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 the best Echos, foreclosed house hunting, erotic emojis, and more. Do you have a question you'd like to ask me?
Vet Yourself Online
Q: I am looking for a new job. How can I do an online background check on myself? This way, I know what potential employers might dig up.
A: The vast majority of employers will hire based on interviews and resumes, but many managers will also vet prospective employees on the internet. For work that is sensitive and requires an unusual amount of trust, such as security jobs and banking, companies may do a more thorough search. In this case, they may find questionable information that even you don’t know about. So, yes, looking yourself up is probably a good idea, even if you don’t consider your past too colorful.
Q: Is there a way that you can stop ads from following you from place to place online? It’s super annoying!
A: I get this question a lot, partly because those ads are so annoying, and partly because they’re so universal. Most people are aware of the cookies that their web browsers absorb, accepting targeted ads as part of the online experience. Obviously, internet vendors wouldn’t use these ads if they didn’t work. This kind of advertising can feel like someone is consciously stalking you, even if it’s all coding and algorithms. Luckily, there are some simple ways to throw them off your trail.
Q: I looked on my teen’s phone and many texts are just emojis. Should I be concerned? He’s starting to hide his phone from me.
A: I have met many parents who are laissez-faire about their teenagers’ phone habits. “What’s the big deal?” they ask. “I used to pass notes in class. I used to commandeer the phone late at night. How is texting any different than that?” Well, it can be a lot different and a lot more dangerous. Phones keep a record of texts and images. Adolescents may not know where those “private” messages end up. And a series of coded emojis, which seem harmless or even nonsensical to an adult, could qualify as serious harassment to another teenager in the know. So it’s time to study up on this secret shorthand before your child ends up in a lot of trouble.
Finding the Best Echo
Q: There so many different Amazon Echos. Which one is the best one?
A: It’s funny, isn’t it? When the Amazon Echo first came out, there was only one. You either liked it, or you did not. Then came the Echo Dot, which amplified the experience. Now there is the second generation Echo, and the Echo Show, which basically doubles as an interactive TV. Amazon will continue innovating Echo designs until, I have a little doubt, we end up with interactive holograms that can make same-day purchases by drone. (I’m half-kidding). Before you get stuck in that quagmire of buyer’s remorse, you should do some research ahead of time.
Q: Is there an art to finding foreclosures online? All I keep finding are old listings.
A: Ah, the foreclosure. For house-flippers, this is the wild west of real estate investment. If you’re feeling adventurous, and you don’t mind the sordid histories that many properties have witnessed, foreclosed houses can be a real bargain, not to mention a money maker. Certain resources are quite dependable, and they could even lead you to your dream house.
What questions do you have? What other tech tips will improve your daily life? 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.