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Episode 880 June 3, 2012

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Audience Questions

Audience QuestionsHour 1

Hour 1 Hour 2 Hour 3
Watch Peter from Brooklyn, NY Comments

Leo suspects it's the TV not automatically detecting the signal from the cable box properly. The TV is most likely set to "auto detect" the resolution to display, and the "blinking picture" that Peter is referring to could be the TV's inability to detect that on its own. Since Peter's TV is capable of 1080p, he should set his both his cable box and his Google TV box to 1080p instead of "auto".

He also should make sure he is using an HDMI cable with the most recent spec, 1.3 or above. He can find inexpensive cables at

It could be that HDCP is being broken, but if the copy protection isn't working properly, Leo says it would just downgrade the signal to 480i. The chatroom also says to hook up the box directly to the TV, bypassing everything else, and see if it fixes it. If it does, then it’s a handshake issue, and he should try updating the firmware on the Google TV box.

Watch Jay from Providence, North Carolina Comments

It's possible to recover files on a phone the same as it is to recover files on a computer, if the phone can be mounted as a drive. Or if there's an SD or microSD card that can be mounted on a computer. Since Jay has a feature phone, he'll want to look into a program called Bitpim. This program will allow him to see data if it's a CDMA phone with a qualcomm chipset. If he were to have a smartphone, he could just mount it on his computer and run a file recovery tool.

Leo also recommends trying an independent wireless store, not a big name retail store. They aren’t beholding to any carrier and they just want your business. Often they will have tools to do just about anything, including working with data from cell phones.

Watch Bobby from Los Angeles, CA Comments

There's a few options for finding programmers:

  • eLance
  • This is a more professional, less community oriented site that offers freelance programmers for hire.

  • StackOverflow
  • This is a site that programmers particularly like, and it's more of a community. There is a jobs board here to find programmers to hire, too.

The same problem exists with both sites, however: There is no way of knowing whether or not the programmer is good. Just remember the cautionary tale of the Winklevoss Twins and Facebook. It's easy to come up with ideas, but the actual implementation is what's most important. There is always that risk of someone else running off with the idea, but it could turn out successful too.

Watch Danielle from Charlottsville, VA Comments

First of all, Leo says to not mess with the hard drive any more because it could make things even more difficult. It's time for the experts. In most cases, it isn't a physical problem, but a software issue. There may be bad sectors and the drive isn't able to boot up any longer. If this is the case, it won't be near as expensive and may be recoverable with a program like SpinRite. If it is a physical problem though, like a dead circuit or a crashed head on the drive, then Danielle should take it to Drive Savers. In either case, it really should be left up to a professional at this point.

Danielle did notice that some of her photos were showing up on her AppleTV in screensaver mode. Leo says that means the images are backed up via iCloud or MobileMe. If they're still on MobileMe, she should get those before the end of the month when MobileMe shuts down.

Watch Elias from Whittier, CA Comments

Since the USB port on Elias's computer works for other devices, and the Belkin NIC (Network Interface Controller) card works on other computers, Leo thinks his problem is with drivers. When installing devices via USB, it's important to not plug the device in until the drivers have been installed. Elias did this correctly, though. Belkin support suggested that it could be a firewall preventing the card from accessing the internet, but Leo doesn't think this is likely. Elias should make sure he has all of the latest drivers for the correct model.

Elias also mentioned that he upgraded to Windows 7 from Windows Vista. Leo says there could be old drivers leftover from Vista that are causing problems with Windows 7. That's one of the reasons doing a clean install (meaning erasing the hard drive and starting new) is a good idea. Leo always keeps a Linux boot disc handy, one that he knows works with his system. Elias can download one from Ubuntu. Then he can boot from the Ubuntu disc and see if the USB card is visible from that clean Linux install. If it is visible, then it probably is a driver issue tied to the Windows upgrade. It may be necessary to do a clean reinstall of Windows 7.

Watch Julie from Los Angeles, CA Comments

What she wants is "bare DSL" or "naked DSL", but it's not up to the internet provider (in her case DSL Extreme), it's up to the phone company. Her phone company has its own internet service that DSL Extreme is competing with, and the phone company owns the lines that DSL Extreme uses. The only reason the phone company allow this is because the FCC requires them to. The phone companies really aren't going to like the idea of not making any money off of Julie at all, and most likely will fight it.

Leo's advice would be for her to call DSL Extreme and tell them she wants to do a "dry loop" (use of their lines with other services), and ask what their experience has been canceling phone service with her carrier in that area. She should ask for their help because DSL Extreme would love for her to do this.

DSL Extreme has more information here, but sadly, it’s Verizon only. There’s also some information for DryLoop at AT&T, but it looks like they don’t offer it.

Watch Julie from Los Angeles, CA Comments

There's some options including sites and apps:



Add-ons for Firefox:

Audience QuestionsHour 2

Hour 1 Hour 2 Hour 3
Watch Ben from El Paso, TX Comments

This is very early days of internet broadcasting. Leo says it could be an issue on his side, or it could be Ben's internet connection -- it could be a lot of things. In a regular TV or radio station, they have transmitters and big towers that send it out to the world. Unless the transmitter fails or his TV stops working, he'll be able to watch the signal and there's plenty of bandwidth for it.

On the internet, however, in real time all the data from the cameras and microphones have to be squeezed down, compressed, and run through a server. TWiT primarily uses a flash media encoder. That flash media encoded signal then gets sent to a variety of partners such as Ustream, Bitgravity, and Their servers have taken TWiT's signal and repeat it out to a bunch of other servers, and there are a lot of places where this can fail.

It could be that the flash media encoder crashed and is being rebooted. It could also be Ustream or another provider. Since Ben is watching on his iPad, that requires an even more unusual situation because the iPad needs HTTP live streaming, or HLS. TWiT actually pays a dutch company for servers to send the content out to iOS, the Roku, and a few other places that can't use Flash. So there are a lot of things that could cause dropouts in the stream.

Watch Sam from San Francisco, CA Comments

Sam is a Google Voice user, which is good news because this will mean his Google Voice number will forward his calls to any phone. He's more worried about the services he uses on Android not working in China. For this, he can check this Wikipedia page to see what sites and services are working in China at any given moment. Leo can't be certain that Google Voice will continue to work in China, although has used Skype with great results there. Leo thinks that he's more likely to have an iPhone work than Android, but he thinks both are pretty widespread and used.

The chatroom posted a link from PCMag about leaving your mobile devices at home for security reasons in China, but Leo wouldn't go that far.

Watch George from North Carolina Comments

Windows 8 Release Preview does not have Windows Media Center, but Leo suggests going to Paul Thurrott's He has a complete guide for Windows 8, including installing Windows Media Center. Essentially, he will need to type "Add Features" in the settings, enter the product key and Windows will install the proper version.

George's main problem came when entering the product key, and it wouldn't accept it as a legitimate key. It turned out that with a window left open, it wouldn't work. Closing that window fixed the issue. Leo thinks this problem will be fixed by the time Windows 8 actually is available.

Watch John from Scottsdale, AZ Comments

John has been using the narrator in Windows 7 and he's looking for something that works better. There are a few he can look into:

  • Freedom Scientific's JAWS screen reader
  • Leo recommends this one. There's a free demo so he can check to see if it works for his needs. They also have some magnification software which can help too, but it isn't cheap.

  • Serotek
  • This offers a less expensive option.

  • NVDA-Project
  • This is an open-source, free option.

  • Orca
  • This is another open-source, free program to try.

Watch John from Anaheim Hills, CA Comments

Leo says the Intel Core 2 Duo is much faster, ten times as fast as the Pentium. He's also wondering if 8GB of 667MHz RAM would be better than 4GB of 800MHz RAM. Leo says to make sure the motherboard supports both, which it does. In this case because 4GB is sufficient, he would go with the faster 4GB RAM.

Watch Gary from Glendale, CA Comments

Attachments are dangerous. For a long time, that's how viruses propagated. That's not as much the case anymore, but Microsoft decided in more recent versions of Windows to prevent attachments unless he were to allow them. In Gary's situation, since he's using Hotmail on the web and only having issues with one or two friends, Leo suspects it's something on their end. Gary should find out how they're attaching these photos, because it could be just attaching improperly.

Watch Gary from Glendale, CA Comments

Leo says he doesn't need to run both. Stopzilla is not antivirus either, it's just anti-spyware software. He should uninstall Stopzilla which may not be easy. He should carefully read their support page on how to uninstall it. Spyware is old hat, what he really would want is an anti-malware tool. In fact, Stopzilla could also be the problem with accessing his email attachments. Simply Google "uninstall Stopzilla" and he should find a comprehensive step-by-step to get rid of this.

Watch Terry from Pasadena, CA Comments

No. Without an internet connection, it won't be possible for someone to get into his computer. There is something called Van Eck Phreaking where if someone could get close enough to the computer monitor, they could see what's on the screen. This is very rare and Leo's never seen any real life demo of this.

There's another kind of phreaking that's more interesting that probably doesn't work with LCDs, but would work with CRT monitors. Even without seeing the screen, someone could stand outside of someone's window and use the flickering of the screen to see what's being displayed. This, Leo has seen demonstrated, but Terry would need some highly sophisticated people after him for this to be a concern. The NSA actually does have a standard for preventing this kind of espionage called Tempest.

Watch Frank from Corona, CA Comments

Leo uses RingCentral at the TWiT studios (Disclaimer: RingCentral is an advertiser) and he just discovered that they are actually using Power Over Ethernet. POE is fine, with the right devices of course. It also requires a switch that supports it. PadreSJ in the chatroom (host of a new TWiT show called This Week in Enterprise Tech) suggests using a Netgear Prosafe Plus 8 port Gigabit Ethernet with POE.

Find out more about Ring Central here.

Watch Frank from Corona, CA Comments

Most equipment is IR because it’s line of sight and cheaper to implement, but the Bose 18 uses RF! Check out the manual online.

Watch Brian from Central Ohio Comments

Brian's father in law owns a country club, and would like to use an online service where club members can make reservations. Leo suggests Open Table. There are some drawbacks, however: The restaurant has to use Open Table hardware and they take a cut of the restaurant's sales. But it's free to use for the customer and it's very easy to use and make reservations.

Watch Nigel from Georgia Comments

Apple wants everyone to be using Lion, and soon they'll want users to be on Mountain Lion. Leo says he'll probably want to upgrade to Lion because the only service that iCloud works with in Snow Leopard is Mail. He won't get some of the other features without going through quite an elaborate process. There is an article from that will help him use iCloud in Snow Leopard if he still wants to.