Internet Issues

Looks like winter is finally arriving with forecasts of freezing temps this coming weekend. Since all the sensitive plants in the garden have played out, I’ll have very little to cover especially since currently the forecast is just at the freezing point and not a hard freeze. I’m actually ok with it coming now because I was starting to be concerned that a total lack of cold weather would give the bugs a head start for the spring season. A few hours of 32 degrees should do the trick. As it stands now, we are picking heavily with much of the proceeds going to friends and neighbors. I’ve done the best job ever of staggering the most popular items – lettuce, radishes, and other salad goodies – so there’s been a continuous supply for a couple of months and it looks good, right now, for it to continue on into April. In fact I just put in another patch of radishes and carrots and the last of the cabbage and lettuce seedlings.
This has been an extremely stressful week relative to computer issues – particularly internet related problems. With several years of background on limited data quantity plans – first Virgin Mobile, then T-Mobile, and now ATT – Nancy and I have consistently used an average of 30 mbytes of data daily. Sometimes it could be a bit more, sometimes a bit less but that’s where it rides. Our Virgin Mobile plan was 1 GB per month and we never exceeded that; our T-mobile plan was 1.75GB per month and we never exceeded that; our ATT account is 1.5GB per month so that should be fine with respect to our use pattern. And sure enough in December we used 1.2 GB. Ditto January. So I was very happy with the ATT Hotspot – much, much faster than either system I had used before. It’s called a Gophone and is a battery powered wifi router that connects with the ATT cellular system.
Then we added a second computer to the user mix. Within a few days, we were sucking up data at a clip that would last only a few days. Since the only thing new in the loop was the new computer I quickly determined that every time it was online, it was updating software with no request from me to do so. I knew the software needed updating but assumed that I could control when it happened and planned to take the new computer to Tom’s to take advantage of his unlimited data plan to bring everything up to speed. The ATT plan includes a facility to add a packet of data, 500 mbytes for $10, so I bought that and, at the same time, pulled the plug on the new computer. Pulling the plug meant taking it offline by shutting off the computer’s wifi function and going back to using the old laptop for any online activities. That went fine for a couple of days. I have always checked usage daily and saw that we went back to the 30MB average as expected. Then Nancy said she was knocked offline with an ATT message saying she was out of data. Sure enough the newly added 500MB had been sucked up into the ether. Maybe I need to actually power down the new computer – just disconnecting it from the internet wasn’t enough and it had found a sneak way to update software. I added another $10, 500MB and literally turned the new machine off. Nancy went back to her browsing on the laptop. A few hours later I decided to check the status of the data, fully expecting to find just under 500MB remaining. Nope, it was down to 200MB. I called ATT again (I did that after the first surprise) and explained that something was using all my data. The tech support person said that for sure, I should power down the Hotspot. The first tech support person said the same thing but not emphatically and said that it was possible our smart phone was connecting to the router without us knowing it. That made sense because Tom’s cell had indeed automatically connected the last time he was up but since we don’t have a smart phone, pretty sure that wasn’t a problem. But the second tech support person was much more emphatic that we should turn the hotspot off when not using it. I tried to pry out of him why that should make any difference at all but he was fuzzy on that. He also said that if you left them powered up continuously, there was a fire danger – batteries could blow up if fully charged and still plugged into the charger. The first tech support person said the same thing but that just didn’t make sense to me – why would you sell something that had a built in fire hazard? Anyway, they made good and reloaded me with another 500 MB plus a $10 credit to the account and I turn off the hotspot when we’re not specifically using it.

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