How do I get a free credit report?

Q: I know from the news that we can get free credit reports, but every time I click on ads for free credit reports I see online, they ask for a credit card. Is that a legitimate request? If the credit report is free, why do they need a credit card?

A: You don't need to hand over a credit card number to get a free credit report! The official site for getting the free annual reports we're entitled to under the law is

Again, you do NOT need to give your credit-card number for this. If you're asked for one, then it's an outfit that probably wants to sign you up for credit-monitoring service. Not worth it.

There are three credit bureaus, each of which will provide you with a free report every year through this central website. If you request one report from a different bureau every four months, you can monitor your credit file yourself.

How's the weather in Los Angeles?

Q: How's the weather in Los Angeles?

A: Great, thanks. For up-to-the-minute weather information, visit (Prepare for pop-ups if you don't have a blocker.)

How do I use Flash with Firefox?

Q: I downloaded Firefox just like you suggested. But now when I visit a Flash site, I'm asked for the Flash plug-in. Why is it complicated?

A: What's complicated about it? Get the plug-in when it prompts you. It takes just a few seconds, then you're on your way.

How do I remove malware?

Q: How can I tell if I have spyware and how do I get rid of it?

A: I personally use Spybot Search and Destroy, which you can download and use for free. But it's not enough protection from all the bad guys out there in cyberspace who want to take over your computer.

Use an anti-virus program and regularly update it and scan your system. And keep that firewall up when connecting to the internet!

Where can I get discount coupon codes?

Q: Is there a site like RetailMeNot where you can go for discount coupon codes but is easier to look at and go through? RetailMeNot gives me a headache!

A: has deals, sales, coupon and freebies. And, yes, its interface is more eye-friendly.

Where's the website for getting a live person?

Q: I remember seeing on TV about a website that lists the phone numbers for getting through to a live customer agent when making calls to your credit-card or cell-phone company. What's the address for that site?

A: You're probably referring to They provide the steps and/or extension numbers you can use to reach a real person when you have an inquiry or complaint to direct to a store, government office or company — insurance, internet, credit card, banks...

Are there any other web browsers?

Q: Aside from Internet Explorer and Firefox, are there any other web browsers?

A: Lots. But after trying out Firefox 2.0, you wouldn't want to use anything else, would you?

IE 7 - now features tabs and integrated RSS feed reader

Opera 9.1 - free to try; $29 to buy

Lynx - text browser

Konqueror - only heard about it, know nothing about it

Netscape Navigator 8.0 - we have memories of this

Safari - default browser on Mac OS X

iCab - for the Apple Macintosh

How do I keep my laptop turned on?

Q: I've connected my laptop to an external monitor. I now want to close the laptop lid, but every time I do, the laptop turns off or I think hibernates. How do I keep it from turning off when I close the lid?

A: I only know how to walk you through Windows XP.

Click Start, then Control Panel.

If you're in Classic View, go directly to Power Options.
If you're in Category View, go to Performance Maintenance and then Power Options.

You should now be seeing Power Options Properties.

Click on the Advanced tab.

Under 'When I close the lid of my portable computer...' choose 'Do nothing.'

Where can I get free images?

Q: Where can I go for free photos and clip art?

A: There are countless websites where you can get stock photos and clip art for free.

How do I use websites without registering?

Q: Is there any way around those subscription-only websites that ask you to register before they let you read their stuff?

A: Head over to and type in the url of the website you want to visit. They usually have a list of account names and passwords you can use for popular websites like The Washington Post and YouTube.

Where can I print crossword puzzles?

Q: I've googled for free crossword puzzles, but the sites are all cluttered and I have to do the puzzles on the screen. I'd really rather do them on paper with pen. Do you know of a site where I can print out the puzzles?

A: Stan Newman's Crossword Land. There's a link below the Java crossword puzzle for a pdf version of it.

How do I deal with my mother-in-law?

Q: I hate my mother-in-law. She's always here and she's driving me nuts. How do I keep her from coming over?

A: Threaten to divorce your spouse. You shouldn't have gotten married in the first place.

Where can I find concert dates on the web?

Q: Where can I find concert dates on the web?

A: It's at the top of the google results! Pollstar -- The Concert Hotwire. Be prepared for pop-ups.

Was "I'm black and I'm proud" from a James Brown song?

Q: I heard it mentioned in the news that "I'm black and I'm proud" is from a James Brown song. Is that true?

A: Haven't you heard of googling? Type in the phrase "I'm black and I'm proud" and "James Brown" and scan the results. If you're too lazy to even do that, then let me assure you that yes, it's from the James Brown song, "Say It Loud."

What is a rusty trombone?

Q: In the movie The 40-Year-Old Virgin, the character Mooj refers to rusty trombones, dirty sanchez and cincinnati bowties... What are those things?

A: You will not ruin my New Year's resolution. Look up slang terms at

How do I get rid of link rot?

Q: Is there a faster way of checking dead links on my website aside from manually clicking on each link?

A: You can perform a free online link check using the W3C Link Checker utility.

Can I use FTP with Firefox?

Q: I type into the Firefox address bar but it doesn't work like in Internet Explorer. Can't I use FTP with Firefox?

A: Get the FireFTP extension. Go here, download it and close your browser. The next time you use Firefox, look under Tools. See the seahorse icon? Click and you're ready to transfer files via FTP. The interface is so simple I don't even need to explain it.

Can I reshape my eyes while sleeping?

Q: I've heard that people can wear contact lenses to bed to correct their vision. I've googled this and the results that came up were LASIK, which I know is surgery and not what I'm looking for, and something called corneal refractive therapy, which is not the term I remember hearing. What is it that I'm looking for?

A: Scan the entire page of results. You're probably referring to Ortho-K. It's short for orthokeratology, w/c is putting in contact lenses at night to reshape the cornea. According to this site, Corneal Refractive Therapy (CRT) is one of the many brand names for Ortho-K. They say you can see results after just a few weeks and it costs between $1,000 to $3,000 for both eyes.

Hey, even I learned something new!

Does Crest Whitestrip work?

Q: Do those Crest Whitestrips work or should I go to the dentist?

A: I've tried only the Classic ones and they worked well enough. If you apply the strips on your lower and upper teeth for thirty minutes twice a day, you'll start noticing a difference in just a few days. The 56 strips per box are meant to be used over 14 days.

They've also come out with Premium, Premium Plus and Supreme versions that are supposedly more potent and can do the job in a week to ten days. Regardless of which you try, I recommend you use them only on special occasions. My gut says they weaken the teeth's enamel over time.

As for going to the dentist, if you can afford to, why not? The entire whitening can be done more quickly and you have someone to ask questions to. But the dentist may also be using the so-called Crest Professional Strength or Professional Strength Supreme versions of what you can buy for yourself.

Should I get Vista?

Q: I'm buying a computer and I keep hearing about Vista. What exactly is it and should I get it?

A: Windows Vista is an operating system that Microsoft developed to replace Windows XP. Its release date is January 30, 2007.

Should you wait till it comes out before buying a computer? Not really. Because like all Microsoft products, Vista is sure to have problems. Ordinary consumers like you and me are better off not touching it the first few months. We wait till the security experts declare it reasonably safe (probably after Microsoft comes out with a service pack or two) before making the switch.

If you are buying a computer now, do make sure it's Windows Vista Capable, with the following being the minimum requirements:

Processor:       800 MHz
Memory:         512 MB RAM
Graphics Card:  DirectX 9 capable (WDDM support recommended)
Graphics Memory:  128 MB
HDD capacity:       40 GB
HDD free space:    15GB
Optical drive:      DVD-ROM drive

Go for more if you can afford it. Visit Microsoft's Get Ready for Vista site to make sure your new computer is going to be "Premium Ready."

Where can I buy the Aibo?

Q: Is it true that the Aibo has been discontinued? Where can I get a brand-new one?

A: Sony discontinued producing this robotic dog back in January 2006. Try E-bay.

Where can I have my fortunes told for free?

Q: Is there a site where I could have my fortunes told for free?

A: Love? Romance? Financial Success? What does YOUR future hold? The Magic Coffee Mug knows all and tells all!

How do I get a girl to go down on me?

Q: How do I get a girl to go down on me?

A: Go down on her first.

Where can I safely download software?

Q: When I use a search engine to look for free programs, I get a lot of results but I have no idea which are safe to download and which are just going to infect my computer. How do I tell which is which?

A: Go to and do your search there. The programs they feature have been reviewed by cnet and/or by users like you and me. Many are free and those that are not usually offer a free trial period.

How do I save pictures off a website?

Q: I sometimes see a picture on a website that I want to save. How do I do that?

A: You right-click on it. Press the right button on your mouse. Choices will appear -- pick Save... If nothing happens, then the site's owner has disabled right-clicking -- he doesn't want you to steal his pictures!

Where is your contact form?

Q: Why does your contact form keep disappearing?

A: I get a lot of inquiries from strangers when I post a contact form. This can be fun except when I'm swamped with other more important duties, so I take it down to keep messages from accumulating.

Sorry I can't be on-call 24/7. If the form is not there, come back another time. If it's up, that means I'm ready to respond promptly.