Jan 12, 2011

Dec - 22 2010 | By

There was no Zentech show on Jan 5 

The new Zentech show schedule: 2nd, 4th, and sometimes 5th Weds of month. Sorry, I wasn't notified in time to modify the date on this page.


Notifications of new show notes and edits are tweeted at: twitter.com/ddhart

They're tagged with #Zentech

Editor comments are delimited by < >

Paul was in the studio, Glenn called in from North Carolina

Paul's been busy helping clients recover their equipment that suffered from voltage spikes during recent storms.
– No reason not to have a surge protector.
– The best kind is one that warranties the connected equipment up to $5000 or $10000.
– Usually equipment is supposed to be protected to twice the voltage, up to maybe a momentary 240 volts.
– A lot of cheap surge protectors are good for only 1 surge and need to be replaced.
– Power strips with a fuse are not good enough. A fuse won't protect against a spike

Listeners are reminded the Zentech show is now on every 2nd, 4th, and sometimes 5th Wednesday of the month.

Larry from Sacramento called to say sometimes a webpage would stop loading, as he browses the internet. He thought it might be a problem with his ISP. The only other device he has on the network is a Roku unit.
Paul suggested he do a test of his network speed. Paul found a speed test that's better than the one he used to recommend: try speedtest.phonepower.com
It tests both latency and jitter, which is the rate the latency changes, and the amount of packet loss due to damaged packets.
– Larry had called a while back saying he had trouble viewing streaming videos on his Mac. At the time, that problem was diagnosed (which proved to be correct) as a slow CPU.
– Paul determined Larry had a wired network — not wireless.
– Unplug the DSL circuit & router and plug it all in again, to reset everything.
– The idea is to find out what the sustainable traffic transfer rate is. He's paying for 3 megabits/sec and usually gets 2.5. Paul said that's reasonable.
– Since this is the same slow Mac he had before, Paul suggested using a different computer on his network. He thought the machine is underpowered.
– There's an application "under utilities" call something like task watcher or activity monitor that tracks how much the processor is used for each task. <Use that to see what may be slowing down the computer>
– Since the Roku box is working as expected, the ISP is not a likely cause.

Levin called but the call was dropped before he could say much.

Tim called and said he just got a new iPod and he wants to transfer selected playlists from his computer. He used to just mouse-drag the music to the iPod, but he was told, at the Apple Store, that he could use the "music" tab on his iPod. He wanted to know if the "synch" checkbox would cause all of the music to get transferred – he didn't want to do that.
– First, make sure you have the current version of iTunes.
– Tim indicated there's nothing that was dragged to the iPod that's not in iTunes, so it's ok to delete the content. <Implying he should clear the hard drive. Then…>
– Paul said he should not be doing a drag-n-drop but using the synchronize feature. During the synch you'll be asked what you want transferred; it's at that point you make your selections.
– Glenn pointed out that Tim was talking about a synch button on the iPod and Paul said he's never seen one
– The synch button is in iTunes. Tim was invited to call back to clarify.

Don called about Larry's problem. Don said he's had similar problems with his internet connection bogging down when his washing would run.
– Paul said, in that case a surge protector may not be enough, you may have to use a UPS (uninterruptible power supply) for the DSL modem.
– Don said his own problem was not the power supply but electrical noise on the line. He said some modems have their own HTTP address which you can use to look at what the modem 'thinks' the noise margins are. That may help distinguish between an ISP problem and a local problem.
– Paul said make sure all of the filters you're given by the phone company are used. Some people are confused by the fact that it's the phones that need the filters — not the DSL.
– Bottom line is Larry may be having a noise problem

The main reason Don called is about cell phone plans.
  He said the cheapest plan he's found is about $40/mo. The other option is some kind of Go Phone pay-as-you-go deal. He thinks those Go Phones are not compatible with monthly plans. He wondered if there are any other options where he can switch between the 2 types of plans.
<Other options mentioned in a previous show 11-24-10>
– Paul said he's managed to get the cost down to $5/mo for 20 minutes voice and $.10 or $.15 per text message.
– Get an unlocked GSM phone (a SIM type phone) from, like, Ebay. While on Ebay, look up "pay as you go sim". AT&T sells these SIMs for $10 — $5 for the card and number and $5 of usage. The usage expires every month.
– The pay-as-you-go phones like the TracFone are cheap to buy but cost much per minute to use. And they are locked so you can't use another SIM, like the AT&T SIM.
– The critical thing is for the GSM phone to be unlocked so you can use the AT&T SIM card.
– They don't like you to know the Go Phone uses the AT&T network. Apparently, you can make the standard free mobile-to-mobile voice calls between AT&T users with the Go Phone.

Jeff called to say he tried to open a Powerpoint file, created on a Mac, on his PC. The PC told him he needed Quick Time to open it.
– Make sure the filename ends in .ppt. He checked and it does.
– Go ahead and install Quick Time.
– Paul recommended going to itunes.com. Get iTunes, it comes with Quick Time.

Jeff also wanted to know how to extract just a few pages from a rather large PDF file. He'd like to find a free editor that will do that.
– Paul asked listeners for suggestions.
– Glenn said try to digitally save each desired page. <Presumably while viewing them>
– Paul then suggested PDFCreator. It turns a printable page into a PDF file. While viewing the original PDF, select the pages you want to print, select File -> Print and send it to PDFCreator to create a second PDF file with just the selected pages.
– Glenn mentioned that both he and Paul use PDFCreator a lot, more than printing to a paper.

Scott called. He said he had moved his computer and now it won't boot. He took it in for service and was told to send it to a data recovery place to get his data off the hard drive.
– Paul asked what it does when turned on. Scott said he gets a black screen asking if he wants to boot in safe mode. But booting in safe mode, he had trouble getting the cursor keys to work.
– Paul thought maybe the problem is with the keyboard. He said to press the caps lock key to see if the keyboard light responds. If the caps lock won't work, it may not be the hard drive — it's the machine itself. Scott said he took the hard drive itself in for service and it was diagnosed as defective — data could not be accessed.
– Data recovery is often very expensive. Try Advanced Data Recovery. <> google: adr folsom. <some mention on data recovery in the 1-26-9 show>
– Glenn suggested he get an external hard drive kit w/o the enclosure, just the cable. Connect the kit to a different computer, hook up the suspected hard drive and see if you can access the data.
– Paul said, as you use a failing drive, you could be losing data. You may not want to play around with it but take it in for recovery.

Matt called to ask if solid state drives are more reliable.
– They have no moving parts to fail.
– But pulling them out at the wrong time can damage them.
– Though they go bad less often, whan they do it's catastrophic.

Matt also said he's used hhtrack on a PC to copy webpages to his hard drive so he can browse them when not on the internet. But hhtrack is not easy to use with the Mac. He's tried SiteSucker and DeVacuum, they work pretty well but won't copy a PHP-driven site.
– Paul said those programs should copy the results that PHP produces, but Matt said he's had no success.
– Some sites are designed to foil copying attempts.
– Glenn suggested right clicking on the page and 'view source'. Then save the source.
– Try printing page to a PDF file and save that.
– Some sites resist site sucking — they recognize when something is trying to copy them.
– Matt thought the main problem was the PHP script. Paul asked listeners for suggestions.

Matt went on to ask if saving audio from iTunes, when it's in lossless mode, is as good as using Exact Audio Copy on the PC; he wants something like it on a Mac (there is no version for the Mac).
– Paul thinks there would be no degradation of the audio if iTunes is in lossless mode.
– Exact Audio Copy saves in .WAV format — it's lossless and as good as it gets.
– The AAC file format is a highly efficient lossy format. <You may consider using that>

Matt also asked if something similar to DVD Decrypt & DVD Shrink (for the PC) is available for the Mac.
– Paul "can't" recommend MacTheRipper, he's "never heard of it" as it might violate the Digital Millenium Copyright Act.

Then Matt said he keeps trying to get rid of Divx but keeps coming back on his Mac. He said it interferes with the Netflix viewer.
– Do a search for "divx" using Insight (the magnifying glass at the upper right). Throw everything that's found into the trash, but don't empty the trash until you're sure.
– Netflix requires Silverlight, make sure you have the latest version (ver 4).
– Paul is pretty sure Matt's problems aren't because of Divx.
– Try going to divx.com and installing the latest version.

The guys didn't get around to talking about Verizon and the iPhone it will be carrying. They will talk about it next show. Feb 10 is when you be able to order it.
Rumor has it that the next OS for the iPhone, version 4.3, will have tethering built in.
Paul had a chance to play with the Droid phone. It has tethering built in.

Last updated: 11:46 PM 1/13/2011 


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