Sunday, November 26, 2017

Greatcall Jitterbug Review -- Zero stars out of five

My mother has had a Jitterbug phone since 2009. The Jitterbug is meant to be a simple phone for seniors. In her case, she wanted it only for emergencies, not unlike a Life Alert.

The price started out at $17.69 per month, then crept up, until I discovered a cheaper plan at around $13.00 per month.

Then it crept up again, until finally she was paying almost $20.00 a month for a phone she never used, but was insistent that she needed for peace of mind. This is understandable.

Here are some things that happened.

  1. I, daughter, am the one who set up her account, including the online account. I thought they had my name, but just for good measure, I mailed them the Power of Attorney.
  2. One time, when I saw the bill went up and needed to look at her billing history, I discovered I was blocked from seeing it until I requested a CPNI password, which had to be authorized by her. Apparently they weren't interested in the POA, so I gave my mother all the information she needed, dispatched her to make the call and hoped for the best. When she called me back a few days later to tell me it was completed, she mentioned that while on the phone with them, they sold her some monthly "lost phone" coverage which, over a few months time, would have exceeded the cost of a new phone. They had never asked if she was living in a facility, where the chances of losing and never recovering a cellphone are near zero. She was so proud of her decision, and it was hard to convince her she had just been defrauded.
  3. I knew I would have to call them myself. By this time, I doubted they would honor the POA, and I was confident that if I painfully walked her through making the call, that they would find a way to convince her to keep the contract, and moreover, might sell her somthing else. So I called them and impersonated her to get the "lost phone" contract cancelled. As it was, she was upset, and wanted to believe that I was the mistaken one.
  4. Over time, I saw evidence that she had forgotten how to make a call on the phone, including how to dial and how to hang up.
  5. Over the years, I periodically would ask her how important the phone really was. All along she's been in a facility that has a security button in the apartment, in addition to a morning security check. But she insisted that she might fall in the hallway, and not be found.
  6. I would also check while visiting to see if she was charging the phone. When I noticed the dead phone, she would tell me that she had only let it lapse for a day, and that yes indeed she was still charging it and carrying it around. I was doubtful.
  7. One time, when my mother's credit card had been updated with a new expiration and security code, I tried to update the card in the account. I thought I was successful, until she received an alarming email that she had not paid, which for an aging senior citizen, is upsetting. I had to call them on the phone to give them the new card information, which they happily took from me even though I'm not her, and informed me that you can't use the website to update the credit card, even though the function is plainly there inviting the user to do so. It turns out that every time I tried to update it, they saved the info. There's now a long list of identical credit card numbers in her account.
  8. In 2017, we found the dead phone again, and she relented. I went to the website to cancel, but found out you have to call them to cancel the phone and the monthly fee. There wasn't even a way to remove the credit card.
  9. To spare me the pain of dealing with Greatcall, hubby called to cancel. After twenty-five minutes on hold,  they refused to talk to him or to even acknowledge the POA (which he is on).  
  10. So he called her credit card company, who informed him that he would have to wait until they bill her in order to dispute it, but disputing it would only work for one month, so there's no point. Their only recommendation is to cancel her card and give her a new card. This we are not doing. 
  11. So I called, and after twenty-five minutes on hold, I told the rep I wanted to cancel the phone, and she put me on hold again for another twenty minutes. Then I impersonated my mother to walk through the painful process of trying to cancel the phone. She tried to give me a monthly discount by telling  me I'm now eligible for a lower price! I said no thanks. Eventually, I was successful in getting my point across and the rep cancelled the service. 
  12. To this day, the function for updating the credit card is still in the website account, and all those duplicate credit card numbers are there.
  13. So now I will have to watch her card closely to make sure they don't charge her any more. Also I have to call Greatcall again to cancel the online account, but I don't want to do that until the day the service is supposed to end. I want to make sure first that the phone no longer can make a call. I also want to ask them to remove the credit card from their files.


She had a useless phone for eight years, and I don't want to total up the cost.

I give the company zero stars out of five. They are crooks. They take advantage of the senior citizens they claim to protect.

I don't recommend Greatcall to anyone, and I don't recommend the Jitterbug phone to anyone.

Friday, November 24, 2017

Solved! Unfortunately, the process has stopped

Some remedies are about the SD card, but I don't have an SD card. Here is what I did:
  1. Navigate to Settings, Accounts, and Google.
  2. Move all of the toggles to “Off.”
  3. Navigate to Settings, Storage &USB.
  4. Tap “Cached Data” and then “OK.”
  5. Navigate to Settings, Application Manager, and then Downloads.
  6. Select “Downloads” and select “Force Stop.”
  7. Turn off your phone for a couple of minutes. Remove the battery if it's not sealed
  8. Switch your device on once more and wait until it has finished booting back up.
  9. Navigate to Settings, Accounts, and Google.
  10. Move all of the toggles to “On” to allow syncing again.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Solved! 100 percent disk usage in Windows 10 after a big rearrange of files

I have a lot of PDF's and word docs in many many folders. Today I mucked around with my file structure.

Then my whole computer froze, and took a few reboots to heal itself.

I think too many processes were dominating the disk at the same time:
  1. Crashplan backup started running (it had to do a massive new backup because of what I did)
  2. I also have a local file backup app called Argentum that also started running
  3. Windows Search started reindexing
And so when I innocently opened File Explorer in the midst of all this, the computer crashed.

I found some background by googling. I learned that when the hard drive is constantly working at 100%, there's no spare capacity to perform other tasks, even routine operating system tasks, such as opening task manager. This can slow everything to a halt, making the computer completely unresponsive.

I also learned this is a common problem in Windows 10.

It's easy to solve, though. After doing a big file re-org, best to let just one backup program run at a time (either Crashplan or Argentum in my case) and temporarily disable the other one. And leave the computer alone for a little while.


Saturday, November 18, 2017

Windows 10 a printer is not listed on the network page but it's there

To reproduce the problem:
  1. Open the network page that has always been around in Windows, practically since the beginning of time. I call this the classic network page. This is the page that shows categories such as printers, multifunction devices, computers, other devices, and so on.
  2. You see that a certain printer which you know is on your network doesn't show up. You can prove to yourself that it's there by doing this: go into Windows settings. Under printers & scanners, you will see the printer, and you can even click on it, click "manage" and print a test page successfully.
  3. Now go back to the classic network page, and click on "view."
  4. Check the box next to "hidden items."
  5. You will now see the printer.
  6. You can apparently even uncheck the box now, and you'll still see the desired printers. I don't know how permanent this fix is, so maybe keep that box checked.
  7. Note: This view/hide must be a flaky toggle because sometimes I can't see the printer even when the box is checked, but all I have to do to fix it is uncheck, then check again. Go figure. 

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Windows 10 Creators Update Fall 2017 really screwed me over

Windows has screwed me over many times, but this one warranted a post.

So I allowed my Windows 10 laptop to take the Fall Creators update. And once it was done, all my pages were getting blocked. I couldn't connect any more.

Moreover, this issue was flaky and intermittent. WTF?

I spent hours googling and trying stuff. I learned from Microsoft that it was probably a conflict with an app. But which one? And why suddenly after the Creators Update? Surely Microsoft can be more specific than that. But all they suggested was to do a "clean boot" in order to isolate what was wrong. This advice led to my demise. Note: a clean boot is not the same as safe boot.

I went into msconfig, and followed Microsoft's suggestion to the letter. Once rebooted into clean boot, I still got no joy. Then I followed Microsoft's suggestion to restore msconfig, and did another boot. And then I cried. Msconfig was not restored. Furthermore, when I googled this new problem, I discovered this can happen, and there's no easy fix for msconfig. I was now stuck with selective startup, and the original problem, which is I had no internet. And still didn't know why. My time consumption was now in the mode of throwing good time after bad. But reimaging also takes time -- about two days.

These never-ending problems with Windows, and their oft-subsuequent reimaging solutions, are so disruptive to productivity that I had been toying with the idea of keeping two working computers around, so that I could switch while reimaging. And now...I decided to go for it.

My Windows computers cost a lot. They cost around $700 because I'm still maintaining pictures on my hard drive. (That issue is for another post for another day.) And I always buy an I7 processor.

So I bought another Windows 10 2TB I7 laptop to set up while resetting the first one. It's no longer called reimaging, by the way, and it's no longer called factory settings, either. It's called "reset your PC."

So as for the new computer, I did everything I always do, and added all the apps I always do. Also I did allow Creators update because I think that avoiding any updates from Windows is a mistake, at least for an amateur generalist like me. You never know when they're going to sneak in some critical security patch!

Then I tested msconfig, and that looked good. It had normal startup. Yay! HOWEVER, my pages started getting blocked just like the old computer.

I did yet more googling, and discovered discussions about:

  1. Conflicts between Windows Creators update and antivirus apps, antimalware apps. and so forth.
  2. A suggesetion to turn off Windows Firewall (which is part of Defender now.)

So first I tried for ha-ha's sake to turn off the firewall, and the blocking problem went away Joy? No because I have to have a firewall. Then I spent another few hours trying to find out if it's going to work to find another firewall. That was a quagmire. I'm a generalist and master or none.

So then I tried turning the firewall back on and uninstalling Superantispyware, and guess It was all fixed.

Yes, I had been in the habit since Vista of adding Superantispyware. That's because Windows Defender used to be a "light" antivirus. Knowing that Defender is better than it was, and not knowing what tentaticles both Defender and Creators update now have into my OS, I decided to just go with Defender.

Also I've learned that Microsoft offers a scan you can download in the event that you do suspectd a virus. It expires after a few weeks. This makes sense because what MS is doing is maintaing a scan in the cloud, periodically updating it. And it's free. It's nice to know it's there.

And as for my antivirus, I'm now relying entirely on Windows Defender.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Suddenly today when I booted my Windows 10 computer, the Network Connection Status in the taskbar shows the wrong icon. It shows an ethernet connection, which I don't have. I am connected by wireless.

I tried disconnecting from my VPN (Tunnelbear) and that fixed it but why did this happen? And why only today? I've been using my VPN for a month or two now, and never saw this.

Then I tried reconnecting to Tunnelbear, and sure enough, I see the ethernet connection again.

Windows 10 reboot fails to reconnect mapped NAS drive

My network consists of Windows 10 Home Premium and a Buffalo NAS drive. Every time I boot I get a notification "Could not reconnect all network drives" I then go to "This PC" and there is a red X on the mapped NAS drive. When I double click on the Red X,  I get the directory listing of the mapped drive and the red X goes away.

It only seems to happen some of the time, because connection timing seems to vary from one boot to the next. This has been true for years, but I haven't found a fix yet.

It also means that sometimes I see a red X next to a mapped memory card for my Epson printer. I don't use that card.

The reason I want a fix is because I have a scheduled backup app called "Argentum" that runs while I'm connected. Its target is the mapped network drive.

My workaround right now is to change the target from mapped network drive letter to the network location name, which in my case is