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February 13, 2018

How Fast Are You Surfing?

Filed under: Columns — Tags: , , , , , , , , — Ron @ 5:52 am

You know the feeling, you are at home and all of a sudden, the sites load very slowly.  You may be at the local coffee shop where they provide free Wi-Fi and it is unbelievably sluggish.  YouTube videos either stop and start while buffering multiple times in a couple of minutes or do not load.  Before you reboot…and find that nothing has changed check the internet connection speed where you are.

This service allows you to check your speeds through either a website, application and/or your mobile phone.

The site name is “Speedtest,” is found online at speedtest.net and is owned by Ookla.  Ookla began in 2006 with their home base in Seattle.  The parent company is Ziff Davis so that gives you the knowledge that it has a good pedigree.

Speedtext logo

This site does only three things but does them all well.  When you go to the site you will see a large circle with “Go” in the center.  Click “Go.”

It will test the ping rate and your download and upload speeds in just a few seconds.

First, some definitions.  Ping is the reaction time of your connection to the web servers.  It shows how fast you get a response after your browser has sent out a request. A fast ping (lower number) means a quicker reply back from the site.  This is especially useful in gaming.  The ping rate is measured in ms (milliseconds).

Download speed is simply how fast you get files back on your browser.  For instance, if you are downloading a picture or video you get them quicker, the higher the number.  Upload speed is how quickly you are sending your information up to the internet.  For example, when you are copying something up to Dropbox or emailing a picture.  High numbers are good for uploads too.  These last two are measured in Mbps (Megabits per second).

The website works fine; however, you can install the Speedtest application on PC, Mac or phones.  That way if the connection is slow the apps will get your numbers more quickly.  For your computer, go to, “speedtest.net/apps/desktop” to download the application.  I prefer these over the site.

imageFor your phones you can either go to the phone’s app store or directly to Speedtest, speedtest.net/mobile.

I highly recommend you use this site or app if you are wondering why your speed is lagging.  One slight difference is that with the phone apps you do not (at this time) get “GO” but a “Begin Test” button.  Also, the apps give you some information the site does not.

Keep the following in mind.  When you are at the coffee shop everyone there with a phone or computer is also sharing your connection.  They are notoriously slow if many people are present which includes the employees’ phones.

At home, you may be paying for 50 Mbps download speed and find you are only getting 25 or so.  This is normal as your Wi-Fi is sending your signal across the house through walls and may be further away from your device.  Or someone at home may be watching a movie on Netflix.  You will not get full speed as promised unless you are connected directly into your router by cable.  So, you do not call and complain to the service provider unless it is significantly slower than it should be.

December 16, 2014

Tech Christmas, Part 2

Last week, I suggested a few techie Christmas gifts. Some readers requested a few more; so, they are as follow.

Let’s start on a slightly different foot. This is similar to the musical cards that play songs or prerecorded messages when opened, but it’s a little different. At spreengs.com, users can create their own video card.

Users create their own video, then upload it to the site, at which point it is completed and mailed to recipients. Or, the company can mail users the card, envelope and USB wire, so the video can be uploaded to the card and sent. The first option costs about $5 more. The few that I looked at ranged about $ 20- 40.

447_mifi5510lFor a gift that keeps on giving — for a monthly fee — try a personal Wi- Fi Hotspot. These small devices supply users with highspeed Internet connections. Speeds are fastest with 4G coverage. Sometimes, I use one for work and it usually gets from 7 to 12 mbps download speed, which is enough to watch movies.  Shown here is the Verizon Mi-Fi that I use which works very well with 4G.

Prices vary for the hardware to the monthly charges for the amount of data used. However, before buying one, check if your cellphone has a hotspot capability, as it may be less expensive.

Tablet sales are down about four percent this year; but tablet keyboard sales are up approximately 90 percent. Users can take an old tablet and, add a Bluetooth keyboard, which costs from $20- 50. Users have found that this is much more convenient than typing on a tablet without a keyboard. You can also get a new tablet with a keyboard included; however, the cost will likely be much higher.

Also available are Mighty Purses, a fusion between fashion and technology available at mighty- purse. com. These bags have a lightweight, built- in battery and a cable for phone charging. They are available in a variety of colors and designs. Prices on Amazon. com run approximately $80- 100.

The Shoulderpod S1 (shoulderpod.com) is a $ 34.90 gadget that attaches to most any cellphone, with or without a case, and has three functions. First, it has a camera grip mode that can be attached to the phone and a grip and strap for users’ hands and wrists, respectively. Second, it has a desk mount mode, which allows users to stabilize without a tripod. Third, it has a mount to attach the phone to the tripod.

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