Wednesday, July 26, 2017

NBN users not getting anywhere near the speed they're paying for.

I like to see how clients' NBN has been set up and it's interesting to watch the trouble people are having with NBN.

I attended one client and was wondering why they were still using their Wi-Fi router when a new Wi-Fi router had been installed. Their original W-Fi router was daisy chained to the NBN Wi-Fi router and they were still using their old Wi-Fi router, not the new one.

The reason given by the tech was their original Wi-Fi router had better speed an coverage. I did some testing and the tech was certainly right.

The new Wi-Fi router provided by the NBN installer (it's generally the same white Huawei box) isn't particularly fast. This client was paying for the top speed 100Mbps NBN service. The NBN provided W-Fi router was only providing a download speed of 27Mbps. Their old Wi-Fi router was providing a download speed of 59Mbps. To get even close to the stated download speed you have to connect via Ethernet which provided a download speed of 87Mbps.

If you're using the NBN installer's provided Wi-Fi router, you're probably only going to get about quarter of the download speed you're paying for if you connect your devices using Wi-Fi.

This client was previously paying Optus extra to be on their high speed service but testing showed they were getting around 20Mbps, and during one test, around 5.6Mbps. Previous testing of the Optus cable service showed the basic service could achieve 30Mbps, so this client was paying money to Optus and not getting anything extra, in fact much less than they'd expect with the basic Optus cable service.

With the NBN service they opted for the highest speed, but unknown to them they would never be able to take advantage of the speed as their W-Fi routers would never deliver the speed. That's paying extra money for something that's never going to be used.

In fact for this client I suggested their use was very basic and all they most likely needed was the base NBN service at 12Mbps (previously measure to deliver around 11Mbps). For their needs this would meet their needs and save them money.

One other question did cross my mind and that was, why don't they just discard the new Wi-Fi router. The reason they can't is the Wi-Fi router provided by the NBN installer provides the telephone line to the home. If people decide to get rid of their home telephone landline, this is no longer a problem.

It's important to measure what you're getting from the NBN services you are paying for. There's a very good chance you're paying too much and getting much less than you think you are.

Kelvin Eldridge
IT support

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Who would have thought your vacuum cleaner might be spying on you?

We've all heard of those vacuum cleaners that bump around the house avoiding objects and cleaning the house. However, I never once thought about the data it could be capturing and that the data may potentially be made available to others.

This is another example of how a smart device is collecting information and that information may end up being used by third party organisations.

Now that you know, you at least have the knowledge to make a decision about whether or not you get a robotic vacuum cleaner if your data and privacy is important to you.

Kelvin Eldridge
IT support

Windows 10 is no longer supported on this PC error on some Atom based PCs.

Microsoft seems to shaft its customers with such frequency the loyalty factor towards Microsoft is almost dissipating, if it hasn't already.

When I saw Microsoft drop it's blogging platform discarding 20-30 million users without concern, it made me stop and pause. When they dropped support for 300 million or so Windows XP users, I simply shook my head. Time and time again it's move forward and discard existing users without apparent concern, at least that's how it feels.

Microsoft was always known for very long term support for their software. With Windows 10 that seems to have vanished as well. The problem is Microsoft has moved to much more frequent updates and with each release they only support the current plus the previous version. The older version drops off support. In the past there may have been two updates for the entire life of the operating system, whereas no there's around one or two per year.

In the press I read people who purchased some of the lightweight Atom processor based computers are getting the error message "Windows 10 is no longer supported on this PC".

According to the article, the error appears when trying to update to Windows 10 Creators Update, which came out around April 2017. There's another update coming out later this year (Windows 10 Creators Fall update). That means two updates and potential for the computer's operating system to no longer be supported, making using the computer questionable.

Another article I read indicates Microsoft may be working with Intel on drivers to resolve the issue (why wasn't this already done before the software was released) and Microsoft will continue to provide patches (but the question is for how long).

The processors that are affected are the Atom Z2760, Z2520, Z2560, Z2580.

You can check the processor type in your computer by viewing the system information.

Select Settings -> System -> About

Then check the processor type.

Kelvin Eldridge
IT support

Monday, July 24, 2017

Crazy Domains domain prices increase due to GST.

I'd never really thought about it before, but a while ago I received an email from Crazy Domains advising GST will now be added to domain prices from the 1st of July.

Today I received an early renewal reminder offering a 20% discount. Checked the price and it wasn't too bad. But then I checked the total and it didn't make sense. There was a difference. What's the difference I thought. These sites always try to upsell so perhaps something is ticked. Nothing ticked. There it was. The GST was added in the total.

The good thing about the introduction of the GST (if there's such a thing) back in 2000, is prices had to be advertised inclusive of the GST. Sadly things have slackened off and now businesses are advertising ex GST prices, so you don't know if the price you're looking at is including or excluding GST. This is the same crappy situation that existed with the previous wholesale tax. Sneaky computer sellers would advertise ex wholesales tax so would get the business as you thought they had better prices. It wasn't until afterwards you realised you'd been tricked. The same is now occurring with GST which is such a pity.

If you check the price of Australian domains on the main page of Crazy Domains there's no indication the price does not include GST. It is only when you go to purchase that GST will be added.

Now I was about to renew the domain early (it stated 89 days) as there was a 20% discount, but when I checked another supplier I also use, they're based in Australia, they already include GST in the price. To my surprise their normal price was cheaper than Crazy Domains price.

Whilst it's only a few dollars, if you have dozens of domains, and some people have hundreds, a few dollars per domain can add up. It looks like it's time to review which domain provider to use. If you manage your own domains, moving domains is not that hard. Make sure you transfer domains around two weeks before the domain expires.

Kelvin Eldridge

Monday, July 17, 2017

Android - unable to send message.

I have an inexpensive Huawei Android mobile and recently replied to a text message from a friend. The text message failed with an unable to send message respond. I tried a few times more on different occasions with the same result.

Sending the same text message to others had no problem. Up until the first time sending a reply failed I had no problem sending or receiving text messages from the person.

To fix this issue I selected the entire conversation for the person and deleted it. This fixed the issue.

Kelvin Eldridge
IT support.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Make sure you understand what you've providing when you use voice services.

Voice services are now part of everyday life for many of us. We talk to our mobile phones and other devices have or will have voice capabilities. This would not be a problem if these were stand-alone devices, but they're not, they're connected to the internet. They can literally be listening to and recording everything that you say.

Keep in mind when you say "Hey Siri", the software has to already be listening to pick up the phrase "Hey Siri". In a recent article where police were involved to break up a domestic dispute, the phrase "Did you call the sheriffs" was heard by Google Home. Google Home interpreted this to be, "call the sheriffs" and subsequently called the sheriffs.

In this article we're told Amazon may give developers your private transcripts. This apparently is already being done by Google. Now they do say it is non-identifying information, by it does mention location. If you're at home (the location) that to me pretty well identifies you or your household.

How much information is being handed over to developers is not stated, but to be safe, you probably should assume that anything you say could be recorded.

Isn't it amazing. I'm sure most of us would not wish to have anyone eavesdropping on our conversations, yet with voice services that's potentially what we're giving away.

Remember you always have a choice as to what and how much you give away. You can disable features, although that may not mean the features are fully disabled. You can turn off devices. The choice is yours.

Kelvin Eldridge
IT support.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Windows 10 privacy settings for device prompt for Creators update.

Recently I received a call from a customer who was concerned about a prompt which appeared unexpected on Windows 10. The prompt was to Choose privacy settings for your device.

This prompt is legitimate and is in preparation for the Windows 10 Creators Update which was released in April 2017. If you're not sure what these options mean, the easiest approach is to simply turn them all off. If you need a feature such as location, you can later turn that feature on.

Kelvin Eldridge
IT support.