The Washington Post

Personal Tech Live: FCC 'net neutrality' decision, iPads and more

Apr 09, 2010

Rob Pegoraro answers your questions on recent gadget reviews, technology news and provides personal tech buying and fixing advice.

It's a real tragedy how little coverage Apple's new iPad has gotten, but I'm here to help. What can I tell you about that gadget? 

Is there is any difference besides the screen size for the iPad and the iTouch? It seems like the Apple marketing machine has taken over, and newspapers desperately want it to prosper, because they look at it to save their industry.

There is an unusual amount of interest in the iPad among newspapers and magazines, true. (Me, I don't buy into the iPad-as-newspaper-savior theory).


But it's not fair to call the iPad an enormous iPod touch. Beyond the bigger screen, which itself allows for a lot of interface elements you can't do on an iPhone or iPod touch, you also have the much faster processor. (I'd like to see Apple build a netbook around that A4 chip.) And the iPad supports Bluetooth input devices, which the touch won't do until the iPhone OS 4 software update ships this summer.

Love the chats Rob, so sorry for what I'm sure is a common question. But do you have any inside scoop on Verizon? I'm planning on getting my first smartphone and was sort of waiting for the Nexus One, but as it never seems to appear, I don't know what to do. Thanks!

I am as much in the dark as you on this point. So, for that matter, are Sprint users--it's now been almost a month since that carrier announced it would offer its own version of this Android phone and said it would reveal a price and a ship date "soon."  

So if the FCC doesn't have jurisdiction over the Internet in the USA, who does? Right now it looks like Comcast et al.

That's one way to spin the court decision earlier this week that vacated the Federal Communications Commission's authority to write network-neutrality regulations. 

I'm an iPad skeptic, and one response I get to my "What does it DO? What is its PURPOSE" question is that it's supposed to be a computer for the Jitterbug set. But if my Mom is too dumb for a computer (she isn't, btw) isn't she going to be too dumb to get an iPad to interface with a computer (which is necessary, per your review)?

Exactly. When Apple introduced the thing in January, one of my first reactions was "this could work as somebody's only computer." But at the time, I forgot that you need a computer to activate it and then to install any software updates. So in that scenario, you'd have to visit your mom's house with a laptop on some sort of regular basis. (I suppose she could sit out Apple's updates, but some of them include security and stability fixes you wouldn't want to miss.)

I just bought a refurbished i5 iMac from Apple. To say it runs hot is an understatement. When using applications requiring heavy processor use, such as the 64-bit version version of Handbrake, the top of the iMac, especially the left side above the processor, becomes too hot to touch. Should I worry? Should I buy the extended Apple Care warranty?

I wouldn't. High-end processors like the Intel i5 do put out a fair amount of heat, and an application like the DVD ripper HandBrake will have them running flat-out. If things actually got too hot for the computer to work, it would shut down automatically. 

BTW, you can check the temperatures of individual components--and look up info like the computer's uptime--with the free iStat Nano Dashboad widget.

I had an email account at aol which I abandoned years ago. I am now receiving frequent emails from my former aol address. These are very suspicious, consisting of an address I am supposed to click on. How can I kill the former email account at aol?

You're saying somebody else is sending messages from that address? If so... nothing. It's trivial to forge a return address, even if there's no longer a working account at that address. Sorry...


The federal government says it is planning a rural expansion of broadband capability. Isn't broadband already available nation wide through several satellite companies? Regards, Paul

Yes, and almost all of the satellite-Internet users I've heard from hate it. In addition to the high cost and painful latency, these companies impose strict bandwidth caps. Read the comments on this blog post and tell me if those people aren't desperate for an alternative. 

Your review this morning stated that the iPad is incapable of printing? Can you elaborate? The thing has wireless capability, right? So why can't it just connect to a networked printer like any laptop? Did Apple really not include print drivers with the OS? I've never really been an Apple fan (too expensive for what you get), preferring Thinkpads and the like instead. But I've also been looking for several years for a device that will conveniently let me read pdf copies of professional journal articles. E-book readers will load the pdfs, but their displays are too small to read the tiny text and figures (6-8pt, two columns). The ipad seems like a better size for such things, but the ability to occasionally print is a requirement.

When I say it can't print, I mean it--I have a wireless printer on my home network, and the iPad shows no signs of seeing it. Of course, it also shows no sign of seeing any other device on the network. 

Theoretically, somebody else could write software to remedy that--but it would violate any number of Apple's published app restrictions, not to mention the ones it doesn't document, and so it would never get to the App Store. 

First a "Thank you." I wrote to you a while back looking for a cheap way to do automatic backups of my older Mac and you suggested iBackup with a USB drive. I got a 16GB drive for ~$30, and it's working great. I now have automatic weekly backups instead of just whenever I happen to think about it. Thanks. Now, the next question. I have and iPod Touch, and I'd like to be able to make occasional cheap WiFi phone calls using Skype or something similar. Since I have the 8GB model, it just came with earphones, no mic. But I also have the earphone/mic unit from a Nokia cellphone and thought maybe I could just use that. The sizes of the plugs are different, so I went to Radio Shack and they sold me an adapter. But it doesn't work - when I use it, I don't hear anything through the earphone and the Voice Memo App doesn't recognize the mic. Is this something that should work and I just got the wrong adapter? Or is this not really possible and I'd have to buy a headset for the iPod?

You don't need to buy Apple's hands-free kit, but you do need to buy an adapter. Looks like that'll run you $10 or so; make sure you buy one that supports calling, not just listening. (Here's one example that lists for $20, but I've seen it selling for $10.) 

I have an HP TC1100 tablet PC. It works really well once you max out the RAM and it has the ability to multi-task in addition to myriad outputs. Other than the cool oleophobic screen, what is the big deal with the iPad? It doesn't even have a handwriting recognition application so you could "write" as a form of input.

How much did your Tablet PC cost? And how would you rank the ease of use of Windows compared to that of iPhone OS? 

I just set up a home wifi network upon buying my first laptop, and it has a weird problem. Assume my network is called "SmithHome", and it's security-protected. When I go to connect with the laptop, the computer on its own creates a new network called "SmithHome2", and connects to that. But "SmithHome2" is unprotected. And when I turn on security protection for "SmithHome2", the laptop creates "SmithHome2 3" (unprotected) and connects to that. It happens with all different security settings. Basically, I cannot create a secure network.

This sounds like a really dumb Windows feature I tackled in Help File a while back; fortunately, it's not hard to turn off. 

This is more comment than question. Apparently, there is a lot of controversy over what the iPad is good for. Having had one for almost a week, My opinion is that while its use for creative people is doubtful (most of those people will want a full-featured computer), as a device for USING that content--games, video, ebooks--I am utterly impressed. I have never enjoyed any device I've owned more than this one. I agree with the blogger who says that rather than being a big iPod Touch, that device is a mini-iPad. The much larger touch-screen is a joy.

Thanks for the input. You raise a good point in noting the difference between the iPad's utility at consuming versus creating content. 

Any plans for a Verizon iPhone in the near future?

No. Next question.

There's been quite a bit of info about the new Windows mobile OS that's expected to be released later this year. What I haven't seen anywhere is whether Mr. Gates will continue to offer the option of tethering, as he has in the older versions. And this makes a big difference when it comes to deciding whether to wait for this OS or instead think of other smart phones - in my case, from Tmobile. What would you expect?

Windows Phone 7 isn't due until the end of the year (here's my writeup about its introduction). I don't know if it will support tethering, and I don't know that anybody else does either. 

FWIW, I'm increasingly thinking that Windows Phone 7 is doomed. It's not free, unlike Android; it doesn't allow multitasking, unlike Android (and, with the next iPhone OS update, the iPhone itself); and it offers no backwards compatibility with Windows Mobile. And by the time it does ship, you can bet the iPhone and Android platforms will have greatly advanced. The same might go for Palm's webOS, which has its issues but is at least a shipping product. 

Hi Rob, Sorry if you got this more than once, apparently submitting questions on the new site bugs the security here. I need a new laptop and I want a Mac. I surf the web alot, I want to hold my iTunes library on it (~3,000 songs to date and growing), I have tons of pictures and I want to be able to manipulate those as well as short videos I shoot on my camera (Cannon). I will not be doing alot of word processing right now, but I may go back to school so I want/need the capability. I would also like to be able to stream Netflix and have the capability to connect to my TV for viewing. I don't plan on traveling with it at this point, but I still don't want it to be to heavy. I hope that is enough info for a suggestion. Thanks!

I'd get the 13.3-in. MacBook Pro. The 15-incher costs coo much, and the entry-level MacBook doesn't have as much expandability (in terms of inputs).

RE: Norton I hope you find time for a tech question with all of the iPad discussion. Comcast changed the security software for its customers from McAfee to Norton. While Norton appears to be okay, it is driving me nuts on one point--the sleep mode for my laptop. Apparently Norton has some sort of protection to keep someone from accessing my computer when I'm away. I can understand this feature being useful in an office setting or in a home with kids but not in a home with two adults and a Shih Tzu. How do I make the sleep mode function work? It is my understanding that the sleep mode saves power. Currently my only alternature is to just let a screen saver come on. I wish programmers had three selections for defaults--office, home with kids, and adults only. I had trouble with McAfee always keeping the parental content enabled.

I'd dump the Norton software and use Microsoft's free, and quite good Microsoft Security Essentials. Just because you get it free from Comcast doesn't mean you have to use it. 

Going to Europe in May -- we have Go phones and all last year, spent $5 on them, except to buy $100 of minutes, so that we keep the fantastic plan that we have. But they won't work in Europe - we go there for 17 days in May. Any suggestions on what to use? Is the National Geographic plan worth it? Or other ideas? We won't use a lot of minutes except to call each other if I get lost or to call USA once in a while.

Buy a pair of cheap GSM phones off eBay or whatever, then pick up a pair of prepaid SIM cards when you arrive. 

I notice that when the Plasma screen TV in our family room (connected to a cable box) and our tube TV upstairs directly connected to the cable outlet on the wall) are on the same channel the one upstairs TV is about 5 seconds faster than the downstairs one. Is this a function of the signal being routed through the cable box or the plasma screen responding more slowly? Or should I just call ghostbusters?

Gotta be the cable box.

I have a two year old who is just starting to enjoy (sit still for) movies. We were given a couple from friends, but are wondering whether its worth expanding our DVD collection now to include kid classics, knowing that although he'll have fun watching them now, he's not really going to enjoy them for another couple of years. By that time, will we be buying DVDs? I don't want to buy a bunch of movies that are going to be obsolete in two or three years, requiring us to rebuy Alice in Wonderland and Up.

The DVD format is going to be around for a while--it works too well--but I think the bigger risk is the particular movies being made obsolete because your son will be bored by them. (There's also the risk of them getting hopelessly scratched up when he decides they're more entertaining as toys.) In that case, I would look at buying the movie off iTunes or Amazon; although I hate the DRM that locks those purchases, if you're not planning to keep the movie around for the long term it's a tolerable limitation. 

Any parents in the house with insight on this? 

A few days ago, I updated Adobe Reader, going from version 8-something to 9-something. Along with the update, Adobe decided, without any advance warning, to download something called Adobe AIR and an ad/promotion for something called Acrobat which not only created a desktop shortcut, but deposited an icon onto my taskbar notification area as well. What do both AIR and Acrobat do, and since the Acrobat shortcut is, essentially, an ad to sign up, can I just go ahead and delete it? BTW: From Wikipedia: On January 28, 2009, Adobe claimed that there were over 100 million installations of Adobe AIR worldwide, and that "the majority of AIR runtime installations occur at the time the first AIR application is installed by a user."[3] The large number of installations is actually due to the fact that Adobe AIR was included with all downloaded installations of Adobe Reader 9 (released in July, 2008), with no option for exclusion either in the download or in the installation.[4] As of February, 2010, Adobe still bundles Adobe AIR (along with the application with the Adobe Reader 9.3 download, with no option for exclusion, and the installation file for Adobe Reader 9.3 still installs Adobe AIR without user permission.

AIR is what's called a "runtime"--a program that other programs use to work. That's not bad by itself (Sun's Java software and Microsoft's .Net are the same sort of thing), but using your desktop as a billboard is rude. So, yes, delete the shortcut. And delete any others you don't like. 

I am a little concerned about each side of congress talking basically considering legislating network routing. These are people who barely are capable of turning on their computers. Its one thing to say the internet shouldn't be censored, but the actual implementation of this could be a massive fail.

I was around for the hilarity of the Communications Decency Act, so I know what you're saying. But the idea of letting the cable/phone duopoly in most markets do whatever they want isn't trememdously appealing either. So either we need more competition or regulation--unless you think the existing state of affairs is fine.

Hi Rob, Going shopping tomorrow to replace my 2001 SONY VAIO laptop. It has been a joy all these years but has reached the end of its useful life. I really like the MAC's ability to make books / calendars / newsletters easily, as well as use Windows Word, but my friend, a software savant, says I can get those programs as a MAC 'wrapper" on a SONY VAIO, and the VAIO isn't limited to MAC-approved programs. Which to buy? I'm going to use the laptop / notebook mostly for writing, screenwriting (FINAL DRAFT), and creating websites, newsletters etc. E.g. no heavy mathematical computing. Also I'm worrying about communicating easily with my friend's new VAIO.

First: Can you fix your Caps Lock key? None of those brand names are acronyms (well, except for "Vaio," but I suspect most of the people at Sony can't remember what it's supposed to stand for).

Second, your pal has some strange notions of software compatibility. You can't run Mac programs in Windows, but you can run Windows programs in Mac OS X--you can run some without a copy of Windows, using the CrossOver program; you can install virtual-machine software to run Windows inside OS X; you can use Apple's free Boot Camp to install Windows alongside OS X. Communicating between Mac and Windows computers is no problem, thanks to this thing called the Internet, and sharing files isn't that hard either--I do that almost every day.

What have you heard about the new 4G HTC phone coming to Sprint this summer, will it be a noticable difference in the Washington area over a 3G phone? Also, is there any word of the HTC Hero 2 aka HTC Legend coming to the US market soon?

Your'e talking about the Sprint's Evo, which looks very nice indeed. Connections should be a lot faster--if you have service. Sprint's 4G coverage has a ways to go; it doesn't even reach the Washington area yet.

Haven't heard anything about the Hero's successor arriving here yet.

If I understand the recent court decision, the FCC's position on net neutrality would allow disproportionately heavy users (i.e., BitTorrent users uploading movies to each other) to use an unlimited share of the cable company's bandwidth, and because one cable node is shared among many houses or apartments, that conduct can slow the internet access of everyone else on that node. The cable company in this case was restraining that disproportionate usage. Unless I'm a BitTorrent user, why should I support net neutrality? Setting aside the question of the FCC's authority, how is its proposd policy consistent with basic fairness?

Your interpretation is wrong. The FCC's propsed net-neutrality regulations explicitly allow for usage controls to prevent that sort of abuse, as I wrote last year; what they don't allow is targeting particular lawful services or sites. (BitTorrent is legal; it's often used to distribute Linux distributions and other large files.)

I think you've gotten this kind of question before, but now it's my turn. I've finally decided to make the leap and switch from a PC to an iMac. Is this as good a time as any, or should I wait until later in the year?

Allow me to introduce you to the MacRumors Buyers Guide, which tracks when Apple last updated each of its products and estimates your risk of overnight obsolescence. As you can see there, the iMac is in the middle of a product cycle and is a fairly safe buy. I concur in that analysis.


I'm an old cheapie with a fading Palm TX. I've had Palms since the IIIxe - not an original pioneer, but on my fourth generation. I use the contacts, calendar, and memos. I use the memos the most, to "remember" the vacuum cleaner bag type, model numbers for appliances, the http address of my printer and router, and everything else that I want to retrieve easily. I don't use it to sync e-mail, but I sometimes use the wifi for my webmail. I sync it about once a week to Palm Desktop, mainly as a backup system. I love the wifi capability - fun! I now use Windows XP Pro double-booted with Ubuntu Linux. I currently use OpenOffice for both OS's, since I deleted my unnecessary MS Office XP. I need to sync with either OS, preferably the Ubuntu. I would love the features of the iTouch or iPhone if I could have something like Palm Desktop included (free). I would like a smartphone, but the monthly fees are probably more than I'd like to spend, since I'd want to surf all of the time. Is there an easy solution? Yeah, I'm bummed about the net neutrality ruling, too. I guess it was too consumer-friendly to be legal. I've lived in places that would have been genuinely helped by broadband availability. Charlie H.

I'd suggest the iPod touch, but I don't know what your Linux syncing options are. Ditto for the smartphones that would offer the cleanest migration from your TX, Palm's Pre and Pixi. Thing is, there isn't much of a standalone PDA market anymore. There are some Windows Mobile devices hanging around, but they're on the road to obsolescence and abandonment--Windows Phone 7, as the name would suggest, is only for phones.

Rob, Already WiFi problems with iPad. Apple's solution wasn't much of an answer. Did you have any problems like that with yours?

I've seen two issues: The iPad needed two tries to connect to my mom's WiFi network (she has the Actiontec router Verizon gives to Fios customers), and it didn't connect at all to a WiFi network in the newsroom for the first hour or so. (Unfortunately for Apple, this happened when executive editor Marcus Brauchli stopped by my desk to check out the iPad.) No issues since, and I have no idea what happened then.

Rob: Your latest blog hit the nail on the head. Apple gets a pass on its seemingly control-freak attitude towards apps (I loved your aside re: Safari and prnography), while MS gets dinged at every turn. True, MS did face a variety of court actions here and abroad, but they seem to have fianlly seen some version of light! It's a business, a lucrative one at that. There are *no* angels. Control, power and greed. Nothing new, other than that the players' roles are reversed!


FWIW, I've heard from some people who think Apple's restrictions are just fine.

Rob, I currently have an aging G4 PowerBook as my "living room laptop." I use it while we are watching TV for email, iChat, and web surfing. The iPad will be perfect to replace it when the G4 finally dies (over 6 years old now and running fine, Apple tax my butt). My only reservations was multi-tasking (I want to be able to do all 3 functions at once) and input. It seems like iPhone OS 4.0 addressed those problems. Do we know for sure if/when that OS will be on the iPad? It seemed like Jobs didn't really announce that yesterday. But once that is there, buying the low end iPad and a bluetooth keyboard will be perfect, instead of a limited Windows Netbook, I'll have a machine that does the things I need it to do. Folks who need/want word processing should look at laptops and stop bashing the iPad for now being good at that.

Apple says iPhone OS 4 will arrive on the iPad this fall.

Rob, What's on your CV? Are you a former developer, DBA, or software engineer? Thanks.

None of the above, as you can see from my LinkedIn page.

I have heard that the "Google" tool available on the iPad is a more "closed" application -- that Apple has created a way to keep the answers geared the way it wants the user to have them. Is this true, and are there other apps on the iPad that do this too? Is this something to worry about? Why can't one Google on an iPad?

I haven't heard anything about that, and it sounds pretty implausible to me.

I really like this little phone but keep hearing that it will get an Android OS update "soon". Any inside scoop? I'd love the Droid's turn-by-turn GPS capabilities.

The Droid Eris--and the HTC Hero, basically the same phone underneath--are both set to get an update to the 2.1 version of Android. But when? People are kind of anxious to see that arrive, since the 1.5 software on each lacks some features people think of when they see "Android phone" and also apparently carries some performance and battery-life penalties.

Might get an iPad next Fall... Might. It looks to be a good replacement for my Archos 605. Good replacement for my Nook, except that you can't use the iPad on the beach as the 95F max operating temperature could be an issue there, Nevermind reading an LCD screen in full sunlight. I'd get the 3G version, as there are places I'd use it which lack WiFi. 


I wonder if Apple's "iBooks" handle footnotes? The Nook doesn't, which is an issue for more books than you'd think. LoTR, for example, and many technical books. 


I also wonder if there will eventually be a way to hook it up to a TV via HDMI.


At this point you'd ask "Why not a laptop?" Good point. I'd answer "battery life, and riding in coach".

Good question about footnotes. Let me check that... um, actually, I don't seem to have anything with footnotes. The standard format for iBooks is ePub, though, and I see a few posts suggesting that ePub doesn't support footnotes. (Is that even possible for an e-book format? That seems like a huge oversight.)

One helpful note, old AOL accounts were recently reactivated, when AOL started offering free email/IM only accounts. My old AOL account suddenly started working again (I could log into AIM using it with the old password after 5+ years of being deactivated). So it may be very possible that his old AOL account is accessible again. Still, the emails he is getting from it are probably spoofed.

Interesting--that would be another thing to check

Hi Rob, I was about to buy a Kindle for a long upcoming trip, when the iPAD came out. Two questions: is there any reason I should think about the iPAD, if what I mainly want it for is reading books? And is there any chance the Kindle's price will come down in the next two weeks? Thanks!

Next two weeks? I doubt it.

For only reading books, the Kindle is a better value--it's cheaper, has better battery life, is more readable in direct sun and connects to a better store. But if you have a smartphone, you should also see if there's a Kindle app for that. (There's one for the iPhone, not yet one for Android.)

I was surprised that the Electronic Frontier Foundation voiced their approval for the SCOTUS ruling in favor of Comcast, The EFF are strong advocates of Net Neutrality, so how do they expect the internet to remain free and fair if Comcast can pick and choose what they want to carry? Do they want the problem solved through legislation? Would they prefer a different regulatory body than the FCC?

Fred von Lohmann, the guy who wrote that post, recognizes the principle behind the court's ruling--that a regulatory body needs to have permission from Congress to write regulations covering something. Otherwise, you'd have a breakdown in accountability--does the phrase "unelected bureaucrats" resonate with you? 

That's not the same as saying that there isn't a problem here. Fred (I keep running into him at various tech events and enjoy talking shop with him) just disagrees with one means to the end.

I have a Verizon HTC Ozone and when i try to visit the Wash Post site it usually gets about 2/3 loaded and sloooooows down, eventually loading. I deleted all my cookies, browser history and so forth but doesn't seem to help Another odd thing, on a regular Mac, if I go to the page takes forever to load and at the bottom says waiting for If I go to it pops up right away. Any ideas? Am I jinxed?

You're using a Windows Mobile phone, which means you've got an inferior browser. The mobile version of Opera might help.

Do you think next year's iPad will have a camera to make something like Skype on the iPad a possibility? Any other predictions of what the next generation may have?

That seems the most obvious hardware upgrade. But with Apple, you never know...

Rob, as I browse through readers' comments on things that you and Cecilia Kang write on Net Neutrality/Open Internet or on the Broadband Plan, it's clear that about half of your readers either have no idea what you're talking about or are choosing to reflect "facts" which are totally false. (e.g., Net Neutrality is all about the government controlling what you can and can't see on the internet). Perhaps not on the dead tree edition, where you have space limitations, but at least on-line it's time for you to have a cut/paste template of what net neutrality really is and put it in every single thing you write, ad nauseum. ("Net neutrality involves a proposed government regulation which would bar ISPs from considering user content as a factor in how they manage network demands. Whether you're logging into ESPN, Glenn Beck, or, net neutrality means that ISPs can't discriminate on how quickly you get your information based on what you want to see.") OTOH, I think most comments who spew out wrong information do so willfully as a means to spread politically-driven misformtion. Your putting an explanation about what NN is over and over again will help to counteract these efforts and, hopefully, steer those seeking basic information via your articles and subsequent comments toward a fact-based decision on how they feel.

Thanks for the comment. But I suspect that some of these people will respond by accusing me of parroting government propaganda.

The Plasma is probably hooked up to a HD cable box while the tube tv is hooked up to standard cable causing the delay.

One theory...

I was thinking of getting one for my wife instead of an e-book reader. I read in your colum that this would be too bulky and heavy. If this is the case then I consider that the future of the iPad will be short. The main competition as far as I can see is to the Kindle. And the Kindle works great at what it does. Could you please expand your comments on using the iPad as an e-book? Thanks

It's just a little too heavy for the job. But if you had a paperback-sized version--preferably without a glossy screen--then it would be more competitive.

Of course, the iPad does a lot more than display books, while that's about all the Kindle does well.

Rob, Is it awkward to carry your iPad with you at all time? I mean, it's too large to fit in your pocket and you probably don't have a briefcase/knapsack with you 24/7.

It looks too big for most purses, too.

It's all about the user experience. Looks what happened to Windows - the lowest common denominator approach resulted in just that type of experience. Users don't care if the platform is 'closed' if their user experience is superior. (I guess this wasn't really a question, just a comment)

I don't like how Apple runs the App Store, but you are way out of line making that comparison.

It's a hack, but you can print from the iPad via Airshare. Basically it makes your iPad look like a mounted hard drive on your mac/pc, and you can browse to the file you want to print, and print it from there. Not awesome, but it should work.

Thanks - I'll have to try that.

"why would I want net neutrality?" You pay for access to the internet. You should be able to download from any site you can reach by an IP address (mapped through DNS, typically). Web servers, such as those from Google, also pay for their internet access. They should be able to serve their data to anyone with an IP address who has requested it. The danger of allowing net neutrality to go away is that a third party, say Comcast, could decide that Google has to pay them an extra fee before they'll allow you, a Comcast customer, to access Google's servers. Or vice versa: Comcast could tell you that your internet service fees only cover certain sites, let's say Bing, and if you want to access Google as well, you'll need to pay extra. This isn't about usage caps and throttling. This is about ensuring that the computers that are paying to be attached to the internet (whether clients or servers) can continue to talk to each other without arbitrary restrictions placed by the ISPs.

That's a good explanation--saved me the trouble of writing it out myself. Thanks!

I though epub was just a zipped html/xml file. That /should/ support footnotes/endnotes just fine.

Oh, but a lot of things in computing "should" work...

What free antivirus program would you recommend to a responsible, savvy surfer who regularly follows her scheduled XP updates and add-ons (yet seems prone to fake-av virus, such was Windows Antivirus Pro)? Norton isn't stopping them all.

See my earlier plug for Microsoft Security Essentials--but remember that you can't get hit with "scareware" unless you fall for those bogus alerts.

Rob, I am using the Microsoft security suite and have been happy with it. However last night that horrible Antivirus software tried to install itself when I tried to open a jpeg file online. Fortunately I recognized the screen and got out. Why didn't the suite recognize it?

Note: I wrote the last answer before seeing this question. But if you ran into a brand-new version of this scareware, MSE might not know about it. (Using a modern browser should also protect you. You're running IE 8, Firefox 3.6 or the latest versions of Chrome, Safari or Opera--right?)

for buying kids movies, I'd suggest actually buying the classics now if you come across them cheap--basically all the Pixars and many of the Disneys (which are harder to find), and maybe some of the other more recent ones iike Kung Fu Panda or Shrek. They will hold up and you can watch them yourself over and over. As for other stuff--Thomas the Tank Engine, or Sesame Street things--look to get them off of other parents in your neighborhood that are desperate to off-load them now that their own kids have grown, or check into used copies. Only purchase stuff that as staying power.

Thanks for the input! Much appreciated...

Hi Rob - I'm looking at a 32" Panasonic LCD television. The 1080 version is $549 while the 720 version is only $449. Will I see a significant improvement in picture quality to justify the extra $100 for the 1080?

No, not at that screen size. You won't notice the difference unless you sit very close to the screen (and, of course, you have 1080p video to watch, which you generally won't unless you get a Blu-ray player.)

Hi Rob. I live in a 1BR condo in an old building with plaster walls. I have Comcast for cable TV (with their HD/DVR) and internet. Currently the cable is completely exposed -- it comes through an exterior wall, runs up to where the wall and ceiling meet, runs up there into the living room and then snakes around two doorways before reaching the molding near the floor. This looks ugly but hiding it inside the walls is not an option. Someone mentioned to me recently that I might be able to set up a wireless network for the HD/DVR similar to the router/wireless modem for my laptop. I googled a bit but didn't find anything -- do you know if a wireless solution exists for this? Thanks.

Funny, I'm halfway through adding a coax outlet in a plaster wall (the prior owners had just run the cable from the basement through a hole in the floor). Fun!

Anyway, there are wireless options. A neighbor of mine picked up this Sony wireless HDMI system and seems to like it--he says he'll use that to watch Nats games on his deck this summer. It's not cheap (I think this is the one he has), but he got it at some crazy sale price.

Yes, it works. They insert a footnote symbol, you click on it and go to the screen with the footnote, and then click to return.


Any plug in cameras for the iPad? What ports does it have?

Just the "standard" iPod connector.

Setting aside the question of how much time a two-and-a-half year old should be spending watching videos, we've become regular users of streaming Netflix on our laptops for our son. We have the 1-at-a-time Netflix subscription, and the streaming comes with that at no extra charge, and we've done lots of kids' videos: Thomas and Friends, Kipper the Dog, Blue's Clues, and Caillou are among our son's favorites. If you stop without finishing, Netflix remembers where you left off for the next time. There's really no downside to not having the plastic disc--watch what amuses the kid now, and put off purchasing the DVD or whatever its future replacement is until it's clear that it would be thoroughly enjoyed.

More help with movies and kids...

Are the Apps I've bought for my iPhone readily available for the iPad, or do I have to buy them again?

Yes--plug in the iPad, select it in iTunes and click the "Apps" tab to tell iTunes to sync over your old purchases and free downloads (assuming they're compatible).

Currently using Norton Enterprise on our work network, what is your thought of dumping it and installing MS Sec Essentials?

You can't--MSE's license doens't allow corporate use.

Just get classics that the kid will watch until at least 10. BTW, I don't think I've ever watched a grown-up DVD often enough to justify having bought it.

And one other answer on this question. I knew I could count on y'all!

I bought one on a whim last Saturday because I've been toying with the idea of having an e-reader. The iBook app blew me away. It is so. damn. pretty. I am thorougly enjoying reading on it but have not yet dealt with the glare issue, I've read under flourescent lights no problem but had no experience with direct sunlight. That said I have to agree with the previous poster's comment that this is a device for consuming rather than creating. It does fill a niche for me. I have a laptop, I keep a netbook for work travel, and now I have a device that is a pure joy to use for me and me alone. Photos of my daughter are displayed in high-def glory, reading is fun again (no book cluttering up the diaper bag except for those board books), and watching netflix in bed is really just glorious. I know there are naysayers out there but you know what I have never bought an Apple product that did not continue to get better. With every OS release there are true improvements. And with every hardware release things get better that people abandon the 1st editions and get the next one -- I do not feel that way about my PCs. Ever. Re: printing, I'm told by Apple store employees that there is a fix for this if you're using an Apple Airport to network at home. But again, I'm using my iPad to consume not create, I have other ways of printing.

Thanks for sharing your perspective.

And with that, I have to sign off--my producer and I are overdue for lunch! Thanks for all the questions; I should be back here in two weeks.

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Rob Pegoraro
Washington Post's Fast Forward columnist Rob Pegoraro, writes about computers, the Internet and consumer electronics. His latest tech thoughts and tips are cultivated daily on his blog Faster Forward.

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