How to keep up with technology

The best way to keep up with technology is to use it. Over the years we have seen technologies arrive and some survive.

Predicting which technology survives is the trick. Even selecting which technology product within technology family is tricky. Most computers still run Microsoft Windows. Remember Windows ME (not so good) and XP (good) before Windows 7 (very good) and 10 (now the only version available)?

One of the oldest technologies is Ethernet. It was invented between 1973 and 1974, commercially introduced in 1980, and still used today. It is better and faster than Wi-Fi so use it whenever possible. Offices and now homes standardize on Ethernet.

Verizon standardized on coax for its FiOS and found out it was not fast enough for high speed networking so it switched to Ethernet. And early networks standardized on coax which are now converted or re-run with Ethernet.

Surge protection

Surge protection is important to protect sensitive electronics, especially network and home theater. Most power strips a.k.a. power taps are not surge protectors rather turning one electrical plug into many outlets (usually 4 or 6 outlets). And some power strips which are labeled to be surge protectors are inferior, have on average 2 years limited life, and deteriorate over time. Power strips and surge protector strips are potentially fire hazards. I have seen power strips showing fire damage.

Also, most battery backups a.k.a. UPS are labeled as surge protectors. They fall in the same category as surge protector with the exception is I have not seen one catch fire.

The only surge protector I recommend and use (I own four for computers, network, and home theater) is Zero Surge. Two models, one with 2 outlet commonly with UPS and printer, and the other 8 outlet for computer or home theater, are most popular for home and small-office.

How to use Zero Surge with UPS

Surge protection warning on back:

Verizon power tap clearly labeled that it does not provide surge protection:Strip which caught fire:

Cable management before and after

Cable management is replacing long cables with short cables, tying up cables using cable ties, and hiding cables within walls, ceiling, basement and crawl space when possible. Connecting 10 foot cable when 1 foot cable is suffice eliminates tens or hundreds feet of unused cable. A clean cable installation for network, home office, TV, or home theater makes for better space and ensures best performance.

All cables (Ethernet, coax, HDMI, speaker, etc.) can be either custom ordered or cut to desired length. In-wall cables are special order and must be used when hiding cables. Cable ties bunch together cables running together to finish the clean look.

Before and after pictures below.

Built-in shelves for TV and network

Telephone, Ethernet, and coax

Wall-mounted TV

 

Outdoor cable across window

Use wires to make wireless better and faster

The best wireless (Wi-Fi) depends on wires (cables): Using Ethernet cables to distribute Wi-Fi makes it better and faster makes. (This is not mesh wireless which uses wireless connecting to wireless.) Some homes have old telephone which can be converted to Ethernet. Other homes had Ethernet run by contractors during home remodel but not connected. In almost any home unused coax cable TV can be converted to Ethernet or Wi-Fi.

Home with telephone before converted to Ethernet

Home remodeled with Ethernet and coax

 

Use your own router with FiOS Internet

You can use your own wireless router instead of FiOS equipment. Unlike cable such as Comcast, no modem is necessary. However, you must connect to FiOS using Ethernet (high speed), not coax (low speed). Also, if you have FiOS TV using TV Guide and Video on Demand (“VOD”) on FiOS remote, then you also need MoCA box (MoCA = multimedia over coax).

Smart[er] TV

Smart TV has a) built-in apps, such as Netflix and Amazon Prime Video, and b) streams shows via Internet connection, either Ethernet or Wi-Fi.

Dumb TV has neither built-in apps nor Internet connection.

Streaming player, such as Roku, Amazon Fire TV, and Apple TV, have apps and Internet connection.

dumb TV + streaming player = smart[er] TV

Streaming players keep up to date, work better than smart TV apps, usually better Internet connection, and easier to replace than entire TV if/when necessary.

Roku Ultra has solved all my streaming problems. Three of note:
1. Netflix stopped working on older smart TV. Installed Roku Ultra instead of replacing TV.
2. Amazon Fire TV would not stream certain Amazon Prime Video shows. (I know, right?!) Installed Roku and updated Amazon app.
3. Apple TV did not have Amazon Prime Video app until recently. Roku has always had it.

Dumb TV has same audio and video as smart TV so you can connect cable TV, streaming player, Sonos, DVD player, even surround sound with audio video receiver for full movie experience.

Dumb TV evolved from security camera monitor so has not caught up with the latest smart TV picture technology such as OLED or curved screen. You can use streaming player with smart TV effectively ignoring its apps.

Laptop go bag

Laptop road warriors often forget to pack an item because they use them on their desk and on the go. Every laptop user should have the following separate items in their laptop go bag a.k.a. travel case:

  • Power cord a.k.a. AC adapter
  • Ethernet cable
  • Ethernet dongle if laptop does not have Ethernet jack
  • USB cable
  • External mouse (if you use regularly use it)
  • USB type C adapter
  • USB stick a.k.a. jump drive

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