Hardware

Laptop or desktop computers and any components within.

Can I add RAM to my Windows Surface laptop?

Surface Laptop

Episode 1531

Carmine from California

Carmine wants to buy the Windows Surface Book 2, and wants to know if he can buy after market RAM and install it. Leo says he should be able to. It's a standard laptop. He can go to Crucial.com and enter in the model. It'll tell him if RAM is available and how to install it. Micron.com is also a good idea. He can check out the Windows Surface Reddit too.

How can I stop robocalls?

woman on phone

Episode 1531

Jessie from Durango, CO

Jessie keeps getting robocalls and the numbers they get are either disconnected or bogus. Leo says that they are bogus, and according to a recent survey, by 2019, 80% of cell phone calls will be robocalls. And nobody knows what to do about it. Most are from overseas. They forge the caller ID, and will even do it with the recipient's area code and prefix. The reality is, legitimate companies will not be calling. They'll be using mail. Jessie can log her number into the DoNotCall.Gov database.

Dick DeBartolo, The Giz Wiz

Dick DeBartolo

Episode 1531

The SmartFlower Solar system was another 'big' gadget at the Luxury Technology Show. They had a unit out in the street so the press could see it in person. The SmartFlower is a fully integrated, all-in-one solar system that can live anywhere, but certainly the sunnier, the better. SmartFlower uses GPS tracking aligned to the specific longitude and latitude of the site where it is installed. This precise tracking can increase productivity by as much as 40%. They do want it setup by one of their installers to get the full warranty.

My laptop was stolen, what do I do?

Episode 1531

Jeff from Costa Mesa, CA

Jeff is worried about whether his personal data has been compromised after his Mac was stolen. Apple says not to worry about it. Leo says that if he turned on FileVault, then he'll be OK. If he didn't, then they can hack into his Find My iMac account to find out where he lives. Leo recommends clearing out his FindMyiMac searches and block anyone who may have gotten into it. More likely, they just tried to sell it or pawned it. Apple may be able to remote wipe or brick it. But he shouldn't try and go get it. That would be dangerous. He should just turn over the data to the police.

Why won't my laptop charge?

Battery

Episode 1531

Karen from California

Karen's laptop has stopped charging. It's 10 years old. Leo says that her laptop has a lithium ion battery and it has probbaly just worn out. They won't take a charge after about 500 recharges, and after 10 years, it's very likely that's what it is. But Windows 10 has a feature in the command line. She can get to it by pressing the Windows key, and then typing CMD and enter. Then she should type "powercfg /batteryreport." This will give her a report on her battery's health. It gets saved to the hard drive and she can open it with her browser.

Should I buy a MacBook Air or Mac Mini?

Apple MacBook Air

Episode 1531

Matt from Florida

Matt is thinking of getting a MacBook Air with an i7 or a Mac Mini. But he's been holding off because he keeps hearing rumors of new models. Leo says that the problem with those two devices is that they haven't been updated since 2015, so buying one will get him an antiquated processor. The screen is also low resolution by comparison to today's standards. Leo also says that the rumor of a Mac Mini is extremely unlikely. There's no real data to support it. In fact, since Apple is more focused on mobile devices, it's more likely that Apple will discontinue it entirely sooner or later.

Why can't I access my files after a power outage?

Power outlet

Episode 1531

Debbie from Fort Mojave, AZ

Debbie had a power outage and now she can't open anything, especially her pictures. Leo says to try and reboot the computer first. Shut the computer down. Count to 10. Turn it back on. If that doesn't fix it, there's a chance that the hard drive has become corrupt if the computer was writing to the drive at the moment the power went out. This is why Leo recommends a surge protector that has a battery backup.

Google announces Pixel 3 XL, Slate and other products

Episode 1531

Google announced the Google Pixel 3 XL this week, and Leo says it feels great in the hand. It has also added wireless charging, which Leo says is the holy grail of mobile phones, and the three major manufactures now support it. Google also announced the Pixel Slate, a new tablet with Chrome OS. It can also run Android and Linux apps. There was also the Google Home Hub tablet. Surprisingly tiny, it has a screen and is designed to be your home's hub.

What's the most secure PC for online banking?

Acer Chromebook 15

Episode 1530

Ryan from Santa Barbara, CA

Ryan's bank wants him to do more banking online. He wants to buy one computer that is 100% dedicated to online banking. Leo says that's a good idea, and Leo would recommend a Chromebook. Chrome is incredibly secure and is the most popular browser out there. The Acer Chromebook 15 is one of the best for the money, and at $250, it's a bargain.

Bloomberg: China Hacks SuperMicro Motherboards

Motherboard

Episode 1530

Bloomberg published a story that China's PRC had installed a tiny chip the size of a grain of rice on all Elemental SuperMicro Motherboard, giving them access to a treasure trove of corporation and national security secrets. These boards are used widely in corporations and even the Department of Defense. Leo says the article was well researched, well sourced, but the day after it was published, everyone, including corporations where 17 unidentified sources worked, have denied it. Even the US Department of Homeland security and the UK CyberSecurity Ministry.