Q: We're ready to cut the cable TV cord and rely on over-the-air broadcast TV along with online video streaming services. But what kind of digital video recorder (DVR) will we need?
Marilyn Pennoyer, Blaine
A: There are several high-definition DVRs designed for recording over-the-air TV. Some also receive streaming TV shows via a home Wi-Fi network, although they lack the software to record the streaming video. In addition, some DVRs can both play recorded shows on your TV and transmit them wirelessly to smartphones or tablet computers. See tinyurl.com/qcwv4x5.
There aren't many consumer options for recording streaming Internet video, partly because there's not much reason to do it — the vast majority of shows are always available online. So a PC with "video capture software" remains the best DVR substitute for video streaming. For examples, see tinyurl.com/nu3o9mv and tinyurl.com/7tuwkyr.
Q: I'm having trouble getting AM and FM radio reception in my home. While I get perfect reception on my vehicle radios, I get only static on the house radio. I've purchased several different radios for my home, but it hasn't made any difference. What should I do?
Paul Blesener, Cottage Grove
A: The radio reception in your house is probably being sabotaged by radio interference from other gadgets you own, such as computers, computer screens, big-screen TVs, fluorescent lights or light dimmer switches. As a first step, move your AM/FM radio away from other electronic devices and their connecting cables. Also make sure those devices and cables aren't between your radio and the broadcast station you're trying to receive.
If that doesn't solve the problem, try to maximize reception by moving the radio closer to a window or external wall, or by changing the height, location or direction of its antenna. If that doesn't work, you may need an external antenna, located either inside or outside the house.
Q: We have been using Microsoft Streets and Trips software and a USB-port GPS tracking device to create maps of trips we've taken. But Microsoft is discontinuing Streets and Trips. Is there PC software that can take its place?
Barb Johnson, Burnsville
A: There's a lot of PC mapping software available, but much of it is for planning trips rather than for creating GPS tracking maps of where you've been. In addition, mapping software is shifting from PCs to mobile devices, so you may need to use a smartphone to track your travels.
Here are a few GPS tracking programs that will record your trips on a map: For Windows PC there's MapSphere (tinyurl.com/mmzrrqw). For smartphones there are the Traveler for Google Android phones and TrackMyTour for Apple iPhones (see tinyurl.com/l5az5ul.)
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