Everyday Tips from the ComputerMom 

February 2016
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With apologies to my readers outside of MetroWest Massachusetts, I hope everybody here is enjoying our relatively mild winter. After last year, I'm keeping my fingers crossed that it continues!

This month's issue has something for everybody, as it focuses on some of my favorite web sites. Travel, bargain hunting, and computer safety - these are my go-to sites and I think you will find them useful as well.

Julie Marto 

508-333-8176 (cell)

P.S. I recently posted a link on my Facebook page to a tutorial on speeding up an older iPad. Don't forget, I also help folks with their tablets and smartphones!
ITA Matrix Airfare Search

With lower oil prices in the news, now is a great time to lock in plane tickets for spring and summer travel. ITA Matrix Airfare Search, powered by Google, is my favorite site to comparison shop for plane fares. 

ITA Matrix is not an online travel agency like Kayak or Expedia - they won't sell you a ticket. What they will do is allow you to search with a broad set of criteria, enabling you to find the best fare. For example, if you wish to take a trip to Paris in April, but you are flexible with your details, you can enter a starting date and a range for a length of stay (like 5-7 days), and ITA Matrix will pop up with a calendar of fares for you to choose from.

As ITA Matrix doesn't actually sell the tickets, once you find your best fare you simply go directly to the airline website and purchase the ticket there.  This excellent website has a series of tutorials about how to get the most from the ITA Matrix system - enjoy!

Runner-up: Airfare Watchdog - a site that scans the web for low fares and sends me alerts when prices drop to destinations that interest me.

People who know me know that I'm an inveterate bargain hunter. I often help my clients find good deals on computers, printers, and other technology. Like many of you, I also like to stock up on household items or toiletries at a good price, or find an additional coupon to knock the clearance price on a pair of shoes into the "amazing" category. 

There are many deal sites on the internet, but my favorite is a compilation site for bargain hunting called Slickdeals.net. They have a very lively and active community looking for and posting deals they have uncovered, the best of which make it to the front page. I visit that front page often, but also subscribe to " deal alerts". Basically, I've set up multiple alerts for products I'm interested in, everything from laser printers to dishwasher tabs, and I get an email notification (to my shopping email address) every time a deal is posted that matches my interests. Deals matching my alerts also pop-up every time I check the Slickdeals front page.

I've gotten some pretty amazing deals this way, but I also use it for more mundane purchases - it's a great general bargain hunting site, and I highly recommend it!  

Runner-up: Retailmenot - a compilation of coupon codes for every place imaginable, I check it prior to almost every online purchase. 

Yup, that's what it's called, and I'm sure some of you have filled in the "bleep" when thinking about your computers! If you've ever watched me clean up spyware on a computer, you've seen me go to BleepingComputer. It's my favorite site to download spyware removal tools, read up on the latest security risks, and search for solutions to tricky computer problems.

Why do I like this site so much? Mostly because I can trust every single program I download from BleepingComputer to be spyware free. Along with the clean-up tools I use, they have a nice selection of general computer utilities and tutorials. I also subscribe to their Facebook feed to get news about the latest threats to your security.

Of course, I'd much prefer you to call me if your system needs a clean-up, but if you feel up to a little do-it-yourself, you should definitely stick to the tools you find on this site!

Runner-up: MajorGeeks - not as much information here, but many more good downloads.