Monday Morsel - Details, Details!

Don’t get lost in the digital details

Good morning, friends! It’s almost the end of October and we’re preparing for trick-or-treaters this week. Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve had several conversations with clients frustrated about something that “broke” along the way when they changed a service or piece of hardware. With bundles and packages and free installation, sometimes you have to pause during a change to remind yourself that the devil can be in the details – even when the details are digital.

In today’s morsel, let’s take a moment to discuss five digital details so you won’t feel bedeviled.

Voice Over Internet Phone (VOIP) or other digital phone services

More consumers than ever before are taking advantage of using their high speed Internet connections at home to eliminate the need for a “land line” phone. In many ways, VOIP or digital phone services are a transparent change, but there are a few things to keep in mind.

Perhaps most important is your alarm system. If you have an alarm, it relies on your phone to send a signal to your monitoring company. When you change your phone, that signal can end up interrupted, which means your monitoring is ineffective. Word to the wise: if you change your phone service, contact your alarm system to test your alarm, confirm it’s working as it should, and adjust your monitoring as needed.

In addition, as it relates to digital phone service, keep in mind that some numbers cannot be dialed directly. For example, Charlotte Mecklenburg Government offers CharMeck Citizen Service by calling 311. For most users of digital phone service, 311 will not work. Instead, you need to call (704) 336-7600.

New hardware from your new service provider

Different service providers use different types of modems or routers, depending on whether the connection is broadband or a digital subscriber line. This is a detail that varies, so I’m going to speak in pretty general terms here and also address some of the technical aspects at a high level.

Many of my clients use wireless routers (Apple’s Airport) or wireless routers with some kind of associated storage device (Apple’s Time Capsule or other drive). These devices all work in conjunction with the devices that deliver your Internet service to your home. When you make a change in that order – for example, a change to your Internet service – it affects your other devices.

Sometimes the solution is as simple as turning off your router and turning it on again. Sometimes, it’s more complicated and you need to change the mode in which your device is running. If you’re considering a change, please give me a call to discuss the specifics.

New e-mail addresses

Changing your e-mail address seems like it would be pretty simple. Just set up the new account and go for it. Right? Well, in many respects, that is correct, but I’m including it on this list as a potential devil because of the things that may be associated with or attached to an e-mail address. It becomes tricky if you ever need to retrieve or reset a password and the associated e-mail address is one you’re no longer using. My advice: if you’re changing an address, keep the old address for a month or so if you can. As you receive e-mails at that old address, update your information.

Online accounts

Similarly, online accounts normally have an e-mail address associated with them. When possible, be sure the address is “portable.” By that I mean, if you move from the Charlotte area, you’ll lose your “carolina.rr.com” address, but not a “gmail.com” address. Although it may seem unlikely, you don’t want to end up locked out of your account at your favorite online retailer.

Contact management

Losing somebody’s phone number or e-mail address can be an inconvenience, so imagine the frustration of losing every e-mail address. If you use Webmail to check and manage your email and don’t manage your contacts outside of that online service, a change to your Internet Service Provider would mean that you’ll lose those contacts.

I recommend using an e-mail client like Apple’s Mail or Microsoft Outlook to manage your e-mail rather than Webmail, and using a contact management program like Apple’s Contacts to manage your contacts. That gives you control over your information and removes the constraints of Web-based service.

I hope the week holds wonderful things for you! If Tech Me Back can be of assistance, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

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