Hardware

Laptop or desktop computers and any components within.

Dick DeBartolo, The Giz Wiz

Dick DeBartolo

Episode 1531

The SmartFlower Solar system was another 'big' gadget at the Luxury Technology Show. They had a unit out in the street so the press could see it in person. The SmartFlower is a fully integrated, all-in-one solar system that can live anywhere, but certainly the sunnier, the better. SmartFlower uses GPS tracking aligned to the specific longitude and latitude of the site where it is installed. This precise tracking can increase productivity by as much as 40%. They do want it setup by one of their installers to get the full warranty.

My laptop was stolen, what do I do?

Episode 1531

Jeff from Costa Mesa, CA

Jeff is worried about whether his personal data has been compromised after his Mac was stolen. Apple says not to worry about it. Leo says that if he turned on FileVault, then he'll be OK. If he didn't, then they can hack into his Find My iMac account to find out where he lives. Leo recommends clearing out his FindMyiMac searches and block anyone who may have gotten into it. More likely, they just tried to sell it or pawned it. Apple may be able to remote wipe or brick it. But he shouldn't try and go get it. That would be dangerous. He should just turn over the data to the police.

Why won't my laptop charge?

Battery

Episode 1531

Karen from California

Karen's laptop has stopped charging. It's 10 years old. Leo says that her laptop has a lithium ion battery and it has probbaly just worn out. They won't take a charge after about 500 recharges, and after 10 years, it's very likely that's what it is. But Windows 10 has a feature in the command line. She can get to it by pressing the Windows key, and then typing CMD and enter. Then she should type "powercfg /batteryreport." This will give her a report on her battery's health. It gets saved to the hard drive and she can open it with her browser.

Should I buy a MacBook Air or Mac Mini?

Apple MacBook Air

Episode 1531

Matt from Florida

Matt is thinking of getting a MacBook Air with an i7 or a Mac Mini. But he's been holding off because he keeps hearing rumors of new models. Leo says that the problem with those two devices is that they haven't been updated since 2015, so buying one will get him an antiquated processor. The screen is also low resolution by comparison to today's standards. Leo also says that the rumor of a Mac Mini is extremely unlikely. There's no real data to support it. In fact, since Apple is more focused on mobile devices, it's more likely that Apple will discontinue it entirely sooner or later.

Why can't I access my files after a power outage?

Power outlet

Episode 1531

Debbie from Fort Mojave, AZ

Debbie had a power outage and now she can't open anything, especially her pictures. Leo says to try and reboot the computer first. Shut the computer down. Count to 10. Turn it back on. If that doesn't fix it, there's a chance that the hard drive has become corrupt if the computer was writing to the drive at the moment the power went out. This is why Leo recommends a surge protector that has a battery backup.

Google announces Pixel 3 XL, Slate and other products

Episode 1531

Google announced the Google Pixel 3 XL this week, and Leo says it feels great in the hand. It has also added wireless charging, which Leo says is the holy grail of mobile phones, and the three major manufactures now support it. Google also announced the Pixel Slate, a new tablet with Chrome OS. It can also run Android and Linux apps. There was also the Google Home Hub tablet. Surprisingly tiny, it has a screen and is designed to be your home's hub.

What's the most secure PC for online banking?

Acer Chromebook 15

Episode 1530

Ryan from Santa Barbara, CA

Ryan's bank wants him to do more banking online. He wants to buy one computer that is 100% dedicated to online banking. Leo says that's a good idea, and Leo would recommend a Chromebook. Chrome is incredibly secure and is the most popular browser out there. The Acer Chromebook 15 is one of the best for the money, and at $250, it's a bargain.

Bloomberg: China Hacks SuperMicro Motherboards

Motherboard

Episode 1530

Bloomberg published a story that China's PRC had installed a tiny chip the size of a grain of rice on all Elemental SuperMicro Motherboard, giving them access to a treasure trove of corporation and national security secrets. These boards are used widely in corporations and even the Department of Defense. Leo says the article was well researched, well sourced, but the day after it was published, everyone, including corporations where 17 unidentified sources worked, have denied it. Even the US Department of Homeland security and the UK CyberSecurity Ministry.

Dick DeBartolo, The Giz Wiz

Dick DeBartolo

Episode 1529

If you're serious about your wine, then Dick's latest gadget is for you! Fresh from the Luxury Technology show comes The WineCab, a wine cellar that stands in any room of your house, assuming the ceiling is at least 9' 4” high. It's completely automated and it's a first from Calvary Robotics. They say their WineCab is the most advanced wine storage and inventory system in the world. A robotic arm uses advanced technology and data to store, serve and let you know everything about your collection. The 1300 pound 9'3" high, is 4' wide and 3.5' deep wood cabinet alone is impressive.

Apple could make your Macs inoperative, sparking right to repair debate

Episode 1529

According to a story that broke this week, software in the new macOS will render your Macs inoperative if you have your computer repaired by a third party. Leo says that iFixit says that it's premature statement. Apple claims it's a security procedure to protect the secure enclave and other proprietary hardware. While the software does exist, Apple hasn't deployed it just yet. But Leo says that it's still problematic, as it goes to whether or not you have the right to repair your computers, or if you even own it.