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Weekend of May 31, 2019 – Hour 3

Tech News and Commentary

Dave and the team discuss Snap and record labels, a malware art project selling for over $1M, inexpensive tablets by Walmart, cameras to ensure pizza quality, an iPod upgrade, a UFO train sighting, subway trains and smartphones, Alexa deleting recording, and more.

Chantel in Ontario, listens on AM800 CKLW and asked: “I would like advice on a GPS trackable watch/phone for my son.”

Chantel, you have a couple of options here, but your easiest one would probably be a basic phone.

Both iOS and Android offer options to track your child’s location and they both do so via their family features. Basic Android phones tend not to be great, but they’re cheap, so they may be a good option for this.

Just open the Family Link app and you will see an option to set up location tracking right there, you can use that find out where your child is.

You could also give your child a smartwatch with an active phone line, that would give you the option to reach them and it would tell you where they are, but you’re looking at a larger price tag than that of a basic phone, and they’d likely have to share someone’s number if you don’t want to pay to give them their own. That means your calls would ring on their watch as well, like the return of some terrible 20th century past when phone lines were shared… the horror.

Roberto in Puerto Rico listens to the podcast and asked: “I been using a Motorola phone for a couple of years, I think it’s a complete device but my wife recommends that I move to iPhone. What do you guys think?”

Roberto, phones are way too expensive these days, if you’re happy with it and think it’s all you need, you might as well delay getting a new one.

Smartphones choice mainly comes down to personal preference. They all do the same stuff, so there’s really very little point in arguing over the very, very tiny differences around how they do things to try to decide which one is better. They’re all similar computers built by giant corporations that are just trying to get another billion before the end of the day.

If your current phone is good enough for you, might as well just keep it for the time being. It will fail sooner or later but why not squeeze a little more life out of it?

John in Raleigh, North Carolina listens on WPTF and asked: “I have Windows 10 Desktop. When I open a Word document, I get “Command can’t be performed until a dialog box is open.” so I drill down to the Microsoft folder and open the “templates” folder, then deleted, normal.dotm – deleted that file and then I’m able to open a word document successfully. The problem is while I’m doing that, Microsoft re-adds that file, so when I try to open a Word document a second time, I get that message again. So I need to figure out how to stop Microsoft from adding that file back after I delete it.”

John are you running Word 2007 by any chance? This used to be a problem a few years ago on that version.

The root cause for this seems to be that the template contains some macro, something harmless that Microsoft puts in, but it’s still some form of macro. Some (but not all) antivirus programs will detect that macro and act to keep it contained and that triggers that message from Word.

Since this is probably a very, very old version of Word, it’s most likely that you’re well outside of the support window for it and that it’s been fully retired by now, so Microsoft won’t be making any changes to fix this behavior.

That leaves you with three options, the first one is just put up with it, it’s annoying but you can still use Word once you get in, the second one is to try a different antivirus, since some don’t seem to trigger this problem (having said that, they very well might after some update down the line), and the third is to drop Word altogether.

There are plenty of alternatives to Office these days, many of them free, and they won’t bug you with this issue if you use them.

Denny in McGregor, Ontario listens on AM800 CKLW and asked: “I use recording software for recording music as an artist. I was hoping to find software that would treat the room because soundproofing and treating makes such a big difference. So looking for software that would mimic a treated room to do my final mixes.”

Denny, you’ll find filters that can try to fix things a little bit, but there’s no real substitute for soundproofing.

Even inexpensive soundproofing will make a difference that no software can make. Computers are not that great at finding the exact threshold between what you want to record and what you want to ignore, there’s nothing around that will take the place of lining your walls with something that can get rid of unwanted noise, and if there were it’d probably be more expensive than soundproofing the room in the first place.

If you wanted to look into some of the more expensive audio editing software, geared towards professionals, you may have some luck. But as Dave said, there’s no substitute for actually soundproofing a room. If you start with that, you can then use the software to achieve different acoustics. For instance, we use Adobe’s Audition software in our studio. That’s one of the “standards” in the audio production world. It has a suite of filters that can give your audio the sound of being in different environments, from a small studio, to a large wide open amphitheater and anywhere in between. You used to be able to just buy the software outright, but as many other companies have done, Adobe has gone to a “subscription” model for its programs. You’d be looking at a monthly price of around $30 a month – cheaper if you do their annual plans.

Dennis in Jonesborough, Tennessee listens on WTN 99.7 and asked: “Are they gonna have any other DVD players or surround sound TV players that are wireless”

Dennis, there have been wireless surround sound systems for many years now, but we wouldn’t expect to see wireless DVD players any time soon.

It seems like an awful lot of expense and complication to get very little in return. For example, your TV don’t have wireless DVD player compatibility, so you’d be looking at buying an adapter or a new TV, and what the use case?

You’re probably going to load the DVD into the player in the same room the TV is in, so it seems like there’s not much point in giving it a wireless function, prone to interference and requiring expensive components like a high speed wireless network card to just play something from the same room.

If you want wireless movies, you’re probably better off streaming to a smart TV, DVDs in general are probably not going to be around for an awful lot longer.

Dave in Murfreesboro, Tennessee listens on SuperTalk 99.7 WTN and asked: “I have a Seagate external Hard drive that I cannot get connected to my HP Windows 10.”

Dave, it’s hard to say much without more information, but is the drive formatted? If Windows can’t use it, it may just need to be formatted so that Windows can read it and write to it.

If it’s not turning on at all, you may just have a bad connector or a bad board, both of which would be cheap to replace, or you may have a bad drive, which would probably not be worth the effort.

If you have any more information to share we may be able to give you more specific advice. Has it every worked? When did it stop working? Does Windows give you any messages?

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Written by Dave Graveline

Dave Graveline

Dave Graveline is the founder, Host & Executive Producer of "Into Tomorrow" in addition to being President of the Advanced Media Network".

Dave is also a trusted and familiar voice on many national commercials & narrations in addition to being an authority in consumer tech since 1994. He is also a former Police Officer and an FBI Certified Instructor.

Dave thrives on audience participation!

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