Tech News and Commentary
Dave and the team discuss a patent for synthetic group selfies, smart appliance software updates, Space X’s next step, scans that identify stress, Nintendo’s data breach, PET scans and negative thoughts, and more.
Heidi in Erie, Pennsylvania listens on Money Radio WPSE and asked: “I want to watch TV out on my back deck and I haven’t been able to get all of the local channels, so I’m not sure what antenna I should use. Or if I should just move the Roku outside. I was actually on your show earlier and asked about cable and I did finally cut the cable cord!”
Heidi, any old rabbit ears type of antenna will do. You don’t need anything special to pick up your local channels outside.
If you search you will find plenty of antennas that promise range for 120 miles, 200 miles, big numbers like that. Feel free to ignore those.
Antennas are subject to what is called line-of-sight propagation. What that means for you is that if you live in a 2 story house in a flat prairie and you put your antenna on the top floor, you may be able to reach 60-70 miles. Anything over that and the curvature of the Earth will block out the signal.
It is possible to get greater ranges but it usually involves a mast or setting up at the peak of a mountain.
For what you’re looking for, basically any basic cheap antenna should do the trick and you won’t benefit by getting any of those that advertise crazy ranges. If you can mount it higher that will probably help you out a little bit as it will help the signal clear obstacles, but you probably don’t need to do that in a place like Erie that is pretty densely populated and probably a target for local broadcasters.
Just get a simple regular antenna without any gimmicks, or if you get one of the ones that make crazy claims, don’t expect that you will actually be able to pick up Cleveland channels just because it happens to be in range of their claims.
There’s a great site I came across – NoCable.org. You can put in your address and it will tell you which local stations are in your area dn if you’ll be able to pick them up with an antenna. It has 4 different categories for the stations: “Likely to receive”, “50/50 to receive”, “challenging to receive” and “don’t even try.” – CG
Andy in Raleigh, North Carolina listens on NewsRadio 680 WPTF and is calling via the App and asked: “What are the strengths of each of the major web conferencing platforms – Microsoft Teams, WebEx, Zoom, Google Meet, Skype?”
Andy, The core functionality is the same: audio, video, usually a dial-in number for the person that wants to sound like they’re calling from the engine room of a turn-of-the-century steam-powered ship, screen sharing, and some recording capability, usually with cloud storage.
They each offer small enhancements over that in some way, Zoom transcribes meetings so you can kind of guess what was said from the less than stellar transcription, Microsoft Teams focuses on easy collaboration on Office docs, Google Meet gets shoved in your face by Google at every possible moment, but we can call that “integrates with the Google ecosystem” mainly by annoying you, WebEx seems to be mostly relegated to big, slow moving corporate giants that haven’t moved away from it yet, Skype was largely abandoned when the interface changed and it became heavy and cumbersome to use.
Really though, the only real thing that sets them apart in any truly significant way is that whatever company you work for got a good bulk deal and decided to go with that one, so you use them instead of the others. They are all pretty much interchangeable and we’ve never heard anyone say “oh, this isn’t X it doesn’t have feature Y!”… they basically all have the same features.
Ken in North Miami, Florida listens to the Podcasts and asked: “I have a Gateway PC that I bought for my old TV that wasn’t smart and I want to replace it with a new computer. I’m looking for something like an i5 with “a trig” of memory. Which would you recommend?”
Ken if this computer is just to connect to a TV you’re probably aiming a lot higher than you need to.
For example, a Raspberry Pi with Kodi installed is a fairly popular choice for this and they range from $10 for a Pi Zero W with WiFi to $75 for a Pi 4 with 8GB of RAM.
That’s not necessarily the way to go for you since you’d be getting just a board, not even a case or a power supply, and it does take a little bit more tinkering. Having said that, getting Kodi on one is a one step process on a microSD card, so it’s about the easiest and quickest project you can take on.
If you want a full Windows computer, you can find models like the Dell Optiplex 3010 with an i5 and 4GB of RAM for just $150 online.
That’s a desktop which may be a good fit if you’re just planning to plug it into a TV, but even laptops like the Dell Latitude E5270 with an i5 and 8GB of RAM can be found online for $300.
Lenovo makes very small ThinkCenter desktops that look almost like a small set top box and have i5 processors and 8GB of RAM for just $200 as well.
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