10 Reasons That I Miss The Old Internet

Nowadays it seems like the Internet has always been around.  For many people, grown ups even, it always has!  Yet, at the age of 43, I distinctly remember the time before the Internet. But along with that there was the time when the Internet was new.  Those were some cool times.  Of course, all those ‘new’ things are now old.  That’s the way it happens.  But, there are times when I miss the old Internet.  Here are a few throwbacks that many will remember.

The Dial-Up Tone

The Internet was first accessed over phone lines.  You had to connect your computer’s modem to another and establish a connection.  This was done with a series of bongs and boops and clicks.  It was a pretty cool sound.  I was such a geek that I could often tell just by listening to the patterns if I was going to get a good connection or if I’d have to re-dial.

When I Was An Expert

I was pretty computer savvy back in the day.  As such, I learned a lot about the Internet before many others did.  Even though it lasted only a couple of years, I became sort of an expert.  I was one of those people that others asked when they needed to learn how to connect to the Internet, to find things on the Internet, or even to explain what the Internet was.

When The Internet Wasn’t Full of Ads

The Internet is all about making money nowadays.  Everything is monetized, it seems.  But, it wasn’t always like that.  Before everyone figured out how to place ads, the Internet was mostly filled with real information.

A Distinction From The Real World

You know you’re an old timer if you remember ever saying that you were ‘going on the Internet’.  Back then, going on the Internet was a distinct and separate activity from everything else in the world.  Now, it’s become part of the world.  But, there was a time when you ‘got off the Internet’ and returned to your life.

When The Internet Was Mostly Fun

Nowadays, the Internet gives everybody a voice. This lets many people talk, but few remember to actually listen.  Back when the Internet was a baby, it was mostly fun.  I remember once when someone created a web site and had nothing but a picture of a toilet.  People searched for this and talked about it and we all laughed.  Nobody knew, at first, what to do with the Internet.  But one thing’s for sure, the seriousness that abounds today was not yet there.

Counters

Part of the appeal of the early Internet was getting page views.  Pages had little counters at the bottom that showed how often it’d been viewed.  People would look at this when visiting a page to make sure they were on a ‘cool’ site.  When people started creating personal sites, having big numbers was huge.  Of course, it was pretty easy to ‘Refresh’ over and over, but nobody ever cheated, right? 🙂

The Novelty Of Shopping Online

Buying something off the Internet?  Believe it or not, that was once a foreign concept.  Nobody really knew what to do with it. Once sites started establishing an inventory, it grew even further.  You started having sites that did nothing but sell random items that were supposedly deals.  Yes, deal-of-the-day sites were once a novelty!  And they even went further?  Remember the Woot Off?  People would sit literally all day in front of their computer as random items would go up for sale.  Maybe they still do them, but if so, it’s definitely not the event it once was.

Usenet

Once the Internet started growing, some felt it went a little too far and wide.  This was before Google and search engines were very reliable.  So, Usenet became the spot where specific categories and discussions could take place.  For example, fans of The X Files didn’t know how to find all the different places where they could discuss their show.  Usenet gave them the forum alt.tv.the-x-files.  Everyone knew to go there and soon every subject under the sun had a group.  I’m sure Usenet still exists, but I haven’t used it in over a decade.

Yahoo

I still lament how cool Yahoo was back in the day.  For awhile, the Internet and Yahoo were pretty much the same.  For me, anyways. I used them for e-mail, games, news, sports, stocks.  I stored photos there.  It was my first dab at online dating.  Their Messenger app was the first of many different chat apps I used.  In the age where you didn’t have tabs on your browser, all I needed was the My Yahoo page with links to everything.  Slowly, Yahoo found themselves beat at their own games, and now they’re pretty much an afterthought.

Finding Music

Nowadays, you can find music anywhere.  Pandora and Spotify have nailed the market on streaming apps. If you want a specific song, it’s probably on Youtube.  But it wasn’t always that way.  For a number of years, finding music online was a huge deal.  And it was often illegal!  Finding MP3 copies of a new album was a pretty big deal!  At first the music industry basically tried to keep music off the Internet altogether.  Very interesting times!

Those are some of my favorite memories of the old Internet.  What are some of the things you remember or have heard of?  

Copyright 2017 Original content authorized only to appear on Money Beagle. Please subscribe via RSS, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or receive e-mail updates. Thank you for reading.

Five Ways To Get The Most Value From Netflix

It seems like everybody has Netflix these days, doesn’t it?  I remember subscribing to Netflix before most anybody knew what it was.  I can’t tell you the number of people I explained it to.  You clicked a few buttons on your computer, and a couple of days later a DVD showed up in the mail.  That was before they did any type of streaming.  Ah, the good old days!  Now, if I’d only been smart enough to buy their stock and hold onto it at the time!  Oh well.  In any case, Netflix is bigger than ever.  Here are five ways to get the most value from Netflix and your subscription.

Review Your Plan

Netflix has a pretty solid menu of options.  You can stream online.  You can get DVDs.  Or, you can get both.  Then, you look at how many devices you want to use or how many DVDs you want to have out.

Netflix will default you to their standard streaming plan.  This is great for most people.  Heck, it’s what we use.  But, make sure that you’re selecting the plan that’s right for you.  Also, make sure to check up on your plan now and then.  You never know.  What was perfect yesterday may not be the best fit tomorrow.

Setup Multiple Devices

If you stream, then make sure you setup Netflix on every possible device you own.  Plans limit to how many you can stream simultaneously, but you can set it up on as many as you want.

I recommend setting up all your devices at once.  Phones.  Tablets.  Smart TVs.  Roku devices.  Whatever.  Get them all set up.  Because, let’s face it, when you’re in the mood to watch something, you don’t want to take the time to log in or have a family member unable to use it because they don’t know the password.

Share Your Account

Have you ever considered being sneaky and having multiple households share an account?  Go ahead.  Netflix knows you do it.  They really don’t care, for the most part.  Now, if every house on the street is sharing an account, they might have  a problem.  But, if it’s just you sharing with your parents, they probably won’t care.

Use Downloads

Streaming plans let you download some programming to watch offline.  This means you can watch Netflix on a plane or wherever you might not have a streaming connection.  They do limit you to the number of devices per plan in which you can download content.  But, even so, this is a really cool option.

Stay On Top Of Content

You won’t use Netflix if you don’t know what’s there.  Netflix has tons of original programming.  Plus, they shuffle in and out content from other studios all the time.  Keep track of what they have coming up.  There are sites everywhere that track the comings and goings.  Additionally, if you rate content, Netflix will build custom recommendations and let you know in advance.  Either way, if you know what’s coming, you may use the service more regularly.

Readers, do you have a Netflix subscription? How do you get the most value from your Netflix plan?  Let me know your tips in the comments below.

Copyright 2017 Original content authorized only to appear on Money Beagle. Please subscribe via RSS, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or receive e-mail updates. Thank you for reading.

Smartphones Are Really Kind Of Dumb

Aren’t smartphones great?  They take care of everything, right?  Well, maybe not everything.  But they’re totally smart and intuitive, aren’t they?  After all, smart IS part of the name.  Personally, I don’t think we’re there yet.  Smartphones have made our lives easier in many ways. But they still have a lot of things that could be improved.  In fact, I have come up with five reasons that smartphones aren’t all that smart.  Yet.

Battery Life And Charging

Apple recently caught a lot of heat because they were purposefully slowing down older phones.  Why?  Because the batteries were wearing out, and would last longer if the phone did less.  So, Apple sent an update to make the phone work slower.  Oh, and the age of some of these phones was less than two years.

This is unbelievable to me.

Here we are on the cutting edge of battery technology, right? I mean, we have entire cars that can run on battery.  Yet, we can’t figure out a way to make a phone battery last longer than two years?  That’s ridiculous.

You hear advice about how to make them last longer.  Don’t charge overnight.  Don’t overcharge.  Charge only between certain percentages.

Come on.  You can’t tell me that overcharging couldn’t be prevented by shutting off the input, for one idea.  I simply can’t believe that smart phones continue to be plagued by something as basic as the battery.

Rogue Apps

I have a Samsung S7.  A few weeks ago it started acting up at random times.  It would slow down to a crawl.  This was most noticeable when I was using Chrome.

I tried a bunch of different apps that were supposed to identify problem apps.  Nothing was identified.  I looked at a bunch of internal logs to try to see what was happening.  Zero.  I spent a ton of time tweaking Chrome since that’s where many problems originated.  No difference.

Finally, I started disabling apps, and caught the culprit.  Ironically, it was AVG, a program designed to prevent bad things from happening to your phone.  As soon as I got rid of it, all of my slowness went away.

As it turns out, most phones (allegedly) have enough built in that you don’t need a virus/malware scanner.  I was using it for a ‘Find My Device’ option, but that was easily re-configured elsewhere.

Still, I couldn’t believe that there is nothing built into the basic Operating System to flag apps that could be problematic.  AVG had to have gone corrupt or something and was consuming mass resources.  A truly smart phone would have identified this.

User Priority

When I’m using my phone, I want my phone to pay attention to me.  That sounds simple, right?  But it isn’t always the case.  If the phone is updating apps, sometimes my typing is delayed.  Unacceptable!  If I’m in the middle of typing my unlock code, then don’t turn the screen off just because it’s been six seconds since I hit the button to wake up the device.

To me, it should be a basic function that user interaction takes priority.  Smartphones should never treat a user like a background process!

Storage

Phones have increased the amount of built in storage over the last couple of years.  Still, it’s often not enough.  For many phones, you can add an SD card for extra storage.

Sounds like this solves everything, right?  Well, that’d be smart.  Turns out, the answer is often more complicated.  See, internal storage and external storage are completely different.  And, most apps will only work on internal storage.  So, can you use your extra storage to install a lot of apps? Probably not.  All that it’s really good for is to offload videos, music, and pictures.  Even then, getting that working properly is often a chore. More on that in a minute.

Why is it like this?  I have no idea.  When I look this up, developers have lots of reasons why, but in the end it’s just mumbo jumbo.  I mean, to me and probably many other simple minds, if you add extra storage, it should be as simple as plug it in and away we go. Let’s get going on this, OK?!?

File Management

This one drives me nuts.  Maybe this is me just not being as tech savvy as I once was.  I don’t know.  But, whenever I want to find something, it takes me forever to find it.

If I want to upload a picture that I took to Facebook, I have to scroll through a bunch of different albums.  If I am in Facebook and take a picture, it will put it up easily, but good luck finding it later.  When I’m in Chrome and download a menu, it brings it up right then.  But after that?  Who knows?  Next time I go to look for it, I can sometimes find it.  But, most often, I end up re-downloading it again.

It seems like every app wants to put things in a different place.  Which I understand, but it doesn’t work well when I want to find something.  There has to be a better way.

image from Morguefile courtesy of DodgertonSkillhause

Smartphones Makers Need To Watch Star Trek

I grew up watching Star Trek: The Next Generation.  That show had a lot of technology.  One thing I noticed was that it was cool but it was also simple.  When they wanted to use technology, they pressed a button or two.  That was all it took.  It wasn’t complicated.  The computer paid attention and delivered on commands.  There wasn’t delays or confusion.  That sounds pretty smart to me!

One of the catchphrases on that show was when the Captain would say “Make it so.” He’d often say this when he just wanted something to happen and didn’t care about the details.  That’s kind of where I’m at with all of these things.  I just think that a smart device needs to act smarter.  Those are my ideas.  So, hopefully someone out there listens.  Let’s ‘make it so’.

Readers, what do you think of your smartphone? Is it as smart as advertised?  What would you like to see your smartphone do that it can’t today?

Copyright 2017 Original content authorized only to appear on Money Beagle. Please subscribe via RSS, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or receive e-mail updates. Thank you for reading.

Giving Up Facebook

Last month I wrote about how I gave up snacking at work.  I know my weaknesses and I finally accepted that occasional snacking leads to regular snacking.  So, I haven’t snacked since the beginning of the year.

Giving Up Facebook

I grew up Catholic, and one tradition that I’ve always had is to give up something for Lent.  The Lenten season runs between Ash Wednesday and Easter Sunday, a period of 46 days.  People are encouraged to give something up that’s important or difficult.  The idea is to give ourselves a small reminder of what Jesus gave up during his 40 days in the desert.

In the past I’ve given up a variety of things, including:

  • Chocolate
  • Ice Cream
  • Candy
  • All Sweets
  • Alcohol.

This year, I decided to take on a different approach.  It was time to take on the idea of giving up Facebook.

Why Facebook?

There are many things to love about Facebook.  These include:

  • The ability to connect with friends.
  • Getting news and other information real time.
  • Keeping in touch with acquaintances, people you don’t necessarily want to interact with daily, but like keeping tabs on.
  • Having lots of things to laugh at.

So why would I want to give it up?  Well, there some things I don’t like.

  • I didn’t like how often I would be checking it.  I’d usually have a tab open at all times with Facebook when on a computer.  On a phone, each time I picked it up, one of the first things I did was thumb to the app.
  • The tone of Facebook has changed.  Ever since the election, Facebook just has not been fun for me.  I get that people aren’t happy, but for some, their posts suggest that they think about this 24×7.  Maybe they do?
  • It was a new challenge.  As you can see from the list of things I’ve given up in the past, most involved junk food.  Since I’m largely working on that anyway as an ongoing thing, I felt I needed a new habit.

How Did It Go?

Before giving it up, I was a little nervous.  Since I had it open all the time, I was afraid I would instantly miss it and end up going another direction.

Thankfully, that didn’t happen.

On the day before Lent, I went onto my laptop, phone and tablet, and signed out of Facebook.  I also removed the icon from my phone and from my browser shortcuts.

I found by not having it right there as an option to open, it helped right away.

Quite honestly, once I started going without Facebook, it was pretty easy.  I browsed to websites (you know, the old-fashioned way) for news.  I e-mailed people or even *gasp* called them.  I downloaded a couple of games to play.  Maybe not the best alternative, but at least I was keeping my brain busy, right?   Generally, I found that I was probably on my phone less times and for less minutes of the day.

I did miss a few things:

  • I missed seeing what my friends were up to.
  • I missed posting a bit while we were on our recent trip to Florida.
  • I missed posting the occasional post that I’d put up when something witty came to mind. Though let’s face it, I’m probably not as witty as I think I am.

Will I Stay Away?

For now, with Lent having ended, I’m not going to lie.  I’m back on Facebook.

However, I think this has shown me that I should and can cut back on Facebook.  Maybe I’ll try to avoid putting the shortcuts back where they are front and center.  I think that’d be a good start.

All in all, it was definitely a cleansing time in many ways.  Technology has advanced so much over the past couple of decades.  So many things have come into our lives as new things that we quickly adapt and make part of our lives.  Browsing the Internet.  E-mail.  Blogging.  Chat.  Videos.  Social media.

Giving up Facebook is a reminder that these things, and the things that come along, are tools.  Facebook and other social platforms have not just given us new ways to communicate, but in many ways they’ve taken over.  That’s not a good thing.

Maybe being a little more old school is a good thing, you know?

Readers, do you give up anything for Lent?  If so, what?  Also, what do you think about Facebook and other like items?  If asked to give them up, how long could you go?  Drop me your thoughts in the comments below.  And, thanks for reading!

Copyright 2017 Original content authorized only to appear on Money Beagle. Please subscribe via RSS, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or receive e-mail updates. Thank you for reading.