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When installing or updating Java, look for added programs that Oracle includes as a “bonus” install. For instance, right now the Java install also includes by default, the Ask Toolbar. If you don’t want this toolbar, make sure you uncheck the box for it.

To Java or not to Java

In the past few months, Oracle has garnered much attention because of a security flaw in its Java plug-in for web browsers. The situation got so bad the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued an alert advising you to actually disable Java on your computer. You can read the alert at www.us-cert.gov/cas/techalerts/ TA13-010A.html.  In it, DHS warns, “An attacker could ...Read More


Locating broadband services

Cooperative broadband service offerings were featured in last month’s magazine, and since then many of you have contacted me asking a variant of the same question, “If my co-op doesn’t offer broadband services, then where can I get service?” Unfortunately, the answer isn’t very cut and dried, but I’m going to try to give you some resources to find the ...Read More


Extend your smart phone’s battery life

In last month’s column I promised a list of things you can do to conserve battery life on your smart phone in case of a power outage. The list below speaks to iPhone users specifically, but the principles apply to other devices as well. You might have to spend time looking through your phone’s settings, but you should find most ...Read More


Outage communication 2.0

Most of you have probably experienced what it’s like to be left in the dark during a power outage. You may even have been left without power for an extended amount of time due to some major storm. We all know what that can be like, but with the over 7.5 million outages from Hurricane Sandy still fresh in our ...Read More


Don’t let dust bunnies slow you down

An interesting thing happened when I was looking for a topic for this month’s column. Two friends of mine had an issue with their personal computers randomly turning off in the middle of doing various things. I took that as a sign that maybe others were having the same problem, and that this month’s topic should cover what to do ...Read More


Wi-Fi is the FBI here?

Last month I gave you ways to know when you were surfing online securely. Continuing in that vein, this month I wanted to address another common security issue found in many people’s homes. I’m talking about the lack of a password on your wireless network. I know what you’re thinking. What’s the worst that could happen, right? After all, if ...Read More

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Spot the s, look for the lock

It’s been a few months since the last reader question column. Thank you for all the questions. Please keep them coming. I appreciate the back and forth. This month let’s answer an inquiry that several of you have e-mailed to me.    Cathy from Anna asks, “I keep reading all of these warnings about viruses, and I saw something on ...Read More


Telemarketing scam

It’s certainly been hot lately! Unfortunately, with all the hot weather we all need to run our air conditioners more. And that means higher electric bills. Now, it seems there are people out there trying to take advantage of you with a scam that falsely offers help from the government to pay your bills.Although there are several variations, here’s the ...Read More



This month’s column was supposed to finish up the series on broadband by discussing the benefits of broadband use in education. However, I’m going to postpone that discussion and come back to it next month instead. The reason for the postponement is because the new Illinois Country Living (ICL) website was released last month! Our professional staff has done such ...Read More


Broadband boosts rural business

You might not think farms have much need for broadband services, but in fact agriculture is being shaped by the services offered. According to the USDA report, Broadband Internet’s Value for Rural America, the more multi-faceted the farm business, the more the farm uses the Internet. Grant Noland of Noland Farms says, “In today’s agriculture environment everything is high-speed. Broadband ...Read More