Lately, it seems that 90% of all of my inbound calls are robocalls. One of the benefits of using a voIP phone system is screening out these calls. I have mine set up to give them two chances to choose an extension or they will be disconnected. I have one series of numbers that calls me everyday, even though I have blocked them. I have registered all of my numbers on the DONOTCALL government registry but to no avail. It's usually about my business not being listed properly with Google, or I won a trip to Disneyland in Orlando. Unless our business relies on inbound calls, the best solution is to not pick up the phone if the call is blocked or the number calling is unrecognized. After all, that's what voicemail is for. There are call screening features and even an application that allows you to get revenge by engaging robots to waste their robots time. Granted this is not free but well worth it to some folks.
This time of year, it's not just guys breaking into cars in mall parking lots. Cybercrime is the new problem. It's far easier to break into your bank, credit card, or computer than your car these days. My wife gets phishing attempts almost daily. Yesterday, she received an e-mail supposedly claiming that she needs to change her Apple ID do to multiple log -in attempts. They wanted her to click on a "reactivate" link that was likely malware. The easiest way to validate this stuff is to wave your mouse over the return e-mail address. In this case, it was a dead giveaway that it did not come from Apple.
From: Apple <email@example.com>
Date: December 12, 2018 at 2:06:47 AM PST
Subject: Apple ID Deactivated
Also... Never, ever, ever click on any links you find in e-mail for businesses that you currently have relations with, be it banks, e-bay, Paypal, or any other organization. It's always far safer to launch your browser and open a fresh page to play it safe.
If you utilize a credit card machine, be it a bank ATM or a gas station pump, you are a giant target. Always pay a human being in the store or have them run your card, especially in areas where there is not an attendent or clerk watching 24/7. That's because more and more "bad hombres" are using "Skimmers" that attache and emulate the slot you slide your card in. These illegal devices steal your credit card information and are far more common than you would think. Juat ask your local police department.
Lastly, one good way to protect yourself is to use double authentication when possible. This means an additional 6 ditit code is required before anyone can access or make any changes on your account.
After using a Samsung S8+ for a while, I came back to Apple and have been using an iPhone X for the last few months. Personally I found the Samsung Super AMOLED display better than Apple's OLED display which should come as no surprise. Samsung makes them for Apple. Maybe it's the stainless steel but I was also surprised that the smaller iPhone X was also substantially heavier. Despite the fact that I preferred the Samsung hardware, it was the stability and reliability of Apple' iOS that I found the deal breaker. That being said, I was fairly happy with the performance of my iPhone X,... until last night...
I reached for my phone on my night table and noticed this bright green line from top-to-bottom. After doing a soft reset and not being able to get rid of it, I decided to google "Iphone with green line". As Gomer Pyle used to say, "Surprise, Surprise, Surprise! There were at least 25 other folks experiencing the same phenomenon. Word has it that Apple does not want to acknowledge they have a major problem with their OLED displays. It appears that their "geniuses" are quietly replacing these displays as that is the only fix.
Combine the fact that the newest iPhone Xr has a souped up LCD screen instead of the more expensive OLED, 600mHZ T-Mobile support, and a far more attractive price tag, this may be the best iPhone. As I have not used one of these yet, i will be keeping an eye on Apple chat rooms to see if there are any issues. So far, so good!
Do you want to know why this crap pisses me off so much? It's because I have been on both sides of this coin and have a better understanding about this than most people. For 28 years, I activated phones for the wireless carriers. Simply stated, here is why we are here now...
Initially, the carriers made money on the monthly plan charge, minute charges, text charges, and roaming charges. With no less than 4 major carriers competing for your business, competition drove the rates. Today, minutes are unlimited, text is unlimited and data is unlimited. Many carriers like T-MOBILE even offer free global text and data which eliminates roaming charges. If you are a carrier, the question is, how do you stay profitable. Most upsell high resolution add-ons and now sell content. Taking away neutrality will cost consumers and make it harder for small rural providers and small content providers from competing with the big boys.
Today I'm an independent wireless consultant and work hard to protect my clients from getting ripped off by these mega cable and wireless carrier giants as well as their political hacks. Regardless of which side of the political aisle you sit, President Trump and his FCC Chairman, Ajit Pai, did you no favor by repealing all of the great things that his predecessor, Tom Wheeler accomplished. I find much irony in the fact that Tom Wheeler, a former FCC Chairman, had previously been the president of the CTIA (Cellular Telephone Industry Association) before becoming FCC chairman. All of the major carriers seemed initially thrilled with Mr Wheeler getting installed as the FCC Chairman. That was until he began to take his job seriously and instead of doing what was best for them, he did what was best for public, at their expense. Mr Wheeler protected consumers and small startups trying to compete by establishing a level playing field.
Enter Jerry Brown, California governor, with an even stronger internet neutrality ruling. What's cool is the governor's law went even further than the previous rules that the Trump administration eliminated. It also prohibits promotions known as zero rating, that give unlimited streaming of certain sites for free but charge for others. Ask yourself how could eliminating internet neutrality possibly be a good thing for consumers.
It hasn't even been a week yet and already the lawsuits are being filed against Jerry Brown's California state initiative to bring back the Net Neutrality laws that pinhead FCC commissioner Ajit Pai repealed. For those who don't know what this means, simply stated, it's all about protecting the consumer. Net Neutrality prevented the big cable companies and cellular carriers from cutting sweetheart deals with some content providers at the expense of others. Do you think for a minute that companies like Netflix, and Hulu could have ever become what they are today if they had to overcome Net Neutrality? The Justice Department didn't even wait until Monday, filing their suit on a Sunday.
It appears California pioneers lots of changes that end up going nationwide. After all, were we not responsible for auto emission laws. The Keebler elf himself, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, said that California’s net neutrality law was illegal because Congress granted the federal government, through the F.C.C., the sole authority to create rules for broadband internet providers.“States do not regulate interstate commerce — the federal government does,” Mr. Sessions said in a statement. “Once again the California legislature has enacted an extreme and illegal state law attempting to frustrate federal policy.”
Remember, this is the guy with the 1950's reefer madness mentality. He is still trying to roll back state cannabis legalization and would still prosecute medical cannabis patients if he could, despite dozens of states advocating this. Unless you are Comcast, Spectrum, Frontier, AT&T, Verizon, or a politician getting "greased" by these companies, this is terrible for consumers. California's attorney general, Xavier Becerra, indicated that the state would vigorously defend its new law. California “will not allow a handful of power brokers to dictate sources for information or the speed at which websites load,” Mr. Becerra said. “We remain deeply committed to protecting freedom of expression, innovation and fairness.”
It does not take a rocket scientist to figure out that the best time of the year to buy a Smartphone is after September 12th. Everyone always speculates about this but why? Apple usually refreshes their models with new ones (or "s" models) that generally have a better camera and or bigger processor.
Samsung always tries to steal Apple's thunder by beating them to the punch and launching their newest models a month or two before Apple. With the exception of the Note 7, which had to ultimately be recalled, this strategy has been effective. I highly recommend not buying a new Smartphone until after September 12th and here are several reasons why...
1) Many carriers and mass merchandisers get scared of getting stuck with old merchandise and blow out current models with triple figure discounts and BOGOs.
2) Our main Apple factory "spy" indicates that there will be three new "X models. A copy of the current one (Xs) and two larger models. One is a larger budget model with an LCD display, while the other will be an even larger 6.5" jumbo version of the new "Xs". He also feels strongly that Apple will cut pricing $200-$300 on some or all of these new models to stay competitive.
3) The iPhone 8 never sold great because for a few hundred dollars more, you could have the X which was a major improvement. To make matters worse, Apple is about to acknowledge a problem with the iPhone 8 model that may require a recall. If that is the case, this model will be improved and become quite a bargain. Usually this drives down the other models (7 series, 6s+ and SE models) by $100.
Netflix and YouTube have been the biggest losers since Net Neutrality. That's because the carriers are now throttling them. Each carrier has made sweetheart deals if they haven't outright bought the content providers. That means Verizon has a deal with Apple Music, T-Mobile with Pandora, etc... You can thank FCC Chairman Ajit Pai for this as the major carriers and cable providers did.
The best time to buy a new big screen TV is Black Friday and here is why...
4K LCD/LED screen technology has plummeted with the newer OLED screens now widely available. I actually found a 50" Toshiba Smart TV for my daughter for $289. It is currently possible to find good deals on 55" and 65" 4K Ultra HD Tvs for under $1000. Unfortunately, the OLED models are still over double the cost. Samsung as a "QLED" model that is somewhere in between as far as picture quality and slightly less costly than full OLED. The great news is OLED will be taking a huge price drop by Black Friday. You can always count on the manufacturers to come up with the " next big thing" and it's called IMAX enhanced, which promises to bring the 4K movie theatre experience in to your home.
Yup! This is the part of what I do that makes me feel like Santa Claus. The feeling of giving is pretty awesome. It's even better when what your giving is from somebody else ande not out of your pocket. If you are a T-Mobile subscriber, go to your T-Mobile Tuesday Application today. There you will have the opportunity to get one free year of commercial free Pandora Plus music. If you are on a family plan, the primary user will need to be the one to set up the username and password for this.
Verizon, not to be out done, is now offering 6 months of free Apple music. This is available to current or new subscribers. You can cancel anytime so if you do not want to be billed, opt out month 7.
Both T-Mobile and Verizon are currently locked into a major battle for number 1 carrier honors. Dr Wireless highly endorses both. Each now has three types of Unlimited plans available. Contact us to find out which one is best for you.
After the Santa Clara County Fire Department called them out, Verizon finally came clean and did the right thing. Last week, it was reported that they were throttling the data speeds at 25GB for all of the firefighters rendering their internet connection useless. I'd be pretty upset if my house burned down over what Verizon did.
Last week, Verizon did not even offer essential service for first responders. Their solution was to throttle. When challenged about this, management stated that they treat these cases on an individual basis and the SCC FD should have called customer care and explained the situation. They actually did call in and were told that the Government Unlimited plan they chose, was limited to 25GB of 4G data speeds. They were never offered another solution other than an up-sell to a much more expensive plan that would increase their 4G data allotment.
Well after having this issue added as an addendum to California's fight with the FCC over Net Neutrality, Verizon knew they better fix this problem. Apparently they are going to offer a new "unthrottled" unlimited plan and Essential service for First responders. They have also removed all restrictions and throttling for both the Mendocino Firefighters and those in Hawaii. It's a shame it took a horrific fire to get this stupid policy rectified.
Santa Clara County Firefighters were critically hindered by Verizon when fighting the Mendocino fire. How you ask? Well, Verizon has publicly stated that they will throttle their customers' Unlimited plan speeds after 25 GB of monthly usage, regardless of being an Government entity, as do Sprint and AT&T.
The Santa Clara County Firefighters utilize the internet to track fires and determine where they need to deploy resources. Obviously, when you are a first responder trying to save lives and property, having your data speeds suddenly slow down to totally useless dial-up modem speeds is not acceptable.
Santa Clara officials are furious at Verizon over this. In my view, you cannot blame Verizon for doing what they clearly stated that they will do. I would personally blame the head of IT at the Fire Department. As consultants for public sector organizations, the first thing we do is verify whether the carrier has special first responder access programs. If they do, we get them preferential treatment so they are not blocked or slowed down. If there are no programs available, we generally recommend T-Mobile because all of their plans, consumer, corporate or government, exclusively offer 50GB per line, per user, before throttling. Having been done this same road personally with Verizon in the past, their solution was to buy a more expensive plan that increased the data capacity. As an unbiased consultant, I told my client he could pay more with Verizon to increase his 25GB per user allocation or just port to T-Mobile for the same costs and get 50GB per user. No brainer!
My opinion is after FCC Chairman Ajit Pai rolled back net neutrality, Verizon, AT&T, and all the big Cable players are back to doing what's best for them, not the public. This is exactly why we offer wireless consulting services. Not all Unlimited plans are the same or even close. You are better off finding out about this stuff ahead of time, not when lives and property are at stake.
On August 21, T-Mobile subscribers who visit their T-Mobile Tuesdays application will get one year of FREE Pandora Plus music. Between offering FREE Netflix and now FREE Pandora Plus, TM is declaring war on the other carriers.
On top of Pandora, TM has also just partnered with Live Nation. They are the largest owner of concert venues in the US and own Ticketmaster. Well, TM has a special deal for for their subscribers that will make them feel like Rockstars. It's a bit long, but to here all the latest T-Mobile offerings and benefits, you can see the launch here.
All of the above combined with their new TEAM of EXPERTS approach of customer service makes T-Mobile the dominant carrier. They have been porting in 2-1 AT&T and Verizon subscribers which is staggering. The uncarrier strikes again!
Don't you hate calling companies for support but never getting to talk to a human being. You first get greeted with the "Please listen carefully as our menu has recently changed." Then, if your lucky, you'll get the "please enter your extension at any time, for a company directory press 9. Sometimes you get the...
Did you know that the most common answers can be found on our FAQs page at www....".
This is called call deflection and the reality is most companies giving customer support do not really want to speak directly with their customers. There is no guarantee that you will be successful if you do get a human being. Many companies just transfer you to another department or even worse, to a call center overseas with people that you cannot understand that don't really seem to care about your issue.
No wireless company is perfect and that includes T-Mobile. They do come closest to getting it right though. After all, they were responsible for making all the other carriers abolish contracts, offer Unlimited Plans, FREE global data and texting and more. They were the first company to eat taxes and fees on many plans too. Nothing is funnier than listening to TM CEO John Legere and team lambasting dumb and dumber (Verizon and AT&T).
As of 8-17-18, TM has vowed that you will be greeted by a TEAM of EXPERTS, 24/7. They are doing away with the voIP IVR system that every company (including mine) uses. I sure hope they can pull this off. Next to T-Mobile, Verizon is pretty solid and consistent with customer support.
Maybe "old guys" do rule after all. Now that I'm semi-retired, I'm beginning to realize that I must have been semi-retired for the last decade. After all, I've been surfing every morning before work all along. The only thing gone is the guilt in knowing I should be at work. My buddies know that my hearing is going and I don't see as well as I used to. It's not personal, or out of spite, if I should take off in front of them. I was hoping that my seniority might count for a few set waves at the premium California point breaks but apparently that is not an included geezer perk.
Believe it or not, there are some cool benefits to "being old". Nothing too painful about surfing at "Old Man's" at San Onofre or getting to surf my favorite 600 yard tropical longboard point with Corky. Yeah, I found a few restaurant discount deals too but there is something else available that I thought was pretty neat.
Apparently, If you are 62 years of age, there is a National Parks and Federal Recreation Lands Pass with a deal that sounds too good to be true. but it's real. I just made a one-time payment of $90 and will never have to pay for this again for the rest of my life. If that wasn't amazing in itself, this seniors pass works at over 2,000 sites Nationwide at all Federal parks. I just got mine in the mail this AM. In a perfect world, it would also work at California State Beaches but it doesn't, I already tried it. That being said, I've been dying to go to Yosemite and some other National parks.
The above Seniors pass covers entrance fees at National parks and wildlife refuges, as well as standard amenity fees (day use) at National forests, National Grasslands, and lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Reclamation and the army Corps of Engineers. Go to https://store.usgs.gov/pass to get yours. You can buy me a beer of give me a set wave if you enjoy this as much as I will.
Some wireless carriers offer seniors plans and other off-sheet non advertised plans. There has been an enormous amount of unlimited plan competition which has resulted in the introduction of several types of unlimited plans. All offer Unlimited voice, text, and data domestically. The difference is some also have international capabilities and include 4G hotspots. Whether your a senior or not, if you are paying over $30 per line, you're likely being ripped off.
Joel Saltzman has over twenty years of wireless industry experience. He is currently CEO and Chief Wireless Analyst for Dr Wireless.