Find a long-lost classmate
Q. I'm organizing a *cough*-year reunion, and I'm trying to track down a few old schoolmates of mine from way back. I tried Facebook, but came up empty. Where else can I look?
A. Even with 1.3 billion users, Facebook isn't always the best place to hunt down people, especially if they have common names. Instead, try a people search site like PeekYou or Spokeo. These collect public information on people, including names, phone numbers, email addresses, current addresses and even where they used to live. This gives you a better shot of finding people, especially if you know only their past addresses and they've moved since. Not happy having these sites collecting your information? Click here for the specific steps to take to remove your information from online directories.
Save passwords at work
Q. Is it safe to let the browser on my work computer save my passwords for Facebook, Twitter and Gmail? It sure beats typing them in every time!
A. Your work computer is the property of your employer, which means your employer can legally access your computer and pull saved passwords from your browser. While it might be convenient to have your browser save your password, it certainly isn't secure. I don't recommend saving your passwords, and if you already have, you can quickly clear them out with a program like CCleaner. If you want to delete individual passwords from your browser, click here to learn how to see and remove your saved passwords in any browser.
Create a free security camera
Q. I think my roommate is sneaking into my room when I'm at school, but I don't want to accuse her without proof. It would be great to have a security camera to watch my room while I'm out, but I don't have money to buy one. Do you have any suggestions for something cheaper, Kim?
A. If you have a spare smartphone or tablet lying around, you can turn it into a motion-activated security camera with an app like Salient Eye (Android, Free) or Manything (Apple, Free). Just set the gadget on a stand, point the camera at the door and you'll get instant alerts when someone enters the room. Of course, that's not all you can do with these apps. Click here for more fun and cool uses for a homemade security camera.
Improve photos taken with your smartphone
Q. I use my smartphone to take pictures instead of a point-and-shoot camera. It's convenient because I always have it with me, but the quality isn't always as good as I'd like. Are there any tricks to getting better photos with a smartphone camera?
A. One thing a lot of people get wrong is using the digital zoom to get close to their subject. This feature doesn't actually "zoom" like a high-end camera; it just blows up the existing image and crops it, which reduces image quality. You're better off moving your feet to get in closer. Learn more about setting up good composition, avoiding lens flare, proper flash management and much more for Android and Apple smartphones.
Find out if the government is spying on you
Q. I heard on your radio show how the government is spying on people, and it got me really worried. How do I know if I'm one of the people being tracked?
A. The government has some very powerful spy viruses, including two called FinFisher and Hacking Team RCS. These viruses have several ways of slipping onto your computer to read your emails, listen in on calls, snoop on you using the computer's microphone or camera, and more. Fortunately, you can detect them using an open-source program called Detekt. Click here to download and run it, and to learn more about how the government slips spy software onto your gadgets.
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On the Kim Komando Show, the nation's largest weekend radio talk show, Kim takes calls and dispenses advice on today's digital lifestyle, from smartphones and tablets to online privacy and data hacks. For her daily tips, free newsletters and more, visit her website at Komando.com. Kim also posts breaking tech news 24/7 at News.Komando.com.