Overseas Travel Security and Phone Tips

As I have been traveling to Europe lately and have a friend asking for advice as she goes to Koala Lampur, I thought I’d put together a few tips on security and phone use when you leave the U.S.

  • Don’t use Internet Explorer – use Google Chrome.
  • Keep your electronics with you – don’t put them in your checked luggage.
  • Make sure you use HTTPS when getting your email. Gmail does this automatically and for that reason alone, I’d have a gmail account.
  • Setup a new gmail account just for this trip and have your other mail forwarded to this account.
  • Don’t use any banking or sites which require one of your passwords. Wait until you get back home to use Bank of America or Amazon etc.
  • If possible have a travel phone or laptop which is used only for that purpose and doesn’t have all your personal information. You can buy a nice 7″ tablet for around $150.
  • Make sure you have the correct electrical adapters for current in the new country.
  • Password protect all devices.
  • Don’t be posting on Facebook and Twitter about your trip – thieves love to learn your home is empty.
  • Use only wifi which has a Password . What they had in Europe was a unique user name and password for each device – very nice!
  • Don’t use public computers. They are more than likely compromised and have malware.


  • Since Smart Phones are ubiquitous for most Americans, they are nice to have when out of the country. The problem is that if you use it as a phone, you will be paying hefty charges for phone usage. The trick is to turn off your phone function, but allow it to use the wifi to send and receive email and surf the net. Each phone may be slightly different, so check with your carrier.
  • You could also buy a SIM card for the area of the country into which you are going. I went to England a couple years ago and got a SIM card with minutes for that trip.
  • You could also buy a used phone without a SIM card and just use it for your email etc.
  • Set up a Skype account to make phone calls. The price is very reasonable.








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Audio Editing – Backwards

When I record an audio I know that I’m going to have sections that need editing, needed a second or third take, or have a cough etc, in the audio. What I usually do is write down exactly where that section is, mark it on the script or possibly note the time code.

One tip I just learned is that if you made a notation that you needed to fix a section at 2 minutes, a long “ah” at 6 minutes and another throat sound at ten minutes, it’s much easier to work backwards in time.

If you try to edit the traditional way – time forward – then when you remove the section at 2 minutes, you’re next edit won’t be at exactly 6 minutes etc. If you work backwards in time you won’t have this problem.

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Listening to Podcasts

A Podcast is either an internet audio or video show which you can download and then listen  to at some future time.

Since I’m not in the Apple Universe, I use Gpodder.org as a way to subscribe and download shows to my computer. I then move them to one of my devices and listen to the show at my convenience – usually when I’m gardening. Below are the shows I am now listening to – Car Talk is my favorite. My favorite device for this is a Sansa Clip which also has a slot for a SDHC card.

Here’s the NPR podcast list.



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Forgotten Passwords

I’ve got a friend who has forgotten her password to an account and I was searching for ways to help her out. Here are a few ways I found to change those ******* into the actual password.

1. Select the *******, then right click on it and choose Inspect Element. Under Input Type, replace the word “password” with the word “text”.


2. If you use Google Chrome to manage your passwords, not a good idea, you can follow this advice and link.






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X-Fi-Go External Soundcard Review


While I’ve had this device for quite a while, I am only using it recently. They make a newer Pro model, but I’m not sure what the difference is.

  • It does have basic plugnplay functionality, but if you want the extras, you will have to install the drivers. I went to the Creative website to get the Windows 7 driver.
  • After downloading and installing the driver I had a hiccup and my computer wouldn’t start normally. I turned it off and then back on again.
  • It now seems to work fine and I have some added functionality.
  • What I like is the “Stereo Mix” capability which has been added to the Recording function. They call this feature WhatUHear.


You can now record what you hear on your computer.

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Don’t Change Your Phone Number

Trying to help a friend retrieve her email after she lost/forgot her password, I learned how important it was to have a current cell phone number linked to the account.

She had two phone numbers linked to the account, both of which were not in use any more.

Even if you change carriers, you can have your old phone number transferred over to the new carrier. Always keep one main phone number.

Also notice that I said to use a cell phone. The reason is they will want to text you a verification code. Standard land-line phones don’t have text capability.

The moral of the story is this. When you link a phone number to an email account, make sure it’s a phone number that you are going to keep – forever! I’ve had the same phone number in two houses for the last forty years over land lines and cell phones.


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Saving People From Themselves

I’ve got a friend who gives me a call at least every six months over malware that is installed on his computer. While many times he claims innocence as to how it got on his computer, this last time he confessed to clicking on a bogus link to install some software to “Help” his computer be safer. It installed at least five pieces of malware and made his computer aggravating to use.

He does run as a “Standard” user, but this doesn’t stop him installing software. A popup will appear and just ask him for his Administrator password – which he dutifully types in.

I was thinking about how to keep him from doing stupid things like this and came up with a solution. Make up a new password for his Administrator account and don’t tell him what it is. Now this means you need to write it down somewhere and have access to it, but that might mean a savings of a couple of hours of your time if he would install more malware.

Another way would be to use my label maker and come over with a new Administrator password and put in on the bottom of the computer. Theoretically, he wouldn’t know to look there or know what it is.  If he calls you, you’d know that he’s probably doing something he shouldn’t be doing.

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