Q: I heard you speaking on your national radio show about Facebook’s targeted advertising. So, how does Facebook get information about me?
A: Facebook has a sophisticated tracking system that follows your every click. When you “like” something, like a band or sports team, Facebook tries to figure out your interests. It also uses your friends’ “likes.” If five of your friends are really into “Game of Thrones,” there’s a good chance you are, too. Meanwhile, Facebook uses basic information, like your age, gender and hometown, to refine its advertisements. You may wonder what Facebook thinks it knows about you. Well, you can find out.
Christmas gift savings
Q: Christmas is right around the corner. I am overwhelmed by the ads. How can I make sure I get the best deals?
A: Finding the right bargain is an art, and it has been since the dawn of commerce. But you’re right: There are tons of holiday sales coming up, and it’s hard to tell which ones are worth splurging on. Most people will just use trial and error. Others will do their research ahead of time, comparing prices. But if you’re willing to put in the legwork, you can use apps that will help you shop better. Retailers themselves create some of these apps; others are third-party. You can also collect promo codes ahead of time and unleash them when shopping online. Click here to find out which apps and promo codes will improve your savings.
Boosting your cell signal at home
Q: I hardly get any cellphone signals in my home. It’s so frustrating. What can I do?
A: It’s unfortunate that our homes are sometimes the worst places to make a call. If you make a lot of calls at home, you may be willing to spend a little extra money on a better signal. Two devices can help you do this: a “femtocell” and a “signal booster.” They’re easy to set up and can improve your cell signal to avoid those annoying dead spots and dropped calls. But they’re a little pricy, so you have to decide whether clear calls are worth the cost. Meanwhile, if you have Wi-Fi set up in your house, you may already have a remedy at your fingertips. Click here to find out how your Wi-Fi signal can fix your phone problems.
Saving precious voicemail messages
Q: My father recently passed away. I would like to save the last voicemail he left me. Can you please tell me how to do this?
A: First and foremost, I’m so sorry for your loss. I know from experience how difficult this time can be, and how important it is to preserve the memories you shared. The old-fashioned way to save a voicemail is to find a male-to-male headphone cord, and then plug the cellphone directly into your computer. You can then use free recording software, like Audacity. On the control panel, hit “Line In.” Then you hit the record button and play the voicemail message in its entirety. But if you have an iPhone, there is a much simpler way to download and save your messages. Click here to learn how to save iPhone voicemails.
Stop ads from stalking you
Q: How do ads follow you from site to site? It’s irritating and creepy. I looked at an ugly pair of boots, and now I see these boots wherever I go online.
A: Here’s the word of the day: “cookies.” When you visit a retailer’s site, it leaves a little bit of data in your web browser. When you visit another site, like Facebook or Yahoo!, the banner ads respond to that cookie. The technical term for this is “behavioral retargeting,” and the good news is that the cookies and websites don’t know anything about you, just the websites you’ve visited. Still, it can be a little unnerving. Banner ads are generally impossible to get rid of, but you can easily prevent them from responding to your movements. Click here to find out how to stop creepy ads from following you online.
What questions do you have? Call my national radio show and click here to find it on your local radio station. You can listen to the Kim Komando Show on your phone, tablet or computer. From buying advice to digital life issues, click here for my free podcasts.
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Learn about all the latest technology 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.