A product demonstrator uses a remote control to navigate a menu on a LG Smart TV with Google TV at the 2012 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S., on Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2012 – file photo.
(Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
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 smart TV hackers, video doorbell security, AirPods as hearing aids, PC bloatware, and more.
Do you have a question you’d like to ask me?
Smart TV hacker threat
Q: I bought a smart TV at Costco. It was a great price, but I heard you say something about the FBI, hackers and TVs. Should I have not bought it?
A: If you follow us at komando.com, you already know some of the dangers of having Internet of Things (IoT) appliances in your home. These are products that connect to the internet, like smart light bulbs, smart refrigerators, and smart doorbells.
The FBI recently stated your smart TV could be a gateway for hackers to come into your home. They may not be able to access your locked-down computer directly, but it’s possible an unsecured smart TV could give them a simple backdoor through your router, allowing them to take control of your set.
Low-risk threats include changing channels, adjusting the TV volume and showing kids inappropriate videos. Worst-case scenarios involve turning your bedroom TV’s camera and mic into a stalking and spying device. Yikes!
Video doorbell security settings
Q: My wife got me a video doorbell for Christmas. I am really worried about who has access to these videos. It’s my house and my privacy. Are there security settings on these things?
A: While traditional doorbells are sufficient at letting you know when someone is at your door, newer video doorbells, such as the Google Nest Hello, provide a real-time view of who is outside your home. The initial setup is straightforward, but there are a few settings you will want to adjust to improve your experience.
Be tech-savvy in 2020
Q: I want to learn more about tech in 2020. You are my trusted source because you never know what you’ll find with a Google search! But the local radio station pre-empts you for sports. How can I listen to your show?
A: I hate when that happens! To listen to my show on your schedule, get the podcast. It’s super easy to subscribe, and when you do, my show is automatically delivered to you — even while you’re sleeping! Each radio show is three hours, so you have 12 hours of quality tech programming and entertainment each month.
You can fast-forward or listen to parts again — and there are no commercial breaks.
Be gone, new PC bloatware
Q: I finally got rid of my 8-year-old Windows computer. This new one is fast, but dang, there’re a lot of junk programs on it. What’s the fastest and safest way to clean it up?
A: It can be fun setting up a new PC. Customizing your desktop, so it looks just right, downloading new apps, and sitting down to use it for the first time feels fantastic. Unfortunately, it isn’t always as simple as going through a quick setup process, selecting a few colors for fonts and windows, and going from there.
Many pre-built computers come with at least a modicum of extraneous, unwanted apps and software on them: bloatware. Bloatware can include trials of games you don’t want; apps you’ll never use or proprietary software that can slow down your computer.
Use AirPods as hearing aids
Q: I love my Apple AirPods. I thought I heard that you could use them as hearing aids. What’s the insider pro trick to doing that?
A: If you have ever had difficulty hearing someone during a conversation, AirPods can be your on-demand hearing aid. Apple introduced a feature, starting with iOS 12, called Live Listen.
Once set up, you can place your iPhone closer to the person you want to hear and the AirPods will produce clearer audio for you. There are other AirPod tricks you might like, like finding them when you lose them (it will happen!), having Siri announce calls and making your AirPods play nice with all your other devices.
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.