INTERNET BLUES

A reader wrote to say she can’t get fast Internet service from her Internet provider. They say it’s because she’s in a rural area, at the very edge of their coverage. “An update available on my iPhone 6s took a day and a half to download,” she says.  “The update on my watch took even longer.  My son got both done at his school in two hours!  It’s ironic that in order to pay the bill I have to mail it in.”

If you’re in the same rocky boat, go to speedtest.net to verify how fast your Internet connection is. (Just click “go” and they do the rest.)  Our connection is pretty fast, with a download speed of 20 and an upload speed of 4.57. Our reader’s download speed was only “point 34” and she got only “point 17” for upload, both way less than one. Her Internet Service Provider still called her service “high speed,” she says. This is one angry customer.

CNET.com says that a new router can help enormously. Search on the phrase “CNET Best Wireless Routers for 2018.” They cost around $100 to $400. Another option is satellite service, which costs around $50 to $100 a month or more for 10 to 50 gigabyte of data. Fifty gigabytes of data would allow you to watch Netflix or other streaming movies for 10 hours a day every day of the month, or chat on Skype for over nine hours a day. If you’re doing that, you may need help from more than a router.

If you run a speed test on your computer and find that your connection is fast, but your web experience is slow, consider upgrading your computer or reformatting it. Our Windows computers used to be so pokey, we could make tea and get back before a page loaded. But we suspected that our Windows computers were to blame. To get a faster experience, we got new computers, with Intel i7 processors and 12 gigabytes of RAM. Now they’re speedy, just like the Macbooks and Chromebooks we’ve tested, using the same Internet connection.

Clean Air?

One of our relatives was born with a withered leg and it may have been because her mother used a paint stripper while pregnant, in a closet. A device called the “Atmotube” can warn about such dangers.

This kind of problem was first mentioned in ancient Rome, when Pliny the Elder, a Roman Senator, wrote that pregnant women were at risk of flawed births from the fumes generated by oil lamps, particularly at night when the lamps were nearly done and were sputtering.

These “volatile organic compounds” (VOCs) are up to ten times higher indoors than outdoors. Examples are acetone, methanol, benzene, ethanol, toluene, xylene, and formaldehyde. Many VOCs are found in cleaning supplies, paint, varnish and solvents.

In our tests of the new Atmotube Plus, our living space air quality ranged between 91 and 99 percent pure. That info was reported in a free app on our phone, which also gave us the VOC level, atmospheric pressure and temperature. The Atmotube can also sense smoke and other hazards.

The new Atmotube Plus, $99, is about the size of a tube of lipstick and can be worn on a string around your neck. It’s for indoor use only. There’s also the Atmotube Pro, $189, which handles indoor and outdoor air quality. It can detect pollutants, as well as dust, pollen, soot, and mold spores.  Both work for a week on a single battery charge. Plug it into your computer to recharge.

A similar device, called the “Eve Room 2,” displays air quality readings and temperatures. The catch is, you need an iPhone to use it. It costs $100 and is about half the size of a cell phone. To find out the air quality of your room, you can ask Siri, look at the device’s results on your phone, or stare at the gadget itself. It uses Apple’s HomeKit software. So if you have other Homekit gadgets, such as Philips “Hue” adjustable light bulbs, you can make the bulbs flash when the air quality is poor. It detects volatile organic compounds.

Moving up in price, you can get a “GLAS” thermostat from Johnson Controls for around $300. It reports indoor and outdoor air quality, including pollen counts and ozone levels. You can also usually get this kind of information for larger local areas from the newspapers and TV weather summaries.

 Retro Fun

The current Playstation Pro 4 is $670, but if you prefer the retro games of the 1990s, you’ll be able to get a miniature version of the original for $100 in December.

The mini version, called the Sony Playstation Classic, comes with 20 pre-loaded games. It’s 45 percent smaller than the original, which came out in 1994. Games include Final Fantasy VII, Jumping Flash, Ridge Racer Type 4, and 17 others.

If you’re a Nintendo fan, there are classic versions of that too. The NES Classic Edition console is around $60 and includes 30 classic NES games like Super Mario Bros. 3, Donkey Kong, PacMan, and The Legend of Zelda. An HDMI cable lets you plug it into your TV for the big picture.

(subhed) A New Way to Browse the Web

Most people use Chrome, Firefox, Microsoft Edge, Safari, or Opera. Consider Vivaldi, free from Vivaldi.com. It’s for computers only, not phones. We loaded it on our machine and definitely like it.

One of the things we like is the side bar, which has quick access to nice extras, like bookmarks, downloads, notes and a history of where you went on the web. It also lets you add any website to the side panel, so you can hold on to that page while you check out what’s new on Facebook or other sites. We watched a video clip in the sidebar while continuing to work on other things. If you like to jot down ideas while you browse, you can highlight a paragraph on a website, then use your right mouse button to save it to a notes section on the side. Could be useful for journalists.

The Numbers Report

More than 200 current British divorce proceedings cited the war game “Fortnite” in their complaints, according to Divorce-Online.co.uk. We would guess the number in America would be several times higher. There are 125 million registered players worldwide.

 

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