Hardware

Laptop or desktop computers and any components within.

How can I scan negatives?

Episode 1393

Percy from Crystal River, FL
Epson Perfection V600

Percy wants to know if there's a way to scan negatives with an Epson printer. Leo says not the Fast Photo printer. It has a sheet feeder that you can stack photos into and scan, but negatives require different hardware. You can bounce light off a print and reflect it, but in order to scan negatives, you have to shine the light through the negative into the camera.

How can I use my iPhone with my Windows PC?

Episode 1393

Andy from Florida
WhatsApp

Andy has an iPhone SE and he noticed that he can text phones from his PC using the email address provided by the carrier. Another option is to use a texting app that has a desktop app as well. Options include WhatsApp and Telegram, but he'd only be able to use it with people who use those apps. Facebook Messenger is an idea though. It works in the browser as well as mobile device.

Why can't I turn on my MacBook Air?

Episode 1393

Nabeel from Gardendale, AL
MacBook Air

Nabeel has a first generation MacBook Air and he can't turn it on, even when plugged in. Leo says that it's likely that the battery has died and that it blocks the current going to the computer. He can remove the battery and use it as a desktop, but to replace the battery is only about $99. So why not just get more use out of it by replacing it? Apple can do it.

Can I defragment an SSD?

Episode 1393

Sean from Pennsylvania
SanDisk SSD

Sean has a nine year old desktop loaded with software. Will he be able to get updates to Windows XP to end of life? Leo says there's a good chance of that. He just won't get anything through SP2.

He also wants to know if he'll have to defrag his SSD. Leo says no, he won't need to, but he can do it to force TRIM to speed up the SSD.

Why are weird text files appearing on my desktop?

George from Houston, TX

Episode 1393

George wants to know why he's getting weird text files being saved onto his desktop. Leo says it sounds like an app was written with debugging turned on, and when he uses that program, it saves the error messages to a text file. It's a harmless mistake left over by the developer. The trick is to figure out which app it is. George should check out Microsoft's Process Explorer. It should be able to help him track down what app it is. It's at Sysinternals.com.

Why am I getting a hum in my recordings with Audacity?

Episode 1393

Micah from Maine
Audacity

Micah uses Audacity and he gets an intermittent hum on his microphone. Leo says that the mic Micah uses is USB and so a hum can't really find its way into the chain because the power is coming from the laptop, not an analog phantom power source. It could mean that the Digital to Audio converter is going bad, but if there's no analog loop, then there can't be a hum. So it must be software.

What laptop should I buy?

Episode 1393

Sarah from Rancho Cuca Monga, CA
Apple MacBook

Sarah wants to get a new Mac laptop. Leo says that Apple is likely to announce a new MacBook tomorrow, with Intel's new Kaby Lake processors. They'll be faster, and they'll have higher resolution screens, but that's about it. That means the time is right to make "the Switch." She'll want to look at the Mac keyboard, though. She should go to the Apple Store and try it out, because it's different. It also only has one connector, and she'll have to buy adapters to add external devices.

Apple May Announce Siri Home Device at WWDC

Episode 1392

Apple HomePod

There's plenty of credible evidence that Apple is going to get into the home connectivity game with an announcement of a Siri home speaker at WWDC. But Leo says that Siri is the dumbest of all the digital assistants, since Apple has systematically dumbed the service down since they acquired it. So he's not sure how beneficial it would be to have a Siri device over Amazon's Echo or Google's Home. Apple may have the edge with superior hardware, though.

Why is my Wi-Fi network so bad?

Episode 1392

Ted from Apple Valley, CA
Netgear Orbi

Ted is having trouble with his Wi-Fi. Leo says that's not really the fault of his network so much as it's just congested from everyone else's networks and activity. Also, Ted is streaming 4K video and that takes a lot of bandwidth. It may be that Ted's ISP just isn't giving him the bandwidth he needs to consistently get a good stream. On top of that, anything they publish gets cut in half when streaming via Wi-Fi and with the congestion and the bandwidth, that's quite a challenge to overcome.