Apps for the road trip of a lifetime
Q. We are packing up the car and headed on the road trip of a lifetime this summer. What apps do we need to make this trip fun and easy?
A. For getting directions and monitoring traffic, use an app like Google Maps or Waze. An app like GasBuddy will help you find the cheapest gas. Apps like Airbnb or Kayak can find you good places to stay, and Roadside America can point you to fun "tourist traps" along your route. Finally, you'll want the AAA app to get you out of a jam or in case of emergency. Using your phone's GPS coordinates, AAA can locate you and your vehicle and send a technician or tow truck out to you.
Organize your digital photos
Q. I have hundreds upon hundreds of photos floating around on my computer. What's the best way to get them organized?
A. Microsoft has the Windows Essentials Photo Gallery for Windows 7 and 8 that makes it easy to tag and sort your photos. You can even do basic editing with cropping, color adjusting, and red-eye removal. Macs have iPhoto, which provides much the same function as Photo Gallery, with tagging and sorting available as well as editing. There are also third-party programs available for both systems. One of the best is Google's Picasa. It helps you organize by date, create event albums, identify and sort by the people in the photos and much more.
Take back a domain name
Q. I've run a website for the last 8 years and the domain name is my real name. When I first purchased the domain name, it was through a small Web hosting company which has since sold the business to someone else. I must have gotten lost in the shuffle with renewals because one day a friend noticed my site had been taken over and was now in Japanese. How do I get my domain name back?
A. I would consider hiring a trademark attorney to trademark your name. That could cost you up to $2,000, but if your site is essential to your business, it will be worth it, and for more reasons than to just get your site back. Click here to find an attorney. You will also want to check out ICANN's Uniform Domain-Name Dispute-Resolution Policy. Once your name is trademarked, find out who the new Web hosting company is. You will need to prove to them that you own the trademark and they should give you the rights back to your site and domain name.
Free online marketing
Q. I've developed a new medical device that's headed to the market soon. I've done some work on a website for it, but now I need to know how to market it. How should I go about getting my product seen?
A. A strong online presence is a must in marketing. You will want to buy ads on Google under the keywords appropriate to your product. When you do this, your product should come up toward the top of Google search results. You will also want to create a Facebook page and perhaps a Twitter account. Click here for more details on how to use Facebook to market your small business. Another good idea is to create a YouTube video detailing the product that shows your passion and creativity. This video should get people excited about what you are selling.
Once you have each of these set up, you should issue a press release that includes links to these sites and videos. Send the press release to bloggers in the field of your product, or release it on a site like PR Newswire. Once you get the bloggers and writers excited about your product, you have free publicity in the form of reviews or other articles. Just make sure the reviewers link back to one of your sites to help with your Google search ranking.
Safe banking on the go
Q. I travel a lot and do my banking on the go. Is it safe to bank on public Wi-Fi?
A. The answer is a firm "No." You could be on the same Wi-Fi network as hackers. Even with security measures in place, they can still nab your usernames and passwords. So, reserve using sensitive sites for home or use your cellular connection, which is harder to crack. Also, on a smartphone or tablet, using a bank's app - if it has one - is safer than using its website. Read more of my rules for staying safe on public Wi-Fi here.
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.