Thursday, August 29, 2013

How to find your missing phone

Oh boy, now you've done it. Not only are you supremely hungover from last night's rager, but your phone is nowhere to be found. Could you have left it at the bar, in a cab, in the gutter somewhere? Who knows! But don't panic, there's a host of apps that do. Here's how to find your phone when it goes missing. 

While there's no guarantee you'll recover your device, these tips and apps will put you in the best position to get back what you lost. Or, if it comes to it, to make sure no one can get at the information that's on there. 
Android Device Manager
Doesn't matter if your phone is lost behind the couch or somewhere in Tahiti, your most direct option for finding a lost Android phone is Google's newly introduced Android Device Manager (ADM) feature. Essentially an Android version of the iOS Find My iPhone service, ADM allows users to locate, track, ping, and, if need be, remotely wipe their devices-all from a web browser. 

The ping feature will ring the phone at maximum volume, even if it is set to vibrate or silent. If you figure you've dropped it somewhere outside of your immediate vicinity, log on to the ADM dashboard to see its location, anywhere in the world, to within a 22-meter radius. And if you discover you can't retrieve or recover the phone, ADM allows you to remotely wipe the device's contents (you will have to enable Factory Resets prior to losing the phone though). Plus, it's completely free and likely already installed. 

The one shortcoming? ADM does not offer a means of remotely locking your phone. Ring and full-on self-destruct are your only options. 

Bit Defender Anti-Theft
If you'd like a middle ground between doing nothing and obliterating everything on your phone from afar, take a look at BitDefender's Anti-Theft app. It allows you to locate and erase your phone, as ADM does, but throws in a remote lock as well. This keeps your phone secure against the prying eyes and wandering fingers until you pick it up. 

What's more, Bit Defender can only be uninstalled by authorized users. If someone tries to bypass that by swapping SIM cards, BD will text the new number to a phone of your choosing, force the phone to answer your call, and then remotely wipe the phone via SMS command. Once you get the thief on the line, you should probably yell something to the effect of, "IF I CAN'T HAVE HER, NO ONE WILL" just before sending the self-destruct text. Drama! Excitement! Destruction! 

These extra features don't come free; you have to pony up an annual subscription of $4. But given that the full anti-theft service extends to all your devices-laptops, phones, and tablets alike-that four bucks is a good investment. 

Another solid freemium option is Lookout Security & Antivirus by Lookout Mobile Security. This total security suite protects your phone against loss or theft as well as provides continuous protection against a variety of nasty bits of online code. 

For $3 a month (or $30 annually), you get the antivirus service, backup and restore features to save and reload your Google contacts, photos, and call history, and a swath of sneaky anti-theft options. In addition to the standard map-based location, tracking and forced ringing features, Lookout also offers Signal Flare, which saves the phone's last known location when the battery dies, and the Lock Cam, which emails you a picture of anyone that incorrectly enters the lock screen combo three times. 

Plan B
Bit Defender's a great choice, but what if you've lost your phone without installing it beforehand? There's always Plan B. 

Plan B is a remotely installed, barebones tracker app. First, open a browser window and log on to Google Play. Install the app onto your phone via Play, wait ten minutes for it to download and install, then text "locate" to your number from another phone. The app will triangulate its position based on Wi-Fi and GPS signals and send you a single email if it's sitting still, or continuously for a duration of 10 minutes if the device is on the move. You just have to keep texting "locate" until you catch up with it (and hope that the battery's still going). 

Find My iPhone
The original lost phone tracking service for iOS is still your best option. This free app locates and tracks your lost or stolen Apple devices-not just iPhones but iPads and MacBooks as well-not to mention ringing the unit, displaying a message for whoever finds it, and remotely lock or wipe the device altogether. The app is free on iTunes. 
For a little more advanced protection, GadgetTrak offers remotely activated GPS location tracking, push notifications to trick a thief into giving away his position, and the ability to use your lost phone's camera to take a picture of whomever took it from the comfort of your home. It'll cost you $4, but that's peanuts compared to a brand new phone. 

I Can't Find My Phone
Not every lost phone situation requires a full-on app assault to resolve; it's just as often a matter of tracking down which pile of clothes your handset is hiding under. Open in a new browser window, enter your phone number into the text field, and the site will automatically ring your mobile. Just pray you didn't leave it in silent mode. Where's My Cell Phone performs a similar function as well. Both are platform agnostic.
This one's a little bit more of a long shot, but there is, in fact, a universal lost and found for smartphones. If you know your lost phone's IMEI (often found on the back of your device or on its battery, or dial *#06# to have it sent to you), you can register it here and hope that the kind stranger who finds it knows what is. And while it's a bit of a hail mary, it's not like it's any less effective than the last real-life lost and found you've rummaged through. 

An ounce of prevention
However useful these apps and services are, your best chances for success will come before you even lose your phone in the first place. 

Connecting people: Put your contact information somewhere on your phone that's easily accessible. Whether it's your email address engraved on the back (your resale value takes a hit) or putting it on your lockscreen (which doesn't do much if your battery dies) or both, you improve the odds of getting your phone back tremendously if you just give whoever finds it the means to get in touch. 
Use a drunk phone: Have an old handset laying around? Have a friend who's about to ditch theirs for an upgrade? Don't throw it out. Instead, keep it around for nights you might be more, er, primed to lose your phone, and put the SIM from your day to day device-the one you care about-into the beater. That way your friends can still reach you at your number on a wild night out, and losing it won't be (as much of) a hassle. 
Get registered: While it's not as much help right now, by November the national stolen phone registry will be up and running. Carriers will coordinate with the government both to track phones reported as stolen, and to deny them voice/data access. While it might not get your phone back, it'll at least increase your odds-and make sure that the thief doesn't use your smartphone to steal your personal info or identity. There unfortunately is no singular, perfect solution for recovering your phone. The apps and techniques described above will give you a fighting chance for recovery, though. Until then, keep your phone close and don't leave the bar without it.

10 VirtualBox Tricks and Advanced Features You Should Know About


VirtualBox is packed with features that you may have never used, even if you frequently use it to run virtual machines. VMware keeps many of its best features to its paid versions, but all of VirtualBox’s features are completely free.
Many of the features here require Guest Additions installed in your virtual machine. This is good to do anyway, as installing the Guest Additions package will speed up your virtual machines.


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VirtualBox can create snapshots that save a virtual machine’s state. You can revert to the saved state at any time by restoring a snapshot. Snapshots are similar to leaving a virtual machine in a saved state, but you can have multiple saved states and restore from them at any time.
To create a snapshot, click the Machine menu while the virtual machine is running and select Take snapshot or use the Snapshots panel. You can restore snapshots from this interface later.
Snapshots are particularly useful if you want to do something to a virtual machine and then erase your changes. For example, if you use a virtual machine to test software, you can create a snapshot of a clean Windows system, then install the software and play with it. When you’re done, you can restore the original snapshot and all traces of the software will be erased. You don’t have to reinstall your guest operating system or manually back up and restore a virtual machine’s files.

Seamless Mode

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Seamless mode allows you to break windows out of your guest operating system window and place them on your host operating system’s desktop. For example, if you use VirtualBox to run an important Windows program on your Linux desktop, you can use Seamless mode to have that Windows program be present on your Linux desktop.
To use this feature, install VirtualBox’s Guest Additions package inside the virtual machine, select the View menu, and click Switch to Seamless Mode.

3D Support

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VirtualBox has basic support for 3D graphics. You’ll have to go out of your way to enable this — the appropriate drivers aren’t installed by default when you install Guest Additions and you must manually enable these settings from the virtual machine’s settings window.
The 3D support won’t allow you to play the latest 3D games, but it does allow you to enable Windows Aero desktop effects in the virtual machine and play older 3D games that aren’t too demanding.

USB Devices

You can connect USB devices to your computer and expose them to the virtual machine as if they were connected directly. This feature can be used with USB drives and a variety of other devices. As long as USB support is enabled in the virtual machine’s settings window, you can click the Devices tab, point to USB Devices, and select the USB devices you want to connect.

Shared Folders

VirtualBox allows you to set up “shared folders” that both the host operating system and guest operating system can access. To do this, VirtualBox essentially takes a folder on the host operating system and uses network file sharing to make it accessible inside the virtual machine. Configure shared folders from the virtual machine’s settings window and then access or mount them as you’d mount normal network shares.

Shared Clipboard and Drag and Drop

Copy and paste and drag and drop don’t work between the guest and host operating systems by default. However, VirtualBox allows you to share your clipboard between your guest operating system and host operating system, making copy-and-paste work properly. You can also use drag and drop to easily move files back and forth. Both of these features reduce the friction of using software inside a virtual machine, but they’re disabled by default.

Cloning Virtual Machines

VirtualBox allows you to clone a virtual machine, creating a copy of it. If you try to copy-paste the files manually, you’ll end up with problems because both virtual machines will use the same identifier number for their virtual disks. When you clone a virtual machine, VirtualBox will ensure they don’t conflict with each other.

Port Forwarding

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Virtual machines are normally isolated from the network. If you’d like to run server software inside a virtual machine, you’ll probably want to set up port forwarding so the server software is reachable from outside of the virtual machine. You’ll find this option in the Network settings pane, under Advanced.
You could also opt to connect the virtual machine directly to the network instead of using NAT, but NAT with port forwarding may be a better way to only allow specific ports through without changing your network settings too much.

Importing and Exporting VM Appliances

Appliances are virtual machines with preinstalled operating systems. You can create your own appliances or download appliances in OVF format and import them into VirtualBox. This is particularly useful for Linux virtual machines and other systems that can be distributed freely, although you could also create your own appliances and distribute them throughout your organization.

Remote Display

VirtualBox allows you to enable remote display for a virtual machine, allowing you to run a virtual machine on a headless server or other remote system and access it from another computer. VirtualBox does this with “VRDP,” which is backwards compatible with Microsoft’s RDP protocol. This means you can use the Remote Desktop Connection program in Windows or any other RDP viewer to access your virtual machine remotely without the need for any VirtualBox-specific software.

You can also enlarge a virtual machine’s disks in VirtualBox. VirtualBox doesn’t expose this option in its interface, requiring you to use the VBoxManage command instead.

How to Stop Network Activity from Waking Your Windows PC


Have you ever had your PC turn on in the middle of the night for some unknown reason? It’s probably either network connectivity or someone connecting a USB device.

How to Stop Network Activity From Waking Your PC on Windows 7, 8 and 8.1

To edit this particular setting, we need to open the Windows Device Manager. To open it, press the Win + R keyboard combination, type “devmgmt.msc” and press enter. This generic method of opening the Device Manager allows the article to work on all recent versions of Windows.
Expand network adapters and right-click on the one you want to change the setting for, then choose properties from the context menu.
Here you will find a “Allow this device to wake up the computer” option. Uncheck the box to disable it. Optionally, you can leave it enabled and check the option “Only allow a magic packet to wake up the computer” which will prevent everything except Wake-On-Lan packets from waking up your machine.
Interestingly enough, you can also opt to change this same setting for a USB port. This might come in handy if you use for USB ports to charge your cell phone, for example.

Friday, August 16, 2013

How to Password Protect Files and Folders With Encryption


Whether you want to store sensitive data on a USB drive, securely email it, or just add an additional layer of security on your hard drive, there are a variety of ways to protect your files with a password.
When we say we’re “password protecting” a file, we generally mean we’re encrypting the fileso it can’t be decrypted and understood without your encryption password. That’s the most secure way to password protect files.

Create an Encrypted Archive

Windows XP allowed you to create password-protected ZIP files, but Windows 7 doesn’t. That’s fine — you can download a free third-party file compression program that will handle this for you. There are many file-compression programs you could use, but we recommend the completely free and open-source 7-Zip.
After installing 7-Zip, use it to create a new archive — either via the 7-Zip option in your Windows Explorer right-click menu or the Add button in the 7-Zip application. You’ll be able to specify a password for your archive — be sure you leave AES-256 selected as the encryption type. Any files and folders you add to your .zip file (or whatever other type of archive you choose to create) will be encrypted with your selected password. You’ll need to enter your password when you open your archive file in the future.

Encrypt an Office Document

Microsoft Office allows you to apply encryption to documents, securing them with a password. Microsoft switched to AES encryption in Office 2007, so if you’re using an earlier version of Office the encryption will be nowhere near as secure.
To password protect a document in Office 2013 or Office 2010, click the File menu, click the Protect Document button in the Info section, and select Encrypt With Password. You’ll be prompted to enter a password, which you’ll have to provide each time you open the document in the future. You can also fully decrypt the document in the future, removing the need for a password.
Other productivity programs may offer similar features. For example, Adobe Acrobat allows you to create password-protected PDF files. Word 2013 can encrypt PDF files with a password, too.

Create Encrypted Volumes With TrueCrypt

TrueCrypt allows you to create encrypted volumes. TrueCrypt is a very flexible encryption solution, and you can use it in a variety of ways:
  • Create a small encrypted container stored in a file on your hard drive. You’ll need your encryption password to “mount” this file as a special drive, allowing you to view and manipulate its contents. When you “unmount” the drive, no one can see its contents without providing your encryption passphrase.
  • Use TrueCrypt to create an encrypted volume on a USB flash drive or other removable drive, allowing you to carry sensitive files around with you worrying that they could be viewed if you ever lose the drive. TrueCrypt can be used as a portable application, allowing you to access your encrypted data even on computers that don’t have TrueCrypt installed — the TrueCrypt program files can be stored on the external drive itself.
  • Encrypt your entire Windows system drive, forcing anyone to enter a password when booting your computer or resuming from hibernate. This ensures that no one can access the contents of your hard drive as long as you leave your computer locked or powered off. (Unless they use the freezer attack, which is uncommon in the real world.)

Use Built-In Windows Encryption Features

If you’re using a Professional or Enterprise edition of Windows, you also have access to some special encryption features. Home versions of Windows — and the standard edition of Windows 8, which technically isn’t named a “home” version — don’t have access to these features. Professional editions of Windows include the following two encryption features:
  • BitLocker, which allows you to create encrypted volumes on drives, including external USB flash drives. BitLocker functions in much the same way as TrueCrypt, so you can use a similar feature on the more common editions of Windows.
  • Encrypting File System (EFS), which allows you to encrypt individual folders and files. To use this feature, right-click a file or folder, select Properties, and click the Advanced button on the General tab. Enable the Encrypt contents to secure data option — this will be grayed out if you’re not using the correct edition of Windows. Files are essentially encrypted with your Windows user account password, so you’ll lose them if you forget your Windows password. Bear in mind that these files are only encrypted when stored on your hard drive, so you can’t email them securely without encrypting them in a different way.

There are many other tools that can be used to encrypt files, but the above methods are some of the easiest and most powerful.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

How to Change the Auto-Save Interval in Word 2013


By default, Word automatically saves your document at certain intervals. If you’re concerned about losing data, you can decrease the interval. If you’re distracted by the hard drive crunching too often, you can increase the interval. Either way, changing this interval is easy.
To change the interval, click the FILE tab.
On the Word Start Screen, click Options in the menu list on the left.
On the Word Options dialog box, click Save in the menu list on the left.
In the Save documents section of the Save screen, make sure the Save AutoRecover information every check box is checked. Change the number of minutes by typing in a new value or using the up and down arrows to change the value.
Click OK to save your change.
If you change your mind about the interval, simply open the Word Options dialog box and change the Save AutoRecover information every value to the desired number. If you don’t want Word to automatically save your documents, select the Save AutoRecover information every check box so there is no check in the box.