Friday, February 27, 2015

Free Tax Resources

Hi All,

While the tax deadline -  Wednesday, April 15th - is just about 6 weeks away, it is never too early to start your taxes.  Problems, unexpected issues or questions or other situation might arise that can make every day count as the tax deadline looms.

That said,  here are a few links to help you get started on your taxes.  Note that all links are free and accessible via the web.

For your federal tax return a must see site is the IRS website - which can be found by clicking on this link.  Some of the excellent features on the IRS website include the ability to print out current year and prior year tax forms, the ability to download (and read) instructions for various tax forms/publications and to find out about your tax refund status.

As you know, New York State also needs their share of the tax pie from taxpayers.  As a result, the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance is also a great place to start any tax research that you might have with current year tax questions or problems. Click on this link to check your refund status.  Click on this link to find New York State tax forms by form number.  Use this link to find tax forms by tax type.  If you have any questions about your New York State Tax return, you can click on this link (which goes to the Taxpayer Answer Center).

Finally, an excellent third-party resource that all taxpayers should know about is JK Lasser's website.

This next link goes to the JK Lasser 'Articles' site - where a multitude of articles and suggestions are available to taxpayers for free.  An excellent link goes to their 'Getting Ready For 2015' page.  This next link goes to the JK Lasser 'Personal' site for individual taxpayers.

Enjoy the links and hopefully your tax refunds will be huge this year!

Regards,
Stu

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Prescription Drug Resource

Hi All,

RxList is a website that I've seen before but I only just now realized that it would be an excellent site to evaluate on the Farmingdale Public Library's Reference and You blog!

So...what is RxList?  Indeed, the site bills itself as the Internet Drug Index.  And what an index it is!

Users can click on a variety of tabs to find out about various drugs.  There is an A-Z Drug List, a Pill Identifier, links to information about Supplements, Slideshows, Images, a link to a Symptom Checker, links to various Diseases, a Dictionary and a list of Quizzes.

On the homepage, there is a list of Features Topics on the left side of the screen - as of 2/25/15 the Featured Topics included: Childhood ADHD Facts, A-Fib: What Is It?, Gotta Go Foods, Breast Cancer Slideshow, Understanding MS and Rheumatoid Arthritis

One of the most unique features of the site is the Pill Identifier section! It is a very handy and useful tool for those folks who take drugs or pills.

Users can enter any imprint on a the pill or medication, select the color and then select the shape.  Users then click on the search button and a set of results appears with the criteria set forth in his/her choices.  For example, I entered 'Pfizer' for the imprint, 'tan' for the color and 'oblong' for the shape.

Once I hit enter the result came up - which identified the pill as being 'Sutent Oreal'.  On this page, readers have even more options with regard to the pill in question.  Users can learn about the various uses, side effects, precautions, interactions and overdose information about this pill!  Awesome information - and it is written in easily digestible English!

And, as if this isn't enough - there is a link on the page for User Reviews of the medication!  Amazing.  With the User Reviews, the date and time of the post is easily seen.  User comments in the form of a narrative are available to read as well.  Also, a five star system is used based on the various criteria like 'effectiveness' of the medication, ease of use, and satisfaction with the medication.

The other major section of RxList that makes the information unique is the Symptom CheckerClick here for the link. 

Users enter information like gender, age, zip code  and then are brought to another page to learn more about the symptoms that are affecting the person.  On this second page, users can click on a diagram of the human body to find and choose symptoms.  Alternatively you can select from any categories listed on the page - which are divided up into 'Common Symptoms' or 'Popular Symptoms by Condition'.  There is also an A-Z List of Symptoms at the bottom of the page.

Eventually users come to a page where a particular symptom is explained.   Related Symptoms are listed on the right side of the page and a list of causes of the condition are listed at the bottom of the page.   Quite honestly, there is a huge, huge, huge amount of information on this part of the RxList website - almost, dare I say it, too much information.

In any event...this is a great place to start a search if you feel that you are getting sick or coming down with an illness!

Finally, as with all medical information, the consumer should be aware.  With that in mind, click on this link from RxList which tells a little about the site (it is owned and operated by WebMD and part of the WebMD network.) 

Enjoy the site and the bountiful information it contains.  And good health to all who have read this blog entry this far! 

Regards,
Stu

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

The Internet in Real Time

Hi All,

Very interesting website alert!  The Internet in Real Time.

What the heck is this you ask?!  Great question.  

Readers can click on this link to watch as various internet giants (Twitter, YouTube, Google, Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Netflix, WhatsApp, Yelp, Foursquare, Pinterest, Pandora and more) do what they do best! 

Users can see LinkedIn (the number of user searches), YouTube (the number of videos hours watched), the number of check-ins at FourSquare or the number of the reviews posted on Yelp or the number of files saves on DropBox or the number of Likes and Posts on Facebook or the number of hours watched on Netflix or the number of hours streamed on Pandora...and much more...

Very simple, colorful and entertaining website.  Here is the link again.

Enjoy the site - don't spend too much time on it!

Regards,
Stu


Monday, February 23, 2015

Hi All,

School and schooling is important - for kids - obviously.  Heck, without schools kids wouldn't be growing up with the skills they need to become productive, vital adults and human beings.  Imagine a world where there were no schools or colleges?  Yup - it would pretty much be chaos and not a good world to live in!

Anyway, I just found a website where users can find and share information about schools - the site is called Great!Schools.org and is easy to navigate and search.

Upon visiting the site, users can 'Find a School', 'Review Your School', and 'Discover'.  A bit further down on the page is a link to Great!Kids Milestones - which has lots of videos about the various milestones that kids should be reaching at various ages'. Note that users can select milestones by grade - which go up to 5th grade.


Users can enter a city name, zip code, address or school name when visiting the sites homepage.  Upon entering the information users come to a new page which explains what grades the school covers, whether or not the school is public or private, the location of the school, contact information and the number of students that are enrolled in the school.

Further down on the page are links for an Overview of the school, Reviews of the school, Quality of the school and Details of the school.

Users of Great!Schools.org can also sign in using Facebook or create an account with Great!Schools if they so choose.  Finally, users can get Great!Schools best articles, worksheet, and more delivered weekly to your inbox by clicking on this link!

In a future blog post, I am going to introduce another school-education related website: the New York State Report Cards section of the  New York State Department of Education website!  Its a very timely, information and well organized website run by the NYS Department of Education!

Enjoy Great!Schools.org and stay tuned for the next blog post about the NYS Report Cards!

Regards,

Stu

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Combination Post - Lots of Different Ideas Pulled Together

 Hi All,

Today's blog post is about, well, everything.  Aka...its a mish-mosh of sites, ideas and links!!!!

It's so cold outside that my brain feels slow, addled and well, cold.  So, with that said, I'd like to talk about a few links that I've saved in my bookmark folder for just such an emergency - a day where I need to talk about a few interesting links...

From a Yahoo! Travel article back in December 2014, comes this article titled, 'What Every State in the U.S. Is Worst At (Including North Dakota at Tourism)'. 

Homework Helper from Refdesk.com - organized by grade and has an Ask the Expert Section as well as a Quick Reference/Research section, and a Tools For Research section.

Fact Monster - has sections as varies as Almanacs, World and News, US, People, Word Wise, Science, Math and Money, Sports, Cool Stuff, Games and Quizzes, Homework Center and more.

Google Trends - 'In 2014 we searched trillions of times. What does these searches say about us?' Click on this link for a review of the year 2014 in search via Google. This link shows various Google searches and trends...Users can view 'searches', 'people', 'athletes', 'consumer electronics', 'global news', 'Google Doodles of 2014', YouTube Videos and more.

Enjoy the links and the varied topics in the post!

Regards,
Stu

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Smart Phone Security

Hi All,

Many of us know that smartphone usage is increasing exponentially.  Seriously, they are everywhere - and they are awesome in that users can text, email, search the web, play music, watch movies and much, much more.

But there can be a downside to smartphone use...(sorry).  eWeek.com came out with an article back in February 2014 entitled, '10 Mobile Security Issues That Should Worry You'.  Its a slideshow so it won't take long to take a peak - its worth your time and effort.  

Click on this next link from Verizon.com for an entry called '9 Tips to Keep Your Smartphone Security'.  Some of the highlights in the article include locking your smartphone with a pin and installing an Android security app. 

Alternatively, you can click on this link titled '7 Best Practices For Smartphone Security (from Cnet.com)'. (Enabling 'Do Not Track' and Avoid answering spam calls are my faves!)

And, finally, click on these two links for more info on how to keep your smartphone safe and secure!
'How to Keep Your Smartphone (and its data) Secure' - ComputerWorld.com
'Smartphone Security Tips' - Kaspersky.com
'10 Best Ways to Secure Your Smartphone' - Androidcentral.com

Enjoy the links - hope your phone and data are more secure after you read this blog post!

Regards,
Stu


  

Friday, February 13, 2015

Top 500 Global Websites


Hi All,

Alexa is a website that is owned by Amazon.com. Alexa is - as described on their 'About Us' part on their website - a company that focuses exclusively on delivering the richest and most meaningful analytics tools for our customers...the blurb goes on, which you can visit by clicking on this link.

The important part of Alexa.com that I found was this link to the Top 500 Sites on the Web.  Sure, the top 10 are populated by the sites you would expect:
1. Google.com
2. Facebook.com
3. Youtube.com
4. Yahoo.com
5. Baidu.com
6. Wikipedia.com
7. Amazon.com
8. Twitter.com
9. Taobao.com
10. Qq.com

But if you scroll down the list you'll see some very interesting changes to the web.  For instance, notice how many Chinese companies are in the top 100 of the list! There are 18 Chinese companies in the top 100!

5. Baidu.com
9. Taobao.com
10. Qq.com
14. Sina.com.cn
15. Weibo.com
23. Hao123.com
29. Sohu.com
43. Alibaba.com
49. Fc2.com
56. 163.com
67. Gmw.cn
75. Xinhuanet.com
82. Alipay.com
83. Soso.com
89. Jd.com
90. Cntv.cn
94. Youku.com
98. Chinadaily.com.cn

That all said, of the top 100 sites the following might be worthwhile for the reader to visit....

39. Microsoft.com - if you have any Windows questions, you might want to start your search here.
47. Imdb.com - features plot summaries, reviews, cast lists, and theatre schedules.
69. Diply.com - an entertainment website
116. Booking.com - worldwide accommodation reservations
130. Yelp.com - members share their favorite recommendations - everything from latest restaurants to shops and more.
139. Cnet.com - Reviews, news, and prices on all tech products - as well as free downloads and newsletters
161. Indeed.com - search engine for jobs - with a radically different approach to job search.
196. Zillow.com - Empowers users to learn about real estate.  
237. NIH.gov - US government department that is in charge of medical research.
276. Goodreads.com - let's users track and rate books and network with other readers.
278. Groupon.com - features a daily deal for most major metropolitan areas in the United States
292. Avg.com - Antivirus and security software products for home and business users. Free trials.
311. Hulu.com - Ad-supported streaming television shows and movies, including some in HD.
317. Accuweather.com - Features radar and satellite images and 5 day forecasts for US locations.

So there you have it!  A whole passel of interesting websites - entertainment, computer, technology, shopping, travel, weather and health are included in the list - all in one place!  And they are well-known, popular and, for the most part, free...

Enjoy the popular links.

Stu