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How Not To Get Locked Out Of Facebook And Other Online Accounts

“Hi, Scott.  I need your help,” the voice on the other end of the line greets.

“I’m locked out of my Facebook account and can’t get back in because I don’t remember my password.  Can you help me?”

While I happily try to assist, I know the chances for success are extremely low.

Facebook, Google and most other online services do not have a phone number you can call, speak to a live person, and have them reset your password.

Instead, your only option is to rummage through their web-based help documentation, submit an online form, and hope the requested information you provided is sufficient for someone to eventually send you instructions on how to get back into your account.

The majority of the time, this fails.

Why Account Recovery Fails

All online services provide you an easy way to recover lost passwords or regain access to your account.  The account recovery process typically involves sending an email to your email address or a text message to your cell phone.

So what’s the problem?

Most people never set up their recovery information in Facebook, Gmail, Pinterest, eBay, Amazon, and other commonly used websites.

Those who did when they first created their account seldom update their recovery information when their email address or phone numbers change.

How To Set Up Recovery Information

Each platform differs slightly in how to set up your account recovery information.  Here are links to instructions on how to do so on some of the most common websites:

Don’t Wait!

Avoid the frustration of forever losing access to your online accounts.  Invest a few minutes right now to take these important steps:

  • If you don’t already have a second email address, set up an alternate email address with Gmail (
  • Log in to each of your online accounts (Facebook, Gmail, Pinterest, eBay, etc.).  Configure your recovery options in each of them.
  • Associate your cell phone number, if you have one, with the account.
  • Set periodic reminders to make sure your account recover information is kept current.


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These Two Apps Made Getting Around D.C. A Breeze

The painfully sore blisters on my pinky toes remind me I need to buy a good pair of walking shoes before my next excursion.

Many of you know I had the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to secure tickets to attend the Presidential Inauguration in Washington, D.C. earlier this month. No matter your political stance, the privilege of watching American history in the making live, in-person, and up-close is something I’ll never forget.

Although my friend and I rented an apartment only a mile from the White House, we walked thousands of steps as we explored our nation’s capital for the first time.

Two apps on my iPhone quickly became our best friend for our five-day adventure: Uber and Google Maps.

We flew into Washington-Dulles International Airport on Thursday. Since Washington doesn’t have mass transit fully finished to that airport, Uber provided the fastest and most direct way to get to our apartment.

As a new Uber user, I secured a $15 off coupon for my first ride.

We used Uber several times throughout our stay, including once when my poor feet hurt so bad that I absolutely couldn’t walk another block.

The Uber app is super-easy to use. It automatically detects your current location and asks where you would like to go. You’re then given several Uber vehicle options, depending on what’s available in your area.

Alec and I often used UberPOOL. You’re given a guaranteed, low-cost fare because you’re sharing the ride with one or two other people going the same way you are. Our average was about $3.50 for the both of us each time we used UberPOOL.

Within moments, an available Uber driver accepts your request and heads to pick you up. The app shows your driver’s first name, a description of their vehicle and the license plate number. Often times, the driver calls your cell phone as they near your location so they can watch for you.

Because of the massive crowds using public transit, Uber made navigating long distances throughout the capital convenient.

When Alec and I chose to explore the sights and landmarks of D.C. on foot, the Google Maps app gave us the turn-by-turn directions needed to make sure we didn’t get lost. It also told us how long it would take to reach our destinations.

I used Google Maps as we explored the Lincoln Memorial, the Martin Luther King Memorial, and the Washington Monument on the cool, misty, foggy Saturday night.

On Sunday, the Google Maps app helped us time our rides on the Washington Metro trains to visit Arlington National Cemetry, the U.S. Marine Corps Memorial, the Pentagon, and the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum.

I encourage you to make these two apps an important part of your next road trip or vacation. They’ll make life a lot easier!

Oh – be sure to take a portable battery charger. These apps run in the background on your phone and can quickly drain the battery.

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How to Make the Best Web Browser Even Better

Google Chrome

Once again, Internet Explorer created frustration for one of my clients.

Only a few days after having her laptop cleaned up and optimized with our biannual PC Tune-Up Service, Janetta called to report Internet Explorer kept closing every time she tried to check her email or visit Facebook.

She isn’t alone.  I field numerous calls every month from clients suffering grief because Internet Explorer quits working unexpectedly or encounters some sort of problem.

Internet Explorer, and Microsoft Edge in Windows 10, are the built-in programs in Microsoft Windows giving you access to the Internet.

Like most software developed by Microsoft, Internet Explorer is increasingly becoming a very unstable program.  It breaks easily even under normal usage.

In Janetta’s case, the problem started after she unknowingly installed a program that “hooked” itself into Internet Explorer.

I recommend you install and use Google Chrome as your primary web browser.  It functions in much the same way as Internet Explorer, but with many added benefits, including:

  • You will view websites faster.
  • You will experience fewer problems.
  • Your computer will be safer from hackers and viruses.

Google Chrome can download for free at:

You can add programs – called extensions – to Google Chrome.  These add-ons provide more functionality and ease of use to an already great web browser.

Unlike Internet Explorer, reliable and trustworthy add-ons for Google Chrome don’t create problems and frustration.  It makes surfing the Internet more fun.

Here are several reputable extensions I use or recommend:

Save money with coupons

Getting deals rewards our shopping efforts.  But few of us have time to dedicate to searching for, clipping, and organizing coupons like the people on the TLC hit show Extreme Couponing.

Nothing is sweeter than the Chrome add-on Honey.

Honey ( automatically searches for coupons and sales as you check out at various online retailers.  All you have to do is click the Honey button in the menu bar of Chrome.

Of course, not all the coupon codes it finds will work.  But as Benjamin Franklin said, “A penny saved is a penny earned.”

Safely store & remember your passwords

Remembering passwords for dozens of websites is probably one of the worst things about the Internet.

Some sites, especially banking and medical ones, force you to create complex passwords and then make you change them every 90 days.  Even stipulating that you can’t use your previous passwords.

LastPass ( is the best program I’ve discovered that keeps all your passwords and personal information in one easy-to-access, secure place.

It’s free if you just want to use it on your computer.  It’s only $12 a year to add access to your passwords on your smartphone or tablet.

Block annoying pop-ups

Visit any major website often enough and it will infect your computer with a nasty virus.  That includes,,,,, and others.

The newest method virus writers and hackers use to spread their handiwork is via advertisements that appear on various websites.

AdBlock Plus ( adds an extra layer of security to your PC by removing banner ads and pop-ups as you visit websites.

It also helps your favorite websites load faster.

Easily check Gmail

Gmail ranks as the world’s most used and best free email service.  It’s way better than the free email account offered by your Internet Service Provider.  I prefer it above a Yahoo or Hotmail account.

With the Google Mail Checker extension (, a quick glance at the icon in your menu bar tells you how many unread messages reside in your inbox.  It also lets you quickly open your inbox with one click of your mouse.

Force yourself to stay off Facebook

As I’m writing this column, the temptation is oh so strong to slip over to Facebook and see the latest statuses posted by my friends.

If your willpower needs a little help to keep you focused on completing other computer-based tasks rather than mindlessly surfing the Internet, you should install the Simple Blocker add-on for Chrome (

The app’s developers note it was primarily designed for students, “but can be beneficial to anyone who has a lot to do and seems to get distracted too easily.”

Simple Blocker lets you block certain websites for set periods of time so you can get necessary things accomplished.

And if you have the urge to just turn Simple Blocker off, you can even configure it to prevent you from doing so!

Make your emails and social media posts look like you’re an English major

Not sure how to spell a word?  Fingers type faster than your computer can keep up, resulting in misspelled words on Facebook or in your email messages?

Grammarly ( can make you look like a spelling bee champion and English major.  This extension “makes sure everything you type is easy to read, effective and mistake-free.”

I know a few friends who should be using this add-on!

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10 Amazing Google Search Tricks To Help You Find What You’re Looking For Faster

Practically everything you ever wanted to know (and even stuff you don’t!) can be found on the Internet. A simple Google search can help you find exactly what you’re looking for.

If you’re like me, you’re all about saving time and making life easier. Google has created a really smart search engine to help you find what you’re looking for faster and easier. For this article, I’ve researched and compiled a list of 10 cool Google search tricks.

NOTE:  Some of these tips may work on other search engines, such as Bing and Yahoo.


What time is it?

To find the local time in the city nearest you, simply type in what time is it in the search box. If you want to find out the current time in a specific city, type in what time is it followed by the name of the city (for example, what time is it New York City).


Do math

If you don’t have a calculator handy, or just don’t want to try to do the numbers in your head, Google can perform even the most complex of mathematical calculations. Simply write the math equation in the search box.


Find movie show times

Yes, Showplace Cinemas lists movie times on their website. But you can find them out quickly and easily using Google. In the search box, type movie: followed by the name of the movie. For example, movie: The Expendables 2.


Look up definitions

Remember those bulky red Webster’s dictionaries from high school?  Now you can access every word at your fingertips. To find out what a word means, type define: followed by the word. For example, define: enigma.


Search for similar terms

It’s best to be as specific as possible when searching for something on the Internet. However, many different words can be used to describe the same thing. You can use a the tilde (~) sign before the word you want synonyms for. For example, if you’re searching for tutorials, in the search box you can type ~tutorials. This will bring up results for tutorials, guides, manuals, resources and several other similar words.


Search for specific terms

Another way to narrow down your search results is to use specific words or phrases. Type your word or phrase in quotation marks in the Google search box. For example, “Google search tips”.


Search for specific file types

If you’re searching online for a manual for your television, it most likely will be available as a PDF file. However, if you simply search by the make and model of your television, hundreds of useless search results will fill up the pages. Using the filetype statement can help you quickly locate the type of file you are looking for. For example, Panasonic TC-L42E50 manual filetype:PDF returns the user guide as the first search result.


Track packages

Expecting an important FedEx or UPS delivery?  Simply type in the tracking number in the Google search box.


Get flight information

Picking up a friend or family member at the airport and need to know if their flight is on time?  Enter the airline and flight number in the search box. Google will give you the arrival and departure times. For example, Delta flight 5778.


Find places

Although Google maps and Google Earth are powerful tools for finding locations, you can pull up a map right with the Google search bar. Simply type in maps:  followed by the location. For example, maps: Indianapolis, Indiana will display a map of our state capital.