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 finding phone numbers, online incomes, technical tax breaks, and more. Do you have a question you'd like to ask me?
Tech Tax Breaks
Q: Can I take my cable bill and phone off my taxes? I use them sometimes for work.
A: The best thing you can do is find a savvy accountant and itemize the technology you use for professional purposes. The IRS has no shortage of worksheets for independent contractors, which will help you tabulate your business expenses. Some tech, like a smartphone, may be used for both conference calls and ordering pizza, so you won’t be able to write off every penny of every phone bill. But sometimes you will find allowances in surprising places. Knowing which devices and services can count toward your taxes will help you ask the right questions during your consultation.
Cashing in Bitcoin
Q: Once you buy Bitcoin, how do you turn into something you can use to buy things?
A: Since Bitcoin is a virtual currency, you can’t walk into any corner store and buy gum with your blockchain data, especially now that each Bitcoin is worth thousands of dollars. Like any new investment, buying into the system is only half the story; it’s also wise to know how to cash out. More traditional capital, like gold or real estate, is much more widely understood: you buy a physical coin or property, it fluctuates in value, and at the right moment, you sell it for a profit. But Bitcoin is a little trickier, because the market, and the brokers who control that market, are still very new. Converting Bitcoin isn’t hard, but it is a process you should learn.
Find Phone Numbers Online
Q: Is there a site to find someone's cellphone number? I am looking for my son who I have not seen in 11 years.
A: First of all, I hope you find your son and that your reunion is a happy one. The internet has made it easier than ever to find friends and loved ones, and you probably have a fair chance of tracking him down. That said cellphone numbers are tricky. Mobile numbers have never been listed the way landlines have. In the era of con artists and robo-calls, most people don’t want their digits falling into the wrong hands. But if you’re willing to do a little detective work, there are some natural places to start looking. Social media and public records reveal a lot about people, and sometimes their contact information pops up. With luck, you’ll find those numbers fairly readily.
Porn Finding Dogs
Q: I have heard there are dogs that can find child porn on hard drives and thumb drives. How can they do that?
A: You have heard correctly, and it’s been a revolutionary development for law enforcement. In the past, dogs have been trained to sniff out drugs and bombs, but how do you condition a hound to smell a reprehensible JPG? Digital images have no scent, right? But most people involved in this vile trade don’t store their images online because they’re vulnerable to hacking and IP tracing. Instead, they use physical storage devices, which are often disguised as other things, like shaving cream containers. These units prove to be their downfall because that’s exactly what the clever canines are trained to detect. That’s just the tip of the iceberg, though; in the U.S. and abroad, this new breed of investigator is changing the game and putting sex offenders behind bars.
Profit on the Web
Q: I’d like to make some extra money online. Any ideas would be very much appreciated.
A: There are some excellent ways to earn money online, and they come in all varieties. Some people earn money through a passive source, like making a song or e-book available for download, then earning royalties from each sale. Legions of people use apps to facilitate their real-life businesses, like Uber and Fivrr. However you do it, you should remember that online business is still a lot of work. You may dream of opening an Etsy storefront because you don’t have to answer to a boss or sit in a cubicle. You still have to advertise, update your site, cultivate the product, and send it by mail. Almost every web-based venture still requires some hustle, and most people aren’t cut out for this kind of piecemeal, unpredictable work. But if you have discipline and a decent sense of organization, there is a lot of money to be made through the internet.
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.