Tech News and Commentary
Dave and the team discuss Best Buy turning to tech to cut waste, electric cars being required to make artificial noise in the EU, digital drivers licenses, Jony
Robert in Atlanta, Georgia listens on AM920 “The Answer” and asked: “I have an Xfinity modem in the basement. I have a Netgear extender upstairs. They work fine together, but I’d like to go out into the garage and working out there, but the signal is very weak. I was looking at getting another extender for out there, but I was wondering if the mesh system that you guys talk about would be a better option.”
Victor, if you already have that repeater working and set up – and it’s possible for you to get another one to work alongside what you already have deployed – then it will probably a lot cheaper to go that way.
Mesh systems are great, they’re seamless and can often adjust or at least give reports of what coverage is like at all points, but they’re not cheap. Even the fake mesh systems like Google WiFi cost hundreds, a new repeater may end up costing you $30 and you’ve already been able to set one up successfully.
If you’re happy with the way your current system works, expanding it is probably going to be a better choice for you than replacing it.
Chris uses a Mesh system at his house. He has the Netgear Orbi, with one satellite unit. He lives in a two-story townhouse and his router is downstairs. In his upstairs bedrooms, his streaming content was constantly buffering and he was getting a very weak wifi signal. When he installed the mesh system and placed the satellite unit upstairs, it was a night-and-day difference. No more buffering issues. Again, he only has the main router unit and one satellite. With many of these systems, including the Orbi, you can add multiple satellite units to increase the coverage in a larger home.
Shawn in Redmond, Oregon listens to the podcast and asked: “I have an iPhone 7 that needs a new battery. The one that’s in it is at 61% capacity and needs to be replaced. If I was to buy a battery off of eBay or Amazon, would that battery be rejected by the phone or would it accept it? I’m assuming it would accept it, but I heard Apple has a way of detecting if you have a genuine OEM battery.”
Shawn, Apple probably wouldn’t have much trouble detecting a third party battery (Canon for example does that), but they don’t bother to do it when it comes to iPhone batteries.
3rd party batteries are common and very easily acquired online and in physical stores.
There are two issues you need to consider, but neither of them are your iPhone rejecting the battery.
The first one is that Apple probably won’t touch your phone if it has a 3rd party battery or any other part and you bring it into an Apple store.
The other thing you should know is that it’s not particularly easy to crack open the phone and replace the battery. It’s not by any means super hard and you can take it on if you’re willing to go slow and be careful, but it’s not a user serviceable part and it does require a little patience.
Steven in Shreveport, Louisiana listens to the podcasts and asked: “I have 2 Mac Mini computers and I’d like to be able to share one monitor. Can you tell me the best way to switch one monitor between two Mac Mini computers? I have not seen a good solution for a switch.”
Steven, what you’re looking for is an HDMI switch and they’re very common.
A 2 or 3 port HDMI switch will cost you around $30, give or take a few dollars, and they’re so common that Amazon even sells AmazonBasics branded switches like they do with cables, mice, etc.
These switches don’t look quite like the old KVM switches, they look more like a little box with their own internal hardware, but they do allow you to switch quickly and easily between sources without having to bother with cables and plugs.
If you don’t already have a monitor you can use, there are also monitors with multiple HDMI inputs, but from your questions we suspect that what you want is a bridge between three pieces of hardware that you already own.
Laura in Apex, North Carolina listens on WPTF 680 AM and asked: “I’d like to know about cell phone holders that connect to the air vents. Over the summer when the air is on, it gets kinda cold. Is the cold air bad for the phone?”
Laura, phones are pretty hardy. Being exposed to the cold and heat like that are probably not the best for them, but they’re able to handle it just fine.
It’s more likely that you’ll find that your phone will turn itself off because it overheated from sitting in the sun too long than that it will complain about the cold in any way.
Keep in mind that no matter how good your car’s A/C is, it’s no match for an Alaskan winter, and phones work there in the winter too.
Butch in Marshall, Texas listens on 710 KEEL and asked: “I am an older individual, not “technically” smart. I have an iPad and my wife uses a regular desktop. Is there a program that will convert functions from my iPad onto her desktop for document transfers or something of that nature?”
Butch, it depends on what documents you’re talking about. If you’re using something like Office 365, then both devices can open them, if you’re using something like a photoshop file, then you’ll be running into more trouble.
The documents most people use for day to day tasks are standard enough that both devices are probably able to handle them and the simplest way to transfer them between the two would likely be either email or a service like Dropbox or Google Drive.
PCs are more versatile than tablets though, so do expect that you may run into plenty of files that your iPad won’t be able to open, at least not without paid software.
Joe in Gladewater, Texas listens on KTBB and asked: “Can you tell me about noise cancelling headphones?What are the best ones out there? And do you have to spend $300 dollars on bose headphones or can a cheaper set up work?”
Joe, you don’t need to spend $300 for noise cancelling headphones. For example, we are giving away $120 Mixcder headphones with active noise cancellation as part of our own summer giveaway.
Most already well known options are around that high $300 price, some are even higher. Sony offers an interesting noise cancelling set of headphones for $250 in the WH1000XM3 (they were around $400 when they first came out), they’re well reviewed and feature an AI engine can figure out what the noise around you is and adjust for it, so for example, it may cancel out noise but turn the cancellation off is someone speaks to you or if there’s an announcement at the airport.
Models sold to frequent flyer like the Bose sets you mentioned are usually tuned to block out engine noise which can help make a flight more pleasant, but don’t think you won’t hear anything at all.
Another option worth considering for most people is passive cancellation. Good padding or the right fit can go a long way in blocking out most noise without the expense of an active noise canceling unit.
Nelly in Windsor, Ontario listens on AM800 CKLW and asked: “We’re having a family reunion and I want everyone to be able to upload and download pictures, so no one has to be the designated photographer (which is usually me). If you could help with that, I knew of a beautiful app when my nephew got married, it was called WedPics, and you were able to do this with that app and it worked beautifully. But it’s no longer available.”
Nelly, if you’re set on using apps, Eversnap may be an option for you. They offer apps, and allow people to upload to camera photos and photos from Instagram and Twitter tags to a common album.
You will pay for it, though. The basic package is $100 and they go up to several times that.
That’s the main problem you’ll run into with these services, they’re usually meant for either weddings or large events and they have wedding and big event price tags.
If you want a cheaper option, you can set up a Dropbox or Google Drive account and ask your guests to upload their pictures there.
You can also set up a group chat on a fairly universal app like WhatsApp and ask people to post their pictures to the group.
Those options will cost from $0 to just a couple a month until you download the pictures and decide what you want to do with them.
George in Warwick, New York listens to the podcast and asked: “I’m 70 years old and have been using a desktop computer with Windows 7 for about 10 years. I just replaced that with a new computer that’s running Windows 10. For almost 20 years, I have been using a copy of Photoshop that ran on all my previous versions of Windows. But it will not install into Windows 10. Photoshop is a very expensive program and I can’t afford to buy a new one. Are there any legacy modes that I can put Windows 10 into so I can put Photoshop on there and use it?”
George, the answer to your question is: maybe.
Sometimes you can run older programs in 64-bit Windows 10 by right clicking on them and running them as an administrator.
You can also find the file, go to the properties and find the Compatibility tab. There you should be able to run the program as an older version of Windows like XP or 7.
Having said all that, 20 years is a long, long time. It’s surprising that relatively recent versions of Windows like 7 were still running such an old version of Photoshop. Windows 7 came out a decade ago, so even when it was released you were already running very old software.
Since you mentioned the price of Photoshop, you might want to look into some free replacement options like Gimp or even some web-based ones like Pixlr. They’re not quite as powerful as Photoshop, but they are very capable and given the age of the version you’re trying to run, they may even be comparable.
And yes, as you mentioned, Photoshop is very expensive. And they’ve gone the way that many other software companies have and you can no longer purchase the software outright. You have to get a “subscription” to it. You’d be looking at either $240 per year, or $21 a month for the latest version.
Jeff in McCane, Pennsylvania listens on Money Radio WPSE and asked: “I’m having trouble linking my Android phone to a radio in my work vehicle. Any suggestions?”
Jeff, there’s only so much you can try. Typically the process involves first choosing an option in your radio to connect to a new phone, then looking into the list of bluetooth devices available around you on the phone itself.
You should see the radio there and after there you sometimes just have to tap to connect, other times you have to punch in a code that’s displayed on the radio.
Other than checking that your phone’s bluetooth connection is on, there’s really not all that much to do, the process is meant to be relatively simple so there aren’t many options involved other than “request to pair on radio, make sure the phone’s bluetooth is on, pair”.
April in Marshall, Texas listens on 710 KEEL and asked: “With the brand new iPad that just came out, the 2018 version, is there a mouse that is available to use?”
Yes and no, April.
The next version of iOS will support mice and you can technically download a public beta right now. Whether you should or not is a personal decision, but keep in mind that public betas tend to be unstable is some way.
Mice are clearly not totally encouraged either, you will have to go fairly deep into settings and turn on “pointing devices” to be able to use yours. That might make sense given that the whole OS is built to be touch friendly, so expect some things to feel a little forced if you do them with a mouse.
Michael in Laurel, Delaware listens on 105.9 WXDE and asked: “When my computer accidentally goes into “incognito” mode, how do you get it off, or remove the incognito and go back to the normal browser?”
Michael, just close the tab or window and open a new one.
Browsers usually default to normal mode not incognito mode, so opening a new window should get you a normal, non-incognito mode.
You won’t be able to convert a tab from one type to another, so just copy the URL and paste it into a new regular tab.
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