THDP37 We Answer Some Questions

Questions and AnswersThis episode is pretty busy.  We answer three questions from listeners and then I renew my previous attack against crapware.  We have included an excerpt from the July 4th episode: THDP21 Happy 4th of July!  Originally I had included a set of news stories to cover but I pulled them so this episode would stay under 30 minutes.  I hope you enjoy.

Question:  “Did you tell me that external hard drives only hold info about two or three years?”

Answer:  You got it!  Ok, statistically speaking here is the drop off.  There are three distinct phases a hard drive will go through.  (1)  The first phase is the first year and a half and during that time 5% of all hard drives fail.  (2)  The second phase is the next year and a half with a 1.4% failure rate.  The third phase last one year and the failure rate is 11.8%.  Then that failure rate is maintained every year thereafter.  So that leaves us with an approximate 50% failure rate after 5 years.  (from:  Extreme Tech, by: Sebastian Anthony, November 12, 2013. .)

Further Notes:  There is another way to look at this.  A long time ago, some very wise person told me that hardware (of any kind) manufacturers will only offer a warranty for as long as it makes financial sense to do so.   So if a hard drive manufacturer warranties their hard drive for three years (the industry norm) you can take it to the bank that statistically most of their hard drives fail after three years.

What could cause your hard drive to fail early:  Do all drives fail after three years?  No.  Do all drives last longer than three years?  No.  It boils down to two things:  heat and humidity.  The longer you operate your hard drive in high heat and/or high humidity conditions, the faster your hard drive will fail.  BTW, all hard drive manufacturers have a wide range of models available.  This is how I would classify the range of models:

  • Premium, their best, quickest, most reliable hard drive
  • Pretty Good represents a good value. They may not be as fast as premium but their affordable
  • Are You Feeling Lucky? The name should say it all.  They are cheaper.
  • Do you not Know How to Take Advice? Use at your own risk.  Always on sale at Best Buy.

Last couple of thoughts:  Three thoughts here.  (1)  Usage plays an important part also in the lifespan of your hard drive. If you have your external hard drive connected to your laptop/desktop/tablet all the time and it starts up with every boot up or if you just have it turned on 24/7 then the lifespan will be shortened.  (2)  Remember that the more you handle the external hard drive the shorter its lifespan.  Lift it up, put it down every day or just handling the drive every day, maybe drop it 2,3,4 times in its lifetime…all these things are going to contribute to the death of your hard drive.  You could be just one drop away from regretting backup.  (3) And finally, just assume the maximum life for your drive will be 3 to 5 years.  Then from that figure start to subtract lifespan for high temps and humidity, drops, the fact that you tough it every day, etc…

Question:  With a Windows machine how can I record Skype without using software?

Ok, this is right up my alley.  As it probably was with you, I found the software available for recording phone calls on Skype…well, I found it a tad wanting.  It seems I tried them all.  I just started to have some luck with PowerGramo and it just plain stops working.  It stopped on my computer, it stopped working on my Surface, both my laptops.  Everything.  I tried everything (never did figure it out….really) and then it hit me.  It is probably a license thing.  On all the websites that discussed the different ways to record a Skype phone call I found the same thing:  no PowerGramo.  I mean it is not even listed.  I am just supposing here but it seems Skype no longer supports that software.

My goal has always been to try to permanently do away with software and just rely on hardware to record Skype.  So this is what I did to fix this.  First, I am using my Surface but you can use your desktop, or your laptop.

  • I plugged my Rode USB microphone into the surface USB port.
  • I took a 3/8” TRS audio cable and plug one end into my surface and the other end into the recorder (INPUT 2). The INPUT 2 on my recorder is XLR and I needed a ¼” plug so I used a ¼” adapter on one end.
  • I then took an audio cable with one end a 3/8” audio plug (and I plugged the 3/8” end into the Surface In/Out combo plug and the other end an XLR adapter cable digital audio recorder (INPUT #1).
  • Now I went to Control Panel on my Surface.
  • I opened Sound
  • On the Playback tab be sure Headphones is the default Device
  • On the Recording tab be sure your microphone is listed.
  • Now I needed to go into Skype Options (located in the Tools heading at the top of the Skype page) and click Audio Settings on the left side.
  • For microphone make sure it identifies your exact microphone. (If not go to step 10)
  • For speakers make sure you are using the Headphones option.
  • You can use the bars to control the volume levels.

This is working fine.  No more software crashing and that is fine with me.  I hope this works for you.  I hope I was some help.  Keep the questions coming in and Ed and I will answer them to the best of our ability.

Question:  I want to run Windows on my MacBook.  What are my choices to make this happen?

 This is a good question.  At first I would have said there are two methods you can use.  Software called Parallels or Fusion.  But upon further thought there are actually five ways you can accomplish this.

(1)  First Parallels and VM Ware Fusion.  These take advantage of virtual technology.  They install a virtual drive on your MacBook that will allow you to run Windows in its own environment.  They are pay software and you should be able to get Parallels for around $65.00 and Fusion for $88.00 at Amazon.  They both have a thirty day trial.  Please note that any method you use you will need a Windows license if it entails installing the Windows OS on your machine.   I have not used Parallels that much but I do notice that it seems to be a favorite of a lot of Apple users.  I have however used Fusion extensively and it is pretty easy to use.

(2)  Next is VirtualBox for Mac.  This is free like the VirtualBox for Windows.  Once again I have never used this but I hear it is not as stable as the Windows version.

(3)  We would be doing a disservice if we didn’t mention Bootcamp.  This allows you to install a Windows OS along with the OSX.  This is called dual boot and you can either run one or the other.  Never both simultaneously.

(4)  You could also use Wine.  Wine originated with Linux.  It’s called a compatibility layer that allows Windows to run on other operating systems.  To be honest, I would never have come up with this method by myself.  I will leave a link to an article at where I got some of this info.  They mention that Wine has some issues running Windows but the Winebottler is an okay way to go.

(5)  The peeps at also mention CodeWeaver’s Crossover Mac even though it uses Wine to run Windows.  Not every program will run on this pay software so either run the 30-day trial or do research to see if the apps you wish to run in Windows will work with Crossover Mac.

Go to our shownotes for this episode:…some-questions/


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *