How I set up office hours in Google Voice

If you have a side business, you need to offer customer service, but it’s also perfectly reasonable to not want your phone to ring at 3 a.m. You can fix that if you set up office hours in Google Voice.

Fortunately it’s easy to set up Google Voice to allow your phone to ring during office hours and go straight to voice mail after hours. And the nice thing is, Google Voice transcribes your messages. This makes it very easy to filter out people who are calling you trying to solicit your services at 25 cents on the dollar. I can’t say for certain that people are more likely to do that at off hours. But it’s certainly more annoying to get awakened at 3 a.m. by someone wanting to lowball you. And yes, I speak from experience.

Here’s how you do it if you don’t want to be disturbed at unreasonable hours.

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How to size your Internet connection

So I understand ISPs are upselling connection speeds saying it’ll make Netflix work better. That’s a nice theory. But if you’re already over 10 megabits, there’s a decent chance your connection speed won’t do much for Netflix at all. Here’s how to size your Internet connection. Read more

How to ensure you never get another Windows tech support scam call again

I haven’t received a fake Windows tech support call in a very long time. A couple of the operations doing this have been shut down, but based on the continued popularity of the things I’ve written about them, I wonder if some people are still getting them.

That makes me reluctant to block them, just in case they call me again, but if you’re getting those calls and want them to stop, I can tell you how to do that.

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Net neutrality is not Marxism

There is a fear campaign going on, suggesting that net neutrality is Marxism, or a plot for the government to take over the Internet.

That’s name calling. There’s actually something very different going on.

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Why Chinese hackers would be interested in U.S. healthcare data

About a year ago, a vendor mentioned kind of offhand that Chinese companies are extremely interested in U.S. healthcare data. Then he added, “I don’t understand why Asian people are interested in American health.” Then he questioned the appropriateness of the comment.

Appropriate or not, it’s an example of something that, on the face of it, doesn’t make a lot of sense until you dig deeper. Read more

Some tips for trolling fake technical support calls

I did a little more digging after getting yet another fake technical support phone call last week, and I’ve done some thinking on my own. If you want to troll these criminals when they call you, here are some ideas. Read more

Stand up for net neutrality

Neocities has decided to do something about Net Neutrality–shunt the FCC into the slow lane, and post the code for doing it so the rest of us who run web sites can do it too. The original was written for Nginx; I need to give serious thought to implementing the Apache version.

Net neutrality has nothing to do with the political bent of the content–the people you may hear talking about it on the radio are wrong, which is why they’re yakking on the radio and aren’t working at ISPs or IT departments–and everything to do about raising prices. What we’re seeing now is telecommunications companies, who are already ultra-profitable, gouging companies like Netflix. And Netflix is doing exactly what a company that suddenly has to pay new taxes would do–raising prices.

The difference is that it’s old-line companies doing the taxing in this case rather than a government. That’s all.

The other objection I hear is that lots of innovation happened on the Internet without regulation, so why regulate now? The difference is that the environment in the late 1990s, when the seeds of all of this were planted and started to sprout, was very different. Back then we had hundreds of ISPs, all of whom participated in building out what we have now. None of them wanted to charge both subscribers and content providers, and none of them could have anyway. If Earthlink had tried to shake down Ebay and Amazon and make them slow, people would have switched to someone else–one of any number of regional providers, or equivalent services run by companies like IBM and the old AT&T (prior to its re-merger with Southwestern Bell). Today, many people live in areas only serviced by one broadband provider. Most people have two, but that’s not like the old days.

If I could have anything, I’d like more competition. I’d love it if the average U.S. citizen had a choice of a dozen or so broadband providers. Then we could have a truly free market. Instead, we have duopolies, a situation much like the situation with electricity and natural gas in most municipalities, and broadband providers face far less regulation than power companies do, even though as they grow in importance.