Tech Wiz on troubleshooting…

I have over the years of my career spent a lot of time troubleshooting problems. Many years ago, I decided to stop having a “beta” network at home. I used to have a network that only had the latest and greatest software and hardware. It wasn’t a production system, and I cannot tell you how many times I had to walk my wife or daughter through how to reset the system while I was away. When we moved to Maryland, I decided I was going to move my beta or new technology network to the cloud, and that my home network was going to be a production system. There result is that I don’t travel now, but I also don’t spend hours working on my home network.  We don’t have enough bandwidth, but that is a different issue.

That got me thinking about the reality of issues. There are issues that we accept, simply because we know how to work around them. There are issues that slow us down, but again we don’t want to stop and spend the time to fix them. Finally, there are the issues that we don’t know how to fix, and we know what they are, so we avoid using things that cause the issue. Many years ago I had a printer that I needed (a Plotter) that when connected to a PC while it was starting, the PC wouldn’t work. So I only plugged that plotter into the computer when the computer was already running. I have some older USB devices that cause one of my computers to boot slowly, I only plug those devices in, when the computer is booted.

It isn’t just you, I promise. All of us have frustrations that we have to deal with.when it comes to technology. I am going to devote a couple of columns to helping people become better troubleshooters. It isn’t hard, and frankly, there are two things you can do that will solve most problems quickly.

  1. Check for updates (all operating systems need updates)
  2. Reboot the computer

Just those two solve many problems you are experiencing. More tips to come!


link to the poll part is here

Tech Wiz on handheld games!

I know that I often waste time. I don’t mean wasting time in the sense of just throwing time away. Rather, spending time wandering a game or activity that isn’t critical. I like the game Tetris Blitz for example. I play it every day. Puzzles help your memory and focus. But I also play the game because I like it. It has always been a game I’ve enjoyed.  That got me thinking about the games I like to play and how I play them. First, there was a long time when I played cards all the time.  I don’t play cards as often now as I used to in the past. I don’t even play cards on my phone or tablet that often. I do play hearts from time to time, but nowhere near as often as I used to do.

There are, however, some games and types of games that I enjoy playing on my iPad or iPhone. I still love playing various golf games from time to time. Tetris Blitz as already mentioned is another game I often play. I don’t play for hours, 20, 24 minutes a day is the maximum I can. Focusing on the screen isn’t the issue, I just get bored if I play for hours. I do still play Age of Empires from time to time. I also like to play baseball games. Baseball video games on the iPad in particular Com2US 9 inning baseball. I can play as the Cubs which, makes me happy. I know the lineup, the players and what they are good at. As the manager of the team, I can’t compete with Joe Madden, but I can have fun!

The reality of games is the many levels that exist. People, like my twins, which are serious gamers spend a lot more time focused on not only the game but the gaming hardware. Me, not so much, I spend more time focused on having fun. But I am a casual gamer, where the twins are a little more serious than I am. They are not as focused as some of their friends are. The world now has professional sports leagues. As far as I know, the twins never even desired to be a professional esports player. That said, it is an interesting thing to think about. Back when I was first doing network and system design, we used to use games to test systems. Now, they may be the best test of a network ever. But, they remain fun as well.


tech wiz

Tech Wiz on updates…

Updates. In the past two days, I have updated two PCs and two TVs. I still have two TV’s to go and about 3 PC’s, but I will get there. It is critical to always have your virus, malware, and operating systems up to date. Why? The more you are up-to-date, the less likely any one specific issue or security problem can get you. I know it can be frustrating, but honestly, it is the best way.

The madness beyond the region is that exp0loitations (that is what hackers are looking for) are often a race. The company releasing the software knows there are issues. The hacker knows there are issues, the first one to get out wins. If you stay current with the manufacturers recommended settings you may have changed enough that the hackers hole won’t work on your computer.

I remember when GPS chips were added to phones. I used to carry a portable GPS with me. Now I carry a phone with me. Once upon a time, they added cameras to cell phones. I still carry a camera with me most of the time, but my phone is always with me. What a different world, because where I once used to have to carry a kindle, my phone, a computer and a tablet, I can do 100% with my phone and a projector. Screen as a service has arrived. The only thing my phone doesn’t do is process lots of data in excel well. I still need a laptop or a tablet for that. But I haven’t turned on my kindle in a long time. I still love the concept of the Kindle, I just use the Kindle application now, rather than the actual Kindle. Someday, the app will have feature parity with the devices. Or, Amazon will release a Kindle with enough memory for users like me, I have a lot of books I’ve gotten over the years. Plus I am a long time Audible member. I have a lot of audio books as well. In fact, I have well more than the 32 gigs my kindle can support.


A link to the poll is here

Tech Wiz on Customer Service

I have been shipping and selling online for many years. I started on the AOL forums. From there I moved to Yahoo auctions and then eBay. I am frustrated now with the level of fees and the horrible customer service that eBay provides sellers. It is one of those things. If the service is free and I don’t pay a fee, then it would be acceptable. Since I pay for the service, it isn’t acceptable. One of the things, however,r that has changed since I started is the ease of shipping. When I was first shipping things post an online sale, it was often a trip to the post office. That meant waiting in line, and then once the next thing sold repeating the process. The rise of postal scales and printable postage is a huge benefit!

I don’t sell year-round on eBay because of the frustration with their customer service. I do understand the complexity of technology and systems built around solving problems. But when I have an issue, I would prefer not to waste my time trying to solve it. Since I pay a rather large percentage of every sale to eBay for customer service, I would like the customer service, please. It is my rule, and the reason I started this blog 15 years ago. I ran into a really poor company service situation with Vonage. In fact, I will never deal with that company again. They attempted to charge me for something I had canceled. That happens from time to time when I called they said and notified me an email that all services were shut off. A year later I got a collection call telling me I owned Vonage more than 300 dollars.

What happened next? I sent Vonage the email they sent me notifying me that my entire account had been paid in full and shut off. Suddenly the collection bill went away. But this was born my customer service blog. Vonage and Noah’s Properties of Gaithersburg are the only two companies that remain on my list, of horrific customer service, which never tried to get off. There have been other companies, but in most cases, they have reached out and tried to get off that list. Noah’s and Vonage get the record for least effort made to at least get me too sad, from completely infuriated. Sad and I might at least say they tried to solve the mutual problem. Infuriated and I post blogs and Yelp reviews. Overall I don’t forget poor customer service.



tech wiz Ramble (ee cummings style)…

Sometimes for me, the path to inspiration can be a tough one to focus on. I sometimes find myself wandering far afield without rhyme or reason. Mostly it is what interests me as I ponder what to write each day. Some days that is easy, some days what to write is hard. Today, for example, is a hard day, In part, because I wasn’t feeling well earlier in the week and took the easy topics and used them. In part because it is the dry period of technology releases. Yes, there are many products out there, but not many that inspire me to do a review (good or bad). One of the things I find interesting is the first/second generation of dog or cat collars that include GPS chips. Interesting, but they are still early generation, and I am waiting a little longer on those.

I talked about Crowdfunding projects that failed, and ones that succeeded. `Those were my long time saved topics.  Now I have to dig a new well of fresh topics. Funny how that works out. In the old days, I would do a numbers blog (10,000 visits over the past 30 days). But I don’t write for CloudTweaks as often now, and my monthly views are down overall. I am averaging around 2700 views a month right now overall. I average 10,000 views on my Yelp reviews every month. I guess that goes to show, my reviews are loved more than my blogs. But I write the reviews on Yelp for other people; I write my blogs for myself. The things I am thinking about. The memories I want to share.

I am going to end this technology lost table today with a couple of final thoughts. The first is on the reality of what has changed in the technology world in just the past five years. Cloud has emerged and following right behind cloud computing, was the Internet of Things. Yes, the cloud empowers what is called IoT. The Internet of Things now has a new component we call edge. But Edge computing is an old song sun again. Where do you put the processing, new the user or near the data? If you can do both, it is a win-win. But Edge is pushing computing closer to the information to continue working through the issue of which is critical. Sometimes the person is critical. Sometimes the data is critical. That is the reality of edge computing.

Thanks for reading!


tech wiz…

Tech Wiz companies that have delivered crowd funding projects…

Ravean is an interesting company. They have done two different crowdfunding campaigns for heater winter coats. I backed both (down jackets). I got one for me and one for my wife. It is interesting to me, the way some companies now approach crowdfunding.  Interesting because there are so many companies now doing crowdfunding. Yesterday I talked about a couple that had failed. Or rather a couple of companies I thought would take off, that well didn’t. Today I want to focus on the interesting companies that have to successful and the markets they are entering. In part, because they were successful and in part because the markets they are entering happen to be an area of interest for me.

The pilot is the voice translation system that has earbuds. So far, I’ve used it several times, actually wandering around a Metro Station with the earbuds in and talking to people that looked lost and confused. A couple of them were Spanish speaking, and I was able to communicate with them reasonably well. Music is better than the halting conversations I’ve had in the past. We were able to carry on a fairly complex conversation about which line they needed to get on to end up on the Silver line (it was Redline to Metro central, and then switch to the Silver line). That is a harder conversation to have when you don’t even have common words. My Spanish is halting at best.

The other company is Snapmaker. With a laser cutter, laser engraving 3d printer, you have a very interesting product. I won’t talk about pending products, there are some interesting nearly, or almost shipping products that I think will be market changes. But, based on my rules of the past year I don’t post about things that are not currently shipping. Crowdfunding is risky; there are no guarantees you will ever see value in your contribution. Keecker is another product that I enjoy using. Although we do have a small problem with operating and playing with Keecker. Serenity, one of the dogs in our house, is terrified of Keecker. When the screen comes on, she runs away tail between her legs. That means I can only turn the Keecker on when Serenity is downstairs.

(PS Bloomsky was also a Crowdfunding project)!


tech wiz

Oh the trends I’ve missed…

Ten things you think about, ten things that make you ponder. There are writers here on Virily that often post things that I find beyond interesting. Some of them force me out of my comfort zone and help me ponder the wonder around me. Some of them make me want to post big red letters on their post saying “Hoax: and not true. Some of them I argue with, their points interesting but not always what I see and believe. That is the wonder that is the online world. The joy of conversation. The wonder of sharing information with other people and of course, community. It is why I have stayed here on Virily; I truly love the community of writers and artists here. It feels like home.

Sometimes as you reflect you have to remember why you do things.  For me today I am sitting in my office, finally feeling better thinking about doing more of the things I love. It is after a vacation. A time to recharge and consider the many things that have gone well leading to the vacation as well as the many things that could have gone differently. Based on that I would like to share a few of the not gone well issues I’ve run into over the past few years. The first and truly painful was the reality of Populate. Populate was a second screen for your phone, designed to be always on the back. You could throw notifications and GPS directions on the back screen reducing the wear and tear on your phone’s battery.

The 1.0 version of the product shipped, they were crowdfunding the 2.0 version. Sad to say the company went out of business. It was a painful realization that you can’t always guarantee what you think is awesome, is truly awesome. Some others that went the way to the dinosaurs (although scientists point out that birds are relatives of Dinosaurs, so they didn’t go all the way away) include a huge number of Indiegogo campaigns. I no longer back projects on Indiegogo unless I know the creator personally. Far too many cool devices failed there. The one that makes me the saddest is Mi World. A multi-media service designed to stream your content anywhere. I have a lot of content! Goovis actually does that for me now, but that wasn’t available then.

Tech Wiz