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Are you ready for the XP apocalypse?

Beginning Tuesday, Microsoft will no longer provide free updates or tech support for its Windows XP operating system.

To help you through what some people are calling the “XP Apocalypse,” the Geek Squad at Best Buy has some advice.

To find out if you’re using Windows XP, click here.

When Tuesday rolls around, you won’t notice a major difference. You’ll still have all the computer programs you use and they’ll still work. But without those Microsoft updates, you’ll be vulnerable to new viruses and you won’t have “patches” to fix bugs or improve performance. You’ll also have little to no support from software makers.

Depending on how old your computer is and how capable its built-in hardware is, you might be able to just upgrade to a newer version of Windows and avoid all of those problems.

To find out if your computer can handle that, download and run the Windows 8 Upgrade Assistant, which will scan your computer and tell you if upgrading is an option.

If you really, really want to keep running XP, be aware of the risks and take some steps to protect yourself. PC World has some great advice here.

 

---Samantha Maziarz Christmann

Santa is taking requests by text

OMG! Who knew Santa was a text messager?

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AT&T customers who text the word "SANTA" to 1224 from now until Christmas Eve will receive free messages from Santa Claus and the ability to text him their Christmas wish lists.


If you prefer to send Santa a letter the old fashioned way, here is a list of addresses from the U.S. Postal Service's Operation Santa. 

---Samantha Maziarz Christmann

Come Home to Dinner

MmmCozy

The wind is whistling, the temperature has dropped and we're all looking forward to our favorite fall comfort foods. Wegmans kept that in mind with its Come Home to Dinner Fall Meal Ideas, picking a perfect focus for the season--the slow cooker.


Its always helpful Web site offers all kinds of great tips on how to make inexpensive, delicious meals in the energy-sipping, lifesaving, cheapskate's-best-friend appliance, which take just a little bit of prep time and cook beautifully while you're at work.

SlowCooker

Each menu selection (which includes such greats as Slow-Cooked Italian Sausage Agrodolce for under $2 per serving) even comes with a wine pairing!


---Samantha Maziarz Christmann

Give your furniture the old switcheroo

TyPennington

Want a home makeover, but don't have the cash?


Who needs new furniture when you can artfully rearrange the stuff you've got? Moving things around makes a room feel fresh and can give your spirits a lift. The best part is that it doesn't cost a dime.


Among several interior design software tools available on the Better Homes and Gardens Web site is Arrange-A-Room, an awesome, free program that helps you try out room configurations without having to lug heavy furniture around the room.


All you do is pick your room shape and size, add furniture and colors and voila! You've got a pretty good idea of what you're dealing with. The site also have lots of great tools to help you try out paint colors, new kitchen cabinetry and other improvements before making a purchase.


---Samantha Maziarz Christmann

Free WiFi coming to Borders

Borders

Would you like some Internet access with that coffee and magazine?


In the upcoming weeks, Borders will make free WiFi service available at "virtually all" of its stores throughout the country. It signed a deal with Verizon Communications earlier this week to provide the service, which is expected to be available by mid-October.


Click here to find your closest Borders. 


---Samantha Maziarz Christmann


Sneak a Peek at Hotels with Video Previews

Ever been disappointed with a hotel room that didn't measure up with its photo and description online?

OneNightOnly

In this economy, when every penny has its place and precious luxuries like vacation travel are enjoyed only rarely, that sort of thing can become more than a mere annoyance. When you finally get a chance to kick back and relax, you want everything to be just right.

 

As a response, a new Web site is offering travelers a more thorough look at potential lodgings with video tours of hotels in major cities around the world. TVtrip.com bundles the tours of rooms, lobbies and other accommodations with user reviews, maps and photos while allowing users to check room availability and pricing.

MilanHotelEnterprise 

It's a great resource to add to your consumer toolbox when making out-of-town plans. Checking out lavish international hotels from your computer also makes for a nice, virtual mini-escape on a dreary Monday afternoon.

---Samantha Maziarz Christmann

Battle of the laptops

Since my Compaq Presario laptop is slowly dying, I'm in the market for a new one. With cost in mind, I've narrowed it down to the ASUS Eee PC or MSI WIND U100. I like their portability and light weight (and, of course, they retail for under $500). They seem powerful enough to handle all the usual processing demands. Indeed, the social cyborg I interviewed for this video likes the MSI WIND. Anyone have a preference or other suggestion?

--Joseph Popiolkowski