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Ask Adrian: A replacement for a Samsung phone and how to get a Chromebook unlocked

Our technology editor tackles your trickiest  tech problems

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Vulnerable to hackers? One reader has asked how they can sign out of Gmail on their smartphone

Vulnerable to hackers? One reader has asked how they can sign out of Gmail on their smartphone

Brilliant for email: The Samsung A71

Brilliant for email: The Samsung A71

Sony ZV-1

Sony ZV-1

Asus Rog 3

Asus Rog 3

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Vulnerable to hackers? One reader has asked how they can sign out of Gmail on their smartphone

Question: My elderly friend died recently and I have her Chromebook but unfortunately don't have her password so can't use it. Would you have any suggestion as to where I could get it unlocked. It wasn't used very much and mostly for email and Google. Your help would be appreciated.

- M Kelly

Answer

This can be done if you have access to your deceased friend's Gmail account. Using this method, in any web browser, search for 'Google Account Recovery'. It will ask for an email address and then engage with that email address to help with the password retrieval.

If there's something particular on the laptop that you're looking for, like a document or a photo, Google works with family members or legitimate representatives of a deceased person in some circumstances. But it doesn't just hand over a password, even in these circumstances.

So if you don't have access to your friend's email, and you're not family, you're in a bind. For obvious reasons, Chromebooks aren't designed to be accessed without a password - otherwise any person claiming to be a friend or family member could just access it behind the real owner's back.

If you just want access to the Chromebook as a working laptop, you should be able log in as a 'guest' on the opening page. That will allow you to use things like the internet, but won't allow you to make any settings changes to the laptop.

Question

I hope that you can help me. I recently purchased a Samsung smartphone and activated my Gmail account on it (which I already had on my laptop).

There is no way to sign in or sign out from the Gmail account on the smartphone, like there is with the laptop where, when I want to log in to my Gmail account on my laptop, I have to enter my email address and my password.

I am then asked if I want to sign out when I am finished with the emails, and I always sign out. However, there is no requirement to enter an email address or a password in order to send or receive emails on the new phone. The email account is always open and cannot be signed out from.

Why is this? Does this leave the phone vulnerable to hackers? I ask as I have now received two ransom demands from someone unknown, who has my name and my email address. I presume the hacker somehow connected my visit to a website with my email address because the email address was open all the time. How can I make my emails secure on my new phone? I already have an up-to-date Norton security programme on both the laptop and the phone.

Answer

This is because your phone is a Google phone. The brand is Samsung but it uses Google's interface (called 'Android').

When you first set up the phone, you 'sign in' with your Google account login. This is the same as your Gmail login. It lets you into things like the Play store.

So your Gmail app on your phone will automatically stay open as long as you're 'signed in' to your phone. Which is always.

Normally there shouldn't be any security or hacking risk associated with this. So if you visit a website on your phone, it doesn't mean that there is any security threat associated with your Gmail.

I take it your real concern here is over the supposed ransom emails. These are usually low-level try-on emails that are fake, unless there is something very specific in the ransom email.

Question

I have a Samsung S7 phone and the battery needs to be charged at least twice a day, depending on use.

I use it as a phone and I text. I also use WhatsApp, email and Google. I don't use Facebook or Twitter. I would like to know what phone would be suitable as a replacement.

- Elizabeth

Answer

Considering your needs, the best replacement is Samsung's A71 (€479 from Harvey Norman or from free on some operator subsidy plans). It has a fantastic screen, is well powered and has great battery life. It's brilliant for email and Google. You'll be used to its interface, too, coming from a Samsung S7 (which was a flagship phone that cost a lot more than €479 when it was launched a few years ago).

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Brilliant for email: The Samsung A71

Brilliant for email: The Samsung A71

Brilliant for email: The Samsung A71

 

 

Email your questions to ­ aweckler@independent.ie

 

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Sony ZV-1

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Sony ZV-1

Sony ZV-1

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Want a perfect hybrid camera that goes seamlessly between good still photos and brilliant videography? Sony's new ZV-1 is tailor-made for 'vloggers', meaning it's stabilised, has a flip-out screen and includes superb effects like instant bokeh blur at the touch of a button.

 

Asus Rog 3

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Asus Rog 3

Asus Rog 3

Asus Rog 3

 

If you want to have the absolute cutting edge in screen technology on a smartphone, Asus's new Rog 3 is hard to beat. It has an astounding 144hz refresh rate, meaning that it's smoother and more responsive than anything I've ever tested. It has a jaw-dropping battery reserve and up to a whopping 16GB of Ram. Pure, raw power.

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