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Episode 1456 January 21, 2018

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Audience Questions

Audience QuestionsHour 1

Hour 1 Hour 2 Hour 3
Watch Jeff from Wisconsin Comments

Jeff installed Bluestacks on his Windows 7 PC, and then he updated to Windows 10. Bluestacks is a program that lets you run Android apps on Windows. Jeff has an Android app called MovieHD and all of a sudden it's saying he has no connection, and to "please try again." Leo says Bluestacks is far from perfect — it won't run all Android apps. The app may have worked at one time, but Leo says that doesn't mean it will continue to work. App developers aren't really paying attention to Bluestacks, they're more concerned that it will work on all of the different Android phones, which is a non-trivial job as it is. All Jeff can really do is put a helpful review in the Google Play store about it, and hopefully, the developer will see it and fix that. Bluestacks is not an approved way to run Android apps, so there's just no gaurantee.

Image by Google Inc. [CC BY 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Watch Mike from Riverside, CA Comments

Mike is wondering how good the encryption is in Microsoft Word and Excel documents. Leo says it's actually pretty good and that it's adequate, but not uncrackable. Leo says it's hard to crack stuff on the web when a service can slow the attacker down. But if someone can get a document that's locked and own it, there's nothing to stop them from trying a million passwords a second, and brute-force that document. Having said that, Microsoft has started using strong encryption on documents. The weak link will be the password. Leo recommends using a password generator and create a very long random password. If he were to create a 40 character password, that wouldn't be brute-forcible in our lifetime.

Watch Jim from Riverside, CA Comments

Jim called to ask about how he can reinstall Windows 10 on a computer that's been given him if the person who bought it owned the software. Leo says that was the old way of thinking. The new way of thinking is that Windows 10 is licensed to the computer, and not the owner. So if he was given a Windows machine that runs Windows 10, and needs to format and reinstall Windows, it will activate.

Watch Ron & Jackie from Irvine, CA Comments

Ron and Jackie are having trouble getting wireless signal upstairs. What can they do? Leo says that any router will be compatible, but with all the congestion and a second story, Leo would recommend a mesh router system. The old router system is just not designed to handle the load. Mesh routers start at $300, but they are completely worth it because they will have no dropouts or dead spots and they are regularly updated to remain secure. Mesh routers will also automatically manage the network according to the quality of service.

Leo recommends Eero's mesh router. Ron & Jackie should get a base unit and two "beacons," which will create strong tri-band Wi-Fi everywhere. Eero even has an app that will help them place everything in the right spot.

Another option is the NetGear Orbi. It's faster, but it's not really a true mesh system. Leo says it's excellent, though. But at the same price as the Eero, they'd be better off with the Eero.

How about the Asus 2900 or 3200 router? Leo says they're very good, but they won't solve some of the connection issues they're having. They would still need an extender which will cut the speed in half. Leo recommends spending the extra money to get a mesh system.

(Disclaimer: Eero is a sponsor)

Watch Brian from Fennimore, WI Comments

Brian is wondering if he can prevent third-party apps from seeing his contacts list on his phone. Leo says it's very common for apps like Snapchat, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and more to suggest inviting friends from your contacts list. They have to ask permission to get to this list, though. These apps upload the contacts list to their servers so it can alert you that someone new has joined that app. Leo says that absolutely is a privacy breach. He could say "no" when it asks him for permission, but there's nothing he can do to prevent his friends from sharing his contact data to one of the apps they use.

Leo recommends that Brian not give out his actual phone number to his friends and family. He can get a Google Voice number, and use that instead. It will forward to his real number, but at any time he can change that forwarding. He can even create a Gmail account that's only for social. The problem is, he's giving a working number to his friends, so the trick at this point is to assume that his email and phone number are no longer private.

Audience QuestionsHour 2

Hour 1 Hour 2 Hour 3
Watch Chris from Miami FL Comments

Chris wants to get an Apple Watch Series 3 and the iPhone X. He's heard rumors, however, that Apple is slowing down production, and he's wondering if he should avoid those products. Leo says to consider the source. For instance, Ming-Chi Quo is primarily an analyst and his job is more to decide if it's worth buying Apple stock over buying the iPhone. So far, there's been no confirmation of sales having softened due to supply. If anything, it's been quite the opposite, especially with the Apple Watch. Analysts and rumor guys are wrong more often than they are right. So Leo recommends getting an iPhone X and Apple Watch Series 3 if he wants it.

Watch Clyde from Torrance, CA Comments

Clyde wants to know if he can just get rid of his administrator account to prevent malware from getting installed, or should he just hide it? Leo says he can create a hidden administrator account. His computer will just need admin access to install software. That's just as secure.

Here's how to create a hidden admin account (howtogeek.com)

Watch Holly from California Comments

Holly is having issues saving files onto her hard drive and she's concerned that she may be running out of storage. Leo says that it's probably not the hard drive that's causing that — it's probably her cloud storage on Google Drive. She has a limited amount of storage online and if she's exceeding that, then she's going to have those problems.

Leo suspects there's an app that is syncing with Google Drive. There's probably a folder on her hard drive that shows that. She should look on Google Drive and see what's there. Chances are, that's what's happening. Google is backing up and syncing to Google Drive and she's running up against a limit.

Watch Steven from Los Angeles, CA Comments

Steven wants to know what battery charger is best. He's seen one on SharperImage.com that looks pretty good. It's a Universal Battery Charger and it promises to regenerate batteries. Is it legit? Leo says that it's a bad idea to recharge alkaline batteries. He should get a rechargeable NIMH battery charger. Steven can check out theWirecutter.com for the best battery charger. He can get the charger with four batteries for around $21.

Watch Brad from Canada Comments

Brad doesn't want to update to Windows 10, even though he knows it's not that bad of a transition. Does he have to? He keeps hearing of problems. Leo says that it's all about the numbers. When there are hundreds of millions of computers updating, even if .05% of them have problems, that's still thousands of issues and people will post about it. Leo says it's still a great update that's worth doing.

Brad says he tried and he can't get auto updates, though. Leo suspects it's a third-party antivirus program. Leo recommends going with Windows Defender for Windows 10, or Microsoft Security Essentials for Windows 7. He should get rid of his third-party AVS and then he should be able to get the updates he needs.

Audience QuestionsHour 3

Hour 1 Hour 2 Hour 3
Watch Isaac from Ontario, Canada Comments

Isaac is worried that the new Net Neutrality rules in the US will affect his internet access in Canada. How can he get involved to try and prevent that? Leo says that as the US goes, so goes the world. Net Neutrality is definitely in jeopardy all around the world, and it's difficult to get his voice heard in the face of huge companies with a lot of money to buy access. But in Canada, the law requires ISPs be treated as utilities. So they can only go so far in protecting under those regulations. There is a battle going on in Canada but let's face it, internet access in Canada isn't all that great. Rogers is a terrible company. Isaac should get involved in his area because the best defense is a good offense.

Will net neutrality affect his mobile plan? Leo says it's not supposed to. He already has bandwidth caps with his current mobile plan. There is something called zero rating, where if he signs up, he could get unlimited streaming of Netflix or Hulu that doesn't count against his bandwidth cap. That's pretty cool on its face, but it's really anti-competitive and violates the spirit of net neutrality.

Watch Dan from New Jersey Comments

Dan has an aunt who lives a reclusive life and there are times she can't get up to open her door. Dan is wondering if there's a remote option that will allow her to open the door? Leo says sure, but she will also probably want a camera and monitor so she can see who's at the door before she opens it. That would require Wi-Fi, though. Schlage makes one that opens via Bluetooth. Kwikset was the first company to do this. He can even get one that works with Amazon Echo. He'll need to make sure the company updates the Bluetooth security regularly.

Leo suggests calling a local alarm company to see what kind of solution they could offer. He suggests having them install it as well.

Watch Dave from Ridgecrest, CA Comments

Dave is having issues with Gmail in Safari. Leo says to try resetting Safari as Gmail is a hefty program that has to load and it may not be fully loading. Often times, clearing the browser cache will fix it. He should clear all history. That will clear the cache and get rid of cookies and possibly passwords as well. He can also try using the "Reset Safari" command.

Watch Mark from Northridge, CA Comments

Mark got the Nighthawk router and now he's hearing he has to buy a service agreement to have it updated for security after owning it for 90 days. Leo says that's outrageous. Security updates should be included in a $200 router. Paying $129 a year is ridiculous. But we expect really cheap gear now and with a single tech call, they can lose their profit margin. It's just the nature of the technology business. Security is a basic need, though, and that should be factored in. But the answer may be that he'd have to pay for it, either in the price of the router or in an annual subscription service.

Watch Chuck from Stallion Springs, CA Comments

Chuck got an Amazon Echo for Christmas and he's learned that he can control his stereo with it. Leo says that for $99, the Logitech Harmony Hub will not only control his stereo, but also his TV, cable box, and AV receiver, everything. It's designed to work with your smartphone, but it also works with the Echo too.