Spring cleaning hacks & tips to make the job easier


Spring is in the air, even if we still have a few iffy weather days to muddle through. It’s time to do a good annual home cleaning and checkup – Bob Vila has a a good home maintenance list and Martha Stewart offers a helpful checklist of spring cleaning tasks (PDF). But as you go about your spring cleaning, remember to stay safe – Paul Davidson Restoration reminds us that home-related injuries cause 21 million medical visits a year and claim many lives – so check out his tips for safe spring cleaning (PDF).

We’ve also hunted down a few videos on helpful hacks to make household spring cleaning a little easier. And if you find them helpful, you might like our prior post on Handy household hacks: creative uses for everyday products.

Consumer Guide to Windows 10: From best features to controlling your privacy


computer-user

Initial reviews for Windows 10 are in and they’re pretty positive overall. Reviewers generally say there’s a lot to like about the new operating system, which maintains many of the best mobile features of 8 while fixing some of the biggest headaches for desktop users. It introduces a slimmed down new browser, dumping the oft-criticized Internet Explorer, and it also introduces Cortana, a personal assistant similar to Apple’s Siri. Plus, you can upgrade for free – here’s how. But critics are raising alarms about privacy issues.

Here are reviews of some of the best new Windows 10 features

Windows 10 Privacy Matters

Despite largely positive reviews, many techies and security experts are raising privacy alarms. Some of the issues you should be aware of: Windows 10 has a system of automatic updates – updates are no longer optional. If you like to customize things, know that many of your application preferences will now default to Windows products unless you change settings. On sign-up, you will be opting in to ad tracking/customized ads unless you opt out. Many are also citing privacy issues raised by use of the personal assistant Cortana but, in fairness, these are probably no greater than those raised when using Siri or Google Now. (See: Cortana vs Google Now vs Siri: Battle of the personal assistants and another comparison here.

While you can change default settings, everything is a trade off. Shutting some features down in the interests of privacy may also detract functionality. Here are steps that you can take to maintain maximum control – and what, if anything, you give up in the process:

“Plenty of sites have published lists of all the features you should turn off in Windows 10 to protect your privacy, but many don’t explain in detail what each of these settings do, which makes it hard to separate FUD from fact. So let’s go through those settings and explain what we know about them, where the real problems are, and how to turn everything off.”

If you haven’t installed yet and maximum privacy/customization is important to you, Tech Republic suggests that you do a custom install rather than the default “Express” installation. They walk through ways you can do that, or if you already installed Express, how to change settings. Here’s another article from How to Geek on Custom vs. Express installation and from Lifehacker on How to Tweak Windows 10 and Fix Its Minor Annoyances.

Handy household hacks: creative uses for everyday products


Here are some video clips of great money-saving hacks for household products you probably already have in one of your your cabinets. Learn some of their less-well known uses and save on expensive alternatives.

10 Awesome Vinegar Life Hacks you should know

6 Uses for Windex You Should Know

25 Creative Uses For Common Household Items

Summer crime forecast: chance of burglaries, assaults high


burglary

Summer may be a time for relaxing, but don’t let your guard down when it comes to crime. According to a study examining seasonal crime patterns that was recently released by the federal Bureau of Justice Statistics, most types of crime are more likely to happen in summer. See Burglaries in Summer, School Assaults in Fall.

  • Your house is much more likely to be broken into in the summer – Burglary is 11% more common in the summer than in the winter — that’s more seasonal variation than for any other single type of crime.
  • You’re more likely to be a victim of violent crime in summer – “serious violence was significantly higher during the summer than during the winter, spring and fall seasons.”

However, as the Vox article reminds us that muggings, rape and assault – all crimes, really – can happen in any season.

Law enforcement and loss control experts offer a few tips:

Personal Security–At Home, On the Street, While Traveling – Released by the Bureau of Diplomatic Security

Crime Prevention for Homeowners – Tips During the Warm Weather Months

Keep Your Home Safe on Vacation: 9 Essential Tips

Lonely Planet – Top Tips for Safe Travel

LAPD Crime Prevention Tips – tips sheets on a wide variety of scenarios

Prior related posts on this blog:

Going on vacation? 5 steps to secure your home while you are away!

Staying Cyber Safe During Your Vacations

Vacation Rentals and Homeowners Insurance

Curious Klepto Critters Steal Cameras: Will insurance cover this?

First and foremost, stay safe. Things are just things and can be replaced – plus, the right insurance coverage can help mitigate any loss of possessions. Your personal safety is what’s paramount!

Everyday Products You’ve Probably Been Using Wrong


Sometimes it’s the little things in life. We were amused and surprised to find a list of 18 everyday items with handy features or hidden tricks built in to the packaging – and most were new to us. They won’t change your life in any huge way but you’ll probably find at least a few of them useful. The list has 18 products or you can see some highlights in this short video clip.