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CNET to the Rescue: Biker gear and iTunes alternatives

Guest rescuers Seth Rosenblatt and Darren Kitchen help solve tech issues from people with busted iTunes installations, bad cable modems, and recalcitrant audio players. Plus: The best GPS for motorcyclists.

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
4 min read

Josh is out covering Demo so I've roped in Seth Rosenblatt and Darren Kitchen to answer your tech questions. We start with a special look at gear for motorcyclists. Later, iTunes, cable modems, and DSLR memory cards get rescued.

Watch this: CNET to the Rescue Ep.17: Biker gear and iTunes alternatives


CNET to the Rescue: Show notes

Rafe tests Linksys powerline networking.

Darren has advice for geeky motorcyclists.

Cameron: Im having trouble deciding what CF card to get for my Canon 7D, I want something with at least 6GB but im not sure how fast of a write speed I would need and if there are any other things that should influence my purchase.

Rafe: I got advice on this from CNET experts.

CNET Camera expert Lori Grunin: They're really so cheap that he should be thinking at least 16GB, 32GB if he's planning to shoot video.

Write speed will most impact burst shooting--if he's planning to shoot action, then he wants the fastest card possible. It won't increase the frames per second much, but it will improve shooting speed consistency and how fast the buffer empties.

Read speed will affect how fast he can download to his system, so faster is always better there, as long as his system/card reader isn't the bottleneck.

For that camera, I'd suggest at least a 60MB/sec card, at best a UDMA card up to 90MB/sec.

News.com writer Stephen Shankland: I'd also add that you can save a bit of money with second-tier CF card makers such as Kingston and Transcend. However I've had issues with file corruption with Transcend and have had discussions with card makers that lead me to believe SanDisk and Lexar are probably worth the premium.

A couple of reasonable options:

$87 Lexar Pro 300X UDMA 16GB.
$95 SanDisk Extreme 60MB/s.

I share Lori's view about getting larger capacity cards if you do a lot of video: 1080p will really suck up the gigabytes. However, if he isn't a sports shooter, I don't think the highest speeds are necessary. Initial burst shooting relies on the camera's built-in memory; the fast flash card comes into play when clearing that buffer so you're primed for new shots. So if you take one burst of shots, then another, then another, it matters. However, if you take mostly one-off shots, you're fine with cheaper, slower cards. Even 1080p video isn't hugely taxing on the flash card--it's high resolution at 2 megapixels per frame (though compressed), but bursts of 18-megapixel still photos at something like 20MB to 30MB apiece in raw form involves a lot of data being pushed around. I shoot 1080p on a 133X card with my Canon 5D Mark II with no trouble at all. Of course, faster CompactFlash cards also will help you get your data onto your computer sooner--as long as your flash card reader is a newer UDMA-compatible model.

Rob Galbraith's SD and CF flash card tests are useful.


Nunzio: I am looking for an alternative to iTunes for XP. I only use iTunes for convenient downloading of podcasts. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

Josh answered this: We've done a number of these on CNET, and the names that keep coming up are...

MediaMonkey, which is a freemium jukebox that has a bunch of features, and a few more for a $20 license; Songbird, which is free and open-source; Winamp; aTunes; Juice Receiver, if you care less about the jukebox, and just subscribing to podcasts. It's open sourced and cross-platform.

And if you have an iPod, and still want to sync it, try one of the services in this article: Best iPod-compatible iTunes alternatives.


Joshua: I have a Linksys Wireless G Cable Gateway. It is a wireless modem/router combo. I have been having problems with it recently. All my computers will lose internet at some point during the day. I have to reset my router in order to get back online. I have heard that updating the firmware will resolve this issue, but talking to my ISP and Linksys about the update have been unsuccessful. Linksys told me that my ISP has the firmware, but my ISP has told me that they don't have the firmware b/c they didn't supply the router. I have also tried disabling the wireless on the router and hooking up a wireless N router to it. But the internet was much slower then. Is there anything you can suggest to me as what to do to fix the router?

Rafe: Get a new gateway. I recommend using the cheapest, simplest one-port cable modem from your ISP, and a separate wifi router. Keeps it clear who owns what.

Darren: Recommends Untangle. Also see his Hak5 episode on the topic.


Phone call: How to stream PC to TV?

Rafe: Check out VeeBeam. It's brand-new but supposed to do exactly what you want.


Peter: I have some problem with the way windows manages audio outputs. I just got a philips shb9000 bluetooth stereo headset and I like listening podcast making phone calls on it. But I have a big problem wile I'm listening to a podcast my girlfriend wants to listen music on winamp or use VLC or something else. The problem is when I connect to it (msi dongle, Blue soil, Win XP) the winamp/windows/VLC changes the audio output from the speakers to the headset. I know it would be easy to use another computer to play music but that is not so green :-) So please help me somehow to separate the two audio output so I can keep the peace at home and also save the planet bit by bit.

Rafe: The issue is that Windows routes all audio through one place, it's not a media director. We covered this a bit last week with Jason. Put the music on an MP3 player, that's the best and easiest route.

Darren: Actually, Windows 7 does it all and a bag of chips