Saturday, January 23, 2016

Some tips for finding what you want to watch on Netflix - January 22, 2016

Netflix has become a force of nature. It is credited with the downfall of the video store – even mega-giants like Blockbuster, when its primary business was mailing DVDs.

Netflix has more than 70 million users worldwide. This is bound to grow dramatically, as it recently announced 130 new countries will soon have the streaming service.

It’s grown so large that it now makes its own high-quality TV programs, like “House of Cards” and “Orange is the New Black.” 

Its original series are frequently nominated for Emmys. Actress Uzo Aduba won two for best supporting actress for her delightful portrayal of Crazy Eyes in “Orange is the New Black.”

Netflix’ streaming service has changed the way many people watch TV. Who binge watched entire series before Netflix? Now people think nothing of sitting down on Saturday morning and cranking through entire seasons of a TV show in one sitting.

One huge frustration with Netflix is finding something to watch. Netflix does not have a category showing you all the movies. It recommends genres to you and shows you movies in them.

Read the rest at www.FamilyTechOnline.com


Saturday, January 16, 2016

Family Tech: Consumer Electronic Show doesn’t have all the new gadgets, but a lot of them - January 15, 2016

No sooner do the holidays end, then the gadget universe turns to Las Vegas and the annual Consumer Electronics Show.

I’ve written about half a dozen post-CES columns now. At first, I expected everything promised to be released during the year. The last couple years I’ve been positively disheartened, having re-read the previous years’ columns and realizing little shown in Vegas actually made it to Best Buy or Amazon. In this case, what happens in Vegas shouldn’t stay in Vegas. 

Hopefully I’ve gotten better at differentiating between the pie-in-the-sky and products that will ship. I’ll know when I re-read this column in a year.

One thing that got my attention this year was retro products. Both Tekniks and Sony showed turntables for playing vinyl records. In a nod to digital, the Sony has a USB port so the records can be converted to digital files. Vinyl is in a comeback, with vinyl record sales on the increase.

Kodak released a Super 8mm film camera, its first in decades. The firm is hopeful film students still want to use traditional film movie cameras. When the film is sent in for developing, it is automatically scanned into a 4K high quality digital file.

Facebook announced it will begin shipping its Oculus Rift Virtual Reality device March 28, and it will cost $599.

This is the first of the VR headsets expected this year. It will require a fairly high-quality gaming PC to support it. All in all, users may have to spend $1,800 or more for an adequate PC and the Oculus Rift.

Read the rest at FamilyTechOnline.com


Saturday, January 9, 2016

Family Tech: Not Many Places in the County to fly Drones - January 8, 2016

Apparently my wife read my column about gifts that geeks would want and I found a drone was under the tree.

It was not really something I would ask for, which I guess makes it the best kind of gift.

I have been intrigued by them, and sold remote-control airplanes and helicopters back in high school at Loreski’s Hobby Shop in the Pittsburgh area. I’ve had buying a remote-flying toy on my bucket list.

These new quadcopters are easier to fly and, when coupled with a camera, would jibe nicely with my photography interests.

And I’m not alone. The Federal Aviation Administration reportedly expected a million drones to be gifts this Christmas.

Yet, it is not easy being a drone owner in Prince William County. I previously wrote about a five-mile no-fly zone around the Manassas Airport.

Fairfax County residents had to worry about a no-fly zone in a 15-mile radius around Reagan Airport. What I didn’t realize is that in September, pretty much unheralded, the FAA increased that radius to 30 miles around Reagan.

That eliminates flying a drone outside in most of Prince William County.

If you go to this week’s link post at FamilyTechOnline.com, I have maps showing the drone no-fly zone. You have to go south of Quantico and west to Gainesville to legally fly your drone outside.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Family Tech: Giving good guys access to encrypted messages may give it to bad guys - January 1, 2016

Following the recent attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, California, some politicians are again trumpeting the need to give law enforcement access to all encrypted messages.

The theory is, if we could read the texts and email terrorists send and receive, we would know their plans.

A law would require makers of encryption products to build a backdoor into their software that law enforcement would access.

FBI Director James B. Comey has long advocated law enforcement be given this tool. The New York Times reported recently it appeared Comey had lost an internal struggle within the administration to force Apple, Google and others to decode messages for law enforcement.

It is unclear how, or even if, security software made in other countries could be compelled to provide backdoors to U.S. law enforcement.

The easiest way to understand how this might work is to look at a physical system. The Transportation Safety Administration requires the ability to unlock suitcases for security inspections. There are luggage locks that give you a unique key to your lock, but also allow a TSA master key to open the lock.

This is the best of both worlds, theoretically. Only you and the TSA can open your luggage.

At first glance, giving this same kind of protection to digital suitcases (i.e. messages,) seems like a no brainer; let law enforcement read messages, but keep others out. 

There is another side we need to consider.

Read the rest at www.FamilyTechOnline.com