Monthly Archives: August 2013

Fixing a Cracked iPhone Screen

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So your kid (ahem, or you) dropped your snazzy new iPhone in the parking lot and now the screen is all cracked up.

You’ve heard about the neighbor who bought the $30 replacement part from China and saved $50 by repairing the phone herself.

You decide to go for it and give it a shot yourself.

STOP!!! Seriously, get off Amazon and immediately start a Google search for iPhone repairs in your city.

Unless you enjoy teaching your kids new cuss words, DO NOT ATTEMPT to repair an iPhone yourself.

Microscopic screws. Ridiculously tiny cables. Flimsy wires. Sticky adhesive. Long, excruciatingly detailed instructional videos. A dozen different screw types and sizes (microscopic, very microscopic, like plankton microscopic, etc). Did I mention the screws are small?

$50 is a small price to pay for your sanity. Just do it. Seriously.

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Windows Family Safety – Free Web Filter/Activity Reporting Tool

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One of the most common questions parents ask me is, “How do you filter/monitor your kids’ Internet activity?” In our house, it’s through the utilization of Microsoft’s free Windows Family Safety software.

This only works on Windows PCs, but since my wife is the only one for which I’ve ponied up the money for a Macbook, the kids all still have basic Windows laptops, so this option works well for us. We’re also still using Windows 7, so I can’t quite speak to the cool new Windows 8 solutions either.  That said, I can tell you about my experience with Windows 7 and Windows Family Safety.

Overall, our family is very pleased with the experience. The kids do get annoyed sometimes when the filter gets a bit over ambitious on the Pinterest posts (almost anything with any sort of skin gets blocked – i.e. cute bracelets and ring photos). But I’d rather have it error on that side than the alternative.

Family Safety does an admirable job of filtering out all the bad stuff the Internet has to offer. It provides a number of “levels” of filtering, as well as a very comprehensive reporting tool listing everything your kids visit online. It’s cloud based, which lets you log on from any computer to check on things, and it even has tools to set time limits and such for each child.

And my favorite feature: it’s FREE! Yeah, I’m geeky and cheap.

Click here to learn all the details of Windows Family Safety, including how to install it on your computers.

NOTE: This only helps protect your kid’s computers.  Don’t forget about the rest of your Internet-enabled devices.  Read this post for more details on DNS Filters for your Internet router, and this post for more info on locking up your iPhones, iPods, and iPads.

And don’t be shy, please share this with other parents so they can learn how to better protect their kids from the nasty underbelly of the Internet.

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I Almost Cut The Cord

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Slowly but surely our family has been weaning itself from our DirecTV subscription. We bought an AppleTV and a Roku (and will inevitably get a Chromecast, because I’m just geeky like that). Our Wii system streams NetFlix, and our iPads, Kindle, and laptops all serve as personal video players. There is no shortage of ways for us to zone out to mindless television (a popular family vice).

So, I finally got around to calling DirecTV to see if my contract was up. What I learned is that they REALLY don’t want to lose customers. So much so that they cut my bill from $89/mo to $51/mo. They even tossed in additional free programming, all without entering a new contract. 3 minutes after sitting on hold for 15, I had aggressively cut into the cord, but pulled back just before slicing all the way through.

It’s amazing what the leverage of an expired contract can do these days. The last time I called, the story was drastically different. To summarize: “Your early termination fee is $250. Sukkka!”

What a terrible way to do business. Yes, I ultimately decided to stick with DirecTV (for now). But it’s definitely not because I appreciate them “taking care of their very loyal customer”. Nope. Maybe if they’d preemptively called me and offered this without me threatening to cancel I’d appreciate them. For me it’s all business, just like it is for them. $89 is not worth it, but $51 barely is, considering they have a strangle hold on ESPN. But guess what happens when ESPN offers online streaming for anything less than $50/mo. Yep, I’m gone. Immediately.

Guess what else? Now I’m excited to tell you all to immediately call DirecTV (or Dish or Time Warner or whomever) to see if your contract has expired. Because you, too, could save some serious cash by cutting into your cord.

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