Let's not kid ourselves, Best Buy's Geek Squad division isn't exactly a respected establishment in DIY circles, and referring someone to Geek Squad for tech support is like, well, does this even need an analogy? No offense to any of our readers who may work as a Geek Squad tech, but you know what they say about a few bad apples.
What's even worse -- and we thought unthinkable -- is when the manufacturer of one your computer parts suggests calling Geek Squad to diagnose your failing gear before they'll replace it. That's exactly what one user who wrote into The Consumerist claims happened when his Netgear DGN2200 wireless router with DSL modem went on the fritz.
"Five calls to [Netgear's] tech department and it is still not working," the user claims. "On the fifth and final call they suggested I call the Geek Squad (approximately $139 for them to come to our home) to troubleshoot it and if it proves the modem is bad they will send me a new unit at that time (which I only paid $79 to begin with)."
It doesn't take a math whiz to figure out that's a bum deal. Assuming it all went down the way the user claims it did, let's hope this was an isolated incident.
Google Voice. Situation: It's a pretty awesome competitor to good ol' Skype, especially when you use its crazy powers to forward calls from your magical number to physical locations all over the world. I, for one, use Google voice to get into my own apartment. Ringing me up on the ol' call box in front of my condo complex calls my Google Voice number (local calls only!), which in turn buzzes up my cell phone which, in turn, lets me go home.
That's just one interesting use of an otherwise awesome service. There are many more. Problem: There are not nearly as many apps--Web-based or downloadable--that allow you to interact with Google Voice in unique, cool ways. I've scrounged together five for your enjoyment but, honestly, we're scraping the barrel this week in terms of available software.
So, that said, go register a Google Voice number. And while you're doing that, start skimming this article for awesome new ways to use the service!
After a month long private beta period, MSpot has opened up its streaming service to the general public. MSpot offers free and unlimited streaming from the cloud to your PC or Android-based device, at least for the first two 2GB of storage.
You can stream all day long and to multiple devices at once, and if 2GB doesn't cover your music collection -- or the portion you want uploaded to the cloud -- MSpot sells several storage plans, including 12GB ($3/month), 22GB ($5/month), 52GB ($10/month), and 102GB ($14/month).
We briefly kicked the tires on MSpot's public release and found it works as advertised. Following a quick software install, it didn't take long for MSpot to comb through our iTunes and Windows Media Player libraries and begin uploading songs. As songs are uploaded, you can start playing them back through MSpot's easy-to-use media player, which integrated perfectly fine in Chrome (it also supports Firefox, IE, and Safari).
It's hard to deny the power of Google Docs, especially if you don't have the cash (or the wherewithal) to shell out for Microsoft Office. Sure, you could grab OpenOffice.org, but you would trade away the ability to edit your documents from any Internet-equipped location-one of Google Doc's important, Cloud-based features... as well as its ability to allow multiple users to simultaneously edit a document. You just can't get this kind of stuff in an offline word processor!
Of course, that's not to say that you can't use Google Docs offline. Nor are applications like Microsoft Word completely removed from the Internet-there's Microsoft Office Live for that, if you're so inclined.
Anyway, the point of this Freeware Files is not to confuse you in feature-lists or semantics. I'm here to show you just how easy it is to set up your system to use both offline and online word processing tools. Provided you're ready to jump into the wide world of Google Docs, all of the freeware and open-source applications listed below will do much to help integrate online editing and storage into your traditional offline type-type-typing.
Why bookmark when you can Huff-duff? Excellent point. Now, what the heck is a Huff-duff? Actually, "huffduffer" is both a verb and a Web service, a word that's derived from a technology you can use to triangulate the location of radio transmissions from any given point. Huffduffer, the offshoot of "huff-duff," allows you to perform a similar-but-not-really kind of triangulation for online audio files.
Rather than helping you search for new music, podcasts, or sounds, Huffduffer is instead a platform that allows you to add these sounds into an ever-growing list that--surprise--is actually a podcast of its very own. That's a super-long way to describe what Huffduffer does, but I'm a bit apprehensive to suggest that the Web app allows you to build your own podcasts. It does, technically, but it's not as if you suddenly have a centralized service for recording, editing, tagging, and launching a radio show of your very own.
No, Huffduffer merely aggregates files you've already found on the Web into a podcast of your very own. But that's a useful feature for a number of reasons.
Best Buy found itself the target of heavy criticism and an Internet backlash when it came to light that the company's Geek Squad division was offering a $150 service to, among other things, "sync your 3D glasses for an amazing experience." Confused?
So was everyone else, and it looked as though Best Buy was trying to scam a fast buck by preying on unsuspecting customers who might be led to believe to that 3D glasses need syncing. Looking for an answer, the dudes over at HD Guru, where news of this service first broke, got in touch with Best Buy to hear their side of the story.
"I wanted to address any lingering confusion about the characterization of services support in the Best Buy Samsung 3DTV offer that was advertised in [the March 21] insert," Best Buy told HD Guru. "We by no means intended to confuse our customers or offer fraudulent services. The offer is new to our stores, and our own employees were trained on it just this past week."
Best Buy goes on to clarify what exactly is included in the $150 package, which includes making sure the 3D glasses work, since some of the TV sets the company sells need settings adjusted before the 3D glasses are enabled.
"We have some customers who aren’t quite sure how the 3D glasses work, or that the glasses automatically sync with their new 3D TVs," Best Buy explained. "So we wanted to convey that they can depend on Geek Squad to answer their questions during installation and set-up. There is no additional charge for this – and the Geek Squad 3D installation and networking services are included in the total price of this offer."
So what's the verdict? Are you satisfied with the response, or do see this as just another snake oil sales pitch? Hit the jump and sound off!
One of the biggest gripes with Apple's handheld products is that you can't swap out the battery yourself, at least not easily. So what happens if you're out-of-warranty iPad tablet stops holding a charge?
"If your iPad requires service due to the battery's diminished ability to hold an electrical charge, Apple will replace your iPad for a service fee," Apple states in its FAQ section.
The service costs $105.95 ($99 plus $6.95 for shipping) and is subject to local tax. But put another way, should your battery die for good, a Benjamin gets you a 'new' (likely refurbished, and scratch-free) iPad.
Apple points out that your replacement iPad won't retain any of your personal data.
"Before you submit your iPad for service, it is important to sync your iPad with iTunes to back up your contacts, calendars, email account settings, bookmarks, apps, etc. Apple is not responsible for the loss of information when servicing your iPad," Apple warns.
The other caveat is that your iPad has be to be in working order. In other words, if you spill your coffee all over your iPad or otherwise kill the unit by trying to open it yourself, Apple's not going to replace it.
Thoughts on the policy? Hit the jump and sound off!
One of the bigger sources for URL spoofing, malware insertion, and general Internet annoyance can be found in the legions of URL shortening services that exist on today's Web. You can't go three clicks deep on a page without finding some kind of cleverly named way to transform a 108-character URL into an 8-character shortcut. Regardless of the service you personally prefer for all of your URL-shortening needs, one common element remains constant through all of them: When you come across a shortened URL, you have no native way to tell where it is you're going.
The last thing you need is to be sent to some kind of horrific site that compromises your system's security (or, worse, some horrific site that compromises your job security). If you're a fan of the Google Chrome browser--and I bet you are, given that you're reading the Extension of the Week article--you'll definitely want to check out a little add-on called Explode.
I've spoken of the wonders of Chrome's Google Mail Checker Plus extension before. If you missed the memo, here's a quick hit: Mail Checker Plus drops a little icon next to your address bar that gives you a frequent update as to how many unread messages are in your Gmail account. You'd think that was it, given the simplicity of what said extension has to do. However, Google Mail Checker Plus dumps a ton of options into your lap for complete and total customization of this little icon and its functionality, including the ability to drop a preview window that gives you a quick glance as to what said emails actually are, as well as complete color controls and "always-on" SSL connectivity.
Great, eh? But frequent users of Google's services will note that there's more than just Gmail to worry about. What's going on in your Google Reader feed? Any new messages come through Google Voice? What the heck is Wave and how many unread messages do you have on your watery messaging service?
That's where the simplicity of the extension One Number comes into play. To find out what this helpful add-on does, and learn all about its extensive configuration options, hit the jump!
Don't burn your credit cards or start sending recruit-a-friend notices to everyone in your address book: World of Warcraft is not going open-source. You will still have to pay a monthly fee of $14.99 for the privilege of stomping your virtual friends and NPCs into corpse dust, and you will not be permitted to split WoW off into a side project that grants anyone with your name a free pass to level 80 (and/or a fixed "I win!" button). Blizzard isn't stupid.
WoW might not be going open-source, but the company behind it is using the 1-2-3 trick of the open-source world to encourage increased adoption and interest in its core piece of software. In what I believe is a first for the genre, you'll soon be able to access in-game mechanics from a separate Web or mobile app. You might not be able to run your daily quests off of your iPhone, but for WoW enthusiasts looking to make a tidy profit throughout their adventures in Azeroth, Blizzard's mobile access should give you up-to-the-minute information for your business profiteering.