Stories by Bill Snyder

Verizon's billing snafu: Watch your wallets, gadget users

It's bad enough that the big wireless companies all-too-often provide substandard service at a premium price. And it's even worse, when they pad their bills with "crammed" charges or "gotchas" that siphon money from our wallets a drip a time. But now we've leaned that Verizon billed customers tens of millions of dollars for services they never ordered.

Written by Bill Snyder14 Oct. 10 01:54

Extended warranties on gadgets: When to pay, when to pass

When my iPhone died an unexpected death after about 15 months of use, I held my breath and called Apple. No worries, they said, your extended warranty is still in force. An hour later I was at an Apple store where my new phone was waiting for me and I felt pretty good. After all, my AppleCare policy cost $69; a new phone was about $200, so I came out $140 ahead. Not a bad return on my investment.

Written by Bill Snyder05 Oct. 10 04:38

Pre-Paid wireless plans: Beware 8 gotchas

Maybe your family circle includes teenagers who talk too much on their cell phones or elderly parents on limited incomes. If that's the case, you might consider a pre-paid wireless plan—an option that's been growing in popularity lately, due to the recession and a wider availability of options. Done right, these plans can be real money savers. But done wrong, there are a number of ugly gotchas that can make you sorry you listened to the hype and bought your phone at Wal-Mart or the neighborhood Qwik-E-Mart.

Written by Bill Snyder28 Sept. 10 01:45

Fix iPhone Outlook calendar problems

Like many of you, I've had trouble syncing Outlook calendars and contacts with my iPhone. After more than a year of syncing without much trouble, it suddenly stopped working. I've spent a lot of frustrating time tweaking this and that and talking with Apple support, but to no avail.

Written by Bill Snyder14 Sept. 10 05:34

Google Chrome: 5 must-have tips and tricks

Maybe IE 9, just released in beta form, will turn out to be the greatest browser ever. And Mozilla's Firefox gets better with every rev -- and my heart wants to support the open source business model that has given Microsoft a run for its money. But for now, I'm sticking with Google's Chrome 6, because its clean, no nonsense interface, and above all, its speed and stability, make Web surfing as easy and enjoyable as possible.

Written by Bill Snyder21 Sept. 10 02:43

Make Your Laptop Battery Last Longer: 3 Tips

I never give the battery in my laptop much thought. I charge it when I need to and forget about it. That changed a couple of weeks ago when I couldn't get to the Web at home, and was reduced to working at an Internet café. Since there's lots of competition for seats with power outlets here in blogger-heavy San Francisco, I made sure my laptop was charged before I left the house.

Written by Bill Snyder17 Aug. 10 03:28

Secret Google Tricks: How to Search Smarter

I like to think that my vocabulary and usage skills are above average; I am, after all, a professional writer. But a little known search function in Google showed me that I've been misusing "peruse" for years. And it taught me that when a teenager says he's "pwned" me, it wasn't a compliment.

Written by Bill Snyder07 July 10 02:36

Nicholas Carr: The Internet is hurting our brains

How familiar is this? You're reading an online newspaper article on the Gulf oil spill, but before you get half through, you've clicked on links that lead you to fascinating pieces about marine biology, Sarah Palin, and Moby Dick. As you return to the original story, a pair of alerts tells you that a buddy has updated his Facebook page and your son has Tweeted something from the ballpark, which in turn links to a really cool video about Barry Bonds. Got to check those, of course, and by the time you return to the newspaper article, you've forgotten the point of the story and don't bother to finish it.

Written by Bill Snyder22 June 10 06:08

5 Tips for Pain-Free Wireless Home Networking

Hair-pullingly bad experiences with wireless networking have led me to formulate Snyder's First Law of Home Networking: No matter who sells you the router, you'll have at least one excruciating session with tech support before you have an Internet connection.

Written by Bill Snyder11 May 10 07:06

5 Technology Security Myths, Busted

Think you can hide behind the privacy of an "unlisted" cell phone number? Think again. Maybe you believe you don't need security software on a Mac or iPad. You'd swear that Firefox is the safest browser in town. Wrong on both counts.

Written by Bill Snyder04 May 10 04:01

Beware Worthless Claims in Green Clothing

Reducing power usage and cutting carbon emissions is probably the right thing to do for the future of the planet. But keep this is mind: Green is a powerful marketing term right now and cost-savings promises are part of the marketing pitch. Like all marketing promises, results vary. One example: The amount of money a typical consumer can save by using or powering down energy-efficient computers, printers and the like is often small--in the case of an up-to-date laptop, the energy savings add up to perhaps just $10 a year.

Written by Bill Snyder13 April 10 06:45

Before Apple vs. HTC: Tech's 5 Most Sensational Patent Cases

Imagine a world in which Microsoft wasn't allowed to sell Windows or Word, no one could use a Blackberry, Intel's chips were taken off the market and every company that wanted to deploy Linux had to pay an exorbitant fee to an obscure software vendor.

Written by Bill Snyder08 March 10 05:52

Griping Online: Call First, Tweet Later

I expend a lot of words in this and other venues beating on companies that fail to deliver the high-quality goods and services that customers expect and deserve. The bad news, of course, is that there's still plenty of reason to be angry and dissatisfied with some tech vendors.

Written by Bill Snyder05 March 10 06:26