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 deliveries, cash alternatives, private video calls and more.
Do you have a question you’d like to ask me? I’m working from home like you.
Sanitize Amazon boxes
Q: I have been ordering things that I need from Amazon and Walmart. Can the coronavirus live on the delivery boxes?
A: Yes, absolutely. Of all the surfaces COVID-19 loves to cling to, cardboard is a favorite. By some estimates, coronavirus can inhabit the surface of a cardboard box for up to 24 hours. It’s terrifying, considering how many of our goods are packed in the stuff — especially Amazon deliveries.
So before you bust out the box-cutter and dive into your precious cargo, make sure to open boxes the right way. You have to handle what you ordered inside the box correctly, too. In some cases, you can ask delivery drivers to leave your order in a secure location, where you should wait to pick it up until the virus has assuredly gone away.
Q: You offer a dozen different email newsletters. Which three are the best?
A: I think they’re all the best, but I just launched a new free newsletter called The Current. It contains no ads, just tech news, analyses and links to content where you can read more. It comes out twice a week. Tap or click here to sign up.
The most important newsletter is probably Fraud & Security Alerts, which is only released when there is time-sensitive information that could save you from cybercrime. Breaking Tech News is great for people who want the latest information because I send it out daily. Tap or click here to subscribe to my newsletters.
Q: I’d like to get my taxes done while I am sitting at home. What is the best software to use?
A: This idea is smart. Most folks know that the annual tax deadline has been moved to July 15, which is an incredible luxury for flustered citizens in quarantine. At the same time, it’s an easy thing to put off and still end up doing at the last minute. And by then, your financial situation might be completely different.
The key is to find software that is secure and dependable. Free or inexpensive software is great, but you want to make sure it comes from a trusted source. Hackers and cybercriminals would love to get their hands on your return — or even just your Social Security number. Tap or click here to get started on your taxes now.
Pay with your phone
Q: Now with COVID-19, I don’t like using cash or my credit card at the drugstore. I see kids paying with their phones. How does that work?
A: The very act of swiping and inserting those plastic cards has the potential to spread the virus, even if they seem more hygienic than regular cash. The best contact is no contact at all. If you must visit a store in person, your best choice is to use a payment method like Apple Pay or Google Pay, which doesn’t require you to actually touch anything.
Both systems are easy to set up and are usable with almost any recent iPhone or Android. The systems have become widespread in recent years, and they’ve become a real boon during the health crisis. You can also use it to send money to family and friends. Tap or click here to pay with your mobile device.
Q: You said on your show that people could tap into your Zoom video conference calls unless you change settings. What do I need to do?
A: Zoom has exploded in popularity, now that people are isolated in their homes. And the service has been promoted to the go-to platform for meetings and social calls. There’s no denying Zoom is convenient, but it’s actually fairly easy for trolls to dive into your private conversation — and for you to have no idea how they managed to do it.
The truth is, a Zoom link is as easy to share as any other link, so anyone can access your room if you don’t make it private. The key is not to share that link with anyone you don’t trust in the first place. Next, you should modify the settings so that privacy is maintained, no matter who receives that link. This is pretty easy to do, but most people — even the Zoom-savvy — don’t realize how vulnerable their video conference is. Tap or click here to prevent video conference trolls.
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.