Q. I don’t like the government or some company using my phone to track where I go. Will turning off the GPS be enough to keep me off the radar?
A. GPS isn’t the only way someone can track your phone. The way your cell provider tracks you is through cellular towers. It knows what towers are in range of your phone and, of course, it knows where the towers are located. From there it doesn’t take much work to narrow down your general location. The accuracy depends on the provider and how many towers are nearby. Advertising companies, app developers and others can access this system for a price. One company offers a free demo. Try it on your own phone. Click here to find the exact location of any phone.
Q. I was recently shoe shopping online and saw a pair of boots so ugly that I had to click on them. Since then, ads for those boots have been following me on Facebook and every site I visit. I used to think ad tracking was creepy, but now it’s just annoying. Help!
A. Facebook and about 175 other major companies are part of the Digital Advertising Alliance. That means they play by the same rules when it comes to respecting consumer choice. You can use a tool on the DAA’s website to opt out of “online behavioral advertising” and make those ugly boots disappear for good. Click here to scan and remove targeted ads from your computer.
Q. My Kindle broke and I don’t have the money to replace it right now. Is there any way I can still read the eBooks I bought from Amazon, or am I stuck?
A. If you have a computer, smartphone or tablet, you’re going to be fine. Click here to download the Kindle program that runs on a PC or Mac or here for the app that runs on your tablet or phone. Using either, you can read books without a Kindle. They work great. Read your Amazon eBooks right where you left off, complete with annotations. More good news for families: Amazon’s new Family Library feature lets you freely share books and more across two Amazon accounts. You can also share with up to four children. Click here to learn more about sharing Kindle books.
Q. I’m searching online for a divorce attorney. I don’t want my husband to find out. Any tips?
A. Your best bet is to use a computer that’s not in your house. Still, if you must, hit CTRL + SHIFT + P in most browsers (CTRL + SHIFT + N in Chrome) to open a private browsing window or tab, which means your browser won’t save anything you do. Simply close the browser to erase all traces of your activity. If you’ve already been searching, records of your search are still in your browser or in Google’s search history. To wipe your browser, use a free program like CCleaner and be sure to select browser history for each installed browser. Then, you’ll want to click here for instructions to erase your search history from Google. Keep gadgets germ-free
Q. I don’t want to get the flu this year, Kim, so I’m cleaning my PC, smartphone and tablet nonstop. Is there any way that cleaning could damage them?
A. You shouldn’t dunk them in a bucket of hot water or cleaner, but I’m sure you already knew that. To clean your computer’s keyboard and mouse, use a disinfectant wipe. Avoid sprays as that might force fluid into the sensitive electronics. For cleaning computer and mobile screens, I recommend a microfiber cloth. Don’t use paper towels as those might cause scratches. To get rid of germs, mix up a 1-to-1 solution of water and white vinegar or rubbing alcohol, and then use that to lightly dampen the cloth before wiping. Avoid glass cleaners as the ammonia can damage some types of screens. Click here for more steps on how clean your TV, tablet, and phone the right way.
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. Kim also posts breaking tech news 24/7 at News.Komando.com.