Comcast E-Mail Scare That Wasn’t
I had a little difficulty communicating with some clients on their Comcast e-mail accounts last week. Messages were vanishing into thin air and getting routed into Junk folders. Anyway – I took a little survey on Thursday and send out a Test E-Mail. Just about everyone wrote back and I know that the messages are flowing freely. Some of you using a client like Apple Mail or Outlook to fetch mail may have some spam filters that need to be tuned up. Also please make sure my e-mail address is in your address book. If ever you are expecting a reply from me — perhaps an appointment confirmation — and you don’t hear from me — please don’t hesitate to reach out to me by call or text.
I am not a master at drilling and running wires through walls or putting a satellite dish on the roof, but one thing I do know really well is the marketplace of cellular plans available. If you think it’s just a choice of Verizon, ATT, T-Mobile, and Sprint (the big four)– you are just scratching the surface. There are dozens and dozens of directly owned prepaid brands and MVNOs. What is an MVNO? It stands for mobile virtual network operator. These are companies that buy minutes, data, and texts in bulk from the aforementioned big four and then resell plans under their own brand. Perhaps the best known one is Consumer Cellular. You must have seen their very senior focused ads by now. They use the ATT and T-Mobile networks. Some of you are Tracfone customers. They are another MVNO, which, depending on the phone you buy, could operate on any of the big four. A few of you are Great Call / Jitterbug customers. They operate on Verizon. For the past 6 years, I have had my 91 year old grandma my on a different Verizon MVNO called Page Plus. She has a simple 500 minute flip phone plan and pays $12 per month. If you are financing a phone or use a lot of minutes or data, it may be best to stick with the big four. However, if you own your phone outright and want to explore options — you know who to contact. Me! The possibilities are almost endless in American cellular.
Apple Reverses Course on Laptops
And now for the big announcement: Apple (partially) revised its Mac Book Pro lineup for the second time this year and has introduced a 16 inch laptop that completely replaces the 15 inch product line. AND, the big and…… they have gone back to the 2015 style Mac Book Pro keyboard. Hooray! They finally did it. Without a big apology, they have made their apology. No longer must you worry about stuck keys and expensive failures. Remember — on all 2016 to 19 Mac Book Pros and the 2018 – 19 Mac Book Airs, they have given a 4 year extended warranty to everyone on those keyboards. The fix has arrived — well — we’re halfway home. That 16 inch Mac Book Pro is $2399, for starters (same as the 15). Most of my clients did not buy the 15 inch model in the past. You have 13 inch Pros or Airs. That new keyboard is coming to the 13 inch models. Expect all Apple laptops to have the new keyboard anytime between now and mid-2020. For some reason I think the beginning of Spring sounds about right, but I am open to surprises. If you need a new MacBook now or by the end of the year, I’ll support you with whatever you need to get. However, if you can wait — can you wait just a bit longer? Apple has made things right.
This is a message for my Hulu Live TV clients.
You are a special sub group of my clients that has eschewed traditional pay TV services and are true CORD CUTTERS.
Unfortunately, as more people subscribe to Live TV replacement services (like You Tube TV and Hulu Live TV) and the field shrinks (Sony VUE is going out of business) — pricing is going to go up. It would not surprise me if Comcast and other cable providers and ATT (which owns DirecTV) are doing some kind of back room manipulation to make channels charge more to You Tube TV and Hulu Live TV.
You Tube TV now charges $50 a month and they admitted that even at that price they are making about $1 a month per subscriber. Google can bear this break even model because they are Google and I think they want to be a disruptive force. As of Dec. 18th, Hulu Live TV is going up to $55 a month. It is what it is. Remember there are no long term contracts.
Keep in mind that your Hulu Live TV subscription also includes original shows produced by Hulu — like Handmaid’s Tale and tons of movies / TV shows ” on Demand”, basically their equivalent of Netflix. So you are truly getting traditional Hulu + Live TV. Be sure to check out all of that content you are entitled to.
Since there are no contracts — you could always switch to or check out You Tube TV. Or you may want to forgo the Live TV part all together and just subscribe to streaming services like Amazon Prime Video, Netflix, Apple TV +, Hulu, or Disney +. You may want one or a couple of those services.
However you want to stream — I will be there to help you.
Wow! Big Loss for Frontier and Comcast. Big win for consumers.
Streaming Video Specialist
I just wanted to remind you or make you aware that I am your streaming video specialist. You may be looking to looking to cut the cord — cancel traditional pay TV and use a live channel replacement service like You Tube TV or Hulu TV or piece together streaming services like Amazon Prime, Netflix, Apple TV + or others in lieu of channels. You may be looking just to supplement your traditional TV subscription with those streaming services. I can help. I can also set you up so you can watch all of your Comcast / Xfinity live channels on your computer, smartphone or tablet. I can set you up with streaming players like the Apple TV, Roku player, Amazon Fire Stick, or the software baked into your Smart TV (which usually isn’t as good). I always prefer one of the streaming players that gets added to the TV. They can be as low as $50 or less. Of course you will pay monthly for the streaming services you want to use (with the exception of plain You Tube or rentals). Amazon Prime Video is included with your Prime membership. I have helped clients open up new dimensions to their video viewing. You know who to call.
I do support some out of state clients through “screen sharing” software that allows me to view and in some cases control (with permission of course) their computer. I have also been receiving referrals to Connecticut clients outside the Hartford area. I am very appreciative. I do charge more for example on a job “east of the river” or “down by the shore” but I will still gladly help those clients. I will disclose rates to a client before beginning work so there are no surprises. A basic statement of rates is found on my website — westhartfordtechsupport.com . I also have a 1 page complete statement of billing policies, which can be provided to you at any time upon request.
iOS 13 Frustrations Continued
You should all have iOS 13 (known as iPad OS 13 on the iPad) on your Apple mobile devices by now. Last week an important update, 13.2, came out. A client brought a concern to me — that saving pictures from a text message / iMessage has changed in iOS 13. I looked into it and found that there may be just one method available for older iPhones. Previously, you could press and hold on the picture and press SAVE or you could tap to “open” the photo and then press the share button (the square with the upward arrow). While both methods still work for me (iPhone 11), on the client’s iPhone 8 only the press and hold method worked. Please be aware of this.
iOS 13 Lessons
Given that there are these changes that seem a bit jarring in iOS 13, I want to offer the opportunity of having a few lessons with me in the new operating environment so that you can function at your full potential. One thing I did with clients 2 years ago, when iOS 11 came out, was work through a “field guide” together. The current version of the e-book we used is called “Take Control of iOS 13 and iPad OS 13”. Even if you did not want to work through a few chapters with me to improve competency, I would highly recommend the $15 e-book. https://www.takecontrolbooks.com/ios-13-ipados-13/
I was thinking about how far we have come with technology. These days we are using pocket sized phones and tablets as the computers we spend the most time on. Everything is so digital. A few nights ago I felt like I was being forced to file an insurance claim online. I just wanted to talk to a live person. Finally, I was able to. I began reflecting on how far I have evolved in the area of phone technology. Going back to my earliest days with the computer, I would dial into the internet on the home phone line (tying it up so no other calls could get through). Talk about a way to cut down on scam sales calls! Later on as I was starting my first business, and about 2 years before my first cell phone, I had the need to make cheap long distance calls. I subscribed to a quarterly billed phone called “Phone Tel” — not to be confused with other companies with the same name. I think I was a customer until about the year 2000. Working in healthcare, my father was a regular pager or “beeper” user. I got one when I turned 18 but ultimately didn’t find it that useful. AOL Instant Messenger or AIM and AOL e-Mail were my messaging tools of choice for several years. My first cell phone was a Motorola Star TAC. This was the phone to have 20 years ago. If you don’t remember it — https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Motorola_StarTAC
After bringing and picking my wife up from the airport due to a weekend trip, I thought I would share a couple of tips with you. If you are thinking of traveling from Bradley Airport (BDL) and don’t mind a quick, relaxing, and scenic trip to T.F. Green Airport in Rhode Island, you should really check out fares from PVD. My wife was able to save $300 on a round trip to the Ontario, California (ONT) airport. PVD is only 1.5 hours from Hartford and seemed quicker. As the old saying goes, your mileage may vary. Another suggestion is to try alternate airports. These landing spots may be less expensive, more convenient, or both. The friends she was looking to meet were about 20 minutes east of ONT. Getting there from LAX when arriving at about 1030 PM would have been a challenge for her.
As many of you know, I made a BIG SWITCH to T-Mobile for cellular service with my wife back in March. The initial reasons I joined was because of their cheaper / possibly free international service for a trip she was taking to southeast Asia and because of the reports I had read from a plethora of sources about how good the coverage had gotten in recent years. 5+ years ago T-Mobile was truly a 3rd rate carrier. I’ve shared that the experience has been mostly good and the financial perspective got even better about 4 months in when we were able to sign up for the age 55+ plus plan (2 lines for $70 including taxes and fees, with unlimited everything). This was half what we were paying with Verizon. Given that I have so many clients that could benefit from a plan like this, I could have pumped them hard and made good money marketing TMO to you. I did not jump on that opportunity because I wanted to give my experience more time. More recently, I have noticed some shortcomings. When helping a client far from downtown Glastonbury (near Portland actually), I had no service. When taking the smooth, rural, Route 165 into Rhode Island I had no service for about 3 miles. Additionally, last week I had about 3 dropped calls in the Hartford area. It was a new development. After extensive conversations with TForce (customer support), I found out that there are tower upgrades going on in the area and they should be completed by mid-November. I did not have any more dropped calls outside of those 3 days, so I’m inclined to believe what I was told. So here is where I stand with T-Mobile — as far as my client base is concerned: If you want to save money with T-Mobile, you can go to a T-Mobile store or I can certainly help you. However, there are potential limitations. One reason to keep your Verizon or ATT service is the reliability of the towers. Considering the country as a whole, Verizon and ATT have a much higher percentage of towers with fuel powered backup in the case of power outages and natural disasters than T-Mobile. At times, you just want the call go through. While we are spared from a lot of the worst weather, you never know when a “2011 Snowpocalypse” will hit us again.
Spooky Phone Calls
Are you getting more scam phone calls? I have two clients that may have been called by fake or moonlighting Comcast representatives the other day. “Hi, I’m calling from the Cable Department.” Good thing I was there. We hung up. I want to make sure you can recognize a scam call. On Monday morning, I received a call on my business line saying that my Social Security Number is being suspended. Hmmm, I feel so scared now. I might be in big trouble. NOT!
Thought of the Week: I am not a Russian asset, but I will help you fight technology scammers from Russia, India, the U.S. or wherever. I am going to say this again because new clients have gotten on board and it’s been a while since I made this announcement. The real Microsoft, Google, Apple, Yahoo or Facebook are not going to pop up on your screen with a phone number with a person on the other end of the line asking for money. You have an intrusion on your computer and you are one step away from being scammed. Do not call the number! Do not make a $500 – 1000 mistake plus open yourself to identity theft. If you can’t get rid of it call me and I will solve it.
Small Business Spotlight: As you know I am in business to serve sole proprietors and small businesses, along with residential consumers and non-profits. From time to time I like to highlight unique small companies and non-profits. This week I would like to introduce you to Skrewball Whiskey. They are unique in that they sell one product (available for order online and select locations), a peanut butter flavored whiskey. A husband and wife run this operation and there is a really positive immigration related twist to their vision. The husband hails from Cambodia, grew up poor, and never had peanut butter as a kid. Peanut butter was one of the first food items he learned to love in his new American life and thus inspired this venture. Check them out at https://www.skrewballwhiskey.com (Unsolicited)
Apple, Why Did You Do This To Us?
Well well, I have gotten an earful from clients about Apple’s new iOS 13 software (and its sister iPad OS 13). The new versions and subsequent minor updates are hard to avoid. They bring new features and stability and security fixes. However, they bring CHANGES. I work with an older client base. Remember I am the I.T. Guy that specializes in age 55 + at home, at work, and in non-profits run by people in this age bracket. Older adults can be quite resistant to change. It’s not good or bad; it’s a fact of life. I’ve been doing this for 22 years.
I know many of you enjoy putting your photos in the Photos app into albums. These albums will synchronize between iPhone and iPad, as well as the Mac, with iCloud Photo Library turned on. You can also see all of your photos and albums by logging on to iCloud.com from any computer, including a Windows computer. From the iPhone, in iOS 13, the process of adding a photo to an album has changed. Please make a note of this and try this out
In the Photos app
-the Photos tab at the bottom has changed a bit — you now see sub tabs for Years — Months — Days and All Photos. All Photos is still a good place to see all of your photos.
-But if you want to add photos to an existing album, you must click on the Albums tab
-Press the + to create a new album, name the album, from there you can add photos
-However, to add photos to an existing album, you must go to Albums, and open the album
-Then press Edit in the top right, then Add in the bottom center, then choose photos
Rinse and repeat, you will get it!
Song of the Week: (Haven’t done this in a while) Ludovico Einaudi – “Experience” https://youtu.be/91sFlP6aa5Q . A You Tube video will open.
Concluding remarks: Remember, when you choose a small business, you are choosing someone who cares. You are choosing someone who will not cave to corporate pressure. When you choose to patronize someone like me, you are voting with your dollars, stating — I want someone like you to live in my community. Thank you all.