CNET to the Rescue #40: Dan Ackerman and the mini man-caveCNET's New York laptops reviewer, Dan Ackerman, joins us to talk about how he's building a media room in a tiny Manhattan apartment. Also, your questions answered, including: How many anti-virus apps do I need?
I really love to -- to -- news. I'm Rick -- San Francisco and I'm joined today through no. Lack of trying by Dan Ackerman in our New York office. And -- dialing in. Hello there Rafe I'm joining you from our very high tech. Probably multi million dollar podcast video studio here and Eric. -- small web -- -- -- the F Hugo blew and for those you're watching the podcast the reason that -- looks little bit blue today. Is because we just spent half an hour trying to get her to CBS sequel if it. Network studios connected to each other they only do the video began with actually get him on Skype on a laptop which is to my left and point the camera add him though we are. Tech and and then they'd immensely diver like solution and Kelly of their trying to white balance and give up Kelly you know what I'm -- -- the light behind me see if that helps. -- -- -- -- Anyway thanks everyone for joining us to the rescue not to Cingular out of care act on -- compared with. This show we try to solve your technical problems and where were we when we needed us. And anyway. Today we -- going to talk about some -- stuff on particular man decades and since Dan Ackerman stories from New York studio in Manhattan. Manhattan mini -- in case to be more precise. And then we're going to be taking your questions on PC stuff we've got a much mentioning peace and security questions. In some stores stuff and and update on the protests for -- -- been watching. In the past couple weeks we've been talking about -- technology EDS for eleven slim which is going on six weeks now and it's still making thumbnails just in case you're wondering and the time machine back -- have failed it's giving me some mismatch on the amount of disk space available vs the amount I have. Allocated for the time machine quota. On that particular. User. ID and it's failing on them back -- the -- -- And also we have problems with that today -- Twitter with them I just think it's one of those days the other day and the Internet yet. Analysts say this I had another failure speaking of protests before -- into the -- -- Topic. My iPhone. The power button failed it just gotta -- down and stopped working and -- I -- appointment with the the the the Apple concierge at systems announced or -- -- house. And I took my phone in to the Apple Store. They said. Oh who are you -- that -- -- and this is my iPhone it doesn't work meant that only your right here's a new one. Now that. In and out. Seven minutes couldn't believe and I restore from a back up at home. And iTunes and I don't know any other device -- -- panel or I talked about the orient the oil by the loud -- and -- talked about -- -- -- -- but. Wow I'm just thing for all that though harsh and I do on Apple. I've never had a better customer service experience that -- technology in my entire life. Kudos to Apple for making right thank you. I've had the same situation my little mute button fell off. -- iPhone in their name that into the back and came out with they new one every new refurbished and I I agree with the and they were nice about it. That's what really got me and yet it's generally pretty have ideal I didn't know what to do. They were nice. I wasn't ready and you're ready -- yellow people and you didn't happen I -- all that pent up energy council and geared -- -- Let's talk about what you've been writing about recently the meaning man cave it. Council of it about this project -- what what you've learned. As -- -- -- New Yorker obviously amused to living in less space than people and other parts of the country do it and -- part -- -- -- -- I moved last week after many years from one -- -- -- to the other to a slightly bigger apartment. And I was able to to grab one of the rooms in this department to use as my sort of multimedia Dan as opposed to just having a big living room where -- like all kinds of stuff happen. So in this room not really that big -- about down eleven a half feet by eight feet with a little closet on one side so it measures about 105 square feet. And dad to need to a New Yorker that's something a pretty decent sized room to people elsewhere in the country that sounds like a walk in closet the -- the challenge was how do you build. A little multimedia -- flash many men gave in to this base especially because you've only got eight feet front to back could when he used it kind of lengthwise to fit in like a couch and -- -- and -- -- stuff though what I did was. I sketched out the room I scanned in the sketch put it in my little -- story talked about the equipment -- adequate and I was thinking of getting. -- of the problems I envisioned and basically just put up -- a blog post and solicited advice from. CNET readers who I'm sure are are much more home theater. Savvy than -- -- even for them because I'm putting people build these gigantic -- spaces and yup I've put it out there are fewer people have to say. And at that did you build your set up. I'm in the process of building and now. Some of the things I've been thinking about our number one I got a fifty inch TV right now and eight feet of clearance for one all the other -- not really a lot when you get fifteen TV that's kind of -- -- -- even though it's pushed all the way back against the wall now. First thing when -- tried to do to wall mounted just to get another 45 inches. Of of -- -- screen space but that's important and a number two is I've always been a surround sound guy. But in this small states were really wanna run speaker wire reports because behind me and of the science. I think you're going with one of those virtual surround sound sound bar systems as definitive Sony -- -- -- the CT 150. To replace having like you know I think the speaker -- two sides to backs and a subwoofer. Are are you going to outline your -- click repair. I have fabric on won a -- -- in -- to walls and I guess wallboard or whatever on on the other two. Part of the joy of living in a tiny your -- is enjoying your bricks those who know when in New York that covers up to break its its its its what makes the apartment school. Gonna be tough getting audio out we got one wall -- and the others -- And we usually have do you have playthings at lake minuscule volumes anyway do not disturb our neighbors who are -- -- walls a losing battle no matter what I'd rather have the please look cool. What are you gonna do I don't know if your console gamer but all these councils right now we know -- the of the PS3 with whatever is being motion controller. Yet a move that we -- -- -- the connect all those seem to be made for people who have mega mansions in Ohio and this you know forty foot. Rooms or even double wide -- -- insert your favorite stayed here this is true swing -- it first came out we wrote a story about. How most people New York did not have enough space between their -- to their TVD used to connect I had exactly six feet from the front of the couch. To the connect camera in my old apartment. And that was that worked in basically have to games half the time some things you just couldn't do and I -- other people with similar problems that we wrote about that. If I continue to use the connected PlayStation move or even the Wii. None of which are really use that often even though I do do allowed gaming stuff. Awfully put all that -- a bigger center room -- -- the apartment connected to a different TV because they'll be the motion gaming slash workout videos from my -- -- So the biggest question I have for you is you have extremely limited real estate in Manhattan and you managed to get a whole room carved out for your multimedia room. The big -- In dealing with your -- how the heck did you get that done have thought -- how to -- to do that. It was a tough one and -- -- Wheeling and dealing -- develop basically ceding the entire rest of the house to her. Though so she gets control of what -- in every other room and we've also got this is the other -- have nights will will cringe when they hear this. The department also has a 300 plus square foot private patio in the back. And with access to the real outdoors. Real outdoors is even a tree in the middle -- A tree grows in Manhattan -- -- -- I I will include some pictures of my follow up story. I can't wait to read a good luck Dan. As a somewhat related. And talk about hacking together -- set up. I just bought a 22 inch 1080 PTV for my bedroom I have DISH Network and a standard coax cable runs into my bedroom. How can I get the HD signal through the coax them ITV a receiver box is not a viable option for my current situation. Can you run. But if you wanna do north run. Dan what's he trying to do here. I guess I'd have to understand what I have DISH Network worked specifically I can't believe that they don't send -- -- signal down there. I think he doesn't -- use like either a cable box and DISH Network and -- saying he doesn't wanna put the receiver box. Under his television in his bedroom he wants to live somewhere else and run an HDMI cable to they can he only has you probably like you have -- Walton can't run cable or. Can you modem and you put an HDMI signal. There HD signal over -- I I can imagine you could but what I've done in with a similar thing that played around with -- -- in. There a couple of really good wireless HDMI transmitter slash receivers out there right now and the -- makes one HP makes one -- -- 200 bucks. There's too little boxes about the size of and they're just too little box that they've got four to -- -- just. Plug -- plug one into your source plug one into your TV and over like forty or fifty feet if you do wireless HDMI 1080. Even protected content. -- -- -- try that another great piece of advice from -- and chat room. -- from a common sense and chat room is they get a masonry bit and run cabling. Our eye I've also been drilling through some might prefer the Majorly bad that -- -- I don't -- Sylvia view owner -- A -- -- film depicts a pair of studio at John asks us it's that they want to keep my computer protective I was wondering how much security suffers too much. I have a vast vast immune net ZoneAlarm threat fire and other non real time software is this too much what should I get rid of Tampa man looked -- you know there's so much. They good. The thing I -- most commonly from people who are not regular computer uses -- what they -- a power users are the people who -- may be getting their first computer is that it within the first -- -- I think that kind of virus for everything -- -- with the computer I think I got tired yet here -- at the I think you're actually very few real viruses going around that people get because you -- downloads coming or click on something. Most of the time people have trouble with fight got more -- in scams like Phishing scams and identity scams and things like that. But you know what if you run -- Windows Defender is pretty -- the all the stuff -- comes built in with -- -- through -- Windows 7 -- pretty -- I use AVG myself -- You know this I mean did they to the firewall built into windows that he can use ZoneAlarm if you want I think that's probably good. And maybe once every six months -- and a -- -- page on here's my advice the first of all it can't the the short answer -- question is this too much is yes. So get rid of everything except one -- if you have a suite that's fine or use -- asked for antivirus a firewall built in your system. Most importantly is don't compute. Badly I mean don't just open up -- season files from everywhere don't go to bad site -- an email from your bank yet. Vote yes if -- but they don't look like the bank used a browser that has a modern browser make sure you running a completely up to date browser. And that -- growth security features and it turned on -- it alerts you to Phishing scams and stuff like that. More most people have way more threats. And perceive way more threats -- -- their actually being attacked by. You don't need all TSA really. What that with the TSA yes security fear as they yes. Security theater is now playing on your laptop and you don't need it otherwise your computer's doing nothing but trying to protect itself against imagined threats and there's no. Ports power left over to do what you want which got -- computer for. Remember -- your computer it's not to run security stuff is the do the other stuff. So get a lightweight antivirus that use the built in firewall you'll be fine good look on installing all that stuff -- that's gonna be -- -- Our next question. And -- -- says is it possible to backup the data in my house to -- hard drive at another location for free. I'm curious that there's that -- such a technology such as using pull the plug at another location. Pope looked great product -- talk about a lot your thoughts you have an alternate solution gathers actually quite good solution it's called crash plan. I've talked a lot about back -- technology whether. You backup your home for speed or to the cloud force security and you know disaster prevention everything -- down so -- -- white stuff. Crash plan has services that are both free and paid. But for the free service what he can do with -- -- you have your mom has the computer and you have a computer you come back up your hard drive to your mom's. Computer and she can back up to your hard drive and -- created your own you know private -- of storage. And if you're using just your computer and some and some -- -- we know -- they can't read your files encrypted. And secondly I believe it's free so crash plan is the answered your question can I back up to a -- -- at another location for free. And in fact -- haven't tried this I believe if that other location has pogo plug set up on it this is like a layer of difficult and -- -- -- And it's mounted as a regular drive you might even be able to crash plan to a pulled the plug mapped drive -- If you want to just for kicks. And what -- completed -- You know I think that's probably a good idea in -- that's also a bunch of you know. Anybody that's online free back up even some of the antivirus programs come with them online storage you can set it up to -- certain folders to back -- times and stuff. As heat coming off site definitely yes if you -- really valuable stuff but most people won't bother with that and it really won't buy most people I mean it's always a paranoid you -- Other laptop into the MacBook gets stolen the middle of a time machine back up and stand -- and -- that's why I've got a united a network attached storage unit there and keep everything -- there are right. -- -- act says. I agree with you regarding the first thank you. The problem is that for all the talk of VPCs the power consumption is also hard to find out especially in the reefer market my question is -- If -- computer is listed as having a 350 watt power supply does that mean it's going to be burning a minimum of 350 watts even if it's idling most of the time. Interest in technical question. And the answer to that is. Thankfully no. Power supplies draw as much power. As they need for the -- components inside the computer and then some for the conversion so if you've got a 350 watt power supply that's the maximum power draw it -- supply. The most the time you'll be supplying and drawing a lot less than that my PC at home idle. In -- very inefficient. Is about a 130 Watson at this but I know that's causing havoc and purple power supply -- has a watt meter on which is really cool. And it goes up to -- over 200. Or more when I'm you know playing heavy game -- the graphics card -- up all the power. Some power -- are more efficient than others meaning that they waste more energy in the conversion. Though looking for efficiency is something enough to be able find stuff that -- on -- -- used computers but that's just a little beat Elena. And -- PSU's work. By the way -- technology that it's still cranking away all those that thumbnails uses between sixteen watts idle and forty watts when it's really cranking formats that's -- low power solutions though. Some of those. Dedicated. Network attached storage prices are really low power that's true for you care about power at all -- around out there -- -- and more -- three -- I. I will actually point out to you that if you look at any. Desktop or laptop review -- or other categories for the last at least -- sell more in some cases we actually do power consumption testing. And post not just the power consumption but what we estimate it will cost you and dabble. For the most part of using a computer you don't even really need to worry that much -- the -- computer probably cost yet. Literally a couple of bucks a year in activities that not very much and I'll even be gaming system -- that's probably a little bit more. -- calculated my Windows Home Server being between 3040 dollars a year for power which is like to share a thought on all the time we -- is a model about how long it's wee -- -- is a model about what percentage time it's off what percentage -- -- -- but there's times just. On but aren't doing anything -- presented its doing kind of a load. -- like you know heavy duty stuff the based on that model. You know under ten boxes is very normal. But then you cover -- -- -- -- right right. I tried -- so we've got a question from Jonathan New Jersey. Next or you -- -- -- -- a thinkpad with an anti glare display but like so many laptops the viewing angle is heartbreaking on. So much so that I'm seriously considering the upcoming 900 to 15100 dollar thinkpad X 220 with an IPS display. I know I guess the answer in plane switching and they -- at the rather obscure display technology. Are there any other laptops that offer IPS with good viewing angles. It's one of the things that the iPad does better than most laptops -- some also oral laptop screens bottom -- or of any that are fully edge lit or with a full array of -- behind. At the interest in question -- I looked around and I couldn't find any other IPS laptops out there I believe there aren't gonna. -- other thinkpad models where it's an option and I think that on some of the HP pro line stuff to -- like the stream screen. Very professional quality screamed at like Hollywood computer animators used. That is also enough -- but very expensive. Now we're operated the -- -- the chat -- anything every Mac has an LED of course most laptops are a leading it when I'm not a lot of it left with only -- live right now and they're all like yes. I was checking the various forms of Portsmouth at that Macs are not IPS. But who cares when you look at him -- -- So and admitted to viewing angles and -- on most Mac books. Yet yes it is and it can vary so much from laptop to laptop believe -- their ideas out -- -- are not. It's really you've really got to go to the store and check it out look at -- from the -- a look at it from on top. It really is one of the weird things that very incredibly. Between models. Robert is gonna kill me if I don't acknowledge the fact that Mac -- -- current current MacBook RI PS. And I can attest they look great -- there -- -- again. It is cool to see that. Lenovo is offering that thinkpad with and I yet that's that's the new ultralight with with and I -- -- -- very rare option. You don't you -- -- options are very rare outside of business laptops -- now that's kind of sad you know if even more rarely do you think we all go -- And we all think they're better in the long run but the glossy -- what people buying. You know -- -- -- it by the -- squishy screens you know the sixteen by nine cinema displays which are great for movies but terrible for doing work and nobody is making anymore. Like four by three by -- you have the six McLemore by three well there's a reason. And for that and that's because the guys who make the glass. When they moved to sixteen by nine to sixteen by ten they can get one more display -- -- -- -- -- basically. And so they -- all the PC makers to move to sixty but I -- But what I'm saying if I want I don't forget sixteen by nine -- McKenna on the back before by three which is actually good for doing what I do which is right but that I got an old four by three. I 300 pixels high screen to be that will -- like consulate's. When -- -- that my apartment I found an old like 2003 -- -- -- whatever the four by free three screen it's -- deals that are right after it. This report okay good. And report real thinkpad -- that. -- -- it's the. We got a question a Mac question just to keep things. Mac -- a little bit today Mike -- -- a firmer question on the Mac what are your thoughts on the short term firmware pastor for the Mac or turn it off is it worth using. I asked Josh. If you're worried about that he says have a good memory and I don't think and don't forget your password. And open -- Patrick looks what's called the heart repair from Mac is called can be incredibly useful locking down machine itself. Not just what's on the drive this makes machine less of a target if somebody steals it. Possibly resulting in a ditch that'll make its way back -- you especially if you have the find my Mac. Feature turned on -- always the stable later so not a bad idea to do not do not forget the past. What's the what else we got here and able to quickly -- we live in such an era of Patrick hypocrisy yes we tell people to unload don't you know major -- -- unique for every site every site has different rules you may need to capital -- -- -- -- salmon numbers there but don't write it down anywhere and don't make -- -- similar I mean it didn't we've we've created a set of a best of best practice rules that are impossible. For anyone to find that after this I'm actually gonna go and change all my passwords -- right now they're also variation on the human and I would -- I guess I. Yes I'm easily get biometrics. Now what the dates at the cut your finger -- What what all these tools have done is created the necessity for password managers with which are great and I use one I -- and tell you which when he -- people trying to -- it. But their single point failures so you know exactly last past robo form -- one pass whatever and they'll work to some extent. And they synchronize your passwords growth devices which is really nice but if one of those systems gets hacked and so far none of them have to my knowledge world that. They're gonna be able to -- my genome I mean forget about. Are right so surfing the web says it's another Mac question I start college in the summer as I intend to go into Telecom's. There's no doubt any Mac times -- specifically looking into the fifteen inch MacBook Pro. However Apple also announced that Mac OS-X ten point seven lion will be coming up in the summer my question is should I wait for -- to come out. Also has a video editor -- -- final cut color -- studio final cut express have heard rumors that a new final cut suite is coming out. But again should I -- the current one or should I wait again going to -- she says on the -- great question. Go ahead and buy it to the machine to get now on line comes out if they've done anything like it done on the other. Oh with an upgrade if its -- like snow leopard which was the 29 dollar page should be cheap upgrade and fairly painless to do it. -- the final cut upgrade. Apple he says is rumored to be working on a completely new version of the program that's very different. And about time for new and come -- the last major release was July 2009. Timing might be at the NEB the National Association of Broadcasters conference which happens in a week and -- half. That's where with for that's for final cut with first debuted so in May commence -- -- they might wanna wait on that but don't wait on the PC there's no on the Mac there's no reason -- With type one more -- with -- -- of with a -- though of course and I reviewed fifteen inch MacBook Pro excellent -- aren't. Let's see. Last question here from. -- then. Now that Google has introduced its Microsoft Office cloud sync I use it to back up every homer stamina having -- or crash. And trust me it's happened before it was not -- happy camper. But I remember hearing that docks only has a one gigabyte cap. Does this apply to all in the which applies to files knowing in your in your clout think. Will I be forced to delete past documents also I don't understand how Google can handle unlimited YouTube up loads with hundreds of megabytes but not support. Ten like ten gigabytes of documents for free. Two different but related questions first of all. You'd get one gigabyte total storage limit on cloud sync. Fifteen megabytes per file maximum I don't know how they enforce -- but I guess they do they probably won't delete files without asking you but it might force you to delete the -- -- anyone's. You can buy additional storage if you want to put a link in the show notes to do that -- bullet you do that. So you and should nothing to take you by surprise using Google docs for storage. -- your other question how come Google will give you basically unlimited storage on YouTube but not on your personal files. Simple they make money on YouTube they serve ads every time you give -- bit they monetize it by putting advertisements on your YouTube videos. And they don't do that they don't make nearly as much money in it will serve you ads -- your personal files on your Gmail etc. maybe. But they don't generate the massive -- -- in the could make from -- viral video. That's like -- -- to give away so much stored on YouTube and not do it on personal files. -- -- That's it. Damn they go what do you say. I say that I love Google -- and they've moved all my -- over to it though. Yeah it's it's an indispensable tool all the ones coming to try to upload a PDF to open their -- have -- Acrobat on whatever computer was using -- it was too big Bolivia -- A really. To get -- there. So I I -- Evernote to compose. As people read my review of the new Evernote web will notice because Evernote -- that they discovered doesn't have inline spell checking with Evernote. Client side does so from -- post my review -- at some. Horrendously bad spelling sorry about that people who read that review. But I use that and sometimes Google docs and sometimes school buck stops working. It's been a lot when I first started trying to use it it did -- a lot better lately and -- obviously -- special scenario because I'm basically moving into a new laptop once or twice a week. Tell you anything cloud based is good for me I keep all my templates for reviews and stuff right on there what's your laptop of choice these days -- -- -- -- news on call. -- that is a good question I'm still like in the eleven inch MacBook Air. We had a big week a laptops this week which will continue for the rest of the week at three big ones command. Samsung series nine that's that super fancy MacBook Air like one that everyone was was was drooling over. Except at 16100 bucks which is crazy economic that's a -- as the MacBook. In it's it's it's basically more than the comparable MacBook Air. Though that's just insane but it's still a nice looking piece. -- -- -- which is the fourteen inch dual touch screen no keyboard laptop basically just -- -- Fourteen screens welded together with an on screen keyboard. Don't works better than you think it would still kind of an executive toy. And then third sequel to -- one of our favorite laptops from last year the most popular I think -- W on the site outside of Mac books. -- with the Toshiba -- JR 700 pounds the Toshiba -- they are 800 because they added the -- can leverage Intel chips and a -- Still pretty good still under a thousand bucks and almost double the. Her life left his model I love it battery review tomorrow we're finally getting machines with usable batteries a -- plus hours that's great Dan thank you so much for joining us. Always a pleasure -- -- sticking with all the connectivity problems at the top of the show appreciate that. And I can offer a quick plug -- failed read about the just now -- kept my little led digital city show every Monday 3 PM eastern or follow -- on Twitter -- -- accurate but it. Great -- hang -- for second. Everyone thanks for watching CNET to the rescue I'll be back on Friday for reporters' roundtable noon Pacific time assuming we don't have any more technical with with just however. Friday -- reporters' roundtable will be -- a great show on how the web is changing the restaurant business. Kind of a fetish of mine food service industry don't ask me why but it's gonna be really -- -- we've got. Things like. Foursquare Yelp open table -- hub group on all these businesses coming in and completely -- -- economics of food service. We're gonna be talking about that I've got a local restaurant tour who's coming in as well somebody who is doing its -- in the in the industry. That'll be noon Pacific and they're both going to be here in the studio this time. Kelly thanks for producing making it all work this time -- job. Thanks everyone for watching. Follow T this podcast on cnet.com slash rescue for all the notes. With unified thanks everyone.