Stop Facebook from tracking you online
Q. Amazon and eBay are posting items I've looked at to my Facebook news feed. How can I stop them?
A. You'll be happy to know those are ads and not posts your friends can see. The reason Facebook is showing them is because, along with Amazon, eBay and more than a hundred other major companies, it's on an ad network called the Digital Advertising Alliance. When you shop on a participating site, the site sends the items you looked at to the entire network. Facebook also shares your public information with the network so shopping sites can better appeal to you. Find out how you can opt out of this ad targeting for Facebook and the rest of the DAA. If you want to know what kind of information Facebook is sharing with other sites, read to the end.
Charging confusion explained
Q. My boyfriend told me I shouldn't plug in my phone overnight because it might catch fire while I'm sleeping. Can that really happen?
A. No. Modern gadgets know to stop when the battery is full to avoid overcharging. The bigger danger is putting your gadget under your pillow or another suffocating place where it can't get enough air to stay cool. That can lead to overheating and possibly a fire. That isn't the only myth surrounding charging gadgets. Learn the truth behind more charging myths, as well as some other tech myths you shouldn't believe.
Does Microsoft have the Edge?
Q. I'm upgrading to Windows 10 and I was wondering if the new Edge browser is any good, or if I should stick with Chrome?
A. For Windows 10, Microsoft decided to ditch the aging Internet Explorer and its baggage for a brand new browser called Edge. So far, it looks like it made the right call. Edge is a little rough around the (wait for it) edges, running a bit slower than Internet Explorer and not having some key features yet. But it has the potential to be much better. It's already more secure and easier to use, and it gets better with every update. As for using Edge over Chrome or Firefox, that's up to you, though both browsers are faster and have more features, for now. Get more details on how Edge stacks up to its competition, and some features it has that other browsers don't.
A pattern is forming
Q. My wife heard on your radio show that using a pattern to unlock an Android smartphone isn't really that secure. Why is that?
A. A lock screen pattern should be more secure than the standard four-digit passcode because it allows patterns with up to nine points, which means over 140,000 possible combinations. Unfortunately, according to a recent study, most people only use four or five points and make similar pattern choices. For example, 77 percent of people start their pattern in one of the four corners, and 40 percent start in the top-left corner. At least 10 percent of people spell out a letter that has some significance to them, like a spouse or child's initial. That makes it easier for a hacker to guess. Click here for the rules to make a pattern that no one can crack.
Found in translation
Q. I'm heading on an overseas trip and I'd like to take along a translator app to help me communicate. What's a good one?
A. Google Translate (Apple, Android; free) helps you translate more than 80 languages. You can type in words, handwrite them or even speak them. Even better, Google bought Word Lens and added its features, which means you can quickly read foreign signs, menus and other text. Just point your camera at a sign or text and the Translate app will instantly convert it to English, even without Internet or data connection. It's almost like magic. Click the following links to learn about more Apple and Android apps that make your smartphone and tablet do amazing things.
Bonus: Facebook is in your head
Q. I have a paranoid friend who doesn't use Facebook because he says it learns too much about you. But don't you control what you put on Facebook?
A. Even though you control what goes on Facebook, the site can still learn a lot about you. From your likes, status updates, articles you click on and other activity, Facebook can learn your political views, religion, sexual orientation, what friends you're close to, your personality type, how happy you are and plenty more. If you want a glimpse, the University of Cambridge has a tool called Apply Magic Sauce. Submit your Facebook profile and it returns an entire psychological analysis. You might be surprised what it can turn up.
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.