Happy rainy Friday. Just want to let everyone know that I don’t have any classified documents in my garage, in the trunk of my old Camry or otherwise. I didn’t tell anyone to lie about it [wagging finger] not even one time.
Biz Briefing: Trusting My First Instinct
I got involved with a new (business) client over the past 2 months. One of my business advisors told me not to get involved. I didn’t listen. I knew from the get go it was going to be a combative, if not hostile situation. I then thought I am going to ask for a $1500 non refundable retainer and a few other conditions. I didn’t listen to myself. I got talked out of it. 99% of my client interactions are wonderful and warm situations. My loose, warm, no hard line policies have worked for me for years. However, the hard core business world isn’t always meant for teddy bears. I don’t have contracts or service agreements. I don’t even think I would have the resources to pay someone to draw them up. I ended up getting $burned$ by this situation. Lesson learned I have got to stick to those warm and friendly encounters and trust my instinct on negative vibes that I get. Not every potential client is a match.
The Complete Menu
So now I want to talk about many of the services I can offer for you….
1. Comprehensive pre-purchase consultations for computers, iPhones, iPads — I will provide these services at no charge, including help with ordering if a client is going to have me set up their device for them. If the client wants to set it up themselves or just wants a report to contemplate for later — I simply bill for my time.
2. Set up of computers, smartphones, tablets, printers.
3. Set up of TV’s that don’t need to be mounted — including setting up streaming services (Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, Apple TV +) and streaming players (Fire Stick, Roku, Google TV, Apple TV)
4. Virus / Malware / Adware — computer security mitigation — including reports for your bank when required
5. Freeze Credit Reports – give yourself the ultimate protection
6. General computer / technology troubleshooting (note – I do not personally replace screens on iPhones or laptops, but I can take your devices and get this done for you)
7. Back Up — backing up your data and establishing a backup plan
8. Computer / Technology Training — Whether you are staying for extra-credit or sitting in the back of the class — I believe you have the power to learn
9. Set up new WiFi routers — especially the newer mesh WiFi systems (ie. Eero)
10. Computer updates and resets — upgrade an existing operating system or wipe and reinstall
11. New E-mail address / custom private email address — Whether you want to start fresh with a new free address or you want a custom e-mail like you@yorudomain(dot).com — I can help you get this done.
I hope it’s not a mundane Monday for you.
Going to the Movies – Thurs Apr 28 545 PM
For the first time in 2 years, I’m going to the movies. WOW. The great thing is that I don’t have to leave my home. There is going to be an in person premiere of “Keeper of Time” at the SVA Theater in NYC on Thursday. However, unlike typical theaters, viewers can watch virtually anywhere in the world at the same time. This 90 minute documentary looks at why we measure time and why we care. It also profiles four of the highest level watchmakers in the world. You can find out more and see a 2 minute preview at https://www.keeperoftimemovie.com/home#about . Tickets are $20 + $4 service fee. I’ve got my virtual ticket and will be watching on my computer. Hope to see you there. Feel free to text me during or after the film if you want to discuss.
Gems of Comcast Services
Continuing with the streaming theme…..
If you need help with any other kinds of streaming such as Amazon Prime, Apple TV Plus, especially for the baseball games, let me know. I’m finding that many of my clients that have Comcast / Xfinity for their cable TV provider are finding it especially easy to play services like Amazon Prime, Netflix, and others. The Xfinity X1 remote has a microphone. Holding down the phone will easily allow you to bring up those services by name. If you give the cable box permission (which I think is fine), you can also allow it to display results from the streaming services within the results of other On Demand programming. My typical senior clients LOVE that microphone button on the remote. It opens up a whole world of possibilities and usability. It’s one of the gems of their increasingly expensive service. Correct me if I am wrong, but I believe Cox cable has a similar remote that you can talk to.
Roku Is the Best
If you don’t pay for TV or even if you do, having a separate streaming box might be a good idea. I tend to prefer the Roku. I have been a Roku user since 2011 or 2012. It connects to all the major streaming services. Modern Roku’s are also capable of Apple Air Play (direct beaming from iPhones, iPads, and Macs). And in a room, like my bedroom, with no cable outlet — I can use the Roku as a virtual cable box for Comcast / Xfinity.
Basket of Tips
1) I can’t stream? Can I? Do you think I am capable? Am I too old? I think you can!! If you can master these 5 or 6 basic buttons on a remote, you will be streaming like a pro in no time
* The Directional Arrows*
Up — Down — Left — Right
OK, Back, Exit, Home
>>>You’ve got this!!
2) There are TVs with the Roku platform actually built into it. As long as is a current year model or last year — it may be a good deal if you need a new TV. 3 years old would be terrible. I am a bit old school and I still like a separate Roku box or stick with my TV I am not a huge fan of built in Smart TV platforms but my wife uses built in You Tube all the time
3) By the way — if you watch You Tube all the time — you probably want You Tube Premium (which is not the same as You Tube TV). You Tube is getting more aggressive about showing ads. You either need an ad blocker on the computer or phone (which I use religiously) or sign up for You Tube Premium at $12.99 a month. No Ads!! It also gets you unlimited You Tube Music (formerly called Google Play Music.
Tips From Others — Tips 4 and 5 come from what I have learned out in the field
4) In an ongoing discrimination case involving a local police department one officer was asked if he had made a pact or an agreement with another party. He was ordered to turn over his phone. “No problem your honor — but I delete my text messages every night.” Wow!! As your digital privacy advocate — I love that!! If you are concerned about this type of thing, you have my permission to erase your tracks like this.
5) Want to prevent digital intruders or from that computer being ONLINE all night? You can turn off WiFi or put your device in Airplane Mode every once in a while. I don’t do this all the time. I wouldn’t recommend doing it every night as updates are important but I would be OK with doing this some of the time or most of the time as some of my clients do.
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!
(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.
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.
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
I wanted to give you a special review of Apple’s Big Event on Tuesday September 10 and make you aware of their new products and services.
As a reminder, I am ready to be your iPhone upgrade specialist. I can help you order your iPhone 11 model and help you get set up – as I have done for years. I will ensure data isn’t lost in the transfer by doing a FULL ENCRYPTED BACKUP via iTunes and restore to your new iPhone. No shortcuts here.
Apple Arcade: Apple is launching a video game service with unique titles – aimed at all ages. Games can be played across iPhone, iPad, Mac, and Apple TV. $4.99 / month for the whole family.
Apple TV Plus: This is Apple’s answer to Netflix and Hulu (for now and may become bigger). Apple will have original shows and movies. There will be add-ons available. This service will not include free access to the thousands upon thoughts of titles available in the iTunes Store already. It launches in November – at a very friendly $4.99 / month for a family subscription.
iPad: Apple’s basic iPad is still $329 and it is getting a bump up in screen size to 10.2 inches. If it’s been 3 or 4 years since your last iPad – you may really want to consider it. It’s better than ever and if needed it supports the Smart Keyboard for the first time.
Apple Watch: The Apple Watch 5 may have been the star of the show. It is getting more sophisticated at tracking our health and helping us improve our lives. An emphasis was really made on older adults in the presentation and how the heart rate monitor and EKG feature can help save lives. Pricing starts at $399, if you don’t mind the rubber strap (I don’t). Apple also wants to make sure that Apple Watch technology is available to all. Therefore they are selling the Apple Watch 3 for $199, a great alternative to the Fit Bit Versa. However, just remember – you will need the Apple Watch 4 and later to get the EKG feature. Perhaps a deal may be available on the Apple Watch 4 – where models are still available.
DRUM ROLL PLEASE — HERE ARE YOUR NEW IPHONES
iPhones: Apple really wowed on their base iPhone – the iPhone 11 – which is a replacement for the iPhone XR. Not only does it have 2 cameras and come in more color options – but they dropped the price from $749 to $699. Way to go Apple! This the iPhone that most customers will be buying and will be the one most appropriate for my clients.
However, there are 2 super premium Pro level iPhones also coming out – the iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max. They are priced at $999 and $1099 respectively (same as last year. A common thought is – the Pro is for users who want a PRO CAMERA. This is true. I really think if you learn to use one of these Pro iPhones– they can be as good as a $400-500 camera. Truth be told, I can think of 2 other reasons for the Pro. You would want the 11 Pro if you absolutely want the SMALLEST new iPhone. The 11 Pro is 5.8 inches diagonally vs 6.1 inches for the iPhone 11. Also, the iPhone 11 Pro Max is the one for you if you want the LARGEST new iPhone – clocking in at 6.5 inches diagonally. Keep in mind, you will pay $300 to $400 more for these size preferences.
Personally, speaking I am doing my best effort to get my pre order in for a regular iPhone 11 this morning. Pre-orders start today and shipments begin on September 20th.
Conclusion: I watched the whole event live. I think it was Apple’s best product / service event since the passing of Steve Jobs in 2011.
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.
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.