Rural Douglas County Needs This for Internet Service!

We love Internet

Even as we push for better broadband in the city of Lawrence, our community is bigger than that.  People in rural areas have a tough time.  They’re stuck using mobile hotspots that have severe data limits or expensive satellite connections. These don’t always work, especially if you live on a large property.

Microsoft is coming to the rescue here.  Mashable reports on the Rural Airband Initiative.   They’ll be working in Scott County over in Southwest Kansas to bring faster internet to them.  Maybe if we ask nicely, they’ll try it on the other side of the state.

Until then people face an unfair choice of expensive, unreliable, and sometimes inaccessible internet … or move to the city.  Internet access is as essential as water or electricity today and shouldn’t be dependent on where you live.

We have the technology and resources; we just haven’t made it a priority.  That’s where citizens like us need to lobby to make the change.

Photo by Kalexanderson

Some ISPs Give you Mandatory Ads

Vintage Ad 426 Coming to a Phone Near You

When you go to some websites, you expect ads.  That’s what pays for the site.  Just like commercials on TV.  Some Internet Service Providers add their own ads to your browsing experience.

Comcast was caught doing this last year.  They were adding information to web pages you visited encouraging you to upgrade your cable modem. This hijacking was before the recent change by the FCC to repeal Net Neutrality.

Now it could be a completely acceptable and encouraged way of giving you web pages. That’s kind of how TV works now with cable.  Cable companies add their own commercials to shows — even though you’re paying them for service.  They get money both ways.

Photo by jbcurio

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Your iPhone Can Block Spam Text Messages

Spam text messages about debt consolidation

The only thing more annoying than junk phone calls is junk texts.  I don’t know why, but they seem like the biggest violation to me.

Fortunately, Apple heard our cries and introduced the ability to block spam messages on your phone.  The tricky part is you need to download a program to help you do it.

This link explains how to use a popular program called Hiya.  Hiya is the best out there, but isn’t the only one. This link explains some others you can use.  Considering most of these programs are free, you might as use something. Hiya already blocks spam phone calls

Privacy advocates will point out that some of these programs upload your contact list to know who is a spammer.  This fact doesn’t bother me because pretty much phone numbers are everywhere.  If I had a bunch of celebrity phone numbers in my iPhone, I might worry.   Paid versions of these programs protect the privacy of your callers a bit more.

Photo by Karen V Bryan

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The Digital Divide is Growing (Thanks AT&T)

ATandT Store

Most people know, I’m a strong advocate for bridging the digital divide.  That’s why I work with great organizations like Connecting For Good that help make sure everyone has equal access to technology.  While there are problems in Kansas City and Lawrence, this report shows AT&T is making it worse.

What that link states is things we’ve seen for a while:  richer areas get better internet at the expense of lower-income areas.  This is precisely what we’ve seen in Lawrence, KS.  The west-side of town gets the latest internet advances, including Google-like speeds.  Meanwhile, our clients in the Eastern and Northern parts of Lawrence see the quality of their internet decline.  We have some clients on AT&T DSL that get speeds below that of our average mobile phone.  AT&T declines to invest in keeping up the technologies.  Some clients try to switch to MIDCO, but the nature of that technology makes it difficult to get in some multi-family dwellings.

What can we do about it?  First, let AT&T know they should invest more in all of Lawrence.  Second, be sure to let the FTC and FCC know of your disappointment.  Finally, and you guessed it, I’m going to suggest the City of Lawrence assist by supporting municipal broadband.

Photo by JeepersMedia

How to Get Net Neutrality and Internet Privacy Back In Lawrence

Obama in the Backseat Rally to Save the Internet

Late in 2017, the FCC made a major change as to how the internet works in the United States.  Instead of treating it like a utility, whereby you can’t discriminate based on usage, internet service providers (ISPs) now have the right to limit your usage or charge extra for some sites. They can also use your private information for marketing purposes.  There’s a fix though:  it’s our city commission.

Seattle is leading this charge.  They are using the same franchise authority that the City Of Lawrence has to create its standard.  The FCC gave local communities the authority, through franchise agreements, to enforce local rules.  Look at the back of your cable bill-it’s right there.

In Lawrence, the city doesn’t use this power very often.  They renew contracts without many questions of debate.  That’s a shame. We ultimately politicians to blame for slow or unreliable internet  Now we can add to that list privacy and accessibility.

I recommend contacting members of the Lawrence City Commission and let them know you want Lawrence ISPs to follow community standards rather than those set by the Federal Government.

Photo by Free Press Pics –

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Tech Support Scam Victims Getting Money Back


Sadly we see a ton of tech support scam victims at DoctorDave computer repair.  We had one client get taken for over $10,000!  There’s small relief for some victims:  they might be getting money back.

Western Union became a conduit for some of these scams, allowing money to be wired to the criminals.  As part of a settlement with the FTC, Western Union’s going to give some money back.  If you used Western Union to send money, go here to file a claim.  The deadline is February 12th, 2018.

No matter how you’ve been scammed, you might be able to claim some of the losses on your taxes.  As a reminder, never call a number that appears on your screen, don’t accept calls from people claiming to represent Microsoft or Apple. Most important, don’t allow anyone you don’t know to remote control your computer.  We’re the exception, but always verify you’re talking with DoctorDave and not someone claiming to be us.  Call or text our main number to confirm it’s us.

Photo by ToGa Wanderings

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Do Computers Have an Expiration Date?

Clients ask us why computers fail.  Their first computer lasted a decade and now computers are lasting 3-5 years.  What gives?


This video has a great explanation of why this happens.   The main reasons are

  • Heat
  • Electromigration (video explains what that is!)
  • Wear and tear
  • General user error

There is that theory of “planned obsolescence”  whereby companies set computers to fail.  I think that gives them too much credit!  I think it’s more about lack of testing on older systems.  They don’t have an incentive to make sure newer software and hardware works on a three-year-old laptop, so they don’t.  You do some software update to your anti-virus and then your computer screams to a halt.
We can usually help you backtrack updates to get your computer running faster, but physics is always in the way.  Moving parts, heat and that fancy word electromigration, all mean your computer won’t last for more than a few years.

Photo by Judith E. Bell

What are the best kind of references?

We’re very particular about the people we let repair client computers.  I’ve written about hiring before, but it’s shocking how few businesses check references.  The only thing worse than not checking references is the terrible references we get when we check them for technicians.

Blue Rider needs a phone call

This article from hiring site explains some key points. The obvious one (although not obvious to people I talk with) is make sure you know what the reference will say.

The most common responses I get from a reference check are

I can’t reach the reference.

The technician gave me a generic number for the business.  For example, the reference given was a manager at a big box retail store.  When I called the number and asked for that manager, I was told he hadn’t worked there for five years.  They didn’t know where he was transferred to or if he even worked for the company.

A quality technician does research and finds out where the reference is working.  Most techs just give up, which is why we don’t want them to work on your computer.

The reference doesn’t remember the technician.

You’d think if someone puts down a reference, that reference will remember them.  Nope.  When I reach a reference, they don’t remember the technician.  They might be able to confirm the technician worked at the company.  The reference can’t give too many details.  Sometimes it’s company policy, but most of the time the reference is just stale.

The reference has bad things to say.

We tend to remember negative experiences over positive ones, so this makes sense.  When someone leaves a lasting impression, it isn’t always the best.  You’d think in these situations the applicant would recognize this.  Nope.  These technicians get rejected right away.  It isn’t just because of what the reference says, but the lack of verification by the technician.  We like technicians who follow-up and follow-through.

How to Prevent Reference Check Problems.

The article mentioned earlier explains some tips, but I’d say just call the reference before and after an interview.  Before the interview remind them of who you are and verify you can reach them.  If you can’t, then remove them from your reference list.

After the interview, let them know how it went.  The reference can fill in gaps that seemed to be lacking in the interview.  Maybe you misspoke or emphasised the wrong thing.  Don’t put words in the reference’s mouth, but let them know what the potential employer was interested in.

Again, we check references of everyone working on your computer as well as doing an extensive background check with a private investigator.  We want to make sure anyone who touches your technology is top notch!

Photo by Fabio Sola Penna

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WiFi Router Security is More Than Passwords

Wifi internet routers are rather easy to setup. The directions walk novices through the process.  We still help clients with it, but we’re doing this less and less.  Apps on your smartphone make it easy.  However, they miss a critical step we always check for.

Router Lights

Recently, popular routers from Netgear were found to be unsecure out of the box.  This wasn’t an issue of the password or anything like that.  This was a flaw in the design of the product. The software to setup the router doesn’t always check for these firmware updates.

Fortunately, we always check for that.  Every time we’re out at a client we check for firmware updates.  That prevents hackers from getting into your system and compromising your security.  We recommend checking at least every six months for firmware updates at the manufacturer’s website.

Photo by Ross Catrow

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Why Does Someone Want to Hack Your Computer

Clients sometimes take a casual approach to computer security. Their rationale is “I have nothing important on there.”  They don’t do banking or finances.  They’re just casually surfing and interacting with friends.


This article explains some of the details why you’re hacked. In a nutshell, they’re not looking to steal anything from you.  The goal is to use your identity and resources to hack others.  It’s like when the airlines remind you “don’t take bags you didn’t pack yourself.”  They don’t want you unknowingly assisting a terrorist or a thief.  The fact you exist and are going on that flight, makes you a target.

Computer security is everyone’s responsibility.  When you run an out-of-date antivirus or an insecure operating system like Vista or XP, you hurt other people.  You might have nothing of value, but you wouldn’t want to assist a hacker either.

If you aren’t sure if you’re up-to-date, we can help!  Our remote checkups take just a few minutes. You don’t even have to leave home.

Photo by Katy Levinson

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