Secure your online banking
Q. With the constant data breaches going on, I'm worried about the safety of banking online. Should I just give up on it? If not, how can I make it safe?
A. The JPMorgan Chase breach last year leaked information for 80 million customers regardless of whether they banked online, so avoiding online banking won't necessarily make you any safer in a breach. To improve banking safety from your end, start by making sure you have a strong, unique password. That means 10 characters or more with a mix of uppercase, lowercase, numbers and symbols. You should also make sure the answer to your security question isn't something anyone can guess. Of course, that's just the basics. Here are two more steps you need to take to make sure you're even more secure.
Use your TV as a computer monitor
Q. Is it possible to use a TV as a computer monitor for a living room or office?
A. Yes, as long as you view it from a distance. A TV won't work close up like a regular computer monitor. Ideally, to hook up a computer to a TV you should use an HDMI cable, but many computers don't have HDMI ports. In that case, get a DVI-to-HDMI adapter. If your computer only has VGA, I'd consider adding a discrete graphics card with HDMI or getting a new computer. Once the TV is connected, change your computer's screen resolution to match (usually 1920x1080 for an HDTV) and you're done. Click here to learn more about choosing the right TV for this task, alternative connection options and other handy TV and computer tricks.
The lowdown on streaming music services
Q. I heard on your national radio show that Apple is releasing Apple Music to compete with Pandora, Spotify, Google Play Music and other streaming music services. How do they all compare?
A. Each major streaming service has a comparable music library of around 30 million songs – except Pandora, which only nudges 15 million. But every service except Apple Music has a free option. For Apple Music, you have to pay $9.99 a month, which is roughly the same amount as the other services' paid options – except Pandora’s, which costs $4.99. Apple does compensate with a huge three-month trial period, and it does have a free streaming option called Beats 1 in the works, but details on that are scarce. To get more details on how Apple Music stacks up to its competitors, check out my handy streaming music service comparison chart.
A better way to share Netflix
Q. Netflix always recommends movies and shows that my wife likes, but I don't. How can I get some of my favorite types of shows in there, too?
A. Create your own Netflix profile. That way, Netflix bases your recommendations only on what you watch. On the Netflix website, click "Manage Profiles" in the top right corner to get started. If you want to tweak the recommendations in your existing account, go to the Netflix site and under "Your Account" load the Taste Preferences survey. This will tell you what Netflix thinks it knows about you, so you can adjust it away from your wife's tastes exclusively. Is Netflix not streaming at full quality? Here are some ways to improve your streaming speed and more.
Fun Google 'Easter eggs'
Q. My friend had me type "Askew" in the Google Search bar and the search window tilted. I didn't know programmers put in little tricks like that. Are there any more fun ones I can show my friend?
A. Among programmers, these little hidden tricks are called "Easter eggs," and Google has plenty more. Typing "Do a barrel roll" causes the entire window to rotate in homage to the old Nintendo game "Star Fox." Typing "Zerg Rush" brings in a flood of enemies, like its namesake from the game "Starcraft." There are more that cause everything on the search results page to experience gravity, let you play guitar, put Google underwater and more. Click here to find out how to get these fun Easter eggs in your browser.
Bonus: The truth behind common charging advice
Q. I keep hearing conflicting advice about charging batteries. Should I always let my smartphone battery run down to zero, or should I charge it whenever I can?
A. The answer is actually somewhere in between. Gadgets with lithium-ion batteries last longest when you keep them between 40 percent and 80 percent. If you go under or over, it's no big deal, but keeping them in that range is ideal. Occasionally, you might want to let the battery run down to near zero to recalibrate its built-in energy meter, but that only needs to be done every few months. However, Apple says you never have to run down Apple products anymore, so check with your gadget's manufacturer. Battery charging isn't the only tech myth flying around. Click here as I bust six more.
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