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Episode 873 May 12, 2012

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Audience Questions

Audience QuestionsHour 1

Hour 1 Hour 2 Hour 3
Watch Josh from Los Angeles, CA Comments

Josh wrote a book and sold it through a third party. For his second book, he’s going to publish it himself, but he needs a webpage and is thinking of using iWeb. Like Microsoft's Frontpage, Apple's iWeb is a proprietary technology that requires you continue to use iWeb forever, I don't like that lock in. Furthermore, Apple shows every sign of discontinuing the program. So let's find a better choice.

If you don't want to become a webmaster, you shouldn't have to learn HTML and other web technologies, so it's understandable that you might want to use a tool that makes it easy to create a web site. In this case, the site itself is simple you could do it yourself, using free hosts like Wordpress.com and Google's Blogspot, or for around $8 a month you might want to try Squarespace (disclaimer: Squarespace is a sponsor). All three offer fee trials.

Josh's site: Scamp To Champ
(Josh’s book is Scamp to Champ.

Watch Louis from Hollywood, CA Comments

No, Leo doesn't feel this is something to be concerned about. Google recently updated their Terms of Service when they introduced Google Drive. This quickly became controversial because the way the Terms of Service were written was disconcerting. This is the part that concerned Louis (and many others) the most:

When you upload or otherwise submit content to our Services, you give Google (and those we work with) a worldwide license to use, host, store, reproduce, modify, create derivative works (such as those resulting from translations, adaptations or other changes we make so that your content works better with our Services), communicate, publish, publicly perform, publicly display and distribute such content.

Leo pointed out the paragraph before this one, though:

Some of our Services allow you to submit content. You retain ownership of any intellectual property rights that you hold in that content. In short, what belongs to you stays yours.

The reason Google included all of this language is because of all the technical things they need to do to merely provide the service. They have to be able to move files, make copies of them, cache them, etc. Google's lawyers are just playing it safe and asserting all rights so they can't get in trouble for anything. Leo called attention to the sentence right after the one Louis recited too:

The rights you grant in this license are for the limited purpose of operating, promoting, and improving our Services, and to develop new ones.

They are not saying they can take your stuff and do whatever they want with it, even though it states that in the Terms of Service. Leo does believe it was a mistake on Google's part to not have realized this would be poorly received by users, but it is necessary for them to be specific about what they need to do. This same scenario has happened with many other tech companies, like Facebook and Pinterest for example. There's no cause to panic, though -- they aren't stealing your data.

Leo highly recommends reading this article by Nilay Patel of The Verge: Is Google Drive worse for privacy than iCloud, Skydrive, and Dropbox?

Watch Mike from Syracuse, NY Comments

There are a several reasons to go to a web hosting service:

  • Security
  • If you're running a server on your home network, you're opening yourself up for attack. By definition, a server is a computer that's open to the outside world. It serves up information to anyone that asks for it by going to your site. This is risky.

  • Bandwidth
  • Running your own server would require more bandwidth than you probably have. Not only downstream, but upstream bandwidth as well. Most people at home have what's called "asymmetric internet access", meaning faster downstream than upstream. That upstream is what the web server is using to get to the outside world. Most people don't have enough to server more than a handful of people at a time.

  • Skill set
  • You really need to be a sys admin to secure it properly, and keep it running. It is a great thing to learn, however, and a lot of younger people run web servers for that reason.

  • ISP's Terms of Service
  • Most Internet Service Providers don't allow you to run your own web server. They require you to pay more for the greater amount of bandwidth you'd be using.

    All of this applies to web servers or FTP servers, not a media server you have inside your own network.

Audience QuestionsHour 2

Hour 1 Hour 2 Hour 3
Watch Angela from Nova Scotia, Canada Comments

Angela should look to the "title" drop down menu in the "source" box of Handbrake's user interface. She can then select which episode she wants to encode. Then she'll have to name each destination separately. Handbrake will only do one video file (or in this case, TV show) at a time unless she queues them up.

Handbrake is a free application that can rip and encode video files. "Ripping" simply means copying the contents of a DVD onto the hard drive so it can be played later. It should be noted that Handbrake cannot remove copy protection from a DVD on it's own. This requires another free application called VLC. This may be illegal in some jurisdictions, so Leo advises to check whether or not it's legal in yours.

Leo doesn't think that Angela making a copy of a movie she already owns so she can watch it off her hard drive isn't costing Hollywood any money or jobs, as they claim. Leo suggests watching "The 8 Billion Dollar iPod" TED talk by Robert Reid, which is a very funny analysis of the numbers the MPAA have been throwing out there.

Watch Jan from San Diego, CA Comments

Leo recommends getting the $79 Amazon Kindle. This is ideal as just an eBook reader, but doesn't equate to the iPad. Leo prefers it to the Barnes & Noble Nook only because he believes Amazon is in it for the long haul, and doesn't know what the future holds for the Nook. Other than that, the Nook is a fine ebook reader.

Watch Jan from San Diego, CA Comments

Jan is trying to sign up for the streaming video service VUDU, but keeps getting certificate warnings from her browser. Certificate warnings can occur for various reasons, but here are a couple of things Leo says to look into:

  • Don't type out "https" (the secure web address).
  • Typing this out could be a problem if you're visiting a site that isn't secure. As Leo says, go in the "front door" of the site by simply typing "vudu.com" in the address bar and letting the site take care of the rest.

  • Make sure your computer has the right date.
  • If the computer's date is wrong, it won't be within the range of the certificate's authenticity and the browser may warn you that the certificate is "expired".

When you visit a secure site, there's a technology used for secure transactions on the net that involves getting a certificate that verifies the identity of the website. This comes from a trusted certificate authority. Your browser has a list of trusted certificate authorities, so whenever you go to a secure site, the site offers up its certificate (almost like showing a drivers' license). The browser then matches this certificate with one from a trusted certificate authority (one from the list) and determines whether or not all of the details match the site you're on. If everything checks out, it will just go on and you have a secure transaction. If there's something wrong, it will give you the warning that Jan was getting.

Leo says to take certificate warnings seriously, especially when you're making a financial transaction. If you're still getting these warnings, do not enter your information.

Watch Mike from Riverside, CA Comments

Mike has an older PC game, Motocross Madness 2. Leo says that if it worked on an older version of Windows, chances are it will work under Windows 7 too. Microsoft tries really hard to be backwards compatible with every program ever written for Windows. Games are the most challenging, however.

Mike's main problem is that the game doesn't allow him to change which video card it uses. Because the game is older, it probably won't be possible to select the newer card because it wasn't available at the time the game was written. This is a hardware restriction, not a Windows 7 issue.

Watch John from Huntington Beach, CA Comments

John keeps getting errors when trying to dial up to Net Zero's service. It could easily be that the computer he's using doesn't have a modem. He says that he does have a modem because he has what appears to be a phone plug on the back of the computer. Leo says that can easily be confused with an ethernet port, though. The next place to look is Device Manager in Windows to see if there's a modem listed there. If not, then he most likely doesn't have one. He could buy a modem if he can find a place that still sells them, but Leo doesn't think this is the best way to get on the net anyway. For just a few dollars more a month, John could have DSL Extreme. This would be much faster and wouldn't tie up the phone line while using the internet either (disclaimer: DSL Extreme is a sponsor).

Watch Tim from Northridge, CA Comments

Tim is a custom home theater installer, and called to explain Leo's predicament about the secondary channel of his audio/video receiver that he talked about earlier in the show. Tim said that secondary output on the receiver is called zone 2, which allows you to listen to audio in other parts of the house. Leo thinks this is a little misleading because the implication by the manufacturer is that the same audio that can be heard in zone 1 (the main home theater) can also be heard throughout the house in zone 2 or 3, unless it's digital audio. So why is there this restriction, is it a copy protection issue?

Tim doesn't think it's because of copy protection as much as it is price. Typically the higher end receivers will allow digital coax or optical audio in the secondary input. The audio Leo wanted in zone 2 was coming in through HDMI from his cable box into zone 2 because zone 2 has a pre-amp out as opposed to amplified speaker wire out. This led to another question: Why do we still use the speaker wire where it has to be stripped and threaded into the speaker? Leo would like to see banana plugs replace speaker wire, but Tim said the reason that kind of wire is still used is that it allows for higher quality connections.

Leo's ultimate goal is to set up a big 120" projection screen for roughly the same cost as a 50 or 60" plasma TV. Tim said Leo's on the right track here, because a lot of people forget about room treatment for both audio and video.

Watch Ann from Lake Forest, CA Comments

The best solution for password management according to Leo and security guru Steve Gibson is LastPass. There is a free version and a pro version for only $1 a month. This way, Ann will only have to remember one password and still have different, secure passwords for each site she goes to. The reason Leo says people don't have good passwords is because a good password is hard to remember. It's not a good idea to use simple passwords, or the same password for multiple sites. It's better to use a password manager, and LastPass is a good solution. Not only is it secure, but it's also available on every device or platform imaginable.

When generating a password (perhaps the one to use for LastPass), Steve Gibson noticed that you can take a semi-good password and pad it with a pattern that's easy to remember. Zip codes from your childhood could work, for example. That adds 5 digits to the password, making it that much stronger.

Ann also wants to encrypt her documents. Most operating systems have built in encryption. Microsoft Windows has BitLocker, Mac OS X has FileVault, but the one that Leo recommends is called TrueCrypt. It's open source, which assures there's no backdoor for the federal government and it's done properly. It's also free and allows for the encryption of a whole drive, a folder or even an individual file. Leo suggests is making a folder that would be an "encryption folder". Then Ann can put all of the things she wants encrypted in that folder and it all will be stored safely.

Ann plans to use Carbonite to backup her data too, and wondered if having her files encrypted would affect that backup. It will impact this a little bit, because Carbonite will just backup those encrypted files as a "blob". Carbonite won't be able to recognize that what is within TrueCrypt are individual files. So if Ann loses everything, she would be able to restore those files as an encrypted blob that she would be able to open up again if she had the the passphrase and the critical certificate information. Carbonite does have strong encryption built into it as well. Carbonite's site says what features are lost if additional encryption is being used. (Disclaimer: Carbonite is a sponsor).

Watch Lucy from Los Angeles, CA Comments

Leo suggests using a service called ScanCafe for this instead of scanning them all in individually. For just 22 cents per image, ScanCafe will clean up the photos, correct them, remove dust and burn the digital copies to DVD. They will convert video tapes to a digital format as well. They even have a "shoebox" option, where they'll take as many photos you can fit in a shoebox for a flat rate.

Once Lucy gets the digital images, she can share them using services such as Flickr, Google's Picasaweb or SmugMug. SmugMug is nice because it offers larger prints, and even the ability to print photos on mouse pads, coffee mugs and more. Since these may be personal family photos, Lucy may want to make them private, which is possible on almost any photo sharing service. Leo prefers Google's service because they offer free storage for photos and he knows Google will be around long-term.

Watch Ryan from Tallahassee, Florida Comments

First Ryan will have to take the cassette and make it digital, he can make CDs or DVDs of them. There are two ways he could go about this process:

  • Buy a device designed to convert tapes.
  • If Ryan had a lot of tapes to convert, he could buy a product from Crosley. They make devices that digitize cassettes or albums, and can actually burn CDs or DVDs from these.

  • Use a cassette player and a computer.
  • Take the audio out from the cassette player (Ryan could even use the headphone jack) and plug it into the line-in of the computer. There's a free program called Audacity which will record what's coming out of the cassette player. From there, he can edit the audio and burn it to a disc.

    Leo recommends that second option because Ryan probably already owns what he needs to accomplish this.