Q. My friend recently had a thief walk up and snatch her smartphone — in public. How can people avoid this in the future?
A. I feel so sorry for your friend. The best way to avoid being a victim of theft is to be alert. Don’t focus too heavily on your gadget while you use it in public. When you’re not using it, keep it stashed away. Don’t ever leave out in the open on a table or counter. You should also have an app that can remotely wipe and track your phone. I like Carbonite Mobile and Find my iPhone.
If your gadget is stolen, make sure you change all of your online account passwords. You never know what a thief can grab from your accounts in a matter of minutes.
Upgrade your camera
Q. My camera is a couple of years old. It’s a little slow and I think a new camera would be a good purchase. Do you think I should upgrade?
A. You might not have to. Cameras require updates just like smartphones and computers. Updating your camera’s firmware can add speed and new features. Go to the manufacturer’s official site to find new firmware. Your manual might tell you a few easy ways to download an update, too.
If you’re missing your manual, search for it on this site. Once you have the update, plug your camera into your computer. Make sure it has a blank SD card inside; otherwise your files might get scrambled during the update.
Q. I saw someone selling an old version of Office on eBay. Is this OK for me to buy?
A. Technically, no. There are a bunch of legal decisions on the topic of selling used software, but no final say. However, Office’s End User License Agreement specifically prohibits unofficial third-party sales.
Granted, the European Union recently said it was OK anyway. That means a new court case could change this standard, like I discuss in this tip. However, I doubt you want to fight a gigantic legal team like Microsoft’s. Download a free office suite like LibreOffice instead.
Q. I’m not seeing that many amazing deals on Amazon or eBay for things I want to buy. Do you know of any other deal sites?
A. Sometimes, the best deals are on lesser-known sites. It doesn’t hurt to explore daily-deal sites such as Woot.
However, surplus and confiscated goods usually mean absurdly good deals for you. Check out Govdeals to find items confiscated from airlines. I found bulk laptops for as little as $75 apiece.
USA.gov has a list of similar surplus auctions in your area. These are an easy way to scoop up used goods at bargain-basement deals.
Old computer recipes
Q. I just bought a new computer. Most of my recipes are saved on my old computer, though. What should I do?
A. You could just move the files over with a portable drive or a backup service. However, I have a slightly better idea. Why not turn your old computer into a full-time kitchen gadget? You can load it with recipes using a site like epicurious. It’ll be like having a personal chef right next to you as you cook! Plus, you won’t have to worry about messy fingers dirtying up your new computer.
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.