Tech Q&A: Cheaper air flights, HDR photography, two-factor authentication and more

Get cheaper airline flights

Q. I read on your website that you can save money by booking directly with hotels when you're traveling. Does that apply to airlines as well?

A. While third-party ticket-comparison sites are great for seeing which airline has the best ticket prices for a specific trip, you do want to check the airline's website as well. You can sometimes find cheaper deals that don't make it to third-party sites. While you're comparing, be sure to check the sites for Southwest and Delta. Those don't usually show up on flight comparison sites and might have cheaper options. Want more travel tips? Click here to learn how to save on your next flight by picking the right airport and the right time to fly.

Dive into HDR photography

Q. My phone’s camera has a "HDR" setting. What is it good for?

A. HDR stands for high dynamic range. To create an HDR photo, you usually combine three images (one overexposed, one underexposed and one with normal exposure) into a single image. This gives the image a higher range of light levels than you would get otherwise. A true HDR image requires a camera with manual exposure adjustments, a tripod, a graphics program like Photoshop, Luminance HDR or Fotor, and some experimenting. Some cameras and photo programs have HDR filters that try to give you the look without the work, but these don't come out as well. Learn more about taking HDR photos and four other photography tricks you need to know.

2FA or not 2FA

Q. I heard on your radio show that hackers had found a way around two-factor authentication on Google. Google keeps bugging me to turn it on for my account, but should I even bother?

A. I recommend turning on two-factor authentication on every account that supports it, which includes Google and Facebook. It makes your account security much stronger with very little hassle. Hackers get around 2FA by sending fake text messages that trick you into giving up your password. As long as you don't respond to texts claiming to be from Google or other major sites, you're perfectly safe from this scam. Get the inside scoop on exactly how hackers try to trick you, so you aren't fooled.

Use your TV as a computer monitor   

Q. I would like to show presentations on a TV in our conference room. Can I use a TV as a monitor?

A. You can, and there are several reasons you might want to. Not only do mainstream computer monitors top out at around 34 inches (anything larger is essentially just a TV with the title "large format display"), but at that size they're more expensive than some 50-inch TVs. Plus, in even a medium-size room, 34 inches is too small to see comfortably. Fortunately, hooking up a TV to a computer isn't too hard when you have the right equipment or adapters. I have TVs in the conference rooms in my broadcast center, and they're great for reviewing designs and other information with my employees.  Click here and I'll walk you through what you need to know to set up your TV as a monitor, starting with the ports.

Get smoother streaming video

Q. YouTube is annoying the heck out of me. Lately, videos are stopping and then restarting in the middle. Is this just the way it works?

A. Waiting for video to load is a fact of online life, but it should happen before the video starts, not in the middle. I would start with your Wi-Fi. Upgrading an old 802.11g router to a newer 802.11n model can make a world of difference. You should also remove any interference and learn the best spot to place a router. If that doesn't work, you can ditch Wi-Fi entirely or find out if the problem is with your Internet service provider.

Bonus Answer: Revive an old computer

Q. I have an old computer I'd like to give to my grandson, but it's running Windows XP, and I know that isn't safe. Should I upgrade it to Windows 7? Is there a cheaper option?

A. Instead of upgrading Windows, replace it with a free Linux operating system. A personal favorite of mine is Linux Mint. Grab the MATE version for a full-featured operating system that runs better than XP on older hardware, and is far more secure. Mint comes with tons of free software pre-loaded, including photo managers, Firefox, an email program, productivity software like LibreOffice and much more. You can download more free programs using the built-in software manager. Find out more about reviving an old computer, turning a tablet into a digital photo frame or using a smartphone as a security camera.

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 Kim also posts breaking tech news 24/7 at