Calling for tech support is often the beginning of a descent into gloom and doom. Here’s an example from a recent reader letter.

He says: “I have recently turned eighty, my hearing is not the best. My Norton antivirus coverage expired and I needed to renew it using a new email address.” The nightmare begins.

The whole process took two hours. He was told to bring up a chat screen but the “send” button wasn’t showing so he couldn’t respond.  This happened over and over with different tech support people. 

 After calling Norton, he writes, “I couldn’t understand the heavy European accent of a woman with a little girl voice. Soft voice, low volume, my deficient hearing, etc. The whole endeavor went to hell.”

“We oldsters don’t need folks on the helpline who are fast speakers and have limited English. They speak in a volume so danged low that it can’t be understood or heard.” The jargon they use makes it worse. 

Guess what? The same problem happens to everybody, oldster or not. When it happens to us, we hang up and call back.  Every time we call, we get a different person. 

We don’t see companies improving their tech support options any time soon. Their newly-hired MBAs tell them this is not a revenue-generator. Of course it is a revenue generator because it builds a loyal base. But apparently they’ve never rounded that base.  

Cheap Security Camera

The cheapest security camera we’ve ever seen is the Wyze Cam camera, for $20. 

Last year, we wrote about a similar one, the Wyze Pan Cam, for $30. It helped a reader find her lost cat. She and her husband put a camera in their open garage to see if they could find out where the cat went.

“It took over a week, but we finally saw our beloved kitty,” she said. “He is coming regularly now. He was a feral cat to begin with, so it will take time to get him back inside, but you have no idea how helpful this is for our emotional well-being. Without a camera, we still wouldn’t know his whereabouts, or if he was even alive.” And a week later, she wrote to say “the cat came back.” They named it “Tater Bug.” No explanation.

 According to a rave CNET review, the $20 Wyze Cam is similar to the $30 Cam Pan. But instead of panning, it has a static base which can be raised, lowered and angled with a 20-degree field of view. It sends you free alerts and has a slot for a memory card if you want continuous recording locally as opposed to on the internet.  

25,000 Points of Light

Commonwealth Edison wrote us to compare the cost of the Christmas lights used in the movie “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” with what they would cost today.

Back in 1989, a  house using 25,000 incandescent lights, fully-lit for five hours would get a bill for $3,700. The scene was set in Chicago. Using LEDs instead of incandescent bulbs, the cost would come to $69

On the Edge

After we recommended that readers dump Internet Explorer for Microsoft Edge, we heard from a reader who uses Windows 7. She says Windows 7 is not compatible with Edge, so we looked into it. She’s right. It’s the Microsoft way: Upgrades are made that are not compatible with previous versions. 

Microsoft is coming out with a new version of Edge based on the Google Chromium operating system, the one used in Chromebooks. It will make Edge compatible with all versions of Windows. Microsoft came out with a preview version in June, which you can try out by joining the “Microsoft Edge Insider Community.” Just search on that phrase to find it.

Boop de Boop

Sometimes, when we’re sound asleep, our Echo Dot with Alexa inside makes a random noise. It sounds like “Beep Boop.”

Searching on the web for a solution, we found similar complaints. One guy says his Echo “randomly beep-boops three to five times around 1 a.m. and it’s getting on my nerves.”  We hear you as if we were there.

So we opened the Alexa app on our smart phone, tapped “settings,” and went to “notifications.” There were ten switches we toggled to the off position. We haven’t had a beep boop since.

Flip Phone Update

We worried quite a few people when we wrote that the average flip phone may not work next year, as cell phone providers drop support for 3G phones. New news: some of the providers changed their minds. This is a business in which people change their minds frequently. Like Mark Twain’s comment about the report of his death. Dropped support is often greatly exaggerated.

A reader wrote: “I, too, was told my 3G Verizon phone would not work after December 31st. Then a day later I called Verizon, and of course got a different rep. She said the the date to drop 3G has been moved forward one year, so there is no need to rush out and buy a 4G or 5G phone.“ Apparently they didn’t get the memo.

AT&T says they will drop support for 3G phones in February.  T-Mobile and Sprint are vague. They say it will happen sometime in 2020 or 2021. Vagueness is in. Always remember: When in doubt, obfuscate.


Comments are closed.