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Episode 881 June 9, 2012

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Audience Questions

Audience QuestionsHour 1

Hour 1 Hour 2 Hour 3
Watch John from New York, NY Comments

Leo thinks that John is incredibly lucky that his computer will start up and work at all after that, especially since John saw smoke coming out of the computer after it happened! Since it's only the audio he's having problems with, Leo thinks it may have just fried the sound card or even just the speakers. He could try disabling the computer's sound through BIOS to see if that stops the annoying screaming noise. Any connection into the wall is potentially a problem if lightning hits the building. Even appliances can get fried if lightning strikes.

Watch Barry from Omaha, Nebraska Comments

The law says they can look into his personal email if it's on their phone. From a technical point of view, in order to see everything that's on his iPhone, they would need software to monitor it which Leo doesn't believe exists. They would have to ask for his iPhone, which they could do, and look at it that way, but Leo doesn't think they could spy on it remotely. They can do this on the desktop though, and even if he's using company Wi-Fi on his phone, they could.

If he's just using the cellular network and not company Wi-Fi, they cannot watch his traffic. Even if he were to send or receive email at home, once he got to work they wouldn't be able to see those emails. They would only be able to see the emails that go over their network.

If his email provider uses HTTPS, then the email would be encrypted and he would be able to examine the certificate. There is a trick, however, that businesses sometimes use -- a "man in the middle" attack where they capture all of the data using a fake certificate. But Barry would be able to tell they were doing that because on the desktop, the certificate would show up as the company's certificate. They could do that on the phone too, but he would know it. There is no Apple tool that would allow them to spy on his email. This would be a different scenario if it were a Blackberry or Android phone, however. Companies can spy on your emails if you're going through the Blackberry server, and the company could potentially install software to do this on Android.

Courts have ruled that if you are on a company phone making a call, the employer is permitted to pick up the party line and listen in until the employer detects something personal going on. He would not be able to evesdrop even though it's their phone and on their time. When it comes to digital conversations, however, they can look at anything. There is no right to privacy when it comes to digital technology.

Watch Barry from Omaha, Nebraska Comments

The law says they can look into his personal email if it's on their phone. From a technical point of view, in order to see everything that's on his iPhone, they would need software to monitor it which Leo doesn't believe exists. They would have to ask for his iPhone, which they could do, and look at it that way, but Leo doesn't think they could spy on it remotely. They can do this on the desktop though, and even if he's using company Wi-Fi on his phone, they could.

If he's just using the cellular network and not company Wi-Fi, they cannot watch his traffic. Even if he were to send or receive email at home, once he got to work they wouldn't be able to see those emails. They would only be able to see the emails that go over their network.

If his email provider uses HTTPS, then the email would be encrypted and he would be able to examine the certificate. There is a trick, however, that businesses sometimes use -- a "man in the middle" attack where they capture all of the data using a fake certificate. But Barry would be able to tell they were doing that because on the desktop, the certificate would show up as the company's certificate. They could do that on the phone too, but he would know it. There is no Apple tool that would allow them to spy on his email. This would be a different scenario if it were a Blackberry or Android phone, however. Companies can spy on your emails if you're going through the Blackberry server, and the company could potentially install software to do this on Android.

Courts have ruled that if you are on a company phone making a call, the employer is permitted to pick up the party line and listen in until the employer detects something personal going on. He would not be able to evesdrop even though it's their phone and on their time. When it comes to digital conversations, however, they can look at anything. There is no right to privacy when it comes to digital technology. Legally, a company can spy on you without your knowledge and in fact, if you're working at a big company, chances are that they do spy on what you do.

Audience QuestionsHour 2

Hour 1 Hour 2 Hour 3
Watch Fred from Ventura, CA Comments

There are several reasons why System Restore may not be working:

  • Malware.
  • This may be cause for concern for Malware. There's an easy way for anyone with Windows to check for malware. Click the start button, click "Run" and type "MRT", then hit the return key. That will launch the Malicious Software Removal tool which will do a thorough scan for malware. This tool is not a replacement for antivirus software. It won't block viruses and doesn't even have as large of a virus database, but is pretty effective in telling whether or not a system is infected.

  • Lack of drive space.
  • It could be trying to save to a drive that just doesn't have enough space. System Restore requires at least 300MB free.

  • Task Scheduler has to be working.
  • Make sure this hasn't been disabled, and that there's an entry called "SR".

  • Make sure the "Volume Shadow" service is running.
  • Right click on "My Computer" and select "Manage". Go to the "Services" tab in that management console, and make sure the "Volume Shadow" service is running.

For a more comprehensive list of things to try, take a look at this article from HelpDesk.com.

Watch James from Pennsylvania Comments

To save the contents of a forum, it has to be treated like a webpage. James will need to look to a program that will download websites for offline access. Leo and the chatroom both recommend a free, open-source program called HTtrack. Leo advises exercising caution when using this because it's saving the page and all links locally, and if he has it set to go too deep, it could take up a lot of space. It also could bring a site to its knees because suddenly one user is very active. This could get him banned depending on the site. On the other hand, Google already does this in a sense when they crawl through each site. So it isn't too invasive or deadly, he'll just want to be judicious in his use of it. This will just be a one-time snapshot of the site, though. If James wants to update his stored files, he'll have to run it again.

Watch Peter from Brooklyn, NY Comments

802.11AC is the newest Wi-Fi standard, which is currently only in draft form. Buffalo makes the 1300 AC, and Netgear makes the R6300.

The AC routers are much faster, with a nominal speed of 1.3Gigabits. That's much faster than internet bandwidth, so it won't be useful for a faster internet connection, but it will make a difference with inter-network transfers. Transferring files over the Wi-Fi network will make a big difference. The signal won't extend as far, however, because it uses the 5Ghz band instead of 2.4Ghz. This is actually touted as a benefit because the 2.4Ghz band is so crowded.

The 2.4Ghz band, used by current routers, is an unregulated band with a lot of things that run on it. This creates congestion and interference. It also aims the signal to the device you're using, called "beam forming". This reduces congestion and gives a much better signal. This new Wi-Fi standard is aimed at reducing the channel congestion within the coverage area, which has become a real problem in Wi-Fi.

This new standard is at least a year off, though, and Leo doesn't recommend this new router yet. He doesn't think most people really need this increased speed, and while it does help with congestion, a good quality 802.11n router will do that too. Leo's problem with the Buffalo is that it supports an encryption technology called WPS, which is very insecure. Those issues combined with the higher prices of these new routers make it impractical as of now.

Watch Joe from San Diego, CA Comments

Leo says this doesn't sound like it's actually ebay.com. It sounds like something on his system is hijacking his browser and sending him somewhere else. One way malware could do this is by changing his "Hosts" file. So when he visits ebay.com, his computer will check that modified "Hosts" file and send him somewhere else. He might also have DNS Changer on his system which would then change the lookup results he would get and send him to a phony DNS server.

Joe says that in the past day or so, the ebay site has been down for him entirely. This is most likely because the hacker was caught and the site was either taken down, or he took it down. But his computer is still trying to send him to that phony web address.

Leo says his system has been corrupted, and may be corrupted in other invisible ways that he may not like. Leo's presumption is that they may have done many other things too. He recommends doing a complete reformat and reinstall of Windows from a known good source. He should make sure to backup his files first, but not his programs because he could end up backing up the malware then too. If he doesn't want to do this himself, he should take it to a professional and encourage them to wipe it and reinstall Windows.

Watch Marco from Los Angeles, CA Comments

Marco has an old Palm Pre phone that he no longer uses that only could access Wi-Fi, and an HTC Android phone that he is currently using. Leo says it's possible to do it. First, he should put a video calling program like Skype or Tango on the Palm Pre. Then he can put the Palm Pre above the baby's crib, and set it to "auto answer" in the video calling program. Then whenever he calls the Pre over Skype or Tango, he'll be able to see and hear the baby on his HTC phone.

Watch Wayne from California Comments

Wayne has multiple copies of all his movies, in different video formats -- .MOV, .M4V, .WMV, .AVI, .MP4 -- and is wondering which one he should keep. Leo says it's not that one is better than another, it really depends on how he's encoded them. For example a low quality .M4V will look worse than a high quality .AVI. If all the settings were the same, then Leo would choose to go with H.264, or .M4V files.

Wayne also has 2,700 files named cache.MOV, and Leo says he can get rid of all of those since the .M4V's are named properly. Leo points out that .MOV and .AVI are actually "wrapper" formats, meaning they can contain H.264 or some other encoding format. In general, there are more bad quicktime movie (MOV) formats than good ones.

If, however, these files are video clips from a camera, it is not recommended that he convert them to another format. Any transcoding to another format, even if it's a better one, will degrade the quality. So even if the files from his camera are .AVI or .MOV, he should leave them because that's the original format from the camera.

Watch Joanne from Ventura, CA Comments

Joanne brought her computer to the Apple store only to find out they couldn't help her because her 2006 Macbook is now considered "vintage". She needs a new hard drive, and Leo says she can probably install a new one herself. Especially since it's an older Macbook and the hard drive is easy to get to. Macsales, aka Other World Computing, not only has great prices on Mac parts but also can guide her to the right hard drive she needs. It also has videos showing how to install it. If she doesn't want to do this herself, she could find another computer repair shop or Mac reseller that would probably be able to do this.

Watch Judith from California Comments

First she should make sure the filters they gave her are put on the phone line and not the DSL line. Leo thinks it's an issue with AT&T because the DSL tech tried connecting directly to the AT&T line outside of the house. The problem is that AT&T doesn't have much incentive to help her make this work because she's using DSL Extreme instead of them for internet.

Judith should try using a different phone in case of that being a problem. It also is possible that there's something wrong at the DSL Extreme router within the AT&T Network Operations Center, so she should press DSL Extreme to look into that.

Most likely though, it's on AT&T's end, and she'll have to convince them to fix her issue. Otherwise she'd have to look into getting a separate phone line for DSL.

Audience QuestionsHour 3

Hour 1 Hour 2 Hour 3
Watch Theo from Medicine Hat Alberta, Canada Comments

Theo says he has a 64 bit processor and he's running 32 bit Windows, and thinks that might have something to do with it. Leo says it shouldn't matter that he's using a 32 bit version of Windows on a 64 bit processor. All processors are 64 bit and can run 32 bit operating systems. Theo says whenever he initiates the setup for Windows Home Server, it tells him the version he's trying to install isn't compatible with the version of Windows he's running.

Since Theo could only find a 64 bit version of Windows Home Server, he will need to first install the 64 bit version of Windows Vista for this to work.

Watch Stephen from South Africa Comments

Stephen is a web developer and deals with clients that are not as tech savvy. He often has problems with clients not being able to attach files to emails in Outlook. Leo says Microsoft made Outlook so it will not attach files for security reasons. Stephen could walk his clients through the process of enabling Outlook to attach files in the security settings. Otherwise, Leo doesn't like attachments because of that security risk and there could be issues with large files too.

He could set up an open directory on a server, and Stephen could send them a link and they could drag files to the webpage. The issue with this is sharing files securely, though. Another option is to set up a Wordpress page with a file sharing plugin that would act as an interface to FTP (File Transfer Protocol).

There are also a number of services that offer this capability online:

  • Dropbox
  • Dropbox offers around 2GB for free, with more storage available to buy.

  • JotForm
  • JotForm creates a Dropbox form that his clients could drag files into without them having to create an account through Dropbox. He could even use this on a Facebook page.

  • Min.us
  • This is a very easy way to share files through a drag-and-drop interface, but it still would require some level of sign-up to use.

  • Skydrive
  • SkyDrive from Microsoft offers 25GB for free, if his clients are Windows users.

  • Google Drive
  • Google offers 5GB of storage free.

  • ShareFile
  • ShareFile isn't free, but is a good way to exchange files too. (Disclaimer: ShareFile is a sponsor).

Since Stephen is looking for a way for his clients to share files with him without them having to sign up to a service, JotForm will probably be his best bet.

Watch Chuck from North Carolina Comments

Leo recommends DropCam. They use it at the BrickHouse studios and it works great with iPad, iPhone, or just the web. Chuck could also look into the VueZone wireless webcams.