Joy sent off the wrong column last time. The one without Bob’s views on 5G. She swears she didn’t do it on purpose. So here’s some wisdom from the more experienced half of our duo.

 There are two problems with 5G (fifth generation wireless). First, you almost certainly won’t get the speed advertised. Second, it ignores the competition, FTTH, or Fiber to the Home. Unlike 5G, FTTH involves laying actual cable connections, which is expensive. It’s not wireless. But it’s fast and secure. The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) says it’s the only way to give options to the 68 million Americans who have only one choice of Internet Service Provider.

 According to the EFF, 5G customers will either get moderate speeds with lots of coverage or high speeds with limited range, around 1000 feet from the tower. The hype you hear assumes you’re in close range. What’s worse, it exists only where you already have fiber infrastructure.

 In Verizon’s early tests, 5G’s peak speeds couldn’t compete with cable broadband, let alone fiber. While 450 megabits per second sounds good for the average 5G user, fiber customers can already get 10 gigabits per second, 22 times faster.

All of this is supposed to be for the benefit of the coming “Internet of Things (IoT).” So far, we don’t see a lot of interest in IoT. In fact, the 5G hype reminds Bob of the Near Field Communications (NFC) enthusiasm. That’s the technology involved when you 

point your cell phone at checkout and the amount is automatically deducted from your account. You have to be close, hence “near field.”  NFC was going to revolutionize business and communications. In fact, it turned out to be sort of a neat thing, but that’s it.

Before that there was the Segway. It was going to “revolutionize human civilization, said a Silicon Valley hotshot. Cops on the beat, mail deliverers, and commuters were all going to hop on. End result: We’ve only seen them used by tour guides and tourists. And what about CDs? They were the new gold standard for music and voice. There are people who bought thousands of them. Now we download everything. On and on into the night.

What is the point of all this? If you don’t have something new and wonderful, you don’t have anything to sell.

Bravo, Reader

 Sometimes a reader makes a really good point. Especially this one:

“Whenever someone writes an article about various ways to speed up a slow PC,” a reader writes, “why is replacing the disk drive with a solid state drive (SSD) never mentioned?  A co-worker was watching how slow my PC was and suggested that I swap out the drive for an SSD. I did it and my PC has been blazing fast!”

 NewEgg recently sold them for as low as $25. Check out How to Geek’s article on “How to Migrate your Windows Installation from a Hard Drive to an SSD.”

Sunglasses With Music

A hip young friend of ours plans to get a pair of $199 Bose sunglasses after trying them out at the Bose store. Talk about music to your ears.

Fortunately, no one else will hear it. That’s because each ear of the sunglasses has a miniature speaker, pointing directly at your ear. As long as you’re outside, and don’t turn up the volume beyond 60 percent, your music will not be heard by others.

 Amazingly, the frames will also provide navigation with turn-by-turn directions spoken aloud. Augmented reality will put pointers in the air in front of you.

Tracking Yourself

 On the fringe of the fringe now, is the Oura ring.

 Two  young friends both got an Apple Watch for their birthdays. But they crave one more gadget: the Oura ring. It monitors your sleep and fitness level.

 One of the two friends, Alfonso, is getting married this week. He wishes he’d gotten an Oura for a wedding ring. The basic ring starts at $299 and goes up to $999 for the silver diamond version. We asked him why he wouldn’t use the Apple Watch to monitor his sleep and fitness.

The Apple Watch is too bulky for sleeping, he says. Unless you put it in “theater mode,” it lights up every time you look at it, making you too alert to turn over and catch more Zs. And all the fitness podcasters recommend the ring.

We’re surprised that  these young people are so conscious of their health, when they’re  already bursting with vitality. Yet the ring is intriguing. It measures your heart rate, respiratory rate, heart-rate variability and other sleep-related parameters. It tracks your movement with an accelerometer and gyroscope.

 Using a free app on your Android or iPhone, you get an activity score that tells you 

whether you’re moving enough for optimum health. It encourages you to move every hour, for two to three minutes. The full report includes other variables as well.

But if all you need is a prompt to get moving, consider the Garmin Vivo Fit 3, which Joy uses. It looks something like a Fitbit, but gives you a red streak if you’ve been sitting more than an hour. Another red segment adds on if you don’t get up and move for two minutes. It costs $54, around $250 less than the ring.

Netflix Free Riders

Twenty-four million people watch Netflix movies without paying for Netflix, according to We knew a grandma who used her niece’s account from afar.

Why doesn’t Netflix doesn’t do something about it? It costs them around $2.3 billion in lost revenue every year. The answer is competition, pure and simple. If they try to crack down on it, they could lose business. But points out that a new algorithm created by Synamedia could work. It can tell if you’re viewing from home or a vacation home, or if your grown children, still part of the family plan, are watching movies from afar. Or if you’re using your ex’s password.


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