KOMANDO Q&A: How can I do a background check for free?
Q. I need to do a background check on someone I know. Are there any ways to do this for free?
A. You’d be surprised what a simple Google search can turn up about someone.
Once you’ve done that, search for them on other sites like PeekYou, too. That rounds up their social media profiles to find out things about them. If that’s not enough information about them, you can use BeenVerified’s free app to do one background search about a person per month. It searches court records and other public information for questionable activities. You can look through those records yourself on your state court’s site, too.
Q. The image quality on my new HDTV doesn’t look quite right. Did I get a defective model? Should I call a professional to take care of it?
A. It’s more likely you just need to calibrate the TV. You can get close to a professional picture for free. Start with the site TweakTV. It has ideal settings for your specific TV model that you can plug in for a much better picture. If you want an even more advanced calibration, some movies come with a calibration disc built in. Search your collection for one of these titles or request one from Netflix. Those walk you through a THX-approved calibration process fairly easily. THX even has a free app that can remarkably improve your TV’s picture and sound. If all that fails, or you’re setting up a high-end home theater room, consult a professional.
Q. I want to buy a Kindle but I don’t really know the difference. What can a Kindle Fire do that a regular Kindle can’t?
A. Confusingly, the Kindle and Kindle Fire are actually two different gadgets. The Kindle is an e-reader. If you just need a gadget to read things on the go, then the Kindle Paperwhite e-reader is your best bet. The Fire, on the other hand, is a full tablet. Even though the Fire has a Kindle app built in, e-readers are almost always better for your eyes. The battery life is much better, too. However, if you want to surf or play games, than grab the Kindle Fire or Kindle Fire HD. Even though some Kindle e-readers have a browser, it’s nowhere near as good as browsing on a tablet.
Q. I’m nearing my computer’s space limit. How can I free up some space on my hard drive?
A. The easiest way is with Window’s built-in Disk Utility. You can find this in Windows XP, Vista and 7 by going to Start>>Computer, right-clicking “Local Disk (C:)” and selecting properties. In Windows 8, click or tap Search and type in Disk Cleanup. Then tap or click “Settings” and then “Free up disk space by deleting unnecessary files.” After the scan runs, you can check boxes for “Recycle Bin,” “Debug Dump Files,” and “System error memory dump files.” You can delete previous versions of Windows if they pop-up, too. If that doesn’t clear up enough space, use TreeSize or WizTree to find large files you no longer need.
Q. My friend recently said that Facebook gave her a virus. Is this possible? How can I stop it from infecting me?
A. It’s absolutely possible. Scam posts and malicious Facebook apps make it easy for scammers to slip a virus onto your computer. The most popular way they do this is through scam posts. These are usually videos or an app that ask you to update a “driver” before they let you access the content. When you click OK, you’re actually downloading a virus and spamming your friends. To sniff out any scams you’ve posted, use the Social Media Scanner by ESET. You also should double check sites like Snopes or Facecrooks to see if something is a scam before you post it.
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.