August 12, 2011

Kim Komando answers your Internet security, computer questions

The Oskaloosa Herald

OSKALOOSA — Q. I really want an iPad, but I don’t have a lot of money to spend. Should I buy it from one of those penny auctions sites instead? They offer iPads for a lot less.

A. Steer clear of penny auction sites. Bidding isn’t free. You need to buy a bid package. You may get 100 bids for $50, but often bids are $1 each. The price of auction items usually starts at $0. Each bid bumps the price up a penny. It also adds 10 to 20 seconds to a countdown clock. The goal is to be the high bidder when the clock runs out. It’s unlikely you’ll be the lucky winner. And when you don’t win, you don’t get your bid money back. Save yourself time and hassle. Just buy the iPad at your favorite retailer.

Q. A friend of mine had his bank account drained by a virus. It happened while he was checking his account! How could this happen?

A. Watching your money disappear must be terrifying. I’m very sorry for your friend. It sounds like he got the SpyEye virus. This is an extremely dangerous program that’s going around. It waits for you to log into your bank account and then sneaks in. It can automatically transfer your money to accounts held by hackers. The bank can’t tell it isn’t you making the transfer. The best way to avoid SpyEye is to avoid visiting malicious sites and not open suspicious email attachments. You should also install security software and keep it updated. Get links to free antivirus, spyware and firewall software at my Security Center (http://www.komando.com/securitycenter/).

Q. I want to stream home videos from my Mac to my TV. Is there a way to do this? I have a new Apple TV if that helps. 

A. Having the second generation Apple TV certainly does help. You just need to turn on Home Sharing. This is Apple’s system for streaming video, audio and photos between gadgets. On your Mac, open iTunes and go to Advanced>>Turn On Home Sharing. You’ll have to enter your iTunes Apple ID and a password. To share photos go to Advanced>>Choose Photos to Share. Then go to the Apple TV and select Computers>>Turn On Home Sharing. Enter the same Apple ID and password. You should now have full access to your music, photos and videos. If it isn’t working, make sure the Apple TV is updated to iOS 4.3 or higher.

Q. Your website is the first thing I visit when I get online. I just love learning new things. Can I set it to load automatically when I start my browser? I’m using Firefox.

A. I’m glad you love learning, because I love explaining things. Every browser lets you set a new default home page. For Firefox, go to Firefox button>>Options>>Options. Go to the General tab and look in the Startup section. Set the When Firefox starts option to Show my home page. Then type in the Web site link, in this case “http://www.komando.com” (minus quotes). That’s all there is to it. The other browsers have similar settings under Options. Chrome and Internet Explorer even let you set multiple startup sites. These will load in multiple tabs when the browser is opened. You can also set my video site “http://www.tvkim.com”. There, you can watch my national radio show, my video reports and my video picks of the day.

Q. I’m starting college soon and I need a laptop. I don’t want anything too expensive. It will be used mainly for basic tasks.

A. Ah, the college laptop. It used to be a luxury item, but now it’s mandatory. Fortunately, it isn’t too hard to buy one. Any modern laptop is powerful enough for basic tasks like note-taking and paper writing. Focus more on screen size, keyboard comfort and other usability features. If you’re taking it to class, make sure it has good battery life. You don’t want it dying in the middle of an important lecture. You’ll be using this laptop for years, so don’t rush your decision. Go to a store and test out several models in person. Be sure to ask your college if it has any particular requirements. Finally, check your college bookstore for any educational discounts.

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, watch the show 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.