iPod strangeness

iPodFor many years now I have listened to lectures from The Great Courses on my iPod when taking my walk while I tracked my progress using the fitness app on my iPhone. However, the last time I transferred a new course from iTunes on my computer to my ancient iPod the audio was full of chirps and scratches, even though the sound on my computer was clean. I tried a number of different methods to get clean sound, but without success.

As an alternative I downloaded the Great Course app to my iPhone. With our new and improved data plan, there were no concerns about my streaming the course as did my walks. It has worked out well. I only need to take one device on my walks and the sound quality is great.

Meanwhile I downloaded a music .mp3 file, imported it into iTunes, and transferred it to my iPod. The sound was perfectly clean.

I don’t understand.


our Roku

Terry and I knew that we were going to have to shell out for the CBS All Access streaming service after watching the one and only episode of Star Trek: Discovery broadcast on CBS television. Sitting at my computer to watch the show did not seem like an appealing idea. Ultimately we decided to buy a Roku device to plug into our smart TV. The problem is that Roku supports a lot of streaming services, so restraint is required.

Roku packageCBS All Access is a given.  In addition to Star Trek we can watch Stephen Colbert on demand, which is really cool. He is, after all, a favorite of those who can’t stand that guy with orange hair who lives in the White House, and I openly cast my lot with that group.

Then there’s Hulu which seductively offered a free one month trial. We’re keeping it. I have gone back to season one of The Mindy Project, and I am hooked. We can watch previous seasons of Curb Your Enthusiasm and new episodes of Saturday Night Live as well.

The base Roku service offers movies from Fandango at a $1.99 and up rental rate. There’s quite a catalog there.

I guess we’ve been sucked into the world of streaming TV.


Amazon comes through

Amazon Gift CardMy wife knows what to get me for my birthday. This year Terry gave me an Amazon gift card for my birthday back in August. That always works.

But when I went to redeem the gift card several weeks later I ran into problems. I pulled up the tape to get the redeem code and half of the redeem code came up with the tape. That doesn’t work. I submitted a support request to Amazon. They responded saying that they couldn’t find the gift card and to please submit an image of the card. I submitted what you see here. They responded saying that they had updated my account with the gift card balance. And indeed they had.

Thank you, Amazon. All’s well that ends well.


a bad-good experience

A few weeks back I received an email from my internet provider telling me that my speed had increased from 50 Mbps to 100 Mbps at no additional charge. I was initially delighted but then I calmed down and did a speed test. Indeed my upload speed was well over 100 Mbps, but my download speed was stuck at 57 Mbps. I was a bit miffed since download speed is far more important to me than upload, but I didn’t follow up as I was busy. Recently I had some time so I opened up an online chat session. The agent told me to power down my router and she would refresh the ports on her side. I did so, and when I brought the system back up I had no internet access at all.

internet speed chartI gave it some time and when nothing changed I made a phone call. I got through to an agent quickly but his systems were not working and he kept me waiting while trying to resolve that. As I kept waiting he rebooted his computer. Finally, he told me to unplug my router while he made the necessary changes. I did so and powered up the router when he told me to do that. Everything worked.

After I hung up I did a speed test. Upload was slightly slower, but still well over 100 Mbps. Download, my primary concern, was right at 100 Mbps. I’m happy.

I suppose that this was one of those “all’s well that ends well” moments.


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.