2019 February e-Bytes

PCC Web Site Member Access to Files
Best of CES
The Best Computing Upgrade You Can Get
5G Confusion Reigns Among American Consumers
'Cake' Will Sweeten the Process of Dying in the Digital Age
How to get a free Windows (or Linux) recovery image for your OEM PC
9 Ways to Make Your Android Phone Less Annoying
8 Ways Tech Can Make Your 2019 Better
PCMag Picks the Best Video Editing Software
Windows 7 versus Windows 10: Here comes the final showdown

PCC Web Site Member Access to Files

3M is now blocking access to Google Drive files when you try to access them from the 3M Network. The 3M PCC uses Google Drive to provide access to PDF files like the PCC Survey, Past Meeting Handouts, and Past Meeting Slides on the PCC Web site. While you can access these files when not connected to the 3M Network, we are looking for a solution to provide access to these files for everyone on any network (employees or retired). If you know of a free solution we could use to provide access to these PDF files, contact Tom Kreuzer.

Best of CES

It’s press day at CES 2019 and CNET is there in force, scouring the show floor for the best tech innovations. What does the big tech expo have in store for you? Find out now.

All the cool new gadgets at CES

The Best Computing Upgrade You Can Get

No one gets excited about replacing their router. And that's a shame because a new router is the most effective way to improve your computing experience at home. Older routers aren't designed to manage the increasing number of phones, tablets, PCs, game consoles, and smart home devices we are connecting to them. (In fact, you might be pretty surprised to find out who and what is actually on your network.) If you're just looking to cover a dead spot in your home, a wireless extender or a mesh-networking kit might do the trick, but if your router is more than five years old, you're better off with one of the best wireless routers we've tested.

5G Confusion Reigns Among American Consumers

Even as wireless carriers spend billions of dollars on their new 5G networks, it looks like they're doing a lousy job of explaining the technology. A quarter of the people who think they know what 5G is, also think they already have it. But almost nobody actually does.

'Cake' Will Sweeten the Process of Dying in the Digital Age

These days, your last will and testament needs to cover more than just who gets your money and random tchotchkes. Cake takes a no-nonsense and pleasant approach to planning your inevitable demise. Founder Suelin Chen explains.

How to get a free Windows (or Linux) recovery image for your OEM PC

What's better than a clean install? How about a clean installation that includes all required drivers and utility programs? Here's how to locate a free Windows 10, Windows 7, or even Linux recovery image for your Dell, HP, Lenovo, or Surface PC.

9 Ways to Make Your Android Phone Less Annoying

Android smartphones are great, but notifications and certain settings can make things hard to keep up. Here are a few ways to optimize your device.

8 Ways Tech Can Make Your 2019 Better

It isn't quite 2019 yet, but there is no reason to wait on your New Year's resolutions. As the great Stoic Philosopher, Epictetus, once asked, “How long are you going to wait before you demand the best for yourself?" (h/t Ryan Holiday). I say start now. Master your email, take control of your finances, and get into better shape. Perhaps most importantly, understand the consequences of your growing addiction to technology. Whatever your goals are for 2019, there are tech tools and services that can actually make your life better. I've chosen eight of my favorite here, but one of PCMag's guiding principles is helping our readers get more from technology. If you have tips of your own, let me know on Twitter. I'll add it to my own 2019 to-do list.

PCMag Picks the Best Video Editing Software

With the ever-increasing availability of devices capable of high-resolution video recording (smartphones, GoPros, DSLRs), the case for ever-more-powerful video editing software becomes clear. We tested all the key players...which one prevailed?

Windows 7 versus Windows 10: Here comes the final showdown

With less than a year to a major Windows 7 support deadline, it’s decision time for the PC.

Links - News, Tips, & Downloads

PCMag Picks the Best Smart Home Security Systems - Need a security system but don't know where to start? We've tested all the major DIY and professionally installed security packages to help you determine which is the best smart home security system for you.

Check out all the smart home products at CES 2019 - Here's a look at all the new and interesting connected home gadgets that turned our heads at the show.

10 Must-Have Android Apps - There are more than 3.5 million entries in the Google Play Store, but these 10 essential Android apps deserve a spot on your home screen.

How to See Who's On Your Wi-Fi - Internet sluggish? If you suspect a neighbor is stealing your Wi-Fi, here's how to identify devices using your connection and boot them off.

How to Block Robocalls and Spam Calls - Are you getting too many phone calls from spammers and telemarketers? Here's how to stop them. For good.

Simple Tricks to Remember Insanely Secure Passwords - You need to lock your password manager with one secure master password, and you must remember it yourself. Here's how to do it.

20 Hidden Chrome Features That Will Make Your Life Easier - Google's Chrome browser has a ton of hidden little tricks that you may not know about. Here are 20 tips that will make you a better Chrome user.

PCMag Picks the Best Smart Plugs - Forget to unplug the iron this morning? An inexpensive smart outlet lets you control anything you can plug into the wall from your phone.

7 parental controls you can use right now on your kid's iPhone - Protect your child online on his or her iPhone.

Top Google Chrome extensions (2019 edition)

How to tell which apps drain your laptop's battery - The venerable Windows Task Manager has a few new tricks you should try.

Readers' Choice Awards 2019: Antivirus and Security Suite Software - This is our first Readers' Choice survey that asks you to rate the software that keeps you safe, and it includes a few surprises we can't keep in quarantine any longer.

How to Convert VHS Home Movies to DVD - If you have home movies on VHS, here's how to put them on DVD. These are the best converters, and where to convert if you'd rather have someone else handle it.

The 100 Best iPhone Apps for 2019 - With 2 million titles available in Apple's App Store, it's tough to know which ones are worth your time. We've been testing and rating iOS apps for more than a decade, and these are our top picks in a dozen key categories.

The complete list of Alexa commands so far - Here are all the things you can ask Alexa to do. (Dad jokes included.)

The complete list of Google Home commands so far

Ask a Question


Send any Tips & Downloads, Ask a Question, For Sale, or articles to:  TheMiningPCC@gmail.com


Q. From a PCC Member Dave Broberg - The following Youtube video is about Disruptive Technologies that can impact the way we live in a very short length of time.  Some examples are the car, phones, computers, and energy  .The video is about 35 minutes long and traces technologies from 1900 to the present and projects what 2030 might be like.  He makes the point that to have a disruptive technology, you need some convergence of technologies to come together at some point in time. https://youtu.be/KVm74yE0aUE 
Q. From a PCC Member - How can I add software to be run when Windows starts?
A. From Tom Kreuzer, a PCC Board member.  One way to open the Windows 10 startup folder is to use the Run dialogue:
Press Win+R
Type shell:startup
Q. From a PCC Member Tom Kreuzer - To my horror my power button on my smartphone stopped working. The phone was on and everything else was working fine, but this was not good. The last few months I had been having trouble with the button, but thought nothing of it since with multiple tries or more pressure it would eventually work. The phone was a Moto G5 Plus that I have had for 3 years with the Republic wireless service. I was not sure if it was a hardware problem or hopping it might just be a software glitch? I Googled the problem and found that it is a hardware problem and the only real fix is a new switch or new phone. I did not know of any local place to replace the switch and what the cost would be, so I decided to get a new phone. The old phone had cost $299. Republic sells about 12 different makes and models on their site or you can buy your own unlocked phone from other sources like Target. Since the phone was working I wanted to keep it working till I get the new phone setup. Several of the newer Moto phones at Republic were on back-order so I ended up ordering a low end Moto 5e Play for $129. I received the phone in 2 days and my old phone continued to work. I was able to setup the new phone with the old phone settings and get my phone number transferred and working in under an hour.  The phone came with only 16 GB, so I added a 32 GB card. I has been several days now and everything is working fine. One of the biggest hassles was to pair my Bluetooth devices (home phone system, speakers, ear buds, watch, etc.) and setting up WiFi networks again. This info was not available to backup, restore, or restore.
Q. From a PCC Member - See a number of questions and responses below...
A. From Tom Kreuzer, a PCC Board member. The PCC Past Meeting videos and files contain info on a number of these questions like home network in May 2017 and Home Options in May 2016. Let me know if you have any questions.

Question: I don’t know if you are knowledgeable about Comcast? But, I switched to Comcast one year ago from US Family/Centurylink. US Family was my ISP and they used the Centurylink lines in our area. They could not provide adequate speed to run Netflix properly. So, we switched to Comcast. I still use US Family/Velocity for my email ($1.00/mo.) and land line ($35.00/mo.)

Response: I have switched back and forth between Comcast and Centurylink over the years to get the best deal which you usually only get for a limited time. Centurylink DSL has a download limit of 3-8 Mbps depending on how far your house is from their neighborhood connection box. Fiber can offer speeds up to 1 Gbps. To stream Netflix at High Definition requires about 5 Mbps per TV. For you email, I would recommend switching to Gmail which is free. Most people have dropped their land line and just use their cell phone. That would save you $420 a year. If you still want a land line, I would recommend using VOIP which uses your Internet connection, see this site: https://www.voip-info.org/ooma-vs-magicjack-plus/  About fifteen years ago I dropped my land line from CenturyLink and went to MagicJack which provides phone service "VOIP" over an Internet connection. MagicJack at that time cost $19 a year with no taxes and worked great. When I got a cell phone about six years ago, I dropped MagicJack and just use the cell phone. For the cell phone I have a 4 home phone wireless system with Bluetooth that lets me make and receive calls on any of the phones using the cell phone. Many new wireless home phones support connecting one or more cell phones using Bluetooth. 
Question: Comcast provides these speeds generally: Download; 55 Mbps. Upload; 5.4 Mbps. Which seems to be good enough for us. My price for 2018 was $41.78/month.(includes $10/mo. for their modem/wifi box). Starting in January Comcast has increased the price to $51.78 (includes $11/mo. for their box). I don’t understand the speeds very well for one thing...and I could buy my own modem/wifi box. But, I have no idea what to buy. We do not have fiber option in our area of Cottage Grove. We just use the service for internet access and watching Netflix or Amazon Prime on one tv.

Response: The more you know about your own home network and needs, the better off you will be.  Each provider offers different speed levels at different costs. Buying 1 Gig service when you only need 40 Mb is like having a 12” water pipe into your house and you only need a 2”.  Link to info on what you need: https://www.tomsguide.com/us/internet-speed-what-you-need,news-24289.html   

I currently have a two year contract with CenturyLink for 40 Mb for $29 a month, only buy what you need. I recommend not leasing from the provider. A Modem is a device that takes the signal and converts it to an Ethernet signal. The Router takes the Ethernet signal and provides WiFi and multiple Ethernet ports for hard wire connections. Routers come from many vendors, speeds, security, prices, and features. They range from $20 to $500 with most around $80. If you have trouble with your connection being too weak or not fast enough, you can try a better Router. Buy a separate modem and a separate WiFi router. That way you can get the best router at the best price for your place. The $10-$15 a month lease router from the provider is about the same as a $70 router (not bad, but not great). It is easy to configure your own network if you can follow simple directions. The Comcast site: https://www.xfinity.com/support/articles/list-of-approved-cable-modems  has info on what Modem/routers are supported. There are three type – Modem only, Modem with Phone, Modem with WiFi. You can buy a few of the models in stores like Best Buy and Target. If you go online you can find better prices and also get used modems for as little as $20 on sites like eBay or Craigslist. What WiFi router is best for you depends on your house and needs. FYI…You can also buy the exact model you are renting. Buying vs Leasing will usually pay for itself after the first year when you buy new.

Question: I have been retired from 3M for over 10 years and have a reduced pension and reduced Social Security payment, so I have to keep monthly expenses as low as I can. Do you think I can get service at a lower cost?

Response: Your cost is about average. You can try calling to see if they will lower your cost, but you usually only get the best rate when switching which can be a hassle. Starting in 2019 and into 2020 you will see 5G Internet options that will provide Internet that will not require a fiber or cable into your home. This would use a Modem that would receive a 5G signal like your phone currently does for 4G and be high speed. We will see what the price is and at what speed.

Question: For cell phone I use Tracfone and an iPhone4 (I know ancient)...my wife is on a Sprint plan with my son and has an iPhone6. I will hopefully get a new phone in 2019, because it cannot be updated and will not accept any apps...like from Novation Credit Union app or even my church app.

Response: Lots of options for phones and plans. There is no such thing as a free phone, you pay for it with the plan. Personally I have Moto G5 phone that cost $299 and I use the Republic plan with unlimited call and text for $15 month and 1 GB data for $5 month. There are other providers like Consumer Cellular or family plans that get close to that price.