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Card skimmers, old laptop fixes, fingerprint scans, 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 card skimmers, apps to help with carpooling, old laptop fixes, and more.

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

Tap or click here to email me directly.

Beware skimmers

Q. I keep hearing about skimmers at the gas pumps. What do they look like? How can I spot them?

A: There are ways to spot a typical skimmer, but sometimes they’re challenging to find. I show you examples of what these skimmers look like in the link below. You can also use your Bluetooth-enabled device, such as a smartphone, to scan a service station pump for weird strings of numbers.

Skimmers are designed to avoid detection, but if you know what you’re looking for, you can often stay clear. If you find one, be a good citizen and report it to the authorities. Tap or click here for pictures of skimmers and apps you can use to protect yourself from gas pump skimmers.

Carpool apps

Q. I drive five kids home from practice after school. Is there an app to show me the best route to take?

A: First off, you must be a saint, driving five kids around – and I hope their families appreciate it. Carpooling is a smart, efficient, eco-smart alternative to individual commuting, but it does beg the question: how do you drop off multiple people in a streamlined way? If you don’t know an area well, or the order of drop-offs changes, you can get mighty confused figuring out the tightest navigation through your town.

One app you’re looking for is Route4Me, which caters not only to carpoolers but to delivery drivers as well. But there are a few other apps that might also serve you well, one of which even works offline. Tap or click here for three apps that tell you the best route for multiple stops.

Getting tech help

Q. Is there a way that I can ask you a question but not on your national radio show? I’m too shy to be on a show like yours on hundreds of stations!

A: Many people get nervous, hearing their voices on the radio, and even I did, the first few times I hosted my show. But if you’re more interested in online communication, I have just unveiled a whole new platform: Komando Community that’s advertising-free.

This focused alternative to social media allows you to talk with fellow technophiles about the joys and challenges of modern gadgetry. The content is a fresh mix of expert and workaday advice, from real people all over the world. Not only can you interact with like-minded folks; you can also answer your most challenging questions in a safe and supportive environment. Tap or click here to join the Komando Community.

Fingerprint fail

Q. My iPhone fingerprint reader doesn’t always work. Is it me or did Apple make a design flaw?

A: Fingerprint readers are a great way to secure your iPhone, but they’re a real pain if they’re not reading anything. The truth is, there are a lot of reasons your phone may not respond to your fingerprint; sometimes a new case will interfere with the read, or the button is covered in an invisible film of grease or grime.

Here’s an unusual hack, though: you can enroll the same finger twice, so the phone is twice as likely to recognize it. Tap or click here to make your Apple fingerprint reader work every time.

Revive old laptop

Q. My laptop is getting old. What can I do to breath new life into it? I cannot afford a new one.

A: You’ve probably heard your doctor tell you to eat healthy and get lots of exercise, right? Well, laptops are the same way. Actually, all gadgets are the same way. To keep them running smoothly, we have to take care of them, and certain preventative habits will keep your hard drive efficient and clutter-free.

Some of them are relatively obvious, like deleting cumbersome files that you don’t use. But most people don’t think to delete excess cookies, or physically remove the accumulated dust from your various ports. With a little TLC, your laptop may survive several more years. Tap or click here for seven monthly maintenance tasks to keep your laptop healthy.

What digital lifestyle questions do you have? Call Kim’s national radio show and tap or click here to find it on your local radio station. You can listen to or watch 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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