Is online dating the worst way to find a mate, or the best? In any event, it’s much more popular than we ever thought.

According to a Consumer Reports Magazine survey of 115,000 subscribers, 44 percent are in a long-term relationship or got married through online dating.  Yet reader satisfaction with these sites is lower than for any other service the magazine rates. They even rate lower than tech support. Now that’s the pits.

As chance would have it, we know four women (no men) who have used online dating services. Two are happily married to the men they met this way, a third is happy in her new relationship and the fourth is still looking and not at all happy with the results. This last one lives in Florida, which might make it tougher to find a mate since that state’s population is heavily weighted toward the elderly and women tend to live longer. Despite the fact that we personally know no men who are looking, or at least acknowledge that they are looking, the overall statistics say more men than women are looking for a mate.

Some dating — or perhaps we should say “mating” — services are quite expensive. Selective Search, for example, charges $25,000 before they fire up their computers. (It’s free for ladies who don’t need client services. That’s for the va-va voom crowd.)

The magazine’s highest ratings went to the top free services: Tinder, OKCupid and PlentyofFish. But a high rating simply meant not quite as bad as the others; only one, Tinder, managed a single rating above “neutral “out of 11 categories.

This is serious business, and we don’t mean just the business part. People’s emotions, health and in some cases wealth as well, are at stake in seeking a partner.  According to the FBI, in a study of six months in 2014, fraudulent date and mate seekers took $81 million through online dating.  In some cases, only the victims’ relatives prevented the searcher from sending cash. When it became apparent no money was forthcoming, the “date” vanished.

From the earliest days of personal computers they were seen as a broader way to meet people than just running into someone where you lived or worked. The fact that it works at all is sort of astonishing but also hopeful, because proximity — direct contact, is necessarily limited. But none of the research on the efficacy of online dating and mating accounts for meets through special interest groups. These have expanded enormously because of online links; we’re talking about people who meet because they like to take cruises or are interested in tropical plants or books or Broadway shows and so forth. None of that is known or counted as online dating, though the computer and the internet brought them together.

Reader Problem

A reader said that when he watches a movie online, it often stutters and stops until it’s finished loading. A way out of that is to download the whole thing first.

Netflix recently started offering movie downloads — as opposed to movie streaming, and Amazon offers it too. For Netflix, first download the app for your smartphone or tablet. Tap the “Available for Download” option. The downloadable movies don’t include the whole list: it’s mainly TV shows and Netflix originals. (Netflix offers a free trial for the first 30 days, then the basic service is $10 a month.)

For Amazon, start by downloading the free Amazon Video app. If you’re a Prime member, there will be some freebies for download. For non-Prime members, TV shows are $2 in standard definition. Amazon doesn’t list all the programs available for download. Find something you like and then search to see if it’s available for download. One of the best thing about downloads is that you can then watch them offline, when you’re traveling for example; we’ve noticed many people doing it on airplanes and train rides.


  • 10 Instances of Medical Quackery.” Search on that phrase to find an incredible list of bizarre episodes in American history: how George Washington died when they took half of his blood to cure him of strep throat, the first snake oil salesman, and a guy who died just a few years ago after turning himself blue by ingesting colloidal silver. Teething babies used to go to sleep sipping a combination of alcohol and opium.
  • Two Centuries of U.S. Immigration.” Search on that phrase to find an animated map. Colored dots move from countries around the world. It was almost all from Europe and Mexico until this century.

Getting Windows 10 for Free

If you refused to get Windows 10 during the free period, and now wish you had, it’s not too late, no matter what Microsoft originally said. Search on the phrase “Download Windows 10 from” and be careful to click on the actual Microsoft site, not one of the ads at the top.

But should you upgrade? Microsoft says Windows 10 is the most secure system ever. And yet, security updates for Windows 7 users will be available until the year 2020, and Windows 8 users have until 2023. One of our friends still uses Windows 7 because her printer failed to work when she tried Windows 10. An update to the printer probably would have fixed the problem, but she prefers Windows 7. If you search on the phrase “revert to Windows 7,” you can find out how to go back. But in our experience, it only works if it’s been 30 days or less since you upgraded.

Even then, you may run into problems. A reader tells us he got a “restore failure” message when he tried to return his machine to Windows 8 from Windows 10. Windows 8 had been restored, but all his data was lost in the process. Whoa, that is heavy duty serious. Fortunately, he’d backed up everything before he started the conversion. You should do the same.



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