Hardware

Laptop or desktop computers and any components within.

How can I record video secretly?

Carrie from Lake Arrowhead, CA

Episode 1506

Carrie wants to know if there's a camera that can secretly record a meeting. Leo says there is, the trade name is called a lipstick camera, and they're even smaller now. You can buy a camera smaller than your pinky. And they record HD, and very wide angle. There are dozens of them on Amazon and they're around $10. Search for mini cam or micro cam. There's even one that fits in a pen.

How can I control my TV and cable box with my voice?

Caller from California

Episode 1506

Caller is blind and wants to know what he can do to access the tv easier. Leo says that the Amazon Echo is a good option. But the Echo can sometimes misunderstand. It's a good idea to keep it away from TV speakers. You can connect it to your home theater and control everything with your voice. That's a great feature. The chatroom says that the Amazon FireTV Cube has VoiceView, that's a screenreader to read the TV screen when needed. And the Cube supports a broad range of cable and internet boxes. Another option is the Logitech Harmony Hub. It can even work in tandem with the Echo.

Dick DeBartolo, The Giz Wiz

Episode 1505

Dick DeBartolo

Watermelon Smash is the latest new twist on the water roulette game. It challenges each player to press the watermelon against their head as many times as the number on the spinner. It's a suspenseful game because you never know when the watermelon will fully crack open. (You'll see my surprise when I tried playing the game and got drenched. The link is at the Giz Wiz Video below.) If it cracks on your turn, you either get covered with water or plastic watermelon seeds and you are out of the game. Be the last player left to avoid having the watermelon crack open and you win.

Can you turn your old Fire tablet into an Echo Show?

Lillian (Doctor Mom) from New YOrk, NY

Episode 1505

Lillian says that you can use your old Fire tablet as an Echo Show now thanks to a new Pogo dock by Amazon. Leo says it sounds like just a charging dock and with an software update, it would turn it into an Echo Show. But the dock doesn't have any speakers, and the screen isn't all that great. So it's an interesting device if you have a surplus Fire tablet lying around, and for $35 it's not too bad.

Apple refreshes MacBook Pro line for professionals

Episode 1505

Apple announced a 13" and 15" refresh of the MacBook Pro, starting at $1799 and $2399. Leo says that all the Macs released in the last few years have been aimed at professionals, and he believes that the consumer grade Mac is on the way out. Apple really wants consumers to buy iPads, rather than laptops of iMacs. So in the near future, you may have to pay thousands to get that MacBook or iMac. You can get them with an i9 processor and up to 4TB hard drive. So expect to pay around $7,000 to be able to edit your film on your laptop.

How can I figure out what's wrong with my PC monitor?

Episode 1504

Steve from San Diego, CA
Dell Inspiron

The monitor of Steve's Dell Inspiron has finally bit the dust. Leo says it's probably the cable that has gone bad or worked its way loose. He should try to change the monitor cable. If that doesn't fix it, he should swap out the monitor and see if that's it. Once he has eliminated the easy stuff, then he can look inside the computer. These days, the video card is wired into the motherboard, so that means either replacing the motherboard or getting a new computer. But he should try the easiest stuff first.

Can I run a Wyze Cam from my desktop?

Episode 1504

Ed from Illinois
Wyze Cam

Ed bought a Wyze Cam, but he doesn't have a smartphone to control it. Leo says that he would need to get a cell phone or at least a tablet for it to work. eBay is a good place to get one for cheap. Can he run it from a computer using BSD? Leo says probably not. BSD is a good OS, but it's not used by very many people. Also, Wyze hasn't created a desktop app yet.

He could use an Android emulator like Bluestacks, but he may need Windows or Linux to run it.

Can I use my phone data plan with my laptop?

Episode 1503

Brett from Fontana, CA
Verizon JetPack

Brett needs to connect his laptop to his phone and use it as a hotspot. Leo says that the iPhone does have a hotspot mode, but some carriers will want to charge him for the privilege. He can enable it in the phone's cellular settings. Then he can connect his laptop to his phone via Wi-Fi. This will be impacting his data plan though, so he should keep that in mind. But if his connection keeps dropping, that sounds like an issue with the laptop.

Dick DeBartolo, The Giz Wiz

Episode 1503

Dick DeBartolo

The small Wi-Fi Eye-Temp device monitors temperature and time on any item (stove, candle, iron, etc.) that is paired through one of their devices and connected to their mobile app. They say it's the first smart device that can monitor ANY item individually. You'll receive an alert when an item is left on for too long. This is specific to the item being monitored. When you set up Eyetemp, you will choose the type of item you are monitoring when you pair the device. If a rapid and drastic temperature change is noted, there is an alert that will be sent to notify you.

What is a good voice control TV device for a blind man?

Episode 1503

Gary from Weeki Wachee, FL
Amazon Fire TV Cube

Gary's mom has dementia and his brother is blind. Their cable company has gone all digital and now they have to make the transition and need voice command to change the TV channels. Leo says that the Amazon Fire TV Cube is a great solution, because it has Amazon Echo built it. It can control some cable boxes, and most TVs. It costs $119. It will also work with Google Home Assistant.