Tech News and Commentary
Dave and the team discuss dangerous behaviors in smart cars, iPhone forecasts, $10 for your browser data, streaming videos and media giants, smart devices and charging, and more.
Patrick in Tyler, Texas listens on KTBB and asked: “I’m interested in getting a doorbell cam and really confused about what’s out there. I’ve heard that with one of them, or maybe all of them, you have to sign up for a web service to receive the images. Can you explain what’s out there and maybe what the best deals you would recommend would be?”
Patrick, the main thing is to probably keep your expectations low. They’re getting there but smart doorbells don’t always live up to expectations.
Even big name security companies like ADT and SimplySafe are offering compatible hardware, and Vtech and other names you’d recognize are making them.
If you already use an August smartlock, their August Doorbell Cam may be worth a look, it offers motion sensing, live and recorded video, it’s compatible with home automation systems like Alexa, Google Home, and Apple Homekit, and it will cost you around $200.
CHRIS:For just about everyone else, the best option is probably Ring. It’s lower definition than some of the competition, but enough to be useful and the lower definition means that it’s quicker to load live video (again, keep your expectations low on this).
Ring offers 2-way audio, live and recorded video, it comes in a few colors so you can make it look less bad on your door (it will still look bad, it’s not a good looking device). Ring is selling right now for around $140 and, being owned by Amazon, it’s compatible with Alexa devices.
There are many, many others, but frankly the quality drops pretty quickly, and it’s not stellar to begin with, so you should probably stick to the best known options.
Linny in Charlottesville, Virginia and asked: “I would really like to know the best suggestion for recycling used items. Currently using Best Buy. I think they do a pretty good job but is this my best choice?”
Linny, your best choice is whoever will take that stuff of your hands, and Best Buy will do it for free. Sounds like a good option to us!
You can keep an eye for electronics recycling days around you, that’s one way to dispose of your electronics, and Staples recycles like Best Buy does.
If you’re looking for alternative options, sites like Gazelle who we interviewed recently will pay you for some of your electronics. If you’re trying to get rid of a fax machine or a dot matrix printer you may be out of luck, but if you’re trying to get rid of relatively recent electronics, you may get something for them.
Joe in Starkville, Mississippi listens on SuperTalk Mississippi and asked: “I have an Apple 4 and I can not remember the password. I need some pictures off it. And I can not get it open. “Cease Fire” will not help me. Who can I contact to open my phone? I have proof I bought the phone, when I bought it and where I bought it. I need some help.”
Joe, unfortunately, you may not have many options.
There’s no master password that anyone has for your phone, the contents are encrypted and the key is the password you set. The most the Apple Store or anyone else will be able to do is wipe it clean so you can start over, but that won’t get you access to your existing files.
If you want to use the phone again, that’s perfectly doable, but Apple is serious about protecting your data, and their encryption is real and strong.
If you happen to have your content backed up to iCloud and know that password, you should be able to access your photos on iCloud.com. If you don’t know that you may have to consider them lost.
John in Tyler, Texas listens on KTBB and asked: “I would like to know about something that’ll boost our cell phone reception. We’re out in the country.”
John, if you get decent coverage outside your home, you can buy a cellphone signal booster like the ones made by both weBoost and SureCall.
Typically, you’d need to put up a larger more powerful antenna than the one that lives inside your phone and a repeated unit that acts sort of like your WiFi router does and sends out its own wireless signal.
For this set up to work there has to be something to repeat, though, so if you get nothing at all, these devices won’t help. They only boost a signal, they don’t create it.
If you have WiFi at phone, most smartphones support WiFi calling and that’s not dependent on a tower, so that may be a free option that you can use, but that will only work within the range of a WiFi network.
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