Things I Didn’t Tell You


Verizon CDMA Network Shutdown – Part 2

1.  A few weeks ago I mentioned how Verizon is shutting down their CDMA calling network by the end of the year.  At that point, they will only support LTE calling (aka. VoLTE or voice over LTE).  All newer smartphones such as the iPhone 6 and later support LTE calling. The iPhone 5, 5s, and 5c do not.  Most of their newer Android phones also support this feature.  Even the new flip phones that Verizon sells allow you to call on the new network.  The issue of whether their LTE calling network is as well built out as their “gold standard” CDMA network will be a topic for another time.  For now all you need to know is that you may need to replace older phones on the Verizon network.  

I was asked by a client, what about Tracfone?   Tracfone is a service brand known as an MVNO (mobile virtual network operator) that provides their own customer service, but utilizes the cell phone towers of the major providers (Verizon, ATT, Sprint, or TMobile).  Each Tracfone phone operates on one of those four networks.   If that network is Verizon, and the phone does not support LTE calling, you will need to replace your phone as well. 

If you need help figuring out what network you are on or know you need to replace your phone, please ask for assistance.

Two Phone Lines on 1 iPhone

2.  I mentioned this briefly a few months ago, but I want to let you know something very special about the 2018 iPhones:  Xr, Xs, and Xs Max.  You can you use two cellular lines on a single iPhone.   Those iPhone models come with a physical sim slot (that holds a card that your phone uses to communicate with the cellular network) and an eSim (essentially a serial # that can be given to the cellular provider for activation with a phone line).  The eSim is a virtual sim card permanently embedded into the phone.   More and more carriers are supporting the eSim technology.   I can think of scenarios where having two lines on one phone could be very useful

– Personal and business

– Primary number and backup number

– Cell and home (converted to a cell number)

– Local number and out of state number (perhaps in the area where you have a vacation home)

– Here is one that you may not have thought of:  Carrier A where you are saving a lot of money (maybe a T-Mobile Prepaid / Metro PCS) and then Carrier B, ie. a Verizon MVNO (like Xfintiy Mobile at $12 per month) because you want to have the Verizon network as a backup in case you don’t have coverage in remote areas with Carrier A. 

Having 2 lines on one iPhone can offer a lot of functionality.  If you want to do this, let’s work together and get it done.

Security Update–Google Chrome–Important

Google discovered a major security flaw in Chrome and the put out an update for it on Thursday.

In the upper right hand corner of the browser window — you should see a big GREEN ARROW.   Please click it and choose the update option.  The update will get applied and Chrome will re-open in about 2 minutes or less. 

If you don’t see the arrow — it means you probably already have the update.   But to be sure — click on the “3 dot menu” in the upper right (where you go to get Chrome settings).  Click Help — click About Google Chrome.   Version  # should be 72.0.3626.121

Hulu Live TV–2 Million Strong

Attention Hulu Cord Cutter Clients:

I just want to let you know that you are in good company.  Subscriber numbers came out last week.  Hulu Live TV has 2 million subscribers.  Their chief rival – You Tube TV has 1 million.   So in total, that’s a giant black eye for the cable company.

I also want to make you aware that Hulu also has their own original “TV shows” as part of your package in addition to the live channels they provide.  Be sure to check those options out.    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_original_programs_distributed_by_Hulu

For example, the Handmaid’s Tale has gotten rave reviews.  Previous seasons are available now and the next season starts in June.

If you have any other friends / family that want to cut the cord — tell them about me.  In about a 2 hour session, I will have them straightened out.

Companies That Want Your Business

You might be surprised but I still have an handful of clients that rely on AOL as their primary email account.  “Hello 1999. I Miss you.”  Some of these clients actually PAY for their AOL accounts.  Yikes.   To the best of my recollection, back in 2006 or so AOL allowed you to “cancel billing” and just use it as a free webmail account, much like Yahoo Mail or Gmail.  That is truly the best way to go because they don’t care about you.  AOL doesn’t want a residential consumer’s paid account.   AOL is an advertising and information portal these days.  They own Huffington Post; they sell advertising services;  they would liked it if AOL.com is your homepage; and oh yeah by the way they provide e-mail as a free add-on.   Over the past 2 months, I encountered two clients that were still paying “full boat” to AOL @28.95, as if they still had a dial up connection.  I didn’t want to upset the apple cart too much, so I changed them to their $6.95 per month a month plan, which still allows phone support (and very poor phone support I might add).  Nevertheless, I helped save each of these clients $264 per year — liberating them from a company who could care less.

Do you want to know another company that really doesn’t want your business?  The electric company.  They don’t mind if you get a solar system.  They openly encourage and even facilitate green energy upgrades, which reduce your usage.  They really won’t even fuss that much if you choose “alternate electric suppliers” (which usually result in you getting ripped off).  Why?   The less energy you use, the less chance there is that their capacity has to be upgraded or new plants have to be built.  Even if rates might be on the incline, they certainly don’t mind if you use less and less kilowatt hours. 

I check out a lot of companies and products so that I can be on top of my game for you.  Want to know a company that really wants your business?  T-Mobile.  They have grown by leaps and bounds since they started their “Un-Carrier” philosophy several years ago.  They have also expanded their network significantly in the past 4 years.  No longer are they a “big city” cell phone company only.   Their price plan might not be the right move for everyone.  Also, if you live in a very rural area like northwestern Connecticut — they still may not be the best choice.  However, they are an option worth of consideration if you want to keep your # and are looking for a change.  T-Mobile will pay off your device payment plan with another carrier and if you switch from Verizon (with a late model iPhone for example) – they will pay off your phone and let you keep it as a T-Mobile customer.   T-Mobile also gives customers with 2 lines or more free Netflix, and to all customers — a better standard unlimited plan than Verizon, and free international service (no need to pay $10 / day with the big guys). 

Other companies that I know to really value your business are

Fastmail  or XYZ Mail— a paid e-mail providers that offer real customer support for consumers or businesses (and a great web mail interface by the way)

Backblaze — have files that you can’t afford to lose?  want a true backup (not cloud sync) service that isn’t subject to the quirks of iCloud or One Drive?  $5 a month, gets the job done.  They are always willing to answer questions. 

Cord Cutting Part 3 – Numbers Please

In a previous discussion on streaming I mentioned that a $70.00 a month cable internet package (or better) would be a appropriate option for “cord cutting”.  As I always strive to provide accuracy in recommendations, I want to tell you that the current (stand alone) price for the Performance (60/5) internet package with Comcast is 74.99.   I was within a Starbucks drink of the price. 🙂  Comcast does charge a bit more if you only have one product with them, but you do get that freedom of not being bound by a bundle or a contract.  Also by being an Internet only customer with the cable company (or Internet / TV, no phone), you can save $13 per month by purchasing your own cable modem.    I don’t want to leave out the phone company either.   I recently reviewed Frontier’s pricing and it seems they are offering a 45/6 package for new customers for 24.99 and a faster package for 29.99 per month.   In areas where they have true fiber to the home, the speeds will be even better. I have some clients that get by with less speed doing 1 stream at a time but I would like to err on the side of enough enough bandwidth.   Fast phone company service with your own router — can work.

Established customers usually aren’t respected. Want to get new customer pricing? Cancel your services for a few days (few weeks when you go on vacation) and then have your spouse sign up as a new customer.  .  I can confirm this strategy worked with a family member, but YMMV (your mileage may vary). 

For those of you in the West Hartford Center area and nearby neighborhoods — you actually have one more choice for internet — a true fiber optic provider that has moved into the area.  The company is called Go Net Speed.  I would strongly urge you to consider them.  They offer a 150 MB/s connection for $50 a month and no junk fees.   This may be your one chance to break free of the monopolies.  https://gonetspeed.com/ .  They hope to build out more areas soon. Fill out the form to request service in your neighborhood.

Smartphones Premium and Budget

I hope you are having a great week with your technology.


Update to the Ad Blocker Updates

Google made an important announcement this week.  They issued a partial reversal of the planned changes in their Google Chrome browser.  There for it seems that ad blockers uBlock Origin and Ad Block Plus will not be rendered useless as previously thought. While they are in the business of delivering ads, Google made it clear that they are not in the business of restricting content blockers.  Browse on!    I will keep you posted as to further developments.

New Samsung Phones – The Battle is On

The iPhone’s closest competitor, the Samsung Galaxy S line of phones, was updated today.  If you like Android or are looking to try something high end but different — these Galaxy S10 phones may be for you.  Just like the 2018 iPhones, Samsung will have three new phones of note:  the Galaxy S10e (think iPhone XR price), the Galaxy S10 (iPhone XS), and the Galaxy S10+ (iPhone XS Max).   These phones will be priced starting at $750, $900, and $1000 – with the familiar interest free payment plans available from your carrier.   Like the iPhone XR, the S10e will be a premium phone.  Think of the larger sized and more expensive siblings as just a higher level trim of an already excellent phone.   That is how I see the iPhone XS and XS Max as well.  For those in the Apple world, the XR is technically a larger phone than the XS.  Pre-orders on the Samsungs start on Friday. 

Lower Cost Smart Phones

If you are interested in lower cost smartphones in the $200’s and $300’s – I have a few models in mind that could work on all of the major carriers.  You don’t have to feel forced to spend iPhone money to have a decent smartphone experience. 

You May Need to Replace Your Verizon Phone

On this train of thought, I also want to let you know that if you or anyone you know is still using an older Verizon flip phone (or even an older smart phone, ie. pre-iPhone 6) you will need a new phone by the end of 2019.  Verizon is retiring their older calling network.  Your old phone will no longer be able to make calls.

Simple Security Stuff–February 2019

I realize that the last two weeks of update were truly “honors class” material.   The take home points are — 1) I always install ad blockers for my clients.  2) You should have a second (or 3rd) browser installed should there be issues with your primary browser.  3) The ability to use my preferred ad blocker in Google Chrome may change by the end of the year.  4) I can help you with this issue should the time come.

Let’s go remedial this week.


Simple Security Stuff – February 2019

When sending out group e-mails:  put yourself in the To field, put everyone else in the Bcc field.

-Never make your password out of revealing or obvious information (Birth date, maiden name, password123, etc.).

-One trend in password creation that I like is to create a sentence (ex.  ILiketheYankeesin19).

-You need to be using a separate password for each website.  You can start with the same base and add a unique suffix for each particular website.

-Ideally, you should use a software password manager.  I set up either Last Pass or 1Password for my clients.  They are secure and they work.

-If you are not ready to use a password manager: Never ever ever store your passwords in a Word document on the computer.  If you are going to store them this way, we need to put them on a flash drive that you can plug into your computer when you need to look at them.  (Please contact me if you are in this situation).

-If you still aren’t ready to use a password manager (hint), I don’t mind you using a paper based “notebook”.