Oskaloosa.com

March 22, 2011

Kim Komando answers your computer, video questions

By KIM KOMANDO
The Oskaloosa Herald

OSKALOOSA — Q. I enjoying watching your radio show on TVKim.com. On a recent show, you were discussing budget computers but I am in the market for a better computer. Is an Intel Core i7 or AMD Phenom II processor better for a high-end system?

A. AMD makes excellent, cost-effective processors. But for pure high-end speed, Intel is the way to go. The Core i7 is blazing fast. It should be up for any task you throw at it. The newest version is superb at handling video. It’s good for both watching and editing videos. The latest Intel Core processors are numbered the 2000 series. You’ll still find the older versions that carry three-digit version numbers. For a high-end, long-term system you definitely want the newer version.



Q. My health provider is switching to electronic medical records. I’ve heard that those are more secure than traditional records. Is that true?

A. Yes and no. Traditional records generally don’t have very high security. A thief after your specific information could probably steal it. But traditional records are hard to steal en masse. They’re just too bulky. The security of electronic records varies by health provider. Some do a good job, and some don’t. But it is more serious when a data breach does occur. Hundreds or thousands of digital files can be stolen at once. I recommend asking your provider how it protects the security of your medical records.



Q. I just got a new MacBook Pro. The Apple employee said you can do gestures with the trackpad. What does that mean?

A. The new MacBook trackpads have multi-touch support. This lets you use multiple fingers to perform special operations. Two-finger scrolling is one I commonly use. Just drag two fingers up and down the trackpad to scroll pages. It’s like using the scroll wheel on a mouse. You can also try the four-finger swipe. Swipe four fingers downward to open Expose. You can then swipe right or left with the four fingers to move between programs. Swipe up with the four fingers to exit Expose. Visit the Trackpad section of System Preferences to learn more supported gestures. Open System Preferences by clicking the Apple menu.



Q. Both Firefox and Thunderbird are made by the same company. What is the difference? 

A. Firefox is a Web browser like Internet Explorer or Safari. It’s what you use to visit Websites. It displays text, photos, video, audio and interactive animations on Web pages. Plus, it handles security for things like online banking. Thunderbird is an e-mail program. An e-mail program’s main purpose is to manage e-mail. It retrieves e-mail from a remote server so you can read it. And it lets you create new e-mail and send it. E-mail programs can also have features like address books and calendars. Visit Komando.com/news to download Firefox and Thunderbird for free.



Q. My Blu-ray player’s manufacturer just sent me a firmware update disc. What is firmware? Should I install it?

A. Firmware is a specific type of software. It directly interacts with digital hardware. Other software, like an operating system, sits on top of the firmware. Every digital gadget has firmware. Firmware updates shouldn’t be taken lightly. A mistake could wreck your gadget. However, updating firmware can add new features and fix fundamental security problems. If a manufacturer requests that you update, I would do so. There is probably a good reason. But in general, don’t upgrade firmware if your gadget is working fine.



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.