Tech News and Commentary
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Orlando in Columbia, Mississippi calling in using the AskDave button on our site”I have an abundance of DVDs and I may even have some VHS hiding somewhere. I’m looking for a compact storage system where I could record all my DVDs, all my movies, maybe a hard drive of some sort – that I could also connect to a television to play. Is there anything like that that exists currently? Also want to say that the Summer Giveaway is like a tech nerd’s Christmas list.”
Orlando, you can store your media in a hard drive and stream it to your TV using a media server.
The most popular free versions are Plex and Kobi and you can set either one of them up either on a computer you already own, or you can use very basic and inexpensive hardware like a Raspberry Pi.
One you have the media server set up you can control it using your smartphone, by logging into the server, or by using an IR or WiFi remote but an IR remote will require extra hardware.
The connection is simple enough, theyll just plug into your TV using a regular HDMI cable.
There are out of the box solution out there as well, but they are usually too expensive to recommend, for example an NVIDIA Shield Android TV player sells for around $250.
If you have a Roku player, they will allow you to scan local servers and stream the media files in them, so you can set up a network hard drive and stream the content to your TV via the Roku as well.
Obviously you will still need to rip all of this content and for that youll need an extra solution. Something like Freemake Video Converter or Handbrake will do that for you and wont cost you any money, but you will need to find a computer with a DVD drive or buy a drive first.
Chris in Tyler, Texas listens on KTBB and asked: “I’ve never bought a computer before and I’m looking to buy a laptop because I’m starting my own business. Can you guys help me out with a beginner style laptop? And can you recommend any apps that are free that I could put on that laptop to help my business?”
Chris, thats hard to say without knowing what youre going to do and how you want to do it.
Obviously, if your business was something like creating 3D animations, or heavy graphic design youd already have an idea of the heavier hardware that would be required, so we are going to assume you want to do something more akin to admin work.
If thats the case, just about any laptop will do, but wed advise you to go for a mid-level laptop rather than the cheapest you can find. Quality varies greatly by price and a very cheap laptop can turn into a hassle a few months or a year in.
For example, Lenovo has ranked high in reliability ratings in recent years, so you can look at something like a $600 Lenovo IdeaPad 3, which will have more power than you need for office tasks but wont be the highest end, most powerful model meant for other tasks.
You can also look at something like a Dell Inspiron 3000 or an ASUS Vivobook, both will cost you roughly around the same as the Lenovo.
As for software, most of what you need is probably going to be online. For example, Google Docs has both free personal and paid business tiers and will include a full office suite that you can also set up to access offline. Microsoft does the same thing.
If you want something free that is entirely offline you can look at LibreOffice for example, a free, open-source office suite. If you do, keep in mind that its clunkier than the better known paid office suites, but its certainly usable.
Robert in Miami, Florida calling in using the AskDave button on our site”Hey Dave, you mentioned that you were on TikTok, but I can’t find you. How do we find you on TikTok?”
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