Each week, I receive tons of questions from my listeners about tech concerns, new products, and all things digital.
Sometimes, choosing the most interesting questions to highlight is the best part of my job. This week, I received questions about gathering headlines together, addictive Alexa skills, private search engines, and more. Do you have a question you’d like to ask me?
Calculate your risk of dying from COVID-19
Q: I see the maps. I hear the statistics. But is there a site that will tell me what my chances are of getting COVID-19?
A: “Getting” coronavirus is hard to predict because you would have to describe your daily activities, work environment, living situation, and so on. But OurRisk.CoV determines (brace yourself) how likely you are to die from COVID-19.
Based on some personal data and medical history, the site will calculate your chances of dying from COVID-19. For most of us, this site is a powerful reminder that COVID-19 is a serious situation. Still, it may also offer relief if your odds of survival are high.
Q: Is it possible to send an email that self-destructs after a person sees it? I’m no James Bond, but I do like martinis!
A: “This message will self-destruct…” It’s one of the most famous refrains in television history, thanks to “Mission: Impossible.” But nowadays, self-destructing messages are more than just a spy-story trope; they exist, thanks to a service called Privnote. This tool is handy when you’re sending confidential information or private correspondence and you need recipients to read your message but not retain a copy in their inbox.
Remember, though, that the message can be forwarded or captured as a screenshot. In most cases, the recipient will read the message and watch it vanish without fanfare. You can set your message to be read for up to 30 days after its transmission. The best part: It’s free!
News junkie ultimate setup
Q: I am a news-aholic! How can I set up my home office computer so I can follow it all at once?
A: I love to stay up to date with headlines and breaking news, and I review dozens of websites every morning. But the real maven is Ben, our News Director at Komando headquarters. He has brilliantly configured his desk, including multiple screens, a well-positioned webcam, and lots of affordable, specialized gadgets to maximize his workflow.
Ben was kind enough to describe his work station with my readers and provide photos, explaining how he organizes and interacts with his space. This desk setup might not work for everybody, but if you need to absorb large amounts of information and set up rapid-fire video conferences at a moment’s notice, you may want to take notes.
Q: Google tracks me, and I hate it. What is a search site that I can use instead of Google?
A: You said it. It’s now common knowledge that Google – and other big tech companies – harvest your data, which includes tracking your browsing and even your physical movements. Many people are pursuing other search engines to explore the web privately.
One of my favorites is DuckDuckGo, an independent company based in Pennsylvania. As a company, DuckDuckGo is the polar opposite of Google, but the search engine is quite capable and has nifty features. If you’re looking for a more heavy-duty browser that can even explore the Dark Web, you might consider Tor.
Alexa clever uses
Q: I have an Amazon Echo. I don’t use it much anymore. What do you use Alexa for?
A: The Echo made a huge splash a few years ago, and millions were given as Christmas gifts. The Echo is inexpensive and straightforward, but it transformed regular houses into smart homes. Tech-minded users could open garage doors, arm security systems, and dim lights with a simple voice command. This was an impressive feat for a Bluetooth speaker system, but not everybody needed to exercise that level of power.
So for regular people, what is the Echo good for? Alexa can summarize your recent emails, jot down a “to-do” list, and serve as your personal trainer. She’ll even tell you a joke to make you smile.
What digital lifestyle questions do you have? Call Kim’s national radio show and tap or click here to find it on your local radio station. You can listen to or watch The Kim Komando Show on your phone, tablet, television, or computer. Or tap or click here for Kim’s free podcasts.
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Learn about all the latest technology on The Kim Komando Show, the nation’s largest weekend radio talk show. Kim takes calls and dispenses advice on today’s digital lifestyle, from smartphones and tablets to online privacy and data hacks. For her daily tips, free newsletters, and more, visit her website at Komando.com.