Get better cell reception at home
Q. It’s so frustrating! I have hardly any cellphone coverage at home. Is there anything I can do?
A. Get a signal booster. Place it where you have the best signal and it will boost the signal through the house. Some repeaters include an external antenna to mount outside for a better signal. Your carrier may sell a booster or even give you one for free to correct its lousy service, but there is a catch: It usually works only with that carrier's signal. zBoost and weBoost make boosters that work with multiple carriers. They’ll set you back about $200. If you want faster 4G coverage, booster prices jump to $400 or more. Click here to learn more about boosters and, if you need to, how to make free calls over Wi-Fi.
Calibrate your new TV for the best picture
Q. I purchased a new TV and the picture is awful. It doesn’t look as good as it did in the store.
A. You need to fine-tune your settings. Store demos are often set as bright as possible to stand out against the lights and other TVs competing for your attention. Check your TV remote for a Tools or Menu button. Manufacturers typically provide a number of presets as a starting point. These are usually "Vivid/Dynamic," "Standard," "Cinema/Movie" and "Game/Sports." Find the one you like and tweak the settings until it looks best. A better option is to calibrate your TV for the ultimate sharpness, brightness, contrast and color. Click here for beginner and professional grade calibration tools.
My ISP is throttling my connection
Q. Hello Kim, I'm noticing that my home internet connection slows down. Could my service provider be limiting my speed on purpose?
A. Perform a speed test using Speedtest.net or Netflix's Fast.com. Compare your results against what your internet provider says you should be getting for your plan. If your results are consistently 20 to 30 Mbps lower, check your hardware. For example, older DOCSIS 2.0 modems can't go beyond 38 Mbps. If you’re paying for 50 Mbps and above, upgrade your modem to DOCSIS 3.0. Make sure you don’t have neighbors using your connection. There is a tool that tells you if your internet provider is practicing traffic shaping. Click here to download the tool and learn how it works.
Getting online donations for a cause
Q. I see Facebook posts where people are raising money for medical bills. I have terminal cancer and would like to see my children before I pass. Can I ask people to donate money for the airfare?
A. Yes, you can by setting up a page at YouCaring, GiveForward or GoFundMe. The sites work pretty much the same. You tell your story, set a fundraising amount, complete account details and start spreading the word on your social media profiles. It’s important that you keep your funding page updated with your status. Donors like to track how things are going. Crowdfunding sites take around 3 percent plus a 30-cent processing fee per donation. Click here to learn more about how these sites work and how to use them.
Finding cheap airfare online
Q. I am planning our family’s ski vacation. What travel site do you use to find cheap flights? I trust your advice.
A. I start my travel planning by using Google Flights. Instead of typing in specific travel dates, just click the date area to bring up a calendar. It will show you the daily prices of tickets for the next few months so you can see at a glance the cheapest days to fly. Just because you found a good deal now doesn't mean something better won't pop up later. That's why Google has the "Save this itinerary" button at the bottom of the page. It keeps an eye on prices and will email you if they drop. That way you can contact the airline to see about getting a refund of the difference. Click here for more insider Google Flights secrets.
Do you have tech questions in need of answers? From buying advice to digital life issues, I’d love for you to listen or download the podcasts. Click here to find your local radio station. If you are looking for topics about everything digital you can listen to on your phone, tablet or computer, click here for my free podcasts.
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Kim Komando hosts the nation’s largest weekend radio talk show as she takes calls and dispenses advice on today’s digital lifestyle. Visit Komando.com for free podcasts, videos, product reviews, shows, tips and advice.