Tech columnist Kim Komando responds to readers’ questions on using technology.
Q. I visited every ad network site I could find and opted out of personalized ads, but when I’m using Google I still see ads related to me. What did I miss?
A. Sounds like you missed the big one: Google. Google uses your searches to figure out your interests and shows you ads based on what it thinks you’ll like on any of its sites, including Gmail and YouTube. It also has a new ad “feature” called Customer Match that lets businesses, like a shopping site, that already have your email address, show you personalized ads through Google’s ad network. You have more work to do. Click here to adjust your interests or turn off personalized advertising on Google entirely.
Should you upgrade your iPhone?
Q. I’m hearing good things about iOS 9, but I’m concerned about battery life. Is it going to help or hurt?
A. iOS 9 is a good thing for your battery life. The developers made efficiency tweaks that Apple says will give you four hours of extra battery life. And when you run low, there’s the new Low Power Mode in Settings > Battery. You can turn this on when your battery gets low and it will disable battery-sucking features like animations and notification syncing. Plus it will dim the screen. You can eke out another hour or two until you get to a charger. Love that. Learn about two other great features you’ll find in iOS 9.
How much data do you need?
Q. I’m getting a cellular plan for me, my wife and my teenage daughter. How much data should I get?
A. The key person here in terms of data is your teenage daughter. If you only use cellular data for Internet browsing, email and texting, and reserve video and music streaming for times you’re using Wi-Fi, a single user can easily stay under one gigabyte a month. However, it you have someone on the plan (probably your teen) who insists on streaming video or uploading tons of photos using cellular, then think about a 5GB or higher plan. Click here for a full breakdown of what you need to consider when choosing a data plan, and some other tricks for using as little data as possible.
Upgrade PC or buy new?
Q. I have a 5-year-old computer and want to install Windows 10. Should I upgrade it to run faster or just buy a new computer?
A. Windows 10 will work better with newer hardware, and any new computer you buy will be more powerful than your old rig. However, if you want to stick with your old computer, and it has a Core 2 processor, you can get by with a $100 upgrade to the memory and hard drive. You want at least 2GB of RAM, although 4GB would be better. You also want a new hard drive because the odds of failure go up a lot after three years. Learn about a few other inexpensive upgrades you can make to an older computer that will pep it up, whether you’re upgrading the operating system or not.
An essential car gadget
Q. My teen twins are going to start driving soon, and I’m really nervous. Is there a way to keep an eye on what they’re doing?
A. You want an in-car dash cam. This will record their entire trip on video so you can see how they’re driving when they’re alone, and help coach them. It’s also a good thing to have in case of an accident because no matter who is at fault, a teenage driver is more likely to take the blame. Some dash cams also include GPS so you can see where they go and get a record of how fast they were driving. You can also find dash cams with a second lens that can watch the side, rear or inside of the car. That way you can make sure they aren’t texting, or goofing off with their friends, instead of watching the road.
Bonus: Track your packages
Q. I’m actually doing my Christmas shopping early this year. I’m doing most of it online, but I travel around a lot and need to know exactly when orders are going to be delivered. Any ideas?
A. If you’re using Amazon, you can turn on Shipment Updates via Text. This will send you updates on the location of your packages every day between 10 a.m. and 11 p.m. Eastern. You can make arrangements to be home or have someone get them for you when they arrive. Here are five more time- and money-saving tricks you need to know for shopping on Amazon.
Kim hosts The Kim Komando Show, the nation’s largest weekend call-in radio talk show about today’s digital lifestyle. For her daily tips articles, free newsletters and more, visit komando.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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