CNET to the Rescue: iOS safety tips, and more

With the iPad 2 launch, we brought Seth in to talk about keeping your data safe on an iPad, iPhone, or iPod (or an Android device). Also, Rafe tests the new Synology DS411slim home server, and we opine on using a DVR as an archival store for videos (in a word: don't). Prepare yourself for the theft of your gadgets, how to tether an iPod Touch to a BlackBerry, and a brief history of ASCII.

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
5 min read

My guest today is CNET editor Seth Rosenblatt, who's going to help us keep our shiny new iPad 2s safe from harm. Also, I test the new Synology DS411slim home server, we opine on using a DVR as an archival store for videos, and more.

If you have a tech question for CNET to the Rescue, call us with your questions to get on the next show: 877-438-6688 or e-mail rescue@cnet.com. No question is too basic, so if you've got a tech problem that's been getting under your skin, please call us and we'll try our best to help you out.

Watch this: Ep. 36: iOS safety tips, the Synology mixed bag, and your questions answered


Episode 36: Seth on iOS security

iOS security
Seth goes off on Apple obfuscating real potential security risks. Plus, real tips.

Road test: Synology DiskStation DS411slim
Rafe's experiences with Synology's latest home network-attached storage device, the DS411slim.

Pros: Small, quiet, really nice UI, very flexible. Photo sharing, surveillance cam UI, fast pure filecopy performance. Plays well with other home devices, like Sonos.

Cons: Setup complex compared to WHS. Slow Time Machine performance, unbelievably slow thumbnail maker, lame backup app (use SyncBackSE instead), and you need to pay extra for extra surveillance cam licenses.

Your questions answered
Cian (pronounced key-in): I bought the 2010 white MacBook for college but I am running out of space on the tiny hard drive. I want to upgrade to the largest volume possible as I am a huge film fan. I've been looking at the new Western Digital 1TB 2.5-inch drives and was wondering if it would fit my MacBook or what would be the best option.

Rafe: Yes, the 12.5mm high drives will fit in current MacBooks and MacBook Pros. At least that's according to the reliable sources I have read. Background: most laptop drives are 9.5mm thick, and every 9.5mm drive will fit in every laptop that uses 2.5" drives. Some high-capacity drives are 12.5mm high, and not every laptop can accommodate those.


Brennan: I was wondering about your take on installing Soluto on a relative's computer that has a slow boot, and just leaving it. I use it on mine and love it, makes my boot time about 1 min 15 sec. Just wondering what you think the repercussions would be.

Also while I have you, what are some remote desktop solutions that you have had success with? I know you mentioned them in the fixing relatives' computers show but I didn't hear specifics.

Rafe: Soluto is fine. It's a little app that watches your boot and helps you identify what's clogging up your start-up, and it makes it simple to disable start-up items. Also try MSConfig if you want to get a bit deeper under the hood. It's built in to Windows. As far as remote desktop: use LogMeIn. There are plenty of others but this is reliable and free.

Seth: +1 for Soluto.


Rich the Recruiter: Due to the nature of my job, I'm asked to send a lot of e-mails at specific points in the future, such as: "E-mail so-and-so first thing tomorrow morning," "E-mail me a reminder at 7 p.m. tonight," "E-mail that guy again on Monday afternoon." My system now is to write the e-mails when I'm asked, save them as drafts, and then set some kind of reminder when they need to be sent: highly labor intensive, and very prone to mistakes. Are there any mail clients or plugins that will allow you to schedule e-mail deliveries?

Rafe: Outlook has this capability on Windows, don't know about Mac. See also LetterMeLater. Newer: Check out NudgeMail. It will remind you to send stuff.


Mike in MA: I recently purchased a Drobo FS and wanted to know the easiest way to get all my pictures, music, and video on there. I have some data on CD, DVD, flash memory, USB keys, and external hard drives. I know [it's] not the smartest backup plan ever. My main concern is duplicates and some photos which may have the same name but are different pictures in different folders, God bless digital camera naming systems, right? Also I don't want any files to be left behind accidentally. I'd like to be able to use some software to analyze these different sources and then sync them all to the Drobo. I'm a Mac/PC mixed household, free software would be better but pay is OK too.

Rafe: If you're trying to get all your date from multiple places in one place, finally, here's what I'd do: Copy the Mac stuff over first, then on the Windows PCs use Teracopy (free) as the file copy tool. It gives you a lot more control and visibility of file copy operations so you can decide what to do with duplicate or same-named files as you copy them in.


Dan: I have Verizon Fios with their DVR, and have used it to make recording a fair bit of video. Now, I am moving out of state to a city that doesn't have Fios. What is the best and cheapest way to transfer my DVR recordings to an external hard drive so I can take them with me?

Dong Ngo says: It's close to impossible. Two things here: How to copy the files; and how to read the files at the new locations. The files are in Linux format, so you can probably open the box, take the hard drive out and copy the files onto an external hard drive (you must use a Linux computer). The problem is they are all encrypted (speaking of content protection), so reading them is an entirely different story. In short, it's not even worth it to try.

John Falcone: Agreed. He might try using a DVD recorder, or a PC with an AV input, but that would require playing back the video in real time, and just recording it straight-up--very time consuming, and limited to standard def. (And the output is probably copy-protected by Macrovision, so it might not even work anyway.) Honestly, the better option may be (1) making a list of the shows/movies in question and (2) looking for online viewing options thereof (Netflix, Hulu/Hulu Plus, Amazon VOD, iTunes).

Declan McCullagh: Yep. And if using a Mac, there's EyeTV, which can accept video from component, composite, and S-video sources. If you really care about your TV recordings and want to preserve them in perpetuity (most people don't), it doesn't make sense to rely on a proprietary solution like a Fios DVR.


Reid of the Catskills: I wanted to throw in my two cents regarding Ico's e-mail from last week regarding LastPass. It's still true that it's a single point of failure, but really, so is every other solution I've ever heard of. If your passwords are the un-rememberable gibberish that they're supposed to be, then you're going to have to record them somewhere and that location, be it an encrypted Evernote document, encrypted Excel sheet (my former solution), or a piece of paper, is your single point of failure. If you, on the other hand, do the 'hashing algorithm' solution (hashing a master password with the URL of the Web site), an attacker only needs to view two of your passwords side by side to figure out all the others. All things considered, LastPass is probably more secure than these other solutions, especially if you use its multifactor authentication option.