The right smartwatch

Q: My wife wants a smartwatch for Christmas. Should I get her an Apple, Samsung, Fitbit, or Fossil? Help me make the right decision, Kim!

A: Aside from asking her which brand she favors — which might temper the surprise — the Apple Series 5 is excellent, as long as you’re already plugged into the Apple ecosystem. Fitbit is a solid choice for athletes and weekend warriors because it has always been designed with these demographics in mind. The Samsung Galaxy watch is a great gift for anyone who uses an Android phone. While you’re researching, though, take a glance at Mobvoi Ticwatch E2, the intriguing indie option with a number of unique perks. Tap or click here for my smartwatch buying and comparison guide.

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Free images

Q: I have my own website. I need some high-quality images for the site that won’t break the bank. Any ideas?

A: If you have a legitimate project in mind, and you want to cross all your legal T’s, you’re living in a great era for inexpensive (or free!) media content. You can subscribe to a paid service like Shutterstock, or you can pore over archival materials at the New York Public Library. You can also explore the dodgy world of Creative Content, but there’s now a consistent alternative: Unsplash. Tap or click here to access a million free, high-quality images for any project.

Apple battery drain

Q: My iPhone battery doesn’t last hardly at all. What’s going on? Is the latest iOS causing the meltdown?

A: Some reasons are mundane: your battery is worn down, or your screen is too bright, requiring extra juice. Other reasons are more concerning: you could have a virus or spyware, which will also ruin your reserves. Before you start investigating the latest operating system, I suggest you look at the apps you’re using. Take Google Maps. The app needs to send signals all day long, to pinpoint your exact location. That does a number on your power supply. Social media apps also update all the time, so if you have the Facebook app, or the Snapchat app, or the Whatsapp app — or all three running simultaneously — those background tasks can eat up your electricity. I can’t guarantee that this is your problem, but rationing your app usage might very well extend your battery life. Tap or click here to see five apps that drain your iPhone battery.

Email check-ins

Q: If someone sends me an email, will that person know when and if I opened it? Asking for a friend.

A: In the past, it was doubtful that someone could know whether you had opened their email. Many people would consider this ability a violation of privacy; after all, you should have a right to read your mail and respond — or not respond — without the sender watching over your shoulder. But the technology to track emails, as well as pertinent information about their recipients, actually goes back a few years. “Pixel-tracking” is a sophisticated way to learn someone’s IP address, operating system, and how many times that email has been opened. Not surprisingly, this kind of snooping is especially popular among con artists and hackers, who can use pertinent data to help execute their crimes. So how do you protect yourself against a single, microscopic pixel? You have a couple of tactics at your disposal. Tap or click here to see whether your emails are being tracked and what you can do about it.

Listen to Kim Komando’s show from 1-4 p.m. Sundays on KRMG am740 or fm102.3. Read her columns or get her newsletters at

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