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Q&A with Kim: Testing firewalls, renting rooms for cash and more

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 most difficult part of my job.

This week, I received questions about testing your firewall to make sure it’s working, renting out spare rooms for cash and more. Do you have a question you’d like to ask me? Click here to email me directly.

Test your firewall

Q. I test my home smoke alarm to make sure it’s working. How do I know if my computer’s firewall is really blocking hackers?

A: For experts in cybersecurity, testing the digital safety of a home or business is a very lucrative trade. So how do you check for weaknesses in your firewall without hiring a service to break into your computer? You will be relieved to know that this test can be done at home for free. The steps can look intimidating, but if you do them correctly, you can rest assured that your data and network are safe. Click here to test your firewall for vulnerabilities.

Keep track of car recalls

Q: I keep hearing about various car recalls. Is there a central place online that I can search to see if my car and the kids’ cars are on the recall list?

A: You’re right, there has been a steady stream of recent recalls. If that important headline is lost in a tsunami of media, you’re likely driving your vehicle without addressing its dangers. So what happens if you are supposed to return your car, but you didn’t get the memo? Well, now you can check to make sure, thanks to a potentially life-saving website. Click here to find out if your car has been recalled.

Rent rooms for cash

Q: I hear about people making money by renting rooms in their house. My kids moved out, I’m retired, and I could use the extra cash. How do I get started?

A: In the age of Airbnb, almost anyone on the planet with a little extra space can host renters from out of town. Interestingly, people in their 60s are the fastest growing segment of Airbnb hosts. Makeshift hotels are just the beginning; you can turn extra rooms into living spaces to accommodate longer-term tenants, too. Click here to learn how much you can make as a host in various cities around the country.

Edit movies like a pro

Q: I have a ton of summer videos. Can you please recommend good editing programs for videos? Easy, please.

A: You probably know that editing videos is easier than ever, thanks to digital filmmaking and the miracle of “nonlinear editing.” If you know where to look, you will find a slew of impressive editing suites for little or even no cost. Believe it or not, many of these programs are used by some of the most successful movie editors in Hollywood. Click here for the best free and low-cost video editing programs for Windows and Macs.

Economical tech gifts

Q: I want to buy my son something techie. My budget is $50. Any ideas?

A: Technology gets cheaper every year, and the luxury items of the past, such as the Apple Watch and Amazon Echo, have become commonplace possessions in an everyday household. You will be amazed by what you can purchase these days on a strict budget; many economically priced gadgets are also interesting, unusual, and surprisingly helpful. You may never have heard of these obscure little devices, but they can make great gifts for someone with an affection for technology. Click here for 10 amazing gadgets for $50 or less.

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.

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