Q: My husband and I haven't tried to keep up with all the latest technology and devices. But it's becoming apparent that we will soon be "left behind" and be unable to access things that almost everyone else uses on a daily basis. For instance, when we travel we see people getting flight information from their phones faster than we could possibly find it on our own. If we decide to change, how can we learn about the new technology, and what will it cost?
--Carla Christopherson, Brainerd, Minn.
A: If you don't want to be left behind, embrace the technologies that are making the biggest changes in daily life -- smartphones and digital TV.
Smartphones (see tinyurl.com/y96q75uc or tinyurl.com/y9ucpg2h) provide internet access anywhere, which will simplify travel, provide news and entertainment and help you stay close to friends and relatives who don't live nearby. Any wireless phone company will show you how to use a smartphone and provide a list of service plan prices.
The TV industry is producing a wider array of shows than ever before, and many of them are available via internet streaming services that cost less than cable TV. For example, an all-you-can-watch streaming service can send programs directly to your digital TV for a flat monthly fee ($8-$14 for Netflix, $8-$12 for Hulu.) For an overview of streaming TV services, see tinyurl.com/y7auo95a.
In order to receive these programs, you will need some equipment. You will either need to buy a smart TV ($200 and up) or purchase a streaming device ($30 and up, see tinyurl.com/y7rkz26v) that will work with your existing digital TV. You will also need a home Wi-Fi network to stream the shows from the internet to your TV. If you don't have a network, you will need to buy a wireless router ($30 and up, see tinyurl.com/y8l2zmdb) that attaches to your internet connection. You may also need to upgrade your internet download speed to 3 megabits (standard definition picture) or 5 megabits (high definition.)
Q: I updated the Adobe Flash Player on my Mac, and now I get unwanted advertisements when I browse the internet (my ad-blocking software doesn't help.) I uninstalled the Flash Player, then reinstalled it, but the pop-up ads have returned. What can I do?
--Rex Davey, Baton Rouge, La.
A: You probably downloaded a hacked version of the Adobe Flash Player, which comes with the malicious program "Snake" that shows you pop-up advertisements. My guess is that deleting and reinstalling the player didn't help because you reinstalled it from the same hacked file, called "Adobe Flash Player.app.zip".
But more trouble is looming. The screenshot you included in your e-mail shows a Snake pop-up ad for another program called "Mac Space Reviver" that you should avoid. It's a free computer utility program that falsely reports problems on your Mac -- problems it claims can be fixed if you buy the for-pay version of the program.
To get rid of Snake, download and run the free version of Malwarebytes for Mac (see tinyurl.com/jf29qxx). If you've already downloaded Mac Space Reviver, Malwarebytes should be able to remove it, too. But first, follow the instructions at tinyurl.com/y8yu36xv.
About The Writer
Steve Alexander covers technology for the Minneapolis Star Tribune. Readers may write to him at Tech Q&A, 425 Portland Ave. S., Minneapolis, Minn. 55488-0002; email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include a full name, city and phone number.
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