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Text only newsletter stories Issue 3 Vl. 9


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Headline: What to look for when you’re buying a robot vacuum cleaner

Technology is most helpful when it makes daily tasks easier and more efficient, and that’s most certainly the case with robot vacuum cleaners. It’s especially true if you’re in a climate that lends itself to lots of dust on your hard-surfaced floors or in your carpet.

Robot vacuum cleaners typically retail from $100 to about $700, and if you’re interested in having your home swept and vacuumed daily with little effort on your part, it’s a great investment. Here’s what to look for if you’re shopping for a robot vacuum cleaner.

Battery life
The best robot vacuums can run for two hours or longer. That’s particularly important if you have a big place—you don’t want to have to keep recharging your vacuum between cleanings. It’s especially convenient if you have a vacuum that can automatically dock and recharge between uses.

Cleaning patterns
Simpler, more inexpensive vacuums may only clean in a random or back-and-forth pattern, while more advanced vacuums can virtually map a room for more precise cleaning. It’s also better if the vacuum is capable of making multiple passes in its pattern, as it’ll lead to a more thorough cleaning job.

Size and design
Most robot vacuum cleaners are no more than four inches tall, so they can move under furniture. Still, pay attention to the height of your vacuum and the clearance of your furniture, so that you don’t end up with a vacuum that can’t get to important spots. Also, consider your floor type—some vacuums are better-suited for hardwood floors and tile, while others are better for carpeted floors.


Headline: Tips for securing your smartphone

Phones have come a long way in the last few years, and there’s a ton of sensitive information—email access, bank accounts, photos, contact lists—that are easily accessed if your phone falls into the wrong hands. Here are a few tips for keeping your smartphone secure.

 1. Use a passcode! This is one of the easiest steps toward securing your phone, but research shows that 54 percent of smartphone users do not use a passcode. Whether it’s a four-character PIN or a pattern lock, set up the passcode on your phone so that only you can get past your lock screen.

 2. Be careful with WiFi: Smartphones can be set to automatically connect to available WiFi networks, but this can lead to your phone being vulnerable over an untrusted network when you’re not aware of it. Turn off WiFi when you’re not knowingly using it—it’ll also help with battery life.

 3. Careful with Bluetooth, too: Bluetooth isn’t as vulnerable to security breaches as WiFi, but it’s still a good idea to have your Bluetooth set to undiscoverable.

 4. Consider the downside of rooting: Many cell phone users will root or “Jailbreak” their phones to open up new features, but this can override your phone’s security settings—and void your warranty.

 **5. Choose better passwords: Definitely don’t use “password” or your name! Instead, make a passphrase—a short sequence of words that are easy for you to remember, but difficult for anyone else to guess.


Headline: A dry foundation is a happy foundation

Keeping water away from your home’s foundation is an important part of maintaining your home's structural integrity. Water can cause soils to expand and contract as well as do damage to the interior of the home should it flood.

Keep your gutters clean and make sure downspouts will divert water to a place where it can drain away. If your home is equipped with a sump pit you may want to install a pump, or if you have a pump make sure it is operating properly. If your basement has a drain be sure it is clear in the event that you have an interior water leak, such as a broken pipe.


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