Patrick Marshall answers your personal technology questions each week.
Q: I can’t figure out the slowness (almost a minute per item) with which my wife’s computer sends an email when it is hooked up to our home router.
When we went to a wedding in San Diego recently, we took her computer with us and connected it using the hotel’s wireless and, to our amazement, it performed flawlessly.
Is there something in our settings at home or wiring that could be causing the problem?
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— Perk Bingham, Camano Island
A: Are other operations on the internet — web browsing, file uploads and downloads — also slow on that computer when connected to your home router? Or is it just emails?
If it’s just emails, the only thing I can think of is if you have anti-virus configured to scan outgoing mail and it’s conflicted with your router settings. If that’s the case, turn off scanning of outgoing mail and see if the problem clears up.
To check on your internet speed, you can go to www.speedtest.net to run a test. If your upload speed is only 1 or 2 megabits per second, yes, I can see some emails taking a noticeably long time to send.
Q: Suddenly I’ve been getting an increasing number of spam phone calls on my Android smartphone. (Yes, I’m on the do-not-call list.) Yesterday, I received more than 10 spam calls. I don’t answer them but it’s still irritating, especially if I’m interrupted while on another call. I’ve heard there’s a program call NoMoRobo that can stop these calls. Have you tried it?
— J. Kenner
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A: Yes, I used NoMoRobo for nearly a year and it did cut down significantly on the numbers of calls I received. But then a few weeks ago it didn’t seem to be working so well. The program relies upon a large database of robocaller phone numbers and blocks calls from those numbers. The problem is that robocallers — as well as human spam callers — are getting very good at spoofing unidentified numbers.
I finally decided to follow another strategy — diverting all calls to my voicemail unless they are from numbers in my contact list. Yes, I won’t see a call coming in from a legitimate caller who isn’t on my contact list, but they can leave a message and, if I choose, I can call them back and add them to my list.
By the way, you may need to try several call blockers, or whitelist programs, before you find one that works well with your model of phone. Fortunately, most of the programs offer free versions (which contain ads). Once you find one you like, you can pay for the ad-free version.
The one that worked best for my Android phone — a Samsung Galaxy S8 — is Calls Blacklist.