Tech Q&A: Zoom makeover, best browser, free movies and more

May 10, 2020, 4:05 AM

Each week, I receive tons of questions from my listeners and readers about tech concerns, new products, and all things digital. Sometimes, choosing the most interesting questions to highlight is the best part of my job.

Do you have a question you’d like to ask me?

Tap or click here to email me directly. I read every email myself.

Beautify me for Zoom

Q: I look old in video meetings. What can I do to lighten the bags under my eyes and erase the lines on my face?

A: Your webcam is not designed to make you look good. Lighting that looks so natural in real life may not flatter your image for the lens. The same goes for your furnishings, which may look beautiful in person but seem cluttered and distracting on a computer screen.

For meetings and other online engagements, even one well-aimed light and a simple background will go a long way. There’s no harm in using makeup and a bright color on your lips. If all else fails, there is an app designed to improve your appearance on camera. Most of us like to look our best – even remotely – and a little extra care can make that happen.

Tap or click here for an inexpensive light and tips to look your best for video meetings.

Free Movies

Q: I can’t afford to get Hulu, Disney, Roku, Netflix, and the rest. Isn’t there a way to watch movies for free?

A: Many of us are stuck at home with nothing to do, and a movie or TV series helps us stay sane during the long and empty hours. But you’re right, all of the streaming services you mentioned do you cost money, and subscriptions can add up quickly.

One of my free favorite services is Kanopy, which can be accessed online through your local (participating) library. You probably won’t find the latest blockbusters, but Kanopy is a treasure trove of classic and critically acclaimed films. You can spend hours exploring the archives; all you need is a library card. There are plenty of other services as well, and whether you’re seeking something more popular or more obscure, you can find a suitable free streaming platform. Just be prepared to watch a few ads.

Tap or click here for the 10 best sites to watch movies for free.

Best Browser

Q: My techie husband uses Tor. I use Chrome. Which is better?

A: When it comes to comparing different types of software, my answer is usually the same: It depends on what suits your needs. If your husband is using Tor, he’s probably interested in the browser’s privacy features. Chrome is also an excellent browser, especially if you have a Google account and rely on Google software, such as Docs, Drive, YouTube, and so on.

But every browser has its strengths and weaknesses. Apple users will be perfectly content with Safari, the default browser, and Windows users may feel the same way about Edge. Consider your priorities: speed, safety, or versatility. There really is an ideal browser for anyone.

Tap or click here for a comparison of the best internet browsers.

Remote Invoicing

Q: I am helping clients by phone now because of social distancing. How can I charge them for my services?

A: You’re one of the millions of workers trying to do your job from a distance. Life in social distancing is rife with challenges, and for independent contractors and hourly employees, calculating the time spent working can be nearly as consuming as the task itself. Hourly labor has always been a rough estimation, even if you physically clock into your job.

Working remotely makes this time-keeping process even more difficult and abstract. In theory, you could take a break whenever you want, and who’s to know? What you need is software that will keep track of the time you are committed to your task.

Tap or click here for the best way to charge by the hour and collect money on your website.

Send Cash Remotely

Q: My unemployed son needs money. I used to go to the bank and send money that way. How can I do that now that I can’t leave home?

A: The process is straightforward and there are many safe and secure ways to transfer money digitally. One of the most popular apps is Venmo, which can be used between two account holders. Venmo specializes in peer-to-peer transactions, so it may be your best choice for sending cash to your son.

But if you want to explore other options, several different methods have their own benefits, including one with occasional giveaways. No matter which you choose, always double-check you’re sending money to the right person. It may be impossible to get your money back if you mistype a phone number or username.

Tap or click here for the safest ways to digitally send money to another person.

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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Tech Q&A: Zoom makeover, best browser, free movies and more