Best Long Range WiFi Router

If you’ve been looking for the best router for streaming or the best long range wifi router, then you don’t want to scroll by. Here is a copy of an email Chris sent to a customer in early January. It includes links to the best wifi router that Chris knows of.Best long range wifi router

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Chris’ email about the best long range WiFi Router:

“Here are some purchase links for the different 2-pack and 3-pack versions of the Orbi wifi router.  Note that my rule of thumb for Wifi is that it will have a service radius of about 50 feet; the better routers and equipment will have more usable distance.  I have gotten exceptional distance using the Orbi 5 series (about 100 feet), and the new 6 series of Orbi is supposed to go farther.

The top two are the “older” technology models, which work very well.  We have a 2-pack of this, and we like it a lot.  The bottom three use the new AX6000 wifi technology, which is reported to travel a little further and transmit faster than the earlier wifi technology.

I have generally had good luck getting “refurbished” equipment from Amazon sellers.  If the equipment (new or refurbished) is defective, the Amazon return policy allows the equipment to be returned painlessly, but the installation time to determine that something is actually defective is still billable.

WiFi 5 System:

This 5-series model uses the “older” wifi technology, which I use and really like a lot:

Netgear RBK50 2-pack  – New – List =$330:

RBK53 3-pack – New – List = $700:

WiFi 6 System:

For the best long range wifi router, this 6-series model uses the “new” AX6000 wifi technology, which is reported to give better performance and more distance. It’s probably the best router for multiple devices.

RBK852 2-Pack – Refurbished – List $700

RBK853 3-pack – Refurbished – List = $980

RBK853 3-Pack – New – List = $1000

Hope this helps.

Chris

Conclusion

Chris likes the Netgear Orbi Mesh Routers best. Here’s an article we wrote about why a Mesh Router may be a good choice for you. These ORBI widi routers are if you have a medium to large house, and one router won’t provide enough wifi coverage.  These mesh routers are ideal for “pushing” the wifi coverage through your house and have a separate wifi radio for the dedicated “back haul” that provides low latency and high bandwidth.  If you have a medium-sized house or larger and have internet service that is faster than 300Mbps, these wifi mesh routers are the best solution that I know of yet.

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Chris Eddy of Geek For Hire, Inc. has provided computer service to families and small businesses with Mac’s and PCs for the past eighteen years. He’s the geek for you! Angie’s List and the BBB rate Geek For Hire very highly.  You can find more on our website, or give us a call at 303-618-0154. Geek For Hire, Inc. provides onsite service (Tier 3 support) to the Denver / Boulder / Front Range area and remote service throughout North America.

Here’s a link to our Covid19 Policy.

We’ve been using Amazon Prime for the past few years.  We like the free and fast shipping.  With Prime, we have access to online streaming too. Prime is usually $119/year, but you can get a free 30-day trial by clicking on this link: Try Amazon Prime 30-Day Free Trial. As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases.

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Want to be Outrageously Happy with your Computer System?

2022 is almost here! I asked Chris what everyone should do on a regular basis to stay outrageously happy with your computer system. These are easy resolutions to keep. Here are his suggestions:

Once a Year:

  • Test your UPS (Uninterruptible Power Supply) once a year. Unplug the UPS from the wall, and plug in your computer. How long does the computer run before it’s out of power? Is it 15 minutes? Is it 4 hours? If it’s not as long as you’d like, look into replacing the UPS battery. It’ll cost around $50. A UPS battery typically lasts about 2-4 years.
  • If you have a laptop computer, check the health of the battery. If you get less than an hour of work time every time you give it a full charge, it’s time to replace the battery. Start checking when the notebook is about 2.5 – 3 years old.
  • Give your machine a tuneup to make sure everything continues to run smoothly.

Once a Quarter:

  • Test your internet speed every few months. Chris likes Speedtest and DSL Reports. If it’s not as fast as you’re expecting it to be, test it again at different times of day over the next few days. Keep a careful log of the results by taking a screenshot each time. Once you have the data to back up your findings, contact your ISP (Internet Service Provider).
  • Check your social media privacy settings. Make sure your account is locked down! Here are some suggestions to keep your Facebook account safe.
  • Check your email settings every few months as well. Especially make sure that your recovery email is set up properly. Check out these tips from an article about email hacking.
  • Disconnect totally from technology for a full day. Do this more frequently if you’d like!

Once a Month:

  • Back up your data to an external SSD (Solid State Drive) at least once a month.  Keep that drive in a different physical location than your computer. "Backups never go out of style". A quote from Chris Eddy who wants you to be outrageously happy with your computer system.

Once a Week:

  • Turn your computer off at least once a week. Don’t click on the “restart” button; totally turn it off. Wait a minute or overnight, and restart it. This helps to make sure your machine can clean up any weird problems that it finds and allows the bios to retest the hardware.

Conclusion

It’s easy to stay outrageously happy with your computer system. There aren’t a lot of things on this list. Print it out and check off the items when you’ve got them done! (Of course, if you need help with anything, let us know.)

 

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Chris Eddy of Geek For Hire, Inc. has provided computer service to families and small businesses with Mac’s and PCs for the past eighteen years. He’s the geek for you! Angie’s List and the BBB rate Geek For Hire very highly.  You can find more on our website, or give us a call at 303-618-0154. Geek For Hire, Inc. provides onsite service (Tier 3 support) to the Denver / Boulder / Front Range area and remote service throughout North America.

Here’s a link to our Covid19 Policy.

We’ve been using Amazon Prime for the past few years.  We like the free and fast shipping.  With Prime, we have access to online streaming too. Prime is usually $119/year, but you can get a free 30-day trial by clicking on this link: Try Amazon Prime 30-Day Free Trial. As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases.

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2021 Tech Year in Review

The past year has been all about how to work more efficiently away from the office, primarily at home. Faster internet is more commonly available, and people are springing for better equipment for their new home office. Here’s our take on the 2021 Tech Year in Review.

Supply Chain

But, this has contributed to the supply chain crisis. Each year, companies will look at the upcoming year, looking at forecasts for customer growth and the probability of ordering new equipment. Then they’ll go to their suppliers and place orders for the upcoming year so that they can manufacture the proper amount of their products. In 2020, many companies felt that by early in 2021, the Covid crisis would be well behind us and purchasing patterns would be “back to normal”. As a result, manufacturers either ordered too much or not enough. Luckily, Geek For Hire is seeing a slight delay of a few months for our customers ordering new equipment.

Electric Vehicles

2021 also saw an increased acceptance of electric vehicles. More EVs are being ordered and delivered. But, again, the supply chain crisis is hitting EV manufacturing as well. Both Ford and Tesla are experiencing delays in delivering their EVs due to supply chain issues.

More EVs mean more families upgrading the electrical service to their homes. So look for local electricians getting busier than ever. It also means that more rest areas along major highways are installing EV recharging stations. If you’re a road warrior like me, you’ll see more Service Areas temporarily closed for construction while they install new charging stations.

New Year, new Operating System

Microsoft Windows 11 was released on October 5th. Apple released MacOS12 (Monterey) on October 25th. Before you upgrade to either of these new operating systems, give Chris a call to see if your current machine is compatible.

Zoom Fatigue

It’s a thing. A recognized disorder. (Check out articles on Healthline.com, Psychiatrictimes.com, or even NationalGeographic.com.) Working from home so much and participating in online calls is stressful and exhausting. Some common recommendations are to:

  • Limit the number of Zoom calls
  • Turn off the video and just participate via audio
  • If you can, schedule the calls for times that work best for you.

The Space Race

This year not one, not two, but three billionaires went up to space in their own rockets. Jeff Bezos, Richard Branson, and Elon Musk. For anyone keeping track, that would be Blue Origin, Virgin Galactic, and SpaceX.

Less well-known is the Breakthrough Starshot project. Its goal is to gain first-hand information about the Alpha Centauri system which is 4.4 light-years away.

“In the last decade and a half, rapid technological advances have opened up the possibility of light-powered space travel at a significant fraction of light speed. This involves a ground-based light beamer pushing ultra-light nanocrafts – miniature space probes attached to light sails – to speeds of up to 100 million miles an hour. Such a system would allow a flyby mission to reach Alpha Centauri in just over 20 years from launch, beaming home images of its recently-discovered planet Proxima b …..”

Contactless Payments

This has always been an option. In fact, every time you make an online purchase you are using a form of contactless payment. But, I have a lot of friends that live a cash-based life. The last year and a half has been hard on them. More and more businesses don’t take cash at all. On a recent road trip, I noticed that most of the toll plazas are “interaction-free”! Most highways have installed overhead toll readers to capture your info as you drive by.The 2021 Tech Year in Review includes an increase in cashless payments

Robotic Food Delivery

One fun thing that’s expanded this year is robots delivering take-out. Since the pandemic, more robots are showing up on college campuses and city streets. They show up at their destination with a single order. The person enters a code and the robot heads back to home base for a charge before heading out again for its next delivery. While the robots seem to be proliferating on college campuses, several cities (including New York and San Francisco) have moved to ban them from sidewalks and bike lanes.

2021 Tech Year in Review Conclusion

Lots happened in the Tech World in 2021. What did I miss? Let me know in the comments below.

 

Information About Geek For Hire, Inc.

I’ve created a free report to protect you from “phishing” scams. Click here to receive it!

Chris Eddy of Geek For Hire, Inc. has provided computer service to families and small businesses with Mac’s and PCs for the past eighteen years. He’s the geek for you! Angie’s List and the BBB rate Geek For Hire very highly.  You can find more on our website, or give us a call at 303-618-0154. Geek For Hire, Inc. provides onsite service (Tier 3 support) to the Denver / Boulder / Front Range area and remote service throughout North America.

Here’s a link to our Covid19 Policy.

We’ve been using Amazon Prime for the past few years.  We like the free and fast shipping.  With Prime, we have access to online streaming too. Prime is usually $119/year, but you can get a free 30-day trial by clicking on this link: Try Amazon Prime 30-Day Free Trial. As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases.

More Tips Here:

6 Easy Steps to Using a TV as a Monitor

I frequently have a nature video running on my 2nd monitor while I’m working. Lately, I’ve been doing more things that require a back-and-forth between two different windows, and the nature video has been buried. Chris wanted me to have another monitor – mounted on the wall so I could watch movies on as well. A monitor big enough to watch movies on would be cost-prohibitive. Enter the concept of using a TV as a monitor!

Just so you know, when you purchase anything from the links on this page we may receive a small commission. As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases.

6 Easy Steps to Using a TV as a monitor:

Getting a new TV to use as a monitor with your Windows 10 computer is relatively easy to do. There are only a few steps to get it up and running:

  • Determine where in your office the monitor will sit. If you want it on the wall, you’ll need to get a Wall Mount. (Some things to keep in mind when purchasing a wall mount include maximum TV size/weight, and the distance between wall studs.)
  • Make sure the HDMI cable and power strip are long enough to reach. We purchased an extra-long HDMI cable and power strip so that we’ll have enough length to hide the cable along the wall and floor.
  • Plug the TV into wall power
  • Connect the HDMI cable from the TV to the computer
  • At this point, while your computer should automatically detect the new monitor through the HDMI cable, you may need to configure the monitor settings in your computer:
    • Click on the settings wheel on the taskbar
    • Type “Monitor” in the search barusing a tv as a monitor - w10 settings
    • Click on “Rearrange multiple displays”. .Multiple monitor settings in Win10
    • and make sure your primary monitor is still identified properly
    • Open up a new window, log into Netflix or Amazon Prime, and play a movie!

 

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I’ve created a free report to protect you from “phishing” scams. Click here to receive it!

Chris Eddy of Geek For Hire, Inc. has provided computer service to families and small businesses with Mac’s and PCs for the past eighteen years. He’s the geek for you! Angie’s List and the BBB rate Geek For Hire very highly.  You can find more on our website, or give us a call at 303-618-0154. Geek For Hire, Inc. provides onsite service (Tier 3 support) to the Denver / Boulder / Front Range area and remote service throughout North America.

Here’s a link to our Covid19 Policy.

We’ve been using Amazon Prime for the past few years.  We like the free and fast shipping.  With Prime, we have access to online streaming too. Prime is usually $119/year, but you can get a free 30-day trial by clicking on this link: Try Amazon Prime 30-Day Free Trial. As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases.

More Tips Here:

STEM Toys for Kids

We don’t have kids in our home anymore, so when I want to get a gift for a little one, I go online and see what I can find. We’re a tech company so my favorite gift is almost always a STEM toy. (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) Generally, I’ll do some research to see which toys have won awards, which are well-liked by parenting magazines, which are highly rated online, and which my friends or family may have told me about.

Yup, I’ve done the work so you don’t have to! And, just so you know, if you purchase anything from the links on this page we may receive a small commission. As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases.

Why are STEM toys good for kids?

STEM toys help kids develop a love of learning while they figure out how things work. Some people think that STEM is only about teaching kids how to code, but it is so much more than that. These toys help kids develop:

  • Spatial awareness
  • Reasoning skills
  • Engineering thinking
  • Critical thinking skills
  • Engineering design
  • Problem-solving skills

Think about an infant playing on the floor with pots and pans. Can this bowl fit into this pot? Can this pot go on top of this plastic container? How high of a tower can I make with all of these cookbooks? That’s the learning process in action! STEM toys build on that early learning.

What are examples of STEM toys?

Learn more about the benefits of STEM toys for your kids:

The Best Tablets for Kids

Information About Geek For Hire, Inc.

I’ve created a free report to protect you from “phishing” scams. Click here to receive it!

Chris Eddy of Geek For Hire, Inc. has provided computer service to families and small businesses with Mac’s and PCs for the past eighteen years. He’s the geek for you! Angie’s List and the BBB rate Geek For Hire very highly.  You can find more on our website, or give us a call at 303-618-0154. Geek For Hire, Inc. provides onsite service (Tier 3 support) to the Denver / Boulder / Front Range area and remote service throughout North America.

Here’s a link to our Covid19 Policy.

We’ve been using Amazon Prime for the past few years.  We like the free and fast shipping.  With Prime, we have access to online streaming too. Prime is usually $119/year, but you can get a free 30-day trial by clicking on this link: Try Amazon Prime 30-Day Free Trial. As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases.

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White Elephant Gifts

It’s that time of year where we are getting invited to lots of parties and they all seem to be having a White Elephant gift exchange. ** (And it’s not the kind where you can bring a toilet plunger that looks like a shotgun…) What are the best White Elephant gifts under $30? Well, Geek For Hire has some ideas!

Just so you know, if you purchase anything from the links on this page we may receive a small commission. As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases.

Creative White Elephant Gift Ideas:

Portable Power:

I don’t know about you, but our family always seems to be running out of juice. That’s where a portable battery pack comes in handy. What to look for:

  • Charging ports – It’s handy to have two or more ports to charge your devices.
  • Milliamp Hours – more is always better, 10000mAh should be the minimum you consider.
  • USB-C – Do you need a USB-C port? Not all portable chargers have one. Read the description carefully.
  • Size – The most useful charger is the one you use. I keep one in my purse that is teeny. It’s a square about four inches long and ½” per side. It’s useful for 1 phone charge when my battery is running low. When I travel, I carry a slightly larger one with 20000mAh that can totally charge a device 2 or 3 times.Portable Battery Pack for White Elephant gifts
  • Weight – is it light enough to carry around? My favorite one with the most charging power feels like a brick. The one I use most often can go in my front pocket.
  • Reviews – even if you’re not buying on Amazon, it is helpful to look at the reviews there. Remember, a rating of 4.8 stars with 1000 reviews is better than a rating of 5 stars with one review.

Smartphone Screen Magnifier:

Who else is watching videos on their smartphone? A screen magnifier is a fun way to watch Netflix when you don’t have access to a tablet or laptop. Here are some things to look for:

  • Screen size – most are 12”, but some are a little larger.
  • Does it come with a flat screen or is the screen curved? Some even provide a 3D experience.
  • Does it appear to be sturdy and easily portable?
  • Speaker – do you need or want a Bluetooth speaker? This will add complexity and require power. It will probably add to the price as well.
  • Read the Reviews!

Wearable sound:

You’ve got a whole bunch of options here. I have a headband with Bluetooth speakers that I use to help me fall asleep at night. If you like to listen to music or podcasts when you’re hiking or running, a hat with speakers built right in could work very well.  Or, you also check out earbuds:

  • How will they be used? Earbuds are more versatile if they can be used to make and answer phone calls. Some are made just for listening to music or an audiobook.
  • Many earbuds come with a storage case that is also used for charging. See if you can get a set with a fast-charging USB-C.
  • Controls – can you increase/decrease the volume from the earbuds, or do you need to do that with your smartphone? How large are the control buttons? Can you adjust by feel or do you need to take it out of your ear?
  • Interchangeable buds? Does it come with different-sized earbuds to provide a perfect fit?
  • Remember to check the reviews!

Portable Cord Organizer:

One of the best gifts I gave this year was a portable cord organizer for my nephew in grad school. He loves it because it fits easily in his backpack with his laptop, and helps keep everything protected and organized. (It’s pictured below.) Here’s what to look for:

  • Weight – you want something that doesn’t add measurably to your backpack or suitcase.
  • Size – how big does it need to be? Will it hold your phone, portable battery pack, and earbuds, or just your cords?
  • Closure – Do you want a zippered case to keep everything inside or something with strong elastic to keep it all in place.
  • Remember to read the Reviews!

Conclusion:

Have I given you some creative White Elephant gift ideas? It’s easy to get a useful item for a gift exchange with just a little bit of research. It’s a lot of fun when it’s your gift that keeps getting “stolen”. Now you know how to pick white elephant gifts everyone will fight for!

** There are so many options for gift exchanges. Whether you call it the Yankee Swap, a Chinese Gift Exchange, Dirty Santa, or White Elephant, you’re sure to have a lot of fun. Make sure the White Elephant gift rules are established in advance, with a dollar amount, process for exchanging the gifts, and a theme. Your basic White Elephant Gift exchange is where everyone brings one wrapped gift that is under a certain dollar limit. Each person then draws a number out of a hat and they select a gift in order. Each person can select one of the unwrapped gifts, or “steal” one from one that has already been opened. Here are the “official” White Elephant rules.

There’s also the White Elephant Dice Game. It’s a little more complicated – you roll the dice and follow the instructions. Rules here.

 

Information About Geek For Hire, Inc.

I’ve created a free report to protect you from “phishing” scams. Click here to receive it!

Chris Eddy of Geek For Hire, Inc. has provided computer service to families and small businesses with Mac’s and PCs for the past eighteen years. He’s the geek for you! Angie’s List and the BBB rate Geek For Hire very highly.  You can find more on our website, or give us a call at 303-618-0154. Geek For Hire, Inc. provides onsite service (Tier 3 support) to the Denver / Boulder / Front Range area and remote service throughout North America.

Here’s a link to our Covid19 Policy.

We’ve been using Amazon Prime for the past few years.  We like the free and fast shipping.  With Prime, we have access to online streaming too. Prime is usually $119/year, but you can get a free 30-day trial by clicking on this link: Try Amazon Prime 30-Day Free Trial. As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases.

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Smartphone Apps for the Best Gratitude Journal

Ahhhh, November. The month for giving thanks and appreciation for all we have. A whole month given over to feeling grateful! Do you ever need a little help feeling gratitude? Would a gratitude app help? Even with social media overrun with “ThankfulThursday”, “MondayMotivation”, and “GratitudeAttitude”, sometimes it’s hard to remember to count our blessings. What are the best Gratitude Journals? I think the best gratitude journal is the one that works the best for you. Here are some ideas.

 

“Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all others.” Marcus Tullius Cicero

“Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, and to give thanks continuously. And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude.” Ralph Waldo Emerson 

I’m grateful that I was able to spend some time in Maine recently and could take these amazing photos with my iPhone!

Smartphone Apps:

We’re an IT company, so of course, my first suggestion involves technology! I’ve found several Gratitude apps which can help you make practicing gratitude a part of your daily life. Each of these apps will remind you to start your gratitude practice unless you turn the notifications off.

If you’ve been thinking about a Gratitude Journal for kids, they might be more comfortable starting with one of these apps

All of these apps can be found in the App Store or Google Play, or both.

Gratitude:

The Gratitude app has over 17,000 ratings with an average rating of 4.9/5 stars. It uses “Identifiers” to track you but says it doesn’t link “Identifiers” to a specific user, so that’s a little confusing. The app gives you a place to write a daily gratitude journal with a prompt, in case you need it. It can also prompt you with daily affirmations and has daily memes for motivation, thinking better, and, of course, gratitude. I like that it lets me start using the app without registering. I think this is the best gratitude app. Gratitude is $30/year.

Morning!:

This app only has 123 ratings with an average 4.7/5 stars. It doesn’t explicitly say what data it uses to track you, but it does link your contact info and “identifiers” to you. They have a place for you to record entries in the morning and at days end. It also has a Quote of the Day which you can click on. I liked the simplicity of this one. Morning! is $6 as a one-time purchase.

Grateful:

I’m not recommending the Grateful app even though it has 2700 ratings and 4.6 stars. It links your purchases, usage data, and identifiers to you. The free version limits you to 15 entries which is probably enough time to figure out if it works for you or not. (Then it’s $15 year.) When you open the app, you’re prompted to answer a new question each day. When you complete that, you’re asked to sign up again. All of my attempts to move around the app to learn more about it were met with a request to sign up.

365 Gratitude App:

When I opened this app, it started by asking me a whole bunch of questions; my mood, relationship status, parental status, work, etc. I found it a little intrusive. Once I answered all the questions if presented the “perfect plan” for me. Then it presented several messages as if it were a friend texting me, ending with asking me to select the emoji which represented my mood today. This app has 2100 ratings with an average of 4.7 stars. They link your contact info, identifiers, user content, and usage data to you. They also use usage data to track you. 365 Gratitude is $35/year.

5 Minute Gratitude Journal:

This app has 14,000 ratings with an average of 4.8/5 stars. It does require you to create an account before you can use the app. Once you log in, you’re presented with a journal prompt for what you are grateful for, what you plan to do today, and what your daily affirmations are. It tracks your contact info and user content. It gives you the option to add another entry for the evening. This app is $25/year.

Reflectly:

This app is $30 for the first year and $60 per year after that. They have 78,000 ratings of 4.6 stars. This app has you select a mood emoji and then emoji’s for the things you are grateful for. This app will automatically send you quotes and affirmations throughout the day unless you turn notifications off. The data they link to you includes purchases, contact info, identifiers, and usage data.

Meditation:

If you want to start a gratitude meditation practice rather than journaling, many of the meditation apps include guided meditations for gratitude in their free versions.

  • Calm is a great app for morning meditations. They have several apps which focus on gratitude. The meditation leads you through prompts of things you might be grateful for. This app has 1.4million ratings with 4.8 stars. It links contact info, identifiers, purchases, health & fitness info, and search history to your identity. $60/year for the premium version. (This is the meditation app I use.)
  • 10% happier has 100,000 ratings with an average of 4.8 stars, and they link the same information to you as the Calm app. It has meditations for relaxation, sleep, focus, happiness, health, and gratitude. It costs $100/year.
  • Simple Habit has 75,000 ratings with an average of 4.8 stars. Again, they link the same info as the Calm app. The premium version is $90/year. They have meditations for gratitude, focus, self-confidence, etc. I like Simple Habit primarily because of the calming voices of the people doing the meditations.

Old School:

Of course, you can always go old school and just grab pen and paper. Write down one or more things that you’re grateful for each day. In support of Small Business Saturday, head over to your favorite bookstore and pick up a beautiful new gratitude journal to help with this new habit.

You can also look online for a gratitude journal template, a printable gratitude journal, or gratitude journal prompts. These are all great ways to get started.

I start a new list every month on a fresh piece of paper. I write a short blurb every morning of what has brought me joy that day or the day before. Looking over those lists at the end of the month, or even months later fills me with gratitude for my family, my home, my community, and, of course, my Geek!

Information About Geek For Hire, Inc.

I’ve created a free report to protect you from “phishing” scams. Click here to receive it!

Chris Eddy of Geek For Hire, Inc. has provided computer service to families and small businesses with Mac’s and PCs for the past eighteen years. He’s the geek for you! Angie’s List and the BBB rate Geek For Hire very highly.  You can find more on our website, or give us a call at 303-618-0154. Geek For Hire, Inc. provides onsite service (Tier 3 support) to the Denver / Boulder / Front Range area and remote service throughout North America.

Here’s a link to our Covid19 Policy.

We’ve been using Amazon Prime for the past few years.  We like the free and fast shipping.  With Prime, we have access to online streaming too. Prime is usually $119/year, but you can get a free 30-day trial by clicking on this link: Try Amazon Prime 30-Day Free Trial. As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases.

More Tips Here:

When will the Global Chip Shortage End?

Buying a new computer or printer these days is getting more … challenging. Semiconductor chips are built into just about everything. In fact, in early September, we had a customer who needed more RAM in her machine. With Chris’ help, the order was placed with Crucial, the retail division of Micron Technologies. But, because of the chip shortage, they kept getting emails saying the order was delayed, then delayed again, and again. When they called to find out what to do, Chris urged them to sit tight. Sure, we could get the RAM from another company, but they’d likely have delays as well, and the quality wouldn’t be as good as Crucial. Boy, I really wish we were talking about a potato chip shortage…

(Many of our readers don’t know what semiconductor chips are or what they do.  From IQS: “A semiconductor is a physical substance designed to manage and control the flow of current in electronic devices and equipment.”  If you’re up to more reading, here are a couple of links: How is RAM made?, What is a Semiconductor?)

In case you’ve never seen one, here is a photo of a motherboard (Apple calls theirs a logic board) from an old Dell computer. I’ve noted the location of some of the many chips. Note that this motherboard is 15 or 20 years old and everything is MUCH smaller now.

The chip shortage will impact computer repair such as adding RAM or replacing a motherboard
Computer chips on a motherboard

The big question is “Why do I care that there is a chip shortage?”, i.e. WIIFM?

Some of the common items that depend on semiconductor chips include computers, smartphones, gaming machines, cars and trucks, TVs, radios, and even washing machines, refrigerators, and electric toothbrushes. (There is already a serious backlog with monitors. We’re seeing delivery delays of 2 or more months!) Your local phone company and electric utility depend on chips to provide reliable service. Just getting this blog onto the interwebs takes chips. If the supply chain issue doesn’t get solved, it could be a very serious problem.

Why is there a semiconductor chip shortage right now?

It starts with the transportation supply chain. As I write this, it’s mid-November 2021. I keep reading about shipping ports in the US and throughout the world that have huge backlogs with dozens of container ships anchored off the coast.

Sallie Hopper‘s friend Kana took this picture of her son Koji 13 miles south of Long Beach Harbor, CA. This isn’t even the end of the line. Talk about bumper-to-bumper traffic!

A surfer with container ships lining up south of Long Beach, CA

These ships can’t unload until there is an available berth in the port and qualified people to unload and distribute each container. What is causing the chip shortage? It was like a perfect storm.

Covid

  • First, Covid limitations were put on employers throughout the US (and the world), closing facilities and/or restricting employee hours.
  • Then, because so many people were newly working from home, there was a huge uptick in ordering office equipment. This wasn’t on anyone’s forecasting list. Thousands of computers, monitors, video cameras, and printers were ordered and delivered within a very short period of time.
  • At about the same time people started getting sick with Covid and greatly reduced the number of qualified employees that could manufacture chips. This also limited people who are qualified to move shipping containers, drive trucks, and load cargo onto trucks or ships, or trains.
  • A resurgence of Covid in Asia shut down ports in mid-summer 2021. That has added to the shipping backlog throughout the world.

Ever Given

  • And then the Saga of the Ever Given. A container ship blocked the Suez Canal for nearly a week in March, 2021. This caused a backlog of more than 800 ships and all their cargo waiting to get through. According to CNBC: “In 2020, more than 50 ships per day on average passed through the 120-mile long waterway, accounting for around 12% of global trade.” They interviewed Douglas Kent, EVP at the Association for Supply Chain Management. He noted that: “It’s definitely going to continue to backlog ports and other delivery mechanisms as a result, and then, of course, the chaos that disrupts thereafter.”  Image from Wikipedia:Ever Given stuck in Suez canal - image from Wikipedia

Trucking Industry

  • Also, there has already been a shortage of truck drivers for years. Seriously, who wants to drive day and night in all kinds of weather, with little mini-Coopers that you can’t see who cut you off? The answer is fewer and fewer people. In response, the entire trucking industry has raised its pay scale and added more benefits for drivers. That has helped, but not enough. Still, most truckers are paid by the mile, not by time. Sitting around waiting for containers to be moved from the ship is unpaid, but still on-duty time. In the past year, the situation has gotten more dire, with people staying home and ordering a plethora of items online. (This is another reason for the push towards autonomous vehicles.) Even the NYTimes says the trucking industry is the “biggest kink in the supply chain.”
  • California may be having more transportation issues than other states because of its strict emissions standards. Older trucks, available for loading, are not allowed to enter the state.
  • And let’s not forget about the weather. The interstate highways have already had several sections closed in October 2021 because of weather. This image from The Morning Call shows a Pennsylvania highway shut down during a snowstorm:

    Highway shutdown - trucks bumper to bumper - McAll.com

Semiconductor Industry

  • Why is there ever a shortage of anything? Supply. Demand. Inaccurate forecasting. Loss of control over basic materials.
  • For semiconductor chips, just like the trucking industry “even before the pandemic, demand for them exceeded supply. Earlier this year, economist Rory Green called semiconductors “the new oil,”  and says “Taiwan and South Korea are the “new OPEC”: supply, demand and bottlenecks to global growth will revolve around Taiwan and SK chip production. They will not hold effective monopoly power over production forever, but their technology lead, R&D spending and capex plans preclude any change to the duopoly in at least the next five years.”
  • And Popular Science notes that “while these chips were an American invention, the number of US manufacturers currently creating them has declined severely. In 1990, 37 percent of chips were made in America, says James Lewis, senior vice president and director of CSIS’s Strategic Technologies Program. By 2020, that number was only 12 percent.” Combine that with global transportation issues, and you can see where we’ve run into trouble.

When will the computer chip shortage end?

I’ve been hearing a lot about the silicon chip shortage all year and actively reading the news since September. Here’s what some of the experts are saying:

Fall 2021 Predictions:

  • 10/28/2021 – Arstechnica: “Earlier this year, the chip shortage seemed like it might ease sometime in 2022. Now, that forecast appears to have been optimistic. “The shortages are going to continue indefinitely,” Brandon Kulik, head of Deloitte’s semiconductor industry practice, told Ars. “Maybe that doesn’t mean 10 years, but certainly we’re not talking about quarters. We’re talking about years.”
  • 10/15/2021 – “The global chip shortage could persist for another two to three years before ending, the President of Hisense, one of China’s largest TV and household goods makers, told CNBC.” Sharp, Toshiba, and Hitachi are among the brands sold by Hisense.
  • 9/27/2021 – CNBC: “The global chip shortage will become less severe in the second half of 2022, AMD CEO Lisa Su said on Monday, though she warned that the first half of the year will be “likely tight.””
  • 11/2/2021 – Reuters: The AMD chip shortage seems to be almost non-existent. “Our supply chain team has worked to make sure that we have months and years of forecast ahead into our supply chain,” Chief Technology Officer Mark Papermaster said on the sidelines of the Web Summit conference in Lisbon, Portugal. “Everybody has had to increase their focus on the supply chain but we did so from the very beginning of the pandemic.”

Summer 2021 Predictions:

  • 7/23/2021 – From CNN: “While I expect shortages to bottom out in the second half [of the year], it will take another one to two years before the industry is able to completely catch up with demand,” Intel CEO Patrick Gelsinger told analysts on Thursday.”
  • 7/29/2021 – Reuters“The global chip shortage that is hindering production forecasts of giant companies like Apple Inc (AAPL.O)and Volkswagen AG (VOWG_p.DE) is here to stay until the first half of 2023, the chief executive of STMicroelectronics (STM.BN) said on Thursday.”

Bottom line:

It looks like the chip shortage may start to ease somewhat in 2023, but we’ll still see supply issues for the next 2-5 years.

Conclusion: What should I do?

First, take care of the electronic equipment you have that may be using chips. Call your appliance person and have them give your washers, furnace, and other appliances a good once over. Make sure you do regular oil changes and tune-ups for your car or truck. And, yes, make sure your Mac or PC gets an annual tune-up. Chris can tell you what you can do to lengthen its life.

If you do need to purchase something right away, be prepared to:

  • Choose a different option
  • Wait longer than normal, in some cases several months longer. (We have a customer who needs a specialized motherboard for their security gate. The part comes from China. Current estimated delivery date is 30+ weeks from now!)
  • Pay more than you would have in 2019 or 2020

If you can, wait until 2023 or later to purchase a new car, household appliance, or computer. This way, you should be able to get exactly what you want.

Information About Geek For Hire, Inc.

I’ve created a free report to protect you from “phishing” scams. Click here to receive it!

Chris Eddy of Geek For Hire, Inc. has provided computer service to families and small businesses with Mac’s and PCs for the past eighteen years. He’s the geek for you! Angie’s List and the BBB rate Geek For Hire very highly.  You can find more on our website, or give us a call at 303-618-0154. Geek For Hire, Inc. provides onsite service (Tier 3 support) to the Denver / Boulder / Front Range area and remote service throughout North America.

Here’s a link to our Covid19 Policy.

We’ve been using Amazon Prime for the past few years.  We like the free and fast shipping.  With Prime, we have access to online streaming too. Prime is usually $119/year, but you can get a free 30-day trial by clicking on this link: Try Amazon Prime 30-Day Free Trial. As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases.

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  • Are VPNs worth it? More here.
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  • We have seen a lot of Facebook hacking lately. Here’s what you should do ahead of time to keep your account safe.
  • And here are the 10 Password Mistakes you don’t want to make!

What is a USB C Cable?

All of a sudden, I am noticing a lot of devices with a USB C cable. In fact, two devices I’ve purchased in the past year have come with a USB–C charging cable. One is a Verizon hotspot and the other is a magnetic charging platform for my phone. What is a Type C USB?

I’ve also noticed that many of the new computers our customers are ordering come with a USB-C charging cable instead of the standard clunky charging brick.

Photo of USB C Cable, Lightening Cable, and Micro USB cable

What is a USB?

USB stands for Universal Serial Bus, and the technology has been around since the 1990s. It was developed by several different companies including HP, Intel, AMD, and Microsoft. They worked in collaboration so that consumers would have a standard device for charging mobile devices. USBs are designed to work with devices that can be connected and disconnected at any time. The connected device will identify itself to the computer and automatically get and connect the right driver with the device.

What is USB-C and how is it different from other standard USB cables?

USB–C technology is relatively new. It was developed in 2013-2014, also in collaboration between competitive companies, this time including Apple and Google.

Most of the other USB cables only provide power and data. USB-C has all that, plus provides more power for faster charging, faster data for the capability for crisp video, and faster backups.

USB C cables are part of the reason why Thunderbolt docking stations are so popular. You can connect just one cable from the dock to your laptop and get fast powerful charging and all the data and video you could want.

Most Important Feature?

In my opinion, one of the best features of USB-C is that it is symetrical and omnidirectional! Like a Lightning cable, it will always work. No matter how many times you try to plug it in, it will always go in the correct way. For me, it’s the little things with good design that bring the most pleasure.

Chris says the best thing about USB-C is that it is fast-charging and delivers data (video, etc.) much faster.  It’s all about speed with the Geek!

What are some problems with a USB-C?

The biggest problem with a USB-C connector is that it is new and most people will need an adapter in order to get it to work with an older computer. However, when you use a standard USB plug, you won’t get the same charging speed or video speed.

Conclusion:

If you’ve been wondering why you can’t use your old cables to charge your new devices, now you know! Soon just about every portable device will use USB-C for charging (including iPhones in  Europe).

And keep on the lookout for a Geek For Hire review. I’ve ordered several USB-C cables to test out. I’ll report on those results in the near future.

Information About Geek For Hire, Inc.

I’ve created a free report to protect you from “phishing” scams. Click here to receive it!

Chris Eddy of Geek For Hire, Inc. has provided computer service to families and small businesses with Mac’s and PCs for the past eighteen years. He’s the geek for you! Angie’s List and the BBB rate Geek For Hire very highly.  You can find more on our website, or give us a call at 303-618-0154. Geek For Hire, Inc. provides onsite service (Tier 3 support) to the Denver / Boulder / Front Range area and remote service throughout North America.

Here’s a link to our Covid19 Policy.

We’ve been using Amazon Prime for the past few years.  We like the free and fast shipping.  With Prime, we have access to online streaming too. Prime is usually $119/year, but you can get a free 30-day trial by clicking on this link: Try Amazon Prime 30-Day Free Trial. As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases.

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How To Find the Best Black Friday Tech Deals

When you’re looking for the best Cyber Monday or Black Friday tech deals, it can all get a little overwhelming. There are so many choices, and so many different stores to check out! That’s why we recommend doing a whole bunch of pre-planning in the weeks leading up to Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and the whole holiday shopping season.

Just so you know, if you purchase anything from the links on this page we may receive a small commission. As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases.

Six Steps to make Black Friday shopping less stressful:

First, Set up some Ground Rules:

  • Make a list of some of the things you’ve wanted, but have been waiting for a good deal. Add the minimum features you want and the maximum price you’re willing to pay for each item. For example: Ultrawide Curved Monitor $450 to $500
  • Resolve not to make any impulse purchases. (Or to limit impulse buys to a set dollar amount.)
  • Set a firm budget for each item.
  • If you’re looking for the best things to buy on Black Friday, there isn’t a pre-set list. It’s whatever is already on your list. If you’re happy with your phone, you don’t even need to look at the ATT Black Friday deals!

Comparison shop ahead of time

  • Take your list and check out prices on various website
  • If you’re looking for Black Friday PC deals or other Tech deals, check out Dell, Best Buy, Staples, and Amazon. Remember to review our PC buying guide first.
  • You can also set up a Google alert to monitor Black Friday deals for the tech items you are interested in.

Even if you don’t shop on Amazon you can still check out their reviews:

  • On Amazon, search for a specific product. For example “soundbar deals” or “printer deals”. Or you can target Black Friday TV deals.
  • Refine the results to only look at items rated 4 stars or higher.
  • If you’re a Prime member, click the Prime button near the top left.
  • If you have a favorite brand, click those buttons as well.
  • Look at the number of ratings. A product with 1000 reviews and 4.8 stars gets more credence than a product with two reviews and 5 stars.
  • Finally, look at the 1-star reviews. Are any of those are deal-breakers?black friday tech deals - six steps to take out some of the stress

If you’re buying on Amazon – additional things to look for

  • Is the item available as a Prime item with free shipping or other benefits?
  • Can you buy a product from more than one seller?
  • Look at the seller’s ratings. Do they have any one-star ratings? Has anyone complained about not receiving an item, or about their customer service?
  • Make sure you compare the total price plus shipping for the item.
  • Make sure you double-check the “Arrives By” date.
  • Read the Bad reviews.

Bookmark sites that have your favorite Black Friday tech deals:

Most browsers use CTRL+D to set up a new bookmark. Then you can quickly check prices on different sites for Black Friday printer deals or the best Black Friday video game deals.

Set up a separate email ahead of time for shopping

You should use a separate email that is only used for shopping. Make sure your password is super secure. That means 12 or more characters with a good mix of lower and uppercase letters, numbers, and special characters. The password on this account should be changed at least once every month. When I want a new email account I head over to Gmail.

Support Local Businesses:

Black Friday is also “Buy Nothing Day” and the day before “Small Business Saturday”. If you can, think about supporting the small businesses in your town or neighborhood, even if they don’t have a special deal going on. Small, local businesses have had a tough time the last year and a half. This holiday season is a great time to help them out!

Information About Geek For Hire, Inc.

I’ve created a free report to protect you from “phishing” scams. Click here to receive it!

Chris Eddy of Geek For Hire, Inc. has provided computer service to families and small businesses with Mac’s and PCs for the past eighteen years. He’s the geek for you! Angie’s List and the BBB rate Geek For Hire very highly.  You can find more on our website, or give us a call at 303-618-0154. Geek For Hire, Inc. provides onsite service (Tier 3 support) to the Denver / Boulder / Front Range area and remote service throughout North America.

Here’s a link to our Covid19 Policy.

We’ve been using Amazon Prime for the past few years.  We like the free and fast shipping.  With Prime, we have access to online streaming too. Prime is usually $119/year, but you can get a free 30-day trial by clicking on this link: Try Amazon Prime 30-Day Free Trial. As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases.

More Tips Here: