Q: I recently bought a Windows 10 PC to replace my Windows 7 computer — I knew it would be risky to keep using Windows 7 after it stopped getting security updates in January. But then I installed Adobe Acrobat Pro DC 2015 and Microsoft Office 2010 on my new PC, even though both will stop getting security updates later this year. Am I taking a big risk?
James Skakoon, St. Paul
A: I would buy newer programs that will receive security updates. But while the importance of updates was clear with Windows 7, it's a gray area with software apps.
Why? When an operating system such as Windows 7 doesn't receive security updates, it exposes millions of people to the risk of having their computers taken over. But individual programs, particularly older ones, aren't used by as many people. They are a less appealing target for hackers. What's more, a program flaw might not allow an attacker to take over a computer. That said, there is some risk in using apps without security updates, and you have to decide whether the risk is acceptable. Here are some things to consider:
• There's no way to be sure how much security you need. For example, security patches were issued in 2019 for your versions of Adobe Acrobat and Microsoft Office. But in neither case was there an immediate threat that these security "holes" would be attacked. Did the security patches prevent attacks from happening later? We'll never know.
• The cost of a security lapse is hard to predict. Adobe was hurt last October, when an insecure company database exposed the business details of nearly 7.5 million Adobe customers. One simple and avoidable security mistake may have caused lasting damage.
Q: Because of radio interference, I have poor FM radio reception in my downtown apartment, which has tall buildings on three sides. Would a better indoor antenna help?
Lynne Dale, Minneapolis
A: FM radio interference in downtown areas is usually caused when the radio signal is reflected by tall buildings. A reflected signal may "cancel out" the original one, causing bad over-the-air reception. A new indoor antenna probably won't solve that problem.
A better solution would be to use online streaming to listen to FM radio on a smartphone, computer, internet-enabled TV, game console or other internet-connected device.
SiriusXM, a satellite radio service, offers an $8 a month internet service that connects to many devices (see tinyurl.com/yx3duvhf). Alternatively, there are free FM radio apps for computer and smartphone that often include advertising or offer additional for-pay services (see list at tinyurl.com/yxx4ppg7). Two of those apps, iHeartRadio and TuneIn, carry several Minneapolis-St. Paul stations.
Q: I have a Google Chromebook computer. Can it use the tax program TurboTax?
John Lindborg, Champlin
A: Yes. While Chromebooks are unable to run the TurboTax used by PCs or Macs, they can use the online version of the program without installing anything. The online program runs in your device's Chrome browser.
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