Category Archives: Technology

Battling against Time Warner

Cable companies have long been among the “most hated” industries. Based on my experience, I think I know at least one of the reasons for that negative view. My complaint is the ongoing price increases from Time Warner Cable. I have 2 TVs – one is HD, one is analog. When I first joined the cable crowd in late 2012 I got the Starter TV channels, the Standard TV channels, the Preferred TV channels and 2 HD Set-Top boxes. The price was $78.82/mo. Here’s the sequence of price increases I’ve had since:

  • Jan 2013 – $78.82
  • Dec 2013 – $89.22
  • Jun 2014 – $91.05 (I added internet)
  • May 2015 – $113.89
  • Mar 2016 – $122.59
  • Apr 2016 – $138.04

So for 2016 ALONE, I’ve had a 21% increase!!! The TV channels portion of the bill increased $20, 25%. The box price increased 50¢, 4%. The modem increased from $5.99 to $10 – a 67% increase. The broadcast TV/Sports surcharge increased by $3.25, a 59% increase.

By this time, I had had enough! I reviewed the Preferred TV channels to see how many I actually watch. There were only two: NatGeoWild and Smithsonian. So I called TWC to remove the Preferred TV cost. The rep said I could cut the cost of the boxes by using a “Digital Adapter” if I didn’t use OnDemand or StartOver. I don’t use either of those features so I decided to save the $17! I received the two adapters the next day!TWC Digital Adapter

Upon installing the little adapters the instructions said to call TWC for activation. While on the phone with the Rep, he mentioned I could also save money by purchasing my own modem via Amazon. So off to Amazon website I went. They have the exact modem for $48.49! Since TWCs new charge for their modem is $10/mo, I will have MY modem paid for after 5 months! My future bill “should” be $110 – until TWC takes the price up again.modem - router set up

Last year I bought a router to attach to the modem. This allows me to have wifi for my cell phone so I avoid exceeding the ‘data’ portion of Verizon phone bill. It’s not easy but I’m determined to win – or at least minimize – this “war” with the technology companies.

One last warning for TWC – Wowway is now preparing to come into my neighborhood. I’m sure they’ll offer promos for signing up. It would be stupid to think that their promos won’t end and they’ll also have consistent price increases as well.

Stop those #!@%&# bogus spam phone calls

Do you get those bogus spam phone calls where no one answers? I used to get a lot of them when I had a Blackberry and a business number. These are the calls with an area code you don’t recognize. When you answer, there is either dead air or it’s a mad womanspammer wanting personal info. With the Blackberry, I was unable to download a call-blocker to hang up on them. So I assigned them a name of ‘Spam’ and eventually I had nearly 100 numbers so identified so I wouldn’t answer when they called.

I now no longer have a business number so it’s only my cell phone. The number of bogus calls has lessened but not stopped. Now that I have an Android phone, I checked into the various call blocker apps. Someone on Twitter had suggested “MR NUMBER“. Since it was free, I downloaded it.

It’s been GREAT! I entered – and continue to enter – the bogus numbers as they call. “MR NUMBER” not only stops the numbers I entered, they also identify known spam numbers and block them. Another feature I like is that I can choose to send the call to voice mail or to simply hang up. I wanted the hang-up feature since I didn’t want voice mail indicating they reached a ‘real’ number. It offers other features as well.

If you have trouble with these spam phone calls, you might want to check out this app.

Twitter Made Me Do It

In late October, I noticed a change to my Twitter page. No background, no pics, other options just gone. Emailed their support and was told they made a change to use mobile options for IE 6 & 7. I replied that I was using IE8. They replied that I must not have IE8 updated.

Now, I often delay doing those MS Updates because ‘something’ always gets screwed up as a result. Reluctantly I did the updates on Windows XP and Internet Explorer 8. It has been such a disaster that it almost rendered my wonderful Vaio laptop useless. I knew that my XP system was on limited time from Microsoft. But I also had heard that Win8 wasn’t compatible, so I was reluctant to change due to all the programs and files that I didn’t want to lose. Besides my Sony Vaio laptop is around 5 years old and really didn’t want to spend any money on new programs, knowing that at some point, I’d have to buy a new computer as well.

Everything was working fine so I was content to accept that … until Twitter told me I couldn’t.

The two main problems, after the update, was having the laptop boot up after turning it on and using the Internet. It was not uncommon to spend 30 minutes trying to get the laptop to load to the point that the main screen loaded correctly. Then when I tried to use the Internet, it would hang up after viewing one web site and wouldn’t allow me to shut anything down, including my Verizon MiFi connection and the laptop. So I would have to press the ‘off’ button and try again. I even tried to use Google for my browser and it did the same thing.

Windows 8

After two months, I finally gave up and bought a desktop which has Windows 8 loaded. For three weeks, I’ve now been ‘messing’ with moving files and programs from the laptop to the desktop PC. Nothing is going smoothly.

So far, I’ve had to buy new versions of 2 favorite programs. I’ve had one favorite photo editing program, that came with my Nikon camera, that isn’t compatible and is no longer available. If I hadn’t retired from being a Realtor® last summer, this would be a DISASTER! The communication between the PC to my fairly new Epson printer didn’t work and I had to download special drivers to make it work with Win8. I’m still working on getting Quicken to work and accept my data files. I’ve still got plenty of programs yet to transfer so who knows what I’ll continue to find.

BOTTOM LINE ALERT: While Windows 8 has a “cool factor” with the ability to use your fingers – like an IPad – I personally don’t find that feature worth losing the utility of previous versions of Windows. I suggest you think twice about adding Win8 to an existing computer and BACKUP before you do. If you buy a new computer, plan on spending time transferring files or buying new programs. It’s taken me awhile because I reach a frustration (heavy swearing) point and just walk away.

Why can’t computers be easier to use!

Living the Old-Fashioned Way

wind turbine in Dublin OHThere’s much ado about the use … and investment … into the wind turbine business. We have a few of them here in central Ohio. The one in the photo is at Glacier Park in Dublin and it provides electricity for the park lights.

Some states with persistent strong winds have acres of them. The first time I saw one of the big wind farms was perhaps 20 years ago on a business trip to California. East of Los Angeles there was a huge farm which I suppose took advantage of the Santa Ana winds. I saw another such farm when driving between Amarillo and Albuquerque where the winds rush down off the Rocky Mts.

Now that the big behemoths are in the news, we’re learning that millions of birds are killed as they try to fly through the farm and that the ground temperature is increased, so they’re not as “green energy” as once thought.

old-fashioned windmill

When I was young, growing up in the rural part of Knox County, it was fairly common to see windmills on farms. There was one at my uncle’s house that I believe pumped up well water. Not sure how it did that as I was too young to understand how it worked. I mainly remember that it squeaked when the blades went round and round. It was a soothing, rhythmic squeak  … comforting like an old squeaky rocking chair or porch swing. I doubt that any birds died as a result of its use.

This old photo of my uncle’s home was probably taken around 1908-10 when my grandparents owned it. I cropped out the family that was in the lower part of the pic because they look like a family that should be in the “Deliverance” movie. 🙂 That’s the front of the house. Imagine having one of the new turbines next to your front door.

Is Columbus in the “Technosphere”?

It is according to Forbes. Columbus has come a long way from being called a cow town – thanks to that OSU farm photo years ago – to now being suggested as one of the regions to watch in 2012 for technology growth.

Read the complete Forbes article

Here’s what Forbes said about Columbus (#4 heading, under Technosphere):

Unfortunately for the rest of California, and even more blue-collar Bay Area communities like San Jose and Oakland, high costs and an unfavorable regulatory environment will keep this bubble geographically constrained. Historic patterns, particularly over the past decade, suggest that as the core tech companies expand, they are likely to head  to business-friendly places such as  Salt Lake City, Raleigh and Columbus, Ohio, which have picked up both tech companies and educated migrants from California.

Recently Jerry Brown, the California Governor, appealed for more tax increases to assist their ailing economy. Governor Kasich tweeted that he welcomed California companies to come to Ohio where our business climate was now friendlier.

Having lived in central Ohio most of my life, and enduring the years that some media have made fun of us, I’m really proud to have this new designation from Forbes. How about you?

Learning to use my “Big Girl” camera

I’ve made many references in various articles here about the importance of good photos when marketing a home for sale. Over the last few months, I’ve “put my money where my mouth is“. I bought what I call my “big girl” camera.

Sony A-300 camera

Photo taken with my Blackberry

Then I had to buy a book to figure out how to use it because the mini instructions that came with the camera assumed the user actually knew something about SLR’s. Then I found I really needed to buy a longer range flash attachment. Of course, I already had a tripod.

All told, I’ve invested about $1000 to take nice photos of my listings. I’m only about 1/4 of the way through the big book, so I’ve still got a lot to learn. AUTO is my favorite go-to setting right now, but I’ll get there.

This Sony A-300 is a great camera for a Realtor® because it goes down to 18mm, which means much more of the room can be in the photo. No it’s not a funny looking fisheye lens … it’s just a wider shot. The other handy thing is the LED viewing screen. It is movable up or down so if I hold the camera high over my head – because I’m not real tall – I can tilt the screen to still see the image. Or I can hold the camera low and tilt the screen up to see the image. That’s handy because getting down on my knees isn’t always convenient – especially outside in snow or mud.

The new flash attachment can be tilted to bounce the light off the ceiling, thus lighting the whole room or targeted to brighten a specific area. Its only negative is that the batteries can be drained when shooting a large home. I normally take 100-200 photos. The batteries last through the 100 photos but give out by the time I reach 200.

I still carry my little Nikon CoolPix2 in the car for quick shots or videos during my day, and of course, my Blackberry camera is ALWAYS with me. But for the serious stuff, my BIG GIRL camera gets to go along.

Now, if I could just figure out this ISO-thingey.