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Kim's column

Amazon price guide, protecting Your DNA, the best smart speakers, and more: Tech Q&A

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 lowest prices on Amazon, DNA database privacy, smart speaker buying advice and more. 

Do you have a question you’d like to ask me?

Tap or click here to email me directly.

Get lowest prices on Amazon

Q: I buy almost everything I need on Amazon! How do I know if the price I see on Amazon is the lowest price?

A: There are so many vendors, so many warehouses and deals and sales and coupon codes, that you could be chasing after the same item for hours and still find cheaper options.

Then you may find entire realms of Amazon that you never knew existed, like Amazon Warehouse, or Amazon Pantry, plus all the vendors who sell used items for ever-less-expensive prices.

So how can you be sure that you’re getting the best deal out there? By using a dedicated price tracker.

Tap or click here to get a simple add-on that tells you the lowest price before you click “Add to Cart.”

Privacy of DNA databases

Q: I am worried about my DNA being available in some database. Can I protect it?

A: Ancestry companies recently made headlines, not because analysts can determine your ethnic background, but because they voluntarily submitted DNA samples helped solve cold criminal cases.

That’s an exciting development for law enforcement and the victims of terrible crimes, but what if that data were to fall into the wrong hands?

In the era of “gene editing” and cloning experiments, it’s hard to tell where all this technology is headed, so you may be wise to wait. I did a podcast about this very topic, speaking to DNA and privacy experts.

Tap or click here to listen now or download for later.

Best smart speaker to buy now

Q: What’s the best smart speaker to buy this Christmas?

A: There are now more smart speaker designs than ever, with competition coming from Amazon (Echo), Google (Home), Apple (HomePod), and the Sonos One.

Customers no longer debate about whether or not to invest in an Echo; they can now weigh several options. In the end, you’ll have to decide what’s more important, sound quality or responsiveness.

Many people will prefer the futuristic handiness of a “personal assistant,” while others want a hands-free speaker system for music and podcasts.

Tap or click here for the best smart speakers to buy this Christmas.

Safe online banking

Q: I would like to bank online, but I am totally freaked out that a hacker can steal all my money. Am I paranoid or just plain smart?

A: Most banks would prefer you banked online. Think about it: The more you log into an app, the less a bank has to invest in tellers, security personnel and physical structures.

Many banks will charge you extra for in-person transactions, and some sites behave like computer labs, where staff just guide you through a computerized system anyway.

Since most money is just virtual data stored on servers, you’ll probably have to get used to online banking in the coming years. But that doesn’t mean you can’t keep your savings safe.

Tap or click here for five critical settings so hackers can’t access your bank accounts.

Free photo editor

Q: I want an excellent free photo editing program. Is there one that you recommend?

A: There are tons of free photo editors out there, and I even know seasoned media professionals who will use (for example) Pic Monkey in a pinch.

If you own a Mac, you already have access to Photos, which has all the necessary features, such as cropping, color correction and the “healing” tool, which can remove unflattering blemishes. But you asked for a good free photo editing program.

Basic services can be useful, yet they may lack a lot of options. (I’m always astounded, for instance, that Apple Photos lacks an easy “text” feature.)

So instead of throwing down lots of money on Photoshop or puzzling through GIMP, there’s one program that may have everything you need.

Tap or click here for free, easy-to-use editing software.

What digital lifestyle questions do you have? Call her national radio show and tap or click here to find it on your local radio station. You can listen or watch to the Kim Komando Show on your phone, tablet, television or computer. Or tap or click here for Kim’s free podcasts.

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