The Real Deal 175: All-questions show

Rafe and Tom answer tech questions about getting Microsoft software for cheap, the security of bank apps, and more.

Tom Merritt Former CNET executive editor
6 min read

Rafe and Tom answer tech questions about getting Microsoft software for cheap, the security of bank apps and more.


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Hey Tom and Rafe,
Fairly new to the show and enjoy it. Two questions, how secure are those apps from Wells Fargo or Bank of America to check your accounts. Is there any difference between accessing via 3g vs wifi (in regards to security not connectivity)? Second question is about the apps that manage passwords, account numbers, etc. They are encrypted, and some will delete the info if you incorrectly enter the password a set number of times. To me this seems to be the same as carrying a wallet.

Am I safe using these apps?


Answer: The apps themselves are fairly secure it is, as you noted the network connection you need to worry about. Wi-Fi encryption is notoriously poor, and often not properly implemented. However, if your app is using SSL, it shouldn’t matter. 3G is harder to crack, though certainly not impossible. Again, however, if the app is using proper SSL, it shouldn’t matter. Bank of America says the use “Advanced encryption”. Wells Fargo is more forthcoming saying they use 128-bit SSL.

As for password lockers, I leave it to Rafe. I haven’t used them because I see them as a single point of failure. But I’m getting very close to installing 1Password.

I have been using Roboform but it’s starting to break on advanced finance sites and I suspect it’s what’s making my Firefox slow. I’m considering XMarks. There are others. Most should be fairly secure — they use an encryption technology so that the PW is only decrypted on your local machine. But anything can be hacked.


Hey Tom and Rafe

When would the best time be to buy a budget laptop? I am looking at a handful of laptops under $400 and there are a couple but I am hoping to see some more pop up during a big sale or something, when would this be?

I would get a netbook but I am visually impared and my screen magnifier program would have a hard time running on a netbook.



Erica says: Get the Dell Inspiron 11z – $399 on sale, just launched, Celeron. Runs Vista. Intro price, it will likely go up before it goes down.


Yo Tom and Rafe!

I need a free way to somehow reverse some video clips I have, as if you were watching the video backwards. Is there any software, tool, extension to windows movie maker or anything I can use to reverse the video and audio in a clip?

Thank you!

-George B.

You mean… THIS? “The Blaze Media Pro software includes a powerful and fast video editor feature with the ability to mirror (reverse) AVI, MPG, WMV, and ASF files with ease.” http://www.blazemp.com/mirror_video.htm

Or, in Win Movie Maker, see this tutorial: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O4NBP0UFm3c&feature=related

I was listening to a teacher podcast. They were talking about copyright
and a court case involving Google. It was the one that said Google could
include images from sites in its search results including the news page.
Their interpretation was because the images were in line links and the
image wasn’t stored on google servers is what made not a copyright

So they suggested that teachers making webpages/blogs/wikis use in line
links instead of finding something under creative commons and using it.

But I thought doing this caused problems for the original web page
owner. It was my understanding that this type of link taxed the server
and could cause a website to get in trouble with their hosts if there
was to much traffic. I remember vaguely incidences of sites being turned
off for exceeding their limit or owners replacing pictures with rude
images because the link was causing them trouble.

Is it ethical or legal to use this type of link/image? Either way I
think I will stick with creative commons stuff – seems easier.

The teacher from Texas

Answer: It’s a fair question whether inline images are illegal, but it’s certainly unethical. You’re stealing bandwidth from someone else. And you’re not Google, so a court might rule that even though you’re not hosting the image you’re still making unfair use of the image. But the end answer is the same. If you use inline images you give the person who hosts the image at least one if not two big reasons to hate you.

All the more reason to watermark your images. To put someone else’s image on your site, get permission, use CC images, or use a service that’s built for hosting, like Flickr. But keep in mind that if that site goes does or the image gets moved, your content will break.

Hi Tom and Rafe!

I’m looking to buy an inexpensive PC (Studio Desktop from Dell w/ E7500 processor). The system is going to be used with my 32″ HDTV to watch streaming video from Hulu and Netflix. The PC salesman tells me that I should get a discrete video card for an additional $100 because I will be “disappointed” with the video performance of the Intel GMA X4500HD integrated graphics system. The Intel website specifically says that the X4500HD is suitable for Blu-ray playback. Isn’t Blu-ray the most demanding kind of video to play? Bottom line, will this system indeed “disappoint”, or is the salesman just trying to pad his sale?



Answer: You probably want the discrete graphics card. But Rich Brown says – First, I’d point him to this system instead: http://reviews.cnet.com/desktops/gateway-sx2800-01/4505-3118_7-33699400.html. Cheap, fast, living room-sized, HDMI-out.

For that system, he shouldn’t have a problem with the integrated chip streaming standard def. video. He can always take it home and try it out for himself. If he finds that he’s not happy with the quality he should first make sure it’s not his network connection. Once he rules that out, then it might be time to shop for a video card, but he certainly doesn’t need to spend $100. A $75 or even a $50 card upgrade will provide enough of a boost. But again, he shouldn’t need one for standard def. content.


Tom / Rafe - I sent the below to TiVo's spokesperson. Am I telling them the truth when I say the issue described is increasing costs to TiVocast providers such as CNET?

Tom W.
Littleton, Colorado


Most of the providers of TiVoCast content (e.g. CNET, Revision3, etc) do not restrict their content from being copied. They especially want TiVo subscribers to be allowed to copy downloaded videos among TCDs in their home rather than having to subscribe to the TiVoCast separately on each TCD, which increases the content provider's bandwidth costs and uses up subscribers' bandwidth caps. Yet multi-room transfer is blocked for Rivision3 and CNET content as well as all other TiVoCast content, erroneously citing that the content owner has restricted the feature. Correcting this issue will decrease costs for your TiVoCast providers and increase usability for your subscribers. J


Answer: I suppose so. Although bandwidth costs are pretty cheap. But if a show was only downloaded once and shared between rooms instead of downloaded twice or three times, then that by definition saves us bandwidth.


Just finished listening to Ep 174. May want to let other listeners know
that currently, Parallels 4.0 on OS X only supports Windows 7 in
experimental mode, i.e., there will be some weird behavior, such as not
being able to pin any application to the Taskbar or the Windows main menu.

RE: Ep 175–An All Q show–will there be any answers? That title makes
me laugh every time. Thanks for all the hard work.



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