It's open season for federal employees as well as many privately-employed people to change their health plan selection for next year. We speak with experts for tips and will take your questions about how to make the right choice for you and your family.
Guest Host: Rebecca Roberts
It’s the first Tech Tuesday of the month, and you know what that means. The Computer Guys & Gal are back to answer your questions, and share the latest news from the world of technology.
- Allison Druin WAMU's Computer Gal; ADVANCE Professor, and Associate Dean for Research in the College of Information Studies
- John Gilroy WAMU Resident Computer Guy; and Director of Business Development, Armature Corporation
- Bill Harlow WAMU Computer Guy; and Hardware & Software Technician for MACs & PCs at Mid-Atlantic Consulting, Inc.
Items Heard on Today’s Show
Allison’s App for Remote Broadcast
Final Cut Changes
- EditGate? Apple makes some enemies with the new Final Cut Pro X
- Looks like we’re still waiting for that iPad killer. HP TouchPad Reviewed
John Gilroy’s Book Suggestion
MS. REBECCA ROBERTSFrom WAMU 88.5 at American University in Washington, welcome to "The Kojo Nnamdi Show," connecting your community with the world. I'm Rebecca Roberts sitting in for Kojo. Coming up this hour, it's the first Tech Tuesday of the month. You know what that means. The Computer Guys & Gal are here. Well, the guys are here. The gal is remote. They're here to answer your questions and ponder a big thought. So why do some products when introduced make instant fireworks, while others are greeted like a dud? Did you get that, that was a July 4th joke.
MR. BILL HARLOWThat was a pretty good one.
HARLOWThat was good. Allison wrote that.
ROBERTSWhy are Google and Facebook so eager to be your friend and help you make a bunch more friends? And in the age of big business, can small independent software developers -- and this is another Independence Day line there...
MR. JOHN GILROYOh, why not?
ROBERTS...in case you missed it -- still make a difference? We'll explore these and other questions and hear the latest rumors about the next big thing. You know our experts here in the studio. Computer guy John Gilroy, director of business development at Armature Corporation, and computer guy Bill Harlow, former Mac genius, who now works on PCs and Macs at Mid-Atlantic Consulting, and by phone, computer gal Allison Druin, associate dean for research in the College of Information Studies at the University of Maryland. Welcome to everybody.
MS. ALLISON DRUINHi there.
GILROYBoy, you sound great, Allison. It sounds really good.
DRUINAll right. I'm on an iPhone. Is this amazing?
DRUINI can't believe it.
ROBERTSTell us how it is that you are on an iPhone.
DRUINWell, it turns out that there's actually a new iPhone app actually for reporters.
ROBERTSOf course there is. (laugh)
DRUINIt's called Report Live.
DRUINGo figure. Oh, my goodness.
DRUINAnd it actually, it turns your iPhone into like -- into air quality, you know, radio air quality...
HARLOWTurns it into an ISDN line, doesn't it? (laugh) It does a great job.
DRUINIt's amazing. So I have to be on Wi-Fi and...
UNIDENTIFIED MALEHi, this is Allison Druin.
DRUINOh, my goodness.
ROBERTSAnd we can hear everything going on there.
GILROYIt's a police car in the background.
DRUINYeah, yeah. That's -- yeah, that's the studio trying to get through on the phone, but ignore that. Anyway -- but, yeah, no, it's working really well, and it's pretty neat. And I'm in backwoods Berkshires. It's wonderful.
ROBERTSWell, so you're on Wi-Fi, though. You're not on a -- from a cell phone tower. You're going...
DRUINNo, I'm not on a cell phone tower. I'm on Wi-Fi, high speed DSL connection.
ROBERTSIt's pretty impressive.
DRUINYeah. And it's a 250-year-old farmhouse in the woods here, which is amazing.
ROBERTSIt's one of those things where you think that only people who are regularly on the radio understand that there's a need for that, right? I mean...
ROBERTS...if you look at the Kojo website, there's a picture of Tara and Andrew pulling a blanket over Kojo's head in Haiti to make the sound quality better, so that the audio is not bouncing off of his motel room walls.
ROBERTSAnd this is a need that you think that only those of us who do this ridiculous thing for a living, no, (unintelligible) but someone wrote an app for that. There's an app for that.
DRUINYeah. Totally great. Now, normally, this app is used for, you know, two to five minute segments on different NPR News shows. So we have not actually tested this for an hour long show. So if I disappear for a moment or two, it's going to be because we actually don't know how long this thing is going to last. So this is pretty amazing.
ROBERTSWell, it's beta here, right? Right here live on the air.
DRUINYeah. There we go. We're beta live.
ROBERTSSpeaking of Apple products and people who report the news for a living, it is totally industry standard in TV for everyone to use Final Cut Pro. It's really the software in exclusion of almost everything else, but I understand that everything we all know about Final Cut Pro we need to relearn.
HARLOWYeah. So Apple completely rewrote it from the ground up. This -- they're laying the groundwork, we believe, for what the future of the Final Cut platform will be. So now it's called Final Cut Pro X. You can get it in the app store. It's $300. And from what I've heard, it's pretty slick. If you're starting a new project and throwing it together, it's a very quick and efficient way to work and a very snappy program.
HARLOWHowever, this is, you know, the film and TV industry where a lot of things move as slow as molasses and legacy is kind of important, and they broke a ton of that. So there are a lot of reviews floating around out there. Mac World had an interesting preview of it, David Pogue talked about it, as well as all the feedback he got from professionals in the industry talking about the things that they either don't understand because it's hidden, or a lot of stuff that's just flat out missing.
HARLOWYou know, things like multi-camera editing, support for a lot of older plug-ins, output to tape, you know, the way it can handle things like -- just setting it up for film, it's just gone now. And some of the stuff we don't think we're ever going to see back, and it's frustrating too because if you have an old project you worked on in Final Cut Pro 7, you can't even import it in the new program. You kind of have to start over.
ROBERTSWhy would Apple do that? That's not usually their M.O.
HARLOWActually, it kind of is. I mean...
HARLOW...Mac OS 10, they had to start from the ground up. The difference is in the past, whether it was the operating system or competing processors, Intel, to switch to Intel, they left a safety net of, you know, parallel backwards compatibility. What is really weird about this with Final Cut Pro X, they took the old one off the shelves, so, you know, it's not like you can run out and buy the old one and use that just, you know, to tide you over. If you don't have it yet, you're kind of done.
GILROYAnd right now, in the business world, more and more companies are using video online, video to website.
GILROYAnd that's bringing work to those folks out in L.A. who are starving. (laugh)
GILROYAnd it's like just when I thought I had it all, then they yanked the ground, you know, it's just...
GILROY...there are a lot of people who are mad.
HARLOW...for that particular use, this is probably great, but for a lot of people making, you know, like films, you know, like I think about -- I just watched "True Grit" on DVD recently -- really a great movie -- and that was edited in Final Cut Pro. I'm not sure they would necessarily do that with Pro X. I could be wrong, but I'd be surprised.
ROBERTSAnd I should mention that whatever technology you want to use to join us, please do. The phone number, if you're old school, 800-433-8850. Email us, firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also get in touch with us through our Facebook page or by sending us a tweet to @kojoshow. Although Facebook lost users for the first time recently...
ROBERTSJust last month, is that the measured quarter?
GILROYIt's like -- they won the Super Bowl and...
HARLOWThey reached peaked user. Is that what happened?
GILROYYeah, yeah. They won the Super Bowl.
ROBERTSThere's no one left to get.
ROBERTSExcept me. (laugh)
GILROYAnd that's it. It's like, well, who's left? It's like (unintelligible) are great. Well, who can I conquer next?
GILROYIt's amazing that, you know, what's really fascinating is that the Google Plus just came out, and the most popular guy in Google Plus is...
GILROYRight. He's the guy from Facebook.
ROBERTSThere you go.
GILROYI mean, it's like the most popular guy at Microsoft is Steve Jobs. It's just a strange world we live in where I can't -- my crystal ball, just throw it out the window. I mean, how can you predict strange things like this? So Facebook is, probably may be saturated in the United States, but what about India? What about Brazil? What about Russia? What about every other place in the world? And that's where they're growing. It's just out of control.
ROBERTSAnd what are they saying about it, about the U.S. growth? What -- why do they did say it's declined?
GILROYWell, they're taking a look at the number of users in the United States and saying, well, just about everyone who has a predilection who wants to join, has joined...
GILROY...unless the people who are putting their foot down say absolutely, positively...
HARLOWSo the people they're losing are the ones who they tried it out and like, nah, it's not for me.
GILROYYeah. And so...
DRUINThat's right. And now, with Google Plus, it's going to be an interesting horserace, but Facebook's got announcements coming tomorrow.
ROBERTSWhich they're being very cagey about. What do you think it is, Allison?
DRUINWell, I mean, you know, they're talking. The latest rumor is that they're going to launch a new video chat product powered by Skype, and that's going to work in the browser. So what they're hoping is to make Facebook even stickier for their existing users so they don't lose users. The interesting thing is if they stop losing users versus the gain, they'll probably keep going up. It's when they keep losing the users that that's the problem.
GILROYRebecca, the key word here is engagement.
GILROYWhat -- they have market share now. Now, they're trying to go vertical, so they got the flat. Now, they're trying to -- more time. So how can we get built to spend more time on Facebook, and that's what they're trying to do.
HARLOWIt won't be video, for me, personally, but hey.
ROBERTSAnd we've mentioned Google Plus a couple of times in passing. We should discuss what that actually is. This is Google trying to take some business from Facebook.
HARLOWYeah. They tried this, I think, back in the MySpace days with a product called Orkut, which, you know, it made a kind of big splash. And it sort of went away, except in Brazil...
HARLOW...where it's kind of huge. It's got its own life there. So for us in North America, Google Plus is sort of like Facebook, but it seems to be almost like a collection of different features put together for people who use existing Google apps. So, obviously, you've got your circles of friends. You've got your areas of interests, but they also added this thing called huddles, which is -- we're talking about the possibility of video chat in Facebook, same idea.
HARLOWYou can very quickly drop in and out of these group video chats, and it looks pretty elegant. The thing that really kind of blows my mind isn't even all these features. It's that for the first time, as long as I can remember, Google actually has an interface that looks nice. I think that's actually the biggest feature, for me.
GILROYAnd this is invitation only.
HARLOWYes. It is invitation only, so if you're not exclusive...
HARLOWAnd the only thing...
DRUINI have an invitation, do you, John?
GILROYI don't want to talk about it.
GILROYYou know, I don't want to talk about it.
HARLOWYeah. We're at the other side of the velvet rope there, Allison.
DRUINAnd I'll tell you all about it, John.
GILROYThe only thing that it lacks is 750 million other people to connect to...
HARLOWIt lacks us, specifically.
GILROYYeah. It lacks us.
DRUINOh, no, no, no, I...
ROBERTSBut that's the thing about social networking, right? I mean, it's only as good as the number of people on it.
GILROYAs the network, yeah.
ROBERTSAnd so it does not matter...
ROBERTS...how good it looks or how many features it has. If no one is using it, what's the point?
DRUINNo, no, no, no. But, wait, let me just jump in. The reason that it's by invitation only at the moment is because it's truly in a beta, because they -- Google really, really messed up.
GILROYEverything is in a beta at Google. What's that mean?
DRUINNo, no, no, no. But this...
HARLOWBut this is legit.
DRUIN...actually they've learned something...
HARLOWYes, yes, yes, yes.
DRUIN...from Google Buzz, OK? They really messed up so badly with Google Buzz that they really decided, OK, we're really only going to give out invitations -- the invitations will go viral, but we're going to give out invitations, and we are for a period of time not going to open it to the general public. So hence the reason I'm on, yes, and the boys aren't, but we won't go there, anyway.
DRUINOne of my, one of my...
ROBERTSAllison, remind us, because our audience could be forgiven for completely forgetting Google Buzz. What was the lesson learned there?
DRUINOK. Well, the lesson learned with Google Buzz was that essentially they did not make certain things private. Anybody that was in your address book suddenly was in your social network, and that included, you know, your ex-husbands, your -- people that you didn’t want knowing about what was going on with you. And so it's -- in fact they learned a lot of lessons from Google Buzz because in fact, they have something called circles, which is a really interesting metaphor and interface for who you decide you're going to -- it's very explicit, who you decide you're going to be sharing things with, who you decide you're going to be passing things back and forth and so on.
DRUINAnd so I can decide my circle of -- my circle is John and, you know, all the people in WAMU. Another circle are people at the University of Maryland and so on. And I can send things totally differently to one circle versus another. And that's a -- it's a very strong message, saying we understand privacy is a really important thing and differentiating what you send to one group versus another, very important.
HARLOWFor a lot of people, privacy could be a key feature, you know, as far as which service they pick, too.
DRUINAnd they're hoping, I'm going to guess, that that, you know, look, Twitter is wide open. Facebook obviously doesn't care about privacy in so many ways. In the last half year, they've shown that. So they're looking to pull in those people that didn't do Facebook or got disgusted with Facebook and said, I'm done. They're looking to pull in the people that don't like the complete, you know, everybody can see everything on Twitter.
DRUINAnd they pieced it together so that it's a little bit like Twitter, so you have your -- you have a stream that you can see people's postings. It's a little bit like Facebook, where you can see photos from different circles. You can hang out with people and so on. But it's got its own U.I. that actually is specific, though I think there are certain things that people already that are in the beta test are already suggesting.
DRUINSo, for instance, I'd like to have a circle within a circle because, say, for instance, I want people in my lab, but I also want people that I work with outside my lab, so some people are included in and out kind of thing. So we'll see what happens.
ROBERTSThat's Allison Druin. We've also got Bill Harlow and John Gilroy for The Computer Guys and Gal here on Tech Tuesday. I'm Rebecca Roberts sitting in for Kojo Nnamdi. And you can join us at 800-433-8850 or email us, email@example.com. We're going to take a quick break. When we come back, some computing recommendations for seniors. Stay with us.
ROBERTSWelcome back. I'm Rebecca Roberts, sitting in for Kojo Nnamdi. It's the first Tech Tuesday of the month, which means The Computer Guys & Gal are joining us, John Gilroy, Bill Harlow and Allison Druin. And you can join us too. We've been talking about the potential big announcement from Facebook coming up this week. What do you hope it will be? What do you think Facebook should add? And if Google wants to compete with them with Google Plus, what do you think they should put on their new service? Join us.
ROBERTSCall 1-800-433-8850, or email us, firstname.lastname@example.org, or you can get in touch with us through our Facebook page, or by sending us a tweet @kojoshow. We have an email sent from Nora, who says, "I listen to Tech Tuesday weekly, and comprehend about 5 percent of your discussions, but I do love listening to your show. Once it's over, I feel so much smarter. I'm an 80-year-old senior. I've never used a cell phone. My younger relatives are telling me I need a phone in my car. They've suggested a prepaid cell phone."
ROBERTS"What do you think of this idea? How often will I need to recharge it to make sure it works in an emergency? I have a computer and do emails all the time, but don't feel the need to have that information portable. Thank you for any thoughts." Allison, you wanna help Nora out?
DRUINYeah. I -- Nora, I think it would be a really good idea to get a cell phone for safety reasons. You don't need a smart phone. You just need a, as John calls it, a feature phone, just a regular one that calls in and out. The one I actually particularly like is the Jitterbug, which has been out probably one of the longest of any of the cell phones. And it's a very -- it's simple design, very usable, nice backlit screen, noise-reducing options. It even has functionality for hearing aids and so on.
DRUINNo prepaid plans, no setup fee, just $14.95 a month. But if you wanna do a pay-as-you-go kind of thing, there is the LG 1500, and that's sort of, a NET10 prepaid cell phone, and you basically pay 10 cents a minute, and you don't have any other fees. And it's got nationwide coverage, and you can buy the refill cards online, or at -- even at a Walmart or in Walgreens. But if you're a person that drops your cell phone all the time like I do, OK, and like, slams them into doors, there's actually the -- it's called the rugged PPT cell phone, the Nextel Motorola.
DRUINAnd this seems to be a cell phone that can withstand a lot of my abuse. And it also, again, has a pay-as-you-go plan. But you've got to be careful about when you buy those minute, because sometimes there's time limits on those minutes in terms of when you have to use them up.
ROBERTSWe also have an email from Jennifer in Washington, who says, "Recently read about a desktop computer that was singled out as a good bet for seniors. It's called the Telikin, and retails for about $700. Seems like that's a lot for a tablet -- no, excuse me, seems like that it is a lot like a tablet, with a touch screen as well as a keyboard. Would they recommend this make for a technophobe senior?" Anybody know anything about the Telikin, or have a tablet recommendation for a technophobe senior in general?
HARLOWYeah. I mean, I haven't had a chance to try Telikin, but I've heard so many good stories and seen people -- seen seniors play with iPads that it almost seems like a no-brainer. It's a known quantity. And part of the tablet, especially since they've -- the iPad, especially, it runs one app at a time, really, that kind of takes over the screen, so the tablet sort of becomes the app,
HARLOWAnd I think the app selection for the iPad is what makes it so great. I'm sure there are a lot of different programs, depending on what you wanna do, that, you know, some are easier to use than others. Few or more features that you can find something that fits you. I mean, you don't have to use every last feature of an iPad to make it great. Just pick what works and stick to that.
GILROYWhat's interesting about seniors...
GILROYSeniors and iPads is a lot times, they have to go see a doctor or something. And this is really using them to put information for their physician. It's just an amazing change, and they're being very, very -- it makes life easier for them, less paper work...
GILROY...and it's -- they're really engaging with the physicians, and they can make a transition to electronic medical records. It's a wonderful device, I think.
HARLOWAnd I think for ease of use, things like this, the responsiveness and the accuracy of a touch interface is key to just how well it tracks that.
HARLOWI played with some cheaper tablets that used resistive screens. And those can be infuriating, especially if you're, you know, let's say a technophobe or not that savvy, you know, you might, you know, you start, you know, mispointing and clicking and things, you know, you didn't mean to launch that, and then it just becomes an aggravating user experience.
MR. REBECCA ROBERTSAlthough that touch keyboard on the iPad, I find counterintuitive for people who are not particularly tech savvy. I think there's something about resistance in a keyboard that feels more natural.
HARLOWRight. Right. And that point, like, well, you can get a physical keyboard and use that separate, but then that kind of kills the portability for it.
DRUINBut actually trying -- Rebecca, you raised a good point. Trying out the keyboards, no matter what is, is really, really good idea because everybody has a very strong sensitivity, strong like, dislike to keyboards. And so trying that out before you buy something is a really important idea.
ROBERTSA quick note on the cell phone conversation we just had, about the senior who wanted one for emergencies. Mark just called in to remind us that any cell phone can always call 911 even if its minutes are expired. Of course, that requires that its battery is charged...
ROBERTS...which is something that if you, you know, you never use it and it sits around, it's like the storm knocks your power out and the batteries are dead in the flashlight. It's the same deal.
HARLOWEven a feature phone, you wanna charge every few days and, you know, at a minimum.
DRUINYeah, you really do. Yes. Absolutely. But good -- that's a very good point.
ROBERTSThat brings up this email from Nate in Washington, who says, "Do you recommend using task killers to extend battery life on smartphones? Are there any other issues with using task killers, any other suggestions to extend battery life?" And I'll put this out to our audience too. If you all have tricks about extending your battery life, tell us how you make your smartphone or a laptop or iPad or whatever last longer, 800-433-8850. Allison, what's your view on task killers? First of all, tell us what it is.
DRUINWell, essentially, this has to do with the Android phone that you can be running a number of things going on at the same time. And so there's a lot of discussion in the Android community about, are these apps that are running in the background are -- and still running, are they slowing you down? And the discussion that I found is that -- is the word on the street is that you're killing things that may actually need to finish running.
DRUINSo, actually, by trying to kill these things before they're done, you may be slowing down the phone rather than speeding it up. And so you probably don't want to use these task killers and instead, for instance, get rid of the pre-installed apps that come with most of the phones so that you don't -- because you don't necessarily need to use them or, you know, stop, you know, make sure your phone is charged -- a very simple thing is, believe it or not, your phone runs faster when the phone is charged -- or stop searching for a signal.
DRUINIf you're not in an area that's, you know, that's a great area for cell phone access, then that's slowing down the phone, because it's continually looking for things.
HARLOWYeah. And the other big thing, too, is, you know, you mentioned the signal. And also, if you're on a 4G phone, you don't need to use the speed all the time. Drop it down to 3G. If you're on a 3G phone, you don't need that speed, drop it down to EDGE. And the screen brightness is another big one too. My iPhone, I find that I'm very comfortable using it maybe about 30, 40 percent brightness, whereas a lot of people might run their, you know, their smartphones at maximum brightness, and that kills the battery really quickly.
HARLOWAnd the other thing, too, is we all use email on our phones, but don't necessarily need to have every email that comes in, you know, or read the email the second it comes in. So if you can, adjust the polling frequency to, you know, maybe every half hour, hour or just manually whenever you open the email program, because anytime it has to connect and download data, that takes a toll on the battery.
ROBERTSAnd things like, you know, going from 4G to 3G or adjusting the brightness, are those intuitive for the most part in every model?
HARLOWYeah. I mean, a lot of times you find them right in the setting screen. On the iPhone, you've got settings for just brightness, I think, right on -- in the main general setting screen. You've got the network screen, where you can turn off 3G, for example. So it's gonna vary, depending on the phone, but it's pretty consistent.
ROBERTSLet's take a call from Vern, who's on the Beltway, ideally pulled over. Vern, welcome to "The Kojo Nnamdi Show."
VERNHey, how you doing?
ROBERTSGood. How are you?
VERNI'm good. So I got an idea for the next killer app.
ROBERTSAre you sure you wanna share and not just develop it on your own?
HARLOWOK. Got my pen ready. All right. Go ahead.
DRUINI'm writing it down.
VERNRemember CB radios of the old days?
VERNWhat if we took that same idea, but we now combined it with Twitter and Facebook? So let's say you're on the Beltway, and you're stuck in traffic. And you're like, gee, I'd love to talk to other people on the Beltway and see what's going on and complain with them or whatever. I can touch an app on my phone.
VERNAnd I can either go to a -- I can either specify, I wanna talk to people within that certain geographic radius that'd be, like, within one mile from you or five miles away, or there might be topics, like there might be a specific chat for people on the Beltway or Interstate 95 or people who like a certain rock band or whatever, and I can just join a chat.
VERNIt can either be a one-on-one chat, but it would be an audio chat like CBs were, or it can be multiparty chat. And you can have some sort of function, where like, if someone is too chatty, the other people can vote. And if they get too many votes, they get knocked out or something like that.
HARLOWVote them off the chat. I like it. (laugh)
ROBERTSVern, thanks for your call. So this would be, I guess, everybody within the radius of one Wi-Fi source or one cell phone tower?
HARLOWI mean, I think, to -- for it to be most useful, it'd be a cell phone tower. But it might take some time before, you know, you've got speed fast, especially upload speed, because this is a lot of data being sent back and forth.
GILROYWhy are the Google guys talking about circles? Because you don't want every jerk wad going into your circle.
GILROYI mean, I wouldn't trust information from someone like Allison, but I may trust it from someone like Kojo. I mean, it's like, that's why there's circles, you know, I mean, everyone in the world. (laugh)
HARLOWSo, yeah, like actual chat radius would be pretty key, I think.
GILROYNothing personal, Allison.
DRUINOh, yeah, yeah, yeah.
ROBERTSShe's out of your radius right now.
ROBERTSShe's way in western Mass. Let's hear...
GILROYThat's why I'm saying it.
ROBERTSLet's hear from Pat in St. Mary's City, Md. Pat, welcome to "The Kojo Nnamdi Show."
PATYes. Thanks for taking my call. I just moved from Bethesda, where I had FiOS Internet service. And now I'm in St. Mary's City, about 2 1/2 hours out the town. And there's no cable. And so I went and got a Verizon 4G card, but only 3G is available.
PATSo I hooked up my PC, and I got a NETGEAR, you know, Wi-Fi adapter, and really, I'm only allowed -- I can only connect about four, five hours a day. And when I can connect, it's really spotty and incredibly slow. And when I speak to all my neighbors, they're in the same boat. There are probably 40 or 50 houses in the area that experience the same difficulty. There's a Verizon tower that's about a mile away on one side of (unintelligible) and opposite me, there's a Navy base, where they fly unmanned drones. I just thought I should throw all that out.
HARLOWNow, I'm scared.
ROBERTSThat's a problem.
DRUINNot necessarily any connection.
GILROYSo, you want us to help you with protection from the drones or want to get your speed up?
PATNot so much the protection from the drones. I'm really rarely able -- I don't know if there's a correlation, I'm not a conspiracy theorist or anything like that. But we always wonder whether there is any correlation there. And is there anything that I can get to magnify the signal? It's really a pathetic signal and, you know, I need to be able to access the Internet on a regular basis.
HARLOWWhat's Verizon say about their coverage in that area? I mean, do they show a pretty saturated coverage of at least 3G where you are?
PATYes. That's correct. Yeah, they do. They say that there's really not any problem, and yet when you talk to all the neighbors, they say that the coverage has been horrible. And, you know, I'm right between St. Mary's College, where they have, I understand, DSL and actually, you know, Internet connection, and then the NESI Navy base where the unmanned drones are, you know, tested daily.
HARLOWYeah. To be honest, I'm not sure...
HARLOW...if there's interference from the drones or not, but I mean, obviously, you know, if they're unmanned, there's wireless communication, so I certainly wouldn't rule it out. I've experienced, you know, in my experience, I've had very strange dropouts. The one that really threw for a loop once was the motor from an elevator that would constantly cause my signal to go out, and that was just with Wi-Fi.
HARLOWSo, with 3G, it's tough to say. It would not surprise me in the least. As far as what to do to amplify that signal, yeah, I don’t have a quick answer. I know that I've seen off and on people who, you know, decide to hack their hardware and build external antenna arrays for them, but I don't know if that's really practical for you.
ROBERTSPat, thanks for your call.
ROBERTSI'm sorry, we lost Pat there. Let's hear from Joseph in McLean, Va. Joseph, welcome to "The Kojo Nnamdi Show."
MR. JOSEPH SHAWHello. My name is Joseph Shaw (sp?). I have an online magazine, lifeofamerican.com, to share the life information with the viewer. I like to utilize that -- the Facebook to let more people to know my online magazine. Could you tell me to get (unintelligible) article I can learn to marketing my website?
GILROYYes, I can.
DRUINYeah. So Joseph is looking for some kind of article or website that's a good Facebook tutorial.
GILROYBest book is by a guy named Miller, M-I-L-L-E-R, and he wrote a book about social media marketing, and it's very thorough in detail. It gives you the best idea of how to take and use social media to promote your cause, your website, your National Public Radio station or your business. And it's very easy to remember, M-I-L-L-E-R, and it's a great book. Just published in January this year.
ROBERTSAnd let's take one more call here from Susan in Arlington. Susan, welcome to "The Kojo Nnamdi Show".
SUSANHi, good afternoon. Thanks for taking the call. I have a very strange computer. It's a Dell XPS, and it was a replacement computer. Dell gave it to me for free, and I think it's a total piece of junk, and maybe you can help me with this problem.
HARLOWLet's call Michael Dell right now.
SUSANIt was Windows Vista. And when I -- not every time, but when I turn on the computer, the BIOS doesn't go on automatically, and so I have to input the date and the time and what I want to boot up first. And it's very, very frustrating, so it's not worth going into why, but I actually hired someone to fix it, and he said, oh, just replace the battery. I got a new battery and it's doing the same thing still, so that didn't work. Do you guys have any thoughts? Again, it's Windows Vista.
GILROYIt's got nothing to do with the Vista, probably lots to do with the motherboard. The little battery on there is like a really thin dime that you can replace, there's different sizes and shapes of batteries. It's called a CMOS battery, complimentary metal oxide semi. Anyway, it's a small battery...
HARLOW(laugh) That's very useful. That's for that.
GILROY...that holds stuff about your computer. What can happen, there could be a jumper on there that someone has changed and it's not working correctly.
GILROYSo, I would try to find the design of the motherboard, maybe a question and answer form where you can say, I have this motherboard XYZ, and somebody might have taken and moved a jumper to do something and didn't replace it. So that's...
GILROY...this is probably a 90 percent chance of what's going on because the battery doesn't get any juice going to the system, because it's...
HARLOWYeah, I'm assuming the battery you replaced wasn't the one in the motherboard. Is that correct?
ROBERTSNo, she's not there anymore.
GILROYNo. Yeah, it's got to be a motherboard issue.
HARLOWYeah, that’s what I’m thinking. 'Cause if it's an XPS laptop and she replaced the main battery, that wouldn't make a difference.
GILROYEspecially if they replaced it for free. It might have been the shop. Some guy, you know, pulled the jumper to test it and forgot to put it back or something, you know?
ROBERTSThat's John Gilroy, director of Business Development at Armature Corporation. We're also joined by Bill Harlow, former Mac genius who now works on PCs and Macs at Mid-Atlantic Consulting. And computer gal Allison Druin is on the phone. She's associate dean for research in the College of Information Studies at the University of Maryland.
ROBERTSI'm Rebecca Roberts, sitting in for Kojo Nnamdi, and it is the Tech Tuesday -- first Tech Tuesday of the month, which means our Computer Guys & Gal are here to answer your questions about what’s going on in your tech life, or if you have any ideas about what the next Facebook big announcement is gonna be or what Google Plus should add to its service, give us a call, 800-433-8850.
ROBERTSEmail us, email@example.com. Get in touch with us through our Facebook page, send us a tweet, @kojoshow. We're gonna take a quick break, but more of your computer news and questions when we come back. Stay with us.
ROBERTSWelcome back. I'm Rebecca Roberts, sitting in for Kojo Nnamdi. It's The Computer Guys & Gal today, John Gilroy, director of business development at Armature Corporation, Bill Harlow, former Mac genius who now works on PCs and Macs at Mid-Atlantic Consulting, and Allison Druin, associate dean for research in the College of Information Studies at the University of Maryland.
ROBERTSAnd you can join us at 800-433-8850 or send us email, firstname.lastname@example.org. We've been talking largely about software, interestingly, today. But let's talk about tablets for a little bit, because it seems that a lot of people are trying to dig in to that iPad market. To the degree that iPad has much of a market, they're still, you know, it's still, what, single digits of people who a own a tablet in the country now?
GILROYEight percent is the recent number. Yeah, Pew, P-E-W, did a story, about 8 percent with tablets. And Apple is gonna win that game. I mean, you can come up with anything you want. I don't see anyone taking that from them.
GILROYYeah. They're too strong. Now, what's interesting is that there's been a rise in Kindles and e-Readers.
GILROYAnd there's a person named Allison that predicted this years ago, (laugh) but we're not gonna say anything. I will not admit it. I will not admit it.
ROBERTSThis is your big I-told-you-so moment, Allison.
GILROYNo. I predicted it two years ago.
HARLOWShe's not even here to savor it.
GILROYAnd the Kindle's now at...
DRUINI'm here. I'm here.
GILROYOh, I'm sorry. It's a different Allison. Different...
HARLOWSorry. You're breaking up. We couldn't quite hear you.
GILROYOh, that app's not working. (laugh) That app's not working.
ROBERTSYou're breaking up.
DRUINYou're such a liar.
GILROYAnd another thing, and I don't wanna pump up anyone's ego or anything, but (laugh) the big surge is with kids. I mean, it's with people who have children at home. And instead of sitting and reading little silly stories, "Goodnight Sun," "Goodnight Moon," they're reading them on -- who -- Allison, you predicted that?
GILROYI think she did, in fact.
DRUINTen years ago, my friend. (laugh)
HARLOWYeah, yeah. That's a...
ROBERTSSo e-Readers are outpacing tablets, which is sort of interesting. The people don't want, necessarily, all those apps? Do you think that's what's going on, Bill?
HARLOWI think they just really want books...
HARLOW...more than anything, not necessarily they don't want a tablet. But also, when you look at the price, you can buy Kindle for a hair over a hundred bucks or you can buy, you know, the most popular tablet in the market which starts at 500, you know? It's a big leap.
GILROYYeah. My wife and I went to have coffee on Saturday morning. We're sitting outside drinking coffee, and this old geezer sits down, smokes up a cigar outside and he pulls out a Kindle.
GILROYHe starts reading from his Kindle. I'm saying to myself, who's the geezer here. (laugh) And since he wanted to be outside, and it was just -- it was interesting that that demographic, I don't think it was ever targeted. I think it was cool guys like Bill or, you know, trendy people like Kojo. But old geezers and kids, I mean, it's fascinating.
ROBERTSLet's take a call from Mel in Alexandria. Mel, welcome to "The Kojo Nnamdi Show." Mel, are you there?
ROBERTSHi. Welcome to "The Kojo Nnamdi Show."
MELHi. How are you doing?
ROBERTSGood. You're on the air. Go ahead.
MELWell, my question is, I hear different comments from colleagues and friends. My computer program comes with an anti-virus. I guess it's Norton or something and -- but my colleagues recommended to download Avira or what have you. And I'm told different things that if you have one, you need to delete it before you install another one, or you should stay with the one that your computer program came with. So I was wondering if you could help me out to figure out what is the right thing to do, please.
GILROYMel, normally with anti-virus, it reaches very deep into the operating system, and so that's why they suggest you remove it before you add another one. And these days, they're pretty much all the same. There's not big differentiators between the, you know, the anti-virus. The free ones are probably as good as the for-pay ones. In fact, Microsoft's got a free one that's not bad. Where I see the attack factors these days is not necessarily from viruses anymore, but it's from people going to social networking sites.
GILROYAnd Bill's got this. And, look, Bill's got this. I'll click on this -- this is a funny video, and bang. I get pwned, as the youngsters say, by a malicious code. And so, I think you have to uninstall your anti-virus, put up the new anti-virus, but mostly install some kind of a -- an approach in your brain where when you're at a social networking site, you have to be very, very wary of what's going on. That's where people are attacking now, on social networking sites. So uninstall, reinstall, but be careful.
ROBERTSThanks for your call, Mel. Let's hear from Rob who's also on the Beltway. Rob, welcome to "The Kojo Nnamdi Show."
ROBYes. Good afternoon. How are you today?
ROBI just call -- called to respond to the gentleman who had called about having problems living near the military base.
ROBOver many years, I've lived, airports -- near airports and military bases. And I've run into that same problem that he's talking about. It involves certain types of radars that are used. Example, a Navy jet base. Specific types of radars will cause -- slow down and actually drop cell phone calls. In addition, too, he's probably picking up a little bit of the -- some overflow filtering of the (unintelligible) two-way communication with the drones coming out of the Navy base, in addition to that radar.
GILROYMakes sense to me.
ROBERTSYeah. We've also got a call from Betsy, who says that anytime you're near a high-tech government installation, you'll get interference, in her experience. Going down Embassy Row here on Massachusetts Avenue or near the State Department, cell phones lose signal.
HARLOWSo is the low-tech option to just move? Is that the (unintelligible).
GILROYThat's a low-tech option.
GILROYWell, move to Boston. (laugh)
DRUINOr come hang out in a farmhouse.
ROBERTSRight. Where there's no high-tech installations.
HARLOWYeah. In New England.
ROBERTSLet's hear from Nate in Alexandria. Nate, welcome to "The Kojo Nnamdi Show."
NATEHey. How are you doing?
ROBERTSGood. How are you?
NATENot bad, not bad. I actually work for a major cell phone carrier, and one of the things I've noticed is that cell phone and brick in houses don't always work well together.
NATEBut a lot of carriers do provide network extenders where you can actually plug them into your house and boost the signal in your house, which can provide a lot of help in that area.
ROBERTSWhat's the problem with brick, do you think, Nate?
NATEYou know, I just, I don't know. My parents' house is brick, and every time I go there, I have pretty bad reception. I've had AT&T, I've had Verizon and a couple other carriers, and it's all kind of been the same. And that's just one of the things that I've noticed and heard from other customers as I've talked to them and helped them out with some of their issues.
ROBERTSNate, thanks for your call. Let's hear from Daniel in Bethesda. Daniel, you're on the air.
DANIELHi. How are you doing? I was interested in getting everybody's input actually on just what's gonna happen, specifically with Apple, but just -- as they continue to accelerate their marketing and sales strategies so that, you know, when I go out to maybe buy an iPad, I think, oh, well, in four months, they're gonna have a new iPad.
DANIELAnd they just announced new operating systems that they couldn't -- maybe not even be done making but -- and it won't come out for several months but (unintelligible) ramping up how fast they get everything out (unintelligible). So I'm interested in what your guests thought (unintelligible).
HARLOWWell, I mean, it's a competitive market and -- especially with Apple. They -- there are two things that they have historically done. They've been willing to very aggressively make prior products obsolete. I mean, I think that it's great there's competition. I think even if there was very little competition with Apple, they'd still have this drive to continue to make new products and improve them.
HARLOWBut it's interesting that you mentioned that you found out about an, you know, I guess you're talking about OS 10.7 Lion, that they announced that and it's gonna be coming out later this month, because, in the past, Apple has always (unintelligible) for being too secretive, not saying enough. So I think this is actually a good thing that, at least, you know, you have an idea of what's upcoming. You're still not gonna find out what's in the next iPad until it's -- the day it's released. But, I mean...
ROBERTSBut does, at some point, it become counterproductive that I'm not gonna buy an iPhone until the fall because they always roll our a new one in the fall?
HARLOWSure. I mean, look at me. I'm on an iPhone 3GS. By the time the iPhone 4 was out, I was still under contract. And now I'm just waiting for the next one, which I'm assuming is gonna be fall. But ultimately, I say this to everybody, it doesn't matter what they're buying. If you need it now, you go out and buy it, you know? It doesn't really matter what's coming. If the current product out there serves all your needs, then that's what you get. If you're on the fence and you really think that it's coming out next month, it doesn't hurt to wait. But other than that...
GILROYSo from a marketing perspective, what a good -- people wanna decide which one of your products you're gonna buy.
GILROYThey never compare you with another product.
GILROYWhich one -- this is a perfect situation. Should I buy a green Chevy or a blue Chevy? Forget about everybody else.
HARLOWEither way, Apple is getting your money, exactly.
GILROYYeah, yeah. It's a great position to be in, isn't it?
ROBERTSWell, speaking of Apple marketing and the whole sort of culture around Apple stores, I understand that they -- the folks who work in Apple stores are not allowed to use the word unfortunately.
GILROYI wanted to find out about...
ROBERTSI love this thing.
DRUINI love that.
GILROYIs that thing, like, surgically removed from your brain or -- can you say the word -- say the word. See, he can't say it, Allison. He can't say it either.
DRUINI love it.
HARLOWI just got a shock.
GILROYIt's a little prefrontal lobotomy, and I think if you remove that little -- so is that true? Certain words you couldn't say when you worked at that -- or you're not allowed to disclose.
HARLOWI can't discuss that. I can't discuss any of that.
DRUINI love it.
GILROYIs it unfortunately you can't discuss it?
HARLOWI can't discuss it.
GILROYWell, this is fascinating now. Who is the Borg now? Everyone accused Microsoft of being the Borg. It's really Steven Jobs controls everybody...
HARLOWSee this iPod Nano watch? I actually can't remove it.
GILROYYou can't remove it for the rest of your life. (laugh) That's unfortunate.
ROBERTSBut I love that people were not allowed to say, unfortunately, we can't fix this. As it happens...
GILROYAs it happens...
ROBERTSAs it turns out... (laugh)
HARLOWThere may have been selective enforcement on that one.
GILROYI look back in the -- we talked about "Pirates of Penzance" two months ago. If you please, shoot the cannon. Same thing with this -- unfortunately.
ROBERTSWe have Gabriel who emailed in to say, "I'm totally confused. What are the benefits of getting rid of my laptop and replacing it with a tablet? I use my desktop for our small business with QuickBooks. I use the laptop with our remotes log me in. Now our laptop is getting old. I don't know what I should replace it with."
HARLOWProbably another laptop, in your case. Replacing your laptop with a tablet isn't gonna be perfect for everybody. But there are a lot of people where they just needed a laptop or maybe, you know, a netbook for checking email, browsing the Web, you know, relatively basic things. And an iPad does it really well, combined with a relatively cheap entry price, great battery life, great speed and a ton of apps. So those are the users I think they're gonna, you know, just skip the laptop entirely and go with the tablet.
GILROYI have a friend who's a young fellow who recently married, and he watches football. His wife is there on a computer and with the iPhone and a tablet, and she's multitasking, but they're in the same room together. So it's two for Tuesday. Nothing wrong with having both.
DRUINBut, you know, here's a rule of thumb, guys. If you're a creator of stuff, generally a laptop is probably gonna get you further. If you're a consumer of media, then you really only need a tablet to -- because you're not -- you may be using it for entertainment. You may be using it for different kinds of family kinds of things. So I think that's the distinction between the two right now.
HARLOWAnd how much of it you're doing too. I mean, you can...
HARLOW...certainly write a book on an iPad, but that might get mighty old using that on-screen keyboard. So, yeah, get a laptop.
ROBERTSI think you'd go around the bend long before chapter two.
GILROYBy the way, Allison, 52 minutes, 10 seconds and your app is still holding up.
DRUINI know. I can't believe this. I'm like got my fingers and toes crossed right now. I'm so excited.
ROBERTSLet's hear from Rebecca in Alexandria. Rebecca, welcome to "The Kojo Nnamdi Show."
REBECCAThank you. I'm a fairly recent convert from PC to Apple...
REBECCA...and, even more recently, purchased an iPad. And I'm very disappointed to learn that it doesn't support Adobe Flash. For...
HARLOWThe iPad specifically, right?
HARLOWThe iPad doesn't support Flash, right?
REBECCAFor future reference, are any of the tablets that do support Flash as good as the iPad, if it's an important feature to you.
HARLOWPersonally, I don't think that they're all -- they're great. I think that the better ones, like the Xoom and now the TouchPad, are pretty good if you're not tied to any, you know, key apps on the iPad. The downside is it's not all it's cracked up to be. Flash can run on these, but the experience is gonna vary wildly depending on the Flash site you go to and how sophisticated it is or whether it even took into account you're using it on a tablet because the interface, actually, breaks down a lot of the time.
HARLOWYou know, they expect you to have a mouse and a cursor. So it's definitely one of those things where if it's important to you, if you have a friend who has an alternative or you can demo one of the store, try it out because -- and go to the sites that you're most concerned about because it is not 100 percent perfect -- far from it.
GILROYWell, Allison's advice is appropriate here. Go physically touch it...
GILROY...try it, see if you like it and then...
HARLOWI'm pretty amazed at how much it varies, either, you know, stuttering and bogging down and killing battery life or just being unusable because it just didn't work.
REBECCASo even a Samsung, which does support Flash, isn't guaranteed to work.
HARLOWNo, try it out. It may support it. You know, in other words, it's a bullet point on the box, but it may be a poor experience.
ROBERTSAnd at what point is there enough of a critical mass of people accessing websites through things that don't support Flash, that Web developers start using it? And has that already happened?
HARLOWIt's already happening.
DRUINIt's already happening.
DRUINAlready happening, yep.
GILROYThe CEO from Adobe was in town two weeks ago visiting organizations and trying to calm them down. And he's a big dog and they're coming back in another three weeks, but they're trying to hold the fort.
ROBERTSSo I've been reading that iPods are completely passé.
GILROY(laugh) Kojo has got one, so it's gotta be passé.
ROBERTSNo. I have one too. And -- that they are completely, you know, five minutes ago. But Hamid (sp?) in Crystal City has an iPod question. So join the club, Hamid. Welcome to "The Kojo Nnamdi Show."
HAMIDThank you. Thank you very much. So I am very iTunes-challenged. I find it very difficult. I don't know why. Maybe it's just my mindset, but -- so my question for you is I have -- excuse me -- I have iTunes on my work laptop. And that's the one I primarily use, I use most often. I've been synching my iPod to it. I recently got a laptop for home and we installed iTunes, and my kids use that. And I bought some music, you know, on that computer.
HAMIDAnd I bought some music that I wanna put on my iPod. But iTunes is telling me I can't synch my iPod with both iTunes. And I'm struggling with that.
HARLOWRight. So just to back up for a second, which iPod do you have?
HAMIDIt's kind of old. It's very old.
HARLOWOK. So it's not an iPod Touch, just a...
HAMIDOh, I'm sorry. It's a Nano. It's a Nano. I'm sorry.
HARLOWIt's a Nano. OK. Yeah, so with a pure iPod like that, you're right. Once you pair it up with one computer, it's tied to that computer. If you pair it up with your computer at home, you can do that. But it then wipes it and synchs it to that library. So I think what you wanna do is get your -- ultimately get your music off the work computer, into your home computer. So if you have a memory stick or an external hard drive that we can just copy the files and then drop them into iTunes on your home computer, that'd probably be the best way.
HAMIDOK. So manually move the files...
HAMID...from one to another will work?
HARLOWExactly. So you're not moving them via the iPod. You're moving them just as you normally would, as files. There's a -- if it's a PC, it'd probably be under the My Music folder, then there's an iTunes folder within that. If it's a Mac, it'd just be in your home folder under Music, and you just drag the contents of that entire folder.
GILROYAnd, Hamid, we'll be...
HAMIDYeah, I think I can do that.
GILROY...we'll be contacting your boss about your iTunes at work. So rest assured.
DRUINJohn, John, John, no, no, no, no.
HAMIDYeah, OK. All right. You got me.
GILROYBoy, we're in trouble now.
HARLOWHe dropped that call mighty quick, didn't he?
GILROYWhoa, I'm gonna run out of here.
ROBERTSSo this is why I love Kojo's audience. There's a bunch of engineers sending in theories about why red -- why brick houses have problems with cell phone signals.
GILROYOh, gosh. Please. Disconnect...
ROBERTSI love them. Ray wrote in to say that red brick walls are tough on phone signals since red bricks are rich in iron, which makes a good signal shield. Senri (sp?) says brick houses may cause signal interference because bricks have a lot of water...
ROBERTS...in their chemical structure.
GILROYKojo is probably familiar with an old tune from the '70s about a brick house. But we're not gonna go there.
DRUINEh. We're not all singing all the time.
ROBERTSOh, yes. And Jay apparently. I love the third one about the molecular structure of building materials.
ROBERTSConcrete has a problem with high-frequency signals, apparently. There's something about the resonance there, so...
HARLOWWell, brick may block cell phone signals, but it protects me from the wolves, so it's a good tradeoff.
ROBERTSRight. You are the third little pig.
GILROYMy house is made of sticks and Allison's is made of whatever it is, straw.
ROBERTSOK. On that incredibly illustrative note, we are going to say goodbye. John Gilroy, director of business development at...
GILROYI'm calling Hamid's boss. Oh, I can't wait.
ROBERTS...Armature Corporation. Bill Harlow, who works on PCs and Macs at Mid-Atlantic Consulting...
GILROYAnd can't say unfortunately.
ROBERTS...and Allison Druin whose app held up the entire hour.
GILROYYeah, a round of applause -- 57 minutes, 56 seconds, 57, 58.
DRUINYeah. I'm so psyched.
ROBERTS...associate dean for research in the College of Information Studies at University of Maryland. And, quickly, the name that John recommended, the book about Facebook marketing, it's by Michael Miller, "The Ultimate Web Marketing Manual."
ROBERTSAnd you can find all that information on our website, kojoshow.org. I'm Rebecca Roberts. Thanks for listening.
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