The spotlight is on connections with family and friends in this December issue. You'll learn how to make the most of your tweets to them on Twitter, and get instructions on uploading videos to YouTube. In Great Sites, we feature resources to help you manage family finances, bake sweets with North Pole recipes, navigate the rules of etiquette, build a family medical record, and reminisce about the Sesame Street gang. Of course, there are foes online as well as family and friends. So we begin with a warning about phony IRS e-mails that attempt to steal personal information from recipients. Stay alert this season, and have a wonderful time with those you care about.
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Warning! - Phony IRS E-mail Lands In Many Inboxes
According to IRS.gov, a phony e-mail claiming to come from the IRS has recently been circulating in large numbers. The subject line is typically “Notice of Underreported Income,” and the e-mail may contain an attachment or link to a bogus webpage directing taxpayers to their "tax statement." In either case, when the recipient opens the attachment or clicks on the link, they download malware including the hard-to-detect Zeus Trojan.
This malicious code can take over the hard drive, giving someone remote access to the computer, or it could look for passwords and other information and send them to the scammer to gain access to bank accounts. Researchers estimate that the Zeus criminals are emptying more than a million dollars per day out of victims' bank accounts with the software, and it's the most prominent spam-delivered virus in the world right now.
Please remember that the IRS does not send unsolicited e-mails to taxpayers about their tax accounts. If you receive an unsolicited e-mail claiming to come from the IRS, do not open any attachments or click on any links. Those who believe they may already be victims of identity theft should find out what to do by going to the U.S. Federal Trade Commission's website, OnGuardOnLine.gov.
Ask The Help Desk - Must Tweets Only Talk About What I'm Doing?
Question: The typing box at Twitter.com is labeled: "What are you doing?" Am I limited to answering that question in my tweets?
Answer: No, you are certainly not limited to answering the "What are you doing?" question on Twitter. (Especially if that results in tweets that contain just the mundane details of your everyday life, like the fact that you're now eating a bowl of cereal.) You can use those 140 characters for other things, and doing so often makes tweets more interesting and valuable to others. For example, you can pose questions to your followers such as, "What's got your attention and why?" or "What do you think about _______?" You can also send links to neat stuff you've found online, or spread the word about breaking news events.
Sites Of The Month - Great Sites To Check Out In December
Money Made Easy http://money.cnn.com/magazines/moneymag/money101/index.html - Is 2010 the year you'll finally start saving more? Reallocate your investments? Get out of debt? If your New Year's resolutions are financial in nature, some lessons in money management may be in order. Here you'll find Money 101 featuring 23 lessons from Setting Priorities to 401(k)s-all designed to help you make smarter financial decisions.
Christmas Cookbook http://northpole.com/Kitchen/Cookbook - If you're not already in the Christmas spirit, cooking up some delicious holiday treats just might get you there. At this site, you can download recipes from Mrs. Claus herself! Recipes are available for cookies, fudge, candy, cakes, pies, and more. And, don't forget to check out other areas of the site to see Disco Dancing Santa, write Santa a letter, or track his travels on Christmas Eve.
Holiday Hiccups http://emilypost.com/everyday/holiday_FAQs_entertaining.htm - A lot of holiday stress can be attributed to wondering about appropriate behavior: "Is it acceptable to bring an extra guest to dinner?" "How elaborate a gift should I give my new boyfriend/girlfriend?" "Should my tipping habits change during the holiday season?" The Emily Post Institute site offers gracious suggestions to address these and other tricky holiday situations.
Family (Medical) Tree http://mayoclinic.com/health/medical-history/HQ01707 - This site covers an important topic you may not have given much thought to: your family medical history. Such a history can provide useful information to your doctor in assessing your disease risk, recommending treatments or prevention steps, and ordering tests. The site discusses what information to get, and how to gather it in a way that's comfortable for family members. The holidays are a great time to start collecting this vital data.
Sesame Street Turns 40 http://sesamestreet.org/onair/history - On November 10, 1969, television history was made as the first episode of Sesame Street aired. This year, the show's website is celebrating the program's 40th anniversary with history, trivia, and fun videos. Vote for your favorite videos, watch rare clips, download character computer wallpaper, and read behind-the-scenes stories. Those who watched the show from the beginning will be happy to know some of the original characters still live on Sesame Street!
Want to unleash your creativity and broadcast your talents to a global audience? YouTube makes it pretty simple for anyone to upload a video to the site. They accept video files from most digital cameras, camcorders, web cams, and cell phones in the .WMV, .AVI, .MOV, and .MPG file formats. Once you've finished editing your video, make sure it's less than 10 minutes and smaller than 100MB.
YouTube recommends using the following settings to upload a video of high quality:
MPEG4 (Divx, Xvid) format
30 frames per second
Resizing your video to these specifications before uploading will help your videos look better on YouTube.
To upload a video on YouTube:
1. Create a YouTube account by clicking on the "Create Account" link in the upper right corner of any YouTube page and then log in to your accou