5 burning tech questions answered

You've got tech questions, we've found the answers. We help you make the most of your technology by answering your thorniest tech questions. So if you're wondering what to buy, how to plug it in, or how to fix it, we can help.

What should I buy on Black Friday?
Q. What are going to be the best deals on tech gear next Friday? Is there any tech gear I shouldn't buy?

A. You'll see big discounts on the previous year's hot video games, since they make great gifts for teens. With the next generation of consoles right around the corner, game systems will be hugely discounted, too. DVD and Blu-ray prices will see deep price cuts. Usually, you should stay away from laptops until January, but there might be some sweet deals on Windows 8 computers, if you're interested in upgrading. If you're giving a TV for Christmas, buy it now. However, if you're just looking to upgrade your home theater, wait until right before the Super Bowl. The first week of February is when TV deals are the best.

Do I need a screensaver?
Q. My screensaver kept turning on when I'm watching movies online, so I turned it off. Will this hurt my computer?

A. Screensavers used to be important when everyone had CRT monitors, because images could "burn into" your monitor. LCDs don't really have this problem, so, no, it doesn't hurt to turn your screensaver off. Many computer users love them, though. They're a fun way to show off your personality and customize your computer.

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You can have a screensaver of your favorite pictures, sports team or hobby. You can even make your own with programs like PhotoJoy. Plus, when your screensaver turns on, it locks your computer to protect it from snoopers. You can lock your computer manually by going to Start>>Lock, but a screensaver protects you if you forget.

Stop ad tracking on your iPhone
Q. I heard a rumor that advertisers are tracking people in iOS 6. Is this true? Can I stop it?

A. Yes and yes. iOS 6 added a feature called Identifier for Advertisers. It's a unique number that follows you wherever you surf online. Advertisers can use it to track you. To disable it, go to Settings>>General>>About>>Advertising. Look for the section labeled "Limit Ad Tracking" and turn the slider to the "On" position (yes, I said "On"). Then, load in your gadget's browser. A screen that asks if you want to opt out of Interest Based iAds will pop up. Move the slider to the "Off" position. You'll still see ads, but they won't be targeted.

Do memory card speeds matter?
Q. I went to buy a memory card for my new digital camera, but I kept seeing weird ratings for their read and write speeds. What do these really mean?

A. Read and write speeds for SD memory cards are measured in classes. A higher class means a faster card, so you'll see Class 2, 4, 6 and 10. Stick with 4 or 6 for photos and 6 or 10 if you shoot video with your camera. If your camera supports Class UHS-I, that's an even faster card. For CompactFlash cards, you'll see ratings like 50x, 133x, 266x, 300x and 600x. Take the speed and multiply it by 150KB per second - so 133x would be about 20 megabytes per second. 266x is a good speed for most people. Keep in mind that some CompactFlash makers advertise read speed instead of write speed. Make sure you know how a card is measured before you buy. Make sure you know the signs for a counterfeit memory card, too.

Watch DVDs in Windows 8
Q. I just upgraded to Windows 8. I'm trying to watch DVDs in Windows Media Player, but it's not working. Am I doing something wrong?

A. Microsoft dropped DVD support in Windows Media Player for Windows 8. If you want to play DVDs, you have to upgrade to Windows Media Center. That isn't free and isn't the most powerful or customizable option for watching DVDs. Instead, I recommend VLC Media Player. It works with more formats than the standard options that come with Windows, so it can play video from all over the Web. It can run in a window, unlike Windows Media Center, so it's better for multi-tasking, too.

Copyright 2012, WestStar Multimedia Entertainment. All rights reserved. Kim Komando hosts the nation's largest talk radio show about consumer electronics, computers and the Internet. To get the podcast, visit To subscribe to Kim's free email newsletters, sign-up at