July 20, 2011

Kim Komando answers your online, computer questions

The Oskaloosa Herald

OSKALOOSA — Q. My children spend a lot of time online. I’m worried they might become addicted. How can I spot the signs of Internet addiction?

A. The Internet is a big part of education and social communication for kids. It can be hard to tell when your kids are online too much. For some kids, being online will be no problem. Other kids might have more addictive personalities. Have your child do non-computer activities when schoolwork is done. Set time limits on social networking or computer games. Encourage them to take up a hobby or visit friends in person. If the child has difficulty with this, it could be a sign of addiction. They might be using the Internet to escape from real life. In that case, you should consult with a doctor. Visit www.komando.com/news to learn about Internet addiction recovery programs.

Q. I want to cancel my cable television. It’s so pricey! Can I connect my computer to my TV to view online videos?

A. That depends on your TV. Many newer TVs have a VGA or DVI connector. Those are the same type of connectors on most computer monitors. You can just plug your computer into the TV using a standard monitor cable. The TV will act like a large monitor. HDMI and DisplayPort connectors can also be used for this. If none of that works, you can find adapters. These let you plug your computer into a television’s component connectors. You might have an Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3. In that case, you can stream content over the network to them. Then they can display it on your TV.

Q. I recently sent a mass email to my friends and family. Some of them got mad that their email address was visible to so many people. How can I avoid this in the future?

A. This is a common mistake with email. Fortunately, it’s easy to solve. All email programs have an option called Bcc, or blind carbon copy. Any address placed on this line won’t show up to other email recipients. Bcc isn’t always easy to find. You’ll have to poke around your email program. In Thunderbird, for example, you have to click To: and select Bcc: instead. For Gmail, start writing a message and click Add Bcc. Check your email program’s help files if you can’t find the option.

Q. I saw a new version of Firefox was just released. I just upgraded to Firefox 4. Should I upgrade to Firefox 5 so soon?

A. Mozilla has moved Firefox to a faster release schedule. A new version will be out every six weeks or so. Each new version won’t add many features. Not being drastically different means upgrading should be less painful. However, it also means that Mozilla won’t be releasing security updates for previous Firefox versions. If you want a secure browser, you’ll have to upgrade. I definitely recommend keeping your browser updated. If you haven’t upgraded, go to Firefox button>>Help>>About Firefox. Then click the Check for Updates button. Follow the instructions.

Q. I want to show my assistant how her work appears on my screen. I need to capture an image from my screen. How can I do this in Windows?

A. Windows 7 and Vista both have the Snipping Tool. Go to Start>>All Programs>>Accessories and select Snipping Tool. It will let you select an area of your screen to capture. You can then annotate the capture, save it and share it. Of course, the Snipping Tool is somewhat limited. It also isn’t available in Windows XP. Fortunately, there are plenty of free screenshot tools around. Give something like Greenshot a try. It’s free at www.komando.com/news. It lets you set up shortcut keys for different kinds of screenshots. Managing the captures is also easier.

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.