David vs Goliath: Which camera should a senior carry on their next vacation?

I love to take pictures. Especially when on a vacation journey. Although I can’t draw a straight line without a ruler, I think I have a pretty good “eye” when it comes to photography.

Over the years I’ve shot thousands of photos throughout the US and Europe. I use a photo posting site – 500px.com CLICK HERE to see some of my favorite images.

I’ve primarily used a Sony alpha series DSLR with a 75mm to 300mm telephoto lens. It has been my “go-to” camera for the last seven years. In addition to the Sony, I’ve taken many travel shots with various models of Apple’s iPhone.

Over the same period of time, the Sony has been a fast, reliable, and creative tool. But it is awkward and heavy to transport, and use on vacation field trips like walking, hiking, visit small retail shops, and going through narrow passages.

The iPhone, on the other hand, has become more lightweight, sophisticated, and easier to use – especially indoors. My latest iPhone, Apple’s advanced model “X” with its sharp and bright OLED screen is easy to view – as long as it is indoors. Trying to use the iPhone outside, in bright sunlight is almost impossible. The screen washes out in the sun. This brings a new meaning to the phrase “point and shoot” – but somehow it works.

My wife and I recently returned from a trip to Washington, DC and New York City. As a creative and lifestyle experiment, I primarily used the iPhone to document our travels. Quite frankly I was very impressed with the results – even the outdoor shots (some in cloudy conditions, others in the sun).

A significant benefit of using the iPhone as your primary vacation camera is that your pictures get synced to your other devices and backed up to iCloud every night. The ease of being able to edit and share your photos with family and friends is fast and straightforward. Apple’s built-in “Photos” app is simple and straightforward for everyday photo editing and organizing.

If you are into status symbols and want your travel buddies (and complete strangers) to be impressed, then carry a Sony, Canon, Nikon, or other quality DSLR camera around your neck. If you want great pictures and have fun on your vacation carry a lightweight iPhone camera in your pocket or purse.

Have fun, and enjoy your vacation!

Say Hello to a Good Buy: The Replacement for Granny’s Computer has finally arrived!

Apple 9.7” iPad

As a technology advisor to seniors, the most frequently asked question I get is: “My Grandmother (or Grandfather) needs a new computer which one should I get?”

My response is: “They no longer need a computer they need a tablet computing device. If you surveyed seniors that use computers (desktop or laptop) and ask them what they actually use their computer for, the responses would undoubtedly include:

  1. Getting, reading, replying to eMail.
  2. Reading and responding to Facebook.
  3. Playing a game that might include Solitaire, Scrabble, or Wheel of Fortune.
  4. Reading a good ebook or magazine.
  5. Surfing the web for news, weather, and funny stuff.
  6. Seeing photos of my adult children and younger grandchildren.
  7. Maybe shopping online.

All of the seven above can be done on grandma’s lap while she is sitting on her couch or lying in bed using a lightweight tablet. Not so with desktop computers, and not easy with so-called laptops.

There are hundreds of different tablet computers that range in price from $49.99 (Barnes & Noble Nook 7″ Tablet) to over a $1,000 (Apple 12.5″ iPad Pro Tablet). In my humble (but well experienced) opinion, the BEST choice for doing the seven items above is the new $329 9.7″ Apple iPad Click here for more info

Here are ten reasons why this is the one to buy:

1. This is the most current version of the iPad that Apple has honed to perfection over the past six years.

2. The screen is bright, easy to read, and the exactly the right size to read ebooks and magazines with ease.

3. It comes with the A10 Fusion processor chip that is incredibly fast – great for videos, games, and going from one app to another.

4. The main camera on this iPad is 8MP takes stunning photos and can record in HD video. Plus use it for FaceTime calls with family and friends.

5. Use it to connect to almost any Bluetooth keyboard.

6. Get FREE ebooks, music, audiobooks, and movies from your local library using the Libby and Hoopla apps.

7. Weighs just a tad over 1 pound.

8. Thousands of cases, covers, keyboards, stands, screen protectors, styli, and headphones are available for this model iPad. Apple’s sensational electronic Pencil also works with this model.

9. Secure Touch ID, stereo speakers, 32GB of storage (more available), a cellular option is available, your choice of three different finishes.

10. Over 1,000,000 apps in Apple’s App Store.

Want to make your parents and/or grandparents happy? Get them an iPad, not a replacement desktop or laptop.

So…was that really creepy, or really cool?

Visio TV and Apple HomePod

Last night during the Loyola-Chicago vs Michigan NCAA Final Four game a very strange thing happened.

We were watching the game on our flat panel TV with the new Apple HomePod sitting just in front of it.

With about three minutes left in the game, Apple broadcast a TV commercial in which the voice said… “Hey Siri, remind me to watch the NCAA final game on Monday.” At this point the Apple HomePod came to life and said, “OK, I have scheduled a reminder for you on Monday.”

Wow! Is this cool technology when your television can program your computer “appliance” (the Apple HomePod) to set a reminder for you? What’s next? What could this mean for the future? Will the furniture store TV commercial tell Siri (who is always listening) to remind you that the sale of the century (the one held every other week) is Tuesday and be sure to be there at 10 AM when the doors open.

Or, how about the clever politician on TV who asks Siri to remind you that you need to remember to vote for him or her on Tuesday when the polls open at 7:45 AM. Or…

Is this “Big Brother” watching, listening, speaking or commanding?

OK Apple, it was cute the first time. But the second and the third?

And I’m sure it would work in a similar way on Amazon’s Alexa.

Sheesh… what will they think of next?

Getting Ready To Move Our Electronic “Stuff”

Getting ready to move..

The big day is almost here! My wife is retiring in a few months and then we are moving a couple of hours away to our retirement home. As a techno geezer that means packing up fragile electronics and moving them carefully from one location to another.

Sure I’m concerned about moving our good china, furniture and 101 other things. We are using a professional moving company to move the big stuff, but I really prefer to move electronics myself. In all fairness I should mention that we move every few years so we have experience in moving household items.

Here are a few things about moving electronics that we want to pass on. Hopefully it will make your move easier and less stressful.

Before you move:

1. Use office supply “string tags” (small) to identify both ends of every cable on every electronic that has a cord or cable. Make sure you mark them like “Bose speakers – audio in” or “Sony TV – audio out.” This should help immensely when setting them up at your new home.

2. Use your smartphones camera to take pictures of your current cords/cables/Ethernet/USB/HDMI ports on the back and sides of your TV, computer, DVD player, stereo, modem, router, etc. A little work now, but a whole lot less frustration when you setting them up again.

3. Make a paper or computer list of your usernames, passwords, WiFi settings, and network information.

4. If you saved the original boxes (I do, don’t you?) use them to pack up your digital stuff for the move. If you didn’t use boxes use lots of bubble wrap (a much better – and safer – alternative then paper).

5. Transport small and medium size electronics in your car, van, or SUV. Large flat panel televisions are best in their original shipping cartons – or have the moving pros wrap and move them. Some moving company’s charge a premium for flat panel TV’s that don’t have the original box.

After you move:

1. Unwrap and place your electronics in the rooms and on the stands where they go.

2. Connect cords and cables per the “string tags”, photos and paperwork that you prepared above.

3. Recycle the boxes, bubble wrap and other packing materials.

4. Relax and enjoy your technology in your new home.

Say Hello To A Good Buy! Lamicall stands for iPhone and iPad

Lamicall “A” Stand for iPhone

Apple iPhone users click here: Lamicall “A” Stand at Amazon

Lamicall “S1” Stand for iPad

Apple iPad users click here: Lamicall “S1” Stand for iPad at Amazon

A great product at a great price:

If you are looking for a table top stand for your iPhone or/and iPad look no further.

Lamicall makes greats stands for mobile devices. Depending on the model and style they are made from aluminum or steel and are available in different colors.

The stands are adjustable so that you can find the perfect view to work, play games, type, or watch movies. Sturdily built and nicely finished. Rugged enough for daily use.

Both stands can hold your Apple mobile device in either a vertical (tall) or horizontal (wide) position. Both stands also have “pass through” holes for your charger cord and headphone connector (if you have an iPhone that supports this).

If you buy from Amazon make sure that you get the Lamicall brand AND it’s the correct model with the adjustable holder, and not just one with a solid base and holder.

Depending on the deals at Amazon the smaller “A” stand (for iPhone’s) is around $13.00 and the larger “S1” stand (for iPad’s) is around $19.00 including free shipping if you are an Amazon Prime member.

Truly a “Say Hello to a Good Buy!” value for design, construction, and price.

What’s an Apple HomePod? Do Seniors NEED one?

Apple HomePod

Apple just introduced the HomePod. Its Apple’s idea of a “better mousetrap” than Amazon’s Alexa, and Google’s Home smart speakers. You can buy an Amazon Alexa Echo Dot for $39.95. An Apple HomePod is $349.00.

All three devices are SmartSpeakers (a new buzzword). They do the same thing – provide music through their speaker systems and are digital assistants – like asking them, “What’s the weather like outside right now?” Or, “What are the Olympic standings right now?”

To “hear” the difference an additional $310 gets you, you need to listen to the HomePod. Apple engineers spent over 7 years developing the HomePod and the result is exceptional sound. Music (and voice) is clear, crisp, not muddled or dampened. It almost seems that you can hear or sense the different layers present in the most well-recorded music. The HomePod has seven tweeters, a 4″ sub-woofer, and 6 microphones – that can pick up a whispered “Hey Siri” command from across a room – even with rock music turned up high.

In the next few months, Apple will release a software update for IOS devices that will enhance AirPlay to AirPlay 2. This software will allow multiple devices to play to multiple speakers with variable volume levels and additionally play your favorite music throughout the house or just in specific rooms. Apple will license AirPlay 2 to other speaker and headphone makers.

Now for the elephant in the room – Siri. The good news is that Siri works well, especially with music commands, questions, and information about the song, album, track, and even “Siri, who is playing drums on this track?” type questions. As mentioned above having 6 microphones and her ability to pick your voice – even softly – or at a distance is really amazing. Of course, she knows the answers to millions of questions and dozens of commands. Home automation electronics like door locks, thermostats, lighting – all work with Siri spoken commands if the device supports Apple HomeKit software.

HomePod works best if you are an Apple “person.” If you have an iPhone, or iPad, or Apple TV you are going to have no problems with setup and day-to-day use. To select and listen to music you need to have a subscription to Apple Music.

As always Apple will provide over-the-air software updates that increase the value of HomePod and add new features that will make us drool.

OK, I rolled over and bought the iPhone X. Here’s why…

Me with my new Apple iPhone X at my local Apple Store.

Here I am early on Friday morning at the Apple Store in Woodland Mall in Grand Rapids, Michigan. I’m picking up my brand new Apple iPhone X.

I said I wasn’t getting one (at least one of the first ones), so how come now I am? Well, because I was curious about some of the new technology.

  • The new OLED screen? Beautiful! It looks like the graphics and text are painted on – as close to a perfect screen as possible with 2017 technology. Does the black “slot” at the top center and the “ears” on the top left and right bother me? No, you get used to them very quickly. BTW, how did Apple stuff a 5.8″ screen (larger than my “old” iPhone 7 Plus with a 5.5″ screen) into a shell that is about the same size as a standard 4.7″ screen (like a standard iPhone 6, 6s, 7 or 8)? I don’t know, I don’t care, but am very glad they did. A sweet fit in the front pocket of my pants.
  • The facial recognition system? Amazing! Fast and accurate. The system recognizes my face very quickly and unlocks the phone in an instant. It can only get better as time goes on.
  • The missing home button? No problem once you get used to it. The phone requires different gestures with your fingers, but they are easy to learn and use.
  • All the dozens of other improvements? Animoji’s?, studio lighting? front sided stereo sound? person-to-person payment system? Yup, all are accounted for now or very soon with a simple software update.
  • Overall appearance and look and feel? Pretty much perfect. Slim, lightweight, with the proper dimensions and “touch.” Easy to look at and easy to hold. A little slippery when holding “naked” (withhout a case.) The front and back of the iPhone are glass and really need to be in a case to be more secure and less slippery. As always, I love the Apple iPhone leather case. Lightweight, slim and buttery soft leather. Even smells good. No more slipping and sliding!

Originally, I held off on ordering an Apple iPhone X because with so much new technology I thought there might be early production problems with the hardware and software. I should have known better.

Apple releases no product before its time. Sure, there are a few things that will be improved as they go along. But certainly nothing major that would hinder your enjoyment and use of a great new iPhone.

Bottom line – if you can afford it and want the newest and greatest go get one.

Mobile Technology for Today's Savvy Geezer!

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