Q: I recently read an article headlined, “I’m old, not an idiot.” It had to do with a man in Spain who could no longer draw from his bank account because the bank had done away with systems he had used for a lifetime in favor of new technology. That’s pretty much where I am.
As I read a recent column of yours, I wondered how many folks get all they can from your Q&A because of the lack of experience with technology that many of your followers might have because of age or limited access to technology. I appreciate that you can’t be all things to all readers.
However, the “I’m old, not an idiot” concept prompts this respectfully submitted suggestion. How about occasionally responding to a question with more elaboration, detail and definition for your followers who may fall into my category and identify with not having as much experience, background and knowledge as those who have grown up in the tech world?
— Dave Savage, Lopez Island
A: Yes, it’s always a question as to just how much detail to go into. I try to assume that readers have no computer experience. At the same time, it’s often difficult to fully explain things within the confines of my column. I may, for example, direct a reader to a particular utility in the Windows Control Panel or the iPad Settings utility without detailing each click needed to get there.
My compromise is this: If a reader doesn’t understand something, I will explain in greater detail in an email. Those detailed explanations may not — and often don’t — make it into the column.
I’m running your very kind and thoughtful letter because I want to encourage readers to write to me if they need more explanation or information. I make an effort to reply to every email whether or not it gets published.
Q: For the past two years I have been using a Motorola MT 7710-10 modem/router, an item that is supposedly compatible with Xfinity/Comcast internet service. Periodically, speed tests have been accomplished with results at or above 150 megabits per second. Lately, the testing that has been performed on more than one speed test site showed download speeds of 18-20 Mbps.
Motorola technical service has provided a 15-step resetting program but I am unable to proceed past step 4 and I have been unable to get any additional help from Motorola technical support.
Does this mean that the modem/router is failing? I believe it is still under the two-year warranty.
— John Marthens
A: That device is a combination cable modem and Wi-Fi router. So the first thing I’d do is check the performance of each part of the device. That is, run a speed test with a computer connected directly to the cable modem via an Ethernet cable. Then run a speed test using the Wi-Fi connection to the router. Expect that the Wi-Fi connection will be significantly slower than the Ethernet connection.
If the performance while using an Ethernet connection is lower than about three-quarters of the speed that your service is supposed to deliver, contact Comcast and ask them to look into it.
If your performance issue is only on the Wi-Fi connection there’s no need to contact Comcast.
Unfortunately, there are many things that can be causing the drop in Wi-Fi performance. It may, yes, be a problem with the router. Or it may be that the router is located behind a source of interference. Or it may be that the Wi-Fi channel you’re using is overly crowded. Or it may be that there is another device — a television or microwave oven, for example — that is interfering.
If you are nearing the end of your warranty, while you troubleshoot things I suggest that you contact Motorola via email so you can establish that your problems arose during the covered warranty period.
Update: A reader recently asked about what may be causing freezes while using Zoom. I replied with general troubleshooting advice. A helpful reader, however, was kind enough to point out that I had overlooked a more likely cause of the problem. With two-way streaming, the upload speed of the connection is just as important as the download speed. And most internet service plans offer upload speeds that are a fraction of the download speeds. Specific speed requirements for Zoom connections can be found at st.news/zoomspeed.