Previous episode

Episode 882 June 10, 2012

Next episode

Audience Questions

Audience QuestionsHour 1

Hour 1 Hour 2 Hour 3
Watch Alan from Simi Valley, CA Comments

This has to do with the speed of the connection he's getting from his internet provider. When the provider quotes a number for speed, they're giving the upper number, or the fastest it could be. DSL, in Leo's experience, is generally more consistent than cable internet, though. Some internet providers have a little trick they use called "burst mode", which means they give real fast internet when first connecting, but then slows down. Leo says he could call AT&T and go a tier higher in internet speed, which would cost around $10 a month more.

There are a number of issues that could contribute to Alan's fluctuating video quality:

  • Internet speed inconsistency.
  • Alan's internet could be fluctuating in speed, requiring the video to drop down to a lower quality to continue playing. Most video will do this instead of stopping entirely. One type of internet that's consistently fast is Verizon FiOS, but they aren't rolling it out anymore and Alan may not have this as an option.

  • Latency, jitter, and lag.
  • These are things people don't generally pay attention to, but Alan may be experiencing this too. This might not be evident while watching TV since it is all downstream, but could be more of an issue while using Skype. He may notice lag between him and the person on the other end.

  • Buffer bloat.
  • A "buffer" is when the video or audio player downloads the media ahead of time, and then starts playing it. If it can't load more of that media, the buffer will go down to zero, and the video will pause while it loads more. Routers do the same thing, with internal memory. When memory got very cheap, router manufacturers starting putting more memory in to accommodate a larger buffer. The problem is, they're putting so much memory in for buffer that it's breaking TCP congestion control which is designed to handle this problem without resorting to giant buffers.

    Alan could diagnose this problem with Netalyzr. Essentially, he'll want everything to show up green. If something shows up red, that means there are internet access issues. He'll want to pay attention to the "Network Access Link Properties". If the report shows yellow or red under "Network Buffer Management", then it's not the service provider, it's an issue with his router. Then he may want to get a new router, but there's no information right now to determine which routers have less of a buffer bloat problem than others

Watch Jim from El Monte, CA Comments

Maya from Autodesk is 3D rendering and animation software, and Jim forgot to activate it during the trial period. Now it won't let him reinstall it. He contacted their tech support, and they told him that he needs to go into the Terminal (OS X's command line) to fix it.

Leo says this is exactly what's wrong with copy protection. Autodesk wants to protect their software, but they're actually making things much more difficult for the honest users. This doesn't deter pirates because they know how to strip out the copy protection. In fact, the pirated version may even be more stable because the copy protection is junky. Jim will just have to follow their process of going into Terminal to remove that lock and start over.

Watch Gordon from Palmdale, CA Comments

No, Microsoft has decided to deal with photos differently in the Windows 7 version of Picture Viewer. Gordon will have to look to third party software. Leo recommends a free program called Irfanview. This is very similar to the Windows XP version of Picture Viewer which would let him organize his photos in folders instead of the new "library" that the Windows 7 program has. He won't have to uninstall the viewer that's already in Windows 7, he'll just have to set Irfanview as his default photo viewer instead.

Watch Darryl from Palm Desert, CA Comments

Darryl is trying to get his parents off of their bundled services, and is wondering if DSL is adequate enough for services like Skype or Vonage for phone service. DSL Extreme can certainly handle this, but Darryl would want to look into something faster than the basic $12.95/month service. One issue with all DSL is that you have to be within a couple of kilometers of the central office. In more rural, distant areas it may not even be possible to get DSL at all, but DSL Extreme would be able to tell him. (Disclaimer: DSL Extreme is a sponsor of the radio show).

He also wants to hook them up with satellite TV, and is wondering the best way to go for that. Leo says DISH and Direct TV are pretty much the same, but DISH has the new "Hopper" DVR that allows for recording multiple channels at once and can skip over commercials. Direct TV offers more sports, but DISH is generally less expensive (except it may be more with the Hopper).

Audience QuestionsHour 2

Hour 1 Hour 2 Hour 3
Watch Joe from Cheektowaga, NY Comments

Leo says it's possible he might get pwned (hacker speak for "owned" or "hacked"). First of all, Android is an operating system based on Linux created by the Open Handset Alliance. Google has contributed considerably to it, but doesn't own it. One of the things about open software is that the user is allowed to modify or mess with it. The carriers and some handset manufacturers may not like it and may try to thwart it, but it is possible and even encouraged to "root" the device.

"Rooting" means getting administrator access to the phone. Generally, it's best practice with phones to run as a limited user, not as a "super user" or "root". But there are things you can do if you're running as administrator that can't be done as a limited user. It's possible to run programs that require root access, such as Titanium Backup for example.

It's not necessary to root an Android phone or tablet just to access software from somewhere other than Google. That's just a checkbox in security settings. This is different from jailbreaking an iPhone, which is enabling the phone to access apps that aren't in Apple's App Store.

The rooting process is different depending on the device it's being done on. So before rooting any Android device, Leo recommends checking the XDA Developers Forum, and searching for your particular device. Make sure not to go to just any site for this because Leo says that's how a lot of people end up getting "pwned".

Watch Brian from Los Angeles, CA Comments

It could be that the laptop doesn't support WPA, but Brian says he can connect to his home Wi-Fi network with WPA just fine. The Fascinate may have limits on how many devices can connect to it, so he could try not connecting anything else to it at the same time. It's also possible that the phone is using 802.11n, but the older laptop doesn't work with that. He should also check if his phone is using the same security protocol, whether it be WPA or WPA 2, as his router at home.

Watch Fred from Mahwah, NJ Comments

Fred is concerned about the studies done that show alarming numbers of kids who text and drive. Leo says it's more than just texting though, there are a lot of things people do while driving that is equally as dangerous. In general, Leo believes we are more and more distracted in our lives and cell phones do contribute to it. The NTSB (National Transportation Safety Board) in December recommended a full ban on the use of cell phones while driving, not just texting but talking as well even if it's hands-free. The issue is that you can't pinpoint one source of distraction. Cell phones are a problem, but so is applying makeup, eating, and messing with the radio.

Leo thinks the first step is education. The police already can pull someone over regardless of the cause. So even if there isn't a specific law against something, the police still can stop someone, ticket them and even take them in if they're enough of a hazard. A law against texting and driving might help to convince teenagers that there is a bigger risk than they believe. He thinks passing a law preventing even talking on the cell phone while in the car is going too far, though.

Fred was wondering about the technology to prevent the use of a cell phone in certain areas like they do in Japan. This is illegal in the US because it's a safety hazard and people could miss or not be able to make emergency calls. There is, however, software available on most cell phones that will disable the phone when it detects the phone moving at higher rates of speed.

Leo doesn't think passing laws is the answer though, because then they would have to pass a law for every kind of distracted driving. He thinks the car manufacturers and cell phone manufacturers should do what they can to make it possible to do more through voice control without having to take your hands off the wheel or eyes off the road. Leo agrees this is a huge problem, though, and something does have to be done to prevent it.

Watch Jim from Crystal River, FL Comments

In theory, a cell phone would be an excellent target for bad guys (especially with an open OS like Android). It's always on, people download random apps all the time, and it could be used to send out texts to others soliciting sites that would make the bad guy a lot of money. But they aren't often hacked. Leo can only attribute this to the fact that cell phone software engineers are aware of this and do more to protect users than desktop developers. Google also does a pretty good job of ridding the Google Play store of malicious apps. In fact, both Google and Apple have something called a "kill switch". If they discover that a malware program has been widely downloaded, they can reach out into user's phones and delete that program.

That being said, there are a number of decent free anti-malware programs for Android. Leo uses LookOut. Since it's free and doesn't really slow the phone down at all, there's no harm in getting it. But there's not a huge risk, and if it ever becomes something to worry more about, Leo will talk about it.

Watch Gary from Birmingham, AL Comments

Gary lives in a remote location and the T1 connection he has is so slow. Leo says that technology is rather old now, and still very expensive. Gary should first check and see what's available from a cable company or phone company because there may be something more modern he can upgrade to. There is new satellite technology that Leo's very impressed with called EXEDE (Wild Blue) from a company called Viasat. This is very fast and much better than traditional satellite internet access. It's very affordable too.

Audience QuestionsHour 3

Hour 1 Hour 2 Hour 3
Watch Matt from Colorado Comments

Matt's problem is in getting the Playstation 3 to transmit the 1080p HD signal from that far away.

Leo recommends this HDMI® Extender Using Cat5e or CAT6 Cable. It can extend his HDMI up to 98ft.

Leo also likes the Actiontec MyWirelessTV Multi-Room Wireless HD Video Kit. Leo wasn't using it as far away as Matt wants to, but he was surprised at how well this worked.

Matt says that he has to drop the signal to 720p to get any signal at all out of it. Leo thinks that might not be the cable then. Digital either will work or not, so there may be something else going on.

Watch Benny from Pasadena, CA Comments

It's a nice phone, but Sprint will be carrying Leo's favorite Android phone, the Samsung Galaxy SIII later this month. The real difference between the EVO and the Galaxy is the user interface each company adds to Android. Galaxy has the "TouchWiz" and the HTC EVO has the "Sense". Sense is a much bigger modification than the Touchwiz. Other than that, the big difference is that the EVO has a kickstand.

Watch Benny from Pasadena, CA Comments

Benny is having trouble getting his computer to boot up, and keeps getting prompts. One is "media test failure, check cable" and the other is "exiting Intel boot agent, insert disk in drive, press any key when ready".

Leo says it's saying that it doesn't see a hard drive there to boot to. When that hard drive fails, then it tries to use the Intel Boot Agent to boot over the network or find some other boot device. So the main hard drive has failed. It could be a number of things, but most of the time it means a boot file or boot sector isn't able to be read. He can try another drive, but he shouldn't get rid of that drive quite yet because he might be able to recover it.

Watch Susie from Ashville, NC Comments

Yes. She is renting her router from them. She'll need two things to use her U-Verse connection. One of those things is the modem which takes the U-Verse that's coming in demodulates it into internet access. Then she needs a router which takes that internet access and allows a number of devices to use it. The unit she's renting is probably one box. Sometimes, it's possible to buy that box and eliminate the rental, but it's not possible with U-Verse.

The ability to buy the modem is up to the service provider and/or the FCC. The FCC, for instance, started making cable companies allow customers to buy the modem because they used to only lease it for a monthly fee. So Leo actually bought his cable modem so he doesn't have to pay the rent and has a more up-to-date unit. Unfortunately, AT&T doesn't allow this with U-Verse so Susie will have to continue renting their all-in-one box.

Watch Eric from San Francisco, CA Comments

The next step is to get a SIM card. Verizon will give him a SIM card with his name and number on it. This could be an advantage or disadvantage depending on whether or not he wants to be reached on that number while overseas. He could also get a local SIM card with an Italian number. This might also save him some money because he can buy data there too. Since he's going to Paris and Amsterdam, he might end up with a SIM card that will work in one country but not the other. He might want to get a SIM in France and in the Netherlands.

Because it's an iPhone, it's very popular everywhere. So it should be an easy enough process to walk into an Orange or TeleFrance store and they should know exactly what he'll need.

Watch Mark from Bloomington, CA Comments

In Skype's audio settings he can choose where he wants the output to go. But Leo's not convinced that it wouldn't just put all of the audio into the device he selects as an output on Skype. He may need to have two sound cards to do that. The chatroom points out that if he had a USB headset, that would act as a second sound card. Then he could tell Skype to send the audio to the headset while still watching the movie on his TV through the HDMI connection.

Watch Shawn from Newport Beach, CA Comments

Leo says to hold off on buying anything until after Monday's WWDC announcements. We're hearing the Macbook Pro will have retina displays and will be a lot thinner. If he's considering the 13", then the Macbook Air is probably the way to go.

Shawn also does video editing, and would use this primarily for editing purposes. For this, he probably wants the Pro. He'll get a much bigger drive in the Macbook Pro, and it will be marginally faster. The Macbook Air's do have fast processors, but the Macbook Pro has a faster bus, better video cards, etc. A 15" Macbook Pro, especially with the new Ivybridge processor that we expect, would probably be great for what he wants to do.

Watch Brett from Alabama Comments

Brett called in and suggested a piece of software called Virtual Cables, which would allow Mark to route audio anywhere within his computer. Brett thinks it has a medium-level learning curve. On the Mac, SoundFlower does the same thing.

Watch Steve from San Diego, CA Comments

Yes he can play the CD's he already owns. It just comes with a CD player that can play DVD Audio. There are two higher quality formats that never really took off. One is SA-CD, and the other is DVD Audio. Both are capable of 5.1 surround and much higher bitrate audio. There aren't many CDs or DVDs in that format, however. He still would benefit from having a higher end sound system, and he could even buy a DVD Audio disc to try it. One place to check for them would be Amazon. They have a whole category for DVD Audio. The prices on them vary considerably though, some are very expensive.

Watch Daniel from Los Angeles, CA Comments

Daniel really needs to first format the drive, and then install Windows again.