Wise Guys on WHO Radio - February 6, 2010

Brian Gongol

A huge array of topics on today's show -- we hope you didn't miss any of them.

Dan's still searching for his perfect smartphone, and is leaning towards one of the Android-based phones. That means he's looking at either the Google Nexus One or the Droid. Lest you overlook the magnitude of this development, it means our in-house Mac fanatic is thinking of using something other than the iPhone.

I talked with a friend this week who made a mind-blowing point: Today's children might very well be learning to use computers before they learn to speak. Which makes English their second language, after "computer." And there's no doubt, "computer" is a language unto itself.

Bill Gates agrees with me: He's saying that if we really want to reduce pollution and change our addictive relationship with energy, we need to encourage innovation on a massive scale. This dovetails quite nicely with my argument that the government should offer massive inducement prizes instead of trying to tax us into a "low-carbon" future. You've been hearing about these prizes on the Wise Guys since at least July 2007. I think it's premature to call us Bill Gates's advisors, but he sure could hire us if he wants.

A listener texted us (at 515-989-1040) to ask whether we like AMD or Intel chips. Dan prefers Intel, arguing that they're more compatible with programs of all sorts than AMD chips. I argue that AMD chips have never posed a problem for me in the past (and I use a wide range of programs), and since they usually deliver more power for the same price you'd pay for an Intel chip, they represent a better value. So, really, the answer is: We're a show divided.

Dan complained about his progressive lenses and got a call from an optometrist who suggested he might have gotten his lenses shaped too small. That's why we like doing this show: Sometimes the listeners are teaching us, rather than the other way around.

Another listener texted to ask what to do about his computer that had failed catastrophically. (We're talking about one that won't even start in "safe mode".) Long story short, he needs to take it in for professional service and pay a hefty sum to get it working. That's why we will tell you over and over and over again to back up your data on a regular basis (shoot for once a week, but for goodness' sake, don't wait more than a month between backups).

And then we got into the matter of captioning at movie theaters. As more people find themselves with hearing loss (either due to age or to abuse of things like iPods), demand is going to increase for services to help the hearing-impaired. At the movies, it's difficult to offer captioning without irritating those prickly customers who don't want to see the captions. A solution: Rear-window captioning, which projects the captions on a screen behind the audience, making them visible only to people who use mirrors to view them. There's an active movement to make captions more widely available at movie theaters. We wonder how long it will be before radio captioning is adopted.

In the Help Desk this week, we answered questions about getting cell-phone service overseas and what to do about bogus antivirus programs.

Thanks for listening this week. Tune in next Saturday at noon!

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