Each week, I receive tons of questions from my listeners about tech concerns, new products and all things digital. Sometimes choosing the most interesting questions to highlight is the most difficult part of my job.
This week, I received questions about removing personal info from search sites, whether to use Apple Assistant and more. Do you have a question you'd like to ask me? Click here to email me directly.
Remove personal info from search sites
Q: I looked up my name on a people search site. Wow! Anyone can see my age, where I live, names of my relatives and more, for free! Can I remove these very personal details?
A: I’m glad you searched for yourself, and I wish more people would. Many people are shocked to learn how much is freely exposed online: name, age, current address, past addresses, voting records, criminal history, and so on. It’s almost impossible to fully delete yourself from the internet, but you can easily crack down on these people search databases, no lawyer required.
Whether to use Apple Assistant
Q: Do you think Apple’s home virtual assistant is good for someone like me who loves Google?
A: Here’s the short answer: It’s too early to tell. You’re wise to ask about this exciting new rival to Alexa, Google, and Cortana, but the HomePod won’t be available until December. There is no single meaningful review to go on. Based on what we already know, the HomePod will be a high-quality device that relies on Siri, and you will be able to link it to a good number of non-Apple electronics. But like everything Apple-related, the HomePod will run best in a household already filled with Apple products. I can see a number of benefits and drawbacks, and as we hurtle toward Christmas, I imagine many others will materialize.
How teachers can earn cash
Q: I was listening to your national radio show, and you were telling a teacher how to make serious money selling lesson plans online. Can you tell me more?
A: As most people know, it’s hard to make anything more than a comfortable living as a teacher these days. Thousands of teachers find themselves in second jobs, like waiting tables at night. But many teachers are making an extra income by doing what they do best: teaching. School systems and other teachers are often desperate for lesson plans and supplementary materials, and the internet has become a thriving marketplace for pedagogical tools, thanks to one clever website.
Change your phone’s ringtones
Q: I really hate my phone’s built-in ringtones. I want something more gentle to my ears. Help!
A: I always find it funny when I’m watching a TV show or a movie, and I hear a familiar ringtone coming from a character’s smartphone. Even when I know the call is taking place in the movie, I’m still compelled to check my own phone, because I am so thoroughly trained by those ubiquitous jingles. And yes, these ringtones can get clichéd and grating over time. How do you find something more tranquil, or even pretty? It’s easier than you think.
Harness your tablet’s screen
Q: Is it possible to use my tablet as a second computer monitor?
A: If you work in a modern office, you may already be accustomed to using two screens at once. This practice has long been the habit of data-driven professionals, like stockbrokers and 911 dispatchers. What if you can’t afford, or don’t want to invest in, a second screen? What if you just don’t have enough desk space to accommodate two full displays? Well, your hunch is right on the money. You can, in fact, turn many tablets into supplementary screens, which will help you organize multiple applications.
What questions do you have that I can answer? Call my national radio show and click here to find it on your local radio station. You can listen to the Kim Komando Show on your phone, tablet or computer. From buying advice to digital life issues, click here for my free podcasts.