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KOMANDO Q&A: Are there alternatives to Facebook?

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Q. I keep hearing that Facebook does really questionable things as far as privacy is concerned. Are there any services that can replace it?

A. I like Glassboard because it’s extra-private by default, the exact opposite of Facebook. Your posts are only shared with those you specify and the service doesn’t sell any of your information to advertisers.

ChatterTree is another private solution, but it’s designed with families in mind. That doesn’t mean you can’t use it with friends, it just isn’t as ideal.

However, people don’t love Facebook for its services; they love it because all their friends are on it. If you want a true social networking experience, make sure you share whichever site you move to with all of your friends.

Q. I’m a writer, and I’m looking to sell digital copies of my work. How should I get started?

A. The best tool to add to your tool belt for this job is Calibre. It converts files to PDF, ePub and other file types that work well on ereaders. Just save a copy of your book to TXT or ODT and then convert in Calibre.

Upload to it a site like ePubBud or UploadNSell if you want to go it alone, or post it right to Amazon if you want that exposure.

Be careful, though: Amazon takes a chunk of your sales. Set your price lower than you would a print copy, probably as low as half or less. People are more likely to take a risk on your book if the price isn’t too high.

Q. I got some gadgets for Christmas that I don’t really want. Where should I sell them online?

A. Well, that depends. The easiest way to sell online is with used tech sites like Gazelle. It gives you a price quote based on the gadget’s condition, age and consumer demand. A new gadget that you just got should fetch a good sum. Gazelle sends all the stuff you need to ship it and it pays you in cash.

If you’re looking to make the most money, though, sell it yourself on a place like eBay. You can charge almost what the stores charge for a gadget that is still in its original packaging.

However, make sure you sell to someone that has a good reputation on eBay so you don’t encounter any hassles.

Q. My son wants a handheld gaming gadget for his birthday. I can’t decide whether to buy him a Kindle Fire or a Nintendo DS. Which do you think?

A. It really depends on what kind of games he plays. While tablets can play great iOS or Android games, these aren’t the handheld gaming characters he’s used to. You can find Sonic, but Mario, Pokemon and other favorites are DS-only.

Your best bet is to ask him what games he wants. If he mentions a particular game by name, look for it in the app stores. If it’s there, then feel free to buy him a tablet, since tablet games are usually cheaper or free. If the games he wants aren’t on tablets, buy a Nintendo DS.

Q. My mother just gave my daughter an iPod touch for Christmas. What sort of parental controls does it have?

A. You can set up all sort of parental controls through the Restrictions menu. Go to Settings >> General >> Restrictions and set up a passcode.

That way your child won’t be able to tamper with the settings. After you do that, you can lock Safari, the App Store and other apps if you want.

The ones you lock will depend on how your child wants to use the touch and how responsible they are. You can replace Safari with a more kid-friendly browser such asBSecure.

I would turn off the ability to install or delete apps, and the ability to make in-app purchases, too. This is safer for your child and your wallet!

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

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