Hide your Facebook profile
Q. I'm a corrections officer and I've gotten some friend requests on Facebook from former inmates when they get out of jail. I want to keep in contact with my family, but I want to stay hidden from everyone else. How can I make myself invisible on Facebook without deactivating my account?
A. With social media, you can never truly be invisible, but there are steps you can take to make your Facebook page harder to find. It takes adjusting your privacy settings.
Go to the lock icon at the top of your profile, and under "Who can contact me?" change "Who can send me friend requests?" from "Everyone" to "Friends of Friends." This should filter out your work problem. You can also change your message filter in this area to strictly filter out messages from people you don't know.
Then click "See more settings," and under "Who can look me up?" change who can look you up to "Friends" and change "Do you want other search engines to link to your timeline?" to "No." Learn more steps to completely lock down your Facebook profile.
There's also AVG Privacy Fix, an app that helps lock down your privacy settings on Facebook, Google and LinkedIn to keep you protected.
Make sure that you are not tagged in older photos, updates and links. Click here for steps to remove mentions of you on Facebook that have been made in the past.
Help for a family member with ALS
Q. I'm looking for technology to assist a family member, my aunt, with ALS, aka Lou Gehrig's disease. I want her to be able to interact with the rest of the family and I want her to stay engaged. We have an iPad Air. What apps can we use to help her?
A. The iPad is a great tool for this kind of situation. You can install an app like Verbally, recommended by the ALS Association, that will help your aunt communicate with the rest of your family. She can easily pick words to create sentences, or choose from preset and custom phrases, and have the app speak them out loud. There's also Speak Text and Voice4U. While tablets are getting more capable, you should also check with your insurance company and see if it can cover a dedicated speech-generating gadget for your aunt.
Stay safe on hotel Wi-Fi
Q. We are hoping to take a vacation this year and we want to make sure that when we take our phones, iPad and Kindle with us that we are safe from the dangers of public or hotel Wi-Fi. What do we need to do? I heard you warn us about this on your national radio show.
A. The biggest danger of using a tablet or phone on public Wi-Fi is hackers on the same network capturing every single thing you do. They can easily read your passwords, emails and more as you send and receive information.
Some hackers even set up fake Wi-Fi hotspots with names like "hotel Wi-Fi." If you connect to it, hackers not only see all your traffic, they can send you to malicious websites that steal your information. So, make sure you know the name of the hotel Wi-Fi before you sign on.
Use cellular for any really sensitive tasks like banking. And be sure to use your bank's app as well, since that will be more secure.
Finally, there is one more step to take. Click here to learn more about using encrypted connections to prevent hackers from snooping on you.
Buying a laptop for college
Q. I'm sending my third child to college in the fall and I'm wondering what type of laptop I should send her off with. She will be a nursing major and has no preference on what type of machine she wants. She uses an iPad in high school, so I know she is savvy with that. What do you think would work best for her?
A. Since you have no preference, you can save a lot of money. Good Windows laptops start in the $500 to $700 range. This will give you the most bang for your buck; Apple's MacBooks are great but start at $900. Assuming you want the laptop to last all four years of college, look for a machine with 8 gigs of RAM and a Core i5 processor with model number in the 3000s or higher. If your daughter is going to be taking the laptop to class, make sure it's a lighter model with good battery life.
You will also want to see if your daughter qualifies for educational discounts through Microsoft or through the school's bookstore. You might be able to knock $100 or so off the final price. Want to explore more of your options? Click here to see my PC laptop buying guide and click here to see my buying guide for Mac laptops.
The best way to market music
Q. I'm a musician and was wondering the best way to market music online. I compose and play the guitar in our band. None of us are techno-heads.
A. First, you want to grab accounts on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and any other social sites your target audience uses. This will help you connect with current and future fans. Don't just talk about upcoming concerts – although that's important – but post fun trivia about the band, videos, pictures, respond to fans – anything to help keep them engaged.
Then set up a band website with a site like Squarespace or Weebly. When making your site, make sure you have included an About and Contact Us page. Google looks for those pages when indexing, so if you want to show up in search results, that part is critical.
Put links to all your social accounts on the website, and put your website link on every social site. That way anyone finding one can find the others.
There are ways you can host and sell your music yourself, but you might want to look at a pre-made solution. Bandcamp is a popular site with a huge built-in audience that lets you upload and sell your recordings and sheet music, and it’s easy to link to it on your website. It also offers a storefront for band merchandise. Just be aware that it will take a 10 to 15 percent cut of your final sales.
Kim Komando hosts the nation's largest talk radio show about consumer electronics, computers and the Internet. To get the podcast, watch the show or find the station nearest you, visit: http://www.komando.com/listen. To subscribe to Kim's free email newsletters, sign-up at: http://www.komando.com/newsletters.