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Episode 878 May 27, 2012

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Audience Questions

Audience QuestionsHour 1

Hour 1 Hour 2 Hour 3
Watch Michael from Encino, CA Comments

It sounds like Java didn't get installed. If it doesn't appear in "Add/Remove" programs, then it isn't installed. So Michael should install it again, and this time make sure to get the "Java Virtual Machine".

Java has some notable security flaws as of late, so he definitely should have the latest version. Leo's general recommendation though is not to turn it on unless he really needs it. It's getting used less and less on the web. Some browsers like Chrome will actually ask you each time if you want to use Java, and then give you the option to run it every time on that site or not.

Since Michael wanted to adjust preferences in Java, Leo suggests a free Java Preferences Tool that would be far better than Java's preference options anyway.

Watch Denise from Santa Clarita, CA Comments

Apple does not use the same Java as Windows, Apple has their own version. It could be that the way the applet was written doesn't work with Apple's Java. Leo suggests getting the latest update from Apple, they just updated Java twice. Running Software Update on the Mac will install the latest version.

Watch Cheryl from Palmdale, CA Comments

No, the USB is not for connecting to the TV. That's for viewing photos from a USB thumb drive. She'll need an HDMI connection, but her Dell Latitude doesn't have an HDMI out. Many laptops will have VGA out, and it's possible that her TV has a VGA input. This would work, but it isn't the best way to connect it because it's analog, not digital. Her laptop does have DisplayPort for video, though. So what she'll need is a DisplayPort to HDMI adapter, and an HDMI cable. Both of these items can be found at, or at a local store.

After plugging in her laptop to the TV, she'll need to select that HDMI input and adjust her laptop's display resolution to something close to her TV's resolution. An HDTV's resolution will be a lot lower than her computer's, so icons and text from her computer will look quite large on the TV.

Watch Lance from Springfield, MA Comments

There are three big streaming services: Rdio, MOG, and Spotify. They all pretty much have the same library because they all have made the same deals with the music industry, but they all have free trials so Lance can try each of them. To test out a service's music selection, Leo will try searching for a particularly hard to find Joni Mitchell album, Hissing of Summer Lawns. Even if Lance does decide to get one of those services, Leo still thinks he absolutely will want to use Pandora. Pandora excels at discovering music, and Lance can create 'stations' based on artists he likes.

Watch John from Fullerton, CA Comments

Leo says John surely shouldn't have to format and reinstall Windows every time this happens. Sometimes security software may block some images, but Leo doesn't think this is the case. Since the problem is with images showing up in Internet Explorer, John should try using a different browser. Leo suggests Google's Chrome. Leo thinks it's an excellent, fast and more secure browser. When John visits the site, if all of the images show up fine in Chrome, then there's probably something wrong in Internet Explorer. If the images still don't show up, it could very well be the site and not anything on John's computer. Pressing the F5 key will refresh the page, or if John holds shift and F5, it will force the entire page to reload.

One way John can find out if it's a problem with his computer is by right clicking where the image should be, and selecting "open in new tab" or "open in new window". This will use the same image address, but will start a new tab or window just for that image. If the image still doesn't show up, then it's missing on the site and isn't his computer. He also can try clearing the cache in the browser settings. This is the only thing Leo can think of that would be different after a reformat and reinstall.

Watch Aaron from High Desert, CA Comments

A lot of computer screens still use plastic, which is something you would not want to sand or try buffing because it's very soft. More and more computers and devices now use have glass protective covers. The LCD screen is beneath the glass on a phone, laptop or iPad. Generally speaking that glass is going to be something called gorilla glass which is made by Corning. This glass is very tough, which makes it harder to scratch but if it does get scratched, it's also harder to fix.

Leo doesn't think a Windshield repair place would work out because they just fill cracks with a resin which would keep a windshield from cracking further, but would it's not invisible. It probably would end up looking like a "blob" in that area of the screen.

Watch Terry from Jacksonville, FL Comments

Windows Vista had something called "Active Desktop", but it crashed frequently and also was a massive security flaw, so Windows abandoned it. In general, since we do have such powerful processors now, we could almost dedicate an entire processor to have beautiful wallpaper. It is possible to do this, but Terry would need to get software for it. Leo recommends a free site called Okozo.

Watch Deanne from Valencia, CA Comments

Error codes are worthless. Leo doesn't know why companies still use error codes, because it doesn't tell the user anything. Leo says to try holding down the "option" key while emptying the trash, but that didn't work in Deanne's case. It also may be an issue related to Time Machine, and there is a tech document about it here. There is a free AppleScript called Trash It. Download and run that, and it should clear up the issue.

Audience QuestionsHour 2

Hour 1 Hour 2 Hour 3
Watch Julie from Downey, CA Comments

It's not unusual to get duplicates when syncing, and Apple hasn't been particularly great with cloud services. MobileMe was a disaster and iCloud has it's issues too. Since Julie is syncing multiple devices, it's possible that iCloud isn't merging the entries from each device into one contact. Unfortunately, the only real way to fix this is for Julie to pick one of the entries and manually delete the others. It's also important to turn off iTunes syncing after turning on iCloud syncing. Using both will cause duplication also. Leo also recommends backing up your address book before using a new syncing service of any kind, because this is such a common issue.

There are some great tools Leo knows of on the Mac, one of them being an application called CoBook. It will not only merge contacts but it also will include contacts from Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn as well. Unfortunately Julie is on Windows, so it won't be of use to her.

She's also having problems with her email. When she gets an email, she gets it on her laptop, iPhone and iPad but then also has to delete it in 3 different places. Leo says it's because she's using a POP mail server which doesn't have the capability of syncing deleted mail. If she used an IMAP server for mail, like gmail for example, when she deletes an email it will be deleted in the other places as well. She could check to see if Verizon mail offered IMAP, and that would solve the mail problem.

Watch Victor from Pico Rivera, CA Comments

None of them really do anything that special to 'speed up' the computer. Typically those will clean out temp folders, empty the cache, it might clean the registry (this could actually be problematic), and some of them will remove malware. Malware is actually a big reason why computers run so slow, but Victor shouldn't have that to worry about since he says he has Nod32 antivirus installed. Most of the time these "speed up your PC" programs are just snake oil.

Leo says as you use Windows over a period of time, you gather files and programs that could potentially be running in the background to slow down the computer. There's also the problem with aging hard drives getting harder to read and having sector failures. That requires re-mapping the bad sectors on the hard drive. It's possible to do this with a program like Spinrite, which moves data off of hard to read sectors and can speed up the system quite a bit.

Most of all, Leo recommends starting fresh and formatting and reinstalling Windows every year or two. To do this, Victor will need a Windows installation disc or system recovery disc. He should also make sure to get any data backed up first. A format and reinstall will be the best way to really speed up the computer.

Watch Richard from Frankfurt, DE Comments

No, it's a scam. Often times it's off duty technical support people in India or China who have free time on their hands. Richard did end up giving them control of his computer, and Leo thinks they likely installed something on it. They tried to collect money also, but Richard shut off the computer before it got that far.

Since Richard's computer probably is infected, he should back up his data, format the hard drive and reinstall Windows. He didn't get an installation disc with his computer, but since he has an HP, they do give the option to make recovery discs. Richard can make a recovery disc or boot into the recovery partition to do the reinstall. Leo doesn't think the scammer was sophisticated enough to modify that partition, although it's possible he did. The best way to reinstall would be for Richard to contact HP and have them send out an install disc so he knows he's getting it from a known, good source.

Microsoft will never call you! If you ever do get a call from them, ask if you may call them back using Microsoft's official toll free number. Most of the time when people call you out of the blue, it shouldn't be trusted.

Watch Dan from Orange, CO Comments

Dan is a financial guy and he’s looking to start his own enterprise CRM software company. Leo says that creating software to compete with the already established Salesforce and Microsoft software would be difficult. But helping and training companies to use them is an interesting and useful niche to exploit.

(CRM is "Customer Relationship Management").

Watch Dan from Irvine, CA Comments

The problem with Google and YouTube is that you really can't call and talk to someone about it. The chatroom says it could be a failed upload.

Watch Wendell from Sweetwater, TX Comments

First of all, he should suspend the projector from the ceiling if possible so it doesn't need to be at the far end of the room. The projector’s “throw” requires more brightness the farther it’s away from the screen. has a calculator which will give him an idea as to what size screen he would need to have at that distance. Ideally, if he has the projector at around 10-15 feet from the screen he can use almost any projector. He'll also need to darken the room.

Leo likes Epson’s Powerlight series, and uses them at home and in the studio (Disclaimer: Epson is a sponsor). They even have a projector dock that connects your iPad or iPhone directly to the projector. It’s called the MEGAPLEX.

Watch Bob from Freetown, MA Comments

It might be possible, but it depends on how the tech did the reinstall. Whenever you delete a file from an operating system, it doesn't actually erase that data. Instead the files are simply renamed so the PC will recognize that as free space to use. So there's a chance the data is still there, and there are a number of free unerase programs. However, once the file allocation table (sort of like a hard drive's 'table of contents') has specified that data as free "unallocated" space, it can be written to. And once the data is overwritten, it can't be recovered. If the tech did a reformat and reinstall, then chances are it's already been overwritten.

It doesn't take long before the data would become overwritten, so if you ever lose a file, don't do anything! Install an unerase program on a separate disk ASAP to try and recover the file. Remember, if you install the unerase software on your hard drive you run the risk of it overwriting the file you want to recover. It also might not take long before the operating system writes over that data, after just a couple of months it's probably already too late.

A good general rule is to make sure to backup the data on your computer before bringing it in for repair.

Watch Westin from Canyon Lake, CA Comments

It's not necessary to defragment a solid state drive. Traditionally, on a spinning hard drive, when data is written to the drive it's faster if all of the sectors are in order rather than scattered all over. Spinning drives have something called "seek time", which is the amount of time it takes for the read head on the drive to move to the next sector. If the read head has to move around a lot, that seek time adds up and the drive gets slower.

Flash memory, or solid state drives, have zero seek time. They have "random access." It takes no more time to read two sectors on opposite sides of the drive than it does to read two sectors side by side. So defragmenting a solid state drive doesn't make any sense. In fact, it could be bad for it because the more data gets written to it, the faster it wears out because it has a limited amount of write times.

Watch Richard from San Pedro, CA Comments

There are two possibilities:

  • The file associations may be screwed up.
  • Internet Explorer may think that (his homepage) is a file instead of a website. Try resetting the browser.

  • Malware tried to modify his homepage and failed.
  • Unfortunately, this is a more likely cause. There's a very easy way to check to see if malware is on the system. When Windows pushes out updates every second Tuesday of the month, they also download new definitions for the Malicious Software Removal Tool. Hold the Windows key and then press "R". In the dialogue box that comes up, type "MRT" and hit return. Run a scan, and if it comes up clean then at least you'll be reassured it's not malware.