Ep. 14: How to go off the gridHeading out of town? What are you going to do about e-mail, your Facebook followers, and your Farmville account? We have tips. Also: Your questions answered, including how to extend WiFi range, and fix a Droid's messed-up contact list.
Welcome news CNET news -- Our show we try to answer your tech questions. Keep you from getting mired in in the asthma of confusion of technology primary Phelan and I'm just -- and I have more. Longer beard than you did not not for long upload. Data challenged -- -- now. I'm gonna vacations there with like a Mac you -- now admittedly -- that's right we today we're going to be talking about vacations. Vacation tips or rather. We're taking vacation -- and giving you some advice on how to prepare your digital resources for -- off the grid vacation. They're gone away. Hebert going to be sending emails they're going to be. Trying to follow your -- that -- -- queries on FaceBook direct messages on Twitter. You've got farm bill account yeah and you go away and everything withers on the -- how do you handle preparing your Digital Life. For -- off the -- vacation. This is a difficult challenge you can't just walk away -- -- -- the -- he keeps -- -- You know you can't walk away just come back to an overflowing email box but the problem is that people think you're being rude you don't respond and you have these things that Levon in the virtual world that will. Runaway and I. So what -- do. There travel options we actually asked readers who we start with that you know -- that still allow. We asked you our beloved -- the rescue readers. You know what are some of things you do when you go on vacation -- the first one is obviously -- email signature. But this is uninteresting. Change your emails to ensure a head of time so maybe a week before you leave for vacation save it and going to be gone during this time and -- times in May be -- that contact would -- -- you. Next week they'll send you this week and so I mean and that's on the and seen before that and makes sense also you know that -- out of office the believe. It that's pretty obvious. You know what I do on that. I sent my out of office if I'm if if I'm say. Friday is my last -- I'm gonna work full day on Friday. I actually turn my out of office on on Friday morning that's -- -- to because my brain is like on vacation anywhere right just to get it get things going. Well that's an Alex you know with two laps he can actually set it for particularly damaged that -- and which is awesome yes for the north all the people always forget when I -- -- To turn off aero you do or you know maybe it's going Saturday and Sunday and you may be coming back and Monday and you don't want it to send everything. That's going on and although sometimes that's not a good idea we have a tip from branch here he says I usually monitor everything by Blackberry or plug in somewhere with a laptop. Responders and in -- vital ending the war or make note of everything else but I don't use email notifications. Because auto responders do little more than -- spammers that your account is valid that's a very good point. An auto responder will flag your -- them to spammers old -- that I just works but if you have good anti spam technology don't be so much for problem I thought about that. But there's no way. That well first I'm gonna be some -- -- literally is no no cellular coverage so that won't work. That is the that is the flip side of the auto responder -- To a more intensive. Being the man is from our listener law when this is don't take any Internet ready devices with you. You'll end of checking things many won't be able to put it down this is also true yeah. It's hard to get up the -- although there was a study recently -- where people went off the grid and it showed that made the momentarily smarter. -- I think that of that that advantage evaporates once you come back in her garage with 101000 emails -- Also if you're going to an area with no cellphone coverage set your voicemail greeting message saying that to you this is actually fantastic idea there and if it's really important and leave a message that he will call -- Mac as -- -- you can. Particular idea is to let them -- you trust take care of that for you. I don't know how you do that that's what mothers in law mother in laws are -- or you can hire somebody one of these concierge services. They're available now for two to monitor you know where you that's the best thing to do have a trusted assistant or something like that or -- ever Google Voice and if you set it to you. You can just set up and a vacation auto responder. Why it -- now so it's oncology during certain time. It we get that that's certain voicemail messages and go back in a certain day -- -- I got a I like this one of the things that we we we we mention at the top here is these. Things that have a life of their own when you're -- like your farm bill crime ring. For example so I put a question on Twitter saying what -- -- in farm bill and the honey -- on -- does that mean this great advice. Plant the crops take the longest to grow. Because arguably -- somebody else for -- while the run that's -- it and it's. I don't know I don't play it again. The so here's a couple of tips that that I have. Bristled out of office -- and -- -- -- And clean out your inbox first so you don't come back to a -- house I -- -- -- box. You know just make it so you come back to the screen as possible that's why so my. Auto responder to go up in the morning that I'm actually still -- I have time to flush everything out of the system. -- other thing of course is there are a lot of another thing course is. If you're taking digital devices with you like phones or the slates or tablets that you wanna be able to watch movies on -- computers. Be sure -- or rip all that stuff here. Computer first you take dvds and crap like that just rip at all -- I'm prepping my iPad for -- I'm going with my son and we're going to -- -- airplanes for four hours. And hanging around airports for awhile so I basically ripping a whole ton of dvds that I have -- to the iPad -- in. Also downloading books because -- be able to do that wants them weren't going and Kindle so it's within that. So on the email front what I do -- this is not nearly as exciting setting an iPad then is I set out. Any sort of messages from my boss to get forwarded. Two and other personal email accounts -- be checking my work account but if there is an import them cent just to me from my boss and it'll get sent to that account. Notices -- -- -- way that you know may be. Here's boasted easily on Monday get -- you know when I -- the Sunday -- nine it gets sent straight to you instead. Then that's good idea to before I believe you can -- a service like ping or something else actually -- -- use a text message you don't -- -- thing. And I've done for. Vacations is getting a little far field here is take the sim card out of my Smartphone back when -- had a smart from the use the regular sim card with the iPhone for. And put it into an old Nokia phone. Which have like nine days of battery life today I didn't have to worry about keeping -- -- charge -- -- -- communications covered when I was in range and it afterward up charger. -- that the iPhone now and more importantly you know -- I did I was just and you semi last weekend and we brought -- -- among the first of those on here but the -- Mac charger has globally USB port -- And I use it to charge to top of my phone that I think are ways like nine pounds though you have them on back backing -- obviously -- that I just thought that there and -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- be charged. You had a great tip of farm bill here oh yes so for farm on old we ruler anything else reduce expected people to come back day -- -- -- The state on -- vacation in her you know can't -- whenever. So that you don't need to communicate in directly that's a good idea because those apps don't have and the concept of out of office right. But you can foresee it Hackett for your avatar rates are. The tip sent. Oh what else I love or -- under -- -- -- -- that if you're -- Netflix user you're gonna be on for you know maybe a week -- -- And you're not can -- the dvds you're not constrained you can actually get extra time on your account. I putting on hold -- -- this is a feature you can you anywhere from seven days to three months. And you just set the day you're gonna be gone. And then you come back to reactivate seep in on a Mac is that it's reactivate while money saving tip from Josh that's right and the only stipulations that you need to send all the dvds -- -- in the whole period. Okay that's great is obviously makes sense because you're basically not paying for anything. But still that's a good tips are right so everybody have a -- -- -- makes you smarter. And get outside and free from pressure so let's take some questions we have a bunch that he no -- if you have one and you would like to call us with that you can call. 1888900. To six create that's 1888900. C and he he and will try to answer your question live our first question from email from -- McDonald says. I've got a dvd RW drive and I'm afraid might be on its last legs it's a -- drive which I've looked at the model number before and came up with a little help. The problem is that it reads data disks but not actual feature store bought movies. While burn copies of them. These do work you think this is fixable or should -- -- shell out the -- bucks or so for a new drive since the Sochi. Right so there's that -- -- options the first ones obviously by you know by new drive is maybe that'll work. -- she -- test to make sure. Your drive is still working before you do that means it might just be a software issue. So this -- one the easiest ways to test is update the latest drivers or if you already have those try rolling back to an earlier version -- if that work. -- -- to -- how to on rolling back drivers which we like in the show notes. Another option is tried booting up with the the dvd that your windows machine came life. And if they can do that -- you know it's a software issue -- not an actual hardware issue. So you know like that the recovery C you know elective to bring windows back -- it -- usually to boot in this availability mode nothing he -- -- -- that he can't use our movements. Right. But he can still -- dvds through DirecTV RW's and he's burned right -- Okay so try that and then that anything else yes and if you if this guy happens to be on Vista there's a known problem with -- OS. And it's included burning features for CDs and dvds. The -- pay your driver -- disks. So there's instruction that disable it which currently works for some people in us -- that might be another option but you know on if you -- minute drive it's not that expensive him at the time. Michael Gaffney wrote to us is that I've been granted permission to use a neighbor's Wi-Fi signal log on on weekends that it visit my in laws a weekend retreat what is and let's I'm going. The problem is the signals so we that I must sit out on the porch to get an adequate signal weather and temperature become an issue at this point I can -- that. The question is what can I use for my location to boost the signal to a level where I can sit inside the comfort of the weekend retreat and get online for browsing and email management. I prefer something inexpensive compact and portable electric equipment that's not clutter -- in -- summer home. -- couple things you can do there is actually something called Wi-Fi signal booster and we linked to it it's. One that I found here at sixty dollars hawking hi gain HSE two Wi-Fi signal booster. And it does exactly what you want put it. Outside on the porch run power to it maybe put it under take down all of Tupperware or something that doesn't get wet I don't know that -- weatherproof. And that will extend the because he Wi-Fi adult -- from where it gets it to. You know obviously inside out of Japan on the porch right the other option of course is you get six dollars -- the parts and build yourself a Pringles Wi-Fi -- -- -- booster now that is a highly directional. Antenna. That you have to point directly at the Wi-Fi routers in the other house that you -- -- is the real point -- -- -- -- -- the signal right right. And you don't have to fend off of act you know only needs a couple parts that that we can project in. In any duty to Pringles -- I don't expect your fertility levels hunted down side and look at it. Remember if you like well -- 18. 88900 CNET one hated it and hundred you know may be muted not the best options as the Canadian laws on one point one of Pringles can attach the back -- -- You can camouflage yeah he could put a little burden -- perch on the top and a few prominent. Here's an iPhone question from Valencia. I listen every week. I recently brought bought the iPhone for unlike the three G whenever I pull away the screen I guess my face on the phone it does not light up like the previous versions and -- have to figure how to push the buttons. Especially -- to punch in a number also I hate that now that I'm likely hit the speaker hold button by mistake. Does anyone know how to solve this issue thanks in advance. See if this is a problem of the proximity sensor this is you -- -- as they had in the Apple Store and show them the problem and action. If you can actually this happen every single time the device. It's not happening with another iPhone for is clearly hardware issue -- that it's actually looking into this problem although the reports of this -- pretty scattered. At -- and I read a lot are seen a lot of people headlines about the proximity sensor issues that seems to be an ice isolated to. A small percentage of people. Yet it sounds really annoying it does yeah. Live you know I'm running the developers right now apparently they've been working on it and never had any problems but I didn't have any problems before either I guess is the shape of your head. Your your head is -- -- -- of Apple's gonna tell you. Here -- you're talking it wrong. Okay Adams says enough seriously just going to. Apple you don't if you can if you can make this happen every single time -- it's -- -- -- -- Adam says regarding -- -- my problem is that I just got my hands of the credits from Verizon that's a problem that's the phone. I pulled all my contacts over from -- phone and everything was fine but when I -- my phone to my Twitter and FaceBook accounts. It changed all the names in my contact list of their respective user names. I would like a way to be able to choose which name is displayed real or otherwise I tried linking and I'm linking contacts from their parents to no avail. You know any any desktop client -- -- -- can -- to resolve this. Yes is pretty recent feature an Android and and -- you know obviously for Detroit it's it depends on the manufacture its you know companies like HTC have a different system for linking Android and and -- sorry FaceBook and Twitter accounts -- intent right. -- -- have enjoyed acts in the office have tested out this out but I -- and a similar with the Nexus One which is you know what HD semen. So what he knew is going to Gmail and going to be contacts and if you edit the contacts it supersedes anything that you do anything advocates for Twitter FaceBook. You disperse in the you have to manually going to change things fix things back -- -- way to get it back. -- completely -- contacts and start from scratch from your old phone there. Yeah there are nine more but then I think it's you know that can -- contact manager just got a complete upgrade last week the very easy to use -- New love all stuff so if he had to lead a bunch people -- -- -- people it's not a problem in Japan and you know. I'm an official get better but for now so your phone to sync with your cool contacts than Google context of the place dimensional that is bill the that that's the -- That animals it or correct the -- way that you need to download it and right yes but they desktop real keyboard real mouse -- -- -- -- -- -- I bought a new ultra portable laptop with no dvd drive but I bought an external one. To avoid carrying around external drive how can I copy a few essentials -- -- up folks my hard drive. So -- can watch them when I'm on the road the disks are obviously my own original dvds I'm guessing it's not just a simple drag and drop. It is not just the simple drag and drop you can't just drag a dvd onto your hard drive on a computer -- -- -- he could but. It is actually not difficult there is a free app called hand brake. That basically will take the content from your dvd is called ripping I just like you -- and converted to file you can plan your computer now the one thing I will say. About using hand -- If you -- if you want to play these videos on your netbook. You might not want to run the hand -- converter on -- netbook as netbooks are generally fairly low powered -- wanna go to some to your own desktop computer or to a Mac or something. Mac desktop or or or MacBook. And do the ripping of your dvds there and then transfer the resulting file. Over here netbook it might be a lot less frustrating -- know -- -- -- to overnight as long student sit there and meet the your computer knows him. Actually -- let me add one other thing here about. About ripping dvds. I would as a set of top of the show and -- -- our topic today is is preparing content for going away. I tried -- a bunch of files that I had -- movie files. Not dvds that -- -- hand -- -- and the apps that I tried were incredibly slow they were slower than one to one until I tried air video. Yeah which is this little app -- That displays the video content on an iPad or an iPhone basically over the air -- Wi-Fi from your computer it also does converting. And it is with four times faster than anything else I tried so -- little -- it is but air videos are great transporter. -- -- -- -- -- And as. Has -- -- -- recommend that dvd shrink which is great I use this program for years since -- you know I don't really know legal it is but it's fantastic. This can take you know for her eight gigabyte dvd file and you know cram it down into -- hundred megabytes. He's submitted that dvd menus and stuff -- -- and and a third party app like. -- in the make deals here windows Maine. But if you are retain that and a feeling of watching a dvd vs -- the movie file it's doesn't make his order in. -- -- and you know it can do that that's very cool that's very cool like that. Jason says. I'm getting more more frustrated by the fact that when I plug my iPhone 3GS and two Windows 7 to download the pictures and videos it does it incorrectly. I'm using. Windows live picture gallery to get them off the phone but a -- of videos and pictures into the pictures category -- which after manually and have to manually move the video that is folder so my question is. Is their program that recognizes each media type correctly and places them in the right file location. I wanna throw a question out for the audience for the way to automate this although I will say though my advice on this and the easiest thing to do and it doesn't require any new software is don't use windows live gallery to download the images and use file manager so plugging your phone see it show up in as a device on your desktop -- -- there sort by type. Which is the one click operation and then just -- select the files that you want to move the video files and put them where you want and and the images and put them where you want -- it it'll take you ten seconds it's not automated. But it's extremely fast -- -- Cynthia on Mac incident -- -- something like iPhoto or aperture or some other photo editing program. Import pictures knowledge -- -- image capture is -- so much faster. -- cleaner right -- got a couple more tips and tricks for you after this quick work from our sponsor. -- yeah one more interest in question here before go to comments. None Lindsay writes I'm looking for Gigabit Gigabit routers that supports QOS -- quality of service. Which is and is easily easily configurable for magic Jack which is VoIP app which is -- -- you need -- Wi-Fi is not required it would be nice I have no need for -- sport AUSB share. So I asked my Twitter followers what they recommend for the best QOS -- -- out there and I got these recommendations. Some of them are very simple. -- IR 655 which is then when I have that -- -- highly configurable very good off the shelf routers. Other people said get a cheap Linksys and then put the DD WRT firmer on there if you want wireless. People said another once had used the WRT 54 GL plus the tomato firmware. With this makes for effortless communicate configuration with q.s and VoIP and it's very robust as well. And finally. Smooth wall is free and open source and can run any machine so this is turn an old computer into a a -- -- And you know if you're running around her on a PC have a lot more configuration options Darren Kitchen was on. -- -- earlier today. Said get an X 86 and run the untangle free software you need to network cards would -- if we can do anything you want the things they wouldn't be very green. Well it would be -- -- machines are not being used for anything -- -- wouldn't -- -- -- so there. But it would take a lot more power I mean Apple and PC takes the power of one of these -- -- -- -- -- behind your rocket's bottom yet -- -- -- processors that aren't nearly as power efficient. Yeah. -- and -- that we got a couple comments here. Thomas says after having my wire -- featured on -- to the rescue earlier I felt inspired and obligated to clean it up. After about four hours of yanking all the wires and started from scratch I was able to -- the wires quite a bit and I attached pictures that we have those. Let's look at the before it. If we can. -- -- -- Now that's outside -- -- -- that's looking into an old that's the can down down between a wall and and I don't know what it is what a mess let's look at and that's when the -- -- check -- there. After cleaning up taken our advice and clean up we get. Sorry but you guys are just listening to that audio. While you can see there's a Florida there and the wall. -- use those little cable wrap. You think between eight and it obviously were informed. Just let's -- an excellent -- So this comes from -- then. And he says hey guys I called and a few weeks ago asking that -- did it data tethering on the Windows Mobile phone you guys recommended me a program called PDA net. I was a little skeptical at first but I downloaded the free seven day trial and it worked beautifully. So I just purchased the full version I am glad to tell you I am rating this message for my laptop using my phone for the Internet. Thank you for another great tip the. Cool. All right and let's see we got one and moral here. Jose says. That's all -- I saw -- show for the first time they like it. You can pouring into your great -- an answer for your caller to want to know about the free tethering and as HC phone with Verizon. The best way would be for him to flash -- phone with custom firmware instead of the crappy Verizon software. -- reputation of crippling phones on purpose. The little angry with my favorite site for custom firmware and free apps is this forum -- XT eight dashed developers dot com put that in the notes. They are HTC firmware fanatics over there and they always willing to help out a -- that's willing to learn. I currently have an agency -- with tethering a Wi-Fi rather an -- just EPA enabled all three Internet intentionally taken out by eighteen he. And custom firmware is the way -- -- who little cooler looking. -- and best of all. -- so right you know one -- you know here's an if you flash your firmware what's on the custom made void your warranty -- clearly if you have when he phones that so for year old the -- he's probably gone anyway it's. So there that's worth mentioning. Worth a shot the -- mean I don't anger the gods of Verizon. There are the anger -- he or whatever it is. Alright again like to thank our sponsor Blackberry messenger if you have a tech question for us you can send it to. He -- BBN use the pin code at 2482. EV 89 that's 2482. Echo Bravo 89. And next week. We got Josh. Your handset and -- -- what -- document do Israel didn't do and that's. Now we January -- -- -- here using. Doing -- test may -- and your questions send them to rescue at cnet.com follow us on Twitter I'm -- -- And -- -- Josh. To the two for a literature -- Are right I'll be gone until. The next to showed no the next. Just an -- out of -- want to back the week after. -- -- --