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Practical Computer Advice
from Martin Kadansky
Volume 4 Issue 9September 2010
In This Issue
Finally! Cordless phones that don't block your wireless computer
I recommend: Gary Jorgensen, Car-buying/selling Consultant
Certain types of popular cordless phones have long been incompatible with wireless computer networks. Here's my advice on a newer type of cordless phone that solves this and some other problems.

Also, I recently bought a new car and sold my old car with the help of a wonderful car consultant, whom I highly recommend. See below for the full story.
Finally! Cordless phones that don't block your wireless computer

They're two wonderful devices, very useful and convenient, and they worked well together for years. You probably use both of them in your home and office. Who knew that cordless phones and wireless computer networks would eventually end up in conflict?

It happened to me
For years I had a Uniden model EXI976C (http://www.uniden.com/products/productdetail.cfm?product=EXI976C), a very popular older cordless phone that used the 900mhz radio frequency to communicate with its base station. When I set up my wireless computer network, I bought a Netgear WGT624v3 (http://kb.netgear.com/app/products/model/a_id/2595), a wireless router that uses the 2.4Ghz radio frequency. You could think of it as my "internet base station." Since they were on different frequencies, my cordless phone and my wireless computers coexisted peacefully.

Eventually I decided to get a newer cordless phone, the Plantronics model CT12 (http://www.plantronics.com/north_america/en_US/products/home/telephone-headset-systems/ct12) that had more features than my 900mhz phone. Since it was a 2.4Ghz phone, I knew there was a risk that it might interfere with my wireless computers. However, since my router gave me a choice of 11 different channels within that frequency, I was confident that I could keep the two devices from interfering with each other by adjusting my router accordingly.

Unfortunately, unlike my router, this phone wasn't designed to "play nice." Whether I was making or answering a call, it knocked my computers off their wireless connections almost every time I picked it up. (I think it scanned through all of the channels on the 2.4Ghz frequency as if it owned the place!) I finally gave it to a friend (who didn't have a wireless network) and went back to my trusty 900mhz phone.

The next cordless phone choice
The next generation of cordless phones used the 5.8Ghz frequency. At first this seemed like a great solution because these phone didn't interfere with wireless networks. However, most of the models I tried had a much shorter transmission range than the previous types. It's very frustrating to walk into the next room and have the phone conversation fade into fuzzy static!

Finally, a better cordless phone technology
A few years ago another type of cordless phone was developed. Phones using DECT 6.0 technology (Digital Enhanced Cordless Telecommunications) operate on the 1.9Ghz frequency, which not only avoids interference with wireless computer networks but also gives them very good range.

I recently bought a DECT 6.0 phone, an AT&T model SL82318 (http://telephones.att.com/att/index.cfm/product-detail/?ProductID=26), and it's working well in both regards. This is also an interesting type of product because:
  • Its base station plugs into my phone line and into a power outlet, and serves as the charging station for one of the cordless handsets.
  • Each additional cordless handset has its own little charging stand, which plugs into a power outlet, but it doesn't plug into my phone line because it communicates with the base station using its 1.9Ghz radio transmitter. This gives me greater flexibility regarding where I can put them than if I had bought several independent cordless phones.
Things to consider when buying a cordless phone
If you're thinking about buying a cordless phone, ask yourself if you need:
  • A 1-line phone? A 2-line phone? More than 2 lines?
  • A built-in answering machine?
  • A corded or cordless handset on the base station?
  • Additional cordless handsets? You'll save money buying a base station with, say, three included handsets now vs. buying a base with one handset now and two add-on handsets later.
  • Caller id display?
  • Headset jack to accommodate a 2.5mm headset?
  • Speakerphone?
  • Any other features that are important to you?
Also, unless its base station has a battery backup, a cordless phone (along with all of its additional handsets) won't function during a power outage, since it depends on having electrical power. So, for emergencies you should also have at least one old-style corded phone you can use that does not rely on electricity.

Where to go from here
If you know someone who might find this helpful, please feel free to forward it.
If you have any comments about this article, send me a reply!
If you have a topic that you'd like me to write about, I'd love to hear about it!
I recommend: Gary Jorgensen, Car-buying/selling Consultant

In this section of my newsletter I will sometimes recommend trusted colleagues and other times I'll suggest useful products and software. Today's recommendation is:

Gary Jorgensen
Automotive Consultant

It was early August, 2010. For the past 7 years I had been driving a used white 1996 Volvo 850 station wagon. It was a great car--easy to drive, comfortable, with enormous cargo room. It also got less than 20 miles per gallon, and the repair bills were starting to add up. It was time to replace it with a new (or newer) car, but I dreaded dealing with the inevitable pressure and complexity of the typical car-buying process.

Luckily I happened to mention this to my colleague Adam Frost. He said, "Martin, You've got to call my 'car guy'! He found me a great car, and he was a joy to work with!" On this recommendation I contacted Gary Jorgensen, and embarked on a completely different car-buying (and selling) experience.

Gary helped me identify and buy my new car:
  • He talked with me about the type, size, and purpose of the car I wanted. In my case, I wanted to downsize from a station wagon into a reasonably-priced hatchback with decent mileage and cargo room.
  • He suggested many models for me to research, which I did on my own on http://www.autotrader.com using their Car Research tools.
  • As an experienced former mechanic, Gary gave me his honest opinion about every model on my list.
  • We debated buying new vs. used. He helped me decide that buying a new car made more sense for me, since the prices on the used car market weren't that much lower.
  • He answered all of my questions.
  • He respected the list of models I had made.
  • He asked questions to clarify what I wanted.
  • He wanted to preserve the resale value of whatever car I might buy. When I asked what he meant, it turned out that he was assuming that I might resell within 3 years. Once I told him that I tend to keep my cars for 10 or more years (the Volvo being the sole exception at 7 years), he immediately dropped this assumption.
  • He spent hours with me, test-driving most of the cars on my list. Most of the time we drove off without the salesperson, so I felt comfortable talking with him about the car's pros and cons.
  • He pointed out many interesting things about the cars we drove that were important to me - level of road noise, handling, power, pricing, visibility, and more.
  • Once I decided on the model I wanted, he used his relationship with the dealers and salespeople to save me time and money, negotiating the price without my having to be there. What he ultimately saved me on the car more covered than his fee.
  • He went with me to buy the new car, and told me how long to expect it to take (at least 2 hours), and minimized any hassle from the dealer regarding extras I didn't want or need.
  • He drove my new car up from the dealer in Norwood for me, saving me even more time and money, since I didn't have to miss any client appointments that day.
  • For my colleague Adam, Gary worked with him in a similar way to figure out which used car models made the most sense, and then called from various used car auctions to report what was available that he had looked over with a mechanic's eye. Eventually they scooped up a great deal.
And, in addition to this amazing level of service, during the entire car buying process he simultaneously did the following to sell my old car:
  • He looked the car over carefully.
  • He read every single repair receipt and invoice in my extensive paper file, and gave me high marks for taking such good care of it.
  • He took pictures of my car to start marketing it.
  • He knew how little the dealer would offer me on a trade-in (around $500), and advised me to sell it privately through him (for a predicted $2500, minus his fee).
  • He talked to at least 3 potential buyers, most of whom were already clients of his, hoping he could find them a good used car.
  • We discussed whether I should have him do the repair work that the Volvo needed before the sale on my behalf, or whether it made more sense for him to do it after the sale on behalf of the buyer (which is how it turned out). He could do most of the work himself, at cost.
  • On the day we went to buy my new car, he drove me in my old Volvo to and from the new car dealer to get a feel for how it ran.
  • Once I got my new car, he took my old Volvo to show to potential buyers, again saving me an enormous amount of time listing the car for sale, responding to inquiries, meeting with potential buyers, taking them on test drives, etc.
  • He sold it later that same day, at the price he predicted, to a buyer who was excited to have it!
  • While I notified my insurance company, he handled the paperwork (title transfer to new owner) and license plates (back to me).
As of September 2010, Gary's fees are:
To buy or lease a new car: $600 fixed fee, regards of the value of the car
To buy or sell a used car:
  $350 fixed fee to buy or sell a used car valued up to $5,000
  $600 fixed fee to buy or sell a used car valued $5,000 to $10,000
  $1,000 fixed fee to buy or sell a used car valued over $10,000
However, if he finds that he can't save you any money over what you could buy yourself without his help, you still get his best advice and legwork, and his fee is $0.

In my case he charged me:
  $600 fixed fee for helping to buy my new car, and
  $350 fixed fee for helping to sell my old car.

It was a pleasure working with a consultant with such a high level of knowledge, service, experience, patience, and respect. Don't be fooled by his low-key demeanor, Gary is a first-class professional, and well worth what he charges.

So, what did Gary help me buy? A new silver 2010 Scion xD hatchback, made by Toyota. While I can no longer fit a family of four and their furniture in the back, it's just what I was looking for: a great hatchback with decent cargo room that gets good mileage. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scion_xD for more info. And, Adam is very happy with the used silver Taurus wagon Gary found for him. It has a rumble seat in the back so his kids can invite their friends along on outings to the zoo.

Here's how to contact Gary:
Gary Jorgensen
Automotive Consultant
(617) 755-2875 cell

Tell him I sent you!
How to contact me:
email: martin@kadansky.com
phone: (617) 484-6657
web: http://www.kadansky.com

On a regular basis I write about real issues faced by typical computer users. To subscribe to this newsletter, please send an email to martin@kadansky.com and I'll add you to the list, or visit http://www.kadansky.com/newsletter

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Copyright (C) 2010 Kadansky Consulting, Inc. All rights reserved.

I love helping people learn how to use their computers better! Like a "computer driving instructor," I work 1-on-1 with small business owners and individuals to help them find a more productive and successful relationship with their computers and other high-tech gadgets.

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