Tech News and Commentary
Dave and the team discuss home robots and their troubles, cyborgs taking over, a modern smartphone with a physical keyboard, Amazon real estate, Target’s small-format store success, modern anti-trust issues, and more.
Steve in Green Bay, Wisconsin listens to the podcasts and asked: “When I go into projects, or schools, I go into a mechanical room with a cell phone, sometimes I lose cell service in the mechanical room when I’m trying to get tech support from a factory. Is there a device I could use myself, or have my customers use, in this type of application to boost a cell phone call in a building?”
Steve, do those locations still have a landline? If they do, that’s probably the best thing you can use.
Internal rooms with plenty of machinery are not the best environment for cell signals to penetrate.
Failing that, you can try WiFi calling or cellphone signal boosters. A booster may be a very viable and portable solution if there is a good signal outside the room you’re working in.
We reached out to our friends at Wilson Electronics, who specialize in these boosters. In fact, they provided a few of their consumer models for our Summer Giveaway. Scott Lucas, their VP of commercial sales has some input for you:
“The caller brings up
We place an outside antenna typically on the roof
Whether it’s a mechanical room, server room, or a tornado shelter we can deliver a signal and keep people connected.
Specific to the caller’s need, a site walk should be done is to validate the distance from the mechanical room to the donor antenna, amplifier, and internal antenna and where they should be placed our Wilson Pro 1100 will easily light up the space referred to, and is the strongest amplifier and the category.”
In theory that should take care of the signal issues, since you’d be connected to the repeater rather than the regular cell tower, and the repeater itself will be getting a signal from the tower somewhere in the building where that signal is available.
Dwight in Mississippi listens on SuperTalk Mississippi and asked: “I have a Sony Vaio computer I truly love and I haven’t turned it on in a while. It’s Windows 7 which is going away. But I’ve got these two pop-ups about updating the drivers and I don’t know if it’s spam or what. I can’t get rid of them. Can you help?”
Dwight, without knowing more about the popups there’s not much we can say.
If they are spam, you can run an antivirus or freeware software like CCleaner or Adaware to try to get rid of them.
Having said that, they may be legitimate warnings. Sometimes manufacturers resort to what amounts to nagware to try to get you to update your drivers, and many know that your current ones won’t play nice with Windows 10.
Microsoft ran a campaign try to get people away from Windows 7 and onto 10 by offering it for free for a while, so these pop ups may be a result of people moving in droves to take advantage of the free offer, and of some manufacturer of some part of your computer wanting to avoid trouble by nagging people to update their drivers so their devices will continue to work.
If you tell us what the popups say, we may be able to give you more specific advice about whether or not those are likely to be malware.
Skip in Purvis, Mississippi listens on SuperTalk Mississippi asked: “I would like to know if there is available, a wireless speaker, I suppose, that can be powered off my computer rather than plugging it into the wall source. I don’t have enough plugs in my office where I want to have the speaker. So I just wondered if there was a way for the computer itself to power the speaker. I know with y’alls stuff, you’d probably come up with something.”
Skip, you’re describing 90% of Bluetooth speakers.
Most Bluetooth speakers can work wirelessly but will charge over a USB port, usually a mini or micro USB port connected to a USB charger on the other end.
Your computer can be that USB charger and just feed your speaker power through its USB ports.
Some things to look out for when you look for your speaker are the ability to charge and play at the same time, not all of them can, and the ability to choose your source because some will act as USB speakers if plugged in or Bluetooth speakers when they’re not, but won’t let you choose (this is mostly a problem with very cheap speakers).
You want to be able to do both if you want to feed your speaker audio from your phone and not just your computer when it’s plugged in.
Kurt in Anchorage, Alaska listens on KBYR and asked: “What is the best iPad on the market?”
Kurt, the current top of the line iPads are the iPad Pro line. There’s an 11 inch option and a 12.9 inch option.
They both work with Apple Pencil and have good screens and solid processors for a tablet.
Apple has been trying to pitch them as laptop replacements, which they’re not. They may get closer to that with full mouse support in iOS 13, but even then they’d pretty much be Chromebook replacements at laptop prices, which is not the same.
Having said that, they are very capable of running some impressive graphics-related work, so for certain professionals they are a viable alternative tool. The just won’t do everything most users would expect a laptop to do as easily as a laptop would, and for $799 and $999, you could buy laptops instead.
Laurie in Brunswick, Georgia and asked: “I’ve got an apple iPhone 6 and there are scanners out there, I think you can connect to them, I like the mobility, I like to do online stuff on the phone, like with a laptop, or a regular computer. So can you have a scanner to the phone or links to the phone to use when I’m out on the field, I do some real estate investments.”
Laurie, you may have to settle for your phone’s camera.
We found exactly one scanner that claims to work with smartphones and it’s made by TaoHorse, a brand we had never heard of before.
Our guess is that there isn’t much of a market for these because most people these days just point their phones at documents, take a picture, and scan them that way. There are portable wireless scanners designed to work with computers, but they don’t seem to have been updated to work with smartphones.
If you want to go that way, your iPhones Notes app has a scanner feature that will detect the edges of documents and adjust for angles, and there are many apps with similar features like Scanner Pro, TurboScan, Evernote, Microsoft’s Office Lens, and many, many others. CamScanner, too.
Anthony in Sherwood Park, Alberta listens to the podcasts and asked: “I have an original Google Pixel XL. I really love the phone. It’s hands-down better than the Samsung Note 4 that crapped up on me. I just finished my obligation with this phone. I was planning on holding off to get the Huawei Mate 30 Pro that was coming out in the fall. But now what’s going on with Huawei and the governments in North America, I don’t know that I want to be stuck using something I can’t read. Any further insight into what type of phone might be good to go with either the P30 or the Mate 30?”
Anthony, the two are almost the same.
According to the specs the Mate 30 will come with a slightly larger screen at 6.5” vs 6.1” and a better battery, but the P30 has all better cameras, even with a better flash, and better pixel density and screen resolution as well as image resolution on its cameras.
The P30’s screen will also be OLED while the Mate 30’s is IPS.
Other than that they look pretty much the same. If image quality, both in the pictures you take and in the look of the screen matter to you, you might want to choose the P30, but better battery life may make your life much more pleasant than a slightly better camera or screen will, so if you’re not too concerned about image quality, the Mate 30 is not a bad choice.
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