Bluetooth Security

BLUETOOTH SECURITY:

BE CAREFUL WITH YOUR BLUETOOTH SETTINGS

phone

Most of us aren’t careful enough when it comes to Bluetooth security.  Bluetooth offers great wireless convenience for your smartphone, allowing you to connect to your headphones, car stereo, wireless speaker, and other devices without dealing with a tangle of cords and wires.

As a general rule, you should turn Bluetooth off on your phone whenever you’re not connected to a device.

Forgetting to turn it off will reduce your battery life because it continues to drain power even when there’s no device connected. But, there are even more serious concerns than that.

New hacker technologies, called “Blueborne” can scan for open Bluetooth connections and gain access to your device. Once a device has been hacked, it can then be used to gain access to additional devices. It’s not limited to one manufacturer either. Samsung, Google, Apple, and several car audio systems have all shown vulnerabilities.

So as a best practice, follow these two tips:

  1. Keep your phone updated. When Apple or Android releases an update, it’s not just for new operating system features—it also patches security issues.
  2. Make it a habit to turn off Bluetooth. As soon as you step out of your car or power down your headphones, you should turn off the Bluetooth on your phone. If nothing else, your battery will last a little longer.

DOG FRIENDLY HOME

DOG FRIENDLY HOMES

Dogs

Even the most happy-go-lucky dogs and cats have some preferences about the spaces they occupy. If you want to keep you pet as happy and comfortable as possible, here are some things to take into consideration when looking for a dog friendly home.

hardwoodDogs don’t like hardwood
Carpet is more comfortable for your dog when it comes to laying down and sleeping, but it’s also preferable when your dog is on its feet. Dogs typically don’t like hardwood floors because they feel less traction under their paws. They may even try to dig in with their claws to improve traction, possibly damaging your floors. As a compromise, you can place soft, thick rugs on the floor to help your pets relax. You can also place booties or rubber rings on your dog’s feet for better grip.

 

Fireplaces can be scarygas fireplace
You’ve surely seen a dog get spooked by the sound of 4th of July fireworks. A fireplace isn’t nearly as loud, but can still have a similar effect. Plus, those pops and crackles from the flames are a far more regular occurrence. A quieter gas fireplace is more dog friendly. You can also give your dog a chew toy or bone as a distraction before lighting a fire.

 

 

Ignorance is bliss when it comes to fenceschain fence
A chain-link fence can cause stress for your dog, because it can still see other animals and strangers, but is confined to the yard. If you’re considering a new fence, your dog will appreciate a solid one made of wood or vinyl panels. With fewer lines of sight to the outside, your dog will be less anxious.

BAD CHOICES FOR REDESIGNING YOUR KITCHEN

4 Things NOT to do when redesigning your kitchen

The kitchen is one of the areas of a home that sees the most wear and tear. All the water, heat, and food spills add up quickly, so it’s important to focus on quality and lasting appeal if you’re choosing materials for a kitchen remodel. Here are a few things you should avoid:

counterCheap laminate counters: The bottom rung of laminate is extremely susceptible to wear and tear. It can melt if you forget to place a hot pad under a pan that’s fresh off the stove, and the edges can chip off from repeated exposure to moisture and heat.

 

 

 

Fflat paintlat paint: A flat or matte finish is great in rooms with lower traffic, but it’s a bad idea in the kitchen, where the walls are regularly exposed to splatters and spills. You need paint that can withstand an occasional heavy scrubbing, so opt for gloss or semi-gloss finishes.

 

 

backsplashTrendy backsplash: If you watch any home remodeling shows, you’ve certainly seen kitchens with expensive, elaborate backsplash designs and materials. Those trends can be pricey to pursue, yet can look dated in a hurry. Subway tile is a cheaper, classic option that you’ll never regret—and you’ll have more room in your budget for quality materials elsewhere.

 

 

 

badfloorCheap flooring: Just like the countertops, your kitchen floor needs to be strong enough to take some abuse. Cheap flooring easily scuffs and peels (especially from moisture). Quality flooring is worth the investment.

5 BATHROOM TRENDS

5 Current Bathroom Trends

Staying on top of the latest bathroom trends in home decor isn’t for everyone, but even for traditionalists it can be fun to incorporate some new ideas. Here are five trends that are currently appearing in bathrooms.

  1. Geometric patterns: bathroom geometricMany homeowners are selecting bold patterns in geometric shapes, like chevrons, triangles, or hexagons. These patterns can add intrigue and continuity to your tile or shower curtain.
  2. Plants: plants in bathroomEven the best-designed bathrooms can benefit from some small plants. If you have a windowless bathroom, there are some low-light options that can survive with little maintenance.
  3. Dark colors: dark bathroomThis can be tricky, but with a big pay off. While traditionally bathrooms are painted with brighter whites and greys, opting for darker colors can make a bathroom seem more luxurious and relaxing. Imagine sinking into a deep bath with dim lighting—that might convey the appeal of a darker palette.
  4. Brass hardware: brass bathroom fixturesTrends always come back around. The brass fixtures of the ‘70s are popular once again.
  5. Minimalism: minimulist bathroomThe massive master bathroom is still great, but there’s also some appeal in smaller bathroom designs. Minimalism allows for smaller spaces to feel more intimate, but still airy and open.

HOW TO LOWER YOUR CABLE BILL

Can you cut your Cable bill?

cable companies

More and more people are cutting the cord and going without television service, but for many—especially those who watch a lot of live programming— cable is still a necessity. Cable and satellite companies love to sign customers to a two-year contract, but will dramatically raise your bill when a promotional period ends after one year. Suddenly, you’re paying $50 or more per month for the same services.

Here’s how to get (and keep) the best deals on television service.

 

Know what’s in store: Cable and satellite companies seemingly make it impossible to go online to downgrade your services, cancel service, or choose a new bundle. Even online chat support gives the cable company the upper hand. Picking up the phone and negotiating remains the best way to get the lowest price for your television service.phone

Knowledge is power: Before you call, do some research. Understand the terms of your current contract, see which bundles your cable provider is currently offering to new customers, and price out similar service offerings from other companies. You’ll be in a better bargaining position if you have the freedom to cancel on your current provider.

Make the call: Make it clear to the support representative that you are calling because your rates have increased and you’re considering cancelling if they cannot lower your bill. The support representative will initially try to offer higher-priced bundles or short-term freebies, but don’t give up on the negotiation—remember, you already know you can switch to another provider. If the sales representative won’t budge, you can even end the call, and try again with a different representative. In most cases, they would rather find a package that works than lose a customer.

Mortgage 101

MORTGAGE RATE MATH

Shopping around for the best possible mortgage terms is an important part of the home buying process. A few percentage points can make a difference of thousands of dollars over the life of the mortgage. Rates can be a bit of a mystery—especially for first-time homebuyers—so here’s an overview of the most important factors.

YOUR FICO SCOREFico Score

This is the part of the equation that should come as no surprise. From a lender’s perspective, your financial history is the best indicator of whether you’ll be a stable, responsible borrower. It’s the primary factor in determining your mortgage rate, so if you’re planning on purchasing a home in the near future, concentrate first and foremost on improving your FICO score.

LOCATION AND SIZE MATTERS

“Location, location, location” is an old cliché in real estate, but it also applies to mortgage rates. The city, county, and state that you live will factor into your mortgage rate. Mortgage rates can also vary among local lenders and the size of the loan will come into play. The more money you borrow, the higher your interest rate is likely to be, unless you’re also increasing your down payment.

LOAN LENGTH AND TYPE

Lenders incentivize shorter mortgage terms with lower mortgage rates, so you’ll get a more favorable rate for a 15- or 20-year mortgage versus a 30-year mortgage. If you can afford the higher monthly payment, you’ll pay much less in interest over the course of the loan term.

TIME TO REPLACE YOUR WINDOWS

HOW TO DECIDE IF IT’S Time —AND WHERE TO GET STARTED

Before you dive into replacing your windows, the first step is to carefully evaluate the pros and cons. Replacing your windows is no small investment. The average cost to replace the windows in a home is in the five-figure range. Even if replacing your windows results in huge energy savings, it can take years and years for the investment to pay off.

If you’re truly ready to replace them—whether it’s for energy and comfort, an aesthetic upgrade, or your current windows are simply beyond repair—here are a few things to keep in mind.

Pick the right materialswindow material
Window materials include vinyl, fiberglass, composite, wood, and aluminum. There are several factors that should go into deciding on the best material for your home, such as durability, energy efficiency, maintenance requirements, and even the style of your home. Some materials look great on one architectural style, but totally clash with others.

Carefully consider add-on featureswindow styles
Beyond choosing a window material and style, you’ll face another series of choices for add-on features. There are impact-resistant windows, extra panes, gas-filled windows, climate control coatings, and more. Most add-ons will significantly increase the price for each window, and in many instances, the long-term savings don’t justify the extra cost. Do the math and consider how long it will take for the extra features to pay for themselves.

5 SECRET WEAPONS FOR DIY PROJECTS

diy

5 Simple Ingredients for some of your Dreaded DIY Projects

 

 

 

Is there a DIY home maintenance project that’s been lingering on your to-do list for too long because you’re dreading the trip to the hardware or craft store?

Here are some projects you can tackle with items that are almost certainly already in your home.

  1. Vinegar: There’s probably a jug of vinegar in your pantry right now. You can soak items in vinegar to remove mineral deposits (like in a clogged showerhead), and you can boil vinegar in your microwave to remove odors and make it easier to clean.
  2. Cola: A can of Coke or Pepsi can be used to clean many surfaces, including your glass windows, porcelain toilet, or chrome fixtures. Just do some research before using it on metal surfaces, as it can be corrosive.
  3. Baking soda: This item may actually be more useful for applications other than baking. A baking soda-vinegar paste is great for cleaning bathrooms and kitchens. Baking soda can also be used to absorb odors.
  4. Butter knife: Screwdrivers are easy to misplace. If can’t find a screwdriver when you need one, a butter knife—preferably an older one that you no longer need for table setting—is pretty effective for both Phillips- and flat-head screws.
  5. Toothpaste: Is there an unsightly scratch on your car or bike? The grit in tarter-control toothpastes makes for an effective scratch remover. Clean the scratch, apply some toothpaste, let it sit for a few minutes, and then buff it out with paper towel.

5 TIPS FOR A BETTER CLOSING DAY

Tips to Ensure That Your Closing Day Goes Smooth

closing day

Buying a home can be a long process. The last thing you want is for something to go wrong on your closing day.  After all the time spent searching for that perfect home!  Getting the best mortgage rate!  Here are five things to do before you close to ensure it goes smoothly.

 

  1. Schedule a date that works best for you: You have every right to request the closing take place at an ideal time for you, and the other parties in the transaction will usually work with you to make it happen. Whether it’s timing the closing around a pay date or the end of a lease, the first step is finding a date that minimizes stress or conflicts.
  2. Clarify your payment: Many title companies do not accept personal checks, so give yourself a few days to get a cashier’s check or set up a wire transfer.
  3. Double check insurance: You’ll need to arrange for a title insurance policy for your mortgage and purchase homeowner’s insurance (plus flood or earthquake insurance, depending on the area). Make sure your policy begins by your closing date.
  4. Do a final walk-through: You’d be surprised to find that many buyers skip this step! Schedule a final walkthrough to ensure that all requested repairs have been made and everything is in working order.
  5. Take action based on walk-through: If any issues are identified, you may need to delay closing or negotiate a discount before the closing date to avoid delays.