iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Phones, fitness bands and streaming video devices, oh my! If Santa was good to you and put one of the top tech gifts under the Christmas tree for you, it’s time to start playing with them. But to get the most out of your gadgets, here are a few things you should do as soon as they’re out of the box.
Fitness Bands

Good Morning America tested fitness bands this year and showed that they can have a pretty big variance on distance and steps. They need to be customized to you: they take you through a standard start-up process asking weight, height and gender. But some of them have extra refinements you can make by adding extra data. To maximize accuracy, measure your stride and input that in the device according to the instructions.

Streaming Media Devices

The Chromecast, Firestick, Roku and Apple TV were all big this season. First, many streaming media devices don’t even have remotes and if you do have one, you’ll likely lose it. Thankfully, there are apps that let you control the device from your smartphone. Install it now. Added bonus: it may allow you to look at photos and videos from your phone on the big screen, all wirelessly.

Also if possible, hard-wire the device to your Internet router. Yes, it can work off your Wi-Fi. But trust me, you don’t want your neighbor’s new baby monitor or your teenager’s YouTube downloads to stop your binge-watching of Nashville or Scandal, right?

New Phone

With a new iPhone model just released and Samsung slashing prices on new phones, smartphones are a hot present. As you break in your new smartphone, keep in mind that you may soon break it. More than a quarter of you will crack the screen in the next couple of years, if surveys are to be believed, and it will cost you approximately $150 or more to get the screen replaced. So you have three options:

1. Apple Care or a similar insurance policy from the manufacturer. These cost about $99 and especially if you’re giving this to someone who is accident prone or to a teenager, it’s worth it.

2. Get a case. Sometimes they are bulky and make it harder to put in your pocket, but since the iPhone 6 is so skinny, it’s actually easier to hold with a case.

3. At the very least get a screen protector. In my very anecdotal experience, a clear screen protector can guard against cracks and screen breakage as well as a case.
Sell Your Old Gadgets

If you got a new device as a replacement for something old, sell the old one. In my anecdotal experience, you get the best price on eBay. For example an iPhone 4 from a carrier is currently going for around $100. But then again it’s so easy to use a gadget recycling service like Gazelle or NextWorth. You just send it in and they pay you immediately. The downside is the payments are generally about 50 percent less than via eBay.

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Photo by C Flanigan/Getty Images(SACRAMENTO, Calif.) — California Gov. Jerry Brown granted 104 pardons on Christmas Eve.

Each of the individuals pardoned by the California governor had previously completed their sentences for their crimes, many of which involved drugs. Brown, the Sacramento Bee says, commonly announces pardons on days such as Christmas Eve, the day before Easter or Good Friday.

Last Christmas Day, the Bee says, Brown pardoned 127 people.

Though the individuals pardoned have all completed their sentences in full, the pardons allow them to serve on juries, work as parole officers and, in some cases, possess firearms.

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Baltimore Orioles/MLB(NEW YORK) — The Baltimore Orioles have agreed to a one-year contract with free-agent outfielder Delmon Young, according to multiple media reports.

According to MLB.com, the 29-year old Young will earn a base salary of $2.25 million and can make another $750,000 in incentives.

Young returns to Baltimore for a second-straight season. Last season he played in 83 games for the O’s hitting .302 with seven home runs and 30 RBIs. He also hit a go-ahead three-run double in Game 2 of the American League Division Series against the Detroit Tigers.

Young has played nine major league seasons. During that time he has compiled a .283 average with 107 home runs, 453 runs scored and 550 RBIs.

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TORU YAMANAKA/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — Takata President Stefan Stocker “has stepped down” from his position at the company.

Millions of vehicles around the world have been recalled in recent months because of faulty airbags manufactured by the Takata Corporation. In total, 11 automakers have recalled 20 million cars while they work to replace the defective airbags which could rupture and shoot debris into the car’s cabin.

Takata’s chairman Shigehisa Takada will take on the role of president as well, the New York Times says.

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Pawel Gaul/iStock/Thinkstock(MONROVIA, Liberia) — The United Nations Mission in Liberia said Wednesday that a staff member has tested positive for Ebola.

According to a statement from the mission, the staffer is the fourth staff member to contract the disease. The individual was taken to an Ebola Treatment Unit. No further information about the worker’s condition was provided.

Another staffer who contracted Ebola recovered from the disease and was released from a hospital earlier this week.

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Pawel Gaul/iStock/Thinkstock(MONROVIA, Liberia) — The United Nations Mission in Liberia said Wednesday that a staff member has tested positive for Ebola.

According to a statement from the mission, the staffer is the fourth staff member to contract the disease. The individual was taken to an Ebola Treatment Unit. No further information about the worker’s condition was provided.

Another staffer who contracted Ebola recovered from the disease and was released from a hospital earlier this week.

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iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — After being released by the Detroit Pistons Monday, forward Josh Smith has decided to join the Houston Rockets.

Smith made the announcement on Fox26 Sports although the Rockets haven’t confirmed the move.

The 29-year-old Smith wasn’t even halfway into his four-year, $54 million contract before being released by the Pistons. He now goes from a struggling Detroit (5-23) team to the Rockets (20-7), one of the best teams in the Western Conference.

Smith has played in 28 games this season averaging 14.7 points, 8.1 rebounds, 5.3 assists, 1.5 steals and 1.9 blocks per game.

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iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — After being released by the Detroit Pistons Monday, forward Josh Smith has decided to join the Houston Rockets.

Smith made the announcement on Fox26 Sports although the Rockets haven’t confirmed the move.

The 29-year-old Smith wasn’t even halfway into his four-year, $54 million contract before being released by the Pistons. He now goes from a struggling Detroit (5-23) team to the Rockets (20-7), one of the best teams in the Western Conference.

Smith has played in 28 games this season averaging 14.7 points, 8.1 rebounds, 5.3 assists, 1.5 steals and 1.9 blocks per game.

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Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

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iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — After being released by the Detroit Pistons Monday, forward Josh Smith has decided to join the Houston Rockets.

Smith made the announcement on Fox26 Sports although the Rockets haven’t confirmed the move.

The 29-year-old Smith wasn’t even halfway into his four-year, $54 million contract before being released by the Pistons. He now goes from a struggling Detroit (5-23) team to the Rockets (20-7), one of the best teams in the Western Conference.

Smith has played in 28 games this season averaging 14.7 points, 8.1 rebounds, 5.3 assists, 1.5 steals and 1.9 blocks per game.

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pablographix/iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — U.S. and coalition forces conducted 17 more airstrikes in Iraq and Syria on Wednesday.

Continuing the offensive against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria that has been ongoing since Aug. 8, the U.S. led ten strikes in Syria and seven more in Iraq on Christmas Eve.

The Syrian strikes targeted locations near Kobani, Dayr az Zawr and Ar Raqqah. The strikes reportedly destroyed five ISIS fighting positions, an ISIS-controlled building and a staging position while also striking three tactical units, a tactical vehicle, a fighting position, a crude oil collection point and a weapons stockpile.

The strike in Ar Raqqah comes on the same day that a Jordanian fighter jet crashed nearby. ISIS said that it shot the jet down with a heat-seeking missile, though the U.S. State Department and U.S. Central Command said the plane crashed.

In Iraq, strikes were conducted near Al Qaim, Sinjar, Fallujah and Tal Afar. Central Command says nine tactical vehicles, a storage container and one technical vehicle were destroyed and a fighting position and a tactical unit were damaged by the strikes.

Australia, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Bahrain, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates were also involved in conducting the strikes.

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