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Clever tech hacks for less stress this holiday, from Amazon spoilers to family pics

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Clever tech hacks for less stress this holiday, from Amazon spoilers to family pics

Gift shopping, scammers, cooking the prime rib just right … There’s too much to worry about this time of year. Before you dive headfirst into the festive frenzy, I’ve got tech tips that’ll sprinkle a little magic on your celebrations. 

As my holiday thanks to my loyal readers, I’m giving away an iPhone. Yep, you can win a new iPhone 15 (valued at $799). Enter to win now!

Cook up a storm with a digital cookbook

Picture this: All your go-to holiday recipes are neatly corralled in one digital cookbook. No more frantic shuffling, clicking through a million tabs or misplaced ingredient lists.

FIVE DUMB TECH SECURITY MISTAKES YOU’RE MAKING

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If your recipes are printed or handwritten, snap a pic with your tablet. Add all the pics to one folder (or try the Notes app if you’re on an iPad) for easy swiping between them. Cooking from recipes you found online? Save the PDF versions and toss them in one spot. No iPad? Use your phone!

Bonus: An inexpensive cookbook holder will keep your tablet out of the mess of flour, stock and butter in the kitchen. (This one is gorgeous if you have a bit more to spend.)

Do cards the easier way

I’m giving you permission to go digital with holiday cards this year. Canva, Adobe Express, Paperless Post and Mailchimp are solid options. You can choose a template, whip up a greeting and send it off in just a few minutes — no trip to the post office required.

Unwrapping a gift (Cyberguy.com)

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Spoiler-proof Amazon

Before you start buying holiday gifts in a frenzy, make sure your Amazon account is set up the right way.

  • Hide and seek: Archive any orders you don’t want someone else to see. On a computer, hover your cursor over Account & Lists and click on Orders. Find the order you want to hide and click View order details, then Archive Order. Click Archive Order again to confirm.
  • Banish the browser: Remove items from your browsing history to avoid revealing your gift ideas. Hover your cursor over Account & Lists and click on Browsing History. For each item that you want to hide, tap Remove from view.

Stop arguing about when to leave

The classic holiday battle: When should you leave the house to get to your destination on time and avoid traffic? Stop guessing and let traffic-predicting algorithms make your drive easier. 

AREA CODES ARE NOW MORE OF A STATUS SYMBOL THAN A PRACTICALITY

You can get a pretty accurate traffic forecast for a future date based on what the conditions are like on that day and time. Then you can fine-tune your departure time to find the ideal time to hit the road.

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Here’s how to set a planned time and date for a trip in Google Maps:

  • Open Google Maps and tap on the Search here field.
  • Enter a destination and select it from the results.
  • Tap Directions and then tap the three-dots button to the right of the Your location field.
  • Tap Set depart or arrive time.
  • Select Depart at and enter a date and time, then tap Done. You’ll get various route options and details such as time and distance.
  • Select a route and tap Start.

Steps are here to find out the best time to leave based on when you want to arrive — and steps to do both in Apple Maps.

Google Maps logo

Google Maps.  (Nikolas Kokovlis/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Say ‘Cheese!’ to better group pics

Remember the days of designating one unlucky soul to be the photographer? You know, the family friend or someone’s random date. Upgrade to your smartphone camera’s timer.

  • On iPhone: Open your Camera app and tap the up-facing arrow at the top of the screen. Scroll right to the option that looks like a clock, then tap it. Select a 3- or 10-second delay.
  • On Android: In the Camera app, select Timer and turn it on. Choose from a delay of 2, 5 or 10 seconds.

A SECRET PHONE SURVEILLANCE PROGRAM IS SPYING ON MILLIONS OF AMERICANS

If someone insists on taking the pic, ask them to use burst mode. All they have to do is hold down on the shutter button to capture a ton of photos at once. Better chance you’ll get everyone smiling!

Smile! But do it the right way. Here’s how to look better in pics.

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Remove the screen temptation

It’s not the weekend to be glued to your phone, scrolling headlines or social media. Need a little help disconnecting?

  • On iPhone: Open Settings > Screen Time.
  • On Android: Open Settings > Digital Wellbeing.

Rather than a blanket screen time limit, be strategic and limit the stuff that sucks you in. Maybe you set a 10-minute limit on Instagram, for example. 

cracking egg trend mother on phone

If you set your phone to Do Not Disturb, all good — just make sure you get the calls you want.

Keep your tech-know going 

My popular podcast is called “Kim Komando Today.” It’s a solid 30 minutes of tech news, tips, and callers with tech questions like you from all over the country. Search for it wherever you get your podcasts. For your convenience, hit the link below for a recent episode.

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PODCAST PICK: Selfie-related deaths, TikTok Jesus scam & expired tech in your house

Plus, Gary Larock needed a kidney, so his family turned to Facebook. A stranger saw the post and stepped in with a life-changing decision. Apple is opening up to Android messaging, and the Feds want to monitor your car. Also, affordable home mesh Wi-Fi systems.

Check out my podcast “Kim Komando Today” on Apple, Google Podcasts, Spotify, or your favorite podcast player.

Listen to the podcast here or wherever you get your podcasts. Just search for my last name, “Komando.”

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Sound like a tech pro, even if you’re not! Award-winning popular host Kim Komando is your secret weapon. Listen on 425+ radio stations or get the podcast. And join over 400,000 people who get her free 5-minute daily email newsletter.

Copyright 2024, WestStar Multimedia Entertainment. All rights reserved.

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Microsoft is working with Nvidia, AMD, and Intel to improve upscaling support in PC games

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Microsoft is working with Nvidia, AMD, and Intel to improve upscaling support in PC games

Microsoft has outlined a new Windows API designed to offer a seamless way for game developers to integrate super resolution AI-upscaling features from Nvidia, AMD, and Intel. In a new blog post, program manager Joshua Tucker describes Microsoft’s new DirectSR API as the “missing link” between games and super resolution technologies, and says it should provide “a smoother, more efficient experience that scales across hardware.”

“This API enables multi-vendor SR [super resolution] through a common set of inputs and outputs, allowing a single code path to activate a variety of solutions including Nvidia DLSS Super Resolution, AMD FidelityFX Super Resolution, and Intel XeSS,” the post reads. The pitch seems to be that developers will be able to support this DirectSR API, rather than having to write code for each and every upscaling technology.

The blog post comes a couple of weeks after an “Automatic Super Resolution” feature was spotted in a test version of Windows 11, which promised to “use AI to make supported games play more smoothly with enhanced details.” Now, it seems the feature will plug into existing super resolution technologies like DLSS, FSR, and XeSS rather than offering a Windows-level alternative. 

Microsoft says that the new API will be available soon via a preview version of its Agility SDK. It plans to offer a “sneak peek” of how DirectSR can be used during a developer session at the forthcoming Game Developers Conference (GDC). The session will take place on March 21st, and will include representatives from both Microsoft as well as Nvidia and AMD.

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Apple warns against using rice to dry out your wet iPhone; here’s what to do instead

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Apple warns against using rice to dry out your wet iPhone; here’s what to do instead

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Cellphones getting water damage is nothing new. Before the iPhone, I had a flip phone that fell into a swimming pool. The first thing everyone told me to do was to dry the phone out with rice.

The idea is that the rice will draw out any excess water, saving your phone from being destroyed by water damage.

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This method remains many people’s tried-and-true method for saving a waterlogged phone, and I’ve seen it work firsthand. 

However, a new support document by Apple has just come out, and the company is asking people to please not place their iPhones in a bowl or bag of rice.

CLICK TO GET KURT’S FREE CYBERGUY NEWSLETTER WITH SECURITY ALERTS, QUICK VIDEO TIPS, TECH REVIEWS AND EASY HOW-TO’S TO MAKE YOU SMARTER

An iPhone in a bowl of rice (Kurt “CyberGuy” Knutsson)

Why shouldn’t you put your wet iPhone in rice?

Apple is now warning customers that placing their iPhones into a bowl or bag of rice might actually slow down the drying process and damage their phone’s internal components. In particular, the company warns that small particles of wet rice may end up in your iPhone, damaging the phone’s logic board.

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REVOLUTIONARY DEVICE LETS YOU POINT, CLICK WITH YOUR TONGUE

iPhone rice trick 2

Wet iPhone (Kurt “CyberGuy” Knutsson)

What Apple recommends you do instead

Next time your iPhone takes a dip in the swimming pool or the toilet, instead of running for the rice in the cabinet, Apple suggests doing this instead.

Step 1 – Tap the water out

Apple suggests that your first immediate step should be lightly tapping the iPhone against your hand with the charging connector pointed down. This should pull some of the water inside your iPhone out. Don’t be alarmed if only a few drops of water come from the connector port. Leave your iPhone somewhere dry, with some airflow.

iPhone rice trick 3

Image of an iPhone and power cord (Kurt “CyberGuy” Knutsson)

MORE: BEST ACCESSORIES FOR YOUR PHONE

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Step 2 – Wait 30 minutes, then try to charge your iPhone

You should leave your iPhone alone for a period of 30 minutes. Once 30 minutes have gone by, you can attempt to charge your iPhone again. If your iPhone charges, congratulations. There’s no water damage to your iPhone and you can resume using it. If you receive an alert saying “liquid detected in USB-C (or lightning) port,” you unfortunately still have water in your iPhone. However, luckily, hope isn’t lost.

MORE: 5 BEST PORTABLE PHONE CHARGERS OF 2024

iPhone rice trick 4

Liquid Detected alert on iPhone (Apple)

CLICK TO GET KURT’S FREE CYBERGUY NEWSLETTER WITH SECURITY ALERTS, QUICK VIDEO TIPS, TECH REVIEWS AND EASY HOW-TO’S TO MAKE YOU SMARTER

Step 3 – Leave your iPhone in a dry area for 24 hours

If you receive an alert saying “liquid detected in USB-C (or lightning) port,” you unfortunately still have water in your iPhone. Apple warns against using a blow-dryer or any other heat gun device to dry your iPhone after it takes a splash. You should instead leave your phone in a dry area with some airflow and allow for 24 hours to pass. A room with a ceiling fan is a great place to leave your iPhone while it dries.

iPhone rice trick 5

Charging Not Available alert on iPhone (Apple)

Step 4 – Retest the connector

After 24 hours have passed, you should try to charge your iPhone again. If your iPhone charges, you are all good. If it doesn’t charge, Apple recommends removing the charging cable from the wall outlet and changing electrical sources for a moment. Apple recommends against trying to insert a cotton swab or any other foreign object into your charging port.

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If your iPhone’s charging port is damaged or not working properly, you may want to consider alternative charging methods that do not rely on the port. For example, some iPhones support wireless charging, which uses a magnetic pad or stand to charge your phone without plugging in a cable. This way, you can avoid inserting anything into the port and prevent further damage. 

Now, if all that doesn’t work and your iPhone still does not charge or shows signs of water damage, such as a wet screen, distorted audio or malfunctioning buttons, you may need to contact Apple for repair or replacement. You can check your warranty status and common issues not covered under warranty by clicking here.

Remember to back up your data before sending your iPhone for repair, as you may lose some or all of your information.

MORE: HOW TO PROTECT AN IPHONE & IPAD FROM MALWARE 2024

Kurt’s key takeaways

It’s important to remember that all iPhones since the iPhone 12 are able to safely withstand submersion in water of up to 20 feet for 30 minutes. If you do end up dropping your iPhone in the water, just don’t run for the rice.

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Do you think Apple should make their iPhones more water-resistant or waterproof? Let us know by writing us at Cyberguy.com/Contact.

For more of my tech tips & security alerts, subscribe to my free CyberGuy Report Newsletter by heading to Cyberguy.com/Newsletter.

Ask Kurt a question or let us know what stories you’d like us to cover.

Answers to the most asked CyberGuy questions:

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Copyright 2024 CyberGuy.com. All rights reserved.

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X adds live video to Spaces instead of bringing back Periscope

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X adds live video to Spaces instead of bringing back Periscope

Spaces, the live audio feature for X, is now letting hosts turn on their video during chat sessions. The platform formerly known as Twitter announced the news on Wednesday as owner / CTO Elon Musk reposted a walkthrough from a user named “Dogedesigner.”

Spaces users will notice a new option to “enable video” when they first create a new Spaces session. Hosts can opt for either their phone’s front or back-facing cameras as well as either a landscape or vertical view of their video feed. 

The Video Spaces are available on the iOS version of the X app, but we haven’t seen them available on Android or the web yet. Multiple users reported significant lag while trying out the feature so far.

Right now, only hosts have the ability to turn on video. The end result is a prominent display of the host’s video feed, which is then surrounded by icons of co-hosts, speakers, and any listeners. At first glance, it’s an environment that resembles Twitch — expect for the fact that any selected audience members can chime in at any minute. A host’s video feed also only lives inside a Spaces session, so users will have to join the session in order to tune in.

When Elon Musk announced that Spaces would get video late last year, his description of it sounded closer to a videoconferencing app or video call app like FaceTime, where the video feed switches to whoever is currently speaking. 

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But for now, a typical Spaces with video session prominently features the host’s video feed, which is surrounded by the smaller icons of any other speakers, co-hosts, or listeners in the room. It’s not exactly like Twitch since anyone you give permission to can speak back to you, but it does turn the host into the main event in a similar fashion. 

The new video integration of X Spaces is separate from the platform’s existing live broadcast feature, which lets users directly livestream video. Spaces functions as a live chatroom, where multiple users can tune in and speak. In contrast, the audience in a typical live broadcast can only comment or send hearts

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