Thursday, April 16, 2020

Covid 19 and slow Wi-Fi

With more and more of us staying in place at home, away from Covid-19,  our usage of Wi-Fi is going up and the speed of Wi-Fi is going way down, sometimes to a trickle. Video gets the hiccups.

What to do?

Being at home, we have more time to think about it and do something.

The first thing I did was to take my shared printers offline and connect them directly to computers.  I found an inexpensive Brother laser printer with ability to connect direct to 
Ethernet.

Next I connected everything else possible direct to ethernet. My routers are of necessity next to my TV, so that I simply extended cables wherever practical, up to 25 feet away to another room.

When re-carpeting is done later this year, I will have flat cables installed under the carpet.

I used USB to ethernet converters with laptops. I ordered a special lightning converter for my iPad and iPhone.

I then checked the age of my routers only to discover they were way out of date and slow.

Much better routers are available under $50, and I purchased a TP
-link unit as a replacement. This is highly rated, speedy, and has four antennas.   I put down ethernet cable to a central location.

I will need to switch my Alexa switches over to the new network, which can be done on the Alexa site.

I installed Endless Linux on my tower in addition to slower Windows.  

I put older tablets aside and purchased a fast up-to-date touch screen RCA Cambio tablet for $99.   Why pay more?  Also an up-to-date Chromebook with strong Wi-Fi and ability to run Linux.

Where I don't need a large screen, I use a smartphone which does not need the slow refresh on a large screen and therefore runs faster.

I then settled down with a best-seller for when Wi-Fi does not work at all.  For that I put an old nook and new Walmart tablet back into use again.





Thursday, April 9, 2020

Computing with Covid-19

Covid-29 has changed the way we use our computers.

With so many at home, the use of Wi-Fi has increased and the speed decreased, sometimes to the point where it is almost unusable.

This affects iPads especially since they're almost always used only on Wi-Fi, though connectors are available to ethernet directly.

With a lot of time available at home, I took the opportunity to upgrade my computing experience with my old computers.

I had been thinking of upgrading to a newer Windows device or even a Mac.

I found a better way.

I replaced Wi-Fi with ethernet wherever possible, and after attempting to upgrade existing equipment with Windows, reverted to Chromebook and to Endless Linux.

My older computers then came to life where  Windows upgrades failed.

With Windows one Asus laptop had no voice recognition in Google Docs and would not connect to an ethernet adapter until I installed Linux.  It took ages to upgrade anything.

Wanting a large screen, I purchased an Insignia Fire TV and display from Best Buy at $120, and connected my other computers to it.

That also gave me the enhanced capability of streaming and accessing recorded TV with YouTube TV.

Linux also gave me the capability of editing PDF files and running other apps, such as CAD and Scribus professional apps.

So for a pittance I got the equivalent performance of new machines.

Oddly, the best performer with Windows was a 32-bit $99 RCA touchscreen laptop.   If you are addicted to Windows, you might like it.

Endless Linux works better, (but 64-bit).

So here is my setup.

At my primary work station, I now have an Asus tablet with Windows, Chromecast, and a Dell tower with Endless Linux, all connected to the Insignia TV/display, and a four-port ethernet
hub to Fire TV on the Insignia, Asus tablet, Dell PC, and VOIP phone.    No phone line $ or cable $ or cable alternative, just internet.  The VOIP box is Polycom from Obitalk with Anvio VOIP service with a (free) Google Voice phone number.  I also have a Chromebook connectable to the TV/display.







Saturday, April 4, 2020

A Better OS

For years we have wanted a better operating system for our computers.

Better means less vulnerable than Windows and less expensive then Macintosh.

For years the Linux operating system has been almost ready for primetime.

To date however, it has never made it.

The problem has always been like something did not work properly. It always took expertise to get things working,

Finally that has changed.

To my surprise, the Endless Linux version installed perfectly with no more effort on my part then tapping on download from the Endless website.

I note that Endless requires a 64-bit computer. That said, everything else works without a flaw.

A stunning surprise.    Faster than Windows, safer, and better apps such aa PDF editor.

Finally finally finally.    So far, not going back to Windows



Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Better and Cheaper Phoning

Not long ago I was paying about three hundred fifty dollars a year for 3/4 nuisance calls.

I now pay fifty dollars a year for no such calls.   Also, my calls come to hearing aid and bluetooth headet.

All it took was a box to onmect to internet and a Panasonic Bluetooth and cell answering machine, plus a free number with service from Google.



Friday, February 28, 2020

Upgrade Your Computer?

If your computer is 5 years old or older or you are just ready to get rid of that tower, it is surely time to upgrade.

That effort can be a joy or a royal pain in the neck, depending on how you handle it

For most of us a Chromebook will do the job. A big downside can be connecting a printer, which is no problem whatsoever in Windows.l

So for a Chromebook a new printer may be needed, especially one of the HPs which can actually be plugged in.  Otherwise you will need to deal with a Wi-Fi set up

On the other hand, Windows may be needed for publishing a book or other such work.

Windows 10 is no longer an obstacle but has been much improved. One downside of Windows is that if you no longer have your product key for Windows Office, you will need to fork out $100 for a new copy. unless you can get by with Wordpad and the like.

There are quite a few things you can do ahead of time to make the transition easier.

You need to gather together product keys for software you need to reinstall. You'll need a list of logins and passwords.

the easiest way to transfer your documents, photos and music is to send them up to the cloud and then back down to your new computer, or just access them remotely. You can also use flash drives for this purpose but it will take more time.  I keep a flash drive of my music and photos in my safe deposit box

Photos are indeed best sent to the cloud where they are accessible anywhere.    The transfer will take time.

The transfer also reminds that many more things will be done with your smartphone that you formally needed a computer for.

I do much of my printing from a smartphone because it is easier.

Maybe you do not need any computer at all but just a smartphone. Think about that.

Computers offer a larger screen, of course. My laptops are hooked up to 24 in TVs which also serve as displays.  One is a Fire TV and the other is a Roku.

By the way, with many users Wi-Fi has gotten too slow and I use adapters to connect direct to my router.

Whatever I am doing, I do as much as possible with voice, such as this posting, done with my smartphone.

It is often a bother to go to the computer when I have the smartphone with me do handle almost everything I need to do.








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