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Tech Q&A: Car's black box, online snooping, cheap flights and more

File photo.

File photo.  (REUTERS/Francois Lenoir )

Your car's 'black box'

Q. I read on Komando.com that new cars have black boxes much like airplanes. Our cars record how and where we drive. Can you tell me exactly what they are recording?

A. By law, the black box records a minimum of 15 data points in a crash, such as vehicle speed, throttle position, airbag deployment times, whether the brakes were applied, if seatbelts were worn, engine speed, steering angles and similar things. Manufacturers may also include up to 30 additional data points if they want, but they claim it doesn't include GPS location, video or audio. Does this bother you? Click here for the steps you need to take to keep control of the information.

Doesn’t like daughter’s boyfriend

Q. My adult daughter met a guy and she's head over heels, but I don’t like him one bit. What's the best way to do a little online digging about him?

A. Start with a Google search of his name. Be sure to put his full name in quotes so you only turn up people with that name. You can also add a college, company name, organization, city or state outside the quotes. If you aren't turning up much, use a people search site like PeekYou. It will give you an overview of his life, but you'll need to pay to get any of the juicy details. Facebook is a treasure trove of personal details. Just sign-in and search for his account. Same at Instagram. You can also go to your local court's website and see if it has public records available for search. If you want to keep digging, click here for more ways uncover people's secrets online.

Google tracking shocker

Q. I was poking around in my phone’s settings and I saw something called Google Location History. Wow! It contains a list of dozens of places I have been in the past few weeks. I'm really upset about this. What can I do?

A. Google records your location for the last 30 days to help it provide better mapping and Google Now suggestions. You can turn it off. Go to Google's Location History page to see what data it has stored. Click "Delete all history." Then click the gear icon in the upper right corner and in History Settings set "Places you go" to paused. On an iPhone, go to the Google Search app, tap your profile picture and choose Settings. Then tap Privacy>>Location and slide "Location reporting" off. You can also tap "Location history" to delete what it's already stored. In Android, go to Settings>>Location>>Google Location history and turn it Off. Also tap "Delete Location History" at the bottom of the screen. Shocker, this isn't the only information Google has about you. Click here to get a program that shows everything Google is tracking about you.

Find cheap, last-minute flights

Q. I regularly travel for business, but it's usually at the last minute. Is there any way to find cheap flights?

A. Airlines love you, flying at the last minute on business days! Google Flights is a fantastic site that quickly shows you the days and times with the cheapest flights. Before you buy, though, visit Airfare Watchdog. This scours airline sites for deals and pulls them into one easy-to-find place. Reality check: Saving money is good, but sometimes the savings just aren't worth the extra agony. Check out Hipmunk to find flights with the best balance of cost and convenience. Remember, you might be eligible for a refund if the flight ends up delayed, canceled or altered after you book. So it's a good idea to have an app like Flight Aware. This way, you know your flight’s status before you hit the airport.

Should I buy a computer or a tablet?

Q. It's time to replace my old computer and I was wondering if it might be better to get a tablet instead. What are the pros and cons?

A. If you just use your computer for Web browsing, email, Facebook, light gaming and watching online videos, a tablet makes a good computer replacement. It works on the couch, in bed or anywhere else you want to take it. You can also add a third-party keyboard for easier typing. Plus, you can find solid tablets for less than $200, which beats nearly any computer price. On the other hand, if you're editing photos or videos, doing heavy gaming or need a large screen, stick with a computer. Still not quite sure? Click here for more pros and cons of tablets vs. computers.

Bonus: A few insanely new cool apps

Q. I was listening to your national radio show’s podcast and you mentioned two apps I was interested in. One connects you with blind people so you can help them answer questions that require sight, and the other automatically deleted swear words out of eBooks. Can you give me links to these apps?

A. The two apps you're asking about are Be My Eyes (Apple; Free) and Clean Reader (Android, Apple; Free). Some other apps I'm digging recently are Yummly (Android, Apple; Free) for finding and storing fantastic recipes; Guidecentral DIY (Android, Apple; Free) to find great tutorials and how-tos for crafts and other great homemade projects, including beauty tips, delicious homemade recipes and other life hacks; and Spylight (Apple; Free), which gives me shopping links to the clothing some of my favorite TV and movie characters are wearing. With so many apps, let me do the heavy lifting for you. I have a complete App Review and Recommendations site.

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.