You’ve got tech questions, here are the answers. Kim Komando helps you make the most of your technology by answering your thorniest tech questions. So if you’re wondering what to buy, how to plug it in, or how to fix it, Kim can help.
Can a tablet replace cable TV?
Q. I really want to stop paying money every month for cable, but I don’t want to miss my shows. Would a tablet help me cut the cord?
A. It certainly could. Since tablets stream video from Netflix , HBO and other sites, you can find plenty to watch. Some tablets even support streaming from microHDMI or HDMI ports so you can plug them right in to your TV. I wouldn’t recommend a tablet solely for cutting the cord unless you already have one, though. The starting price for a tablet is at least $200 compared to the $50 starting price of streaming media boxes like the Roku LT. A streaming box is easier to plug in to your TV and can stream everything that a tablet can, often more. See what streaming gadgets are available and how they stack up here.
Speed up your boot time
Q. As my computer gets older, it takes forever to boot. Is this a permanent thing or can I speed things up a little bit?
A. Computers will lose speed over time, but you can noticeably trim your boot times with the right programs. Autoruns is a personal favorite of mine. It helps you disable programs that turn on automatically when you start your computer. You can clear some of these out yourself by going to Start>>All Programs>>Startup and remove program icons. This stops the programs from starting up without deleting them. If you want programs to turn on automatically but still want to speed things up, try a program like Startup Delayer or TopWinPrio. These help you manager your computer’s resources to stop logjams at startup.
Smartphone camera vs. point-and-shoot
Q. I’m taking a trip soon and I want to snap some pictures. Do I need to buy a point-and-shoot camera or can I just use my smartphone?
A. It depends. Newer smartphones with 8-megapixel cameras, or higher, eliminate the need for a dedicated point-and-shoot. With a photo-editing app like Snapseed, you might even be able to take some great shots with a phone that has a 5MP camera. However, if you’re looking to take photographs like a pro, I don’t recommend a point-and-shoot or a smartphone. You’ll want a DSLR or a hybrid point-and-shoot like the Panasonic Lumix, Pentax Q or Canon PowerShot S. These will blow smartphone and point-and-shoot photos out of the water.
Make your emails more private
Q. Whenever I send an email to multiple people, everyone can see every email address. Is there any way to prevent this?
A. You bet! It’s called BCC, or blind carbon copy. In most email programs it’s right next to the To: and CC: fields, or at least in that area. Some email programs, like Thunderbird, can change the To: field to BCC: with a click. To and CC send emails with visible addresses, but every address you put in the BCC field stays hidden. For forwards and mass email to people who might not know each other, I would use BCC for all the addresses. If your email program requires something in the To field, use your own email address.
Multiple Accounts on iOS gadgets
Q. My friend’s Nexus 7 supports multiple user accounts. Is there a way I could do this on my iPad? I’d like to set up a locked account that my kids can use to play games and nothing else.
A. Sadly, there’s no way to do this on Apple gadgets yet. You can download the Our Pad app, but that only works for browsing and social media, and it costs $3. If your tablet’s running iOS 6, however, you can enable a feature called Guided Access for free. Go to Settings>>General>>Accessibility>>Guided Access to set it up. Create a password and choose to disable or enable screen sleep — that’s it! Now, whenever your child wants to play, launch their game and tap the Home button three times to bring up the Guided Access menu. It locks the tablet to just the active app. To exit, tap Home three times and enter your passcode.
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.