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Episode 1490 May 20, 2018

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Audience Questions

Audience QuestionsHour 1

Hour 1 Hour 2 Hour 3
Watch Rick from Poinciana, FL Comments

Rick wants to know how he can bring his Amazon Fire Stick with him when he travels and plug it into the TV where he stays. Leo says that older TVs will require an HDMI to Composite converter, but newer TVs have HDMI ports. So he could just plug them in. Many hotel Wi-Fi hotspots require captive portal registration to use it, and the signal really isn't that good. Also some older TVs may not be HDCP compliant. In that case, he would get either a lower resolution image quality or it would be blocked altogether.

Watch Bob from Burbank, CA Comments

Bob wants to control his whole home through a single device. Leo says the SmartThings Hub from Samsung will work, since it uses both protocols Zigby and Z-Wave. There's also the Wink Hub. He'll get some combined functionality, but he'll need apps for each of his smart devices that have expanded capabilities.

Watch Tom from St. Louis, MO Comments

Tom heard that Authy is better than Google Authenticator. Is that true? Leo says that any authenticator will be better than no authenticator at all, especially when keeping password vaults protected. Most services offer 2 factor authentication now, but the danger there is that some SIMs can be duplicated or even hijacked with some creative social engineering. In fact, the authenticator can be re-routed. Authy sends a secret number and combines it with a time of day (hashing) that changes after 30 seconds. So he'd get one shot to use the code within 30 seconds, and then he'd need a fresh one. Authy also keeps all of his special numbers in a central location, which is good for people like Leo who uses multiple devices or sets up a new phone more often that others. It's also very secure.

Watch Steven from San Antonio, TX Comments

Steven wants to know if doing DNA analysis is safe and secure. How does he make sure that information is protected? Leo says that's a good question, and people do have the right to have their information protected. 23andMe, for instance, has a privacy policy that users must agree to, and they are very committed to keeping it secure.

(Disclaimer: 23andMe is a sponsor)

Audience QuestionsHour 2

Hour 1 Hour 2 Hour 3
Watch Leon from Glendale, CA Comments

Leon is a knife and armor blacksmith and makes videos on YouTube. He wants to improve the video quality over a webcam that he uses. He also needs a better microphone. Leo says webcams have a built in microphone that work close up, but from a distance, he'd really need an off camera mic. A USB microphone would work, since Leon uses a webcam. He would just need to configure it in the webcam software while capturing.

The "fuzz" that Leon is complaining about sounds like "clipping," where the audio is just at too high of a level. He should try lowering the level some, and keep it out of the red. A lapel mic would be even better. A headset mic would also be a good idea. Leo recommends a Plantronics USB version.

Watch Bob from San Jose, CA Comments

Bob bought a Samsung Galaxy S9 and he thinks it's too large for his hand. Leo says that larger phones are the future, as people prefer a larger screen to hand comfort. Bob also has hundreds of contacts on his phone that aren't his after he synced it. Leo says it's possible that AT&T or Samsung sold Bob a phone that was returned and hadn't wiped it before doing so. But if they sealed it up to make it look new, that's against the law.

Another possibility is that Bob was given a used SIM card and the contacts were written on that. That's even more possible. Leo recommends wiping the phone and starting over. He might even want to go to AT&T and ask for a new SIM. Leo says he may also want to return the phone and ask for a new one.

Could it have been Google contacts? Leo says probably not. Google has done a great job sandboxing each member's contact information, so it's very, very unlikely that Google contacts from another accounted bled over into Bob's. It's also possible that if Bob is a Facebook user, those contacts could be from Facebook.

Watch Lori from Santa Monica, CA Comments

Lori is traveling to Europe soon with her family and they all have iPhones, but they have separate carriers and plans. What's the best solution for them as they travel? Leo says first thing is to find out what their international roaming plans are. They're better than they used to be, but it's still pretty expensive for what they would get. International data roaming can cost thousands if they're not careful. Leo recommends using Wi-Fi as much as possible, and they should pre-cache maps in Google Maps. They can get a local SIM in the country they're visiting.

Lori should check out prepaidwithdata.wikia.com to see what options there are. But the downside is that they don't get to keep their own numbers with this. So Leo says the best option now is a MiFi card. They would still have their own local cellphone connection with data. They also support up to 5 devices. Leo likes the Skyroam Solis. They can buy them or rent them. The one thing they'll want to be sure to do is turn off international data roaming when they go.

Audience QuestionsHour 3

Hour 1 Hour 2 Hour 3
Watch Julie from Valencia, CA Comments

Julie recently lost her job after 25 years, and now she has to return the laptop she used. She needs to wipe it first, though. Leo says that laptop is company property and everything on it belongs to them, even if she has personal things saved on it. There is no way they can prevent her from doing it, but Leo advises talking to an attorney before she does.

To wipe it, she should make a USB thumb drive with her OS on it, and then wipe it from the thumb drive. Windows 10 has a secure erase feature that will allow her to erase anything that she places in the trash can. It's probably the best idea to do that instead. She won't want to give her boss a reason to sue her after they just fired her. The program that Leo recommends is Eraser. Another option is Darik's Boot and Nuke (DBAN), which will wipe the drive and then overwrite it with 1s and 0s so the data can't be recovered. But Julie should understand that if she does that, they may not like it and may take legal action.

Hiren's Boot CD will let her make a bootable flash drive that uses Linux. In there, she can then wipe the hard drive. There's also the Ultimate Boot CD.

That's why Leo always says that she should sandbox her personal information by not using a company device to house them. Keep everything separate.

Watch John from Fallbrook, CA Comments

John has a private gate and he needs to connect it via Wi-Fi so he can have a doorbell camera there, but his Wi-Fi range is limited. Leo says that since he has power out there, Leo recommends powerline networking to do it since the electrical lines are already laid. The doorbell camera may be hard because of the speed from the powerline, but Leo thinks it's doable. He recommends TP-Link. The downside is that he'll need to have it all on the same circuit. He can also get the AC1750 Wi-Fi Range extender.

Watch Joe from Tampa, FL Comments

Joe loses his favorites when he reboots his phone. Leo says that if the app he's using is installed on the SD card, it could disappear because the phone may not see it. That's why most phones don't have SD cards anymore.

Watch Paul from La Jolla, CA Comments

A TV converter box is the set top box that comes with a cable subscription, and it takes the signal coming in through the copper cable and turns it into something the TV can understand. He would use the converter box to switch channels. The internet box is a bit different, and would give him the cable internet access. Often times companies will combine the two and offer a converter box and a cable modem. He would get more channels on the hybrid cable TV and internet box, but he'd have to pay for the internet access to use that.

Watch Tommy from Natchitoches, LA Comments

Tommy has a file server, a C drive and a D drive, with shared files and folders. It has an unallocated space of 1TB. Leo says that's huge. His C drive has started to get full, and he needs to extend it, but he's limited in how he can extend that within Windows. It would have to be between the C and the D on his partition manager. Leo thinks this may just be a limitation of the Windows Partition Manager, so one thing he could do is go to EaseUS and get their partition manager to see if it can do it. On the other hand, it may be an actual geometric limitation.

The Chatroom says that it may move the D into the allocated area and then expand the C drive. Will it affect the shared folders? Leo says no. It won't reassign it. But Leo recommends doing a full backup before he attempts it, and EaseUS actually has a backup tool as well.

Watch Mars Worm from The Chatroom Comments

Mars Worm in the chatroom is having issues with his hard drive unmounting in his Mac Mini when it goes to sleep. Leo says that computers going to sleep has always been a pain, going back to the early days. Hibernation is even worse.

There is a tech note from Apple about that here, at support.apple.com. It's also talked about at blog.grapii.com.