Apps for Messaging

Do you frequently text your friends and family members? Do you use different messaging apps for different people, or always the same app no matter who it is going to?

I use three different apps for sending messages, each for different reasons.  There are things I like about each one, and things I don’t.

  1. I use the basic texting app that came with the phone. I use this for most of my friends and all of my family.  I like it because it is easy and convenient to use.  I can use it to send texts or messages to multiple people.  I can send photos and emojis.  I can even send a handwritten message!  One thing I don’t like about the basic texting is that it’s not all that secure.Messaging using the iPhone Texting app
  2. I have also installed WhatsApp.  A few years ago a group of my friends were texting using the basic app and several people wouldn’t always receive the text messages.  It was very frustrating!  So we looked at several messaging apps and decided on WhatsApp.  I especially like it because it encrypts all the messages keeping your info safer.
  3. I finally broke down and installed Facebook Messenger.  I hadn’t wanted to use it because I just don’t trust Facebook to keep my info secure.  I also don’t trust them to not sell my information to their many advertisers.  But, several weeks ago I needed to get in touch with a Facebook friend but did not  have their phone number to text them.  And, so many of my friends are using it too.  I still feel like I sold out!

Which messaging Apps do you use?  Why do you like each one? Let us know in the comments below!

Chris Eddy of Geek For Hire, Inc. has been providing computer service to families and small businesses with Mac’s and PC’s for the past fifteen years. His company is highly rated by both the BBB (Better Business Bureau) and by Angie’s List. You can find more on our website, or give us a call 303-618-0154. Geek For Hire, Inc. provides onsite service (Tier 3) to the Denver / Boulder / Front Range area as well as remote service throughout North America.

We’ve been using Amazon Prime for the past few years.  We like the free 2-3 day shipping and the online streaming. I haven’t tried the Kindle lending library yet.  I’ll try that next!   Prime is normally $99/year, but you can try it for 30 day for free by clicking on this link: Try Amazon Prime 30-Day Free Trial (Yes, we’ll get a small commission if you sign up.)

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Is the Cloud safe?

A friend asked me a question today.  Is the Cloud safe?  She feels like a Luddite because she’s not using it, but she really doesn’t feel like it’s safe.  I’ve talked to a number of people who feel the same way. Some people think that their data in the Cloud will be stolen in some fashion.  Others tell they’re afraid that their data will be taken out of context and they’ll be hauled off to jail. So, what’s the answer?

Is the Cloud Safe?Is the Cloud safe?

Well, yes it is.

The Cloud is the safest place I’ve found to store my data.  This is because my data backup is on automatic pilot.  When I change a file and save it, it gets updated to my computer AND to Dropbox.  We’ve had several customers who use an external hard drive to back up there data once a week or once a month.  The trouble there is that people are fallible.  People don’t always remember to do a task.  They may have set up a calendar alarm to remind them to back up their data, but decide when it goes off that they will do it “later”.  And “later” never comes.  Those customers I mentioned earlier then had their hard drive crash, but hadn’t backed up their data in six months or a year.

So, is the Cloud Safe?

Well, no, it’s really not.

There have been several instances where the “bad guys” have broken into databases and stolen data.  One instance last year when a Password Manager was hacked and thousands of passwords were compromised.  (Which is why I am constantly harping on folks to change their passwords frequently!)

Another concern according to MalwareBytes that many people (and companies) have is: “It’s physically out of your hands. You aren’t saving to a hard drive at your house. You are sending your data to another company, which could be saving your data thousands of miles away, so keeping that information safe is now dependent on them.”

It’s really your call.  Convenience vs. keeping your data physically in your possession.  But, if you have precious data that changes frequently, I really recommend the Cloud.  Oh, and change your password!

 

Chris Eddy of Geek For Hire, Inc. has been providing computer service to families and small businesses with Mac’s and PC’s for the past fifteen years. His company is highly rated by both the BBB (Better Business Bureau) and by Angie’s List. You can find more on our website, or give us a call 303-618-0154. Geek For Hire, Inc. provides onsite service (Tier 3) to the Denver / Boulder / Front Range area as well as remote service throughout North America.

We’ve been using Amazon Prime for the past few years.  We like the free 2-3 day shipping and the online streaming. I haven’t tried the Kindle lending library yet.  I’ll try that next!   Prime is normally $99/year, but you can try it for 30 day for free by clicking on this link: Try Amazon Prime 30-Day Free Trial (Yes, we’ll get a small commission if you sign up.)

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How to break your Smartphone addiction

I’ve read several articles recently about how most of us have a Smartphone addiction.  Not to worry, it’s not your fault.  The apps on the phones are programming you to:

Never.

Put.

Your.

Phone.

Down!

Take a look at some of these recent headlines:

When I started looking into this, I got a little freaked out.  Technology companies really are trying to get us to interact more with their apps.  They really are enabling our smartphone addiction. The more we interact with various applications, the more advertisements we’ll see, and that is the whole point.  As Ramsey Brown, founder of Dopamine Labs says:

          “You don’t pay for Facebook.  Advertisers pay for Facebook.  You get to use it for free because your eyeballs are what’s being sold.”Smartphone Addiction

Mr. Brown’s tool, the dopamine api, allows any app to become addictive.  Brown explains:

          “The premise is really straightforward… people don’t just love that burst of dopamine they get from a notification, it changes the wiring of the brain.”

The whole premise is rather ingenious, and pernicious. It very slowly pulls you in, all the while giving you those dopamine hits.  When you don’t get that hit, you start feeling anxious and reach for your phone.

If you’re looking for more background, Anderson Cooper did an in depth report on smartphone addiction.  In the meantime:

What can you do?

  1. Be very conscious each time you pick up your Smartphone.  What is the specific thing you want to accomplish?  I can’t tell you the number of times I have picked up my phone to make a call or look up a quick fact. Unfortunately, when I unlocked the screen, Facebook was already on.  I then spent 15 or 20 minutes scrolling through my Facebook feed before remembering what I needed to do.
  2. Close any apps when you put down your phone.  That way, when you turn it on again, you’ll be presented with your home screen and won’t get distracted. (See #1 above.)
  3. Keep your charging cord away from your bedside for overnight charging.  And, whatever you do, don’t get the new Mophie Charging Base.  That one little device has made it so much easier for me to grab my phone in the middle of the night to check email (or Facebook!), then place it back on the pad without having to fuss with cords.
  4. Pledge to use only your computer to check social media, and to use your Smartphone for email and phone calls.
  5. Get a “dumb phone” for everyday use, and only use your Smartphone when you’re traveling. (This article talks about a dumb phone that can make this process more seamless.)

If these tips are helpful, please pass them on!

Chris Eddy of Geek For Hire, Inc. has been providing computer service to families and small businesses with Mac’s and PC’s for the past fifteen years. His company is highly rated by both the BBB (Better Business Bureau) and by Angie’s List. You can find more on our website, or give us a call 303-618-0154. Geek For Hire, Inc. provides onsite service (Tier 3) to the Denver / Boulder / Front Range area as well as remote service throughout North America.

We’ve been using Amazon Prime for the past few years.  We like the free 2-3 day shipping and the online streaming. I haven’t tried the Kindle lending library yet.  I’ll try that next!   Prime is normally $99/year, but you can try it for 30 day for free by clicking on this link: Try Amazon Prime 30-Day Free Trial (Yes, we’ll get a small commission if you sign up.)

This article was cross posted on Medium.

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Mac OS Malware – What you need to know

It’s finally happened.  Mac’s have finally reached that magic threshold where more and more people are purchasing MacBooks and iMacs.  The “bad guys” have recognized that and are writing Mac OS malware, viruses, and ransomware.  Yes, they are specifically targeting the Mac OS.  They’ve had years of practice on Windows machines.  They know Mac users are a bit more discerning, so their malware needs to be even more subtle to trick those Mac users.  Their products look like the real thing – a real email from Dropbox, a real pop-up from Adobe.

It’s a jungle out there, so don’t think you’re immune just because you have a Mac!mac os malware

Two versions that are targeting Macs are MacSpy and MacRansom.  MacSpy does the usual data scraping, browser history harvesting, etc. MacRansom is a straight-up ransomware.  The cost to retrieve your data is about $650-750.  You can read more about them in this article from Dark Reading.

Another Mac OS malware that’s spreading is installed when you think you’re installing an Adobe upgrade.  You do get the upgrade, but you get a “snake” program as well.  For anyone interested in reading more, check out this article.

Another Trojan, named OSX/Dok, is also relatively new and spreads it’s program through a sophisticated phishing email.  So far, it seems to be targeting primarily European Mac users.  Checkpoint says that:

“This new malware – dubbed OSX/Dok — affects all versions of OSX, has 0 detections on VirusTotal (as of the writing of these words), is signed with a valid developer certificate (authenticated by Apple), and is the first major scale malware to target OSX users via a coordinated email phishing campaign.”

Have you learned something about Mac OS malware? If you found this helpful, please forward it!

Chris Eddy of Geek For Hire, Inc. has been providing computer service to families and small businesses with Mac’s and PC’s for the past fifteen years. His company is highly rated by both the BBB (Better Business Bureau) and by Angie’s List. You can find more on our website, or give us a call 303-618-0154. Geek For Hire, Inc. provides onsite service (Tier 3) to the Denver / Boulder / Front Range area as well as remote service throughout North America.

We’ve been using Amazon Prime for the past few years.  We like the free 2-3 day shipping and the online streaming. I haven’t tried the Kindle lending library yet.  I’ll try that next!   Prime is normally $99/year, but you can try it for 30 day for free by clicking on this link: Try Amazon Prime 30-Day Free Trial (Yes, we’ll get a small commission if you sign up.)

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3 Steps to make your iPhone screen more efficient

Are you one of those people who have to scroll through four or five pages on your phone to get to the application you are looking for?  I’m here to tell you that your iPhone screen can be much more efficient, and you can make it easier to find your importaniphone screent apps.  (Here’s what my home iPhone screen looks like – so easy to find my most used apps!)

  1. First, you need to think about which apps you use multiple times a day.  Those are the apps that belong on your Home or first iPhone screen.  It’s simple to drag and drop them to that first page.  Put your index finger on the icon for that app and hold it there.  Don’t tap it!  After about 3 to 5 seconds, it will start to “wiggle”.  Then you can move the app by dragging it.  If it’s not already on the first page, drag it towards the left until the previous page appears.  Continue doing that until you are on the first page of your phone.  Then you can drop it onto that page.
  2. Next, you might have noticed that some of your apps are related.  For example I have several apps I check for the weather, several for News, and several for sending messages.  I have grouped those apps together so that they are all in one place.  Again, hold the icon for one of those apps until it starts to “wiggle”.  Then drag it on top of the app you want to group it with.  Your iPhone will give the grouping a name.  You can change that name by clicking the small “x” next to the title, and typing in your own name for that group.
  3. Lastly, once you have all of your apps in different groups, it is easier to “drag and drop” them to the Home page or a second page.  I try to keep all of my apps on just two pages.  The first or Home iPhone screen is where I have the apps I use the most.  The second page has the apps I don’t use every day or even once a week.

If you found this helpful, please forward it to your fellow iPhone users!

Chris Eddy of Geek For Hire, Inc. has been providing computer service to families and small businesses with Mac’s and PC’s for the past fifteen years. His company is highly rated by both the BBB (Better Business Bureau) and by Angie’s List. You can find more on our website, or give us a call 303-618-0154. Geek For Hire, Inc. provides onsite service (Tier 3) to the Denver / Boulder / Front Range area as well as remote service throughout North America.

We’ve been using Amazon Prime for the past few years.  We like the free 2-3 day shipping and the online streaming. I haven’t tried the Kindle lending library yet.  I’ll try that next!   Prime is normally $99/year, but you can try it for 30 day for free by clicking on this link: Try Amazon Prime 30-Day Free Trial (Yes, we’ll get a small commission if you sign up.)

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4G Service – What the heck is that?

Have you ever wondered what 4G service is? Have you wondered what the code is next to your cell phone bars of service?  For example, right now my iPhone shows 4 dots (out of 5) and the code LTE.  It looks like this:

LTE or 4G service

 

 

 

What the heck does this mean?  And sometimes when I complain to Chris about my lousy cell quality he’ll ask me what kind of service I have.  Invariably the answer is “3G”.  What the heck is that?!  Basically, my phone is currently providing me with 4G service so that I can surf the internet and send videos to my friends with wild abandon!

A little history:

When we first started using cell phones, they were for voice and simple texting only, which doesn’t take as much bandwidth as data does.  Gradually, the sophistication of the phones, and the service provided on the cell towers, improved.  Using vast amounts of creative thought in naming each new improvement, they were named 2G, 3G, 4G, and the yet to be released 5G.  (The “G” stands for Generation, so the 4G or 4th Generation phones are better than the 2G phones.)

I like the way PC Magazine explains the difference in the different generations:  “1G was analog cellular. 2G technologies, such as CDMA, GSM, and TDMA, were the first generation of digital cellular technologies. 3G technologies, such as EVDO, HSPA, and UMTS, brought speeds from 200kbps to a few megabits per second. 4G technologies, such as WiMAX and LTE, were the next incompatible leap forward, and they are now scaling up to hundreds of megabits and even gigabit-level speeds.”

At the beginning of this year, AT&T shut down their 2G network.  It was state-of-the-art when it was first introduced in 2000, but 17 years later it’s totally obsolete.  Engadget put it this way:

“The shutdown is also a reminder of just how far mobile data has come since 2G hit the scene (in the US, at the turn of the millennium). EDGE was considered fine at a time when any mobile data was a relative novelty, and the most you did with it was check email or surf the most basic of websites. Now, even a modestly-sized app or photo download would absolutely crush 2G — the modern mobile internet depends on speeds that are orders of magnitude faster. We can only imagine what it’ll be like when 3G bites the dust and LTE is considered the baseline.”

4G Service

According to Wiki, LTE or 4G service provides your phone with technologies that “include amended mobile web access, IP telephony, gaming services, high-definition mobile TV, video conferencing, and 3D television.”

5th Generation

The 5G technology is still being defined, but you can expect to see it in the next year or two.  In the meantime AT&T and Verizon are launching pre-5G which will increase speeds and decrease latency.

 

Chris Eddy of Geek For Hire, Inc. has been providing computer service to families and small businesses with Mac’s and PC’s for the past fifteen years. His company is highly rated by both the BBB (Better Business Bureau) and by Angie’s List. You can find more on our website, or give us a call 303-618-0154. Geek For Hire, Inc. provides onsite service (Tier 3) to the Denver / Boulder / Front Range area as well as remote service throughout North America.

We’ve been using Amazon Prime for the past few years.  We like the free 2-3 day shipping and the online streaming. I haven’t tried the Kindle lending library yet.  I’ll try that next!   Prime is normally $99/year, but you can try it for 30 day for free by clicking on this link: Try Amazon Prime 30-Day Free Trial (Yes, we’ll get a small commission if you sign up.)

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6 easy steps to keeping your computer safe from malware

Geek For Hire gets  calls just about every day from someone who is concerned about an email they’ve received, or a phone call, or a popup warning.  Usually I’m able to tell them that all is well.  How do I know that?  There are a few key things to make sure your machine stays safe from malware.

  1. Have you received a phone call from someone claiming to be Dell Technical Support – or HP, or any of the other manufacturers?  If you have not initiated that call, it is most likely a scam.  They will be very convincing, telling you that you need to install  updates, or that you have a virus.  Hang up!  As long as you don’t give them access to your machine, you should be fine.
  2. Have you received a phone call from someone claiming to be Microsoft?  They generally tell you that your Operating System is not up to date and they need to get access to your computer to download the appropriate files.  Again, these folks are very convincing, but you should hang up.
  3. Have you received an email from a technical company offering to review your machine for viruses and other problems? Send that email to your spam folder and ignore it!  Make sure you don’t click on any of the links in the email.Keeping your machine safe from malware
  4. Have you received an email from “Amazon” claiming that you have just purchased an item for $457?  They just need you to click on this one link to confirm your purchase.  Don’t click on it!  Delete the email!  It is a scam!
  5. Have you seen a pop-up on your machine saying that your machine is badly infected and you need to click on a link to get it resolved? In many cases you may already have some kind of malware installed on your computer.  Once you click on the link, you’ve “given permission” for additional malware to be downloaded and installed on your machine.  In this case you should run your virus scanner to see if it can remove the malware.  If it can’t remove it, or if it says it’s not finding any, you should call for professional help.
  6. Whenever you suspect an issue with your machine, run your virus scanner to make sure your machine is safe from malware.

If you found these tips helpful, please forward it to your friends!

Chris Eddy of Geek For Hire, Inc. has been providing computer service to families and small businesses with Mac’s and PC’s for the past fifteen years. His company is highly rated by both the BBB (Better Business Bureau) and by Angie’s List. You can find more on our website, or give us a call 303-618-0154. Geek For Hire, Inc. provides onsite service (Tier 3) to the Denver / Boulder / Front Range area as well as remote service throughout North America.

We’ve been using Amazon Prime for the past few years.  We like the free 2-3 day shipping and the online streaming. I haven’t tried the Kindle lending library yet.  I’ll try that next!   Prime is normally $99/year, but you can try it for 30 day for free by clicking on this link: Try Amazon Prime 30-Day Free Trial (Yes, we’ll get a small commission if you sign up.)

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How to add an icon to your iPhone home screen

I’ve had an iPhone for a long time and love the convenience of having a mini-computer at the ready.  I remember how thrilled I was when I found a way to access websites I went to all the time with just one touch.  Adding an icon to your iPhone is the key.

I know from personal experience that having a Smartphone that is efficient can really make life easier.  And it is not as hard to set up as you might think.  One thing that can help you a lot is to create an icon so that favorite websites are only one click away.  When you add a new app to your Smartphone, it will automatically add the new icon to your iPhone screen.  But there are some places you go to on the internet that haven’t created an app yet.  If you’d like to get there quickly, it’s easy to add that website as an icon to your iPhone screen.

  1. The first thing you need to do, is to enter the url (the web address) into Safari (or whichever browser you are using).
  2. Once the page loads completely, swipe the page down with your finger until the navigation menu appears on the bottom.
  3. Click the center icon – it looks like a box with an arrow pointing up.icon to your iPhone
  4. Then, slide the bottom row of icons to the left and click on the icon which says “Add to Home Screen”.  Only about 10 characters will show on your screen to indicate the website.  I’d advise editing the title so that it is under 10 characters.

Keep your eyes peeled for more hints on optimizing your iPhone!

Chris Eddy of Geek For Hire, Inc. has been providing computer service to families and small businesses with Mac’s and PC’s for the past fifteen years. His company is highly rated by both the BBB (Better Business Bureau) and by Angie’s List. You can find more on our website, or give us a call 303-618-0154. Geek For Hire, Inc. provides onsite service (Tier 3) to the Denver / Boulder / Front Range area as well as remote service throughout North America.

We’ve been using Amazon Prime for the past few years.  We like the free 2-3 day shipping and the online streaming. I haven’t tried the Kindle lending library yet.  I’ll try that next!   Prime is normally $99/year, but you can try it for 30 day for free by clicking on this link: Try Amazon Prime 30-Day Free Trial (Yes, we’ll get a small commission if you sign up.)

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How is a Coffee Shop Like a Sickbed? 8 Things You Need to Set Up a Great Virtual Office

Never have I been so happy that I already have a virtual office set up as I have been for the past few months. Last year I traveled several times to the East Coast while my kids hiked the Appalachian Trail.  Because of my virtual office set up, I was able to manage our business wherever I was. Recently though, I’ve had a much greater need for a virtual setup.

In the past three months, I’ve had two surgeries.  A total knee replacement in February, and my other knee in April.  When you can’t get around, and spend most of your time resting and healing, it’s good to have tried and true technology at your bedside.

Virtual Office Requirements:

WIFI:

You must have fast WiFi. A minimum of 12mbps is recommended. Remember that you may have to upgrade your router in order to provide the actual speed that is being flowed from your ISP to your devices.  Good routers have low latency and can support many simultaneous users.  Cheap routers tend to support only one user at a time. Chris recommends this Linksys router.

Tablet

Sometimes a laptop is just too heavy!  My iPad has been perfect for internet research, sending email, and keeping the Geek For Hire calendar up-to-date. And it’s great for watching AmazonPrime movies and keeping up with Facebook.

Cell Phone:Virtual Office in Bed

Well, that kind of goes without saying!

Charging Cords

Make sure you are able to easily reach your charging cords.  You may need to add a power strip right next to your bed to easily charge your phone and other equipment.

Optional:

Laptop:

Sure, you can get a lot of business accomplished with just your Smartphone and tablet.  But sometimes, you just need your laptop to do certain tasks. For example, Quickbooks won’t let me enter all the detail I’d like on their mobile app. I need to login to Quickbooks from my laptop to do that.

TV:

Entertainment value.  Pure and simple.

Headphones:

Sometimes when you’re stuck in bed, it’s hard to sleep when other people are sleeping and you don’t want to disturb them in the middle of the night. Having a good pair of headphones keeps the volume down when you’re watching Speed at 3am.  Here’s my recent blog about Bluetooth headphones.

External Keyboard for Tablet:

Typing on a tablet can be cumbersome.  The hands – so big.  The keyboard – so small.  The mistakes – so many! Get yourself a Bluetooth keyboard and typing will be much easier.  The newer ones have back-lighting which makes it easier to type when the lights are dimmed.

Speech to Text Software:

Sometimes you just can’t type.  (Two of my friends have recently had shoulder surgery.)  Many of our customers have used Dragon Naturally Speaking to get their thought down without typing.  Keep in mind that it does take a bit to customize the software to your voice.

Remember, it’s better to plan ahead and get your virtual office technology in line before you need it!

Chris Eddy of Geek For Hire, Inc. has been providing computer service to families and small businesses with Mac’s and PC’s for the past fifteen years. His company is highly rated by both the BBB (Better Business Bureau) and by Angie’s List. You can find more on our website, or give us a call 303-618-0154. Geek For Hire, Inc. provides onsite service (Tier 3) to the Denver / Boulder / Front Range area as well as remote service throughout North America.

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Two Factor Authentication

What is Two Factor Authentication?

Two Factor Authentication (TFA or 2FA) or Multi-factor Authentication refers to a practice commonly used by financial institutions and other sensitive applications to make sure that the person signing into an account is really that person and not a hacker. It is used above and beyond the usual login credentials. You may have used 2FA without realizing what it was called.  Like me, when I first encountered it a few years ago, you may have been annoyed that your bank was asking you to prove your identity when you’ve already entered your username and password.

Can you explain that again?Two Factor Authentication Code

Your UserID and Password together make up the first factor of authentication. The second factor is a code that is known only to you.  For example, when you receive a six digit code on your cell phone to provide after you’ve entered your password.  Another example is commonly used with credit cards.  The credit card number, expiration date, and the sneaky code on the back are all available to someone with the card in their hands.  2FA would ask you for your billing zip code.

Why is 2FA important?

Two Factor Authentication provides another level of protection for your accounts.  It will work with your computer, your tablet, and your phone.  It helps to ensure that your sensitive information isn’t available to hackers.

According to Secure Envoy: “With standard security procedures (especially online) only requiring a simple username and password it has become increasingly easy for criminals (either in organised gangs or working alone) to gain access to a user’s private data such as personal and financial details and then use that information to commit fraudulent acts, generally of a financial nature.”

Want to learn more?  Check out these articles:

  • https://www.cnet.com/news/two-factor-authentication-what-you-need-to-know-faq/
  • http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2456400,00.asp
  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Multi-factor_authentication

We recommend that you enable Two Factor Authentication for all of your email, financial, and other sensitive accounts.

Chris Eddy of Geek For Hire, Inc. has been providing computer service to families and small businesses with Mac’s and PC’s for the past fifteen years. His company is highly rated by both the BBB (Better Business Bureau) and by Angie’s List. You can find more on our website, or give us a call 303-618-0154. Geek For Hire, Inc. provides onsite service (Tier 3) to the Denver / Boulder / Front Range area as well as remote service throughout North America.

We’ve been using Amazon Prime for the past few years.  We like the free 2-3 day shipping and the online streaming. I haven’t tried the Kindle lending library yet.  I’ll try that next!   Prime is normally $99/year, but you can try it for 30 day for free by clicking on this link: Try Amazon Prime 30-Day Free Trial (Yes, we’ll get a small commission if you sign up.)

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