T-Mobile 23 Months and Counting

It was right around this time in 2019 when my wife and I moved our personal cell phone lines to T-Mobile.  I wanted to give you an update as to how it is going nearly 2 years later.  The summary version is — we have no regrets.  I will explain some potential pitfalls, however.  As you know I have never tried to oversell T-Mobile to clients.  I’ve always said — the choice is yours.  When we first signed up with them, we got in on their standard 2 line plan — $120 / mo — no taxes.  This was a small savings over Verizon (which would have been $150 per month plus tax). The other key factor was that their international plan was $5 / day vs. $10 / day for “Big Red.”    T-Mobile paid off our phones as well.  I have shared all of this before.   A few months into the whole deal, we realized that we could sign up for their Magenta 55 plan by putting my wife’s name on the account (she is over 55 y.o.). At that point it became a steal — 2 unlimited lines for $70 and no taxes.  I do think there have been situations where Verizon or ATT would have had better cellular internet, but I don’t think it’s 2x the price better. 

I can’t say that there have been few instances where T-Mobile calling was lacking.  In October 2019, I made a trip out to the airport via the local roads.  There was a cellular dead zone at the state border for about a mile.  I remember on the way back I made a phone call while I was traveling for about 25 minutes on a state road through rural and sparsely populated areas.  There were no issues.  There have been numerous instances such as on side streets, in large big box stores, or other random areas when my cellular internet seemed slow.  I may not have been able to do a Google search, check or send email, or download a podcast — which is something I do regularly.  These are typically just momentary inconveniences. 

The 2018 and later iPhone models allow for a second phone line.  On my iPhone 11, I also have my business line.  I have made sure to have it set up with a provider that is not T-Mobile.  This way I have the best of both worlds.  Trouble calling with T-Mobile?  No problem, call with the other line.  Trouble accessing cellular internet on T-Mobile?  I just switch the cellular data to my other line in the Settings.  I rarely have to do this, but I am glad I have the second line a backup.

Mac OS 10.15.7–Supplemental Update 2

I told you that I would keep you informed if there are supplemental updates for Mac OS 10.15 (aka Catalina).   Of course, you are still holding off on the big upgrade to Mac OS 11 — Big Sur.   Unfortunately, Apple is not going to notify you when updates are released for those staying with 10.15.

One came out last week.  Please download and install it.  Depending on the speed of your internet connection, I would expect this process to take 30 to 45 minutes (but could be less).

https://support.apple.com/kb/DL2071?viewlocale=en_US&locale=en_US

Mac OS 11-Big Sur–Hold Off Just A While Longer

We are getting closer to a point where I think it would be OK to install Mac OS Big Sur — version 11.  I have told you to avoid it since it came out in the Fall of 2020.  There is no reason to install a brand new operating system on day one or even in the first few months.   Therefore I have told you to stick with Mac OS 10.15 for a while.  This means however that you have to install the incremental patches or minor updates yourselves.  I have pledged to notify you whenever one comes out.  The last of these updates came out on Dec. 16, 2020. 

(Of course, some of you have older Macs which cannot update beyond OS 10.13, 10.14 or 10.15.  This message is not for you.)

Two days ago, Apple released Mac OS 11.2 which is the second significant update to the new operating system.   At the point when they release Mac OS 11.3 I think it would be fine — though no need to rush — to proceed with the “Big Sur” installation.  

At that point I think Big Sur would be fine if you are the “Joe and Jane Consumer” type that browses the internet, checks email, and uses Microsoft Office.  (Big Bold Print Emphasis) DO NOT INSTALL A MAJOR UPGRADE OF YOUR OPERATING SYSTEM WITHOUT HAVING A BACKUP OF YOUR COMPUTER.  MOST OF YOU SHOULD HAVE AN EXTERNAL HARD DRIVE PLUGGED IN MAKING REGULAR TIME MACHINE BACKUPS.  ALSO DO NOT INSTALL MAC OS 11 BIG SUR IF YOU ARE USING SPECIALIZED SOFTWARE INCLUDING WORK SOFTWARE THAT IS NOT YET COMPATIBLE. 


If you have specific questions about 3rd party software and its Big Sur compatibility ask me, ask your job, or check with the developer. 

The bottom line is — Mac OS Big Sur / mac OS 11 is going to be a fine compatible operating system for newer compatible Macs.   Just give it a little more time and you won’t have to avoid it any longer.   It will be ready for prime time.

Watch Out 01/27/21

– The Covid Era has been a wild and very scary time for all of us.  We all had a lot of time in isolation and were forced to find (hopefully) creative ways to use this time.  It may be a surprise (even to me) but I have spent dozens of hours (and probably over 100) over the past 8 months learning about watches.  Horology is fascinating.  Before radio, and telegraphs, and photography — watches existed as a form of personal technology.  I consider myself one who is approaching a certain level of expertise on watches under $1000.  I don’t consider this a business proposition yet.  However, there are numerous online watch sellers, people that buy and sell vintage watches, and so on.  Watch sales are up.   Can I convert knowledge to profit?  We’ll see. 

So I just wanted to share a couple of findings and tutorials in this introductory installment:

Tick, Tick, Tick vs. Sweep:  Does your watch tick once per second advancing to the next marker?   If so, you have a battery powered quartz watch.   If your watch has a sweeping motion of the second hand, then you have a mechanical watch.   It may be fully automatic, solely hand wound, or a combination of both.  However, there are more modern quartz technologies that mimic  the sweep.  These watches have a “meca quartz” movement and provide 4 micro-ticks per second.  

Timex – Comeback Kid:  Our own Waterbury, CT (Middlebury now) based Timex has experienced a major resurgence over the past 3 years to the delight of all watch fans especially those looking for nice but affordable pieces.  They brought back the Marlin  hand-wound 34 mm 1960’s watch that your dad (or maybe you) even had.  Let’s face it – our eyes aren’t getting any better so they now have a beautiful 40 mm Marlin as well.  Timex also re-issued their popular Q watches, sporting a 1970’s design with a battery you can change yourself.  There are a lot of good feelings around Timex right now.  You can check out their latest at Timex.com 

Micro Brands:  One trend that you may not be aware of over the past 10 to 15 years is the growing prevalence and success of micro watch brands.  Remember when Samuel Adams took off the late 1980s?  Some would say they led the micro-brewery revolution.  The same thing is happening with watches.  Micro watch brands are started by passionate people.  There are many of these outfits in the US and elsewhere.  They choose quality components and then assemble the watches here or possibly outside the country.  Watches from Micro brands typically range from the $100’s to $600’s depending on whether you are getting a quartz or mechanical.  A great bang for your buck.  

– Watches help us tell time, perform certain functions, and also appreciate the gift of time we are given on this earth.  What are your watch stories?  I would like to hear them.  Is there a watch you got for a special occasion?  A watch you once had but lost?  Do you have any old 1960’s / 1970’s Timex watches laying around?  I’ll be quiet now and let you share.  🙂  Feel free to send me a picture of your timepiece. It would make my day.

Thanks!

I may be a broken clock — but I am right twice a day.  LOL!

Erasing Product Mistakes

Don’t you just hate it when technology companies remove features or services that we like?  It is so frustrating.  There may be some hope.   The 2015 Mac Book Pro and Mac Book Air had such a solid design.  These were reliable machines.  They were a joy to type on.   However, when the Mac Book Pro was updated in 2016 (and the Air in 2018), there were only two to four ports to plug things into (one used for charging) and the keyboards were flat as a pancake.  On the higher end Pro models, they added a stupid Touch Bar with animated keys instead of the traditional Esc, F1, F2, etc, etc.   Awful!!

As I have previously shared, they corrected the keyboard with the 2020 laptops.  Rumors are swirling now that Apple will remove the Touch Bar in the 2021 models and (drum roll please) bring back a Mag Safe charger.   If you recall that pre-2016 charger, it would easily disconnect if you walked into the cord — saving your laptop from damage and flying off the desk.    Apple is going back to the old paths.  I like the old paths. 

Apple also reverted to old design cues and features with the iPhone 12 models.  You should strongly consider one for your 2021 iPhone purchase.   Remember the flat edges (sharp in a good way) of the iPhone 5, 5s and iPhone SE (2016)?   Apple went back to that design with the 12’s that came out last fall.   Furthermore, they are using only Qualcomm modems once again after using inferior Intel modems for a few years. Customers are reporting better signal performance in many instances. 

Finally, not everyone likes using the Face ID on the iPhone 10 and later models.  It can be a royal pain with a mask on.   On the most recent iPad Air (the middle model), Apple re-introduced a Touch ID sensor.   We can only hope they offer this on the 2021 iPhone models as well.

Healing And Unity In The Age Of Technology

I want to start off by saying that I don’t watch TV news.   It is my goal to be done with paid TV by the end of the year.  However I am very well informed of the unparalleled, distressing, and traumatic times we have lived through over the past week.  Through videos, photos, first hand accounts, discussion, as well as my own research and insights — I develop a perspective on life.  I normally would not touch a matter that is seemingly political in one of my weekly briefings, but the matter at hand squarely intersects with my domain — technology and its use or misuse.

Like many of you, I have gone through a whole gamut of emotions since January 6th.  Ultimately, I have tried to draw connections to the past and develop a balanced perspective.  Reflecting on the past week and really the past four years, I wrote what amounted to a 6-page essay over the weekend.  The problem is that it is not at the extreme end of either current major political philosophy and therefore, I don’t think anyone would publish it.  The problem with our TV news is that “Network A” only likes to pander to their viewers to mainly report on the extreme elements of the philosophy (and its practitioners) that they disagree with.   “Network B”, likewise, only likes to pander to their viewers to mainly report on the extreme elements of the philosophy (and its practitioners) that they disagree with.   It’s ratings driven. It’s sensational.   By and large the American people eat, sleep, and drink it all day long.   I need to be on a diet, but that’s not the diet I want to be on.

The past four years of our American lives have been an intensely political time with strong emotions.   This may surprise you if you have never had these interactions with me, but I would say that in this stretch of time clients have expressed some sort of political frustration 30 to 40% of the time.   I have learned to be a good listener.  At an appointment a client just said to me today, “I should just lay on a couch when you come over.  You are like a computer psychologist.”  Sometimes I just smile and nod.  I try to make clients feel comfortable.   Such a response should not signify agreement (from me or anyone in life), but I want to say that I am grateful for hiring me and I accept you sharing your frustration and pain.  A little under 10 years ago, I was accepted to a Professional Counseling Master’s program.  I ultimately dropped out, but I think I would have made a very compassionate psychotherapist.   I try to incorporate those therapeutic skills and the heart of a teacher (another career I didn’t quite succeed at LOL) in my client interactions whenever possible.  It’s what makes our relationship so unique.  I want to leave a legacy of changed and improved lives.

It takes two to tango.  The tides flow in and out.  I think to have true healing in unity in this country (or even a country like Indonesia where there is also a lot of division right now), we have to take time to listen to what others on the completely opposite side of the spectrum have to say.   We need to break bread and have meaningful dialog.  The organizing and actions of mob violence in all forms that we have seen on the American landscape over the past year are illegal and should be prosecuted.  However, when you step away from the fringes of both political extremes, you see neighbors, co-workers, and family members who just want to peacefully live their lives.   On numerous fronts, there a lot of hurt people out there.   (Something I learned from the therapeutic arena is…)  Hurt people, hurt people.   I’ll say it again: hurt people, hurt people!

So we have to decide, what do we want our legacy to be?  One thing is for certain, I am not letting mine be defined by the fringes of society or any TV network.

Thank you for letting me share this message.  I’ll step off my soapbox now.

Bogus Comcast Email Warning

Just wanted to send this out to you my Comcast / Xfinity clients:

I have gotten a couple of reports of an email making the rounds telling my clients that they need to update their Comcast email from version 9 to version 12 or something like that.

It is totally fake!  This isn’t AOL from 2001.  Comcast does not publicize a version number of their email system.

Remember the things I always taught you about examining fake emails.  Look at the sender.  In this case — the sender was using a Gmail address.   Would real Comcast do that?   No way!

Secondly check out the link they want to send you to.   Just point to it, don’t click it.  In this case it was a mysterious foreign website — not a Comcast(dot)net or xfinity(dot)com or anything like that.   

I don’t want you to make an expensive mistake.

Dealing With Comcast Anger

I remember having an open ticket with Xfinity support reps from late December 2019.  After months and months, I did not hear back.  I contacted @ Comcast Cares on Twitter and got prompt feedback.   I know a lot of people have gripes with this company.  The biggest thing I have to remind myself and others is — the days of big deals are over.   Get real familiar with that price list that comes out twice a year (check your online billing if you don’t get a paper bill).  Get familiar with THAT price for your service or services, add on the necessary fees (ugh) and that is what you should expect to pay.  Promotions aren’t what they used to be.  That era of deal making is fading.  Consider other options if they exist.  Slowly I am coming to a place of peace with it.  I seriously think this company should go with a one price model like TMobile.  I think that would help to alleviate a lot of the anger.

Comcast Hammering Us In A Pandemic

I hear that 80’s rock song that goes  “we’re not gonna take it anymore” playing in the background.    Where is the breaking point folks?   What is your limit to how much you are willing to pay this company? 

I could have written a book (or at least an e-book) about all of the deals I negotiated for myself and clients with Comcast / aka Xfinity between 2014 and 2019. I had the method down to a science.  Just like LL Bean (a far more reputable company), Comcast has caught on to customers exploiting the system.  2020 has been the year of the crackdown.  Most of you probably have electronic billing with them.  However it’s really important to log onto my.xfinity.com with your email and password at least a few times a year because they will post the Price List at least once or twice.  Get real familiar with those prices because once these promotions get completely eliminated, which is the direction they are going in, you will pay THAT price.  Don’t forget to add in all of the JUNK FEES, like broadcast fee, sports fee, cable box fee and about 13% in taxes on the TV (not internet) portion of the bill. 

There are two key points that I want to make here, one that is reflected on the price list and one that isn’t.  1)  Effective 1/1, Comcast is imposing a “data cap” for its New England customers for the first time.  They have had these caps for the internet across the country for years.  You can also look at this as — you will not get truly Unlimited internet for the price you were promised.  Comcast claims this will only impact the 5% heaviest internet users (by data use, not your weight on the scale LOL).  I don’t know if I believe them.  The cap is going to be set at 1.2 TB (terabytes) or 1200 GB a month.  That is a lot of data.   However for a family of four that is Zooming all day during the work day, streaming TV / Netflix / Amazon Prime in their free time, and playing online video games – it is an easy threshold to exceed.   If you are by yourself and just do basic internet and email most of the time, I don’t think you have anything to worry about.  However, you will probably want to check your data usage and it can easily be done by going to this page, https://customer.xfinity.com/#/services/internet    and scroll down to the bottom.   In my household, we consistently use about 450 GB of data per month or 0.45 TB.  We should be all set, but I have seen many reports of Comcast rigging the meter against customers when the data caps are in place.  What is their end game?  Well, they are going to charge big overage charges for violators.  However, they will gladly allow you to remedy the problem BY PAYING MORE.  How kind of them.  If other markets are any indicator, you can now get “truly unlimited” internet by paying $30 more.  However if you rent a (lousy) modem from them, you can beat the caps for about $25 (modem rental plus $10 upcharge).  It’s a money grab…… because they can.

2) This one really got to me yesterday.  I received an email with a link to a price list saying that my bill would be going up effective 12/20/2020.  Since my bill came out on the 18th, the increases will take effect on my next bill.  If you are Internet only (and not under a contract), you may be seeing a price increase of $3 per month.   Sadly, TV customers are in for the real gouge!   Broadcast TV Fee (what they collect to offset what local stations charge them to transmit the channels) is going up by $5.   Regional Sports channel fee?  Going up by $2.  (Again, Comcast would say that they are simply collecting more to reflect the increase in costs of what they pay out to these networks).   The cost of your cable box will also be going up by more than $2.  So that is $9 increases right there.   However, if you have a 2nd (or 3rd) cable box in the house, that charge is dropping by $2, so the box charges may even out.   These companies can charge whatever they want, but the same fees just went up 2 years ago.  Now they are hitting us again.

What I think is so wrong is that Comcast thinks they have the right to increase the fees on customers ALREADY UNDER CONTRACT.   I agreed to a contract that expires in June 2021. I am bound to it.  There are penalties if I cancel early.  Yet they think they can change the price.  Comcast would say —  that fees can always be increased and they are not part of the contract.  This is my biggest gripe.   In January, I talked to a lawyer from Comcast about big picture issues and legislative concerns.  He gave me his personal cell phone number and said I could call him any time.  Perhaps I should do this.  Some of you are lawyers, you might be married to a lawyer, or you may just be ticked off like I am.   

How much is too much for cable services?   In areas where the phone company has fiber optic service or there is an independent  fiber choice, you may have an alternative.  Call the lawyers, call Executive Relations, and call the Retentions department.  

Give them that line that Dee Snider sang so well “We’re not gonna take it anymore!”

Mac OS 10.11 Big Sur–Do Not Install Now

It’s been a while since I did one of these.  As with many technology concerns, I want to achieve a balance between hyping something new and ignoring it completely.  With that said, I don’t want clients to be taken by surprise. 

Facts:  A new version of the Mac operating system was released a few days ago.  It is known as “Big Sur” — aka mac OS 11.  Make no mistake about the numbering.  if you recall the versions of mac OS for about 20 years have been called 10.x.   Most recently we’ve had 10.15 that came out last year (Catalina).  By calling Big Sur version 11 and not 10.16, Apple is signifying the future is here.  They are as committed to the Mac as ever, but they have built the platform for the next generation.  If you are just using Mail and Safari (or Chrome) you won’t notice major changes.  There could be little quirks that trip you up, however.

Starting anytime now you are going to be bothered / prompted to install Big Sur (mac OS 11).   As it just came out a few days ago, I’m still considering this experimental software even though Apple would beg to differ with my assessment.  Big Sur is compatible with most Macs 2013-14 and later, depending on the model.   DO NOT INSTALL MAC OS 11 / BIG SUR RIGHT NOW. 

Once we get to version 11.1 or 11.2 or even later — a couple ++ months from now, then it probably will be safe to install.   It was a good 6 months or more when I finally urged clients to install Mac OS 10.15.   As always, I am available to assist with these major upgrade jobs. 


Last year and into this year — I was able to program your Macs to ignore the last big upgrade until it was an appropriate time to install it.   With a small update earlier this year — Apple took away your ability to do that.   (There are some Business utilities that could be installed to do the blocking but most consumers are not going to go that far. )   So sadly, the Mac has gotten a little less friendly to use.  It seems like they are forcing you to take software that is not ready for prime time. 

Just remember — no need to travel to Big Sur today.  I’ll let you know when you should get your boarding passes ready.