Your internet connection, web sites and services.
Internet and Web
Connor wants to know about virtual private networks (VPN). Leo says that VPNs are kind of like a tunnel on the internet that keeps your connection secure and encrypted from the rest of the internet. Connor would like to have the freedom to go wherever he wants and watch whatever he wants without his ISP (charter) interfering. Leo says that it could be that websites that provide content may require cable membership in order to watch their content. So it may not be his ISP's fault.
Dave wants to listen to podcasts but he gets frustrated by how different the volume is from show to commercial and back. Rich says that's a common problem and he can get an app that equalizes the podcasts he listens to.
Cynthia cut the cord for a Roku about eight months ago. Now everything has stopped working and she has to pay to turn it back on. Rich says that Cynthia may have been bit by a phishing scam. He suggests having the credit card company charge it back. She shouldn't have to pay to reauthorize the box. She'll pay for the subscriptions to Netflix, Hulu, HBO, etc. But not for the box itself since she already bought it. Then she should do a factory reset on the Roku. That will make it work like the first day she bought it. She should try to watch out for scams in the future.
Rich says that the most popular question he gets these days is on how to cut the cord and get rid of your cable or satellite connection. That shows a serious trend — 22 million cord cutters and 34 million "cord nevers." But it's also far more complicated and you really don't save any money by doing it. Live and local channels is also still a challenge, and there are multiple services:
Todd wants to know if there's a way to get cellular data on his Microsoft Surface Laptop. Should he just turn his iPhone into a hotspot? Rich says it depends on whether or not he can hotspot with his iPhone. He'll probably have to pay an additional fee with it. Rich favors a dedicated hotspot like the MiFi Card over turning the phone into a hotspot.
Johnny says that if you fly a lot, enough to gain frequent flyer miles, it's best to stick with a single airline that you can build miles with. But if you fly infrequently, then shop around for the best deal when you do. He also says that if you get asked if you want to upgrade to "premium economy," it's a big scam. Johnny also says that airlines are now charging for gate check-in of luggage at $25 a bag or more. They'll also charge you to print your boarding pass.
Travel tip of the week - Bring a snack. You never know if the plane is going to be delayed.
Scott is very happy Apple finally joined the 4K/HDR party with the new Apple TV 4K. Even better, the Apple TV supports HDR 10 and Dolby Vision, and will be upgrading all the movies you've already bought that are in HD. But there is a problem. Your new Apple TV won't support YouTube in 4K since it doesn't support VP9, Google's ultra high definition codec.
Gloria wants to get rid of her ISP and change her email. Leo says if she's going to get rid of her ISP and its email, Leo recommends going with Gmail first and setting it up to get the email off her old email account. Her ISP is DSL Extreme. Leo says that DSL Extreme is a good provider, but if she's having issues, it may not be their fault. It may be the carrier that DSL Extreme is piggy backing on, which is usually AT&T. They have to allow them to carry it, but they don't really want to share. So they make it difficult.
Alan wants to get back into Ham radio and has heard about SDR, or software defined radio. Leo says that most modern radios are software defined and he can get back into it by just installing the software on his computer. Alan should check out EchoLink. He should also listen to Ham Nation on TWiT. He'll still need a license, but it's a good way to get back into it.
George keeps hearing about BitCoin and how much the price keeps going up. What gives it that value? Leo says nothing but sheer belief. BitCoin is crypto currency, which are essentially digital dollars that don't exist outside of a computer. You can't really take it and spend it at the local store unless the store takes it. But even a dollar bill isn't really anything but a fiat currency that the government says it's worth. The value of a dollar, or any other currency, changes all the time. It's fluid. So BitCoin is just an extreme version of that.