iPhone 12 Event

Apple had their big virtual iPhone 12 event today.  I just got finished watching it live.  I know that some of you are in the market for new iPhones, so I wanted to give you the skinny.  Apple unveiled 4 new iPhone 12 models.   The 12 Mini ($699), the 12 ($799), the 12 Pro ($999) and the 12 Pro Max ($1099).   The giant Max actually clocks in at a price reduction from last year’s model. 

The iPhone 12 — 6.1 inches is expected to be the biggest seller of the bunch, sporting the same screen size as the 2018 iPhone XR and 2019 iPhone 11, although fitting everything into a tighter body.   The iPhone 12 Pro is actually larger than the iPhone X (2017),  XS (2018), and 11 Pro (2019), so that might be a consideration for you. 

The 12 Mini is for those iPhone who want the smallest possible size, however the actual screen is larger than the iPhone 6 – models and the overall 2020 SE model. The body is smaller than those previous phones.

All of the new iPhone 12 models support 5G in both the “normal” and ultra wide band frequencies.  As I mentioned a few weeks ago 5G is just getting of the ground, so you are really future proofing yourself with these iPhone 12 devices.   And of course, if you want a budget friendly iPhone with a familiar look the SE @ $399 is still a great choice.

Simplifying Routines

Technical Tip

Don’t put your gear on top of other devices that are charging.  If your laptop is charging at night, don’t leave your phone or anything electronic on top of it.  I think this would apply to other mechanical devices as well. I developed a bad habit of placing the Seiko watch I got for my Big Birthday earlier this year on top of a closed laptop at night. Well well, the watch became demagnetized.  It’s in the shop now. 😦 

Biz Briefing

I am trying my best to weather the Covid 19 storm and also prepare for possible changes in operations once the weather gets colder.  I am doing about 2/3 of appointments in person right now, but if we have to go mostly remote, let’s make sure we are prepared.  With the vast majority of you, we are already set up to do Quick Assist (Windows) or Team Viewer and Zoom (Windows or Mac).  If for some reason you think you are not set up to do a remote session with me, I can help you get set up at no charge by phone or when I am in the area. 

Simplifying Routines

I describe myself as someone who provides I.T. consulting and tutoring  with a teacher’s heart.  After all, I was once a certified teacher and have a Masters in Education.  (And would you believe I am getting calls to come back in for school based positions? I told them, no thanks! I am not working in a classroom and jeopardizing my clients’ health.)  I try to incorporate a teacher’s spirit in what I do. This makes me so different than the I.T. Guy from the big box store or some nerd driving around in a VW Bug. 

I have gotten a great feel for how older adults learn and process information.  The teacher in me believes in high standards and expectations.  I want to take you into expanded portals of possibility.  You might think your potential is at ground level.  I have my sights set on the stars.  I think if we end up somewhere in between, you will be able to get a lot out of your technology. 

One of my goals going forward is to help you simplify routines through sequences of brief, memorable steps.  When working with a client recently, I broke down emailing scanned documents to

-Scan

-Save

-Attach

Keyboard shortcuts are another way to simplify tasks. 

Want to create a new folder for your files?

In the File Explorer (Finder – Mac), create a new folder by pressing Ctrl (Cmd – Mac) Shift + N

iPhone Users Positive Review of Pixel 4a

I don’t have many clients that are really into Android anymore, but I wanted to share this review that is quite positive from an iPhone loyalist who tried Google’s new Pixel 4a.   In my opinion, its the no brainer Android phone choice @ $349.

I should add that the 4a supports 2 phone lines (regular SIM + eSIM) should you need that feature.

Published in PC World and Mac World — Sept 8, 2020

https://www.pcworld.com/article/3574016/apple-iphone-se-vs-google-pixel-4a-size-display-camera-features.html

Fall Is Peak Season For Technology

5G – Here And Getting Closer

I outlined some basics on the new 5G towers a few weeks ago, but I wanted to simplify and add to it as well.  Basically there are two 5G technologies being deployed in this country at the moment, sub-6 and mmWave.  T-Mobile and ATT are going mostly with the sub-6, which will reach more people.  Verizon is going with mmWave, which is even faster but restricted to specific spots like stadiums, stations, or a place like Times Square.  Consequently, Verizon is way behind.  Ultimately, all of these carriers will deploy a mix of both types of 5G towers.  If you are due for a new phone, I am going to give you my opinion as to when 5G should mean something to you.  This does not mean give up on your carrier or that your carrier is bad or that you need to throw out your 6 month old phone to get a 5G phone.  I’ve uttered no such words.   I got a real life test of 5G on the T-Mobile network in Boston last week.   My wife’s 5G Samsung clocked in at double the speed of my iPhone 11.   Therefore, if you are a T-Mobile customer — I would say the time to buy a 5G phone (again if you are phone shopping) would be as soon as these iPhone 12 models come out.  Then you will have a mix of low end phones like the Revvl 5G, or the Samsungs, and the iPhones to choose from — all with 5G.   ATT is at the middle of the pack.  Their 5G is not as widely deployed as T-Mobiles, but they are getting there.  If you still want to save some money by buying that iPhone SE, go for it.  But by 2021, early next year, I think you should definitely be considering a 5G phone if you are phone shopping.   With Verizon, on the other hand, I think there is no rush to get a 5G phone — probably until the 2nd half of next year.  Ultimately, two years from now, Verizon may end up having the best 5G network.  Slow and steady wins the race?  We hope or they hope!  Rumor has it that only the super expensive iPhone 12 Pro Max model will even be able to communicate with Verizon’s mmWave towers.  The other 3 models coming out this fall will not.  If I were a Verizon customer, 5G wouldn’t even be a part of my thought process yet.  (And yes, you can still buy any of the other iPhone 12 models to use with Verizon’s existing network.)

Fall Is Peak Season For Technology

Fall is the busy season in my business and in the world of personal technology.  We will see new iPhones before the end of October, perhaps in two separate launches for the 4 models expected to be released.  New Apple Watches as well as iPads (possibly) will be coming out next week from Apple.   There will be brand new computers from Microsoft, including a reported “moderately priced” Surface laptop.  Wait there’s more!   Apple is coming out with a brand new macOS 11 which is supposed to be the biggest deal for the Mac in 20 years since OS X came out.  Finally, ioS 14 / iPad OS 14 will be here quite soon. Let’s make sure you have a backup first.  And for my students in the back of the class, if you have a 5+ year old Verizon flip phone (iPhone 5s or 5c too), it’s time to get a new one.  Verizon is retiring its old calling network on 12/31/2020.  Your old phone will be a paperweight.  What a season we can have together — I’m looking forward to being there for you, every step of the way!  Now you know why I get excited about the fall!!

The Future of Movies

Google Pixel 4a

If you are really into Google services, like Gmail and all they offer — you may want to consider their new Pixel 4a Android phone.   It has been priced to compete squarely with Apple’s new mid-range iPhone SE.  Google even beats the price by $50, coming in at $349.  The 4a works on all major carriers.  Here is a sneak peek — https://store.google.com/us/product/pixel_4a

The Future Of Movies

Who is going to the movies?  I haven’t since last fall.  Are 15 cent tickets from AMC going to lure you in?  Have you heard of any big summer releases?  Crickets are chirping here.  Here is what Disney is doing through their Disney + app for the soon to be released Mulan movie.   They are going to release it in the app on the same day it hits the theater — for a premium charge of $30.   I was wondering when this would happen.  I know that even under normal circumstances, it could really crimp the movie theaters’ business, but this day was going to come sooner or later.  I think more new movies will come out, but I think Xfinity On Demand, Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime should all get in on this cutting edge content delivery model.  Instead of 3 people going to a theater, that may or may not be safe, you pay $30 (or $40 or whatever) and watch it at home.  You can make yourself an iced tea and skip the diabetic coma soda and $10 popcorn.  It’s a win win.  Of course, not every app will have every  new movie.  There are going to be exclusive deals.  It would be nice if there is just a “movie theater app” and you don’t have to pay monthly but you can just buy individual movies that interest you.  Day 1 new movies — coming soon to a home theater near you!

Supporting You In The Storm

This week reminded me of the 2 storms in 2011 when many of us lost power from 3 days during the summer storm to more than a week in the “October Surprise.”  I’ll never forget driving completely blind in the snow one night trying to go the 3 to 4 miles from my apartment down the road where several family members lived.  I was lost in a blizzard, running on faith.

The big difference in 2020 was, I never lost power or internet.  I must be in a good location as far electrical reliability is concerned because in the 5+ years we have lived here, we have never lost power in any storm.  As much as I like to criticize Comcast, I got them to install a separate line in 2015 directly from my modem to the street.  Since then, my connection has been trouble free.

However, I have heard from some of you.  I know you are in bad shape.  You may have no power, no internet, or power, but are lacking internet. I want to support you in whatever way I can, possibly to help you to in the current crisis and to prepare for the future. 

Ideas

-Just as was the case back in 2011, I think some of you may want to have a hard line / POTS telephone line with the phone company.  This coupled with a corded phone can provide a real sense of security and companionship during a difficult time.  Part of the problem is so many of us have moved to internet based phone lines from the cable company  and even the phone company.  Internet based phones do you ZERO good during a power outage.  If you have a battery backup, that line may last you 8 hours.  An old fashioned telephone line will still work unless the line is damaged.   Your neighborhood may have had the traditional lines torn out. You may never be able to get that back, but you may.  Consider what helps you sleep at night.

-Do you have the right cell phone provider?  Have you been able to make and receive calls easily?  Have you had trouble getting cellular data?

-Would you like to create a “hotspot” from your smartphone or get a little hotspot box so that you can connect your other devices like your laptop and tablet to the internet when your hard wired internet is down?

-Would you be interested in a cellular iPad so you have a computer like device that connects to the internet even when you have no WiFi?

Critical Password Practices

I had to deal with another security breach last week. It could happen to anyone.  Accounts get hacked.  Passwords are guessed.  Bad guys keep trying until they get it right.  These scammers will even try to make up fake email accounts and impersonate you if they have extra motivation to deceive.  In this one instance I got called out to deal with, the hacker was probably in China but they were clever enough to make it seem like they were hacking from the USA.   You don’t want this to happen to you right?


You cannot MUST NOT reuse passwords for multiple websites / services.   Each account needs a separate password.  A password should be easy for you to remember and hard for others to guess.  It should not contain family members’ names.  It should not contain your street name, street number, or year of birth.  Do a Google Search on yourself.  Your password should not contain any key words that come up in that search.  You could use a password manager like 1Password or Last Pass.  However, this requires learning a new tool and I know not all of you are prepared to do this.  You could use a random password generator tool, creating passwords of 12 characters or longer.   https://www.random.org/passwords/  is a tool I have used with clients repeatedly over the years.  If you are still saying this isn’t for you, OK, so at the very least you should do the following.  Create a memorable base that you will use over and over again, then put a unique ending that helps you identify each site.  Record everything in a password notebook at the very least.   For example, let’s say you attended Camp Redwoods as a child and no one else knows that.  Your password for Microsoft could be   — ILoveCampRedwoods20msft — and then you could repeat this formula  over and over again.  That would be a bare minimum, but acceptable strategy.   Each password should ideally be 12 to 14+ characters long.  Personally speaking, I have started making my passwords 25 – 30 characters long whenever possible. ( This is very easy with a password manager.) 

How to check for suspicious logins to Comcast Xfinity email account

I have now had 2 clients in the past year who’ve had their Comcast email accounts broken into.  Scams were attempted and some damage was done. 

They have now put out a tool so you can see all of the login attempts on your Comcast account with the past 30 days.  If you suspect anything or are just curious — you should sign into this website with your Comcast e-mail address and password.


https://security-console.identity.xfinity.com/

It worked very well for me with a client yesterday.  We determined that her account was hacked by someone accessing the internet through a server in Seattle, WA. 

One more tip — make sure that your Comcast email password is not the same as ANY OTHER password you use.

Clearing Out Those Computer Gremlins

How are you? Staying during this heat wave?    I am open for business and look forward to my sessions with you this week whether in person or virtual.  Did you know that you might have $43 in Junk Fees on your cable bill?  Read on to find out…..

Clearing Out Those Computer Gremlins

Here is some good and simple advice for you.  While it’s very convenient to let the computer go to sleep, so that you get all of the updates and can wake it up quickly — SHUT IT DOWN COMPLETELY — ONCE A WEEK.   It can be for a few minutes. It can be overnight, your choice.   But just completely shut it down.  I think that will just help to clear all the cobwebs and gremlins out.   It’s good therapy for the device.   You can even do this with your smartphones and tablets.  Give them a complete shut down, at least once a week.

Comcast B.S. Fees

(And by B.S. — I mean big secret).  In is unbelievable what they are allowed to get away with. I was explaining this to a customer recently, but if you have 3 services with Comcast / Xfinity (or even just TV + internet) you are probably paying about $43 in extra  fees that they never tell you about up front.   Here is a breakdown of those fees:

1) there is a $14.95 broadcast TV fee (this is the fee they charge for re-transmitting local channels like local CBS, local NBC, local FOX (which is different than FOX NEWS which a paid cable channel), local ABC, local PBS (CPTV), and a few others.  In the past local stations did not get paid by the cable company, but if my brain serves me correctly there  was a legal / regulatory decision about 10+ years ago that made this possible.

2) Whether you watch sports or not (and if you do there will be baseball, basketball and hockey starting in about 1 week) — there is a Regional Sports fee of $8.75 per month.   They have a few packages that don’t have sports but if you type in the channel # or say “ESPN” to the voice remote, and it comes up, you have the sports channels

3) for your Xfinity Gateway — that is your modem / router / phone adapter , the white box…they charge a monthly rental of about $14

4)  They also now charge about $5 per month for your primary cable box.  It used to be free.   They also charge about $10 each for additional digital outlets (TV’s) but I am not factoring that in here.  For now you can save on that fee by using a Roku as your cable box.  They are not charging for that YET. 

The only one of these fees you can truly avoid is #3.  You can buy your own modem.  A decent one like the Netgear CM700 is about $110 give or take plus a router..  However, if you have phone services with Xfinity, you will need a modem that supports this.  Those modems cost more.    Those could be $200-250 with wireless router functionality built in.  Or $100 for a modem plus voice (current Best Buy price)  + a router of your choosing.   Decent single routers are usually $100 to $200.   If you do the math on $14 per month, you would generally see that owning your own equipment pays for itself in 2 years or less.  However, if you are prone to a lot of electrical surges and cable outages (which I do not experience) – it may be worth paying that $14 a month.  Personally speaking, I have owned my own modem / router since 2012 and I have never looked back.  I replaced the equipment with a new modem and router in 2018. 

If you have a different cable or home telecom company — check your bill.  How many B.S. fees do you have?