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CNET to the Rescue: Atomic clocks and hybrid storage

This week, we're joined by CNET Download.com expert Seth Rosenblatt and we learn about the best to-list manager for Android, why hybrid drives are great for notebooks, and how to keep a 6-year-old safe online. Plus, the obligatory Evernote question.

Rafe Needleman Former Editor at Large
Rafe Needleman reviews mobile apps and products for fun, and picks startups apart when he gets bored. He has evaluated thousands of new companies, most of which have since gone out of business.
Rafe Needleman
6 min read

Josh is in Los Angeles at E3 getting attacked in his taxicab, so we've got CNET Download's Seth Rosenblatt to help us make sense of Android to-do list managers, hybrid storage, kid-proofed PCs, and moving 10-year-old Outlook files. Also: how to never set another clock again.

Watch this: CNET to the Rescue Ep. 5: Atomic clocks and hybrid storage


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Episode 5: Atomic clocks, hybrid storage

Road tests:
Rafe hates setting clocks and being late. So...


Brian: I'm looking into getting a mifi, or a mifi like product (a la Overdrive). I'll be using it with with my iPod Touch, Netbook, and an eyefi card in my camera. I'm currently stuck in a Verizon vs. Sprint argument in my head, leaning to the Sprint for the location feature, since the Touch doesn't have GPS. Any advice would be great.

Rafe: I lead toward Sprint, but not for geoloc. Rather, it has 4G in some regions. I believe you'll find geoloc via wifi on services that support is surprisingly good.

Seth: I've heard that Verizon's MiFi is faster, but I don't have experience with MiFi.


Aaron from Chicago: Hey guys, love the show. I was looking at the new seagate momentus xt hybrid hard drive and I'm not exactly sold yet...See, the xt has 4GB of flash memory, which helps with the reads and writes to the hard drive, but what exactly is the advantage over just getting 4GB of more RAM? My new MacBook Pro has a 5400 rpm and I was looking for a replacement, but I was also considering bumping up my RAM from 4 to 8GB. Do you think RAM would be a better upgrade than the xt? Thanks, love the show, rock on!

We also got...

Leonard, Illinois: I have a late '08 15-inch MacBook Pro 5.1. I love it but I am looking for an upgrade. I want to replace my hard drive with a SSD to make everything run faster. Thing is, SSDs are expensive and I can only justify paying around $180 on this oldish MBP, which (in August, when I intend to buy) can get me at the very most 120gb.

Will an external hard drive connected to the Macbook's Expresscard slot via eSATA be able to act as an extension of my computer when plugged in (play music/movies off the drive)? I could then fill up a slightly smaller and less expensive SSD with Snow Leopard, WoW, browser, etc. For on the go, my music is already on my phone--I don't need my library with me.

I could use my current Mac drive as my external drive to save major money over a high-capacity SSD.

I also read a bit about SSDs designed for the Expresscard slot like this. But I'm unsure.

What do you think?

Hybrid drives explained.

Anandtech test. recommends it.

Rafe: Furthermore, I would say that 4GB is sufficient RAM for most people. Personally I would upgrade a PC or Mac to 4GB first, then get a perforamnce drive, like the XT, and the get more RAM. It's all about chasing the bottleneck, and mind you I don't have hard data to back up my recommendations, just experience.


Brian in the woods: I have a 6-year-old that I would like to get his first basic computer. I know there's no way filtering can catch all the sites. So, at this age, I would like to have software that only allows him to visit sites that I have whitelisted. Ideally I would like a firefox add-on. Does anything like this exist?

Per Larry Magid: Use the Norton Online Family.

Rafe: also, see your router. And try OpenDNS.

Seth: +1 for Norton Online Family. From my tests, it does an excellent job of giving parents control, but allowing them to adjust settings as kids develop naturally. It also offers older kids an opportunity to ask their parents why something was blocked, which struck me--a non-parent--as being a positive step toward discussion. Also, it's free and doesn't require anything else from Symantec.


Angel, San Juan, Puerto Rico: I'm setting up a network in my parents house, but I'm having a little problem deciding the best way to go. My parents live in a two-story house and receive their Internet via cable modem (single IP address, no built-in NAT). They have a home office upstairs with two desktops and a networked printer. Downstairs is the living room and the bedroom where they have 2 netbooks and 2 iPhones mostly used for Web access and some occasional apps and music downloads via iTunes.

They're not streaming HD video or the such so they don't need the fastest connection possible. I tried to install a Wi-Fi router upstairs to connect the printer and desktop via wired Ethernet and provide a Wi-Fi signal for the downstairs area for their netbooks and iPhones. Unfortunately, the walls are thick enough that the Wi-Fi signal just doesn't reach the downstairs area (tried a Linksys 802.11n dual-band Wi-Fi router to no avail).

Dropping a cable down to the living room is not an option, so I was considering getting a wired router for the upstairs and then get a Powerline kit to bring a connection downstairs so I could connect an Wi-Fi access point downstairs. Would this be the best way to go about it? Do you have any other recommendations? I haven't bought any gear yet so I'm open to other/better options and recommendations.

Rafe: I'm a big fan of powerline networking for exactly this scenario. It's an under-rated technology. Haven't tried it lately so can't make product recommendations, but search the reviews sites and go from there. An alternate solution is to set up an intermediate Wi-Fi router as a bridge, but powerline sounds much easier to maintain.


Michael Low, a.k.a. TheLostChinese: I want to get the new iPhone 4. Since my mom already has an AT&T smartphone with unlimited data, will they allow me to be added onto her plan as a second line and also get unlimited data even though they just capped data plans at 2GB?

I doubt it!


Ralph in Portland, Oregon: How should I transfer Outlook 2000 data from an XP computer to Outlook 2010 on a Win7 computer? In the past I have tried to replace the .pst file with the old one, but Outlook seems confused by this. If I just add it as another file in the menu, then the contacts and calendar items do not transfer easily.

Seth: Consensus seems to be that this is potentially fraught with high drama. if you have high blood pressure, you might want to stay away. for some reason, Outlook 2010 is known for having old PST import problems.

MS does provide a Personal Folders Backup tool. Follow the instructions carefully at KB 238782 and theoretically it'll work.


Obligatory Evernote question:

Hey Rafe,

Eric from Silver Spring, MD: After seeing this article on Life Hacker about how to Digitize Your Life I started thinking about putting some of my more important documents into Evernote. I know I'll have to keep physical copies of some things (car title, etc.) but for everything else, do you recommend this? This would include medical documents and receipts among other private documents. Does this sound safe to you? Are you aware of any weaknesses in Evernote's security model? Is this what you do?

Rafe: It has item-level encryption. Use it for sensitive docs. Evernote cannot recover the data. But note that you can't see the encrypted items on all platforms. iPad for ex.

Seth: Evernote so far has failed to take out my garbage, but I hear that feature's coming.



Susan: I am a podcast listener. I usually get to it on Thursdays. I just finished the goo episode. You, two are too precious! I got a sample of that stuff a while back and use it all the time. It works great. Really good on cat hair on the keyboard.