2/27/21 - Just turned 65 with Medicare


This has nothing to do with computers, but I've turned 65 this month and after 2 years of worry I've finally made my medicare decision.  With all the research and struggle I've discovered some things that might be helpful to someone else so I'm writing about them here, especially with the unusual supplement plan I decided to go with.  You would think insurance would be easy, but it's like you have to become an insurance expert to make a good choice.  Plus it's hard or impossible to change your mind later, depending on your health.


Pretty much every person I talked with, especially insurance agents told me something different.  The big choice is between going with original medicare plus a supplement OR going with an advantage plan, which are the ones advertised on TV.  There are benefits of both, but to me original medicare along with a supplement offers better protection if something big happens.  The only down side is the cost.


In the end I did go with original medicare plus a unusual supplement that's only been around for a couple of years.  It's called a high deductible supplement.  Original medicare parts A and B cover about 80% of your bills BUT has no maximum cap.  That means your expenses could go on forever if something big happens.  This high deductible plan puts a yearly cap of about $2400 dollars on your bills.  That means you pay your normal medicare co-pays and 80% as you go to the doctor.  If something big happens however, and your expenses add up to about $2400 dollars for the current year, then the supplement kicks in and pays 100% after that.  So for about $60 dollars per month I've added a maximum cap to my medical bills.  Prescription drugs are separate, so you'll need to purchase a separate plan for that.  I'm not taking any drugs right now since I lost my weight, and I have VA drug coverage if ever needed, so I did not have to do this.


There are only two companies in Minnesota that offer this high deductible supplement plan.  Blue Cross / Blue Shield for $70.70 dollars a month, and Cigna for $60.43 per month.  The coverage is exactly the same, only the cost differs so I went with Cigna.  Most agents will not offer the high deductible plan or even admit it exists, but you can call the company directly and sign up that way.  Cigna is 1-855-203-0647.  Blue Cross is 1-877-662-2583.


Here are some more details I found out about medicare insurance:


  • You have a period of time after your birth month to choose any plan without health questions.

  • No matter what you still have to pay about $148 dollars a month to medicare.

  • Supplements offer better protection but are more expensive depending on what you get.

  • Advantage plans sound great because they are cheap, but can be very costly if you get real sick.

  • You can change from a supplement to an advantage plan later, but not the other way around.

  • Advantage plans are confined to specific areas called networks, supplements are nation wide.

  • With advantage plans you usually need a doctor's referral to see a specialist, supplements don't.

  • Supplements travel with you in the US, advantage plans do not except for emergencies.

  • Advantage plans usually include some drug coverage, supplements do not, that's extra.

  • The VA has great insurance coverage for vets but may not cover everything if something big happens.

  • Insurance agents generally push advantage plans because they make more money with them.

2/10/21 - Amazon webpage won't open

I had an interesting job yesterday with a problem I have never seen before.  Whenever the client opened the Amazon.com webpage the CenturyLink modem would restart, just as if you unplugged the power cord and plugged it back in.  This problem was not happening with any other webpage.  When the client described this over the phone I assumed it was just coincidence.  After all how would a webpage physically restart the modem.  But when I got onsite and saw it for myself there was no mistake.  This was happening in the Edge browser with Windows 10, but it also happened in the old Internet Explorer browser, and even with my Windows 10 laptop I brought with for testing.

So what in the world could be the cause?  After some troubleshooting it turned out to be a problem between CenturyLink and Amazon thru their DNS service.  DNS is a system that translates a webpage name like "Amazon" into a set of numbers the computer can better understand.  So in my client's case something was going wrong with that translation and somehow restarted the modem.

As I was going back and forth to confirm the cause, the Amazon webpage suddenly started working with the normal CenturyLink DNS settings, so I suspect CenturyLink fixed the problem on their end.

Below is a nice letter I got from the client after the job, thanks Dave and Donna ;)

1/30/21 - Surprise email to "Me" in Gmail

The other day I had a new email show up in my inbox.  It was addressed to "Me".  When opened it was a copy of an email I sent to a medicare insurance agent several days ago.  I was expecting a response from this agent, but this was not that, just a copy of the email I sent.  When I moused over the email the option to "Dismiss nudge" showed up.


Well with a little research I found out this is a feature Gmail added at least a couple of years ago.  I didn't notice till now because I normally don't use Gmail.  It seems Gmail goes thru your emails and decides if an email you sent or received is important but you have not replied to it or sent another recently.  Then Gmail sends you a "nudge" copy to remind you.  I don't know about you but this is the last thing I want Gmail to do.  Fortunately this feature can be turned off, which is its best part of it.  After disabling it, the new email I had received just went away.  Here's how to turn it off:

1.  Settings button   (gear in upper right of the Gmail screen)
2.  "See all settings"
3.  General tab
4.  Scroll down to the "Nudges" section
5.  Uncheck both options   (it is saved automatically)
6.  Click "Gmail" in the upper left to get out and return to your inbox.


1/21/21 - Another fake email

A client reported getting this email for some time.  She was worried her business Outlook.com email would stop working.  It did not of course.  Any problems with your email would be shown after signing into your account, not an email like this.  Notice the unusual return email address.

1/17/21 - Another fake email

I just received an email in my inbox pretending to be from Chase bank.  I don't even have a Chase bank account, but even if I did I would never click any link inside the email.  If I was concerned I would call the bank on the phone.  Notice the return email address, does that look like Chase bank to you ?


1-1-21  Skin mole found on my shoulder

A couple of days ago my wife Vicki found a mole on my shoulder.  In the picture below you can it is black, shaped funny, and looks scary.  I never get moles so this was surprising.  Also I've lost 90 lbs with the Keto diet and fasting, which is cancer preventing, so a mole didn't seem likely.  Yesterday I finally went into the bathroom to look at it.  I started rubbing and scraping with my fingernail and to my delight it came right off!  It must have been some dirt or grease I picked up who knows where.  It just goes to show what may seem bad isn't always :)

12/17/20 - Phone stops working with surprise fix

Maybe eight months ago I changed my phone and internet service from Windstream over to Midco.

Things and been going well and the higher speed is really nice for downloading large files.

However yesterday the phone stopped working with no dial tone, but the internet was just fine.

Side note, and yes I still have a real home phone.  Hopefully I will never own a cell phone.

But the wife has given into the dark side and has 4 of them.  Who knows why.

I did some troubleshooting and found if I bypassed the wiring and ran a phone cord directly from the Midco phone device to my office phone, I got a dial tone and the phone worked fine.  That tells me the problem has nothing to do with the phone device or the Midco service.  It had to be something with the wiring in my house.

Some background first, how Midco connects your phone service is they run a cord from their phone device into one of the phone jacks in your house.  That way any all of the phone jacks in all the rooms will work.  I found if I disconnected the Midco phone device from the phone jack in the wall, the office phone worked.  It's when I connected back up to a jack that I had problems.

Fortunately my phone wiring all comes together upstairs in the attic.  I suspected the problem was some loose wire or bad plastic connection.  When I got up there I realized my home phone wiring was still connected to the old Windstream service even though it had be discontinued and the company went out of business.  As soon as I unplugged that one wire between my house wiring and the Windstream box ouside, all the phones in the house worked again.  Now why would that cause problems I don't know.  I suspected something must have changed with the Windstream junction box across the road, but who knows.

This problem could happen to anyone with a land line and the old Windstream service.  For most people they will have to open up the Windstream phone box on the outside of the house and disconnect the wire there.  That's likely the only place you will have access.

12/15/20 - Fake email from PayPal

I just received this email in my inbox telling me about problems with my PayPal account.

As they all do, this fake email looked very official and had a link for me to click on.

I did not click the link but instead went to the PayPal webpage and signed into my account.

As expected all was well there, the balance looked good and there were no messages.



11/20/20 - Fake email about a delivery

I received this fake email in my spam folder the other day.  This is so typical of fake emails, just trying to get you to you click on anything.  Notice there are two places they want you to click, a big "CLICK HERE" in the middle, and a smaller "unsubscribe click here" down below.  I've included a second picture of the webpage address for these links and they go to the exact same webpage.  Just look at the address, does that look safe?  This confirms that we should never click on an unsubscribe link in an email because it often goes to the exact same unsafe web address.

So what should you do?  Never believe anything you see in an email.  It's ok to open it and look, but after that just delete it.  Be very careful not to click anything inside the email, even in an open space.  That could open a bad webpage or install a virus on your computer.  If the email mentions a company, and you are concerned, contact the company either thru their webpage or by phone, but never click a link in the email.

10/30/20 - Printer surprise

I was working for Mona Petersen yesterday, she is an insurance agent here in Cambridge Minnesota.  There was an interesting problem with her HP LaserJet printer.  Whenever the paper tray was opened and pushed back in, the printer would stop working.  A "Load Paper" message would show in the status window.  Turning off the printer or adding more paper did not help.

My first thought was a bad sensor in the back of the paper tray, and if that were the case it would mean a new printer.  I pulled the paper tray out completely removing it from the printer, then looked inside with a flash light.  To my surprise there was a small piece of paper way in the back pushed into a notch where a sensor must have been.  After removing the piece of paper the printer worked perfectly !

10/21/20 - Nice letter from client

I just received a nice letter from a client in Isanti after some recent work.  His name is also Dave  :)

9/13/20 - Good deal at Walmart

I just finished setting up a new HP desktop computer a client bought from Walmart for $300 dollars.

Even though this was the cheapest of the desktops I was impressed with the specifications, which have improved since the last time I ran into one of these.  Unless you are doing heavy online gaming or advanced video editing, this computer will exceed the needs of most people and will certainly be better than the older computer you have now.  Note - like with any new computer there is cleanup to do to make it run the best that involves removing unnecessary preinstalled programs and adjusting Windows settings. 

A typical new computer takes me about 5 hours to do everything right.

Computer details:

  • HP Desktop 501-pf1013w

  • SVGA and HDMI monitor ports

  • 8 USB ports, 4 in the front and 4 in the back

  • SD camera card slot in the front

  • 1 TB SATA hard drive

  • DVD-RW drive

  • Nice looking mouse and keyboard

  • Windows 10 home version

  • 3.4 GHz dual processor

  • 4 GB memory

  • Trial version of MS Office 365

  • Windows 10 Security antivirus

  • Smaller mini-tower case

Dave Larson    763-689-5912