Not Everyone Gets The Same Priority

Computer Picks

I represent about an equal number of Windows vs. Mac clients.  A few are iPad or Chromebook only.  I just wanted to say that if you are not absolutely locked in to particular apps on the Mac or you might be turned off by some of Apple’s decisions with the Mac or leery of the upcoming processor transition — you could probably do really well with a solid business class Windows desktop or laptop.   Excluding any possible discounts or outlet purchases, I think you can get a nice system for $800 to $900.  These computers cannot be purchased in stores. I know how to order them and have been doing so for years.   The kind of computers I have in mind are often repairable and upgradable — serviceable is the word I am looking for.  There is a reason why the State, the big hospital systems, and big insurance companies buy these computers by the hundreds (if not thousands) — they stand the test of time.  They’re not buying Macs.  It’s just something to keep in mind.    With that said, I have helped Mac clients switch to Windows and Windows clients switch to Mac.  I am a versatile provider of technology consulting services, with no preconceived notion that one platform is best for all clients. 

Not Everyone Gets The Same Priority

I am talking about data prioritization with your cell phone plan.  I have touched on this in the past, but I wanted to revisit it.  Did you know that some of you might have prioritized data with your carrier and some of you may not?   There is an order of data — when on a congested tower — where some users will be given preferred access and others may be slowed down or get slowed down to a crawl.   (Prioritization is different than being capped or throttled.   A cap would be — you get 5 GB of total data per month and you are totally cut off after that. A throttle would be — we limit all traffic to 5 mb/s even if you can get a faster speed in theory.  Some plans are throttled to a very slow speed after reaching the cap.)   But what I really wanted to address here is the idea of prioritization.   You might be out and about trying to book a restaurant order or launch the Maps app or even buy some clothing for quick online pickup — then your phone just slows to a crawl.  It’s possible that  you are being deprioritized.   There may be a lot of other users on that tower with priority over you.  There is a good chance that it won’t happen to you.  It might be congestion, however you just might not have the “top banana” priority.   I haven’t heard of it happening a lot locally, but there are definitely parts of the country that are oversaturated on Verizon towers, ATT towers, etc.   They have no choice but to route traffic with a certain order. 

Let me just state a couple examples to help you clear up the confusion.  If you get a monthly bill and you are on an older Verizon / ATT plan and you get like 2 GB of data per month, 4 GB, 8 GB — you are prioritized.    If you have the first tier of Verizon’s new unlimited plans known as Start or Go unlimited – you are always deprioritized.   Again, it may never be a problem for you. I just want you to know.   The next level of Verizon’s unlimited plans tells customers they can be deprioritized after 25 GB of use (which is probably a lot more than most of you would use in a given month).   Prepaid plans are generally always deprioritized, although ATT Prepaid has some exceptions. 

Is Cord Cutting No Longer A Value Proposition?

(I am sending this to my special sub group of clients that cut traditional pay TV about 18 months ago and went with Hulu’ Live TV offering; I am also sending this message to a few others who have talked about cutting the cord or found other ways of doing so). 

So the one thing I wanted to say is — THE COST OF CONTENT IS GOING UP.  There are very few power brokers in control of all of this content.  A layman’s explanation of it would be something like this.   CBS:   Viacom / Paramount (and all of their channels),   Comcast:  NBC, NBC Sports, USA Network, etc.,  then don’t forget Disney — ABC / ESPN, and of course ATT — Time Warner / HBO.   There is also the Fox kingdom as well and all of their outlets. 

So let’s say you are the cable company, the satellite company, Hulu Live TV, You Tube TV — you have to make deals for all of that content.  And if you are the content provider, you cut  your deals with each service.   Do you think the prices are going down?  Of course not.   With more people staying  home perhaps for a very long time or forever, with sports being held without spectators, could those prices be going down?  NEVER.   Content deals are often described as $ per customer.   It would not surprise me if with some services that ESPN is getting paid $5 per customer.  You can see how this all adds up. 

Comcast / Xfinity is less likely to cut deals with their customers, except for brand new customers.   Hulu Live TV raised its prices to $55 last year.  You Tube TV raised its prices to $50 last year, and they admitted based on all of their content deals that at that rate they were only making $1 per customer per month.   You might ask why would they even bother being in business for a $1 profit per month?  The reason is Google owns You Tube and they can afford to be a disruptor.   Well, now it’s the customers who are feeling a little disruption.  You Tube TV announced that they are raising prices to $65 per month.  The good and bad thing about no contracts is — the price can go up any time, but the customer is free to leave at any time.   I would not be surprised if Hulu Live TV raises their prices soon, but maybe not.  We’ll see. 

As you can see the value proposition of the live TV replacement services isn’t quite what it used to be.  There are other choices besides Hulu + You Tube TV — although those 2 are widely praised for being the best.    There is ATT TV Now ( formerly DirecTV now).  Their base package is $55 per month.  Then there is Sling TV.  You may have seen their corny TV ads.  They are priced lower, but offer fewer channels. 

Now I know some of you have chosen to go with an antenna for free TV and other free options like CBS News Network (which is a free streaming channel).  Those may work out.  The price is right. 

Then you have to factor in all of the on demand streaming services like Amazon Prime Video, Netflix, and Disney Plus.   This could all get very expensive, but it could all be very meaningful as we are enjoying our content at home more.  Amazon Prime Video just launched a new feature where you can watch their stuff with other people in a “party” format at different locations.  I think that’s really cool.

So ultimately, I just want you to be aware   — 1) content isn’t cheap,  2)  the streaming services are disruptors to the entrenched cable companies and they can’t operate in the red forever if they want to stay with us, and 3)  you are likely not tied down by long contracts, so be free to hop around and try different options. 

Microsoft Does It To Us Again–Forced Updates

I have some bad news  again on Windows.  Last time I emailed you about printers.  Not its FORCED UPDATES.   This time it’s for my Windows Pro users.  Of course you should know by now that when I order a client’s computer that I try to order Windows 10 Pro whenever possible.  Usually this about $30 to $50 more at the time of ordering the computer ($99 if you upgrade after the fact).   I have been big on the Pro version for 3 reasons.

1)  Bit Locker included:  This is a Microsoft technology that encrypts all  your files.  If someone steals your hard drive, they aren’t going to get access to your files.

2) Better security w/ activation of the password prompt:  When major changes are being made to your computer, you will get prompted with a request to type in your password – not just a YES / NO prompt.  This really makes you think – do I want to do this?

3) (And probably the best one) – the ability to delay new versions of Windows by up to 365 days – called Feature Updates.   Microsoft comes out with 2 new versions of Windows 10 per year.  This is crazy, but we are not going to change their behavior at this point.   I have consistently told you to set the delay on Feature Update to 3 to 4 months (at least).

As reported on the great Windows commentary website, Thurrott.com, you can cross #3 off the list.   Now Microsoft is hellbent on forcing new versions of Windows on us, even if we paid extra for Windows Pro.  Shame on them!!  This change will take effect when the latest version of Windows hits your computer – Windows 10 2004 (no not year 2004, “2004” here refers to year and month or 04 of 2020. 

So now, you can only delay the new versions by 7 day – 5 times – for a total of 35 days.  What a drag!   I am beginning to wonder who is getting worse on Updates – Microsoft or Apple?   Now you know why people are buying and doing a lot of their computing on Chromebooks.   You might not be able to do as much on Chrome OS – but it is a no B.S. operating system. 

Now of course – you are probably asking – it’s there something you can do for us?  Well actually – yes!  I have a solution.  I found some quick, deep level programming I can do on your Windows computer to bring the delays back and even possibly extend them.  I will try to do this for you at our next appointment and yes, I think I can do it virtually.

As I said to my Mac clients earlier today – why can’t we just get one version of the operating system and stick with it for 5 years – just getting minor security updates?    Life would be so perfect.  Windows 7: we miss you.

PS.  If you bought your Windows computer on your either before meeting me or on your own, none of this applies to you.  You are going to get the SLOP when Microsoft dishes it out.  Lately it has been slop!

Zoom–Buggy On The Mac? Yes.

I know a lot of you are Zooming these days.


Unfortunately I’ve received reports and also personally participated in troubleshooting zoom problems with multiple clients.


I don’t have all the answers right now, but I think Mac OS 10.15 (which is hard to avoid, as previously mentioned) may be a common vortex.  I’ve had clients with video and audio problems in zoom  with BOTH built in audio / video (a la Mac Book and iMac)  and separate audio and video — such as using a plug-in Webcam, microphone or headphones.


And the other quirk in this whole process is, what if the updates we do fix some problems but then create others?  I think both the Mac operating system and the windows operating system have gone the wrong way on updates in the past few years.   it’s this forced updating that is just killing us, in a metaphorical sense of course.


Why can’t we just have one version of the operating system for five years and get just minor security updates from time to time?. We don’t need features, we don’t need to reinvent the wheel.


now with this all said, there is apparently a new update for Zoom on the Mac coming out today. If you use them regularly, make sure you get this update because it may fix some of the bugs you were experiencing.   if you are not prompted to update automatically when opening zoom, you can click on the zoom.us  menu at the top and check for updates.  


We are learning and growing together. Sometimes there’s going to be some growing pains.

Your iPhone Records Everywhere You Go–How To Turn Off

Just wanted to give you all a mid-week blast. This came across my desk today and I thought some of you would want to flip the switch to turn it off.

I learned something new today — there is a fairly hidden setting in (Settings > Privacy> Location Services >>  then down to the bottom, System Services) — called Significant Locations.   It is a record of EVERYWHERE you have visited with your phone.    Kind of creepy!

Anyway, you can turn this off.   If you like the iPhone intelligently learning your patterns and making suggestions based on that — by all means leave it on. 

I think I’ll be turning Significant Locations off.

Microsoft–Do It To Me One More Time?

Unfortunately, this is not a Lionel Richie love song.

Here is the reading material — https://www.engadget.com/microsofts-windows-10-updates-printer-bugs-000112943.html

Unfortunately, June’s monthly Windows update (began rolling out 6/9) is messing up printing on what is likely a small but significant number of computers.  The same exact thing happened, including to several of you, back in October.

I remember all that I had to go through with my clients.  I had to come out for a bunch of appointments because of these printing woes caused by Updates.  In numerous instances, I had to delete and re-add your printer in Windows.   In one case, a client had to buy a new printer (which did solve the problem).  In the most extreme scenario, nothing was working for me.  I was ready to give up!   I literally had to back up all the files, erase the computer, and then “clean install” Windows 10 1909 which was the latest version of Windows in December 2019.  That fixed it.

These monthly updates are supposed to mitigate security concerns.   They should not break essential functions like printing.

I hope it doesn’t happen to you now — either again or for the first time.  If you purchased your Windows computer on your own, outside of my guidance, you probably have Windows 10 Home.  You are going to be forced to take the Updates when Microsoft dishes them out.

On all computers I had a hand in ordering — I made sure you have Windows 10 Pro.   With the Pro version — updates can be delayed.   I have likely delayed or instructed you to delay Feature Updates (new versions of Windows) by at least 3 months.  We have never touched Security Updates which are the monthly updates that are screwing with printing right now.   I think that Security Updates should be delayed by 7 days.  I could see doing 14 days, but I wouldn’t want you to go beyond that.  These monthly and “odd times” updates address pressing security matters. 

If you remember how to change these options — you go to — Start Menu >> Settings >> Update & Security   > Advanced Options.   The delay for Feature Updates should be 90 to 120 days.  The delay for quality (aka security) updates should be 7 to 14 days.      If you don’t see these choices in Advanced Options — you have Windows 10 Home.

One good thing is — if you have Windows 10 Home — you can upgrade to Pro for a one time cost of $99.  It’s pretty painless.

Microsoft Defender Good Enough For Most

1. Windows 10 — version 2004 is beginning to roll out.  I hate the naming scheme on this because it makes one think that this is Windows 2004.  The 20 and the 04 refer to the year and month that this version was finalized.   Anyway, there is no rush to install it now on day one.   It will be pushed out to your computer in due time.  If you want my help with a professional install, we can look into that down the road. 

2.  For nearly all clients that I work with, I don’t think you have to pay for a separate anti-virus for your Windows computer.  The built in Microsoft Defender is quite adequate.  Only pay for anti-virus if it offers you something really special for what you are paying.   I used to recommend one particular anti-virus because they offer phone support. I thought when dealing with an older client base, that would mean something. Over the years it really didn’t.  Clients would still call me first if they had an issue.  I don’t want to toot my horn but I haven’t had a client with a Windows security issue in a couple of years.   So what I am saying is that I think the free built in Microsoft Defender is probably just fine.  (If I were going to pay for an anti-virus, the only two that come to mind that I would probably pay for are PC Matic — $50 / yr for up to 5 devices for home use or Malware Bytes $40 /yr 1 device / $80 / yr 5 devices.   This is NOT an endorsement, but I will support you in using either. )   If you are paying for an anti-virus as a home based consumer, I think you can stop at your renewal, but please take #3 below to heart. 

3.  So how do you keep yourself safe?

-Don’t install something you didn’t go looking for

-Treat links in e-mails and attachments skeptically

-Have multiple backups of your data. Carbonite and Backblaze are good online backup services.  If you have a locally attached hard external hard drive, disconnect it from time to time. Macrium Reflect is my favorite Windows backup software.  The built in Windows 10 File History is not terrible either.

-Use an ad-blocker in your browser – preferably uBlock Origin. 

-Keep up to date with Windows Updates.  I rarely shut my computer down and let the updates occur automatically.  If you regularly shut your computer down / disconnect from the internet.  You should be checking for Windows updates weekly or biweekly. 

Comcast Clapback–Going For A Knockout

I had a little bit of a tense exchange with a Comcast employee over the retention / loyalty ( I want to lower my bill) department.  This employee was outraged that I have gotten numerous deals for myself since 2014 and also helped clients do the same.  If you missed what I shared on this topic before, I will say that at times, I have saved my clients $300 to $500 per year.  I have usually provided this service in conjunction with other tasks I am performing during an appointment, but in other instances clients have found it worth it to pay me for an hour just to come out and make a deal for them.  I also explained earlier this year that due to an internal company initiative known as “Vision 2020” that states they will not be giving deals to existing customers as in years past.  (Yet, ironically right after I found out about this I saved a client $500 per year).   I don’t want to give anyone false hopes.  Usually, the biggest savings I net are for clients with A) old packages from years ago, B) clients paying above $200 per month, and C) clients willing to cut back to internet only or make other substantial cuts.  So anyway, I stood my ground with this employee.  I said that if customers weren’t supposed to call and ask for better deals — why was the retention department actively giving the deals between 2014 – 2019?   Why did Comcast have reps helping customers on the popular discussion websites DSLReports-dot-com and Reddit-dot-com?   Why does Comcast have reps on Twitter helping customers get better service than on the phone?   I said — YOU created this system.   You give new customers gimmick offers that expire.  You have sky high ordinary prices for services, which you only publish once a year and include in an end of the year bill that nobody sees because they do paperless billing.  And even then, you muddy the waters because the price of your offers are never a straight price because you add BROADCAST TV fees and SPORTS FEES and essentially a double sales tax (which is the state’s fault not theirs) and equipment rental fees that keep increasing.  I told this employee that your anger is mis-directed at people like me who used the system I was given and taught my clients how to do the same thing.  I told them, Comcast needs to be more like T-Mobile.  Another employee got back to me and say — we are trying!

Fax Is Back and T-Mobile Update

Here are a couple of Bonus Features for you today.

Fax Is Back

With one company in particular and actually a couple of parties, I have been doing a lot of faxing lately.  I haven’t had a true home phone with the phone company since 2012.  From 2012-2016, I had a service called VOIPo for my home phone.  Basically I plugged an adapter into my router and then positioned a couple of cordless phones throughout the home.  At some point in my time as a customer, they allowed me to upload scanned documents (or computer created documents) and they would fax them out for me.  In mid-2016, I decided that I didn’t really need the fax perk anymore and changed to a well known internet based home phone called Magic Jack.  As I have shared before, I pay a whopping $40 per year for my home phone and use it for all of 5 minutes a month.  Ultimately, I cannot fax with Magic Jack.  So what did I do?   I signed up with Humble Fax for $10 / month and no long term contract.   This service gave me a local fax number.  It allows me to scan documents to the computer and upload them to my Humble Fax portal.  I can then compose a little cover page and send the fax out.  It’s awesome.  I can also receive faxes and get them delivered to my e-mail. 

Still Rockin’ With T-Mobile

The subject of T-Mobile came up with a client recently and I just wanted to say that I am pleased to report that my wife and I still love them, 14 months later.  They are the best big tech / telecom company I have ever dealt with.  We are on the 2 for $70 / unlimited age 55+ plan.  Only one person on the plan needs to be 55 or older.  Our price includes all taxes and junk fees.  As for the promises delivered on, here are the major ones.  When we ported in from Verizon, they promised to pay off our phones.  We each had a year remaining and about $600 total left on our phone loans.  Within 14 days, I got a virtual Mastercard with the exact payoff amount loaded so that I could pay off Verizon.   My wife is a big fan of the Samsung Galaxy phones and not an iPhone user.  When the Galaxy S20 orders started in February, she was all in.  The prices went up this year and the S20 was $999.  However, it became more palatable when T-Mobile (through some kind of arrangement with Samsung) promised to give my wife $500 for her 2 year old Galaxy S9+.  That phone only has a street value of about $150, approximately.   About 3 weeks after receiving the phone in early March, T-Mobile delivered.  $95 was given to us as a Bill Credit.  $405 was put on a pre-paid Mastercard.  I was then able to take that Mastercard and pay it all on my wife’s phone loan, knocking it down by 40%.  Promises made, promises kept!   If you are interested in that 2 for $70 plan, I can talk with you about it.  It may not be for everyone and if you have the right iPhone (2018 models and later), I think I can set you up with a “bridge the gap” strategy to make this work optimally. 

Watch Out For Google Search Results

Learning About New (to me) Old Technologies During the Pandemic

I will never own a Rolex, or a Tudor, or an Omega.  However, I was given a Seiko — made in Japan — watch for my big birthday last month that was roughly $160.  It sparked an intense period of learning for me.  I became fascinated in these tools for our wrists that are able to keep time and produce 21,000 + vibrations per hour WITHOUT a battery.  I am referring to watches with a mechanical movement, whether they be automatic, hand wound or both.  (Of course, there are wonderful quartz watches out there with batteries too.)  Over the past 6 weeks, I think I have become quite knowledgeable on the sub-$500 watch market.  There are awesome watches you can get out there for under $300 and in some cases under $200 as well.  I haven’t found a way to incorporate this newfound love into my business as some kind of formal proposition, but I would definitely be willing to discuss this arena with you informally by e-mail or perhaps at the back end of an appointment. 

Some insights I would be able to share with you include… There are many fine watches out there with Japanese movements.  It is possible to get affordable Swiss made watches.  I can help you understand the difference between a grey market watch and one from an authorized seller. (My Seiko came from a grey market store in NYC that also has an authorized division as well.)  Sometimes the right strap can make all the difference on a watch, especially a nylon “NATO” strap.  I don’t think we should think of watches by traditional gender distinctions.  A lot of so-called ladies watches are very stylish but not functional.  Why can’t a lady wear a nice man’s watch?  Of course she can!  There are so many possibilities if we think outside the watch box.  There are a lot of garbage watches coming out of China, but I can let you know about the one Chinese made watch that “watch people” really admire.

Watch Out For Google Search Results

Over the past couple years, I have seen some clients come up with bad luck on Google search results.  It often starts with Googling for a phone number for customer service for a particular company.  While Google has improved this type of searching and can often provide you with an obvious and legitimate number, you have to deal with paid search listings.  I have tried to install ad blockers for all of you on your browsers and shown you how to turn that ad blocker on and off.  However, if you do not have an ad blocker installed you are going to see at least 3 search results from Google that are ads.  They should be clearly identified.  However, you may not notice what you are looking at.  Please be careful.  Unfortunately, scam companies have been buying up key word ads from Google.  So that when you search for XYZ bank customer service or Frontier customer service (for example), those first few results may not be what you are looking for.  You will have to scroll beyond the sponsored listings to truly find what you want.  Goggler beware!