Downloading, streaming, or encoding music and movies.
Lynn has a bunch of old VHS home movies. How can she convert them so she can watch them? Leo says that the best way these days is to go to a service, like Scan Cafe. They have professional equipment and can color correct it. When you factor in the equipment you need to do it yourself, the VCR, the cables, the Analog to digital converter to get it into your computer, and your time. You may as well just pay Scan Cafe to do it. There are some video capture devices out there, but consider it won't be any better than it is on VHS now. The ElGato Video capture is $82.
Darwin wonders what the FBI used to crack open the iPhone of a terrorist. Leo says that the FBI won't say. Leo suspects they went to an Israeli firm called Celebrite, which can unlock older iPhones with four digit codes. Which is why Apple changed the code to a six digit code and patched vulnerabilities that would allow them to bypass it. If Darwin can prove that he owns his personal iPhone, Apple can open it for him. But if it's his sister's, there's no guarantee that Apple will. But if he can prove ownership or relational link, it's possible.
Mark wants to know why broadcast ads will use the 'Alexa' trigger word that could hijack his Echo device. Leo says that in Amazon's commercials, they actually use an inaudible sound behind the trigger word that prevents the device from taking action on it, but it may be that other advertisers don't know about this. Leo says it may even be against Amazon's rules to use trigger words in flash briefings.
Dan just signed up for Spotify. Is there a way to set up the Echo to default to Spotify? Leo says that he can, and it's in the settings of the Amazon Echo app. There's also probably a "skill" that will do it. He can always just tell it to play a song on Spotify.
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.
Jim wants to know why he has to rip a DVD rather than just copy it. Leo says he does not really have to, he just needs software that plays the VTS file. Then he'll have access to the menus and other features. But if he just wants a single movie file, then he will need to rip it and encode it into MP4.
Walt has a few hundred CDs and he'd like to rip them, put them on a music server, and then donate them. Leo recommends ripping in a lossless version called FLAC. FLAC is a great because if one needs to re-burn to a CD, they can. If using iTunes, he should use Apple's own lossless codec. Using a Mac that stays on all the time would work, but Leo recommends using a Network Attached Storage device and have that run as the music server. It can also do double duty backing up the network. Leo recommends the Synology brand.
Mike has an old collection of miniDV tapes and a camcorder that works over FireWire. How can he transfer them to his computer? Leo says that FireWire was a great format back then, but nobody really supports it anymore. So he'll have to get a box that will convert it to USB 3. The good news is that because the miniDV tapes are digital, he won't be degrading the image any. If he has a tower computer, he can buy a FireWire card for about $15. But if he only has a laptop, then he'll have to think outside the box. He'll also have to play the video tapes in real time to transfer the data.
James has 300 DVDs that he'd like to put on a media server and watch using Amazon Alexa to launch them. Rich says that the first thing James would need to do is "rip" them to a hard drive. He can use a combination of HandBrake and VLC Media Client to get them into digital files. Then he can put them on a network attached storage device.
Henry wants to use Garage Band to record music. Can he do that? Leo says sure. Garage Band is free, and it works just fine, even if it is a little intimidating. Other options include Amadeus Pro for $50 and Twisted Wave for about $80. The beauty of it is, it's very simple. There's also a "lite" version for $20.