Tips for safer cellphone use


Q: I have an older but still working computer that I would like to donate to a charity, but I need to permanently remove old files first. I know you’ve mentioned programs that permanently delete files in your column before, but I can’t find them now. Can you tell me the name of one, preferably free?

Lou Brackett

A: Here’s a web link that goes into things in detail — It’ll suggest some programs and explain the process. For myself (and this method is mentioned on the page) I just remove the drive and either destroy it with a hammer or put it in a desk drawer. If you’re giving the computer away it isn’t unreasonable to have the person who gets it pop $30 or so for a cheap hard disk. The great thing about putting the disk in a drawer is that amounts to a back-up copy of all the data you had on the old computer.

Q: When I do searches on Google and click on the resulting sites I am sent to site that is not the one that I clicked on. When this does happen I have been able to get an address by clicking the browser’s back button. I have completed a virus check and I ran Malwarebytes without any positive results. I have searched the Internet for info on this problem and really haven’t found any good sites or discussions/solutions for this issue. At this point I am trying to determine if this is a virus or is it something that Google and/or FireFox is doing? I would greatly appreciate your ideas, suggestions and thoughts.

John Daniels

A: I think your machine has what is called the Google Redirect Virus. But keep in mind that I can be wrong, it’s difficult to diagnose and fix computers by email … it’s sort of like trying to fix a Toyota by email. I’ll paste in a web link that will let you read about the virus and how to get rid of it:

Now, that said — this isn’t a really easy fix. So it may be that you’ll want to get the computer to a tech and pay to have it fixed.

Please send questions to Bill Husted at

Seldom do I handle topics in this column that amount to life-saving advice. But today’s column may help extend your life and the lives of the people you love. We’ll talk about the possible – and let me underline the word possible – dangers from cellphone use.

For years now scientists and medical experts have been divided on the issue of whether the radiated energy from a cellphone can cause cancer. If you want a detailed explanation of cell phone radiation and the possible dangers, this website — — does a fine job without taking sides in the debate.

My tactic for today is this: There are ways of lessening the dangers if there are true links to cancer. And since following these tips will do no harm, and since there is a chance that the doomsayers are right, then it’s a good idea for all of us to lessen the radiation exposure from the phone.

That’s a magic fear word – radiation. And there is radiation from the phone. But it is non-ionizing radiation and that is different, in a good way, from the kind of radiation created by x-rays and exposure to radioactive materials. Still there’s a chance that enough of it could be dangerous.

The rub, when it comes to the exposure you receive, is two-fold. No. 1: The cell is increasingly how most of us make calls. Many of my friends and family members use the cell as their only phone – they’ve totally abandoned the landline phone. No. 2: Most of us hold our cells directly to ears. And the closer the source of radiation, the more we receive.

So let’s start there, in our effort to lessen the amount of radiation received. Scientists on both sides of the question agree that even a few inches of distance can dramatically reduce the radiation exposure. So, at the least, hold your phone a few inches away from your ear, rather than pressing it directly against the ear. But I’d rather you do even more. Use the speaker on the phone so that you can hold the cell in front of you and many inches away from your face. Or use a headset that includes a microphone so that the phone can be held away from your body.

I’ll mention here that some experts worry that a wired headset and microphone can serve as an antenna that collects the radiated signal – like an antenna – and direct it to your head. I can’t judge whether that is so. But there are wireless Blutooth accessories if you want to be double safe.

Not all cellphones use the same amount of transmitting power. And the less power used, the less radiation from the phone. Sadly, the “smartphones” tend to use the most radiated power. Here’s a chart that shows the 20 phones with the highest level of radiation:

Keep in mind that the chart was produced in October 2012 – it was the latest I could find. Also keep in mind that the FCC regulates the amount of power allowed. Many experts say that the FCC has been very conservative – erring on the safe side – when it comes to how much power it will allow. If those experts are right, the amount of power radiated isn’t a concern.

One thing we haven’t talked about is the amount of time you spend on the phone. If you worry that the cell radiation is dangerous, it’s sensible to spend as little time as you can using the cell. There is no radiation at all from wired phones and much less from wireless handsets used in the home. So, for those who worry, find alternatives to hour-long cell conversations. For instance, I’ll put in a good word for texting.

Here’s my final thought – we can’t know with any certainty whether your cell is increasing the chance that you’ll get cancer or develop other medical problems. But we can easily cut back on exposure from that radiation. Some of you may decide – and it seems logical to me – that it’s best to play it safe.