more service for less money

A while back I wrote about how I was able to get more service for less money in our cable, telephone, and internet package. I recently had a similar experience with our cell phone service.

Terry and I had been sharing 2 gigabytes of data on our iPhones for a while. But with Terry’s job, she does a lot of sitting and waiting in government offices, not all of which have WiFi. We were coming up against our 2 GB limit and I asked Terry  to limit her non-WiFi surfing.

Verizon Data screen shotI had thought about looking at different plans for a while, but never took action. I had a couple of calls from Verizon about changing my data plan, but they appeared to be offshore calls, and I wasn’t comfortable talking to the representative. I did get a call from someone who sounded like she was stateside, but she wasn’t really helpful. She asked me if I wanted this much data for this much money, but didn’t seem to be able to tell me how that would affect my total bill.

Finally, I logged into my Verizon account and did some checking. I found that I could get 8 GB of data a month for $10 less than we were paying. And the data rolls over, rather than being use it or lose it as on our previous plan. I signed up.

I told Terry that she no longer needs to restrict her non-WiFi surfing. She’s happy.


moving things around

I have written about my internet radio and how much I enjoy it. One of the things I like about it is that I can control it from an app on my iPad and iPhone. That works out well when we’re in another room and listening via one of our 900 mhz wireless speakers.

internet radioThe problem, though, after we moved to Hemet was that the output was not strong enough and when we were in the bedroom we would get clicking and popping. I therefore switched to listening via the stations’ web pages on my desktop computer, which also has a 900 mhz transmitter.

When me moved here I had set up my internet radio and transmitter on a side table to the left of my computer table. After I got my new hearing aid, however, I realized that it was silly to have it on the left when my good ear with the hearing aid was my right ear. This was especially the case since the top of the printer table on my right was empty due to the demise of my printer some months back and the fact that I was connecting to Terry’s printer wirelessly.

So I moved everything to the computer table. That shift of five feet or so means no more popping on the speaker in bedroom, so I can use the internet radio and control it from my iPad.

A small thing but a nice change.


changing browsers

I had been using Firefox as my web browser for some time now. I’ve always really liked it, and I have become used to it. But recently I went through the hassle (reentering passwords, getting cell phone authorizations, etc.) of switching to Chrome.

Chrome & Firefox logosI didn’t want to switch. Firefox is developed by a non-profit organization and is a big advocate for user privacy. Chrome comes from the Evil Empire of Google, to me as much of an Evil Empire as Microsoft. Maybe more so these days. (But I am stuck with them both, big time.)

The reason I switched was that within a period of a few weeks I was hit twice by the same ransomware attack. Firefox failed to catch it. Fortunately it was easy to get rid of this particular one. All I had to do was delete the file that contained my browsing history. Still, that shook my confidence in Firefox. A quick search brought up studies that showed that of the major browsers, Firefox was the least robust in preventing malware.

I decided, in spite of Windows 10 regularly telling me that I needed to switch to Edge, to switch to Chrome. The transition was less painful than it could have been. I am getting used to Chrome and its features.

And I am, I have to say, disappointed in Firefox and the Mozilla Foundation.


not so bad, I suppose

I have had an Amazon credit card from Chase Bank for quite a few years now. I have long used the points from that card to buy many of my Kindle books. I would use the points to buy an Amazon e-gift card which I sent to my email address and then enter the redemption code into my Amazon account. I then bought the Kindle book I wanted. It all worked very well.

I went to do that recently and discovered that the option was no longer available. I further discovered that I can’t even use those points to buy a physical Amazon gift card delivered to me by postal mail. I spent several hours being seriously ticked off with Amazon. Then, however, I did some further investigation and I discovered that I could redeem the points as a statement credit on my Amazon credit card. So, I did that and then ordered my Kindle book which was charged to my Amazon credit card and I was done. As I thought about it, it was actually easier than what I had been doing.

Not so bad, I suppose.


staying away from Facebook

I’m staying away from Facebook these days.

I still post my blog to Facebook and I check in for notifications, but that’s really it. Every time I start to scroll in my news feed I get nauseous and regret it.

No matter what I do, I can’t avoid posts about that guy with the orange hair. Posts about Congress are often inaccurate, incomplete, out-of-date, or just plain wrong.  And people I like and respect are reposting this stuff. I’ve thought about doing a thorough scrubbing of my news feed, but it just doesn’t seem like it is worth the effort, or would even be successful.

I need to try to stay sane, as best as possible.  Right now that means staying away from Facebook.

I would, however, be happy to have you join me on Instagram, where I keep it non-political and follow people who keep their photos non-political.


automated proofing tools and their limitations

I have a long history with automated proofing tools. That history goes back to about 1990, when I experimented with a couple of grammar checkers while working at a small software company. To put this in context, at that time the only people who used Microsoft Windows were those who used graphic or desktop publishing tools that required it. The rest of us used the command line with the C prompt to start our programs, which, you may remember, we had to use one at a time. It was not until 1992 with the release of Windows 3.1 that the graphical user interface came into common use.

keyboardThe results of the testing I did with these proofing tools were disappointing. Things that should have been flagged weren’t and things that did not need to be flagged often were. Sadly, twenty-six years later in the world of Windows 10 little has changed.

In her marvelous Great Courses lecture series, English Grammar Boot Camp, Anne Curzan shows little love for the Microsoft Word grammar checker. She says that it often gets things wrong, and sometimes the rules it tries to enforce are often not even rules. For example, her version flags sentences that start with “and.” Interestingly, my Word 2013 doesn’t complain. In any case there is, she says, there is no established rule on not starting a sentence with “and.” (Mignon Fogarty, the Grammar Girl, says this rule is “one with no historical or grammatical foundation.”)

I certainly have my issues with Microsoft tools. The Word 2013 proofing tools failed to flag a repeated “the.” The grammar checker in Outlook wanted me to lowercase “give” at the beginning of a sentence (perhaps because it was preceded by “p.m.”) and failed to catch a “you” instead of “your” when I used the phrase “your money.”

Microsoft is not the only guilty party, however. The proofing tool for my personal blog has its annoyances. It asked me to replace “thyme” with “time” and “adobo” with “adobe.” I guess it doesn’t have much of an interest in cooking.

The bottom line: Don’t put too much trust in the grammar tools. Proofread carefully. Better yet, get someone to proofread your work for you.


a new iPad

Terry and I have been very careful about discretionary spending since we have moved south, for obvious reasons. But given the sale of my internet domain at a price greater than I would have expected, I decided to allow myself an indulgence. My old iPad 2 was getting slow and applications were crashing. Since I use it every evening, seven days a week, I decided I was due for an upgrade.

iPad Air 2I bought a new iPad Air 2 and a Logitech case + keyboard to go with it. I’m delighted. The iPad is thin and light, and the keyboard case provides a sturdy environment for the iPad.

The Logitech keyboard/case is designed to work in landscape mode, while all thisiPad case time I have used my iPad in portrait mode. But it’s fine. It is stable. It works well. And I don’t have the possibility of my iPad doing a back flip out of the keyboard as could happen with my old iPad and keyboard.

Meanwhile, the old iPad 2 and keyboard sold for a good price on eBay.  That will partially reimburse me for this new purchase. The nice thing is that they will be a Christmas  present for someone’s youngster.

All good stuff. It’s a real delight.

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