Google Crashes Linux Amazon, Netflix, Spotify, Roku, others…

Google has quietly ended support for 32bit versions of Linux DRM Widevine support in Firefox browsers. Prior to May 31, 2021 individuals running a 32 bit version of Linux could watch Amazon Prime, Roku, and Netflix videos just fine through the Firefox web browser natively installed with most Linux distributions.

Videos stopped working on several laptops we had deployed and after diligent research we discovered the problem was not particular to Firefox, but was caused by the Widevine DRM plugin not functioning. There is no known workaround at this time. It is noted that one of our computers has 64bit processors running a 32bit version of Linux. It experiences the same problem as the 32bit processor machines.

A search on the Internet for solutions turns up nothing yet. Many sites instruct how to disable or enable the Widevine plugin, but they are useless. Even when properly installed the back-end support from Google simply is non-existent. The best alternative at this time is to use a newer 64bit device. Most 32 bit computers are slowly fading away.

Here is a similar article. https://news.itsfoss.com/netflix-issue-32-bit-linux/

Don’t waste your time trying to fix DRM if you are on an older machine! See note on firefox at https://support.mozilla.org/en-US/kb/enable-drm

TeraGibiMega Jumble

If you think Computer Geeks all speak in tongues, no not all of them. Here is a quick reference guide to help you with the storage size language:

Inside the computer the smallest piece of information is a bit but in real world, no one needs to talk about bits because even a single character is the next smallest unit up, a byte. Counting bits and bytes is like counting kernels of sand on the beach.

Instead, memory sticks, and and drives are measured in megabytes (MB) or Gigabytes (GB). Mega- is thousands of, so instead of counting every grain on the beach, take a scoop of sand and call it a megabyte of sand. If one scoop isn’t enough for your castle, then get two scoops, or 64 scoops, or 128 scoops. M could be for measuring cup-full.

Disk drives are long term storage devices meant to last for years of use. Today they are in the Gigabyte quantities. Giga- is a thousand times bigger than a mega-. Instead of thinking measuring-cup full, think of a barrel of sand. You might want 100 barrels of sand to fill in a land depression, but usually dirt comes in truckloads, which are more akin to a terabyte.

If you have 1000 barrels of sand, you now have a tera- amount of sand. Perhaps you have seen a pile of sand or rocks near a road construction site. That might be a few tera-grains of sand. A terabyte drive is therefore quite a sum of bytes. Typical drive sizes today hold 500GB (= 1/2 Terabyte), 750 GB (=3/4 Terabyte), 1 TB, or 2TB. You can figure with a Tera-grain pile of fertilizer, it will spread out for years. So it is with a Terabyte drive. Usually a half Terabyte, the same as a 500GB drive, is sufficient for the life of the computer for most people.

Incidentally, the difference between a Mega and Mibi and a Giga and a Gibi is all the -gas are times 1000 while all the -ibis are times 1024, the number closest to 1000 in a power of 2 because computers speak binary. 2x2x2x2x2x2x2x2x2x2 = 1024 = 2^10

Avoid Lenovo Like Covid-19!

We want to relay our experience with Lenovo Warranty support. On a scale of 1-10, we would rate it a negative 5. Other’s have had similar experience and have documented them on YouTube. See the links below.

Here are just a few things that were really bad about Lenovo.

  • The Lenovo laptop that we attempted to service had no US-based parts available. All the parts we needed were made in China and not available in the United States from resellers. The cost of getting such parts from an over-seas vendor was more than the cost of replacing the laptop.
  • The warranty support service website does not update. When you enter a support request it lists that you have submitted a request, but nothing further is ever updated. In fact, the status said my repair was “In progress” when in fact the laptop was still sitting on my desk and had not yet been shipped to them. It never changed.
  • It is possible to get a live agent from the chat bot by typing in “agent”. But the live agent I received was not a US citizen (asked and answered), and agents often are unable to communicate in clear English.
  • The best way to get an agent on the phone was to have them call back. The automated system did this fairly well, but each time the agent asks if you are over 16–which of course they cannot verify–its just an annoyance. Then this foreign person tries to give you the same information available on the website that we already checked–useless information.
  • A threat of lawsuit and bad publicity for their brand finally gets them to attempt a little more effort. The additional effort is that they say they will submit a followup with their headquarters. That is it, and it never comes back with anything. They do not email you with any new statuses or updates. You have to keep calling them back.
  • In this case, we hope to get our laptop back. They finally sent an email saying it was shipped back, but failed to provide a date shipped or a tracking number on it. After several tries, they provided a FedEx tracking number, fedex.com showed it not to be found. We confirmed the number. They said to wait 48 hours and check again. In other words, they send out an email falsely saying laptop shipped back, when in fact it hasn’t been received by FedEx at all. The email was timestamped 5 am, so by now FedEx should have picked up.
  • Final result. Laptop did finally arrive back repaired, on a different FedEx number. We consider ourselves lucky we got it back.

Upgrade Windows 10 to Windows 10?

Windows 10, version 1809 (Enterprise, Education, IoT Enterprise)
Windows 10, version 1909 (Home and Pro)
Windows Server, version 1909 (Datacenter, Standard)
EXPIRES
May 11, 2021
Windows 10 Versions Expire

The title isn’t a typo–Windows 10 must be upgraded to… Windows 10. In truth Microsoft has elected to not rebrand it’s Windows Operating System yet, but is in fact pouring out major updates. The table above shows which “versions” of Windows 10 will be expired early next year. In addition, these previous “versions” of Windows 10 are already expiring: Windows 10, versions 1507, 1511, 1607, 1703, 1709, 1803, 1809, 1903, and 1909.

The upgrade process from one of these older versions of Windows 10 to the newest 2004 (a version number, not a year!) feature release is daunting over slow or unreliable Internet connections. Some machines have been known to require more than 24 hours and multiple reboots to accomplish the final result. B. A. Computer Services is here to help in East Texas with our very-high-speed Internet to remove the headache from this process.

See Also https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/deployment/update/waas-quick-start

Spammed with Antispam Software?

TrapCall.com is one of many software solutions that claim to reduce your spam calls: www.trapcall.com/blog/how-to-stop-spam-calls. The entire article is geared toward getting you to buy into their software product by giving you a pretense of information about how to stop spoofed robocalls. The software is a TRAP itself!

It is mostly a misnomer to call it random or “cold” calling. In today’s information age, huge lists of phone numbers targeting certain markets are collected. Only the very first call is “cold”, a call you may have dismissed as unknown or innocently answered and hung up.

Let’s look at how random calling works:

  1. A number is chosen from a list, and an automated dialer or call-monkey [a person who acts essentially like a robot] makes the call. With each call, the call status is recorded into a database for the next call-monkey or dialer to read. These possible scenarios happen:
    • If the call comes back disconnected, database is updated, and the number is not dialed again for a time. This is not helpful to an individual at all, since it came back disconnected, it is not your active number anyway. Or,
    • If the call is answered, either by you or by a voicemail, then again database updates number to be active, and the game is on. The number will be called again and again attempting to connect with a real person. Or,
    • You personally answer and hear some sort of recording, for which you stay on the line until an actual person picks up and you are then able to ask them what company they represent. You demand to be removed, you go to your favorite spam call website and register the phone number, and then you post a complaint to the federal trade commission website. NONE OF THIS WORKS! KEEP READING TO FIND OUT WHY!
  2. With each call, new information about the called number is collected, and if you happen to be the one that actually answers the call in person, you will continue to get oodles of calls, no matter how many times you say “remove my number from your list.” Why? First of all, these people do not follow the law in the first place. But even if they were to remove your number from THEIR list, there is nothing that has prevented previous sharing of your number, and the newly collected information that your number is “active”, to the next group of call-monkeys.

WHY BLOCKING PHONE NUMBERS DOES NOT WORK

It is futile to block a specific phone number because most spam calls are not coming from fixed phone numbers anyway. There is a large pool of available phone numbers that can be randomly selected by these spam callers to make their phone call. They call, they get a status on your phone–disconnected, voicemail, or answered–and hangup. Then later they proceed to call on a different randomly chosen phone number. Even if you block the first number, and the second number, in as little as a week later, both of those blocked numbers might now be legitimate numbers newly assigned to a your neighbors newly purchased cell phone! Blocking numbers is a BAD IDEA.

SOLUTIONS

First of all, B. A. Computer Services is NOT selling any call block software. This article was written out of sheer hatred of getting the calls on our business lines. Secondly, these solutions are not fully tested, and do not handle every situation. Thirdly, B. A. Computer Services has never been engaged in cold-calling or using automatic dialers. We despise them altogether. Nevertheless, we CAN SAY the following methods have definitely reduced the number of calls that actually disturb us with a ringing telephone.

  1. Do NOT block phone numbers. In fact, we recommend you remove all blocked numbers, especially those in your local calling area code, from your blocked number list. Most numbers themselves are NOT permanently owned by the spam callers and therefore cannot be deemed to be “bad” numbers intrinsically. In a few days or months one or more of those blocked numbers will be a legitimate business or consumer, could even be your own phone number for a newly purchased phone.
  2. Log the number. Most cell phones save the number automatically, but as a human it is difficult to remember which number is which. The simplest method for meaningful logging is to add the number to your contacts with a tag of, “Potential Spam”, or similar descriptive name. Other valuable information can also be added to the contact’s notes so that over time you can identify the actual source of the caller.
  3. If your phone company offers a call spam guard, we suggest you use it. Most of these spam guards are based on probability that a call from a particular number is legitimate or not. Probability is like reporting the weather — 50% chance of rain and 50% probability of unwanted call — are both approximates, and leaves 50% possibility that the call is legitimately your doctor, lawyer, or other important caller using a phone number you didn’t expect them to use. This again is where logging all calls comes in handy. Add ALL calls to your contacts. (If desired, you can label it Z-Potential Spam, so it drops to the bottom of your contact list!)
  4. Put very important callers in your Starred or ICE groups. Most cell phones now have the ability to tag certain contacts with one or more tags, and your phone can be set to ring only if one of the tagged contacts are calling you. This works great for personal phones where you have a very limited number of people with whom you regularly communicate. This does not work at all for business numbers where you want to be able to receive calls from potential customers.
  5. A solution that works for business numbers, is to incorporate your phone number into an automatic answering service that reads off a brief menu or requires the person to press a digit on their phone pad to continue. A great many of the robot callers will instantly hangup when a call menu is encountered. Unfortunately, a small percentage of potential customers may also hangup before you are able to connect with them.

IN SUMMARY

Call blocking by the number alone not only does not work in the long run, it can be a bad idea overall. There are better methods of preventing unwanted calls from ringing your phone. None of the methods are going to block 100% of the time. Some calls are legitimate businesses in your community that you actually may want to receive calls from periodically.

B. A. Computer Services is able to help you establish your In-Case-of-Emergency (ICE) or Starred call list and functionality so that only known contacts ring your phone, and all others will have to leave a message. B.A. C.S. also offers automated call assistant solutions for businesses who need to keep their number available but resistant to unwanted calls.

Appointments Now Available

People vary in how they like to meet up. You may be driving by and see our sign and decide to pull in. It’s a good bet if you see the neon open sign turned on.

Or you may be on a tighter schedule and prefer to pre-plan when you will be able to have your computer with you for drop off, or pickup. Scheduling a time may be your best friend. Click Book An Appointment from the menu. If you are not certain which services you need, you may choose any FREE item to get the schedule made, and we will confirm the charges when we meet!

Click to Book An Appointment now in a new window.

Help Enduring CoronaVirus

B. A. Computer Services has been carefully evaluating our information sources regarding Coronaviruses. Traditional news outlets, and social media hype are among the worst sources of information.

B. A. Computer Services is not a source of medical information. However, we would like to point out what we feel is solid information. We do not endorse the opinions of any of the these sites, but discern they are providing more quality and complete information.

Wikipedia has some of the most factual and complete Coronavirus information: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coronavirus_disease_2019 and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coronavirus
Two facts we gathered: Coronavirus is the name of a family of viruses, of which COVID-19 is the new strain. COVID-19 is not entirely new, but a variant of SARS.

For statistical comparisons with the typical flu virus, review: https://www.cdc.gov/flu/weekly/index.htm#ILIActivityMap compared to the continually updated Coronavirus map https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-nCoV/index.html

B. A. Computer Services remains OPEN to provide mobile or curbside pickup/delivery service to healthy customers. Service will not normally be denied, but extra precautions may be appropriate.

SSD vs HDD Recoverability

The new solid state drives are currently lauded as better than the traditional hard drives. In plain English, here is what consumers need to know.

For non-technical people, HDD is Hard Disk Drive, and has been used in computers for decades. It has a spinning platter and needle arm much like that of an old record player except all the information is written magnetically. Like any electronic instrument, if you drop this device, it is likely to break, skip data, scratch the platter, or something unsavory of this sort. There is nothing particularly technical about that.

An SSD is Solid State Drive and works much the same way as these new flash or thumb drive keys work. There are no moving parts. Instead, data is stored in tiny electronic switches that remember their position even when there is no power to the device. SSDs are both faster and generally more expensive than traditional HDDs. They may be ideal for certain applications that require higher speeds and robustness from vibration or drops. They are not however good for all applications.

The biggest concern we have with SSDs here at B.A. C.S. is their inability to recover from disk faults. The nature of an SSD’s method of storage makes them much more susceptible to immediate and unrecoverable loss of data and performance issues over time. We have done some research and are including a few quotes from engineers around the world:

[D]espite their performance advantages, SSDs only have a 10% market share compared to HDDs for a couple of reasons. First and foremost, they’re expensive. HDDs today average around 3-4 cents per GB, compared to 25-30 cents for SSDs. Dec 7, 2018

https://www.makeuseof.com/tag/data-recovered-failed-ssd/ June 2019

… SSDs are quirky little devices that get slower as they fill up. And eventually, the flash cells reach a state where they can no longer complete write operations at all.

https://www.networkworld.com/article/3326058/what-is-an-ssd.html June 2019

SSDs have a different and bigger problem – SSDs can only write to empty blocks. That’s okay when the SSD is new and all the blocks are empty. But over time, as blocks get filled up, overwriting data becomes an issue, because the only way an SSD can update an existing page is to copy the contents of the entire block into memory, erase the block and then write the contents of the old block in addition to the new data. If there are no empty blocks available, the SSD must scan for blocks marked for deletion, but not yet deleted, erase them, and then write the data to the now-erased page. Over time, as the SSD fills up, writing to the drive becomes more complicated and slower.

https://www.networkworld.com/article/3326058/what-is-an-ssd.html June 2019

At B.A.C.S. we are of the opinion traditional HDDs are safer for data storage in the long run than SSDs and that safe data is the highest priority. However as with any storage device, we strongly recommend full backup of your data to another device. ANY single storage device can be corrupted and the best way to avoid total data loss is to duplicate the disk to a second or third device designed for long-term storage. B.A. C.S. offers the unique option of completely imaging your disk to another disk so that if you do lose your drive for whatever reason, an exact duplicate of the drive can be recovered to a brand new drive. The new drive will boot and act exactly like the old one: absolutely nothing lost (except whatever you added since last duplicating the drive). This method is also very private as it keeps all data in your possession alone. Cost is merely that of the new drive and the duplication effort (which requires special attention and drive removal in many cases.)

Church Overhead Methodology

Making a smooth worship experience for congregations is an art unique in its own right. The entertainment industry perfects certain aspects, but in a congregation of worship, entertainment is not the goal at all. In fact, the best worship teams seek to fade entirely from the platform as they lead the  people to enter into the high praises of God themselves.

The primary idea behind worship is that the congregation itself is able to make the words and music that are being sung their own expression of praise. For most congregations, this has led leadership into installing overhead projection and a dedicated computer near the sound booth. Unfortunately these devices do not run themselves, and as with any tool, if not used properly, they may distract from worship more than they aid it. Even if an old-style projector is employed, the methodology for employing words on screen must be carefully learned and coordinated with the lead musicians so as not to detract from worship:

  • Are the words in print in the same order as those being sung?
  • Are the slides for repeated phrases easily accessible so that they may be revisited when the music repeats a chorus?
  • Are the words in a font and color than can be read easily?
  • Are the phrases in the song written in a poetic logical order in the same manner that the song is sung?
  • Are there cues in the printed song that aids the congregation in knowing what phrase will come next, or how to sing a particular phrase?
  • Does the person changing the slides know the song well enough to change the slide in a timely manner, preferably, before the last word on the current slide is sung.

When using a particular software for projection purposes, the projection artist (e.g. lead musician or sound man) must create an organization structure for the library of overheads that will be used in any given worship set. Some congregations prefer to be rigid in their songs sets allowing for pre-ordering of the songs to be sung, but in more contemporary services, songs must be easily searchable so that if an impromptu song is selected, the operator can quickly find it in a few measures of the song and display it for the congregation. Even within a given song, it must be written in a way that allows for verses and chorus to be interchanged and quickly displayed in the same rapidness that a lead musician may opt to repeat a particular portion. All these details take some thought, technical experience, and practice to solidify the art of creating a non-distracting worship environment for people.

B.A. Computer Services is trained in this particular art. (903) 243-9588

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:

https://www.cnet.com/reviews/

https://www.tomsguide.com/t/tablets/

See also http://www.bacomputer.net/new-material/why-must-i-buy-a-new-cell-phone-to-switch-carriers/,
http://www.bacomputer.net/new-material/poor-country-cellular-service-lake-fork-lake-tawakoni/