008PCM Thinking About Getting a Drone? Better Listen to This First!

Everyone wants a drone. It’s become a billion dollar industry with hobbyists, photographers, real estate folks, commercial businesses, and farmers rushing to buy these amazing devices for their various pursuits. But the government is making it very difficult with some ridiculous regulations. If you have a drone or plan on getting one, you’d better listen to this episode of the PC Mike Techcast.


The issue is that the Federal Aviation Administration’s current regulations regarding use of  drones are overreaching and just plain absurd, including a rule that prohibits drone use for academic research unless researchers go through the long and arduous task of getting special permits – even researchers who flew multi-million dollar jets for the U.S. military.

Missy Cummings was one of the first female fighter pilots for the U.S. Navy, but the Duke University professor could get into some serious trouble if she flies a small drone over a field for research purposes.

The reason?

“I’m at war with the FAA constantly…and one of the reasons I’m taking them to task is that they want to insist … every small drone operator have a private pilot’s license and this is simply not the right skill set for these people to have,” Cumming says in episode 8 of the PC Mike Techcast. “I definitely think they are being too restrictive.”

Instead, Cummings, one of the nation’s top experts on the use of drones who wrote a recent op-ed piece for CNN, says the FAA needs to work with users of drones to come to some kind of understanding aimed at retooling regulations that foster a more realistic use.

It’s just one of the many drone-related issues Cummings, a drone expert who is a professor and director of Humans and Autonomy Laboratory at Duke University, talks about with us about for episode 8 of the PC Mike Techcast.

Cummings says it’s all about balance: the FAA needs to loosen up, yet users need to be aware of where and how they are flying drones.

“It’s almost like the RC (remote control) community has taken it’s old RC controllers and put them on a new Ferrari,” says Cummings.

Among the many drone-related issues discussed are:

  • The history of drones, from the military to the hobbyists
  • The overreaching absurdity of the FAA’s current drone regulations
  • How the problems we have seen stem from inadequate “situational awareness” from the drone’s control station, or transmitter
  • The need for better training for drone hobbyists
  • How drones have become more than a $1 billion industry
  • How France will be using drones to deliver mail and packages
  • How “geo-fencing” can keep drones out of certain areas – unless a big gust of wind blows them across the “line”
  • How drones will become even more common here, used commercially for agriculture, parcel delivery and real estate and even more by hobbyists
  • What a hobbyist can – and can’t – do with a drone
Listen to the Episode Below (00:47:18)

Additional show notes from episode 8 of the PC Mike Techcast:

First Things First: Apple’s Insanely Huge 2014 4Q Stuns

Apple Corp. reported huge numbers for its 2014 fourth quarter. In fact, it was the company’s biggest quarter in its history. Among the stunning figures? Apple has $179 billion CASH. I give you some other ways to put it in perspective.  For additional background without too much hyperbole or Apple Fanboy/girl talk, check out Apple’s press release.

All Drones, All the Time

Drones seem to be making headlines just about every day, usually not for much good. A website dedicated to drone incidents can even be found here.

That’s why there is perhaps no better time for me to dedicate the majority of an episode of the PC Mike Techcast to drones. I start by setting the stage for what’s happening in the world of drones before interviewing one of the country’s top drone experts, Missy Cummings.

Interview: Drone Expert Mary “Missy” Cummings, Associate Professor and Director of Duke’s Humans and Autonomy Laboratory

Mary “Missy” Cummings is an associate professor at Duke University and director of Duke’s Humans and Autonomy Laboratory. She was one of the U.S. Navy’s first female fighter pilots and is one of the top experts on commercial drones.

Drone Review: DJI Phantom 2 Quadcopter with Zenmuse H3-2D 3-Axis Gimbal

Yes, I mention getting in a big of trouble for using my drone in a U.S. National Park – and in this episode I tell you why I still consider it one of my most favorite tech gadgets. I bring you up to speed on what it is, how I use it, and if I think my Phantom 2 was a wise investment. You can read my full review on a separate PC Mike blog post at http://pcmike.com/review-phantom-2-drone

Apps: Cool New Ways to Get Your Messaging Across

Hands down these days, the most popular apps out there are messaging apps. And why not? Messaging is cheaper, faster, and more efficient than regular text and because of that, new and more powerful apps are headed toward your smartphone. I talk about the Kakao family of apps, Whatsapp, and Viber in this week’s app segment. You can read a more detailed review here.

We Need Your Help!

As we begin a new podcast like this, it’s very important to get a bunch of reviews to be able to show well in the iTunes listings. So if you can, I’d sure appreciate it if you’d subscribe and leave me your rating and review.

Here’s how:

First, open up the iTunes app on your computer or mobile device. Click on Podcasts on top
> From the iTunes Podcasts page, use the “Search Store” field up at the top right corner of the page. Type in PC Mike Techcast under the Podcasts category.
> Click on the logo image of the PC Mike Techcast on the search return page
> From there, you can:

1) Subscribe

2) Choose and Click on a star (1-5) that reflects your rating. Five stars means you really like it, one star not so much.

3) Leave a written review.

Thanks to all for the kind reviews we’ve received so far. I read and appreciate every review! If you haven’t left a review please do so. I will be so grateful!

And remember, you can appear in future episodes. Ask a question or voice your comments by clicking the Leave Voicemail tab on the right side of this page here at pcmike.com. You can then use the microphone on your computer to record your question.

Thank you!


Drone Review: DJI Phantom 2 Quadcopter with Zenmuse H3-2D 3-Axis Gimbal

When it comes to tech, 2015’s hottest gizmo so far this year is the personal drone. It’s only the end of January and they’ve been making more headlines than any other piece of tech gear, for better or worse.


I’ve jumped into the drone pool already, taking a chance on adding a big ticket item to my photographic and video arsenal of reporting tools: a Phantom 2 drone. Here’s a review and video

007PCM How Streaming Media Will Change Your World

Streaming media delivers a lot more choice and flexibility when it comes to consuming content, but it’s also creating a ton of media hype and confusion.


So says Dan Rayburn, executive vice president of StreamingMedia.com and principal analyst at Frost & Sullivan, on this week’s PC Mike Podcast.

“The thing we’re seeing in the market is that consumers have more choice and more flexibility with how they want to watch their content,” Rayburn says. “That being said, it’s still a very fragmented market.”

Rayburn says the availability of so many devices (Google Chromecast vs. Roku, for example), each seemingly delivering different kinds of content and services like Netflix – not to mention varying levels of quality – can leave consumers’ heads spinning, and often not getting what they want.

Add in other factors, such as media hype over the notion that traditional cable service is going to soon disappear, and things aren’t any easier to figure out.

On this episode of the PC Mike podcast, however, Rayburn helps put things in perspective for the burgeoning streaming media industry, providing great insider insight from the business side of things and how consumers could be affected as well as guidance on what questions you should ask yourself when it comes to your own content needs. Specifically, Rayburn addresses:

  • What’s so great – and not-so-great – about the evolution of streaming media?
  • The difference between devices like Roku and services such as Hulu.
  • Can services like Netflix continue to deliver quality content people want – and not break its own bank?
  • How much bandwidth do you really need?
  • What actually might be slowing down your network?
  • What questions you should be asking yourself when considering “cutting the cord” to cable?
  • Why you should not buy 4K TV before 2016 or, maybe, even 2017
Listen to the Episode Below (00:43:25)

006 PC Mike Podcast: Hacking Isn’t as Bad as You Think…It’s Worse!

Steve Weisman – one of America’s foremost experts on cybersecurity and online scams – says hacking isn’t as bad as you think — it’s worse.


That’s just one of the foreboding comments from Weisman on PC Mike Podcast 006, where he was our featured guest in light of all the recent hacking incidents making news, including just this week when U.S. Military’s Central Command was allegedly cyber attacked.

The biggest problem?

“The Internet wasn’t really created with security in mind,” Weisman tells PC Mike.

Weisman is a lawyer, college professor at Bentley University, and among the country’s leading experts on scams and identity theft. He has written several books relating to scams and identify theft and is a columnist for USA Today. Also, he is the founder of Scamicide.com, a website dedicated to informing the public about the dangers of scams and providing the public with the latest information about this important topic.

Attorney and cyber expert Steve Weisman

Attorney and cyber expert Steve Weisman

In the interview, we learn how the government and business try to keep you from knowing how bad the problem has become and what you can do to protect yourself. Also, you will hear Weisman address:

– Startling revelations about hacks much more frightening than the Sony hack

– How credit card companies cover up the extent of their vulnerabilities

– How it is safer to use a credit card online than to give it to a retail sales person, waiter or waitress

– How the IRS loses billions annually in an easily fixable scam

– How 100 or so computer geniuses around the world are behind so much chaos

– If the kinds of technology you use can make a difference (credit card vs. debit, Mac vs. PC)

Listen to the Episode Below (00:41:28)

Get it Write: Non-Word Writing Tools and Apps

The one thing we all use our computers for is word processing. But don’t think Microsoft Word is the final word on this. I’ve been trying out several alternate word processors and am delighted by what I am finding. You may not want to ditch Word just yet, but if you have some specialized writing needs, I just may have a better solution.

Alternatives to Word: Writing tools and apps

PCM005 Podcast: Drones, Wearable Tech and Driverless Cars

Robots and powerful sensors are everywhere. And they are able to track your every move, measure your every action. That’s probably the biggest development we’ve seen from the big Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas where we learned that drones — soon to be a billion dollar a year industry — as well as robotic cars and wearable tech gizmos that monitor and track your body movements are about to become hot personal technology trends.

Listen to the Episode Below (00:47:01)