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 using Reddit, retirees making money, old phones, and more. Do you have a question you'd like to ask me?
Stop Facebook’s stalking
Q: Is it possible to stop Facebook from tracking me wherever I go on the web so they can show me privacy-invading targeted ads?
A: With the exception of “Mad Men” and the Super Bowl, advertisements generally drive us crazy. Sure, ads can be important and meaningful. We may even find ourselves grateful that an ad introduced us to a certain service or product.
But internet ads can be frustrating and creepy; using cookies, they chase us from page to page with personalized offers. Facebook hasn’t been scoring any points with the public lately, and with all this talk about data leaks, such browser-driven ads can really freak us out.
So how do you stop them? It’s actually pretty simple.
Using Reddit like a pro
Q: I must be getting old! I heard about Reddit and visited the site. But it just looks like an old message board to me full of a bunch of blowhards. What am I missing out on by not using Reddit?
A: Some people are Reddit fans: they can spend an entire day hopping from forum to forum. Others are suspicious of Reddit because they think of it as a hotbed of trolls and weirdos.
If you’re not familiar with Reddit, the website may make a surprising first impression: it looks like an old GeoCities site, with ugly text, a plain background, and a funny logo of… an extraterrestrial? Once you get past the aesthetics, Reddit will prove itself a powerful tool.
Enter the right forum, and you may meet some of the best-informed people in the world. The conversations among Reddit regulars can be lively and informative. There’s a reason Reddit has survived since 2005.
Retirees making money
Q: I’m retired and can use extra spending money. I’ve heard of people renting rooms in their homes. How much money can I make doing that?
A: In many ways, it’s a match made in heaven: retired folks have time on their hands, and they often have a spare room, or even a spare summer house. At the same time, 401(k)s, investments, Social Security, and a pension only pay so much.
There are lots of other reasons people might rent out their spaces, and frankly, a lot of travelers may feel more comfortable in the home with someone stable and mature. (Remember how popular Elderhostel once was).
Windows vs. Chrome vs. Mac
Q: I need a new laptop. What’s the difference between Chrome and Mac and Windows?
A: People can get very snobby about their operating systems. Microsoft users roll their eyes at iOS. Mac users won’t go near Windows. Chrome is the new kid on the block, and converts are happy to say goodbye to Windows and iOS forever.
Now, I earned my degree in computer science before any of these systems existed (at least in their current, recognizable form), and I can tell you that they all basically do the same thing. They run programs, they provide easy-to-use icons, and they each have their own main menu, word processor, spreadsheets, and so on.
You’ll see a lot of differences, but the best system for you will depend on how you like to do things. Picking an operating system (and a laptop to invest in) depends a lot on your personal psychology.
The best thing to do is to see their specs side-by-side.
Rejuvenating Old Phones
Q: I have a few old phones laying around. Is there anything that I can use them for now?
A: The short answer is yes, there are tons of uses for old phones. Now, it sort of depends on how old those phones are. You won’t get much out of a Nokia 6600 from 2003, because it isn’t very compatible with modern technology.
You also won’t be able to sell a clamshell phone for very much money; such outdated models aren’t worth very much, and they can be replaced for pennies. But your typical smartphone can be used for all kinds of things, especially if it’s still in working condition.
iPhones, for example, still function very well with a Wi-Fi signal, and you can use your camera, apps, email, and search engines just as before. You can even turn that phone into a home security system.
What digital lifestyle 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.