Tips to Increase Gas Mileage

  1. Don’t speed. Gas mileage decreases rapidly at speeds above 60 miles per hour.
  2. Avoid quick starts and stops to improve gas mileage up to 5 percent.
  3. Turn off the engine to avoid unnecessary idling, which wastes fuel and pollutes the air.
  4. Use overdrive gears and cruise control when appropriate to improve fuel economy when driving on a highway.
  5. Clean out your trunk; an extra 100 pounds in the trunk can reduce fuel economy by up to 2 percent.
  6. Avoid loading items on the roof rack as it creates wind resistance and can decrease fuel economy by 5 percent.
  7. Tuning your engine according to your owner’s manual can increase gas mileage by an average of 4 percent.
  8. Keeping your tires properly inflated and aligned can increase gas mileage up to 3 percent.
  9. Change your oil. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, you can improve your gas mileage by using the manufacturer’s recommended grade of motor oil.
  10. Check your owner’s car manual for the most effective octane level for your car. For most cars, the recommended gasoline is regular octane. In most cases, using a higher octane gas than the manufacturer recommends offers no benefit.

Squeeze More Juice Out of Lemons

If you want to get the most juice out of a lemon—short of using a dedicated citrus juicer, break down the lemon by putting some pressure on it before cutting.

Before cutting them, put them on your counter and roll them back and forth, applying heavy pressure with the heel of your hand. This will help break down the lemon and make them easier to juice. Use a tool like a citrus reamer to get out more juice than you could squeezing with your bare hands.

Taking Great Fireworks Photos on Your Android or iPhone


Smartphone blog Gottabemobile recently detailed several great tips for taking fireworks photos. Here are a few:

  • Turn off your flash – it’s too weak to help and it will annoy the other people who only want flashes from the sky.
  • Bring a tripod – even a Gorillapod or the like is better than trying to hold the phone steady in your hand.
  • Learn your phone’s shutter lag – smartphone cameras are almost always slower than on dedicated digital cameras. Usually you’ll have a second or two of delay. Learn to work with this delay to get the best shot.
  • If your fireworks photos aren’t turning out well, just switch to video. The video quality of modern smartphones is good enough to share on YouTube or with your friends.

5 Tips to Avoid Getting Phished

As criminal spear phishing becomes more targeted, users need to be even more aware to avoid being duped

By Joan Goodchild, Senior Editor, CSO Online

The criminal art of spear phishing, email spoofing that aims to get the recipient to click on a bad link or attachment, has been around for years. But that doesn’t mean it’s become any less effective. According to figures from the U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US-CERT), which compiles information from federal, state and local governments, commercial enterprises, U.S. citizens and foreign CERT teams, phishing attacks accounted for 53 percent of all security incidents in 2010.

What has changed recently is that more phishing attempts are direct, targeted efforts aimed at specific individuals within an organization. In fact, after the recent breach of an email database maintained by marketing firm Epsilon, security experts warned that banking customers should worry about a wave of spear phishing attacks utilizing the information gained from the break in.

The days when phishers would blast out hundreds of generic messages and hope for a few hits are ending. Criminals now realize a message with specialized social engineering content that is directed to one person, or a small group of people, can be much more successful. After all, it typically only takes one machine to compromise an entire network.

“We now see more of the scenarios involving just two or three emails targeting the executive team, which spoofs the legal team and contains a malware attachment that talks about pending litigation,” said Jim Hansen of the security awareness consultancy PhishMe.

PhishMe has designed spear-phishing-awareness training that focuses on changing user behavior. Hansen gave us five tips his team offers clients to help them avoid getting hooked by a phony message.

Be skeptical of all emails

Ask yourself: Who is this email from? If the sender is someone you do not recognize, chances are this email is either some form of unsolicited spam or it is a phishing email, said Hansen. Search for the domain through Google or some search engine to see where the domain comes from, he advised.

“Slow down, take a breath and think about what you’re doing,” said Hansen. “We are all busy people, but if you take a few minutes, it’s not going to disrupt your day.”

Be wary of attachments

If you do open the email and you are prompted to download images or attachments, don’t, said Hansen. These “images” and attachments could contain malicious content that you don’t want on your computer. At best, said Hansen, you are slammed with a ton of spam and advertisements. At worst your computer could be an open book to an attacker trying to get your information.

If the message comes from a sender you don’t recognize, or even if it is a sender that you do recognize, get confirmation before downloading any attachment.

Ignore commands and requests for action

If the email is urging you to do something, stop and think before you fall into their trap, said Hansen. If it is too good to be true or seems too farfetched, it probably is.

“There are two motivations a criminal will try to appeal to: reward or authority,” said Hansen.

In an authority-based scam, the email may say you need to act upon something and the message comes from someone in a position of authority, such as an IT team member telling you your computer is infected, or an HR person asking you to fill out a company survey. These kinds of messages may also try to fool you into thinking you have a package that was “undeliverable” or that your bank account has been breached.

The reward scenarios usually involve some kind of prize for entering a raffle or filling out a survey. Ignore them all, said Hansen.

Check out the link

Where does that link actually go? Almost all phishing emails have a link in them that they want you to click, said Hansen. The link says it is going to your Facebook page or to your bank website, but where is it really going?

The easiest way to find out is to hover your mouse over the link and look at the bottom left corner of your browser window. There you should be able to see the exact URL that you will be directed to if you click on the link. If this link shows as an IP address (example : then most likely this is not a place that you want to go.

Use the phone

Remember the phone? It’s how most of us once communicated back in the dark ages. It can still come in handy today, said Hansen. If you’re unsure, and the email message seems urgent, try to contact the sender by telephone.

“If you know the person, call them,” said Hansen (or you could text them!).

Hansen also advises that if you don’t know the sender, don’t download the attachment. Look up the sender’s phone number in your company directory or call the organization they are claiming to be from directly using a well-publicized phone number to confirm that the email was legitimately sent from that person or company.

Cleaning with Condiments

You’ve heard of cleaning with baking soda, cleaning with lemon, even cleaning with toothpaste, but cleaning with condiments? That’s right. Read on!

Ketchup for Copper
Apply the ketchup to a rag and rub onto tarnished copper or brass cookware. Let sit for a minute and then buff clean and rinse. The acidity of the ketchup will help lift and remove tarnish and return pots to their shiny state.

Don’t Hold the Mayo
Sure, the thought of slathering your household wears with mayonnaise may be less-than-appealing, but some people swear by it. Did your tot get a little carried away while coloring? Remove crayon marks from wood furniture by rubbing a dab of mayo on the mark. Let it sit for five minutes and wipe it away with a damp cloth.

Dress Your Home
Oil and vinegar aren’t just for your salad. Mix oil and lemon juice two parts to one and use the solution to give furniture and extra polish. Vinegar can do everything from cleaning your dishwasher to helping to remove wallpaper. Clean the microwave by combining 1/2 cup water and 1/2 cup distilled vinegar in a microwave-safe mug or bowl. Microwave for 2 minutes and wipe clean. The vinegar helps to lift baked on food and stains.

Take a Better Picture – 8 Tips

What guarantees a great photo these days? We asked style and photography mavens to share their tips for taking a picture that will get results. Below are eight of their suggestions.

1. Do your do. “Get your hair cut at least a few days before the shoot if you need it to ‘settle in’ before it looks its best,” suggests Jay Groccia, principal photographer at OnSite Studios in Boylston, MA.

2. Be bold. Gretta Monahan, style expert on Tim Gunn’s Guide to Style and the Rachael Ray Show, says wearing bright colors is key. “It makes your complexion look healthier and gives you a more youthful, spirited glow. With a bright color, you’ll certainly pop on the page.” Avoid wearing all white; it makes you look pale and pasty.

3. Mind your makeup. “A tiny hint of bronzer always helps to warm up the face,” says celebrity makeup artist Mally Roncal, whose clients include Beyoncé and Jennifer Lopez. “Use eyeliner on your top lid, and define your eyebrows. Avoid wearing lipstick that’s too dark — you can’t go wrong with a pink lip gloss, which makes lips look fuller and healthier.” Browse Local Singles at on Yahoo!

4. Strike a pose. “Looking directly into the camera makes for a very boring looking photo and makes the nose appear very large,” asserts Chris Paxman, a photographer based in Mesa, AZ. “Try pointing your chin ever so slightly to the left or right, and look back to the camera with your eyes only.”

5. Watch your back(ground). “Too much going on in the background increases the chances of getting lost in the portrait or looking like you have strange lines emerging from your body,” cautions Tarah Cranford, a photographer in San Francisco. Stand in front of a wall that contrasts well with what you’re wearing, or hang a solid-colored towel or sheet behind you. Or find backgrounds with interesting but subtle textures like garage doors, columns or wallpapered walls.

6. Get comfortable. “You want your photo to convey that you are warm and inviting,” says Nicole Braun, owner and chief photographer of Wink in New York City. “So have a light and happy conversation and your body language will fall right in line. Another way to relax is by watching a TV show or movie that you know makes you laugh and smile. Listening to a song that puts you in a positive and happy place is great, too.”

7. See the light. Cold or harsh lighting is seriously unflattering. Natural light is the best, according to Richard Brown, a photographer in Seattle. “Try to use a good window light. If you take the head shots outside, avoid pure sunlight on your face. Use anything from a white sheet to a white wall to reflect and add fill light to your face.”

8. Forget the flash. “Never use flash, especially when shooting yourself in the mirror,” says Roman Gabriel, who’s photographed the Dandy Warhols and James Brown, among others. “Full-frontal, nondiffused flash is the most unflattering image you can take of yourself. It creates red-eye, overexposes skin tones and highlights flaws. If you must use the flash, try placing a small piece of tracing paper just over the front of the flash to soften up the light, giving the photo a pleasing, slightly airbrushed appeal.”

Finally, have plenty of photos taken of you in different locations, clothes and poses, and in varying light. “Let’s cancel out the myth that some people always take a good picture while others don’t,” Monahan says. “Even celebrities and models take hundreds of pictures during a shoot. If you don’t like the first few shots, don’t settle. Keep going until you feel comfortable and relaxed. That will be the best photo of the bunch.”

By Margot Carmichael Lester
Margot Carmichael Lester’s photography has appeared in TravelAge West, the Carrboro Citizen and DialTone.