How to “freeze your credit” for free (USA only)

Credit freezes will be free as of tomorrow in the USA. Here’s how to freeze your credit at the three largest credit reporting services (and one you probably haven’t heard of).

The Equifax breach that exposed the Social Security numbers, birthdates, names and addresses of 143 million people last year had people scrambling to freeze their credit. A credit freeze was a paid service (and is, until tomorrow) where each agency charged a fee to freeze credit. A credit freeze stops most companies from viewing your credit file. If you want to apply for credit for a mortgage, a car loan, or a student loan, the freeze can be lifted. Lifting a credit freeze is also free. While credit freezes are another tool to prevent identity theft, a credit freeze won’t stop any open lines of credit like a current credit card from being stolen and used.

Here are the links and contact information to freeze your credit:  Read More

This stunning interactive weather map shows real time weather conditions around the world

Weather forecasting and analysis has never looked so good. Get worldwide temperature, precipitation, cloud cover, storm and other weather data at a glance with this mesmerizing weather map.

Most of us use a weather site or search when we want local weather. If you want comprehensive worldwide weather conditions and forecasts give Vendusky a try. It has detailed, granular data for present and future weather conditions and is highly customizable. I liked viewing the jet stream (wind speed > altitude > 500 hPa/5500 m and 300 hPa/9000 m) and the air pressure map.

You can pull up all sorts of weather data, current and future, including temperature, precipitation, cloud cover, and wind speed. The animated temperature and wind speed maps with their swirling curves and colors are mesmerizing. The list of conditions you can change is long – temperature, precipitation, wind speed, wind gusts, air pressure, thunderstorms, humidity, waves, snow cover, and freezing levels. You can toggle display data between Fahrenheit (°F) and Celsius (°C).
You can zoom in to a particular area or expand the view to see planet wide conditions. You can change the way map looks, language, appearance of animations and more in the settings.

Ventusky (a combination of two words. The Latin word, Ventus, means wind, and the second is the English word, Sky) appears to use the same global and local models and satellite data in use by most weather services and is one of the options that can be changed in the map. I’ve been tracking it here for a few days and it’s been within a few points of the local weather station.

The site’s focus is on weather prediction and meteorological data visualization. The forecast data is accessible by clicking the calendar at the bottom of the page and choosing a date. The only quirk I noticed was the Fahrenheit (°F) and Celsius (°C) wasn’t always consistent. Locales outside the USA often displayed in °F. The VPN (Virtual Private Network) bounces my connection all around the world (I get the Google log in page in various languages) and the display data didn’t always match up with the locale.

Ventusky runs in a browser and is available on Android and iOS. It was fine in current versions of Firefox, Chrome (stable and Canary), Opera, Vivaldi, Waterfox, Edge and Internet Explorer running on Windows 8.1/10.  Read More

View popular live cams from around the world

Known for its tourist cams around the world, EarthCam has much more on offer than popular locations around the world. Along with places like Times Square in the US, Abbey Road Crossing in London, the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul, the Eiffel Tower and Bourbon Street, there are extreme weather cams, animal cams, iconic American locations, U.S. National Parks, 360 degree panoramas, and time lapse cams. Whether you want to browse on your own or look at curated cams in several categories, there’s plenty to see. Some cams are viewable in places that are closed or off limits, like the torch balcony of the Statue of Liberty.

Here’s some of the categories you can browse:

Time-Lapses by EarthCam
National Park Service
It’s Bird Season!
LIVE on My EarthCam
Stadiums & Arenas
Iconic Landmarks
Weather
Popular
Animals and Zoos
Weird and Bizarre

EarthCam has thousands of cams around the world. The YouTube channel is worth a visit to see time lapse construction projects like sports arenas and live popular places. If you’re a visitor to one of my favorite sites, explore.org , you’ll see a few cams show up in both places.

Wallpaper of the Week: Weathered wood and barbed wire fence

This week’s wallpaper is a weathered wood and barbed wire fence. It overlooks a large field of grasses that dips down to the feet of a line of hills. Clouds pepper the sky in horizontal formations. This is almost a black and white image, with the fence and foreground grasses black and white against slightly colored hills and sky. There’s a black border at the top and bottom of the image, with the photographers website added in small white letters on the bottom right. Depending on your device and resolution, the black borders may not be visible. Icon visibility depends on where they are – lighter areas don’t show them as well as the darker areas.  Read More

Convert your audio files for free with this amazing program

There’s no shortage of audio converters out there. This one is fast, free, easy to use, converts many audio formats, and will run on Windows and Mac.

MediaHuman Audio Converter has a simple to use drag and drop interface, converts batches of audio files quickly, and supports most formats. It can convert WMA, MP3, AAC, WAV, FLAC, OGG, AIFF, Apple Lossless formats and many others. It also searches for disk covers, retains folder structures, and supports iTunes.

Periodically, on more than one computer and more than one Windows version, Windows decides to convert MP3 files to WMA’s. It converts random artists (but not all their songs or the same title) and individual audio tracks, even when write protected. It occasionally converts files it converted previously. It doesn’t convert tracks that are on a separate hard drive or USB flash drive. I’ve found as many as 600+ converted files on my system. It doesn’t matter where they were acquired – the artist’s site, amazon, or CD’s that I’ve ripped to my hard drive. When I add tracks to a media player, I’ll see converted files.

That’s where MediaHuman Audio Converter comes in – open the program, drag and drop files to be converted, choose a format, and press the convert icon. I’ve converted up to 250 files at once, in minutes. Small amounts of files are converted almost instantly. Audio files can also be added manually by clicking the plus sign on the toolbar and navigating to the files to be converted. Note this is the description for the Windows version – the interface for Mac isn’t quite the same.

MediaHuman Audio Converter runs on Windows 10, Windows 8, Windows 7, Windows Vista, Windows 2003, Windows XP for PC systems (32bit/64bit), macOS 10.13 (High Sierra), macOS 10.12 (Sierra), OS X 10.11 (El Capitan), OS X 10.10 (Yosemite), OS X 10.9 (Mavericks), OS X 10.8 (Mountain Lion), Mac OS X 10.7 (Lion), Mac OS X 10.6 (Snow Leopard) and is free of malware according to VirusTotal.