Target had a deal on the latest Flip camcorder, so I purchased one. The quality is pretty good. But now I am seeing a similar camcorder from Kodak that is also waterproof and records at 1080p but is priced about the same. Should I consider returning the Flip and buying the Kodak?
My old iPod is near death, refusing to hold a charge. I am thinking an iPod Touch would be nice. But, I plan to replace my cell phone next year, maybe go the iPhone route. With an IPhone, will I still need the Ipod, or can I save a couple hundred bucks?
You don't need an iPod at all if you have an iPhone--but I'd say that if you have any decent smartphone you may not need an iPod. Between the good-enough music apps on Android and other phones and the disappointing current crop of iPods... well, the only iPod I'd now consider probably is the Touch, which does so much more than other iPods. But buying an iPod Touch and iPhone at the same time is something out of the Department of Redundancy Department.
What is the highest rated Verizon smartphone? Which is better: HTC Incredible or Droid X. Would you recommend waiting until the next upgrade?
Droid Incredible. It's older but I like it better than the X.
Rob, Thanks very much for the help - I'm planning on giving Kindles to a number of people this year for Christmas. Do you think there's any chance they will go on sale before Christmas? Or not, and I should get them now to be sure I actually have them in hand on Christmas Day? What would you advise? Thanks!
Amazon's delivery isn't that slow--you should at least hold off until "Black Friday," the day after Thanksgiving. But I highly doubt Amazon will cut the Kindle's price farther. Doing that this late in the game will only annoy customers.
Would replacing the rented modem with my own purchase increase the download speed of my IPS speed? Would the "N" format of a new router increase speeds in any meaningful way or increase the range of my home WiFi measureably?
It won't give you a faster connection, but it will stop you from needlessly padding out your ISP's profit margin.
And getting one with an 802.11n wireless router built in will increase your home WiFi's range.
I'm still remembering the post from the person who said she/he was told they couldn't use it in the car. Any update on that? I keep forgetting to ask in an Apple store or check online forums. I want a new one, but I have to be able to use it in the car. It doesn't have to be controlled by the stereo, just play out of the speakers.
The consensus from other people in that chat and in e-mail was that this wasn't an issue. But I still don't know what afflicted the one reader who complained about this.
(In any case, if you only need audio playback and not dashboard control, a patch cable in the headphone jack always works.)
Posting early, I'll be watching Harry Potter. I use the same password either with a 1 or without. I do know how stupid that it is, but I'm also terrified of trying to keep up with a boatload of passwords. Any ideas?
It's okay to use simple password on low-value registrations--where losing your account wouldn't threaten your money, your health or your privacy. For the rest: Sorry, you need strong passwords--not one, but many, since you don't want the compromise of one account to allow a crook to roll up the rest of them.
My favorite advice about memorizing passwords comes from security expert Bruce Schneier: Write them down on a piece of paper (without clearly labeling which site goes with which password) and put that in your wallet. You know how to your wallet safe, and if somebody does steal it they'll take the money and the credit cards and toss the rest.
Schneier had a good post on password security the other day: http://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2010/11/changing_passwo.html
I have Windows 7 computer. Instead of using the Windows live e-mail, I use Outlook Express. I cannot find blocksender on this or the blocksenders list. Some of the drop downicons are not lighted, how do I highlight these icons. Thank you.
I have no idea--I don't even know how you got OE on Windows 7. Unfortunately, I can't help you on that. OE is a horribly obsolete program and I just don't have time to keep up with it anymore. My advice is to use Windows Live Mail--it's much better than OE, really--or Mozilla Thunderbird.
Is Apple coming up with a new version of the iPad by the first of the year?
No. I don't expect a new iPad until next spring, maybe early winter. Remember, the first one didn't debut until Easter, and Apple doesn't update its iOS devices (iPhone, iPad, iPod touch) more than about once a year.
Also, it would be a serious jerk move for Apple to introduce a new iPad right after the holidays.
Have you had a chance to check out the Samsung Galaxy pad that goes on sale this week. Do you have to commit to a calling plan to get it? Your initial take?
I've only spent a little time with it--thanks to Facebook and Apple eating up the first half of this week's news cycle--but I'm not liking the Sprint model I have. It's expensive for its size and the browser can be inexplicably slow.
I have Google and IE. Is it wise to have both or is IE mandatory for a personal computer? Thanks
IE isn't mandatory for anybody. But if you run Windows, it's exceedingly difficult to remove it.
Rob, How do I synchronize Outlook on two machines (laptop and desktop) so that I don't have duplication of messages and can delete from one and it's deleted from the other when I access either machine?
Get an IMAP (Internet Message Access Protocol) e-mail account. AOL and Gmail provide that for free, but most consumer Internet providers are stuck in the 1980s when it comes to e-mail and only offer POP (Post Office Protocol); where IMAP is a sync service, POP only does downloads. What you're talking about is not possible in POP.
Rob, what products would you recommend avoiding this year, because either obsolescence, quantum improvement, or price plummet is on the near horizon?
GPS receivers are on the way out for most uses, and I don't think the MP3 player has much life left outside of cheap, sport models.
Hi Rob: I think I remember Apple announcing at the Macbook Air event that you would be able to Facetime chat from an Apple computer to any Apple portable device. Has this happened yet? Or will it be coming in a future software update to Snow Leopard?
I only use IE for Windows Updates. On my XP pc, updates won't work through my browser, Firefox. So I think it is mandatory if you want the updates. -- Not the Original Questioner
Nope - XP can (and should) be downloading your updates automatically in the background. It can install them automatically as well, or you can set it to show you the updates and give you a chance to confirm or decline their install.
Hi Rob, Are you permitting rants today? My inbox is getting out of control -- and not from spam, from various things I've signed up for over the years (many unwittingly). My solution is (instead of just deleting them all like I usually do) to pick a couple a day to click through and unsubscribe. Maybe by new year's it will be under control. But that's not my rant. Here it is -- I've already got a couple that once I've gone through the unsubscribe business, the message says something to the effect of it may take a couple weeks to remove me from their email lists. Is there any validity to that? Cancel ling something snail mail, sure, there might be labels printed, flyers already in the mail, etc. But hello people, these are computer databases we are talking about. You want to send me spam? I mean a "newsletter"? The last thing your email program should do is retrieve the addresses from your database. And the first thing your subscriber program should do is remove email addresses that no longer below. Problem solved in about 10 nanoseconds. Yeesh. Thanks for letting me type it out. You may now unsubscribe.
I hear you.
Ditto the wallet suggestion. Big duh, but don't label which password goes for where; I usually put them in alphabetical order or reverse alphabetical order of insitution, but I also throw in the date I changed them (1119F would be a possibility if I changed them today) and the date I will change them again (M3FECGE - 3rd Monday in February I will change them). A few more numbers to confuse anyone but me.
Good advice. Thanks!
Hi Rob, I'm the "afflicted" reader who first wrote to you about not being able to use my Touch in the car. To recap: I have no auxiliary jack in the car; no cassette player, and the FM gadget didn't work for me. I had an after-market connector installed in the car a few years back. Nanos work fine. Touch would not play through car's speakers, only its own internal speakers. Phone call with Apple tech support confirms that yes, this is how they're built; sorry. Many posters on many Mac user forums confirm this. I'm not nuts; this really happened! I'm back to using my Nano, sigh.
See, but other people here have said they haven't had a problem. Let me ask again: If you have a new iPod touch, does it play audio through the dock connector to the car's speakers?
(I'll follow up with Apple PR too.)
Been looking at these-guess I'm a victim of the marketing hype. However, do you think the price of these, bought straight out, will decrease anytime soon?
Rob--I remember in a chat a while ago you mentioned to hold off buying a Kindle because a new version will be coming out. But I can't remember when you said it. So did the new model come out, or is one forthcoming? Thanks!
There has to be a new model coming--the basic design hasn't changed in a while. But I can only guess that's not happening until later in the winter or the spring.
As a general rule, you're not going to see any major gadget introductions between now and the holidays--it's too late to get hardware into stores in sufficient quantities. Sometimes companies have enough trouble in development that they can't get the thing into stores until the last minute, but that should not be the case with refinements of existing designs.
My office just replaced about 100 4 year old computers with all in one units. Every one has a Windows 7 sticker prominently gracing the border of the monitor. And every single one is running XP. Can you think of any-ANY- reason for this? I am befuddled. It can't be compatibility. Costwise, it's got to be more expensive to use IT time to load XP rather than just getting W& preloaded.
IT departments tend to be the last people to upgrade software. Sometimes they have a cheaper site license for an older version of an app, sometimes they don't want to invest in training, sometimes (pretty often), they've got third-party software that hasn't been updated to work with current releases due to a vendor's apathy/confusion/laziness/bankruptcy/whatever.
Either way, that's why I'm glad I cover the consumer space. Covering IT full time would just depress me.
And while we're ranting...those trash faxes drive me crazy...I call and put in my number to be removed..it works eventually then some new entity sends some and I have to call a new removal number. Honestly, they must be in cahoots with ink manufacturers since each one is bolded, black bar, high font...they are wet by the time they finishing printing. Tina in Falls Church
You know what makes me mad? Semaphore spam.
I have a Dell gx270 with WinXP, SP3 and got hit with a Cycbot.B virus and Microsoft security Essentials found it but couldn't keep it from coming back so I found directions on Symantec and other places on what to do it appears to be gone. However I'm still concerned - should I be? I had an old hard drive and so I am swapping it out with the current hard drive and reinstalled WinXP (and everything else) and will use the old drive as an external drive. Is there anything else I need to do?
Replacing a new hard drive with an older one isn't a remedy--that's more like computing voodoo. Plus, keeping the old one in service as an external drive doesn't actually eliminate any threats.
If you're not sure the computer's clean, erase and reformat the drive and then reinstall everything (the "nuke the site from orbit" option). But you shouldn't have to get rid of the drive itself.
Rob Enjoy your work from Atlanta. My office has the internet blocked for streaming audio, preventing ANY internet listening while working. Have you reviewed internet radios and would this be a good solution if I can piggyback on a wireless access in the building. Alternartively, I could invest in a Verizon wireless internet account to get "private access" to internet. Unfortunately, I am ATT wireless cellular customer and can't switch for business reasons. thanks
If your wired network blocks streaming audio, your wireless one probably does too. I think you're out of luck.
I have a ticking sound in my engine and I keep the oil level up,also when driving at25mph my rpms rev up to ay least 2 or more and after awhile it starts acting up at15mph if I been driving long
Uh, have you installed all the updates for your Ford's operating system?
(I think you might have the wrong chat. But high RPMs at low speeds sounds like you need somebody to look at the transmission, no?)
Basic question - "what the heck-a-rama??" After a catastrophic crash, I had to replace a beloved laptop and Office 2000. (I had tried v. 2003 and v. 2007, disliked the contrived interfaces which seemed labor intensive, and had just kept with the old v. 2000.) So I loaded Office 2010 to go with the flow. As a former Microsoft marketer and trainer, I had no trouble with the interface, but I want to know, planned obsolescence aside and xml aside, WHAT were they THINKING?!? I now have to do twelve keystrokes and ribbon searches for the very simplest logical items. After two months of screaming, I found a way to purchase Office 2000, a PDF conversion pkg and flawless docx converter. I am happy again, flying through editing, formating and mail merge. Can you fill me in about where the working apps tech world is going? (I will have a hard time going to open source with my whole heart.) I am thinking of writing Melinda French Gates and asking her to come back. Thank you, Lynne J H
With Office 2007 and 2010, Microsoft tried to make the featues of Office discoverable to newer users--which it desparately needed to do. But it forgot to clean out features and options that nobody uses.
Also, while Office 2000 is a familiar place for you--you've got a decade of experience with it by now--many beginners would find it as about a perplexing as you find 2010.
I accidentally did something that has removed the address box from my screen. Now I cannot copy a url. Any idea of how to make my url visible again or what I did to make it disappear? Thanks, Chrisitne
Go to Safari's "View" menu and select "Show Toolbar," the first item there. (You probably made it vanish by accidentally right-clicking in that area and selecting "Remove Item.")
After installing the latest Apple software updates, I can no longer use "force quit"
I can--Cmd-Opt-Esc and the Dock's "Force quit" command work like usual after installing 10.6.5.
Dear Rob: In the Sunday newspaper, you wrote an article about the importance of individuals protecting their own privacy. In the article you mentioned the possibility of paying $50 for webmail that is private. Would you please advise on some of the vendors this type of email who have good reputations (in terms of performance, credibility, ease of use, etc.). I looked around online and all I found was something called HushMail, which I have never heard of. Thanks!
The Web version has a link to Google's page about Google Accounts Premier Edition. The company pitches that to business users, but you can sign up as an individual too. You can also pay for ad-free service for about $20 a year from Hotmail and Yahoo.
I've also heard good things about PObox.com and fastmail.fm.
Other suggestions about paid, ad-free Web-mail services?
I want to purchase an iPad with 3g for Christmas and I saw something recently that the operating system for the ipad was being updated with tons of new features that are a real selling point and tipped the scales on the decision to buy one. However there was no date when the update is coming out, should I wait until to order an ipad until the update is available? Also any idea in this area (arlington) what 3g service is the best verizon? att&t? thanks for your help!
Apple said it would ship this iOS 4.2 update--this is the one that brings multitasking to the iPad--in November. But you don't need to wait until it ships; although it will be a large download, it's not difficult to install. You just plug the iPad into the computer and follow the prompts in iTunes. It's nothing like installing a new version of Windows.
Rob, who do you believes deserves most of the blame for the years-long delay - Paul and Ringo, the estates for John and George, or the band's management? Since the Beatles were leaders in exploiting studio technology, it would be strange if the surviving members had aged into technophobes. You pointed out in your column that their albums have been, um, unofficially digitized for years. Perhaps the band's issue with digital music was less about money and more about control, considering that they haven't had control of the songs themselves for decades. I might feel the same way if had to put up with Michael Jackson owning my life's work. My real concern is that years were wasted in which a new generation could have discovered the band. I don't know if Beatles Rock Band could do that job on its own. I grew up with Abbey Road and Let It Be on vinyl in the 1970s, but to my young children even CDs are staring to seem quaint.
We can be assured it's not John Lennon's fault, and George Harrison can't be blamed for the more recent delays. Otherwise... who knows? You're correct in noting the absence of logical reasons for this long holdout.
(Another long holdout, AC/DC, apparently doesn't want to see people buying individual songs instead of albums. Well, good luck with that... the market has decided otherwise.)
Rob, I just wanted to thank you for your timely blog post about Tivo's deceptive $99 special on the Premiere boxes. I ordered one from an online retailer prior to the announcement on 11/14, but thanks to your post, I quickly searched around the web and found out that there are hundreds and hundreds of people who had bought before the announced monthly plan change and who were getting different answers from Tivo. As a result, I was able to cancel my order. But, this whole thing has left me with a bad taste in my mouth for Tivo. I've been a customer for a long time and wanted to upgrade to an HD box, but shenanigans like this make me reconsider even keeping my Tivo account. I'm sure I'm not alone and wouldn't be surprised if Tivo loses many existing customers because of this blunder.
It's a dumb move--especially when TiVo suggests that you take advantage of this pricing structure to give a TiVo as a gift.
In the last month or so, streaming videos have been very slow to buffer and when playing are extremly choppy. Seemed to have coincided with installation of better privacy for Firefox. I've deleted better privacy, but the video issues remain. The PC is 5 years old running XP with 2 GB of RAM and 70 GB HD that has about 10 GB free. Problem persisits on IE8 as well. Any advice?
Make sure you have the current version of Flash, and try to clear more hard drive space. (You should do that anyway, even if videos begin playing smoothly on their own.)
And budget for a new computer. These things don't last forever, and five years is a mightly long time for any PC.
My question today is two-fold. First, I'm looking to get a widescreen TV sometime in the future, and was thinking of maxing out with a 40-inch screen. Since it's been forever and a day since I last went shopping for a TV, I don't remember what brands are good anymore (and what I should stay away from). Looking at online product reviews (like on Amazon) can be a mixed bag, because one person's trash is another person's treasure. Can you make any recommendations about brand or where to look for good product reviews? My second question is about DVD compatibility. I'm not really interested in upgrading to Blu-ray, but am wondering how a standard DVD will look on either a 720 or 1080p screen, and whether plasma or LCD is the better option for standard DVD. As you can see, I'm not really looking for something to blow me away with sound and picture; just something that will get the job done. Many thanks for your input!
To give a preview of the TV-shopping story I'll be writing for our site soon, here's what to look for in an HDTV:
* Get an LCD with a non-glossy screen to avoid glare issues unless your living room is dark most of the time.
* Get an HDTV with the ability to play Internet content from sites like Amazon, Netflix, Pandora, etc.--if you want to cut the cord, you'll want that.
* Potential cord-cutters should also look for a set that includes "TV Guide On Screen, " a free program guide of what's over the air. I've seen that on some Vizos and Sonys, but not on other brands.
* Don't pay a cent extra for 1080p or 3D.
An upconverting DVD player--which covers all of them these days--should have new movies look pretty damn good on an HDTV.
Last tip: You'll need HDMI cables to connect the TV and any video sources. Don't buy them from the store; look online. I've paid as little as $3 a piece at monoprice.com.
The Beatles-on-iTunes timing is obvious. When the iTunes store debuted, the Beatles CDs were long overdue for remastered versions. The music was held out of online sale until the new CDs were done, and then for another year and a half to prevent the digital version from cannibalizing sales of the new CDs.
That would be a brilliant strategy if you couldn't rip a CD to a computer in a few minutes and then share those files with friends or over the Internet. If the Beatles or their management really tried to pursue that kind of "release window" strategy, they're idiots.
I have a hushmail account...it's ok. I use it for receiving mail from my web site. Tina, FC
Thanks for the report!
I have a base password (ex: WaPoSt) and just write down the variations for each site. Like "+ff" or "zero for o, 5 for s". The list is stored in a file on the computer. But even if someone gets the file, they still have to figure out the base password. Which is not part of the password for the computer. For PINs at banks and suchlike, I use the phone numbers of girlfriends from high school back in the early 80's.
Good ideas. I like that passwords-as-autobiography strategy...
Best bet for my next upgrade? Contract is up next month and looking to upgrade. Store clerk was touting Blackberry.
Wrong answer. Verizon doesn't have any BlackBerries running the new BlackBerry 6 software (which isn't all that great but is a lot better than its crummy predecessor). Get an Android phone or, if you're among the masses hankering for a Verizon iPhone, stagger along with your old device and hope the rumors about an early-2010 release are true.
Rob, I noticed that the Post has updated the chat pages, and other things as well. I like the new look. However, the current chat page shows me a bunch of copies of an ad saying, "Answer for a chance to win a Green Card to the USA. Who is the US President?" That is so 1990s. It reminds me of Usenet...:-)
Ha! One of the first stories I wrote for the Post about the online world was a piece about the Green Card Spammers. It earned me a faxed threat of a lawsuit from one of those two lawyers, which I desperately wish I'd kept and framed.
OK, finally fed up with IE glitches on my 2 -year old laptop ("Cannot open site--operation aborted", when I can see the web site right behind the message). I'm not exactly a computer whiz, so is there anything i should be aware of/look out for if I decide to install Firefox or Chrome?
Nope. Use Chrome if you have an older or slower machine, Firefox if you prefer a traditional menu-plus-toolbars browser interface.
I use the regular QWERTY keyboards on cell phones and I type fast. Do you think I would like the virtual keyboards as much (after I got use to them)?
Yes, but give yourself a couple of weeks to get accustomed to a new one.
Okay if I nuke the hard drive but first want to save my files, how can I be sure I don't accidentally save a "bad" file? I noticed cycbot saved files in the mydocs/local settings and applications folder.
That is a risk. You shouldn't save any files you know you didn't create, but you should also scan the files you did generate, more than once, to verify that they're not contaminated. The ones to worry about are Word and PDF files, as both have been used as malware vectors in the past.
Following up on an earlier answer, so if I upgrade my router to 802.11n it'll improve range even if I don't upgrade the 802.11g kit built into the laptop? Or do I have to upgrade both ends of the link for that range boost?
You should see a range--but not speed--improvement even with your laptop's old receiver. That's what I found from the very first tests I did with 802.11n.
Rob, Malwarebyte's Anti Malware is a really good program. Better than Spybot. It saved a couple of computers from re-formatting.
Thanks for the recommendation!
Hi Rob. Would now be a good time to invest in Apple TV or Roku, or should I wait for Google et al. To sort themselves out? Thanks
Given the choice between Apple TV and Roku, I'd get Roku (which, incidentally, got access to Hulu Plus on Wednesday). Apple TV has enormous potential, but Apple has a history of neglecting this product. The Roku HD is only $60, too, so you're not risking much with the purchase.
Hi Rob, Looking to buy the middle priced Roku. Any negatives in general on the Roku. Thanks.
It's not a good choice for streaming music, photos or videos from a computer, and its Channel Store doesn't include YouTube (not because of any refusal by Roku, I'm told).
A coworker is debating about getting a Flip for her husband. I suggested holding off for a smartphone instead (they were thinking about it anyway). Now that most higher end phones can record 720p, do you think it's worth it to get a Flip? Thanks.
The Flip's built-in Windows software remains a huge advantage--but if your phone comes with its own video editing/sharing software (e.g., iPhone 4) or if you've fine with using other software (iMovie, Windows Live Movie Maker) that advantage fades.
which is best? latest version of both .. full color nook versus latest version kindle?
Haven't tried the Nook Color ("nookcolor," as Barnes & Noble writes it), so I can't answer that. Sorry.
Rob, given Mr. Jobs's obvious distaste for AT&T, and his decision to let Verizon Wireless offer the iPad, is there any chance that he will allow MobileMe to work on Android Devices the same way it does on iPhones?
Slim to none. First, you know, Apple would have to put actual effort into MobileMe--the company has done depressingly little with it just as an iPhone service.
Hi Rob - What is your take on the 7-9" portable TVs? I would like something that I could keep on my kitchen counter and maybe take outside on the deck. I saw the Philips one advertised but can't find much in terms of feedback on it (or others) online. Thanks!
One of the many gadgets on my list of things to try out is a portable DVD player that supports the new mobile-DTV standard. Watch this space...
Hi Rob! I desperately want to buy a new phone -- I'm considering either a Palm Pixi, a Blackberry Curve or the new Blackberry Style. (I am staying with Sprint and those are the cheapest smartphones.) I really liked my Palm Centro - is the Pixi just a step up from that? And have you heard anything about the new BB Style - I love the clamshell. I just really hate my current phone (Samsung Reclaim, which is very, very bad) and need it for phone, email and to check Next Bus. Thanks!!
There's a reason all those phones are cheap. The Pixi is a year and a half old (though it is due for a decent software), the Curve's design is even older, and the Style is an unimpressive BlackBerry 6 device--no touchscreen, for instance. I'd give a slight edge to Pixi in terms of software, based on the prospects of webOS 2 improving its performance.
But my wife's year-old Pixi is starting to show some disturbing wear-and-tear; its rubberized plastic exterior has come away from the rest of the phone in two parts. BlackBerries seem to be fairly sturdy devices in comparison, although the Style's newer design may have its own issues.
How do I know if I should jump for the iPhone with AT&T or wait for Verizon? It seems like conventional wisdom is that the Verizon will be better, but I have some articles that suggest that Verizon will be slower than AT&T despite AT&T's network issues.
If you're not sure, just wait.
(This is the safest buying advice I can give... to almost any question. And following it has helped me save a lot of money over the years. It's yet another way procrastination pays off, in other words.)
If we go to a Roku box or something else, will we need to move the modem close enough to be wired? Would that be faster? And will using one of the TV services slow down our regular in-house wifi? Thanks
The Roku and the other Web-on-TV devices I've reviewed--Apple TV, Google TV--has WiFi built in. Most "connected" TVs and Blu-ray players, however, only have Ethernet wired networking.
I recently installed Microsoft Office 2011 on my Mac. It installed alongside my Office 2008. Is it safe to "remove" the 2008 version?
for passwords you can also use software that stores your passwords in an encrypted database so you only have to remember the one to get in to the database. I particularly like 1Password on the Mac and iPhone (on which you can set levels of protection -- enter a PIN to see some passwords, but enter a master password to reveal others) As for the Beatles, one rumor making the rounds was that the issue was between Apple Corps and EMI -- something I have no trouble believing, given Ringo's quip about being sick of questions regarding the appearance of the Beatles on iTunes. Finally, I have trouble believing a new iPad will be out early in the new year, but I do wonder about midstream changes to the storage capacity. Given that TJ Maxx and Marshalls and both pushing 16gb wifi iPads for $399, I can't help but wonder if they're clearing the 16gbs from the channel...
I could see that--the declining price of flash memory has allowed Apple to make that sort of minor adjustment. Still, this is late in the game to adjust the product you're selling.