January 24, 2011

Kim Komando solves your electronics problems

The Oskaloosa Herald

OSKALOOSA — Q. I canceled my cable television. I just need high-definition TV channels over the air. Do I need a special antenna?

A. HDTV doesn’t require a special antenna per se. But there are a number of other factors that can affect reception. The location of your house is an important consideration. And you need to look at surrounding structures and geographic features. Both can affect signals. For example, tall buildings or hills can hinder signals. You should also know the signal strength of your desired TV stations. There are many different antenna types. You need to select one that will help you overcome obstacles and/or weak signals. Visit Komando.com/news for help selecting and positioning your antenna.

Q. I just bought a Nintendo DSi for my kids. There are several sites online that offer unlimited games for around $40. Are these sites legitimate?

A. I would avoid these sites. Most will provide you with an emulator. This is a program that emulates a certain game console, like the original Nintendo Entertainment System. The emulator lets you play any game for that console. The games come in the form of files called ROMs. However, these games have been pirated from the original media. So you will be engaged in illegal activity. I would purchase from sources that you’re sure are legitimate, like video game shops. You can find plenty of inexpensive used games.

Q. I heard that Apple launched a new Mac App Store. How can I get this on my Mac?

A. The Mac App Store is Apple’s latest brainstorm. It lets you find, buy and download programs for your Mac from one location. That should be familiar to anyone with an iPhone or an iPad. Access to the App Store itself is free for all Mac users. You just need Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard to get the App Store. Then download the latest update. The App Store icon will be added to your dock. You can browse through the App Store just like you would on an iPhone. 

Q. I’m using a HOSTS file to filter ads and malicious online content. However, it is blocking a legitimate site that I need to access. How can the HOSTS file be edited?

A. HOSTS files can be helpful for keeping unwanted content out of your browser. You can download a comprehensive HOSTS file from Komando.com/news. The HOSTS file will be placed in C:\Windows\System32\drivers\etc. It can be opened in any basic text editor like NotePad. Search the file to find the site you want to re-enable. Then add “#” (minus quotes) to the beginning of the line. Save the file and get back to browsing. Make sure no extension is saved with the HOSTS file. This will prevent it from doing its work.

Q. I heard recently that some Facebook applications are collecting user information. Is this true? And how can I stop it?

A. It is true that some apps were recently passing users’ information to advertisers. Those apps have been either pulled or modified. You still want to make sure you know what is being sent. You can always uninstall your Facebook apps. But most people don’t want to do that. Instead, in your profile, go to Account>>Privacy Settings. In the Applications and Websites section, click Edit Settings. Then select Edit Settings next to Applications You Use. You will find a list of installed apps. You can edit the information they can access.

Copyright 2011, WestStar TalkRadio Network. All rights reserved.

Kim Komando hosts the nation’s largest talk radio show about consumer electronics, computers and the Internet. To get the podcast or find the station nearest you, visit: http://www.komando.com/listen. To subscribe to Kim’s free e-mail newsletters, sign-up at: http://www.komando.com/newsletters.