Tech Q&A: Boosting your cell signal, choosing a great password

Fix for bad cell phone signals

Q. My cell phone hardly works inside my house. Is there a way to get a better signal?

A. First, call your carrier, speak with a supervisor and nicely complain that you are not getting the service you are paying for. A femotcell may be the quick fix. AT&T offers a “microcell” and Verizon calls theirs a “network extender.” These gadgets do magic to broadcast a strong cellular signal. Unless your carrier gives it to you for free (and I have heard that they will if you ask), femtocells will set you back anywhere from $50 to $250, depending on the brand and the amount of data. You could also try a third-party signal booster. Click here to learn more about these and how to make calls over Wi-Fi.

Monitor your heart rate

Q. I’d like to monitor my heart rate. I don’t want to wear a fitness tracker. Is there an app for that?

A. Try Instant Heart Rate. This free app uses your phone's camera to take readings. Just place your index finger over your phone’s camera lens and the app detects your heart rate based on your skin’s color changes. I tested it and the app was only a beat or two off tracking my heart rate manually. The app collects data from each reading to create charts that helps monitor your heart rate over time. To keep your readings organized, add tags such as "Woke up," "Before bed," "Exercising," and "Resting." Want something really on the tech edge? There’s a scale that measures the waves in your arteries when you stand on it. Click here to learn more about this innovative way to know your pulse wave velocity at home.

Why “ilovefreshsashimituna” is a great password

Q. You said on your national radio show that “I love tuna” is a great password. Do I need my hearing checked? This seems like bad advice.

A. Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University say that passphrases are good for your online security. Long phrases provide the same randomness as a haphazard collection of letters and symbols. Try one like this: ilovefreshsashimituna. That’s 21 lower case letters, with no spaces. Also, it's easy for me to remember because it’s true. I ran that phrase on Kaspersky Lab’s secure password check and it would take 10,000 centuries to be brute-forced. You can't get much more secure than that.

Windows 10 Anniversary Update problems

Q. I heard the Windows 10 Anniversary Update was causing massive problems, so I've been putting it off. Is the update fixed now?

A. Directly after the update was released, there were reports of computers crashing after startup. If you do encounter this problem, you can fix it by starting your computer in Safe Mode, or performing a Clean Boot. Since the problem is minimal, I'd recommend that you perform the update. Windows 10 has received positive feedback overall, and Microsoft has announced that the Anniversary Update is its last major update until next year. To get even more out of Windows 10, click here for some time-saving keyboard shortcuts.

Raise money for special events

Q. My husband and I organize service events for our church, but fundraising is always a challenge. Is there an easier way to collect donations?

A. Crowdsourcing is one of the best ways to raise money for special causes. There are several sites out there that offer this service; however, some are better suited for charities than others. I'd recommend GiveForward in this case. It allows for other types of donations other than monetary. Meals and wish list items can also be donated, or people can offer words of encouragement to lend their support. GiveForward does retain a 5-percent fee to cover its costs, but donors are given the option to cover this fee themselves so that it doesn't come out of the charity's pocket. Click here for more details about GiveForward and two more crowdfunding options.

Back up your inbox

Q. I want to open a new Gmail account. Can I save copies of my old Gmail mail?

A. UpSafe is a free program that backs up the contents of your inbox and stores everything on your hard drive. Backups can be scheduled to run automatically, and UpSafe lets you restore selected messages that would otherwise be lost. Of course, having an archive of your messages protects you in case your account gets hacked. Click here to learn more about UpSafe.

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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