The Only Monthly Mac Blog That Matters…

Month: January 2023

What’s 36% Between Friends?

Xfinity wants us all to dig a little bit deeper.

I currently live in Ridgefield, CT and am using Comcast/Xfinity as my internet provider. I was quoted a price when I moved in in late December 2020 (around $50/month – “Performance Pro Internet – download as fast as 400 Mbps, no television or telephone). At the last minute, due to the condo complex I’m renting in, there was suddenly a price change, maybe $5 or so a month. (I saved $$$ by enrolling in paperless billing, autopay, and supplying my own modem and router.)

So, for 2021 and 2022, I was paying $54.99/month for my internet service. Now, understand I’m a tech professional so speed – and reliability – are paramount for me. I’m not uploading massive digital files anywhere, I simply need enough juice to do my job and stream content to my television sets. I must say, for the most part, the service was fine, I never had an issue where I have to contact the company about anything for the past two years.

But, come December 2022, I was hit with a bill for $74.99/month – up from $54.99/month – a 36% increase! (My auto insurance and health insurance also went up – not to mention other people’s electric bills – but that’s a story for another time.) Unacceptable! So, I called the company, and of course, it was no help. (Most reps tried to upsell me to a television package, and one rep offered to lower it $70/month and give me one of the premium television channels.) No thanks.

Furthermore, a quick glance at my (online) bill indicated that a 12-month $17.01 service discount will end on 12/27/23, and the “end date of your promotion is February 17, 2023.” Ruh roh!

At that point, I started searching online for alternate options. Frontier was out of the running, as many of my clients have had terrible experience with it. Optimum doesn’t service this area, so going for a Hail Mary, checked to see if Verizon Fios was available (it isn’t), but wonder of wonders, Verizon 5G WAS available. Understand, I’ve never had any experience with Verizon, but decided to check into it.

The price for Verizon 5G is a flat $60/month, with hardware (“modem” and built-in Wi-Fi) included at no extra cost, provided I enroll in autopay and paperless billing. (I did.) I pulled the trigger on it the week between Christmas and New Year, and the package arrived a few days later, hardware that had to be configured by me. (Easy, right?) My plan was to run both for the month and confirm the speed and reliability of Verizon 5G is compatible with Xfinity.

But – before I turned off my Xfinity-connected modem and router, I decided to run a speed test on my devices to make a definitive comparison. My place isn’t large – 926 square feet or so – and is powered by my eero mesh router and the cable modem I bought at Best Buy two years ago. The devices using my Wi-Fi network are:

  • 2021 Mac mini in my home office
  • 2012 Mac mini in my home office
  • 2020 MacBook Air
  • Living room Apple TV
  • Bedroom Apple TV
  • iPhone 13

For the speed test on the computer, I used the Ookla site (www.speedtest.net); on the iPhone and Apple TVs, I used the Ookla app.

Speed using Xfinity:

Device NameDownloadUpload
2021 Mac mini in office:329.22 Mbps11.90 Mbps
2012 Mac mini in office:116.91 Mbps11.85 Mbps
2020 MacBook Air in living room336.58 Mbps11.36 Mbps
iPhone in living room:231 Mbps11.80 Mbps
Apple TV in living room (hardwired to eero):93.90 Mbps11.90 Mbps
Apple TV in bedroom:72.60 Mbps11.70 Mbps

Quick note: These was a Frontier Fiber ad on the Speedtest.net page.

So, the big day arrived (Tuesday January 3, 2023, the first day of business this calendar year) and the promised 4:00 PM delivery of the Verizon hardware was a best-case scenario. Upon my arrival home at 1PM, there was already a FedEx tag alerting me I missed my delivery, necessitating a drive up to Danbury after 6 PM, which could’ve delayed my Taco Tuesday dinner. (It didn’t.)  But when I got to the FedEx building, the driver hadn’t returned to the hub yet, and so I signed the FedEx slip and had the package put on my stoop without requiring my signature. So, I had to wait another day.

When I got home the next the day, the package was sitting on my doorstep. Setup was easy; the only issue was trying to change the default name of the network and the password. Turns out I had to do on the phone, it didn’t work on the computer, although the option was there. Once the router was set up, I relocated the router in my loft office in order to hardwire it to the 2021 Mac mini.

Speed using Verizon:

Device NameDownloadUpload
2021 Mac mini in office:294.45 Mbps20.13 Mbps
2012 Mac mini in office:139.84 Mbps20.29 Mbps
2020 MacBook Air in living room238.65 Mbps18.18 Mbps
iPhone in living room:322 Mbps20.6 Mbps
Apple TV in living room289 Mbps19.0 Mbps
Apple TV in bedroom:197 Mbps19.7 Mbps
The Verizon hardware, on the right.

Speed was pretty much the same across the board – slightly faster in some instances, slightly slower in others. And in the few days I tested it, there were no drops or lags – pretty much the same straight-ahead connectivity I’ve received using Xfinity – or Optimum, at my former residence for that matter. I don’t get any joy from calling up and cancelling an account due to a sudden price hike (OK, maybe I do a little!), and of course, I was bargained with and asked if I wanted to sign up for Xfinity cell phone service. (So that my cell phone bill can get raised willy-nilly?) No thank you…

So, there you go. In the three weeks I’ve been running the Verizon 5G, it’s been seamless. (To be fair, so was Xfinity.) I’m sure I’m not the only guy that Xfinity tried to jack up the rate on, and, in these uncertain times, others will also shop around. Hopefully, Xfinity will learn the hard way that greed isn’t good.

Continue Reading

Does Your Crystal Ball Tell You That It’s Time For a New Computer?

If you’re in the market for a new iMac, this is what you’re going to get!

All good things must end – and the useful life of your computer is one of them. But when should you look to upgrade, and just as importantly, how will you know?

The fact: Needless to say, Apple doesn’t continue support on its products indefinitely. (Otherwise, irate users would be hauling SE/30s into the Genius Bar.) In short, Apple gives it seven years. This includes Macs, iPhones, iPads, and Apple TV. Once your product has passed its seven-year cycle has been reached, Apple no longer wants to know about it.

First of all, understand that many users are out there working fine with computers that are ten (or more) years old. Just because your Mac is approaching seven, it doesn’t mean that there’s some kind of Logan’s Run scenario happening where somebody (or something) is out to destroy computers when they reach a certain age. If you’re using an older computer and have no complaints, then carry on (and back up your Mac!)

Now, that might not be an issue if things are working fine, but what if they’re not? And Apple’s suggestions to help aren’t always the best advice (or the advice I would give): Simply updating the operating system is one of the stock answers at Apple, and although it can have some benefits, it’s a dangerous road to travel, as the geniuses there don’t always explain the potential risks of doing that. Some of which are outlined in my “The Hidden Costs of Buying a New Computer,” blog, available here.

What are the signs of old age that aren’t reversable?

Slowness: Like people, some computers get slow before they get too old, but usually that can be remedied. However, in some instances (and I can’t figure out what the users are doing, if they’re doing anything wrong at all), sometimes computers get slow and draggy and the spinning beachball of doom is a constant reminder that the computer is getting long in the tooth.

Inability to connect to certain websites: Old computers have old operating systems, and those old operating systems are only compatible with an older versions of web browsers. And because security protocols are constantly being updated for secure sites (banks, etc.), new versions of the software are constantly introduced. But backwards compatibility can be a bear, and, to keep it simple, newer versions of software don’t work on old versions of the operating system. And upgrading the operating system isn’t always possible with older hardware. So, it’s a Catch-22; you can’t upgrade your browser without updating your operating system, and you can’t update your operating system because your hardware is too old. Are you getting all this?

Inability to use new versions of software: Rather than repeat myself, it’s the same deal as the above paragraph. Suppose you’re a QuickBooks user, and you need to upgrade your version of QuickBooks, because that’s the version your company is using. Same answer as above, it might need a certain OS which requires newer hardware than you have.

Running out of storage: I know storage issues confuse people – iPhone storage, RAM, iCloud storage, hard drive storage all are terms bandied about, but here it’s internal storage (formerly known as “hard drive storage”). These days, computers no longer have internal hard drives with spinning platters and all that fun stuff, but instead, a solid-state chip. Which, at this stage in the game, are more expensive than standard hard drives, ergo, tend to have a smaller capacity. Though this is changing…

Of course, there are age-related (or damage related) issues that can factor in; hardware damage, dead pixels on the screen, broken keys on laptops, non-functioning ports and screen flickering, all issues that are, to be frank, not worth pouring money into getting them fixed.

Continue Reading