Sep 10, 2014

Aug - 27 2014 | By

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Podcasts of recent Zentech shows are here.

Both Paul & Glenn were in the studio for today's show

The new Apple products that came out yesterday were to be covered on today's show, but not much was said about them.

Listeners were reminded they can email the guys either during or after the show. Email to zen at kvmr dot org

According to a promotional email Paul received, when Apple comes out with a new iPhone, the price of the previous model immediately drops by 5%. In the next 3 weeks it drops by about 15% to 20%.

Paul said he saw a website that will presell your phone — you can offer to sell your phone at today's price. That way you can continue using your current phone right up to the day the new model is released and still get a good price for the old one. <He didn't give the name of the website.>

He said Ebay has a guarantied price on used iPhones. Go to ebay.com and search for the word: iphone.

Paul still uses an iPhone 3S. It doesn't have an official resale value anymore because it's not "supported any more". Updates and new software increasingly refuse to install because it's so old. The apps require IOS 7, which doesn't work on the 3S. Apps that do load, run noticeably slower because they expect to run on the faster processors found in newer phone models.

The older phone will run some of the news apps and though they run slower, they run reliably, for the most part. Some times he needs to do a 'cold start' because, over time, it "leaks bits of memory" and gets a little "confused". Cold start means to officially, completely and totally shut it down, and not just push the off button. You'll have to press and hold the off button until it notifies you to "slide this little red doodad to turn it off".

If it's so messed up that it (or any iDevice, for that matter) refuses to cold start, hold the power button and hold the home button at the same time for 10 to 12 seconds. This bypasses the operating software and sends the command to the hardware. So be sure the phone isn't in the middle of doing something and that it's really unresponsive.

Newer MacBook Air & MacBook Pro computers don't have user accessible batteries. They, along with the iPhone, require you to take off the back, which often requires special screwdrivers. <This was talked about in the last show>

You are supposed to be able to issue a cold reset when the regular reset, shift + option + control + space + power button (as he recalled), doesn't work. Paul ran into this situation on a recent repair job. He thought the battery may have been dead. He then opened the case and unplugged the ribbon cable to the battery and, on a whim, plugged it back in. He discovered that reinstalling the cable fixed the problem. In the process, he found the battery itself was not easily accessible. He highly recommended the website ifixit.com to those who want to tackle difficult jobs like a battery replacement in the Macs. In general, newer electronic products require special equipment to do repairs, so let websites like ifixit guide your judgment about starting a repair.

Glenn announced that a dog was lost about 10am today at the corner of Red Dog and Cedar Springs Road, Nevada City. She's a red and merle female Australian shepherd about 4 years old. She has a collar, tags and microchip and she's named Joey. If you find her, please call 530-265-9295. Or in the 408 area code, call either 393-6887 or 888-6036.

Paul talked about the magnetron he took from his microwave oven, which was giving him problems. The magnetron is what produces the 2cm or 3cm (2.4gigHz) microwave, which cooks the food. The magnetron has a resonant cavity where the electrons acquire the 2.4gigHz frequency

He again used ifixit.com as well as Wikipedia to bone up on microwave ovens. He diagnosed the problem by trying to microwave a bucket of water. After microwaving for 5min it came out cold. He also tested the transformer, rectifier diode and capacitor in the oven and they were fine.

He bought a replacement magnetron from Ebay for $19, though it didn't exactly match the model number. After installing it, the oven worked fine. He warned listeners that it's extremely dangerous to mess with a microwave oven when it's turned on. Keep it unplugged, he warned.

The magnetron is made from copper and has a salvage value. Glenn noted that some community organizations hold recycling events to raise money. Rather than taking scrap metal to a salvage yard, consider that such events benefit the community.

Glenn said he's getting about 46mpg in his new Prius, which he talked about on the last show. Unlike the other Prius models, he suspects his gets better mileage on the open road than in town. Paul said his vintage 1993 Toyota Corolla still gets close to 30mpg even though he's put close to a third of a million miles on it.

Paul mentioned a psychology article he read about how humans evaluate risk — humans don't perceive money saved in the same way as money received". So the saying "money saved is money earned" is a reminder of that dichotomy. His microwave repair illustrates this. It cost him under $50 to fix it. Whereas the same model refurbish on Amazon would have cost him $165. But he risked being wrong about the magnetron being defective.

Glenn mentioned Rod's Computer Service and Gaming Center at 146 Scandling Ave <Nevada City I presume, not sure of the street spelling> where you can recycle ewaste. Paul mentioned the local ReStore, which also takes ewaste.

Over the past 4 or 5 years Glenn has made an effort to exclusively use Google Voice for texting and phone calls but it doesn't allow picture a or video messaging. Paul noted that Google Voice has run out of local numbers in the Nevada City area.

Glenn said he'll be porting his phone number to Google Voice from NetTalk when his account expires in Feb. <Porting was discussed during the 7-30-14 show> He said when the NetTalk equipment works, you're fine. Otherwise it's difficult to deal with the company.

Magdalena called. She has a Mac that's about 11 or 12 years old and was thinking of getting a iPad Air. She's not a heavy computer user but is writing a book. She wanted to know if the iPad Air is a good choice.
– A writer will need something with a keyboard, Paul said. She's aware of that and planned to add a keyboard to it.
– Many retailers will let you return a device without question within a certain trial period. That should give you a chance to see if it works for your needs.
– Tablets are quite different than computers. Consider how the differences fit in with your needs.
– Remember that the iPad doesn't accept a mouse. It's touch oriented so editing could be problematic.
– Paul said, for people who are new to computing it's much easier and natural to use a tablet than a computer (laptop or desktop).

Paul asked Glenn what he would do if he had to write a document a few pages long. Glenn said he would use a laptop. If he only had a tablet to use he would dictate the text using a microphone. He said he would dictate a couple of sentences at a time and check the results for errors. Dictation wouldn't work for editing a document and it's difficult to do using only a touch screen. You can add a Bluetooth keyboard starting at about $50 if you want to do much typing. Glenn recommended getting a case as protection for any mobile device you have. Some cases come with an integrated keyboard.

Paul said he likes the latest iPad Air compared to the older ones because it's made sturdier — the earlier ones were pretty flimsy. However, they still don't have Firewire nor a flash card reader, only 2 USB ports. They depend a lot on using cloud services. He noted that the Mac OS & the iPad/iPhone IOS don't share the same 'ecosystem' and they don't seem to be converging. iTunes, however, works on both.

Paul said Intel started naming their microprocessors and abandoned numbers (286, 386, 486 etc.) because they found out they couldn't register numbers. They then started with the name Pentium.

Glenn said he had a issue with iMessage. The sender of the message would get a notification when the message was delivered and another one when it was read. He wasn't comfortable with the sender of a message knowing when he, Glenn, read the message. He found how to turn off the notification — go to Settings -> Messages -> Send Read Receipts and make sure it's not green, if you don't want others to know you read their message yet.

Paul discovered something disconcerting about iMessage. If the sender & recipient use iMessage it will try to send the message over the internet but not as an SMS. If the recipient doesn't have iMessage (non-Apple user) or has iMessage turned off, it will be sent as an SMS. The problem is when it's sent to a non-existant phone number or a landline — iMessage can't tell there is no SMS service at the receiving end. Many Apple users don't subscribe to a text (txt, SMS) messaging plan and if they happen to be off the internet when a message is sent, it will disappear into the ether.

Jerrie called. She has a Win7 laptop and wants to epublish an illustrated picture ebook. It will allow her only to publish in print (paper). She's able to create a .pdf file of her book.
– If you go to Amazon and create an ebook account, it will take your PDF and convert it to Kindle format — an ebook format.
– You can just publish a PDF book but it's an open format, anyone can download it without paying for it. That's fine if you want to give it away, but not so good if you want to make money on it.

Michael called. He has the Comcast Xfinity service at home. His Chrome Book keeps dropping the network connection but his iPad doesn't have the problem.
– Go into your Chrome Book a tell it to forget that network and start all over again to reacquire the network.
– If you want to reset the Comcast router, be aware that some of them have a backup battery and you can't reset it by pulling the power plug. There is a hole in the back where you can shove in a paper clip to reset it.

Last update 11:40 PM 9/10/2014