All posts by BobPritchard

Radio Insider in managed by career broadcaster Bob Pritchard who has worked in every aspect of broadcasting including owning his own FM radio station, a nationally broadcast television series (Computer Insider on CTV) and many years on-air in radio including 680News and AM640 in Toronto. Bob currently spends his time producing video editorial comments, writing his book on Canadian Radio and consulting radio stations on how to survive the increased competition from consolidation and the increasing market fragmentation caused by the growth of the internet.

Computer Insider Show #2018-14

Today on Computer Insider, CES, the Consumer Electronics Show. It’s been fun watching the stories last week on mainstream TV news from CES because they really have no idea what the show is about, and why it’s important. Way back in the beginning of computer time, new computers were being introduced on an almost daily basis, with each new product offering more, faster, better and more competitive in pricing. In order to put some parameters around these, produces and guy named Sheldon Adelson and a company called the Interface Group started a trade show called Comdex which became the “must go to show” for in industry people to see new products and startup companies. It was great, lot’s to see, lots of people to meet and of course one of the shows was held in Las Vegas every year, so some pretty good parting.  Eventually, the market shifted with the computer, software and accessories industry maturing and stabilizing, with the consumer interest shifting from actual computers to products that were incorporating technology, like televisions, audio, robotics, drones, and an almost endless variety of other products.  With the shift, COMDEX died, and in its wake, the Consumer Electronics Show was born. So when somebody is reporting from CES in the news, they should really be reporting about what’s coming down the road for your home theatre, your car, boat, hobbies, adventures and so on. Not demonstrating that they have no idea about what CES is.

Computer Insider Show #2018-13

Today on Computer Insider, do you deep down in your heart believe that one day your cell phone provider, popularly referred to as the telco, will call you, telling you that the rates have changed either by offering more product for the same dollar or by reducing your cost for your existing service? I’ve been using mobile, cellular and smartphone services since the early 80s and I’m yet to receive any such call. If you want to really manage the cost and performance of your phone account, you need to be proactive. That starts with a basic understanding that the market is in a constant state of flux with new deals always appearing, usually related to getting more product for the same dollar. For example, my account has had unlimited national calling, text, messaging and 2GB of data for $60 per month. This is really not much of a standout deal, but it works for us. The weak point is the data, where 2 GB means that we have to compromise on what we do when we are out and about. I prepping this show, I keep track of new plans and offers and saw that some companies were offering everything we had, but with 10 GB for the same $60.  We called our telco, no fights, no arguments, explained what we had found elsewhere, and low and behold, we flip into the new package on the next billing cycle. If you don’t keep track of what’s going on, it’s a virtual certainty that fairly quickly you will be overpaying for your phone.

Computer Insider Show #2018-12

Today on Computer Insider, a tale of computer disaster and the steps you can take to save your sanity. My home computer recently became the victim of an attack which really messed up my system. What it did was to write a log file that was designed to fill all of the available disk space on my boot drive, which on my machine is a 500-gigabyte drive which I never allow to exceed more than 50% capacity. One morning when I started working, a message that I had run out of disk space. Simply not possible. A quick search, and sure as Trudeau at a photo op, there is was. A 253 GB log file associated with a subprogram of iTunes. No big deal, delete it and move on, except the file was, according to the operating system, “in use”. OK, time for a more aggressive approach. I don’t use iTunes, so I deleted it and its related programs, now I should be able to get rid of the blocking program. Again, a no go, still locked. Clearly, a reboot would be necessary to free the file for deletion. Hit the appropriate keystrokes, start the reboot. Whoops, not enough disk space to restart. It’s a life-altering situation to realize that your computer is now dead. Fortunately, shortly after I bought my computer I added a Solid State Drive, copied my boot drive to it, and reconfigured the system to boot from the SSD, so I booted to my original disk, accessed the SSD as a data drive, and deleted the rogue file, rebooted again back to my original configuration, and everything worked out. The questions is, “Would you know what to do if your computer failed?”

Computer Insider Show #2018-11

Today on Computer Insider, it’s about cutting the cord, the types of drama that people are going through after they decided that enough is enough with the cable company and the high cost of their product.  I got a call last night from a friend of my wife’s who decided to move to an android TV box and drop her cable TV service. She had a few questions, and who wouldn’t. At the top of the list a question about subscribing to Netflix. Her fear, that there wouldn’t be enough content on the android box to keep her entertained without the regular array of 500 channel cable channels all seemingly showing one of the same 5 programs or so. The answer, don’t bother. There is so many television shows available on the web, you will never be able to watch them all. If you’re going to cut the cord, really cut the cord. Don’t subscribe to any pay service. One of my kids subscribes to Netflix, and we have a licensed copy running at home. I personally have never turned it on, but watch all the big series Netflix shows delivered by free apps like Show Box and Neptune. And remember that all the local TV stations maintain over the air signals, maybe not so good here in Stouffville, but still out there and totally free. If your going to cut the cord, really cut the cord.

Computer Insider Show #2018-2

Today on Computer Insider, we start with a dire warning form security analysts who are warning that with smart technology expanding at an unprecedented pace, that we are opening vulnerabilities that could have dire consequences. Wow. What a bunch of idiots. Maybe it’s just me, but I just don’t see how having a smart thermostat becomes a problem. What are they thinking? That the gas company is going to hack into my furnace and turn of the temperature? Or maybe it’s that somehow your wall thermostat has a deal going with your online banking app to prepay your gas bill? I just don’t see how a smart fridge presents anything other than good opportunities for households. Obviously, you need to use the basic software that comes with these things to offer some basic protection, but I just don’t see the criminal underworld breaking into the security on my garage door opener to remotely open and close it. We’re living in an era where everything can be interconnected. You can turn house lights on and off, change their colour, increase or decrease the temperature on your thermostat, lock and unlock your front door and maintain a shopping list in your fridge, all from apps on your smartphone. Enjoy the convince, follow the instructions from the manufacturer, and while you are enjoying all this convenience, remember that it wasn’t all that long ago that you had to get out of your chair and walk over the TV change stations.

Thank you for joining us for this edition of Computer insider on 102.9 Whistle FM. The show is broadcast weekdays during the morning news at 6 and 9, as well as at 4:30 and 5:30 in the afternoon. You can reach us by email at bob@computerinsider.org. I’m Bob Pritchard.

Computer Insider Show #2018-5

Today on Computer Insider, we’re going to talk about music, not so much about how is made, but rather how you can listen to it at home. To this point in technology, the trend has been to use devices like Smartphones like really powerful Walkman’s by plugging in a pair of headphones and playing some sort of music list. Cool, but limited. For years I plugged by media player into a small consumer FM transmitter, found an open frequency, and the n enjoyed my music on any FM radio in the house. The problem is range. Legal transmitters only have a range of about 30 feet, so the signal can be a bit iffy. The next phase can about via Airplay and other similar apps that take your music and move it out over your Wi-Fi network. A big improvement from the small transmitter, but still with a few issues like most of the apps use priority software where the discussion usually starts with you credit card number. In partial use, most require some sort of technology, like a computer or similar device for playback, and that can get expensive. The latest evolution is the development of Bluetooth and advanced Wi-Fi systems from companies like Bose and SONOS. Both products have really raised the musical bar, especially Bose, but the price tag is not for the weak of heart. Expect the price tag for a full system that plays high quality music throughout the house to come in at multiple thousands of dollars, but it does sound good.

Thank you for joining is for this edition of Computer insider on 102.9 Whistle FM. The show is broadcast weekdays during the morning news at 6 and 9, as well as at 4:30 and 5:30 in the afternoon. You can reach us by email at bob@computerinsider.org. I’m Bob Pritchard.

 

Computer Insider Show #2018-10

Today on Computer Insider, what is a Virtual Private Network and do you really need one? Well, for openers the answer is yes and no. They are a good idea, but for most things, it really doesn’t matter. A VPN allows you to disguise or if you prefer, to change you IP address. AN IP address identifies you and your computer on the internet. Let’s say for example, you wanted to subscribe to Netflix in the States, and you can’t because when you sign up, they tell you that you have to be in the states. What’s happened is that Netflix US looked at you IP address and saw that you are Canadian. By using a VPN, virtual private network, you can select where you want your IP address to be originating from, so that sites you visit will think that you’re in some other location. Think of it this way. You connect your computer to the VPN host. You select a city or country that you want others to think you in, and the VPN host will then assign you a new IP address moving forward during that session. This is a big help when it comes to downloading music, movies or software from, let’s just say, less reputable locations, blocking local authorities from knowing who you are or what your doing.

Thank you for joining is for this edition of Computer insider on 102.9 Whistle FM. The show is broadcast weekdays during the morning news at 6 and 9, as well as at 4:30 and 5:30 in the afternoon. You can reach us by email at bob@computerinsider.org. I’m Bob Pritchard.

Computer Insider Show #2018-9

Today on Computer Insider, a discussion about software. Since I got my very first desktop computer back in the late 1970s, I’ve had software to do the things I got the computer for. And from almost the beginning, there has been a constant pressure to upgrade my apps to the most current version. Is it worth it? Well, that depends. I break down my software into three categories, Mission critical, packages that I use  every day to do the things I feel are really important, things like word processing, spreadsheets, audio editing, VPN and so on. The second group of software is the fun stuff. Packages that make my using of the computer more interesting, like video editing, databases, browsers and so on, and the final group is stuff I wanted to play with, usually demos of something like photo editing, or networks analysis tools, products I really have no interest in owning, but wanted to play with for a bit. When it comes to keeping current, I’m pretty good with the first category. I always upgrade when the updates are free updates, but been a lot more selective when it requires money. It’s always good to be current, but sometimes it’s difficult to differentiate between when it’s necessary as compared to when it’s good for the software company.

Thank you for joining is for this edition of Computer insider on 102.9 Whistle FM. The show is broadcast weekdays during the morning news at 6 and 9, as well as at 4:30 and 5:30 in the afternoon. You can reach us by email at bob@computerinsider.org. I’m Bob Pritchard.

Computer Insider Show #2018-8

 

Today on Computer Insider, a discussion about copyrights, and the net outcome of protection. It seems that every company from the beginning of time has looked at ways to prevent people from copying their products and force consumers to pay for usage.  My first computer was a Commodore 8032 Pet. The software I was using needed a special chip to be plugged into the motherboard to make it operational. The net outcome? A huge upswing in the sale of e-prom burning equipment. Probably most of us remember Napster and the lawsuits that happened when they started sharing Music, and the net outcome? Today’s Bit-Torrent downloading sits. Guess that didn’t turn out the way the music industry though. Another scheme that went wrong happened at Lotus Development Corporation back in the early 90s. While I was doing a TV interview with Mitch Kapoor, Lotus founder and at the time CEO, I asked why they dropped their copy protection, where you had to insert an original disk into a drive to start the package. He responded that they did an analysis of costs, and determined that they were spending more money helping legitimate customers keep their software running that they were losing to piracy. Most of the time copy protection is for the benefit of the manufacturer to protect their profit margins than anything else. Reasonable pricing works.

Thank you for joining is for this edition of Computer insider on 102.9 Whistle FM. The show is broadcast weekdays during the morning news at 6 and 9, as well as at 4:30 and 5:30 in the afternoon. You can reach us by email at bob@computerinsider.org. I’m Bob Pritchard.

Computer Insider Show #2018-7

Today on Computer Insider, we’re going to talk about eBook readers. Judy got one for Christmas, and I had rather stupidly assumed that loading books would be as simple as copying files from one device to another. No so. As it turns out, the companies who sell the readers and also deeply involved in the selling of books, so they’ve set things up to be somewhat awkward in the loading of books onto the various devices. The eReader we purchased came equipped with Wi-Fi, so we though that this should be a no brainer. Making a long story short, after several day of connecting, examining directory structure, connecting to Wi-Fi networks, and so on, we gave up and called customer support, the source of all knowledge. As it turns out, moving books you already own to a new device raises the issue of digital rights and the pirating of books. As a solution, most of the companies have integrated their eReader with Adobe Digital Editions, a free software package that checks to make sure you actually have permission to read the book.  Once installed, the process of connecting and copying eBooks was a simple task. So if you’ve hit the brick wall of trying to install and use some piece of software, don’t be a coward, pick up the phone and call for help.

Thank you for joining is for this edition of Computer insider on 102.9 Whistle FM. The show is broadcast weekdays during the morning news at 6 and 9, as well as at 4:30 and 5:30 in the afternoon. You can reach us by email at bob@computerinsider.org. I’m Bob Pritchard.