TECH FRIENDLY - Everyday technology questions answered

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Technology changes so fast -- that statement itself seems clich?© in a world where our children (of almost any age) know more about the latest online tip or new electronic gadget than we adults do.

It can be overwhelming and once you start to feel "behind," it's difficult to ask questions about things it seems most people take for granted.

"Shouldn't I already know that?" you think to yourself.

"How would I even start figuring some of these things out? And won't I just get sucked into a big rabbit hole of wasted time and energy online?"

Our goal with this column is to take some of the guesswork out of technology basics and answer questions that most people have or have had at some time about their online experience.

I am by no means a technology expert, but it's something I enjoy figuring out; and, hopefully that's part of the appeal -- just an average "everywoman" online, helping you figure out what's going on, online...

Your questions are welcome and we will include the answers in upcoming columns.

If you have any questions about definitions regarding online terminology, here's a helpful resource:

www.case.edu/help/webglossary.html.

Q: How do I know my information is safe when I make online purchases?

Much has been made of online security, and for good reason. The last thing you want is for your information to be accessible to companies or individuals that you haven't meant to share it with. A recent poll by the National Cyber Security Alliance showed that 64% of Americans have abandoned an online transaction because of security concerns.

For a complete list of things to consider when making an online purchase, check out these two sites:

http://www.utexas.edu/its/secure/articles/safe_online_shopping.php

http://idtheft.about.com/od/preventionpractices/a/OnlineShopping.htm

Q: What are the best ways to revisit websites I enjoy?

The most basic way to remember sites is to bookmark them in the web browser where you're viewing them (Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Safari, etc.).

If you don't look at very many sites regularly, or don't care to know when a site has been updated, this will work adequately - you won't have to retype in a web address when you want to go back to the site, you'll just pull down on the bookmark menu and it will load into your browser.

However, if you want to know when a site has been updated, or you are in the habit of looking through, perhaps, a financial site, a sports site, and maybe a couple of family, gardening or crafting blogs a couple of times a week, you may not want to scroll through your bookmarks to find out if new content has been added.

There are a couple of basic options to consider. Many sites will offer an email subscription that you can sign up for, and the updated web site or blog will be delivered to your email inbox. This is handy, but can create a pretty full inbox if you're not careful how many you sign up for.

Another method of content organization is called RSS (real simple syndication or rich site summary), where your frequently-visited sites are all in one place and you can view them as they are updated.

This will save you the time of looking through your favorite sites every day or week; you'll be able to see at a glance what has been updated.

There are a number of options for choosing an RSS feed aggregator; some are built into your web browser or you can use a separate (Google or Yahoo are two examples) feed reader to organize the content.

Here is a good general article about RSS feeds and why you might want to experiment with them: http://webtrends.about.com/od/webfeedsyndicationrss/a/RSS_guide.htm

I hope these Q&As have helped pique your curiosity and encourage you to explore online. Again, your questions are welcome for future columns; we want to hear from you!

Source: NCSA: http://www.securityweek.com/americans-often-abandon-online-purchases-due-security-concerns-poll-finds

Have a question about technology? E-mail The Weekly at megancabasco@wwub.com and we will include your question and answer in an upcoming column.

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