Speed up your startup
Q. I started my computer the other day then went to pour molasses on my pancakes. The molasses won. What can I do besides buying a new computer?
A. Download a free program like Autoruns. This will show you what programs are starting with your computer. The more things that are starting, the slower it's going to run. Use Autoruns to disable everything that isn't essential (hint: security software is essential). You should see a nice bump in speed. If you find you're missing something that needs to start, you can re-enable it. Of course, starting a computer is just the beginning. Get more details on speeding up your computer from start to finish. One thing that can slow your system down is someone stealing your Internet. The bonus Q&A below will tell you how to spot an Internet thief.
Watch NFL football online?
Q. I'm going to be traveling a lot this football season, and I want to know the best way to watch my home team's games on the go.
A. Watching football online has come a ways, but it still isn't as simple, or cheap, as most people would like. Still, the NFL Mobile app (Apple, Android, Windows Phone; free) and the $99 NFL Game Pass package will let you watch every game of the season. But you’ll get access only after the live game feed ends. Verizon customers can get free live streaming of select NFL games. Keep in mind that streaming video on your phone burns through your data plan very fast. Use Wi-Fi whenever possible to avoid hefty data charges. Want to watch games on your TV, or want another option? Here is every other way you can watch NFL online.
Block someone on LinkedIn
Q. I accepted a colleague of a colleague as a connection on LinkedIn, but now I think they're either pretending to be the person, or a scammer. How can I disassociate myself from them?
A. Fake profiles are distressingly common on LinkedIn, but, fortunately, getting rid of a connection is simple. Go to the person's profile page; click on his or her name (you may need to do this twice, depending on which page you start from). Click on the down arrow to the right of the "Send a message" and "Endorse" buttons. Select "Block" or "Report." Choose Report to submit a person to LinkedIn for review. Choose Block if you just want to keep him away from your profile. Learn more ways scammers try to trick you out of information on LinkedIn, and how to avoid their scams.
Use any computer safely
Q. My computer died and so I'm using other people's computers for a while. How can I make sure I don't accidentally leave important information behind, or expose my information to a virus?
A. The best way to stay safe on computers that aren't yours is to bring your own secure operating system. Put it on a CD or USB drive, pop it into the computer and reboot to bring it up. You can browse, do finances or anything else in safety. When you reboot the computer again, it will be like you were never there. Click here to get a secure operating system like this for free.
Computer security 101
Q. I hear so much complicated computer security advice, it makes my head spin. Can you give me something simple to do that will make me safer?
A. The most important thing to do is run up-to-date security software. That will protect you against most of the attacks out there. The next big thing is to make sure your browser is in good shape. Otherwise, hackers can slip nasty stuff onto your computer. That means it needs to be up to date, and you shouldn't run any vulnerable plug-ins or extensions. Learn the simple steps for making sure your browser is as safe as possible. Doing those two things will make you safe in most situations, although you'll still want to keep up with the latest security news to make sure something new isn't going to get you.
Bonus: To catch an Internet thief
Q. My Internet is running really slow, and I think my shady neighbor might have something to do with it. How can I find out?
A. Hopefully, you have your Wi-Fi protected with encryption and a strong password to keep out casual snoops. Unfortunately, an experienced hacker might be able to get onto your network. You need to keep an eye on what gadgets are connected so you can spot ones that don't belong. That either requires knowing your way around your wireless router, or you can download this free utility. It will give you a list of connected gadgets in nothing flat.
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.