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Episode 875 May 19, 2012

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Audience Questions

Audience QuestionsHour 1

Hour 1 Hour 2 Hour 3
Watch Mike from San Diego, CA Comments

Apple doesn't allow iTunes to import music from an iPod because of a deal they made with the RIAA. If he were to just attach an iPod to a computer that it hasn't been synced with before, it will ask if he wants to erase everything and start over, which he of course doesn't want to do. Luckily, it's not difficult to get around this roadblock. Mike will need a program such as Sharepod. This will not only import all the music, but will also include playlists and album art.

Leo recommends using one of these services to keep his music backed up, although Leo actually uses both:

  • iTunes Match
  • For an annual cost of $25, iTunes Match will save Mike's music to the cloud and upgrade them to 256kb AAC with no copy protection. While Apple doesn't use copy protection, it's important to note that they do embed the user's email address into the file. So if the file were to be distributed over the internet, everyone would know it was him. Mike only needs to buy one year's worth of service just to get the higher quality files. If he had songs that were really low quality, less than 96kb, iTunes Match won't do anything with it. There's a way around this too -- He can re-encode the songs at 128kb through iTunes, and then they'll be matched and stored in the cloud.

    After iTunes has matched the songs, Mike can delete all the matched songs from his library and re-download them to get the higher quality copies. Macworld has some good articles to read about iTunes Match.

  • Google Play (aka Google Music)
  • Google Play will upload his songs to the cloud for free.

Watch Brian from Atlanta, GA Comments

Yes. He can get an embed code on every YouTube video posted, and this option can be turned off by the publisher. So if it isn't turned off, he's in the clear.

Brian's website is called "Cable Go Bye Bye" and is about cutting the cord. It can be found at CableGoByeBye.com.

Audience QuestionsHour 2

Hour 1 Hour 2 Hour 3
Watch Lance from Santa Ana, CA Comments

Leo doesn't know of any smartphones that can take decent pictures in low light, much less night shots. The way point and shoots and video cameras handle night shots are with lenses that are sensitive to infrared light. Then on the camera itself there's an infrared lamp that blasts a light out that the sensor on the camera can see, but the human eye cannot. This is what gives those night shots the familiar greenish hue.

There are two reasons why cell phones can't handle night shots well:

  • Battery
  • The infrared lights required for cameras to capture images in the dark would burn through battery much too fast.

  • Sensor size
  • Since the cameras on cell phones are so small, the sensors are much smaller as well, and won't be able to let as much light in.

That being said, there are phones that are better than others in low light, and some think the HTC Evo 4G. If night shots are really important, Leo says the Canon 5D Mk. iiiis the ticket because it uses a full frame sensor. It comes at a high price though: $3,500.

Watch Kira from Ontario, CA Comments

Kira called into the show asking advice about how to handle poor customer service from Sprint after having issues with her phone. Leo told her to contact Dan Hesse, Sprint CEO, complaining about the situation and it worked! She contacted them on Monday and they responded already the same week on Friday.

Leo generally recommends contacting the office of the CEO when getting poor service from a company. Most times, if they're a decent company, they will respond and take care of you. When they do, it's important to praise them for it and let the world know they did right by you. That's part of why these companies put in the extra effort to help their customers, and it's great to hear that Sprint did for Kira.

Watch Julia from Fresno, California Comments

Windows Movie Maker can do this, and it's available as a free download at get.live.com. Or if she plans to do more video editing, she could get Adobe Premiere Elements for $79. There also is a free 30 day trial version she can get. Premiere does a very nice job authoring DVDs. The term "authoring" simply means creating a DVD with a title screen and menu similar to commercial DVDs.

Watch Alek from Cedar Rapids, IL Comments

Green screens are commonly used by meteorologists when they do their forecasts. They are stand in front of a green screen which is replaced by the camera with a weather map. This is called "matte-ing" or "keying". Alec wants to use this for his stop motion LEGO videos, and Leo gives him a couple of options:

  • iMovie
  • Apple's iMovie doesn't even need a green screen. Photobooth and iChat have this feature as well. It will just take a photo of the background first, and then will replace that background with an image or video he chooses. Then when Alec puts something else in the shot, like a lego figure, that will show up but everything else will be replaced. This is the cheapest thing to do, but it isn't perfect.

  • DV Matte Pro from DVGarage
  • DV Matte Pro is professional keying software that does an excellent job, but at $200 is much more expensive.

    Alek's videos are at YouTube.com/smartalekproductions.

Watch Rene from Long Beach, CA Comments

Unfortunately, Microsoft Outlook will not sync contacts with Android phones, and in fact it doesn't even sync with Windows Phone 7 either. There are a few ways Rene can accomplish this goal, however.

  • Microsoft Exchange Server
  • If Rene were using a Microsoft Exchange Server, then it would be possible. Most corporations use this, and with the Exchange Server it works fine.

  • Google Apps
    If Rene were to pay for Google Apps, then he can use a special sync utility to sync with Microsoft Outlook.
  • Third party free software
  • There is a 3rd party solution to this called Contacts Sync from PPPIndia.

Leo suggests making a backup of these Outlook contacts first before using any of these sync options.

Watch Rene from Long Beach, CA Comments

Leo currently recommends looking into these phones:

  • Samsung Galaxy Nexus
  • This is the probably the best Android phone on Verizon right now, according to Leo. It is a pure "vanilla" Android experience.

  • Droid Razr Maxx
  • Leo likes this phone because of it's long battery life, which is often unusual to find in smartphones. Motorola isn't one of Leo's favorite phone manufacturers though because of the "Motorola Blur" interface that they put on.

  • HTC Rezound

There are even more phones to watch for that could be coming to Verizon:

  • Samsung Galaxy S III
  • If this phone comes to Verizon, Leo says this will be the one to get. He thinks it's even better than the Samsung Galaxy Nexus.

  • Samsung Galaxy Note
  • This is an excellent giant phone with a 5.3" screen, and Leo expects Verizon to have this eventually.

Watch Tim from Kansas City, KS Comments

In order to stream content live, Tim would have to have sufficient connectivity (which isn't necessarily the same as internet speed) to get the packets that are coming to him. All of this streaming data is grouped into packets, so a chunk of the video comes, and then another chunk and so on. He'll have to get it in a timely enough fashion for it to be in order and play back. There's a number of strategies to accomodate the fact that the internet is inconsistent. Buffering is most common, the video loads 30 seconds ahead of play back so if the video needs to stop for a second to wait for a packet, it can afford to do so without stopping. Once the buffer is used up, it has to buffer again. This is a result of the connection being insufficient or perhaps the server, on the other end. There might be other strategies like slowing the video down instead of playing it in real time. That would give it more time to download more of the video ahead of time, too. So whatever it is that Tim is using to watch the video is slowing down because packets aren't arriving in order and in a timely fashion.

There's a new thing called "buffer bloat", which is quite a mess. Because memory got cheap, router manufacturers decided to just throw in bigger buffers. They figured if they had bigger buffers, there wouldn't be as much of an issue playing back content. It turns out, an unexpected consequence, is that it breaks part of the protocol that sends that data called "congestion control". It makes it worse, not better. Tim can find out if he's suffering from buffer bloat with UC Berkeley's Netalyzer. Unfortunately, there isn't much he can do about it at this time.

Watch Michael from Pasadena, CA Comments

It's most likely the sound somehow got assigned to something other than the speakers, but there are numerous things that could have happened. Leo suggests a few things to try:

  • Open the "mixer" in Windows' system tray
  • Look for the speaker icon, and right click on that to make sure the sound is turned up and not muted.

  • Check the sound controls in Control Panel
  • Michael says the sound controls were ghosted out here, and it wouldn't let him alter anything, but Leo says to keep looking to see if there's a way to choose the "speakers" as the device for audio.

  • Check Device Manager for a working sound card
    Right click on "My Computer", select "properties", and go to the "Device Manager" tab. Look and see if the sound card is working. It's possible that it was just a coincidence that it stopped working after Michael's nephew got ahold of it. It is a very old computer.

The chat room suggests that it could be missing or corrupted drivers, but Leo thinks it most likely is that the sound is set to the wrong device.

Audience QuestionsHour 3

Hour 1 Hour 2 Hour 3
Watch Manny from Chicago, IL Comments

It's testing the entire chain, the computer and the network. Shields Up will ping Manny's computer on every port to find out if any of those ports are open. It's a conversation between Steve Gibson's website at GRC.com and Manny's computer. If his computer responds to any conversations that it tries to have, then Shields Up will tell him that those ports are open and he's insecure. So the router may be blocking it because it's between GRC and his computer, but it will try to "talk" to his computer. This effectively tests both the network and computer's security.