And no, I don’t mean the holidays. Although if you aren’t careful you may end up with the same busy holiday headache. I’m talking about tax season: That joyful time of year when the papers that you’re wading through are forms and receipts instead of cards and gift wrap.
Of course, there are ways to take the whole project off of your shoulders. You can simply hire someone to go through your accounts and do the whole thing for you. But for a lot of people, that’s not a very appealing option. It still requires you to gather up all of the same scattered paperwork as you would anyway and you’ll probably end up paying a lot of money.
Another option is to prepare and file your tax returns on your own and with tax prep software, that’s not too tough. If you’re going to go with that option though, it’s important to know what you’re getting into and to do your research. The types of software vary wildly and finding the best one for you is key.
You’ve got less than a month left to file your taxes, so we figured it’s time for us to step up and help you out with some brief explanations of what to look when you’re choosing your tax prep software.
First of all, you’ll have to decide between desktop or online tax software. As more and more services are transferred to the Cloud, many of us have gotten used to the convenience of online software. The primary factor that might lead you to choose desktop is the fact that the software is consistently in your control from year to year and that your information will not have to be entered again. However, this is also true with some online software so look into the specific program before you make your decision.
The next thing to do is assess your needs. A single household is going to have very different tax forms than a small business, or even than a private family with multiple incomes, investments and financial dependents. Make sure that whatever software you choose can handle all of your individual needs and can do it simply and smoothly. Software isn’t much good if you’ll end up needing to contact a professional a million times throughout the process. Take a good look at all of the features that the software offers and decide which ones are priorities and which you can compromise on.
One of the biggest to consider is audit protection. With some companies, this means that they’ll take steps to prevent you being audited while others will walk every step of the way with you in the case of an audit. Some include this service for free, while others charge extra. Decide whether or not this is important to you before you take any other steps.
Only then can you begin comparing prices. But don’t forget to check out the things that you can’t really put a price on, like human support. Even with the simplest and best software, you may end up needed some customer support. Taxes are complicated and no software can deal with every unique circumstance automatically. Fortunately, online reviews can help you figure out which company has the best support, by phone, email or even in person.
Good luck and merry tax season!
You’re browsing the web, looking for some specific information and you come across a website which, from the preview in your search results, looks fairly promising. But when you open the page, the first thing you see is a large glittery pink hit counter on a dark background. All the text is in Comic Sans and the title of the website is in a scrolling marquee at the top. You’ll probably think one of two things: Either you’ve mysteriously traveled back in time to 2001, or this page is very obsolete. If you’re looking for a well informed and up to date source, you’ll probably go straight back to the search results before even reading the text or checking to see if you can find a recent date posted.
Whether or not they’re always accurate, using cues from our environment to draw conclusions saves us a lot of time. This means that when you’re designing your own website, whether from a template or from scratch, it’s important to give off the right impression. You want it to be clear at first glance that your site is sophisticated and cutting edge, even if your viewers can’t quite put their finger on where they got the idea.
To help you accomplish this, we’ve gathered a few of the trends that you should be aware of and see if you can implement when you set up your site. Don’t forget, the most important thing is that your site has well organized useful information but these extras can’t hurt.
First of all, make sure that your site will be easy to view on a mobile device. Often, this means using responsive layouts: making sure that your site can recognize and adapt to whatever device is displaying it. However, if you’re not a professional or are using a DIY design tool, this may not be an option. Instead, just make sure that your layout is as clean as possible. Neither your text nor graphics should be too small and fiddly, since small and fiddly are hard to see on a small smartphone screen. Even visitors who are using large desktop monitors will recognize the style and will know that you’re keeping up with the times.
In order to make a simple layout more efficient, many sites are getting creative with their navigation. Rather than using the more common drop down or list type menu, considering displaying different pages of your site in a slideshow style, or as multiple tabs.
Another trend that jives well with the minimalistic style and alternative navigations, is a new tendency to use large picture backgrounds. Instead of many small graphics illustrating different sections of text, a single large picture is used as the background and the content overlays it. A single large picture lets you make a powerful first impression on a homepage or landing page.
If you’re looking for something a little bit less subtle, let us remind you of social media badges. Any site that is active on social media has to be constantly updated with new content to be shared. That’s why putting badges to your social media accounts on your site can be a very good sign for new users.
Of course, the best way to get new traffic using social media badges is to actually use them. After all, your new site is going to be so hip and trendy, it’ll be worth spreading the word.
For the last few years the internet and those whose work relies on it have been abuzz about how technology makes it possible to work from a virtual office. A small business can be based in the owner’s home without losing professionalism and large companies can reap huge benefits from having employees work from home. It saves money on office space and supplies, saves employees from stress and commuting time that bites into their efficiency and the flexibility means that a business can attract the workers who will be best at their job, even if they live farther away or have other time commitments, like most busy families.
Well, someone seems to have bucked the trend. Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer has told employees that it’s time to return to the office. Mayer pointed out in her memo that informal, unplanned interaction between people in the elevator or in the office kitchen is often the catalyst for the best creativity and innovation.
But she’s gotten a lot of criticism for the decision. Many say that this kind of inflexibility is what keeps women underrepresented in the highest levels of the work force while plenty of people who work from home tout their efficiency when working without the distractions of an office.
There are clearly pros and cons. The question seems to be whether or not Ms. Mayer is espousing this as a philosophy for life and as a cut and dry permanent policy or whether it’s a decision based on the specific situation at the specific company with specific employees. Mayer is a new CEO coming from outside to a company that’s known for its bloat. This may be the best way for her to see exactly what’s going on up close and she may loosen the policy little by little.
Thanks to technologies like VoIP, online fax, video-conferencing and email, working from home is completely viable for most office workers. But that doesn’t mean that it’s most comfortable or efficient. While some people may get three times the amount of work done at home, others need a built-in working environment with the ability to interact casually and think out loud with their colleagues. There’s no right answer but the question of which will be the default scenario is still up for discussion and debate.
Pushing the answer toward the virtual office side however, are plenty of new technologies still being developed. Team Space, for example, is a program that tries to recreate office dynamics all online. Each employee has their own “office space” labeled on a diagram of a customizable virtual office. There are numerous ways to talk to people and you can “knock” on someone’s “office door” or “close it” for privacy when you begin a conversation, just as you might in a real office. And now it’s available for iPad, yet another development that is contributing to the phenomenon of flexible work space.
Will these technologies be enough to make up for what Marissa Mayer was missing at Yahoo? Weigh in below!
There’s only one topic around the watercooler today: The Oscars. And here at Consumer-Rankings we have no intention of being left out.
We all know that the really interesting part of the evening is the dresses (sorry guys, but your clothes just aren’t that interesting no matter how much velvet you include). Believe it or not, there are ways to make similar gowns realistic for the average consumer but the bigger problem is that there’s no excuse to wear them. Sure, you may have a black tie wedding every so often and some people may get to go to a gala fundraiser or two for work or something, but it’s not worth talking about. You’ll have to make do with sneaking pictures of the best and worst dressed in between meetings at work.
Instead, we’re going to talk about bringing the Oscars to you in a slightly less interesting angle: The movies themselves. Since your day is probably a bit rushed now that you’ve spent so much time looking at the Oscars gowns, we decided you might need them in a more convenient formant and so we present to you the top ten apps for movie lovers on the go.
Of course, this app is only good if you have a Netflix account for $7.99 a month. Once you have that however, this app lets you access Netflix’s huge library of instant streaming movies and tv from you smartphone or tablet.
For those who prefer to go out to see their movies, Flixster provides movie times, reviews and trailers. It’s even integrated with Rotten Tomatoes, one of the top movie review sites.
This free app lets you stream full length movies and TV and is supported by commercials. So if you don’t mind being interrupted by ads, it’s a cheap alternative to Netflix.
Like the website, this app has everything you would want to know about any movie and anyone who was involved in making it. Perfect when you just can’t for the life of you figure out where you’ve seen that actor before.
Clicker makes takes TV and movie to a social network that lets you track what you’ve seen and keep an eye on what you’re friends are watching and discuss it.
Similary, GetGlue lets you share what you’re watching and it also includes a customized feed with clips and recaps that might interest and lets you collect “stickers” based on what you watch and eventually earn discounts and virtual prizes.
7. Hulu plus
This is also very similar to Netflix, as you probably know if you’re familiar with Hulu. You’ll need a Hulu Plus paid subscription to access it, but you’ll be able to stream tons of TV and movies.
My personal favorite, RunPee has you pick a movie and start a timer when the movie begins and then gives you alerts when it’s a good time to run to the bathroom. It also includes summaries of what you missed when you were gone. Doesn’t mean much if you’re watching at home, but great for theater viewing.
VLC is pretty straightforward. It lets you play any video format. It’s free but as of a couple of months ago it’s not available in the Apple app store.
You may remember when Moviefone was an actual phone number. It still provides movie times, locations and prices but also has clips, trailers and reviews.