To Pad or Not to Pad

A plethora of devices on the market make even those of us who have had a smart phone for several years uncertain whether to invest into something different. Here at B.A. Computer Services we endeavor to research everyday technical solutions and provide very practical advice (albeit not purely scientific) about our findings.

Clearly dissatisfaction or breakage of a current device is the impetus for shopping for another device. Modern communication, namely, texting, has not, and likely will never fully trump basic verbal communication–frequently over a phone device of some sort. Thus priority #1–Buy a PHONE. If you end up with a device that has great color, bells, whistles, and dances on the table, that cannot be easily picked up to make or take a phone call, you have been misled. Look first at your primary communication need–choose a device that you can answer easily, hear clearly, and that has a good microphone so the other party can hear you clearly as well.

Smart phones are a hybrid between a computer and a phone, er, camera, er, clock, er, stereo, er…pad. In other words, smart phones have become so ubiquitous and versatile it is unlikely they will fade anytime soon. The trouble is, any one device is still physically limited to time and space, so Dad’s phone just won’t suit being used as Mom’s ebook, Johnnie’s gamebox, and Suzie’s music all at the same time. Not only that, but Dad wants to be able to answer his calls and check stock quotes at the same time–that is a neat trick that technically is possible if you can tolerate hearing voices over a cellular speaker phone along with the dog barking, outdoor road noise, and kids arguing in the other room.

…the most subtle disadvantage to tablets is the difficulty to hold them without accidentally touching a part of the screen…

This, then, is where a search for a secondary device leads toward the possibility of purchasing a pad or an ipad if you are an Apple lover. Before you do, here are some gotchas you might consider. First, any secondary device means one more thing to tote around, charge, and remember to have on hand at the moment you need it. Having two devices can be twice the hassle as having one. Trying to fit a tablet into your back pocket simply doesn’t quite do the trick, and is a sure way to break the screen.

Yet, perhaps the most subtle disadvantage to tablets is the difficulty to hold them without accidentally touching a part of the screen. Holding a 6×8″ pad up to one’s ear is simply quite awkward. The truth about tablets is, they are not convenient as phones. The truth about smart phones is, they are trying to be too much to too many people. The best thing to do with these devices is to primarily designate them for limited use. Park your pad in one place and use it for a specific purpose. (Your electronic tablet I mean:-) Keep your smart phone in its usual pocket and avoid using it for other non-essentials. An old phone can of course be designated for children or an alarm clock, or whatever app you desire to install on it over WiFi. (In the case of a clock, plug it in permanently, prop at just the right angle, and leave it alone.)

The decision to purchase a pad, in lieu of or in addition to your phone, is yours and yours alone. While B.A.’s repairs these devices, we do not currently sell any of them. We are more interested in helping our customers with making smart purchases. Unfortunately, the old adage, “You get what you pay for,” can be misleading in the purchase of phones. Many higher-end devices are more expensive because of branding more than because of improved quality. Truly, any device with glass on its face that is carried around will eventually break. Buy what you really need, and when you need service, we are here to help. We can also install those perfect apps to recommission your old phone into something useful.

You may find these reviews helpful in choosing an electronic device:

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Why Slow Internet Hangs Your Computer

In sequel to Byte Size Matters article, a frequent occurrence of Microsoft computers on slow network connections in rural areas is the partial updates that attempt to download (unsuccessfully), eventually resulting in a frustrating slow or corrupt computer system.

There may be a number of good reasons your computer has deteriorated.  A virus sweep is always warranted, but this isn’t viral-related at all.   The problem has more to do with the behemoth operating system updates Microsoft sends out, and its policy to automatically set updates to auto-download.  While that policy might be effective for a company with computers on a fast Internet connection, on a slow connection, it is a terrible policy.

The scale of fast versus slow is not easily recognized with smaller downloads of say under 100Mb.  A connection that allows “Up to 3Mb per second” may run an average of 1-2 Mbs.  If on a good day it runs 2Mbs, theoretically, a 100Mb file downloads in 50 seconds.   In reality, several seconds are taken to begin the download, and it may temporarily stall, so realistically it is still a reasonable 1-3 minute download.  But lets talk about a bigger chunk of data – a movie for example, or an entire Microsoft operating system update, of a sum of about 1 Gb (over 1000 Mb).  So basically 1-3 minutes turns into 10 to 30 minutes over a slow connection!

YOUR Internet speed isn’t the only factor.    Even if YOUR Internet speed is ultra-high speed, if the website from which you wish to receive data is slow, you will see slow downloads. In the case of Microsoft, it is reasonable to expect sufficient bandwidth from their update servers at non-peak times.  So a difference in Internet speed from 1-3 Mbs to a faster 25 Mbs could be very significant.  If it takes 100 minutes at 1 Mbs, then at 25Mbs it should only take a very reasonable wait of 4 minutes or so.  Thus it is all about scale.  As humans we often encounter situations where a 10-20 minutes waits is acceptable, but much longer sends us walking elsewhere.  In fact, doing Microsoft updates over a slow Internet connection is much like wading through metroplex traffic during rush hour(s).  The chances of vehicle breakdown is extremely high–just as high as the chances your update will not succeed and your computer will choke on the unsuccessful attempts.

Our recommendation:  Let a computer shop do the updates for you. A good shop will have the updates already downloaded, or will have a high speed connection where they can get them many times faster than you can.