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Mailbag: August 16, 2011

In this edition of the mailbag: Netflix and subtitles, whether the Bing and Motorola partnership will be affected by Google purchase, Windows Phone 7.5 and gapless music playback, Windows Home Server 2011 hardware concerns, Windows 7 and Media Center Extenders, drive cloning, Windows Phone and game progress sync, I still recommend LastPass, and a weight loss update.

It's been a while since the last Mailbag, sorry, and I'll try to post them more frequently going forward. If you have questions, please email me at mailto:[email protected].

Netflix and Subtitles

Alex W. asks:

What's the easiest way to watch a subtitled TV show or movie on Netflix?

Netflix is adding subtitles to many of its titles over time, but it's not fully supported across all content. It also only works on some playback devices/software, including "PCs and Macs, Nintendo Wii, Sony PS3, GoogleTV, and the Boxee Box." This quote is from February, so obviously the new Roku 2 devices have appeared since that, and do support subtitles.

Netflix does have a useful web site that lists only those titles that support subtitles.

Bing and Motorola?

Havard K. asks:

I was wondering if you had any info on what happens with the Motorola/Bing partnership now that Google buys Motorola, will Google produce Android phone with Bing?

Short term, nothing happens: Google doesn't expect this purchase to be approved by regulators until next year.

But I'd imagine that even when Motorola is owned by Google, it would be bound by the terms of the agreement for the duration of the agreement. I'm curious to see how this plays out.

Windows Phone 7.5 and Gapless Music Playback

Matt S. asks:

Do you know if Gapless playback is finally coming in Mango? This is a serious omission for me and renders the phone almost useless to me as a music player, which is a shame.

No, it doesn't appear to offer gapless playback, sorry.

Windows Home Server 2011: Now What?

Chuck D. asks:

Based largely on your enthusiastic reviews of WHS 2011 (and my own scar tissue from backup/restore issues over the years) I held off buying a NAS or 1st Generation WHS system until the flood of WHS 2011 systems came to market. But the very few WHS 2011 boxes on the market appear to be pretty anemic in terms of hardware specs. Do you have any updated suggestions or recommendations for a 2-person home office?

Just as he sent this email, my editorial Waiting on the Attack of the Small Business Servers appeared. But this betrays the fact that there is no good answer here. It's true that there are no decent home servers (or small business servers) on the market yet. And yes, you certainly use any white box PC as a home server, as I've done. But I would like to see something decent, from a high-quality PC maker, that offers 4-8 drive bays for a reasonable price. I'm still waiting.

Windows 7 and Media Center Extenders

Pol M asks:

I was just writing to see if there were any Media Center Extenders for Win7 that you liked other than the Xbox 360 these days.

Your only modern, supported option is the Xbox 360, sorry.

Fortunately, it's a good choice for this kind of thing, and I think Microsoft's coming Xbox 360-based Internet TV platform could pretty much obviate the need for Media Center as a TV solution anyway. It's overdue.

Windows 7 and Drive Cloning

Spencer S. asks:

I am currently using Windows 7 on my MacBook, as a final test before I jump ship In the coming weeks I will be buying a PC, however I am not looking forward to the migration. Can you recommend a drive cloning utility similar to Carbon Copy Cloner or Super Duper on OS X?

Windows 7 includes an image-based backup solution, so you might try that before buying anything, or using a third party utility. But beyond that, you might take a look at Acronis True Image. It's been a while since I've tried that, and it's likely that the built-in Windows 7 stuff is functionally identical.

Windows Phone and Game Progress Sync

Rob N. asks:

When you reinstall games on Windows Phone, are the progress and Xbox Live Achievements you have stored online or on the phone? In other words, if I decide to update to Mango or reset my phone, will my game and app progress be saved? Or are the achievements and game progress stored on the phone itself and will that be lost by flashing the phone to Mango? I really want to try to flash my HD7 to Mango, but I don't want to lose all my progress I made on my games.

Achievements are retained. But there's nothing like automatic game progress sync, and yes, this is a huge issue. My understanding is that game makers are free to add this capability but none have that I'm aware of. But yes, this should just be a feature of Windows Phone/Xbox LIVE. (And of other smart phone platforms as well.)

LastPass and Security

Chris T. asks:

I notice that you use LastPass for password encryption. I heard recently that LastPass was potentially hacked earlier in the year and a number of users suffered from data corruption resulting in lost passwords. Do you still use LastPass, and do you consider it a good password manager still?

I still use and recommend LastPass, yes. Their response to that potential threat was quick and effective.

Weight loss update

Back in January, I discussed my plan to lose weight this year utilizing the science-based information in Gary Taubes' book Why We Get Fat as a guide. Since then I've lost 25 pounds, but my weight loss has stalled in recent months. This is a common outcome for people who diet, but the thing that I'd like to communicate here is that this isn't a diet for me, it's a lifestyle change: I'm going low-carb permanently. And while our results will all vary, I'd like to point out just the most recent of the thousands--yes, thousands--of emails I've received from readers and podcast listeners about this topic this year:

Thanks again for recommending Why We Get Fat in January. Since then I have lost 105 lbs.  Several of my friends and family have lost significant weight as well.

And while this may not seem "typical" to you, it is to those who have written in: Virtually everyone who's contacted me has lost far more weight than I have. I bet the average is in the 40+ pound range. So congrats to everyone who has won big with this plan.

For me, of course, I'll need to figure out something else for actual weight loss. Though the one thing I have learned here this year is that I can very easily maintain my weight on this diet. That will be more useful when I've lost as much as I need to.

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