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Q&A with Kim: Eavesdropping Echo, flammable laptops, switching to Android, fending off ransomware, and more

Q&A with Kim: Eavesdropping Echo, flammable laptops, switching to Android, fending off ransomware, and more
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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 flammable laptops, switching to Android, fending off ransomware, and moreDo you have a question you'd like to ask me?

Click here to email me directly.

Eavesdropping Echo

Q. I have an Amazon Echo. I am really concerned it is listening all the time. Does it have any privacy settings?

A: The fact remains that Echo records all of your commands, and the microphone is always active because the device is always listening for a “wake phrase.” This may cause you a lot of anxiety, and I completely understand. It’s strange, knowing that a machine designed by the world’s biggest retailer always has open ears. Switching off the microphone defeats the purpose of owning an Echo, but if you just want a fancy set of speakers, you can easily change its settings. Click here for three essential privacy settings for Amazon Echo.

Laptop recall

Q. I have an HP laptop. I heard you say on your show that it might catch fire. How can I tell if my laptop is on the recall list?

A: Yes, there have been reports that HP laptops have faulty batteries, and they could catch fire. This doesn’t mean that your device will explode the second you switch it on, but it does mean that the computer’s battery is a major liability, and you should only use your laptop connected to a power source. Click here to learn about the HP recall and see if your laptop is on the recall list.

Ransomware defenses

Q. I am worried about getting hit by ransomware. Are there any ways to protect my data?

A: Remember that old saying, “It’s never a problem until it is?” That’s the best way to think about ransomware. It sounds like science fiction, the idea of someone remotely stealing your data and then demanding money to have it released. There’s no telling where data hijackers will strike next. Luckily, there are ways to not only back up your information (making the ransomware useless) but also to protect your software from invasion. Click here for five programs that protect against ransomware.

Printing from the web

Q. It is a royal pain printing anything off the web! How can I print without getting weird formatting and all the ads?

A: It’s so frustrating, isn’t it? You want to print a document from the web, but you forget that the pertinent text is couched in useless ads, URLs, and other nonsense. There’s a cumbersome alternative, which is to copy and paste all the desired text into a Word processor. Click here for a plug-in that lets you print web content without the extra junk.

Android benefits

Q. I just switched from using an iPhone to Android. Any pointers you can share on using an Android phone?

A: Android has become a powerful competitor in recent years, and although it doesn’t have the same cachet as Apple, Android devices are full of nifty tricks. The split-screen feature won a lot of praise recently, but did you know that Android will help you operate the phone with one hand? Click here for hidden Android tricks you’ll use over and over.

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.

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