Your internet connection, web sites and services.
Internet and Web
Rachel is blind and needs help with the TWIT chatroom. It's not very accessible. Leo says that TWiT has a chat moderator who can work with the blind to set up their screen readers so that she can keep track of the conversation. It uses IRC and she'll need a fully accessible IRC client to do it. TWiT's moderators can help with that.
Heidi is worried about the Russian VPN Filter hack. She bought a Netgear router to replace it. Is she safe? Leo says that some Netgear models aren't protected, but if she installs the latest firmware, she should be OK, and NetGear does update routers automatically.
Jim has been having trouble downloading audiobooks from the Library of Congress. They just stall and he can't get the download to complete. He found out that Windows upgraded Internet Explorer and it won't download anything. So he downgraded to IE8 and it works now. Leo says he isn't sure that's a secure solution. He would recommend Edge, Google Chrome, or Firefox.
Johnny Jet is calling in from Delray Beach, where you can get great deals traveling to, like $150 one way. It's a great deal for a fast summer vacation. Johnny Jet is also traveling to DC, and Hilton Hotels are testing Beam technology, which projects on the wall of your hotel room. So you may not have a TV in your room in the future. Leo also says that hotel chains are going to be putting Amazon Echo in their rooms, geared towards hospitality and room service. And they reset when you check out, so the hotel or the next guest doesn't get access to your personal data.
Alan's brother lives in a remote region and he wants to know his best option for internet access. Leo says the best way to do it is probably via 4G/LTE. He can get himself a MiFi device and then he can connect up to five devices and he'll have internet access. For remote areas, as long as you have good cell service, that's becoming the best option.
Kurt says his HP Deskjet disconnects from the internet and he has to turn it off and back on to wake it up. Leo says there's an ECO mode that conserves power in the settings. Disable that. Also, assign a specific IP address and reserve that in your router. Then you'll have a static IP address that will keep it woke up.
Tim would like to make free calls online. How can he do that? Leo recommends Google Voice. He can call the US, Mexico and Canada for free, and other international calls are about $0.02 a minute. There is no such thing as free service from a phone company, but he can get LifeLine service for under $10 a month.
A federal judge approved the merger of Time Warner and AT&T this week, opening the floodgates for even more large mega corporate mergers. Comcast moved almost instantly to provide a massive bid on 21st Century Fox, outbidding Disney by over 15%, setting off a huge bidding war. Leo says that the judge got it wrong and this represents a serious problem for consumers, even though customers like it because it saves them money in the short run.
Michael has been getting robocalls for a new scam, where they contact him regarding his internet activity after buying Google ads. Leo says that there's always a new scam and it becomes even more important to know that they are out there and when he gets a call he doesn't recognize to ignore it.
Today's travel tip: if you're going to a country for a long term vacation, get a local SIM to save money on international data roaming fees. Head over to PrepaidwithData. It will tell you everything from what phones work best where, what SIM card to get, and how much it'll cost. You'll also want to be sure you've had your smartphone unlocked.