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We are a group of active cell phone enthusiasts who have set up this site as a place to talk about Lightyear Wireless and all things cell phone related. In the Lightyear Wireless cell phone forum you can ask/answer questions, discover how to save big money on your cell phone service, get tips and tricks, post cool apps, share or learn about rumors, phone accessories, customizing your phone, data, games, music, videos, cell phone trends, wireless technologies and new technologies, mobile developments, OS systems, likes/ dislikes about phone, carrier, etc… and even an unrelated forum area. To visit the Rant and Rave Cell Phone Forum click here.

 

Additionally, while you’re here be sure to check out our highly recommended wholesale cell phone service provider Lightyear Wireless. They offer “true” unlimited talk, text, and web (with no data cap or slow down) prepaid service for only $59.99 per month. No contract or credit check required! They don’t add the 28% in fee’s you typically see on your phone bill either. The only other fee Lightyear Wireless will charge you is state sales tax. For example in Rhode Island the whole bill is $64.17 and your bill will stay the same every month. In Florida there is no state sales tax so you only pay $59.99. Incredibly, they even offer customers a way to earn FREE unlimited service with their refer 5 plan. For all the details about Lightyear Wireless click here.

 

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Talking Tech : How to share summer photos privately

You may not want the whole world to see your swimsuit selfies, but you can still share your summer photos with friends privately.

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VENICE BEACH, Calif. — It's almost the middle of the summer (can you believe it?) and if you're like me, you've probably snapped hundreds, if not thousands, of photos already.

For most folks, sharing them with your entire network on Facebook or Instagram publicly is the No. 1 share option of choice.

But what if you don't want the entire world seeing every one of your snaps?

There are several ways to share one on one, via e-mail, texting, photo websites and many apps.

Let's take a look at the options:

No. 1:E-mail. The most time-honored tradition is to send photos via e-mail, but you're more likely to offend friends by cluttering up their inbox than make them smile. Photos are huge files, and getting bigger all the time — even smartphone snaps. Unless it's very important, and a friend has requested the image via e-mail, it's best to look to alternative methods.

No. 2: Text. Most phones will downsize images to make receiving and viewing them more manageable. You can use the native text programs on your phone, or look to third-party text apps like WhatsApp, Viber or Text Plus. But texting is best when it's just one or two images — not best for a gallery of vacation photos, for instance.

Snapchat logo(Photo: Screenshot)

No. 3: Snapchat. So many photos are shared via the free Snapchat app, for Apple, Android and Windows platforms, that it's mind boggling — 700 million daily. Teens and young adults love Snapchat because the notion of sending fleeting images that come and go is so fun and easy. That's the good news. The bad news is your photos will disappear within 10 seconds — that's how the app works. (You can do a screenshot of the image, if you're quick, but it takes some getting used to, and most users don't do it this way.)

No. 4: Privatizing Instagram. The Facebook unit, the No. 1 pure photo-sharing app, has seen 20 billion total photos shared on the service by its 200 million active members, who upload 60 million photos daily. While Instagram is a social network, where everything you put out there is meant to be seen by the world, it can be tweaked and privatized. You can change your settings so that your photos can only be seen by folks who request an invite to follow you. The downside: Each and every photo you post will be still be seen by all of your followers — you can't choose just a handful at a time.

No. 5. Apps. There are lots and lots of them.

There are many, many apps and websites that promise one-to-one and one-to-many private sharing, including Path, Dropshots, Unseen and even Shutterfly, the photo print service, which has a private "share" site available on the service as well.

Most, however, virtually mimic the text model, and offer little beyond one-on-one photo, to a handful of pix, at a time, sharing. That's how it is for Path and Dropshots; Cluster lets you create a "space," and lets you pick from your contacts or Facebook friends -- one at a time to share with. So, for instance, I created a "Graham Family" space on the Cluster app, and found my brother and mother's contacts within the app, posted a bunch of photos and invited them, and only them, to view them. Of the apps I took a look at, this was the best and closest to what I was trying to accomplish.

Apple iCloud(Photo: Apple)

No. 6: iCloud. If you've got an iPhone, iPad or Mac computer, you might want to explore iCloud, which lets you share photos with just "people you choose." The drawback: Apple offers just 5GB of storage, and many consumers complain of nag messages saying they've run out of room. However, for sharing privately, the limit rules are way more liberal -- you can share up to 5,000 photos in a "stream" -- which is an online gallery. If you run out, just start a new one.

The set-up for this is a little cumbersome. You need to go into Preferences on the computer or device, click iCloud and set up "My Photo Stream."

In the "Photo" app on the device, click on "Shared," create a new "stream" and invite folks to share the photos -- which will be viewable on their devices. Friends and family don't have to own Apple products -- you can also send a link to view on any device or operating system.

No. 7 Websites: Photobucket has a tool to assign passwords to your online albums. You can then send the link to friends and let them view them on their phones. (You can't apply the password on mobile, just through a computer.) The service is free, but ad-supported. Your friends will get lots of nags to buy things.

If you're willing to spend a minimum of $40 yearly, the premium service Smugmug is less cumbersome, and you and your friends won't be nagged to buy things. Just upload a bunch of photos, create a gallery and assign a password. Then send the link to your friends.

What you can't do with Smugmug is send photos via the mobile app (Apple, Android) privately, password protected. You'll have to do that on the computer.

iMemories is a service that allows for private photo and video sharing.(Photo: Screenshot)

And if you're in the spending mood, the best website and companion app I've seen for sharing multiple photos and images privately is iMemories.com, a service that was built upon the idea of digitizing your old home movies onto DVD.

Now it's all about the companion app, (available for Apple and Android devices) which gives more private sharing options than competitors -- send via e-mail, text, Facebook and Twitter or a link that can be sent to any or many.

iMemories charges $50 yearly.

Readers: What's your favorite way to share photos privately? Let's chat about it on Twitter, where I'm @JeffersonGraham.

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5 awesome, free mobile games

Marc Saltzman, Special for USA TODAY 4:02 a.m. EDT July 26, 2014

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Whether you're stuck waiting in an airport, in line at the supermarket or simply lounging away on a lazy Sunday afternoon, there's no shortage of extraordinary games to tap through on your favorite smartphone or tablet.

In fact, therein lies the problem: With an estimated 1.2 million apps at the App Store and about 1.5 million on Google Play — and a good number of them interactive games — it can be difficult to know which ones are worthy of your time and money.

We can help.

Not only have we chosen five delicious digital diversions for you to play with, but they're all free or "freemium," the latter of which refers to the fact there are optional in-app purchases that unlock additional content and/or remove ads.

STORY: Why so many apps are free

Timberman (iOS, Android)

Because of its simple arcade concept and retro-art style, consider Timberman the new Flappy Bird. Digital Melody's addictive game for phones and tablets is easy to pick up, yet impossible to put down. Your goal is to chop down a tree with an axe — but avoid getting hit by branches as the trunk descends. Simply move your lumberjack to the left or right of the tree as you anticipate the approaching branches — by simply pressing your thumb on each side of the screen — but you need to act quickly or else you'll run out of time. Gamers can unlock additional lumberjacks, too, including a Viking, TimberGirl, a diaper-wearing baby, Jason from the Friday the 13th films and more.

Cascade (iOS)

"Cascade"(Photo: © 2014 Big Fish Games, Inc.)

If you like the "Match-3" style of puzzle games — like King's Candy Crush Saga or PopCap's Bejeweled — then you might enjoy the twist Big Fish has added to its similar puzzler, Cascade. Employing a slot-machine mechanic, you're presented with randomly generated gems at the bottom of the screen and must fire them onto the board to create at least three adjacent gems of the same color. Doing so removes them from the board, allowing for others to cascade down. Featuring 140 levels, this challenging and colorful game has you earn power-ups, stars, wild gems (match any color), burst gems and other goodies to keep the gameplay fresh. Note: Cascade is completely free, therefore you won't be nagged with any in-app purchase requests.

Family Guy: The Quest for Free Stuff (iOS, Android)

"Family Guy Quest for Free Stuff"(Photo: © 2014 TinyCo Inc.)

Taking a page from the successful The Simpsons: Tapped Out, TinyCo, Inc. has created a city-building simulation based on another animated FOX show: Family Guy. In the irreverent The Quest for Stuff, you're tasked with rebuilding the fictional Rhode Island town of Quahog after a brawl between Peter Griffin and a giant chicken accidentally destroys it. By completing various missions, you'll unlock familiar characters from the hit TV series (Stewie, Lois, Brian, Quagmire, Cleveland and others), as well as construct new buildings throughout the town's many neighborhoods. You can visit friend's games via Facebook for bonus cash, which can be used to buy items in your game, plus there's optional in-app purchases, as well.

Guess the Emoji (iOS, Android)

"Guess the Emoji"(Photo: © Conversion LLC)

One of the more popular downloads this summer, Random Logic Games/Conversion LLC's Guess the Emoji, challenges you to decipher a word or phrase based on the emoji (emoticons) on the top of the screen. For example, if you see an eyeball and someone talking on a small device, the answer might be "iPhone," while a U.S. flag and rocket ship are hints for "NASA." If you get stuck, you have the option of posting the emojis to Facebook for your friends to help out, or you can use earned coins to expose a random letter in the word, remove letters from the board (that are not required for the correct answer) or skip the question altogether. Coins are earned by playing or you can purchase additional coins for real money via an in-app purchase.

Swords & Poker Adventures (iOS)

"Sword & Poker Adventures"(Photo: © 2014 Konami Digital Entertainment)

Built upon the original Swords & Poker mobile game, Konami's remix of this turn-based adventure fuses 5-card poker with role-playing game-like combat. Using the shared cards on the board and your dealt cards, you must create the best poker hand possible in order to defeat various enemies playing against you. As you move through a huge world to take on increasingly tougher opponents and end-of-level boss fighters — each of whom require a different strategy based on their strengths — you'll earn better weapons, shields and magic. While free to download and play, there are various "time gates" to sit through unless you want to pay for no waiting. An Android version is currently under development.

Follow Marc on Twitter: @marc_saltzman. E-mail him at techcomments@usatoday.com.

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New Products: Headphones that hang from your ears

Deborah Porterfield, Special for USA TODAY 7:36 a.m. EDT July 26, 2014

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You often hear the expression "Just use your head." Panasonic has taken those words to heart with its new RP-BTGS10 Wireless Open Ear Bone Conduction Headphones. The whole idea is to let you listen to your tunes, privately, without actually placing the earbuds in your ears. Instead, you hear the music via earpiece speakers that are placed next to your ears.

As the music plays, vibrations move through your cheekbones into the auditory nerve, allowing you to enjoy your favorite tunes without blocking conversations, beeping horns and other sounds. To achieve this, you'll hook the headset over both ears, letting it hang from the back of your neck instead of over your head. Even though this position seemed a bit odd at first, the switch actually proved quite comfortable.

Resistant to both sweat and water, the sleek headphones can transmit audio wirelessly via Bluetooth connection. Powered by a rechargeable AAA battery, the headphones also have easy-to-operate controls for adjusting the volume, accepting phone calls, pairing devices and of course, turning them on and off. No worries for the forgetful: The headphones will power off after about five minutes of inactivity. Available in blue and yellow, red and black, and black and gray, the headphones cost about $200.

Design labels from your phone

Epson Lable Printer(Photo: Courtesy Epson)

Find the nearest Baby Boomer and ask her if she remembers doing an arts-and-crafts project in which she had to print labels. Chances are, she'll remember using a handheld label maker that would make indentations of letters and numbers on a strip of plastic tape. That was a great concept during the Eisenhower administration, but the digital age demands more.

That's where the LW-600P from Epson comes into the picture. Designed to work with apps on your smartphone or tablet, the device can print your labels wirelessly via Bluetooth connection. The LabelWorks printer includes more than 100 templates and 400 symbols. You can use those or import your own creations. Either way, you can preview your designs and then print labels up to 1 inch wide. Available online for about $115, the portable device ships with a sample tape, a USB cable and an AC adapter.

Techie watch targets kids

VTech smartwatch(Photo: Courtesy VTech)

It's a pretty safe bet to assert that the concept of a watch — you know, one of those things that people use to tell time — is an unfamiliar one to a lot of kids. Maybe that's because they are so used to keeping track of time with smartphones and other devices. The Kidizoom Smartwatch from VTech promises to bridge that gap with a child-friendly watch that snaps pictures, captures video, displays simple games and, yes, tells time.

Designed for children ages 4 and up, the watch has a 1.4-inch face that doubles as the watch's color viewfinder. You can use the touch-screen to frame your picture, review images and even play a fast-moving game that challenges you to unscramble your image's mixed-up pieces. Equipped with 128 megabytes of memory, the watch can store about 800 pictures or six one-minute videos. Have an image that Grandpa would love to see? The photos and videos can be transferred to your computer via USB connection. The watch also includes a timer and game that helps children learn to tell time the old-fashioned way. Equipped with a built-in rechargeable battery, it costs about $60.

Tablet keyboard charges phone

Kensington KeyFolio Thin X3(Photo: Courtesy Kensington)

We are living in the "all-in-one" era — think of how many tech devices combine multiple functions. The Kensington KeyFolio Thin X3 for the iPad Air is one of the latest entrants.

Basically, it's a tablet case with a Bluetooth keyboard that can also charge your phone. If your phone is running low on power, simply plug the phone's battery cable into the keyboard's dongle. The keyboard's power will then charge your phone while you keep on typing. When you finish typing, the keyboard can be hidden inside the case, allowing you to view the tablet on its own. When you're ready to pack up, the folio case keeps the tablet safe during transit. It costs about $100.

E-mail new product suggestions to techporterfield@gmail.com.

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Unlocking Your Cellphone Is About to Be Legal Again – TIME


NBCNews.com

Unlocking Your Cellphone Is About to Be Legal Again
TIME
President Barack Obama is set to sign into law a bill that will make it easier for you to switch mobile carriers without buying a new phone. The bill, dubbed the Unlocking Consumer Choice and Wireless Competition Act,”makes it legal for Americans to unlock ...
Unlocking Your Phone Is Now Illegal, But What Does That Mean For You?TechCrunch
Obama to sign measure letting smartphone owners unlock devicesWorcester Telegram

all 35 news articles »
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Air Algerie Plane Wreckage Found in Mali

French troops are headed to a remote area in Mali today to secure the site of Thursday's Air Algerie jet crash, the third major international aviation disaster in a week, after wreckage was found.

French President Francois Hollande said there were no survivors in the crash of the MD-83 aircraft, which disappeared from radar less than an hour after takeoff early Thursday from Burkina Faso's capital, Ouagadougou, for Algiers. The plane had requested permission to change course because of bad weather.

The jetliner –- owned by Spanish company Swiftair and leased by Algeria's flagship carrier -– had 110 passengers and six crew members on board.

Wreckage From Algerian Jetliner Found in Mali, Says Office of French President

Malaysia Airlines Plane Brought Down by Missile in Ukraine

Taiwan Airline Suspects Bad Weather Caused Crash

Speaking after a crisis meeting, Hollande also announced that one of the aircraft's two black boxes has been found in the wreckage, in the Gossi region near the border with Burkina Faso. It is being taken to the northern Mali city of Gao.

PHOTO: This photo provided on July 25, 2014 by the French army shows soldiers at the site of the plane crash in Mali.

ECPAD/AP Photo

PHOTO: This photo provided on July 25, 2014 by the French army shows soldiers at the site of the plane crash in Mali.

A French Reaper drone based in Niger spotted the wreckage, French Transport Minister Frederic Cuvillier told France-Info radio today. Two helicopter teams also overflew, noting that the wreckage was in a concentrated area.

A column of soldiers in about 30 vehicles were dispatched to the site, he said.

A statement early today from Hollande's office said the aircraft had been clearly identified "despite its state of disintegration."

PHOTO: This photo provided on July 25, 2014 by the French army shows the site of the Air Algerie plane crash in Mali.

ECPAD/AP Photo

PHOTO: This photo provided on July 25, 2014 by the French army shows the site of the Air Algerie plane crash in Mali.

France's interior minister said today that terrorism cannot be excluded as a cause for the tragedy, though it was likely because of bad weather.

French forces, stationed in Mali to help combat al Qaeda and tribal separatists, are tasked with securing the crash site and gathering information. Much of the region is desert, rugged and remote, with few roads and an average high temperature of 101 degrees this time of the year.

More than 50 French passengers were aboard the plane, the airline said. Other passengers hailed from Burkina Faso, Lebanon, Canada, Algeria, Luxemburg, Switzerland, Nigeria, Cameroon and Malia. The six crew members were Spanish.

PHOTO: An Air Algerie plane disappeared from radar following takeoff in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, July 24, 2014.

AP Graphics Bank

PHOTO: An Air Algerie plane disappeared from radar following takeoff in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, July 24, 2014.

News of the plane's disappearance came when Swiftair, the Spanish company that operated the plane, released a statement saying the plane had not arrived at its destination.

Transport Minister Jean Bertin Ouedraogo said the plane sent its last message around 9:30 p.m. ET on Wednesday, asking Niger air control to change its route because of heavy rains in the area.

John Hansman, MIT professor of aeronautics and astronautics, said sand storms can be especially problematic for flight crews.

“Sand storms are really bad because the sand is ingested in the engines, and it can create a problem,” Hansman said.

PHOTO: Vehicles are parked outside the Houari Boumedienne international airport near Algiers, Algeria, July 24, 2014.

Sidali Djarboub/AP Photo

PHOTO: Vehicles are parked outside the Houari Boumedienne international airport near Algiers, Algeria, July 24, 2014.

The flight path of Flight 5017 from Ouagadougou, the capital of the West African nation of Burkina Faso, to Algiers was not immediately clear.

Ouagadougou is in a nearly straight line south of Algiers, passing over Mali. Northern Mali has been the scene of firefights between the alliance of al Qaeda affiliated fighters and Tuareg separatists against French troops supporting the Mali government.

The crash of the Air Algerie plane is the latest in a series of aviation disasters.

In March, Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 disappeared over the southern Indian Ocean with 239 people on board. No wreckage from the plane has been found. Last week, a Malaysia Airlines jetliner was shot down over a war-torn section of Ukraine, with U.S. officials blaming it on separatists firing a surface-to-air missile. On Wednesday, a Taiwanese plane crashed during a storm, killing 48 people.

PHOTO: People stand next to an arrival information screen showing the delayed Air Algerie flight 5017 at the Houari Boumediene airport near Algiers, Algeria, July 24, 2014.

Sidali Djarboub/AP Photo

PHOTO: People stand next to an arrival information screen showing the delayed Air Algerie flight 5017 at the Houari Boumediene airport near Algiers, Algeria, July 24, 2014.

While fliers are jittery about the tragedies, air travel remains relatively safe. There have been two deaths for every 100 million passengers on commercial flights in the last decade, excluding acts of terrorism.

Travelers are much more likely to die driving to the airport than stepping on a plane.

There are more than 30,000 motor-vehicle deaths in the U.S. each year, a mortality rate eight times greater than that in planes.

PHOTO: Royal New Zealand Air Force P-3 Orions captain, Wing Comdr. Rob Shearer watches out of the window of his aircraft while searching for the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 in the southern Indian Ocean, Monday, March 31, 2014.

Rob Griffith/AP Photo

PHOTO: Royal New Zealand Air Force P-3 Orion's captain, Wing Comdr. Rob Shearer watches out of the window of his aircraft while searching for the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 in the southern Indian Ocean, Monday, March 31, 2014.

Jetliners such as the one that crashed in Taiwan and Mali are designed to survive storms, but pilots are supposed to fly around bad weather, MIT’s professor Hansman said.

“Weather in and of itself shouldn't have been a problem in either of these accidents,” he said, “but it’s likely to be a combination of the weather and the pilots not being able to react to the weather.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Get real-time updates as this story unfolds. To start, just "star" this story in ABC News' phone app. Download ABC News for iPhone here or ABC News for Android here.

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No Survivors in Air Algerie Crash; Troops Sent to Guard Site

French troops are headed to a remote area in Mali to secure the site of Thursday's Air Algerie jet crash, the third major international aviation disaster in a week.

The jetliner – owned by Spanish company Swiftair and leased by Algeria's flagship carrier – had 110 passengers and six crew members on board when it took off from Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, en route to Algiers, the airline said.

Air navigation services lost track of the plane, an MD-83 model, about 50 minutes after it took off.

Wreckage From Algerian Jetliner Found in Mali, Says Office of French President

Malaysia Airlines Plane Brought Down by Missile in Ukraine

Taiwan Airline Suspects Bad Weather Caused Crash

Two French planes along with Algerian and U.N. forces searched for the plane, said French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius.

The wreckage was discovered in Mali’s Gossi region near the border of neighboring Burkina Faso, according to a statement from the office of the French president.

PHOTO: An Air Algerie plane disappeared from radar following takeoff in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, July 24, 2014.

AP Graphics Bank

PHOTO: An Air Algerie plane disappeared from radar following takeoff in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, July 24, 2014.

The aircraft "has been clearly identified despite its disintegrated state," read the statement.

Metal debris was found at the crash site, according to a statement released today by Swiftair.

French forces, stationed in Mali to help combat al Qaeda and tribal separatists, are tasked with securing the crash site and gathering information. Much of the region is desert, rugged and remote, with few roads and an average high temperature of 101 degrees Farenheit this time of the year.

The airline said that among the passengers were 51 French nationals along with 24 Burkina Faso nationals, six Lebanese, five Canadians, four Algerians, two Luxemburg nationals, one Swiss, one Nigerian, one Cameroonian and one Malian. The six crew members were Spanish.

PHOTO: Vehicles are parked outside the Houari Boumedienne international airport near Algiers, Algeria, July 24, 2014.

Sidali Djarboub/AP Photo

PHOTO: Vehicles are parked outside the Houari Boumedienne international airport near Algiers, Algeria, July 24, 2014.

News of the plane's disappearance came when Swiftair, the Spanish company that operated the plane, released a statement saying the plane had not arrived at its destination.

Transport Minister Jean Bertin Ouedraogo said the plane sent its last message around 0130 GMT (9:30 p.m. EDT Wednesday), asking Niger air control to change its route because of heavy rains in the area.

John Hansman, MIT professor of aeronautics and astronautics, said sand storms can be especially problematic for flight crews.

“Sand storms are really bad because the sand is ingested in the engines, and it can create a problem,” Hansman said.

PHOTO: People stand next to an arrival information screen showing the delayed Air Algerie flight 5017 at the Houari Boumediene airport near Algiers, Algeria, July 24, 2014.

Sidali Djarboub/AP Photo

PHOTO: People stand next to an arrival information screen showing the delayed Air Algerie flight 5017 at the Houari Boumediene airport near Algiers, Algeria, July 24, 2014.

The flight path of Flight AH5017 from Ouagadougou, the capital of the west African nation of Burkina Faso, to Algiers was not immediately clear.

Ouagadougou is in a nearly straight line south of Algiers, passing over Mali. Northern Mali has been the scene of firefights between the alliance of al Qaeda affiliated fighters and Tuareg separatists against French troops supporting the Mali government.

The crash of the Air Algerie plane is the latest in a series of aviation disasters.

In March, Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 disappeared over the southern Indian Ocean with 239 people on board. No wreckage from the plane has been found.

PHOTO: Royal New Zealand Air Force P-3 Orions captain, Wing Comdr. Rob Shearer watches out of the window of his aircraft while searching for the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 in the southern Indian Ocean, Monday, March 31, 2014.

Rob Griffith/AP Photo

PHOTO: Royal New Zealand Air Force P-3 Orion's captain, Wing Comdr. Rob Shearer watches out of the window of his aircraft while searching for the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 in the southern Indian Ocean, Monday, March 31, 2014.

Last week, a Malaysia Airlines jetliner was shot down over a war-torn section of Ukraine, with U.S. officials blaming it on separatists firing a surface-to-air missile.

On Wednesday, a Taiwanese plane crashed during a storm, killing 48 people.

While fliers are jittery about the tragedies, air travel remains relatively safe. There have been two deaths for every 100 million passengers on commercial flights in the last decade, excluding acts of terrorism. Travelers are much more likely to die driving to the airport than stepping on a plane. There are more than 30,000 motor-vehicle deaths in the U.S. each year, a mortality rate eight times greater than that in planes.

Jetliners such as the one that crashed in Taiwan and Mali are designed to survive storms – but pilots are supposed to fly around bad weather, Hansman said.

“Weather in and of itself shouldn't have been a problem in either of these accidents, but it’s likely to be a combination of the weather and the pilots not being able to react to the weather,” Hansman said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Get real-time updates as this story unfolds. To start, just "star" this story in ABC News' phone app. Download ABC News for iPhone here or ABC News for Android here.

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Q and A: Fix your Facebook privacy settings

Kim Komando, Special for USA TODAY 7 a.m. EDT July 25, 2014

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Q: I can't keep up with Facebook's changes to its privacy policies. Is there an app or service I can use that will take care of my privacy settings for me? I really don't want to share some of the things I post with everyone in the world.

A: I know it's tough, but I recommend learning Facebook's privacy settings anyway, so you know exactly what it shares — click here for my step-by-step guide. Particularly, go to your profile page and next to the View Activity Log button, click the three dots and choose View As... . This lets you see what strangers and friends can see on your profile, so you know if your settings are working. That being said, you can take a look at apps like AVG PrivacyFix as a backup. This helps you manage your privacy settings on Facebook, Google and LinkedIn. It will update you on any new Facebook privacy changes.

DO YOU NEED ANTI-VIRUS FOR A TABLET?

Q: I was really excited to start playing on my brand-new tablet, but then I read that tablets can get viruses. Is this true? Do I need anti-virus software?

A: Yes and yes! There have already been a few tablet-specific viruses, and it's only a matter of time before they become widespread. For anti-virus software, check out Lookout Mobile Security or avast! Free Antivirus. These also work for smartphones.

It helps to make sure your tablet is up to date with the latest security fixes. To update an iPad, go to Settings > General Software Update. For Androids, it's Settings > System Updates. I also recommend switching your phone's default browser, too. Chrome and Opera Mini are both excellent mobile browsers, and a bit more secure than the defaults.

LISTEN TO PODCASTS IN THE CAR

Q: My wife and I recently bought a new camper and plan to take the summer off and hit the road. We just need a way to download your show's podcasts and play them through the camper's built-in speakers while driving. How do you do that? Love your show!

A: The best way to download and play podcasts is with an iPod, smartphone or tablet. If the camper's stereo has an auxiliary-in port, you can plug your gadget straight in with a 3.5mm cable. For stereos that don't have that, look into getting an FM transmitter.

An FM transmitter plugs in to your media player and sends an FM signal you can pick up on the radio. Even better, FM transmitters are relatively cheap, and you can buy them at most retail stores that sell car and audio accessories.

EASILY DIGITIZE PAPER RECORDS

Q: I'm often out and about for my job, and I occasionally have to digitize paper documents. Is there a better way to do this than by lugging around a scanner with me?

A: If you already have a smartphone or tablet, you're set. The built-in camera can do the job with the right app. CamScanner and Genius Scan are two good options. These automatically adjust exposure and perspective, and then crop the image to create a quality scan. You can save a single scan as a JPG or save a group of scans as a PDF file. Send them to a computer or through e-mail and you're done.

PUBLISH A BOOK AND MAKE MONEY

Q: I want to put together a collection of photographs I've been collecting on my mission trips and put them into a coffee-table book. What's the best program to use to lay it out, and how do I market it so I can hopefully make some money in the process?

A: Blurb and Shutterfly are good places to start. These help you create, print and sell photo books. If you want full control over the book layout, you can try a program like Scribus. This free layout and publishing program is similar to Microsoft Publisher or Adobe InDesign. It lets you save the finished product as a PDF to upload to a printing or selling site. When you have the finished product, you can sell the printed book or sell it as an e-book. Look at sites like ePub Bud, YooOffer or Amazon Createspace.

On the "Kim Komando Show," the nation's largest weekend radio talk show, Kim takes calls and dispenses advice on today's digital lifestyle, from smartphones and tablets to online privacy and data hacks. For her daily tips, newsletters and more, visit www.komando.com. E-mail her at techcomments@usatoday.com.

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Amazon shares tank after big Q2 loss

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LOS ANGELES -- Amazon.com shares tumbled Thursday after the e-commerce giant Amazon.com posted a wider-than-expected $126 million loss for its second quarter despite revenue of $19.34 billion.

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos didn't address the loss in the earnings release, but mentioned new ventures. "We continue working hard on making the Amazon customer experience better and better," he said in a statement.

Shares of Amazon plunged 10%, to $322.50, in after-hours trading. The company announced its results after markets closed.

Amazon's expansionist spending spree is taking its toll. Beyond the $126 million-loss, it said it expects to lose up to $810 million in the upcoming quarter -- compared to a $25 million loss in the third quarter last year.

Review: Amazon's new phone, the Fire

Forrester analyst Sucharita Mulpuru blamed the loss solely on Amazon's Prime program, which offers two-day free shipments to customers for $99 a year.

"Google, Apple and Facebook invest all the time in innovation, and don't have losses like this," she says. "The big difference is Amazon is spending all this money on shipping those orders."

The costs of free shipping are larger than Amazon expected when it started the program. Amazon, she says, has "created a beast they now have to feed."

Friday, the online retail giant will expand into the cutthroat world of smartphones with its first attempt Fire, joining a crowded market that includes Apple, Samsung Electronics and Microsoft.

Last week, it also launched an e-book subscription service, Kindle Unlimited, offering access to 600,000 e-books and audiobooks for $9.99 a month.

Critics were not kind, noting that most current fare is not included with the service. Reviews for the new Fire haven't been raves, either.

The mobile market is huge and continues to grow. This year the total mobile user base of smartphone users will reach 1.76 billion, according to researcher eMarketer. Some 50% of smartphone users will be on Android phones, the Google-owned operating system that Amazon uses for its smartphone and Kindle tablets.

Why Amazon looked to expand to the smartphone: Retail sales on smartphones this year in the United States will top $18.4 billion, up 25.4% from 2012, says researcher eMarketer.

The online retail market will surpass $304 billion in 2014, up from $262.3 billion in 2013, eMarketer says.

Tuna Amobi, an analyst at S&P Capital IQ, says Amazon is willing to sacrifice profits for market share. "At some point, investors will want to pin them down and make a good case why this needs to continue," he says. "Sooner or later, they have to return some capital."

According to online finance tracker Trefis, Amazon has 20 million subscribers to its Prime two-day free shipping, and movie/TV and music listening and viewing service.

Amazon charges $99 yearly for the service, and revenues earned from Prime are just 2% of sales, with "much higher," margins, according toTrefis.

Additionally, Prime customers tend to buy twice as much as regular customers, which is why Amazon pushes Prime -- and has the new phone geared to Prime members.

The Fire phone sells for $199 with a two-year contract with AT&T, but purchasers get a free year of Prime with it.

Richard Doherty, an analyst with the Envisioneering Group market research firm, doesn't see Amazon discounting the Fire phone -- yet. "They will discount if it is not low in Inventory perhaps," he says. "As they did multiple times with the Fire tablet over many seasons."

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Missing Airliner Search Focused on Mali Area, Minister Says

Editor's Note: An earlier report cited the Facebook page of the Ouagadougou airport identifying one of the passengers as Mariela Castro, the niece of former Cuban leader Fidel Castro. ABC News has confirmed that she was not on that flight.

French jets are scouring a vast desert area searching for an Algerian airliner that disappeared from radar and has "probably crashed," the French foreign minister said today.

The Air Algerie jetliner was 110 passengers and six crew members when it took off from Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, en route to Algiers, the airline said.

Air navigation services lost track of the plane, an MD-83 model, about 50 minutes after it took off.

French forces, which are stationed in Mali to help combat al Qaeda and tribal separatists, sent two planes searching for the airliner.

"Despite an intensive search, no traces of the aircraft have been found yet. It has probably crashed," French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said.

"The search is at this stage focused on a vast area in the Gao region of Mali," he said.

Much of the region is desert with few roads and an average high temperature of 101 degrees Farenheit (38.5 C) at this time of the year.

"The French Ministry of Defense has deployed resources in the region to find the plane," Fabius said. "Algeria and U.N. forces have done the same. Two French Mirage 2000 based in Niamey have been carrying out reconnaissance flights since this morning."

The airline said that among the passengers were 51 French nationals along with 24 Burkina Faso nationals, six Lebanese, five Canadians, four Algerians, two Luxemburg nationals, one Swiss, one Nigerian, one Cameroonian and one Malian. The six crew members were Spanish.

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News of the plane's disappearance came when Swiftair, the Spanish company that operated the plane, released a statement saying the plane had not arrived at its destination.

Transport Minister Jean Bertin Ouedraogo said the plane sent its last message around 0130 GMT (9:30 p.m. EDT Wednesday), asking Niger air control to change its route because of heavy rains in the area.

PHOTO: An Air Algerie plane disappeared from radar following takeoff in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, July 24, 2014.

AP Graphics Bank

PHOTO: An Air Algerie plane disappeared from radar following takeoff in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, July 24, 2014.

The flight path of Flight AH5017 from Ouagadougou, the capital of the west African nation of Burkina Faso, to Algiers was not immediately clear.

Ouagadougou is in a nearly straight line south of Algiers, passing over Mali. Northern Mali has been the scene of firefights between the alliance of al-Qaeda affiliated fighters and Tuareg separatists against French troops supporting the Mali government.

A senior French official told the Associated Press that it seems unlikely that fighters in Mali had the kind of weaponry that could shoot down a plane, and that they armed primarily with shoulder-fired weapons — not enough to hit a passenger plane flying at cruising altitude.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Get real-time updates as this story unfolds. To start, just "star" this story in ABC News' phone app. Download ABC News for iPhone here or ABC News for Android here.

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Apple moving toward mobile payments

Eli Blumenthal, Special for USA TODAY 11:40 a.m. EDT July 24, 2014

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Using your iPhone as a credit card? It could happen soon.

With rumors, patents and reports pointing to Apple releasing their long awaited smartwatch alongside a larger iPhone 6 this fall, there is new speculation that Apple will also venture into mobile payments. According to The Information, Apple is currently in talks with Visa and other credit card companies about a mobile payments partnership.

The new service would allow users to pay for physical goods on the web, in apps and in retail stores, turning the iPhone into a credit card. By allowing the iPhone to act as direct line of payment for credit card companies, the move would potentially allow for both retailers and their customers to save money by skipping fees normally paid to third-party payment processors. The Information also reports the company plans to run the system without giving up control to wireless carriers, many of who have been working on their own mobile payment solutions.

As for security, Apple has reportedly told some partners that its system would involve a "so-called secured element in the phones—a piece of hardware where sensitive information such as a phone owner's financial credentials can be stored." It's unknown if this hardware will be similar to the NFC (near-field communication) technology utilized by other mobile payment options such as Google Wallet or if it will be something Apple develops on its own.

Apple currently incorporates a "secure enclave" as part of the A7 processor to safely store fingerprints from the Touch ID sensor used on the iPhone 5s. It is possible the company could do something similar for securely storing financial data. The company is expected to incorporate the Touch ID sensor on future iPhones and iPads.

It has been rumored that the new mobile payments system would utilize Touch ID to authorize payments with Apple's Passbook app acting as a virtual "wallet" to hold the credit cards. The company is also expected to leverage the over 800 million iTunes accounts it currently has, a large number of which are attached to credit cards.

With the buzz around mobile payments, it's no surprise that Apple would be exploring entering the field. Forrester Research estimates that Americans will spend $90 billion through mobile payments by 2017, up from $12.8 billion in 2012.

(Hat tips to MacRumors and Apple Insider).

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