Hardware

Laptop or desktop computers and any components within.

The Giz Wiz and the Big Alarm Clock

Episode 1533

The “Large 9” LED display alarm clock” is huge. Each digit is 3” high, certainly bigger than most clocks in the home. You set the time, alarms, snooze, etc. with UP and DOWN arrows near the top of the clock. The back of the clock features two USB 5V 1A charging ports for charging small devices like smartphones. A dimmer setting can be adjusted for the brightness you prefer for sleep. Dual alarms mean you can set two separate wake-up times. A snooze button on the top allows you to have 5-60 minutes (you set that too) more to stay in bed before the alarm sounds again.

How can I do voice dictation on my Desktop?

Episode 1533

Lisa from California

Lisa wants to know if she can do dictation with her desktop. Leo says that you can plug in a headset or microphone to the audio hack in the back of your computer. Windows 10 has cortana that can do that. You can also get software like Dragon Naturally speaking, but these days, voice dictation is available as part of your Windows OS. And it works pretty good. Not perfect, but pretty good.

How can I prevent my router from dropping my internet connection?

Episode 1533

Scott from Mission Viejo, CA

Scott has an Apple Airport and every time he gets on with his cellphone, the internet drops out. Leo says to check your DNS to see if it's properly configured. That can be found in your network settings. So try rebooting you're router. Steve Gibson has a tool called DNS Benchmark at GRC.com which can tell you how well your DNS settings are responding. You can also change it to Google's DNS or OpenDNS. But it could also be your router is giving out.

How can I create a wrist mounted alert for my elderly mother?

Episode 1533

Sam from North Carolina

Sam installed Hue lights with remote controls for his elderly parents. He wants to know if there's a bracelet remote. Leo says that Philips has something that can do the same but alert if they fall. Leo says that Philips has a device called Homesafe AutoAlert, which will alert 911 in the event of a fall. Then there's the Apple watch Series 4. Here's an interesting project for the handy person - https://hackaday.io/project/11067-fall-detector-wearable-for-elderly-and...

What headphones do I need to watch TV for the hard of hearing?

Episode 1532

Seth from Long Beach, CA

Both of Seth's parents are now hard of hearing and they need headphones to watch TV. Is there a system that can do it for them? Leo says that hearing aids now can pair to your TV. So if they need a hearing aid, that's a good feature to get. But if you want headphones, Leo got his mother a pair of Sennheiser wireless RF headphones. Much better than bluetooth.

Is there a GPS device for hiking to keep track of someone who gets lost?

Episode 1532

Robert from Mira Mesa, CA

Robert is looking for a personal GPS tag for hiking and backpacking, that can be used to locate someone in case of an emergency. But not tied to cellular. Leo says they are a very popular device for hikers, and the technology is called SPOT. It does GPS with their own satellite networks, shows waypoints on google maps, will alert family. Check out FindMeSpot.com. There are also watches that use SPOT. Garmin's In Reach has it's own network.

Leo Tries the Magic Leap VR Headset

Episode 1532

Leo had a chance to try out the "Creator's edition" of the new Magic Leap Virtual Reality Headset. Magic Leap has raised $1.4 Billion to create this VR headset. Leo says that selling a developer's edition is the new Beta. People buy them, and then shake out the bugs. Leo says that while VR is initially a wow experience, over time, you start to get sick to your stomach. And while Magic Leap was interesting, Leo says we are still in the infant days of virtual and augmented reality.

Should I buy a mesh router?

Episode 1532

Dave from New York

Dave wants to replace his Airport Extreme and wants to go with a mesh router. Leo says that's a good idea since Apple has stopped making routers. Mesh routers are good because they are always updated and they provide great coverage around a large house. The downside, is that to get additional features and updates, you have to pay around $100 a year if you want that support. Leo recommends Eero and Plume, and the Netgear Orbi. But even the stand alone routers from Asus, Linksys and NetGear have mesh features. The NetGear Nighthawk is a good one that's recommended by The Wire Cutter.