Met a Fellow Kiosk Owner Today

I seldom talk to other kiosk owners in the mall as I am usually preoccupied with customers or fulfilling repair orders. I work on all kinds of electronic gear and sometimes it seems as if there is a rush on everything. People drop off their item and want it back by the time they are done shopping. This puts a lot of stress on me. I had a dry spell for about an hour the other day and it afforded me the opportunity of talking to a fellow tech kiosk owner who works at an outdoor mall. He came by to compare notes. He was in my mall doing an errand and saw me from afar. I waved him over. We aren’t competitors so I was happy to share ideas on Facebook. We went over some of the new technological enhancements on small appliances like shavers, curling irons, hand mixers, clock radios and cell phones. Computers and tablets are a major topic of discussion. I have a bit of an edge on him as I repair broken eyeglass frames and install batteries in watches. The latter is a pretty good business.

As we talked, I was fascinated by the amount of foot traffic he gets outside in the winter. It is surprising given the cold. Of course, it makes sense to have a bigger volume of customers when it is warm.  People love to be outside, especially shoppers with children. While his kiosk is under a covered walkway, he has installed his own kind of air conditioning in the form of the best outdoor ceiling fan. This marvel of old-world technology has saved the day for him when the temperatures soar. Its cooling breeze keeps the customers happy while they wait for their order.

I would never need one inside as the building has its own cooling and heating system, but I was intrigued by his ingenuity. I expect that in an electronics repair man, however, and asked what else he has done to make his mini working environment more comfortable. Perhaps he could give me a few hints. He mentioned overhead storage as a great way to give yourself more working space. He also stays very organized by using a number system for items remaining for a few days. He can then retrieve them quickly with the customer comes by. He mentioned using music to attract new people and also putting out holiday decorations to make the kiosk more festive. These are all great ideas that I will have to try. I thanked him for sharing and asked him to come again for a coffee sometime soon. It gets lonely working in the kiosk by myself. I am thinking of hiring a part-time helper which will take the full load off me. Plus, I will gain an ally and someone to mull over business ideas.

Weird Customer Today

At my mall kiosk, I get more than the usual items for electronic repair. Most of the time, I handle cell phones, razors, small appliances, toasters, and anything digital in nature. Recently, I got an air purifier for the first time. Sure, I have seen them and even went so far as to find the best air purifier for smoke elimination (my best friend is almost an addict); but repairing them has not been my forte. I had to do a bit of research and experimentation. I am fairly versatile, so it wasn’t likely to be a big problem. I have had stumbling blocks before with old-model items; but sooner or later, I prevail. I wouldn’t be in this business, telling you my tales in a blog, if I were not a jack of all trades.

As it turns out, the air purifier did not appear to be defective and checking the registration number, I determined that it was of a recent manufacturing date. As I often do, I call customer service and received a repair manual by email. They offered to repair it themselves for a fee, but I was already well into the process. Now it had become a challenge to conquer. The customer was weird compared to most of my clients, and I asked him how he used the appliance. He plugged it in and turned it on, simple as that. It had a filter, but I didn’t find any damage. It wouldn’t not be a matter of a simple replacement. I asked if he had checked the outlet with another appliance. This is the only way to know if there is a malfunction needing an electrician. He hadn’t. He could have used something small like an electric razor or a digital alarm clock that did not operate on batteries.

“It never occurred to me,” he frowned. He felt I was mocking and berating him. I wasn’t—or maybe I was. A weird person is always weird no matter what you say. I have had my share in the past. “I call it user error,” I explained. It doesn’t need a thing. “Go home and try it again and if it doesn’t go on, use a different outlet.” I wondered why he hadn’t discovered the defective outlet when using his vacuum cleaner. People tend to move them around and sooner or later, you encounter every outlet in the house.

He gave me another frown but was at least happy there was no cost. I should have charged him for my time which by now was considerable. I would say it is an “analysis charge.” I don’t do this as a rule, but this guy was so annoying. I wanted some compensation for just having to talk to him. I couldn’t wait for him to leave. Sometimes, you write things off as a waste of time. Most of my customers are pleasant and I have gotten to know many on a repeat basis. This time, I hope the frowning weirdo doesn’t return.

Taking Your Music Outside

As a tech repair specialist in my mall kiosk, I am very visible by passersby. People come to have their electronic items fixed, and they often ask questions about other products I have on display. I repair portable Bluetooth speakers, so it is natural that I would be regularly asked for advice on the best outdoor wireless speakers, such as those designed for backyards and patios. I am happy to help. I tell them that it depends on your environment and the features you want. Budget is always a big issue. Given that, I have come up with my list of preferences. I think with my background that I am a pretty reliable source of information. This happens to be an area of specialization.

Let’s say you want to stream music on your deck, what do you choose? The equipment will be part of your general landscape and maybe there is an adjacent swimming pool. On the other hand, people go for outside music on a boat, or even in the garage or basement. These have large open areas. You want a different kind of system than the one found in your fancy home theater. The point is to be wireless and have sufficient range.  A good start in a budget price range below $200 is the BT Blast Bluetooth indoor/outdoor weatherproof speaker set. It is made by Sound Appeal which has a good reputation for advanced technology. If you want to stream music wirelessly for up to sixty feet, this is a great option. You simply use your iPhone or other device that is compatible with Bluetooth. As you might already know, there are many. There you are in your yard or pool area with high fidelity sound all around. It is easy to control as well. It is nice looking with a UV-resistant finish. This is the way to go for clean, clear sound. Your neighbors will hear it all and come right over.

My next choice is a little cheaper: the AVX Audio Omni Tower with a IPX5 waterproof rating. You can take your party right into the pool! It works on a lithium ion rechargeable battery with loads of playback time. It is CSR Bluetooth 4.0 which means a top-tier subwoofer. You will love the evenly dispersed sound coming from the 60-watt output. For larger outdoor areas, this is a great choice. If you’re still struggling for ideas after that, then I’d suggest visiting

I have one more to recommend just because it is too cool. The speakers look like natural rock, especially from a distance. For those who like their equipment to blend in, it is a perfect possibility. Your guests will be amazed. They are fun, the right size, and come in two colors: sand and black. The sound quality is good with these Free Rok speakers and they look good in any yard. Who knew speakers with Bluetooth connectivity could be an outdoor décor item?

That’s a New One!

When you have a tech repair kiosk in a mall, you encounter all kinds of people. The excuses they have for a damaged cell phone can be surprising. Most often, someone runs over their phone because they dropped it before getting in the car. They also tell me that it somehow ended up in the garbage disposal. No kidding. More than a few get it wet. The most outrageous story was a fellow who brought me his broken device because he claimed that he had dropped it in the river when panning for gold. Now I just didn’t believe him. Who does this nowadays and we aren’t in Fairbanks, Alaska. He had time on his hands because he wanted to tell me all about it. He was a good storyteller, and whether or his tale was true, I was engaged and wanted to know more about the subject.

I didn’t even know that there were such things as gold panning kits (you can see them here) and that they are rather state of the art these days. In the old mining era, you used a metal pan and a wood framed sieve. It was very basic, but it worked. The same principle is used, he explained, except that materials are sturdier and more modern. I asked a million questions about how he did it, where, and if he ever struck a lode. He laughed about that last one, stating that he would never tell. He didn’t want a rush on his favorite spot. Really! Is there gold in them thar hills in my neck of the woods. I doubt it. Maybe he was far away on a vacation, but he implied that he often went panning.

He said it was his hobby and he most often went alone. He had a special gold panning kit he bought on line that came with ample instructions. He also saw a video on YouTube. Imaging learning this old craft on the Internet! I laughed. He was amusing, and I listened for an hour and got behind in my work. I didn’t care. Most of my customers don’t linger long enough to explain what happened to their phone much less give details about their personal life. I could picture him in a silly miner’s hat and old boots wading in a river amid a stretch of scattered rocks. In my mind’s eye I could see him sitting on a large boulder, surveying the scene before plunging the panning device into the water. Would bright shiny nuggets immediately emerge? Would it take all day?

I thought I would never tire of the answers to my questions and had to beg off, so I could go back to work. I told him to come by soon and bring the panning kit as I wanted to see one for myself. No, I wasn’t going to indulge, but curiosity gets the better of me sometimes.

For Devices on the Go

Electronics are my forte: I can repair most anything. Some say I have a gift. In any case, I have a tech kiosk that offers quick and reliable service to passersby who need repair fast. It is amazing how reckless people are with their tablets, laptops, cell phones, etc. They drop them in water or from a car window; they leave them on a bus or commuter train. They spill coffee on them and douse them with bottled water. I wonder sometimes why there is sticky stuff glued to their surface. Where on earth have they taken their device? I feel really sorry for these hapless wonders. Sometimes fixing them can be a real challenge…but I do it.

People thank me profusely for saving them from the horror of having to buy new gadgets. If it happens a lot, it all adds up to a tidy sum. Some people return again and again. They seem to have a knack for disaster. Why would anyone use one of their precious electronic devices in the shower or bathtub? Why does a laptop make a good lunch tray? Devices on the go are for that purpose primarily. I suggest that if you have a penchant for mishaps, you use your item in one room only.

When you are out and about, be sure to keep them covered and safe. A backpack such as the models here: They are designed for college students and are great totes. They are designed with various separate, waterproof compartments so that your messy lunch or open soft drink won’t run all over your laptop. Some are zippered for extra protection (and get that open can out of there right now!). I see people walking about carrying two or three devices at once; no wonder they drop them all the time. Get with it and do what the students do: use a sturdy and reliable multi-compartment backpack.

I often think that I could design the perfect backpack for electronic devices. Okay, maybe I will make room for gym clothes, an umbrella and fold-up poncho, or an extra pair of shoes. The main purpose would dictate the layout. Bottles of water go in a pouch on the exterior since they are often left open or with a loose cap at best. A spot for car keys, a penlight, a Swiss army knife, or other necessity of life will be accommodated. The cell phone pocket is right on the outside so you can grab it quick when it rings. Some keep them in their pants or shirt pockets, but let me tell you—I have seen more than a few fall out, right in front of my eyes.

I practically have the entire design worked out in my head and just need to get pen to paper. I will then create a prototype to show the manufacturer complete with electronic devices inside. I will leave no one guessing as to the purpose of any feature. Wish me luck!

Kiosks are Great

Dyson’s motto is technology engineered for a superior clean. Someone has to give credit for the fine mind who invented it. Given my ability to repair and restore all kinds of electrical devices, I can appreciate this trademark. When it came time to buy a new appliance to clean my kiosk, I wanted something affordable, efficient, compact and easy to store, and reliable. I found that for sure with the cordless motorhead model. I love the lack of a tangled cord. Cord free means hassle free. I want to go home promptly when the business closes (I enjoy a privileged place in a top mall with lots of foot traffic). I don’t have to put away lavish displays, only a few tools here and there. Without a store, the foot traffic is all on the exterior but I do have to vacuum bits and pieces that are left over as I work to replace worn, defective parts in electronic gadgets. If you hate cleaning, you will want a vacuum that does everything for you. You won’t be such a procrastinator when you have a machine that works as well as the Dyson. Believe everything you hear.

At first I opted for a hand vac due to the size and then decided that it was too difficult to constantly bend over. I read about the best Dyson vacuum cleaners on line and ordered fast after finishing the customer testimonials. Here is what you get with the motorhead I bought. The features are good enough to brag about:

  • No cord, no tripping, no unravelling, and no plug in. Cords just restrict your reach and are a nuisance to drag around. Cleaning is a breeze with the motorhead. Don’t worry about running out of power.
  • I love the direct drive cleaner head which serves to drive the bristle deeper into the carpet or area rug. More dirt comes out with a quick once over. This is called brush bar power and the Dyson has 75% more than other models. Hence my choice. It was a no brainer.
  • My motorhead is powered by a digital motor V—super performance in a modest cordless model. Don’t you love technology!
  • Plus, the unit has 15 of the well-known proprietary Dyson cyclones, organized efficiently in two tiers. They work together to increase airflow and capture even fine dust.
  • You can use the unit for twenty minutes without recharging. Dyson calls it fade-free suction. It doesn’t just go off. There is still some battery life.
  • Unit has “max power mode” that offers higher suction for tough tasks.
  • Quick conversion to hand-held mode for spot cleaning. I love the multiple functions in one vacuum.
  • Hygienic bin emptying is last but by no means least.

Now, if this doesn’t convince you, nothing will. Don’t think that the motorhead is only good for small spaces like my kiosk. It is the perfect choice for any home or office. No more cords dragged around marring the baseboards. It was a never-ending battle before the cordless machines were introduced and perfected.

Days Like Today Make Me Glad I’m Single

I am usually all about fixing people’s malfunctioning electronics (especially a tablet or laptop), but today I am playing a vastly different role. I am taking time off from my usual focus to help my sister wrangle her kids to the dreaded dentist. Times like this make me glad I’m single. It can be a hassle if a child is afraid of the man in the white coat and balks. There can be assorted kicking and screaming It takes a lot of persuasion from Uncle Charlie to get them into the scary dental chair. My skills are being tested twofold—one time for each kid. The tots have cavities which is surprising given the prevalence of fluoride toothpaste. I know that this element is not added to community water after years of complaints. Parents didn’t realize the benefits to developing teeth and assumed that an alien element was automatically undesirable. Statistics have proved otherwise and now kids are getting tooth decay in droves in fluoride-free areas. It had been proven after seventy years that this chemical prevents more than 25% of cavities. It was at one time the official policy of the U.S. Public Health Service, dating back to the early 1950s. Let’s bring back the fluoride. Remember, it is a local issue so you must vote for the right people.

There is another problem associates with this story. My sister and her husband had installed a reverse osmosis water filtration system years ago because the tap water had an unpleasant taste and telltale odor. We are so spoiled by bottled water, that no one can tolerate anything but pure perfection. And so, the filter might have removed any valuable natural or added fluoride (even small doses). The kids most likely didn’t get enough of it in any form whatsoever. If they don’t start using that special toothpaste, which shall be nameless, I will be escorting the young ones to the dentist once again soon. And possibly over and over again.

Filling cavities is not the most fun experience for a child, even if they get a tiny toy afterward (that they lose in fifteen minutes). It involves opening your mouth painfully wide for a very long time, so it seems. It means a nasty shot of Novocain in the delicate gum area that doesn’t wear off for hours (so you have to miss lunch). If you are lucky, you get ice cream. The drilling isn’t thrilling and scares the heck out of the patient, no matter the age. It seems interminable although probably about ten minutes. If you haven’t passed out in fright, the dental assistant puts in all kids of horrible tasting solutions. Finally, the filler goes in and you are ready to go home, mercifully. It doesn’t help that Uncle Charlie tells you what a good boy or girl you have been. It doesn’t help that your sister thanks you profusely.

Fell Down an Internet Rabbit Hole

Has this ever happened to you? You log into social media for just one minute because you got a push message, to check the score of the game, or to find out the answer to a question. The next thing you know, it is 4 in the morning and you have to be at work in just a couple of hours. Where does the time go?

There has been a logical progression. Newspapers and magazines have worked hard to make eye-catching covers and headlines designed to get you to plunk down some money to find out the rest. This same lesson carried over to the internet. Instead of selling copies, now they are looking for money streams through ads and website affiliations.Some sites do this in legitimate ways, with tailored ads on other sites, unique services, or high-quality content. Others are simply clickbait type ads, some of which are disguised as news: “You’ll Never Guess What They Look Like Now: Number 4 is a Shocker!” “Do This 1 Thing to Lose Weight!” and other nonsense. Others trick you, especially when you’re trying to buy something – how many times have you been looking for an item and you hit the first thing that comes up in your search engine, only to find the store doesn’t have it at all and the site just parroted back your search terms?

But why? Why do sites want you to click on so many things and hang out online so much?

It’s simple economics: every time you visit a website, the server takes a little information from your computer: things like your IP address and internet service provider. Later, they can use that information to provide to ad companies. They can show how many unique visitors they have, and even where they are to help advertisers better target their audience. The more unique visitors they have, the more money they can make through ads and the more appealing they are to advertisers.

And how long you spend on a website helps, too. Sure, YouTube offers a pay service, but you can still watch most things without paying as long as you’ll tolerate watching an ad now and then. That’s why they group videos together by subject – “if you like that, try this!” and they automatically play. The more you’re on there, the more ads you’ll see. The same goes for social networking sites – the more time you spend on their site, clicking and scrolling, the more ads they can send you. They can even read search information sometimes to specifically target sites you buy from or items you’ve searched for. Websites are like casinos that way: you have no idea what time it is or how long you’ve spent there until it is too late and they’ve made all kinds of money off you.

So, what can you do about these time sucks? Short of not going online, not a lot. I have blue shift enabled on all of my screens, which gradually gets more tinted the later it gets. It is a good visual clue for me to look at my watch and see what time it is. I know other people who set their routers to turn the internet off at a certain time, so they aren’t tempted to answer that late work email or binge watch too many shows on Netflix at night. You can also set a timer when you are on the sites you know are your biggest time-sucks.

Remember, you have a life outside of your device screen. Don’t miss out on it because you’re falling down an internet rabbit hole.

Being my Own Boss

I have to say, it is pretty cool to be my own boss. I’ve worked for other people before and decided that it just wasn’t for me. I worked as much as I could and spent as little as I could until I found the opportunity to open the repair kiosk at the mall. I don’t want to say that it was the thing I’d always dreamed of doing with my life, but it has turned out to be a great thing for me. The work I do directly affects how much money I’ve got, it doesn’t get trickled down to me by somebody else who sits around all day “managing” me. If I don’t feel like going in to work one day, the only person that I have to answer to is myself. I’m also not going to make any money that day, of course. However, it is much more of a motivating factor to get my lazy butt out of bed in the morning or to get to sleep at a decent time than it ever was when I worked for somebody else. Of course, I don’t work every single day that the mall is open – that would be nuts – and I don’t always work every day from mall open to close (again, insanity). I know that I lose business when I’m not open, but I also want to have a life. So there’s a sort of balance that needs to happen.

Eventually, I would like to get some employees. It would be nice to not have to deal withevery single thing that goes on. I don’t mind the responsibilities of being a business owner, the decision making and all of the different aspects of being a business owner. It’s the day to day time that can be an issue. Having some employees would probably help. Sometimes when I am really busy, a friend or two will pitch in and do some work for me, and of course I give them a fair cut of the profit, but on a daily basis there’s just me sitting at the kiosk.

I also have to pay a lot of attention to when that new “it” thing is going to be released and be sure that I’m working those days. Because I sell cases and the like at my store, I know that people are going to come looking for a cool case when the newest iThing or Galaxy or whatever is released. And I also have to be there for them when their newest thing suffers some sort of terrible tragedy (does anybody remember the ‘drill a hole in your iPhone to find the secret headphone jack’ thing or the sites telling you to dry your phone in the microwave if it gets wet? Bad for stupid people, good for business) so soon after they slap down money for the thing.

I love being my own boss!

Protect Your Screens!

Cracked screens are my bread and butter. I’m always talking to desperate people who spent upwards of $600 on a phone and who regret not forking over a little extra for a case. For example, just this week, I had to work on:

  • A phone that had been sitting on a counter while someone was putting away dishes, and a coffee mug fell out and landed on the screen.
  • A computer screen that had been cracked by a four-year-old when he tripped while running with the computer.
  • The brand-new phone of a woman who dropped it in her own driveway – it slipped out of her hands on her way from the car to the house. The screen lasted however long the drive from the store to her house was.

I’m not saying a screen protector would have been helpful in every one of these cases (how about not running with a computer, or maybe not giving it to a four-year-old in the first place?) but some common sense and some protection would have helped a lot.

First, exercise some common sense. For example, nobody should run with a computer, never mind an uncoordinated four-year-old. That’s just a bad idea. And, as the parents learned, sometimes replacing the screen is actually moreexpensive than just buying a new computer. I know, makes no sense, right? So think about what you’re doing before you do it. Going to an amusement park? Maybe leave your phone in a rented locker before you go on that physically jarring roller coaster. Walking, holding something, and trying to text at the same time? Well, that’s going to end badly.

Second, get a case with some kind of grip on the back. These new devices are so shiny and sleek, they’re also very slippery, as the last lady found out. You can find many that will still allow wireless charging, reflect your personality, and look cool. You know, in addition to protecting your ridiculously expensive toy. Really, there’s no excuse for this. Just go to any electronics or big box store, mall kiosk, or even online. Everybody sells cases nowadays.

Third, if you’re not going to listen to any of my other advice, I at least recommend purchasing a screen cover to go over the front. What’s the point of protecting the metal parts of your phone from dings if the screen’s going to shatter when you drop it? They make both plastic and glass screen protectors now that will fit just about anything with a screen, from computers and tablets. Personally, I think that glass film is easier to apply, and it just looks better. However, for devices going to be used heavily by kids, I recommend using the plastic. The glass tends to shatter (it’s safety glass and sticky, so it isn’t like it is going to fall all over the place or be sharp to the touch, it just looks like the screen is trashed), whereas it takes a lot to snag or rip the plastic.

Finally, just be honest with yourself: you know you’re going to drop it at some point. Better to be protected than not!

Excellent Time Wasting Sites

While I often advocate putting down your electronics and actually having a life, I know that sometimes you just need a little entertainment while you’re standing in line, waiting for an appointment, or because you need a break from work. With smartphones, tablets, and the internet, we’ve got the ability to do that fairly easily. But not all time wasters are created equal. I am a bit of an expert, as I sit around in a mall all day. While I am fairly busy, I do often end up with a lot of time to kill between customers. So here are a few of my favorite time wasting sites.

Please note: there’s no social media on this list. That’s too obvious. Same goes for streaming media sites. You already know about all those. Me telling you about the newest chat app or something isn’t going to do you any favors, you have what you like and you are probably already using it. I am talking more about something that you might not come across in your everyday life, or that you can gain something from. Plus, you don’t always have the option for sound wherever you find yourself being bored, so here are some ideas that will work just about anywhere:

One great site is “Wait But Why.” I like the writing style, and there’s lots of topics for you to sit and read. I find them especially good when you need a little break at work. You always walk away with something interesting, and I have found some very interesting conversational tidbits from there. I also find myself spending lots more time on sites that have easy links to related reading. When the reading is that good, it’s easy to find something new to look at.

If you like your posts with more illustrations, you will often find what you’re looking for on The Oatmeal. These might not be suitable for work, as they have some strong language and the pictures can often be gross, but they are hilarious and sometimes educational. This is the guy who helped invent the game Exploding Kittens, after all.

Whether you’re trying to prove to someone that you’ve got a sensitive side or you are having a lousy day and need something to cheer you up, there is probably nothing better than Click on the live cam header and you can waste your time watching bears swim, ospreys fly, and all kinds of other creatures out in the wild doing their thing—from chipmunks and bees to orcas and elephants. You never know what’s going on out there in nature, and this site makes it easy to find something to look at for a few minutes as a reminder that there is awesome stuff in the world when you’re having a bad day. Seriously, what’s better than a kitten cam? A penguin nest or some pandas maybe? With this site, you never have to limit yourself.

If you’re looking for something that looks great on a small screen like mobile devices, I recommend BuzzFeed. You probably already see it if you don’t live under a rock or use social media, but it’s not just the articles. Read the comments. The comments are often better than whatever the actual post is about. It’s an incredibly (and slightly terrifying) great time waster no matter where you are.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got a polar bear cam that needs watching.

Keep Your Tech Virus Free and Personal Info Safe

Aside from the regular damage types of repairs I have to make to peoples’ technology, I am often attempting to repair devices that have been damaged by viruses. There are so many things out there now: malware, ransomware, spyware. The list goes on and on. Sometimes it is a lost cause and other times we can do something about it. Having a firewall and antivirus software is a necessity. Keeping your operating system up to date is another. But here are some otherthings you can do to help yourself outbefore there’s a problem.

First, be careful of having wifi on when you’re on an unsecured network. Yeah, it might be great to be able to use Facebook from your laptop while you’re at the local coffee shop, but keep in mind that not everyone using that same network will be on the up-and-up. That goes for your cellphone, too.

Keep your devices secure. Set them to lock when they aren’t in use, with a real password that’s not something simple like “password.” Put some thought into it, or use the facial recognition or fingerprint technology on your device. If you lose your phone, many manufacturers have a remote “find” feature, or you can even wipe the device if you think someone else has it. You may not be able to recover your device, but at the very least, whoever finds it won’t be able to do anything with your personal information.

I know it is a pain to remember, but use different passwords for each of your accounts. This way, if one password or site is compromised, you’re not handing hackers every one of them.

When you’re downloading something, verify that you’re getting it from a reputable site. With phones, it is best to download it from the App Store or Google Play. Read reviews if you are hesitant, and start with the lowest rated ones and not the most recent. Be sure to confirm that any sites you use when you’re on your computer are the legit sites they claim to be. If you’re not sure, don’t download it.

When on a website, before even thinking about logging in, check to make sure it is a secure network. Usually there is a little lock to the left of the website name in your browser. If it is green or locked (or both), it is a secure network. Any information you’re sending will encrypt your personal info.

For the love of your devices, don’t open a link you get in a random email. If it looks like it’s from your bank or other service you use and there’s spelling errors or it is a message asking you for your password or other personal information, don’t click on the link!

Finally, back your stuff up. It’s so easy now. Take a lot of pictures? Back them up to a cloud service. Some apps even do it automatically! You can get your pictures on every device you own, and you don’t have to worry if, say, your phone gets lost or your computer’s hard drive gets fried. Same goes for all your data. Keep it backed up somewhere. A flash drive, an external hard drive, cloud backup – something! You’ll never regret having an emergency backup. You have no idea how many times I’ve heard the phrase, “You have to fix it, my whole life is one there!” At this point, there’s really no excuse for not having a backup. Just do it already.