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RAY: From WJCT studios in Jacksonville, Florida, I’m Ray Hollister,
TOM: I’m Tom Braun,
RAY: and this is Deemable Tech, technology worth talking about, and tech help worth listening to.
TOM: Got a question about your computer, smart phone, tablet or the Internet? Give us a call us at One Eight Eight Eight, Nine Seven Two, Nine Eight Six Eight, or send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
TOM: Today on the show, we’ll be talking about jailbreaking iPhones, and whether it’s illegal to unlock your smartphone, and
RAY: Blackberry 10 and whether you can get apps for your Pantech Renue, and
TOM: sharing music with Dropbox.
RAY: But first…
There were Two big tech news items this week. First of all, Samsung revealed the next phone in its line of Galaxy S flagship phones, the S4. Features include a larger screen with a 1080×1920, a 13 megapixel camera, eye-based scrolling and the ability to use it with gloves.
Tom, you’ve got a GS3. Are you thinking of making the switch?
TOM: To be honest Ray, I think I feel like you do about switching to the iPhone 5 when you have a 4s.
I think if you don’t have a Galaxy S3 or you have an older Galaxy, by all means you should wait a month and pick up the S4 when it comes out. But it’s not a quantum leap forward over the S3, and personally my S3 is still working really well for me. In fact I would say it’s continuing to get better. So I’m not going to rush out and upgrade just yet.
So what was the other big news?
RAY: Well Google has announced that as part of their annual ?spring cleaning’ they will be shutting down Google Reader.
– was my reaction upon hearing that news earlier this week.
Since Google announced that it was closing Reader, its news aggregator service, we’ve received several questions ranging from ?How do I live without it?? to ?What the heck is it, and why is everyone freaking out??
For folks in the latter category, Google Reader is the equivalent of a friendly butler that finds all of the news that you are interested in reading from the news sources and blogs you trust. Instead of having to open 10 different websites every day, you could open just one page whenever you wanted. It automatically gathered all of the stories that have been published by the ten websites you follow since the last time you opened the page.
Now you are probably just as upset that it is closing as everyone else, let me tell you the good news. There is hope. Other companies are stepping up to fill in the gap that Google Reader is leaving behind. Some of them work exactly the same as Google Reader does; others take what Google Reader does and improves upon it.
Google Reader Alternatives:
We’ll have a full break down of the available Google Reader Alternatives later this week. What are you using or planning on using to replace Google Reader?
Hey, I’ve been listening to your show, but I don’t often have a whole hour to pay attention to the computer at one point in the day. Also, sometimes I don’t have a huge interest in a particular topic (horrors!), but later decide I really want to know about something you spoke about in a past show. Anyway, would it be possible to put “sections” in the show notes? Sort of using the little music breaks as dividers, and saying, “In section 1, we cover these topics. Section 2, which starts at minute marker 20, discusses those; and Section 3, at minute 40, includes the others.” Then I could easily come back to the section where I had to quit listening, or quickly find a particular subject I’m listening to.
Perhaps there’s another way I could find that info, but my tech savvy mostly comes from pushing buttons and Googling answers to my questions, and I’ve not really done either of those with podcasts.
Anyway, thanks for the show!
–Breana in Jax
Thanks for your email, Breana. Well, we agree. Actually, that is something that we really want to improve about our website. A few of our older episodes do have that. We had the question and when the question started in the show. The problem is time. A lot of folks think we get paid to do this, which is a great compliment, thank you! But actually, we are all volunteers. Tom and I work elsewhere 40 hours a week. Sean does work here at the station, but he doesn’t get paid to do this. So, Deemable Tech takes about 30 hours a week combined to produce each episode of the show. Doing the show notes like that took about 2-3 extra hours each week, because you have to go through and listen to the entire episode again, write down when each question started, and then rephrase the question so that it’s a sentence instead of a paragraph. So, it doesn’t seem like a lot, but it actually ends up being a little bit of work, and I haven’t been able to do that since I started writing the blogs for Folio Weekly.
Now, we have found out that it helps radio stations when they are considering to air our show if we can provide a transcript of each show. That would be even more work, because some of what we say is scripted, but a lot of it isn’t, but I think that would be helpful to some of our listeners too. So again, we really want to produce better show notes, but we are limited in what we can do because of our budget constraints. You know, not having one.
Now, if we had a volunteer that wanted to help us, we might be able to bring that back! What we would need would be someone to come to the studio with us when we record or listen live online, and keep track of when we start new questions, and then take those notes and put them together with the show notes. Also, we’re looking for a volunteer to help us out with video. If you or someone you know would be willing to help us out, send me an email at email@example.com.
Q: My coworker has a jailbroken iPhone, and she keeps trying to convince me that I should let her jailbreak my iPhone too. My iPhone 4S is out of warranty now, but I’m still afraid of breaking it. I can’t afford to replace it right now. Not that I don’t trust her, but if I do it, I’d like to do it myself. Is it hard to do? Is it worth jailbreaking? Is there any chance I can get in trouble? What happens if something screws up, and my iPhone doesn’t work anymore?
A: I don’t blame you for being cautious. I had never tried jailbreaking an iPhone either until I received your email. I’ve always been a little scared to attempt to jailbreak my iPhone because I was worried it might break, too. But, I screwed up my courage and decided to give it a shot.
Is it hard to do? Not really. It used to be much harder. The first jailbreak required disassembling the iPhone! On iOS 6.0 through 6.1.2, as long as you have the most basic understanding of how to use your computer, you shouldn’t have a hard time jailbreaking your iPhone. In fact, I can assume that if you are considering doing it, you probably have the skills required to do it.
Is it worth it? Well, that all depends on what you want out of your phone. If you are content with how your phone works, and you don’t want to take any risks what-so-ever, then it’s probably not worth it to you. However, if you’d like to try use apps that aren’t allowed in the App Store, or you would like to customize your iPhone to work the way you want it to, or if you just like to tinker, you’ll probably enjoy jailbreaking your iPhone.
There are fantastic customizations like alternative keyboards and themes. There are tons of great apps that you can’t get in the app store, not because they have porn or have viruses, but because they work in a way that Apple won’t allow. An example is an app called iCaughtU that takes a picture whenever someone tries to enter your passcode into your phone and fails. Because the app uses the camera in a way that Apple didn’t design, they’ll never allow that app to be sold in the App Store.
Ironically, if you want to see what will likely be in the next version of iOS, check Cydia, the app store you get when you have a jailbroken iPhone. You know how you can take a picture by pressing the volume button? Jailbreakers had that first. You know how you can double tap the home button to open another app that you were just running? Jailbreakers had that first. You know how you can change your wallpaper? Jailbreakers, well you get the point. Many of the “new” features in each version of iOS are features that jailbreakers have already had for months or years.
Is there a chance you’ll get in trouble? Yes, of course, it could happen, but no, probably not, at least not with the law. The Library of Congress has said that it is legal to jailbreak a smart phone. Strangely, the same is not true about an iPad. It has to do with the vague definition of a tablet device. However, the lawyers for the movie, television and music industry are fighting to try to change that. When it comes to the law, especially copyright law, which is what impacts this the most, what is true today could be false tomorrow. Also, you could get in trouble with Apple. As of yet, Apple has never tried to take legal action against jailbreakers, but even though you aren’t breaking the law, you are breaking the terms of service that you agreed to when you set up your device. Obviously, if you do “brick” your iPhone (damage it beyond the point of repair) while jailbreaking your iPhone don’t even think about taking your iPhone to the folks at the Genius Bar.
What happens if you screw up your phone? Well, fortunately, that isn’t as great a risk as it used to be. If it does happen, you can usually just restore your iPhone back to its factory default settings. Don’t get too excited. You could still brick your phone. But it is much safer than it was a few years ago. Jailbreaking is dangerous. It’s risky. You are intentionally making something work in a way it was not intended to by the company that created it. So, in doing that, you take on all the possible risk and benefits on yourself. You’re on your own, but you’re not really alone because there is a whole community of jailbreakers out there that are willing to help you.
So, ultimately, I can’t tell you if it’s worth it. It’s up to you. If you want to do it, and you’re willing to take the risk, give it a shot. Check out guide on how to jailbreak your iPhone on Deemable.com.
Robert writes: I’ve heard that it is now illegal to unlock your cellphone. Is that really true?!?
TOM: That’s correct Robert. The Library of Congress decided that starting January 26th, unlocking your cell phone would no longer be legal.
RAY: Now, to be clear, that’s unlocking your cell phone. Not rooting or jail-breaking it, right?
TOM: Right Ray, or the Feds would be hauling you off to jail right now.
Unlocking your cell phone is when you buy a phone on one carrier, say, AT&T and then you want to switch to another carrier, say, Sprint, and take your phone with you. Ordinarily the phone is ?locked’ to the original carrier. Unlocking your phone allows you to use it on a different network.
RAY: There’s a few different ways to do this. Before locking became illegal (again) you could even pay some services to do an ?official’ unlock for you, at least for iPhones.
TOM: Right. They would just add your phone’s unique IMEI number to the database of unlocked phones and you were set. Now, obviously, that is no longer an option for US customers. So you would have to get a different sim card or download some software (yes Virginia, there is an app for that). But if you did so, according to the Library of Congress, you would now be breakin’ the law.
RAY: Wait, what does the Library of Congress have to do with this? Since when did they make rules about cell phones?
TOM: Since the Digital Millenium Copyright Act, or the DMCA, gave them the power. The DMCA makes bypassing digital protections of copyrighted works illegal, but gives the Library of Congress the power to designate exceptions. Up until recently, the Library of Congress had said that unlocking your cell phone was one of those exceptions. Now, it seems, they’ve changed their mind. Now, not everybody is okay with this. In fact, President Obama has released a public statement saying that he would like the Library of Congress to change its mind and the FCC is investigating whether they have any say in the matter. At the moment though, it looks like the law is on the Library of Congress’s side. We don’t elect Library of Congress members, but we do elect lawmakers! If you want to make your voice heard, download Congress+ for the iPhone or Contact Congress in the Play Market for Android. These apps will tell you who your local senator or congressperson are and give you ways to contact them. Ask Congress to change the DMCA to give consumers the freedom to choose which carrier they use their phone on. Make your voice heard. Set our cell phones free!
RAY: That was really inspiring Tom.
TOM: I may just be a tech podcaster, Ray, but I’m a patriotic tech podcaster.
RAY: Who’s this next question from?
TOM: Your mom.
RAY: Tom, let’s keep it professional.
TOM: No really, your mom sent us a question. She asks: Has version 10 been released yet? Is it a smart move to continue with Blackberry as our phone?
Mom, you don’t listen to the show regularly, do you? It’s OK, I understand. We just pick on Blackberry a lot. So, yes, BlackBerry 10 has been released. It came out on January 30.??? But, it doesn’t matter because you’re not getting it, unless you decide to buy a new phone. BlackBerry 10 only runs on the new device the Q10 and the Z10. The change from BlackBerry OS to BlackBerry 10 was so drastic that none of the previous devices support it. Also, none of the apps you have on your current phone are going to work on a new BlackBerry 10 device if you decide to get one. So, no matter what new phone you get, even if it’s a new BlackBerry, you’ll have to buy new apps.
Now, to tell you the truth, Blackberry OS looks pretty decent. In fact, it looks a lot like webOS. Honestly, It reminds me a lot of webOS. BlackBerry seems to be repeating exactly what Palm did in 2009: They were hurting really bad, They were losing money like crazy, Their competitors were chewing up their market share, and their operating system looked old and decrepit. So, they rebuilt their operating system from the ground up, and relaunched it, they took a really long time to bring it to market, and they completely abandoned all of their old customers.
So, to answer your question, I would say no, it’s not a smart move to continue with BlackBerry. I expect that BlackBerry is going to take a path very similar to the one that Palm took. I expect that the Q10 and the Z10 are probably going to sell fairly poorly. BlackBerry will probably attempt to put out another version of the Q10 in the Z10, but that will also sell fairly poorly. BlackBerry will attempt to get other manufacturers to use their operating system, but they won’t be able to get anyone interested. Finally, they’ll end up selling out to another company, filing bankruptcy, and or releasing BlackBerry 10 as open source. No matter how you slice it, I don’t see good things in BlackBerry’s future.
The smartphone industry, as much as Microsoft and Blackberry fanboys would love it to be a different way, is a two dog race. It’s all between iPhone and Android. Android has even taken up such a huge market share because they have hundreds of different devices out there running Android, that even the iPhone is starting to drop back in terms of overall market share.
I really don’t think there is room in the market for another operating system to be a real competitor. Microsoft Phone has it’s flaws that we talked about on the show. Personally I felt that webOS is the perfect operating system, but neither of them have been able to get anywhere near a decent market share to the point where they would be really competitive.
So, Mom, what I would tell you do to is if you’re looking to get something new right now, get the iPhone 4 for free from Sprint, or if you’re still under contract, wait until the iPhone 5S or 6 comes out, and get the iPhone 4S for free.
Linda writes: My friend installed DropBox on my computer and setup a shared folder so we could share music (we both love European dance music). Confession: he’s sent me so much stuff and I haven’t had a chance to look at it. Now I want to, and I don’t know how!
My question is two part: 1) how do I download music from our shared folder in Dropbox (is it through the website?) and 2) can he tell that I haven’t listened to any of the music yet?
Oh and also, once before he helped me fix something on my computer by taking it over remotely. Can he still do that?
I have Windows 7. Thanks!
TOM: Good question, Linda.
Now you can download any file you have access to on the Dropbox website by right-clicking it and selecting ?download’. Make sure to put the file some place where you can find it!
However, if your friend installed Dropbox on your computer, you don’t need to download the files: they’re already on your computer. That’s the whole point of Dropbox!
So first we need to make sure that Dropbox really is installed on your computer. The simple way to do that is to click on the Start menu, then type ?dropbox’ (your typing should appear down in the search box at the bottom). After a few seconds the Dropbox program should come up. It’s got an icon that looks like an open blue box. If you see it, you have it.
Now, step two is to determine where the Dropbox folders are located on your computer. Dropbox installs a shortcut to its folders under your ?favorites’. That’s not your internet explorer favorites, that’s your windows explorer favorites. Go back to the Start menu and click on ?Computer’. That will open a Windows Explorer folder. The bar on the left side has a bunch of folders like ?Pictures’, ?Documents’, and ?Music’. Up at the very top (you may have to scroll up) there should be a section called ?Favorites’. It should contain your ?Desktop’ folder, as well as the ?Dropbox’ folder. If you see Dropbox there, click it.
Now you’re in the Dropbox folders. You’ll have to find the music files your friend has shared with you from here, since I don’t know where he put them! You can either click around through the folders here, or search for a song you know he’s sent you in the ?Search dropbox’ box at the top right of the window.
Now, every file in the Dropbox folder should have a green check mark on it. That means you’ve downloaded it from Dropbox’s cloud. If it has a blue icon, it’s still uploading or downloading, so you’ll have to wait before using it. The icons tell you that you are sharing that file with the Dropbox cloud. There’s a copy on your computer, and a copy out there on Dropbox’s servers.
What the icons, don’t tell you is whether or not you’ve ever used, opened, looked at or listened to these files. All you know is that you have them. And that’s all your friend knows either, Linda. So I don’t think he has any way to find out that you haven’t listened to his music unless you give it away yourself.
RAY: Ok, but Linda says her friend accessed her computer remotely once. How does she know he can’t do it again?
TOM: Well most likely the last time he accessed her computer he used Windows Remote Assistance. This is a program that allows you to send an invitation to someone else to share your desktop so that they can help you with a problem.
Linda, Windows Remote Assistance is by invitation only. Unless you run the program and intentionally SEND your friend an invitation, he can’t login.
So your secret is safe with us!
Oh by the way, Linda, if you want to have fun with your friend, remember that shared folders in Dropbox go both ways. You can add files to them as well! Why don’t you drop a little text file in there that says ?Enjoying the music you sent!? See how long it takes for your friend to notice it’s there.
Jo el asks: Dear Deemable Tech. I have a question that I am pining for your expert opinion about. What is the BEST calendar app for a Pantech Renue? I tried Googling it, but nothing really comes up. I am app ignorant
RAY: Don’t worry. Finding any information on the web about the Pantech Renue is difficult. The Pantech Renue runs on Pantech’s proprietary operating system, which is based on an operating system called BREW. It should run most J2ME apps, which is Java Micro Edition. Java Micro Edition was designed so that developers could build programs for mobile phones. It was supposed to make it so that a developer could make one program that would work anywhere. Unfortunately, that is not how it actually worked, because usually you were be forced to only buy apps through your carrier. Before the iPhone came out, everything in mobile was made for either J2ME or Palm OS. Once the iPhone hit the market, and the Android became a legitimate option, most developers stopped building apps for J2ME. Unfortunately, there aren’t many apps available for J2ME anymore.
So, the best calendar app is going to be anything you can find. You can try GCal which is a J2ME Google Calendar client. If that doesn’t work, you might be able to use GCalSync which will sync the built-in calendar with your Google Calendar, assuming you use Google Calendar. Both of these apps use data, so if you do not have a data plan, you may want to stay away from them.
Whatever you do, I wouldn’t pay for anything in their store. You won’t likely be able to use it ever again. There are a few fun apps that you should be able to download for free though. Opera Web Browser most likely works much better than the default web browser. There is a Gmail app that still works, but Google does not support it anymore. Don’t be surprised if it suddenly stops working when Gmail gets an update. If all else fails, you should at least be able to play Tetris.
TOM: To be honest, if you want apps you probably need to invest in a beefier phone. One that runs iOS, Android or Windows Phone. Those all have app stores with lots of third party apps which will run across a number of different phones.
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