NOT READY TO CUT THE CORD? THEN AT LEAST PAY LESS

Every year I consider dropping cable TV. Then I call AT&T and they offer me a deal.

Using an ace negotiating technique — I simply ask– I got the bill down from $165 to $90  before it rose again. The discount ends every year if I don’t call to renew it.

So this time I told AT&T: “ I don’t need cable; I have Amazon Prime and Netflix.” (If I miss “60 Minutes,” I’ll put rabbit ears on the set.)  AT&T offered me Internet-only service for $40 a month with a 1024 gigabyte limit.

Is 1024 gigabytes enough? Currently, I’m averaging only 50 GB a month. What if I become a movie maniac? That’s OK too. A high-definition movie uses only three GB per hour. I could stream ten movies a day at that rate. Web surfing uses only 60 megabytes per hour, which is nothing. Email is even less. The lesson here: it’s definitely worth calling your Internet provider to see what kind of deal they can offer you.

Getting an Edge

If you’re still using Internet Explorer, you have until August of 2021 to switch to Microsoft Edge, Chrome, Firefox, Safari or some other browser. Microsoft is dropping all support for IE.

In the old days– the day before yesterday– I didn’t think Microsoft’s support mattered much. As long as I had a good antivirus and anti-malware program I should be set, right? No way.

On Quora.com, a techie with decades of experience told me that anyone using IE is vulnerable when Microsoft’s support ends, no matter what antivirus program they have.  “Internet Explorer really only exists for hidebound governments and large corporations,” he said. “Such entities still use internal code written for it. Don’t wait for Microsoft to officially end all support for that clunky old bag of bugs and security holes. Geeks have called it ‘Exploder’ basically forever. Seriously, switch now.” I switched to Google Chrome when it first came out and never looked back.

Can You Hear Me?

A reader wrote that she used to have a landline phone that provided captions during calls. So when she went smartphone shopping, she focused on call quality.

“I went to the AT&T store and a very nice young man helped me,” she said. “I wanted an iPhone because I was familiar with the iPad.” The clerk gave her an iPhone to try out, going into the backroom to call her from his phone.  “When I answered,” she said, “I could not hear him at all, even on speakerphone. That was it. I got a Samsung phone, and got rid of the landline!”

The Samsung phone’s call quality is great, she says. A web search backs that up. According to SmartphonesRevealed.com, Samsung phones fill up all but two of the slots on the list of the 20 best phones by clarity of calls. (Huawei comes in at #4 and #13.)

In general, the newer the phone, the less likely you’ll get a great call, according to Tech Republic. A reviewer there compared a six-year-old Motorola X to a variety of new smartphones. The X beat them all. These days, for most manufacturers, call quality is almost an afterthought.

Did I Just Get a Text?

A reader says she used to miss important text messages on her old phone because she’d get only one notification per message. If she missed the chime, that was it. It might be hours or days before she thought to check. Her husband never got his text messages.

“I need to be right beside the phone to hear the chime, even on the loudest volume,” she explained. So now, I have my Samsung Galaxy set to chime every five minutes until I answer! Drives everyone crazy who hears it but me.”

She didn’t think her husband’s iPhone had this feature after asking at three AT&T stores. They all said it could not be done. But a web search proved otherwise. An iPhone can keep reminding you of a single message, if you adjust the settings. Tap “Settings,” then “Notifications.” Then tap “Repeat Alerts.” Keep tapping to set the number of times the alert will be repeated after the first one goes off.

Who’s Smarter?

A reader with a new iPad said he wasn’t happy asking the tablet for answers.  “Siri doesn’t seem as smart as Google,” he said. “Even though she typed out my question accurately, I wondered if she really understood it.”

The iPad comes with Siri. But you can have Google’s voice assistant in addition, just by tapping the app store icon and installing it.  Then, instead of saying “Hey Siri,” say “Hey Google,” whenever you have a question. In my tests, Google was easily the smartest of the three, counting Alexa.

Internut

Pool in Little Rock, Arkansas

You’ve heard of renting someone’s home through AirBNB. How about renting the swimming pool?

Do it at Swimply.com. When my building’s pool closes in September, I’m tempted to try it if I can gather a large group. I love swimming outdoors and do 100 laps a day.

The pools typically rent for $10 to $25 an hour. The catch is: You have to pay for 17 hours. That’s quite a pool party.  A giant pool in Little Rock rents for $25 an hour, and it comes with a basketball court, water slide and other stuff.

 

 

 

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