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 Amazon porch pirates, Facebook defenses, expediting videos, and more. Do you have a question you'd like to ask me?
Q: How do I see what apps are stealing info from my Facebook account? I cannot believe there is only one Cambridge Analytical out there!
A: I think Mark Zuckerberg has more than proven his indifference to user privacy. For this reason, and for many other reasons as well, I have deleted my own Facebook account.
I don’t blame anyone for abandoning the service, but I also understand why millions of others will remain.
But you’re right: many of those Facebook-oriented apps, especially quizzes, have compromised our security and collected important data without us realizing it. The games that used to seem so entertaining have taken advantage of us, and now it’s time to remove those meddling apps.
How do you do this, though? What about an app you accessed years ago? You’ll be relieved to know that these are easy to tease out and eliminate.
Best Operating System
Q: What's the difference between Windows, Chrome and Mac operating systems? Is one better than the other?
A: The simple answer is this: each operating system has benefits and drawbacks, and they each appeal to a different type of personality. Then again, they’re also all very similar: you navigate with a mouse, you find different programs on your desktop, and you save your data as files.
Many people swear by one operating system or another, and they even mock anyone who uses a rival operating system. But at the end of the day, most of us can learn any of these systems pretty quickly; they’re designed to be intuitive and straightforward, and any computer-literate person can navigate the basics in a few hours.
If you haven’t figured out which system is best for you, you should probably see a side-by-side comparison – especially a comparison that takes into account the most recent developments for each system.
Q: Is the Chinese government spying on us through our smartphones? This freaks me out.
A: It sounds like the plot of a Bond movie: Chinese operatives use cheap cellphones to spy on everyday Americans, trying to gather as much intel as possible. Someone, somewhere probably uses a Huawei or ZTE phone and has some juicy information to steal.
Doesn’t it stand to reason that the Chinese government, which has so much control over its people as well as its technology sector, would be tempted to use this kind of espionage?
Whether you believe the rumors or not (both companies deny them), superpowers have been involved in some pretty dubious behavior in the past 20 years, and I have my suspicions. The bottom line is, if you want to keep your phone safe, there are measures you can take.
Stop Amazon Thieves
Q: I order a ton from Amazon. What can I do to prevent people from stealing packages off my front porch?
A: The vast majority of envelopes and parcels arrive safe and sound, but most Americans have regular mailboxes or stoops, unguarded and vulnerable. Nothing is preventing a passerby from picking up the coveted package and walking off with it.
But Amazon has become the master of flexibility, and there are lots of ways to keep your deliveries safe. One of the most obvious is to send orders to your workplace, which may be much more protected than your home.
Then again, not everybody works in a stationary office, and your boss may have a policy against personal deliveries (especially if you order a lot of stuff on a regular basis). Instead, there are many tricks for keeping those parcels safe.
End Endless Buffering
Q: I must be doing something wrong. When I stream video, it stops or buffers and that's super annoying.
A: Nothing gets people angry like a slow-loading movie. After all, we like to lose ourselves in a cinematic story, and when everything freezes and the little “buffering” icon appears, most of us start groaning with frustration.
Wi-Fi is faster than ever, so many of us can go for days or weeks without a single buffering hang up. Even a good smartphone with a strong network can stream movie and TV series and never hiccup.
But when things slow down, check your router. There are some easy ways to improve your connection, and you can even use a cable to keep things consistent. (Not a bad option for a stationary TV).
You may also want to check to see whether your router or smart TV is virus-free. Malware can slow things down as well.
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.