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Episode 1432 October 21, 2017

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Audience Questions

Audience QuestionsHour 1

Hour 1 Hour 2 Hour 3
Watch Denise from Camarillo, CA Comments

Denise's external hard drive can't be read by her Mac. How can she recover it? Leo says that there are disc recovery tools that could help Denise. One is called SpinRite, but it's a bit expensive and is difficult to use on a Mac. AlSoft's Disc Warrior is another good option, but it may not be the best option because it can only fix soft failures. Another one is ProSoft Data Rescue 3, which is $80. A hardware failure may have occurred and if that's the case, the hard drive may need to be taken in to a service like DriveSavers to get the data off, and that's very expensive.

Doctor Mom in the chatroom says to double check all the connectors. She should try using a different computer, and a different USB cable, just in case.

The other problem may be that if she upgraded to macOS High Sierra, Apple has changed their file system and plugging in that USB drive may not be readable without it being converted.

This is a good example of why backups are important.

Watch Doctor Mom from New York Comments

Doctor Mom has managed to add her Sonos to the Amazon Echo by installing the Sonos Skill and letting it discover them in the devices section. It does have limitations, though. It can't play Spotify or Audible. The Echo will also immediately turn off all the speakers when it wakes up. The Sonos skill isn't really ready for prime time just yet. That's why she recommends getting the Vaux External Speaker for the Echo Dot, because you can drop the Dot right into it.

Audience QuestionsHour 2

Hour 1 Hour 2 Hour 3
Watch Dennis from Korea Comments

Dennis is stationed in Korea and he's had to get a new Samsung Galaxy 8 Plus, but the Bixby feature drives him nuts. How can he turn it off? Leo says that the most recent update will allow him to disable the button. He'll just end up with the Bixby voice assistant instead, though. The pity is that Samsung still doesn't let you customize the button for another use.

Watch Scott from Redondo Beach, CA Comments

Jeff is building a house and he wants to know the best way to wire up the house. Leo says that if he has bare open walls, he should put in conduit. That will future proof his home for whatever comes down the line. Then he can run Cat6 Ethernet, if he can afford it. Cat 5e is just as good, and more affordable.

Wi-Fi is still fine and Leo recommends going with mesh routers. He likes Plume, Eero, Netgear Orbi, and Ubiquity. Orbi has the highest speed.

(Disclaimer: Eero is a sponsor)

Watch Gary from Camarillo, CA Comments

Gary wants to know which Android phone to get: Pixel 2, Samsung Galaxy S8, Note 8 or LG V30? Leo says that Google's pure Android is ideal because it doesn't have any software overlays. LGs overlays are decent, though. Samsung is the worst in that regard. But in terms of screen, people are complaining about LG's pOLED screens, though Leo isn't bothered by them. Samsung's S8 and Note 8 have the most beautiful displays. They also have the best cameras. But in terms of security, Google's Pixel phones will always get patched first. So for security, Google has the edge. They're all very close. It really comes down to what's important to him. He should go into the store and hold them. Turn the brightness down half way, and see what's the best.

Watch Jim from Long Beach, CA Comments

Jim has an internet enabled TV and he is about to subscribe to the internet, but does he really need a router? Leo says yes! It sits between him and the outside world and rejects security assaults by hackers. The router will also handle multiple devices, so if he has mobile phones, smart devices, a desktop or laptop, he's going to need a router to handle all that traffic. And his internet company will likely give him a router that can handle all that.

Watch Zachary from Victorville, CA Comments

Zachary wants to play games and he's connected his desktop to his TV. When he tries to adjust the screen settings, however, none of the settings work. Leo says to try and change the settings before he connects the TV. The TV has a native resolution that is actually lower than the resolution on his desktop. He should check what his TV's native resolution is and then choose that setting that is as close as possible to it. He may also be in mirror mode instead of extended mode. So he should try and change that if he can.

The chatroom suggests going into Windows 10 tablet mode and see if he can make any changes that way. Doctor Mom says that Samsung's SmartView may be enabled and that could be causing handshake issues. Samsung says he'll have to install the Smart View app for Windows in order to use his Samsung Smart TV with Windows.

Watch David from Mira Loma, CA Comments

David has a home theater system and the speakers are already built into the house, but he needs surround speakers. Leo says he can do that and then just wire them into his home theater system. It'll be the rear surround in a 7.1 Dolby system. Or, if he doesn't want to do that, he should just go with Dolby 5.1. He'll be just fine with that. He'll need to re calibrate, too. Of course, he could go all in and do Dolby Atmos at home, too.

Audience QuestionsHour 3

Hour 1 Hour 2 Hour 3
Watch Ron from Mountain View, CA Comments

Ron got his granddaughter a Google Tablet and his parents want him to set it up with parental controls. Leo says that there's built-in settings for Google Play. He could also restrict it at the router level using OpenDNS and the router's own settings. This won't help when the phone is taken outside of the home network, however, so here are some options that can run on the phone itself:

PCMag has a ranking of the best parental software options here. There's always the cellphone loophole that will give them broader access. Leo believes that setting all this stuff up just gives them motivation to get around it. So he'll have to have a serious discussion with them about online behavior. That way he can keep the lines of communication open. And if he needs to, he can give them a contract to sign that outlines what they can and cannot do online.

Watch Carson from Orange County, CA Comments

Carson's LG G3 broke, and he wants to know what Android phone he should get next. His budget is $250. Leo says he likes the Motorola G5 Plus. It won't have as good of a screen or camera as the flagship level smartphones that start at $600. That being said, the screen will be just fine and the camera is still pretty decent. Also, the nice thing about the Moto G5 is that it's fast enough, and Motorola keeps the operating system very clean. Motorola also keeps its phones up to date.

Watch Peter from Toronto, Ontario, Canada Comments

Peter has a Sonos wireless home theater and he's having some interference issues. Leo says that Sonos uses its own spectrum, and he can select standard WiFi instead. But chances are, he's running into plain old congestion as other home theater and Wi-Fi units are taking up the bandwidth. If he can, he should move it over to the 5GHz channel instead. He'll have to re-pair them, but it'll be worth it. It could also be an issue with Sonos' new 8.1 firmware update. Both Leo and Doctor Mom are experiencing the same thing, so there's something going on.

Watch John from Oxnard, CA Comments

John has a new car and it doesn't have a CD player. It has a USB plug instead, but the music just jumps all around. Leo says that most car makers expect you to keep your music organized and play it from the phone. John's Corvette uses Apple CarPlay so his iPhone will interface with it really easily and he can play all his music via the iOS Music app. He can just tell it to play an album and it will play it. Or he can even tell it to play with no pauses between tracks, shuffle, create playlists, genre, and more. It's wide open in terms of options. He shouldn't use the thumb drive USB option, because it doesn't give him much control. Leo recommends using Media Monkey instead of iTunes to set it all up.

Image "Apple-CarPlay" by Sam Churchill via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Watch Mary from Vista, CA Comments

Mary wants to upgrade her printer, but she doesn't like having to pay for ink every time they run out. Leo says that the Epson EcoTank is great over the long term because it comes with a two year supply of ink. But if she doesn't print regularly, an ink jet can clog. So Leo suggest going with a laser printer. He likes Brother.

(Disclaimer: Epson is a sponsor)

Watch David from Colorado Springs, CO Comments

David is looking at the Google Pixel 2 XL but he's worried about losing accessibility on his iPhone. Leo says that Google isn't going to take their apps off iOS any time soon. The Pixel 2 XL is a worthy contender if he chooses to make the switch. Both are great phones. One argument in Apple's favor is that from a security point of view, he's safer because their ecosystem is closed versus Android's open source approach.