How the FBI got Petraeus’ email and tracked Broadwell
Q. I’ve been following the Petraeus sex scandal since it started, but I don’t quite understand the deal with the email. How was the email being hidden and how did the FBI still find it?
A. To communicate secretly, Gen. David Petraeus and Paula Broadwell used a fairly simple trick that terrorists, and some teenagers, use. They created an email account under a fake name that both could access. When one of them wrote a message, they wouldn’t send it, so the message stayed in the email account’s draft folder. The other person would read the message in the draft folder and then write a response using the same trick. With no incoming or outgoing email, it is much harder for hackers, or government investigators in this case, to snoop on you.
For the full details of how the FBI figured it out, and how you can improve on this trick, click here to read the in-depth report on my site.
Save big with online promo codes
Q. I prefer to do my holiday shopping online. Is there any way to save the same amount online as I would in-store?
A. Many stores give you the same holiday deals online that they give you in stores. In addition, you can use promo codes to have even more savings. Retailers usually pass them out to customers as part of loyalty or email programs, but there are some sites online that collect them.
Check out KeyCode, Current Codes, Coupon Cabin and RetailMeNot. The last two have mobile apps that you can use, too.
Most retailers don’t mind when their coupon codes reach the general public, because it still generates great sales for them.
Buy a computer for seniors
Q. My grandmother says she’d like to start video chatting with me and my children. I need to find a simple computer for her for Christmas. What do you think?
A. Google’s latest Chromebook checks in at $250 and is incredibly simple to use. It’s a good gadget for browsing and email, and she can use Google Chat or other apps for video chat.
Plus, it uses a sandboxing feature that makes rookie computer users less likely to hit viruses. However, all of these options require always-on Web access to work, which could be frustrating on slow or intermittent connections.
If you’re willing to spend a little more, there are some senior-friendly computers on the market. These offer user-friendly operating systems and easy-to-read screens.
Telikin computers, one of the most popular of these, start at about $600.
Of course, for basic use, tablets are quickly replacing low-cost desktops. I’ll tell you if a tablet will work for your needs.
Hide private content on your mobile gadget
Q. I have a couple of adult sensitive files on my tablet that I don’t want anyone to see. My children like to play games on my tablet, though. Is there anyone way I can password protect the files?
A. There are apps that can act as vault for your more “sensitive” files. Hide It Pro works on both Androids and iOS gadgets.
It looks like an audio manager for people who don’t know how the app works. It actually controls your alarm, media and ringer volume, too.
However, when you tap and hold a certain part of the app, it opens up a password-protected lockbox. You can hide photos, video files and even contact history in there. That way your children won’t accidentally stumble upon it and see something they weren’t supposed to.
Kim Komando hosts the nation’s largest talk radio show about consumer electronics, computers and the Internet. Hear it locally at 94.3 WSC News Radio noon-3 p.m. Sundays. For more information, go to www.komando.com.