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 best part of my job.
This week, I received questions about North Korea alerts, converting VHS tapes, streaming options, and more. Do you have a question you'd like to ask me?
Q: If North Korea launches a nuclear weapon, will the government let us know on our phones?
A: Gone are the days of “bombing drills” and fallout shelters in the backyard. Almost every cellphone in the country is equipped to receive emergency notifications. I receive an alert several times a year whenever there’s a dust storm over Phoenix. The U.S. Geological Survey is currently developing an “earthquake early warning” system, too. So, what would a nuclear alert look like?
Q: I am so confused by all the streaming services. Which one is the best?
A: Each streaming service is distinct, and each company has a complex web of partnerships with certain channels and brands. For example, you can subscribe to HBO Now, which will give you access to HBO films and TV series on Apple TV, Kindle Fire, and so on. Or you can subscribe to HBO Go, which can be included as part of your traditional cable subscription. Or you can subscribe to HBO through Amazon Prime Video. The quagmire gets stickier when you try to watch live sports or catch the latest episode of your favorite sitcom. Until streaming services sort out their specialties, the short answer is this: It all depends on what you’re looking for.
Checking for Spies
Q: Is it possible to know if a program is using your computer’s camera or microphone to spy on you?
A: Real-time spying is probably the scariest realization of the past few years. Most of us can barely wrap our minds around it: a stranger can take images of our most intimate moments, duplicate them, and then spread these media files across the internet. They can even manipulate our voices and images in any way they want. They can even threaten to humiliate us if we don’t pay extortion money. This is serious business, and you should definitely know how to nip it in the bud.
Q: I have a bunch of old VHS tapes of the kids. How can I bring them into today’s age?
A: Sometimes I miss analog. It was so easy to pick up a blank VHS tape, stick it in the old camcorder, and shoot hours of birthday parties and piano recitals – no rendering required. But digital technology easily usurped the medium. Once we forfeited our VHS players, all those tapes ended up collecting dust in our garages. Well, now it’s very easy to convert VHS tapes onto DVD, thanks to several reasonably priced services. You don’t need to buy a special machine, and you don’t even have to wait long for the DVD to be delivered. Since most of us haven’t reviewed our old VHS tapes in years, watching them might feel like an opened time capsule.
Q: We have a second home. I would like to be able to monitor and set the home’s thermostat. What technology do I need?
A: One way to easily make this adjustment is by installing a smart thermostat in your home. It's smart technology that lets you control your home's temperature remotely with a smartphone, tablet or computer. It helps you keep costs low by adjusting your home's temperature even when you are not there.
What questions do you have? 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.