Neighbors steal my Internet
Q. Every evening when my neighbors get home, my Internet suddenly slows down to a crawl. Could they be doing something to it?
A. If you have an unsecured Wi-Fi network, it's possible they're connecting to your network and using your Internet to watch movies. You can log in to your wireless router and look at the list of connected gadgets to see if there are any you don't recognize. Or you can use the free Wireless Network Watcher program to do the same thing but in a more user-friendly fashion. Either way, secure your network and make sure it's using the most recent encryption with a strong password. Otherwise neighbors, or hackers, can do whatever they want, including illegal activities that can leave you on the hook with law enforcement. Click here to secure your Wi-Fi now.
Stop a text from sending
Q. I listen to your national radio show in Chicago on WLS 890 AM and need your help. I sent a text message to Dad that I meant to send to my boyfriend, David. We all got a few laughs over the salacious content. Now, I knew the mistake I made when I did it. Can you stop a message from sending on your iPhone?
A. There's a secret way that can help curb these cringe-worthy moments. While a message is sending, as indicated by the word "Sending" at the top of your iMessage screen, you have a precious moment to change your mind before it is gone forever. Open up the Control Center and put your phone in Airplane Mode. You have to act quickly! Click here for screenshots of the steps and how to confirm your message was stopped.
Keep tabs on your teen driver
Q. I’m getting an ulcer worrying about my son driving on his own soon. We've had every safety talk you can imagine, but I'd still feel better knowing for sure how he's driving. Is there an app for that?
A. Put the Canary - Teen Safety app (Android, Apple; free) on your teen's phone and your phone. Canary will alert you if your teen is using the phone while driving, going faster than the limit you set, traveling into "off-limits" areas you set up or staying out past curfew. It also lets you know if bad weather is rolling in. The app can't disable your teen's phone remotely, so you need to keep talking with him about the dangers of using his phone while driving. Click here for a collection of sobering videos that you can show your teen to drive home the dangers of distracted driving.
Keep track of travel expenses
Q. I travel a lot for work, and in the rush to get there and back I often forget to jot down items I can expense. What's an easy way to track my travel expenses so I can get reimbursed?
A. A great app for keeping track of business expenses is Expensify (Android, Apple, Windows Phone; free). Expensify automatically creates reports right from the photo of a receipt. You can track the hours you worked with a tap, and it also tracks mileage using GPS or with a picture of the car's odometer. The app will link up with your bank account or credit card to pull transactions that don't have receipts. It can even generate IRS-guaranteed eReceipts. And best of all for you, it's compatible with major accounting software for easy report submission, or you can create a PDF to submit. Click here for more apps to digitize paper receipts and documents for business or your personal life.
Block distracting websites
Q. My job lets me work from home two days each week. I'm so very tempted by Facebook and games with no boss over my shoulder. I don't want to lose this privilege. Is there a way to turn off non-work sites during my work hours?
A. This is a job for Cold Turkey. Simply choose websites from a list that you want to block, or add your own sites. You can also set up groups of sites that you block often so you don't have to pick them every time. Next, set the amount of time to block the sites and click the Cold Turkey button. Those sites will be inaccessible on every browser for the period you chose. Just double-check your settings, because you can block sites up to three days with the free version of the program, and you can't uninstall the program while it's blocking. Did you like this tip? Click here for more ways to improve your work productivity.
Bonus: Secret to faster computer starts
Q. I hate to turn off my computer these days because it takes forever to boot back up. Is there a way to speed it up to where it used to be?
A. Computers slow down over time for many reasons. What slows down the startup is usually third-party programs that try to run while the computer is starting. The more information a computer has to process at once, the slower it goes. The fix is to disable the programs that don't really need to be running from the get-go; you can always run them later if you need to. Windows has a built-in system to do this, but I prefer the program Autoruns because it's better at explaining what programs you're disabling. That makes it easier to avoid disabling things that should start right away, like your security program.
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.