Category Archives: Uncategorized

The old Montgomery Ward building in Kansas City

I remember the old Montgomery Ward building in Kansas City. I spent plenty of time in the sprawling complex at 6200 St. John Avenue in Kansas City near the intersection of Belmont Boulevard.

When I was growing up, the three most dreaded words in my (and my cousin’s) vocabulary were “Ward’s over town.” That was what our family called the monstrosity, which was home to a regional distribution center, an outlet store, a catalog store, and corporate offices in a mere 2 million square feet.

When we were eight years old, this store was where Saturdays went to die. I don’t know how many of its 2 million square feet were open to my mom, aunt, and grandmother to look for bargains, but there was plenty of room for bargains to hide, and if there was ever anyone willing to spend the whole day in that store stretching a dollar just as far as it could go, it was my aunt. Continue reading The old Montgomery Ward building in Kansas City

Stop cordless phone interference

Cordless phone interference has always been a problem–phones interfering with other things, and other things interfering with them.

That was the draw of 900 MHz phones. There wasn’t anything else running on that frequency at the time, so there was little to no interference. But 900 MHz didn’t sound hi-tech in the age of gigahertz computers. So in the early 2000s, 900 MHz gave way to 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz phones. That brought back the problem, because there’s so much other stuff operating at those frequencies these days, like wireless computer networks. But there is a solution that doesn’t involve digging up a 20-year-old 900 MHz phone and trying to find a battery that works in it.

Continue reading Stop cordless phone interference

DECT wifi interference

Wifi interference is still a common problem, so sometimes people ask me about DECT wifi interference. I have good news. DECT doesn’t interfere with wifi. This is by design.

DECT background

DECT 6.0 is a marketing term. For decades, cordless phone boxes advertised megahertz, then gigahertz. Bigger is better, right? In the days of 66 MHz computers, 900 MHz phones sounded really good. Not so much in the age of gigahertz computers, but 2.4 GHz phones solved that problem. Then in the age of multi-gigahertz computers 5 GHz phones came to the rescue again.

But that led to a technical problem: stepping on wifi.

Moving to 1.9 GHz solved the technical problem, but created a marketing problem. 1.9 GHz sounds about as impressive as a 1.9L 4-cylinder engine in a sports car. The solution? Call it DECT 6.0.

Sources of interference

So, if you have a DECT cordless phone, it’s not your phone that’s interfering with wifi. If you have a non-DECT cordless phone, and it’s less than 15 years old, your phone may be interfering with wifi.

But it’s more likely that your neighbors’ wifi is interfering with yours. I remember a time when I had the only wifi on my street, but that’s not the case today.

The best thing to do is to move your wireless router to a different channel. Channels 1, 6, and 11 are the best to use, so start on one of those and see if your connection rates improve. I used to use an app on my cell phone, Meraki Wifi Stumbler, to see what channels are the least crowded.

Then I decided to quit fighting smart and just fight hard. I set up two access points with the same SSID and password as my router. My router was on channel 6, so I put one access point on channel 1 and the other on channel 11. I put them in different parts of my basement, connected via Ethernet cables. Guess what? My wifi doesn’t drop anymore. If a channel gets too noisy, my devices jump to the clearest one. One of them is always good enough.

Theoretically, your microwave can interfere with wifi. So if you want, the next time you’re microwaving something, see if your cell phone drops. But replacing your microwave seems a bit extreme.

But if there’s one thing I want you to walk away with, it’s this: Don’t worry about DECT wifi interference. DECT is designed to solve that problem.

Don’t close your 401(K)

So the UK voted to leave the EU, key political figures resigned, North Ireland and Scotland might want to leave the UK, and the stock market went into a free fall. What does it all mean? I don’t know, and nobody does. But don’t panic and close your 401(K) or move all the money into bonds.

I’ve seen this before.

Continue reading Don’t close your 401(K)

Job hunting on your own vs. using a recruiter

A former coworker contacted me last week. He’d been employed in the same place for the last 16 or 17 years and he couldn’t remember how to look for a job. Who better to ask than a guy who’s changed jobs 9 times in the same timeframe? One obvious question to ask regards job hunting on your own vs. using a recruiter.

In fairness to myself, government contracting causes a lot of job-hopping. And in fairness to him, the game’s changed a lot since the last time he had to play. IT Recruiters existed back then, but back then when you wanted a new job, you found it yourself.

I still use both methods.

Continue reading Job hunting on your own vs. using a recruiter