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 why you need a Chromebook, how to get free subtitles, hiding your Wi-Fi and more.
Do you have a question you'd like to ask me?
One reason to get a Chromebook
Q: Is it true that Chromebooks never get viruses? I'm thinking of getting one for my parents so that they can email and chat with the grandkids.
A: This may sound unbelievable, but yes, Chromebooks are technically immune to computer viruses. And why can't other systems be immune as well? The reason is quite simple: Such Chrome devices can't download programs; therefore they can't import viruses by mistake. This ability protects you from an entire genre of problems, which is pretty cool.
If you have ever had to deal with a virus, you will be relieved to know that your Chromebook is safe. But don't get too comfortable; remember viruses and malware are two different things, and your Google device is still susceptible to the latter, especially if you have an affection for apps. Before you buy your parents a Chromebook, tap or click for important information about potential viruses and malware.
Get free subtitles
Q: Sometimes, I have a hard time understanding certain accents when I'm watching a movie, and a friend of mine said I should turn on subtitles. Do I need a particular device for this?
A: This is so funny! A friend recently told me that he loves Guy Ritchie movies, but he needs to watch 10 to 20 minutes before he starts to understand what the Cockney-speaking characters are saying. For streaming services, captions and closed captioning are pretty easy to set up, and you can usually arrange these in your settings. Your cable provider, and even your physical TV set can often display captions as well.
There is also a more complicated way to put words on your screen, but you should probably try the easier ways first. Whatever your technical situation, you will almost certainly not have to purchase a new device. With the advent of digital viewing, such captions are fairly ubiquitous. Tap or click for 5 easy ways to caption your video content.
Hide your Wi-Fi
Q: Is there a way to hide my Wi-Fi so no one can see or use it without my permission?
A: The short answer is yes, you can hide your network from nearby users. In theory, a protected network would require a passcode to use, and it's unlikely that your neighbor has any idea what this is. In other words, you would have to give someone the password to make your Wi-Fi available.
But hackers have broken into networks before, whether you have a password or not, and some folks forget the access they have generously granted. In effect, hiding your Wi-Fi is a smart move; you prevent others from even knowing your network exists. This reduces the temptation to mooch off your Wi-Fi since would-be snoops won't even know it exists. Tap or click for a step-by-step guide to hiding your wireless network.
Q: I’ve been getting phone calls in the middle of the night from a country in Africa called Mauritania! My phone rings once, and then nothing. My wife said not to call the number back. What should I do?
A: Unless you happen to know someone in Mauritania, I imagine that call was pretty startling. You may be even more startled to learn that the late-night call was almost certainly a scam, and this kind of call has become pretty common. It’s a natural extension of the “419” scam, which prominently featured emails from “Nigerian princes.”
But unlike those distant monarchs promising fame and fortune, the “one-ring” call preys on your curiosity. “Why is someone calling me from Africa, and so late at night?” you wonder. If you’re foolish enough to call back, you will amass a ridiculous long-distance phone bill, and the money you’re forced to pay will eventually end up in the hands of the scammers. Tap or click to learn more about this nefarious scam.
Fun with Google Home
Q: My kids and I use Google Assistant all the time when we have random questions. I just got a Google Home. How can we have fun with our home device?
A: Like Mad Libs and "20 Questions," asking your smart device random questions is timeless entertainment, and it doesn't matter your age; interrogating a smart speaker can occupy many of us for hours on end. At the same time, Google is capable of so much more, and if you want to diversify your merry-making, ask your digital assistant to "tell me a story." Google will then spin a verbal yarn, lasting for upwards of 10 minutes.
The length and narrative style can vary, but you may also qualify your narrative needs by asking for a "bedtime" or "love story." If you have wee ones, this is a cute shtick to share in the twilight hours, and it might spare you that 100th reading of "Green Eggs and Ham." I tested Google's story-telling abilities. Tap or click to read what I heard.
Want more great answers to your digital questions? Watch or listen to my show as a Kim's Club member. Join this weekend and save 50% with the code MEM50. Offer expires 5/28. Click or tap here to watch my show now!