A reader wrote to tell us about “Mobile Passport,” a free app which lets him breeze past the long lines at the airport after an overseas journey. Here’s how it goes:

“So I was blindsided on a recent overseas trip when my daughter told me about this app.  By filling out some basic info and submitting it electronically when you arrive stateside, you skip right past the long line at immigration, to go to a line of one person (in our case) who was enlightened like we were.  It took us about one minute. This will certainly change when others learn about Mobile Passport so don’t tell anyone.  But for now, wow!”

Okay, so we’re telling someone; what can we say? Actually, things being what they are and this being a newspaper and all, we’re telling a lot of people.

Mobile Passport is less well known than a similar app, called “Global Entry.” But Global Entry costs $100 every five years unless you have one of several credit cards that offer this perk. The Mobile Passport app is free and was developed by U.S. Customs and Border Protection. It speeds you through customs at two cruise ports and 25 airports. Download it at MobilePassport.us and read more about the various credit cards at ThePointsGuy.com.

Here’s another good travel app: Airhelp.  If your flight is delayed, canceled or overbooked, you can get up to $700 in compensation. AirHelp is free for Android and iPhone.

Better Wi-Fi

Another reader writes to say: “Our daughter and family are living with us until her new home is completed. She didn’t think my Wi-Fi system was up to her standards, so her husband installed their Apple router and extender and unplugged mine. But he left my two Netgear range extenders in place.  Later experiments showed this was a mistake.”

Apple uses range extenders to, well, extend the range. Google WiFi and some others use what’s called “mesh” network. The techy part: A range extender or repeater takes in a signal and kicks it out again with more power. Both repeaters and extenders can slow down your web browsing by cutting your bandwidth in half. They also require software updates, which can be a hassle. A “mesh” network is a group of routers that communicate wirelessly to each other to create a single Wi-Fi network. Updates happen automatically as needed.

We use “Google WiFi,” which is the number one seller on Amazon in the “mesh” category. We only needed two units, but you can buy a three-pack for $256. Otherwise, they’re $129 each and you need one for each dead zone. Each unit is about the size of a thick hockey puck. We had trouble getting it to work, but found that tech support was great. (Their phone number is on the bottom of the device.) If you want more info about the differences, see an article from PCMagazine.com called “Wi-Fi Range Extenders versus Mesh Kits.” Let the games begin.


  • TheWeek.com/audio has audio versions of “The Week” magazine, which a reader wrote to tell us is his favorite. We get it too. One article told us that crows make up after fights by sitting close and preening each other. Wild idea.
  • Online.seterra.com has fun geography games for adults. Focus on whatever area of the world you’re interested in. Somewhere between ten and fifteen percent of Americans, depending on age groups, can’t locate the U.S. on a world map. Forty percent can’t find England and eighty percent can’t find Afghanistan. (This reminded Bob that in an Interview, Paris Hilton thought London was a country.)
  • SpotTheStation.nasa.gov tells you when the International Space Station is overhead. The space station is the third brightest object in the sky and easy to spot if you use the coordinates on the website. It looks like a fast-moving plane.

Keyboard Shortcuts

Whether you use Chrome, Firefox or some other web browser, there are shortcuts to make it all faster on your computer.

We searched on the phrase “30 Useful Keyboard Shortcuts on Chrome” and got these gems, though you could substitute Firefox, Edge and Safari. In our tests, the same shortcuts work for all four browsers.

For example, Joy likes to have a dozen tabs open, so the command “Ctrl W,” (Cmd W on the Mac), which closes the current one, is useful, as is “Ctrl T” or “Cmd T” to open a new tab. “Ctrl D,” (“Cmd D” on the Mac) automatically bookmarks a page. “Ctrl F” or “Cmd F” opens a search bar to let you find a word or phrase in the page you’re on. These commands also work in Firefox and Microsoft Edge.

Facebook Privacy

A company called “Cliqz” tells us that Facebook’s tracking scripts monitor nearly one third of your browsing history, even if you’re not a member of Facebook. Ironically, you must sign up for Facebook just to delete the data Facebook has already collected about you.

Just for fun, we tried the Cliqz web browser, which claims to keep you from being tracked. First, we noticed that it brought in our Google Chrome favorites, so it feels like we’re still in Chrome. We were about to add an extension, but that is not allowed in Cliqz, because it aims to create a perfectly safe environment. Extensions or add-ons can add security risks, though most are safe. Anyway, having too many of them slows your browsing.



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