Category Archives: For Seniors

Come here kitty – I won’t hurt you!

I is a college gradduat3! Any my grammmer is really top natch!

I have always loved to write. Writing became easier after 10th-grade high school typing class. Note to Millenials: typing was performed on a machine called a typewriter that directly put letters and numbers on paper. For more information ask your parents.

The problem with writing, and then sharing it with others, is grammar. Grammar is knowing where to put the commas, correct spelling, dangling participles, split infinitives and much more.

Also the proper use of words like, “I should have gone to the store” rather than “I should have went to the store.”

There are automated spelling and grammar checkers built into the operating systems of computer software like Microsoft’s Windows and Apple’s IOS. And, of course, word processing software comes with built-in checkers.

A new grammar checking software for iPhones, iPads and Mac’s is Grammarly. It is a keyboard add-in that checks spelling, grammar and even makes text suggestions as you merrily type along on your on-screen keyboard, or your attached keyboard (if you know the trick).

Grammarly is available in two versions – FREE (Seniors, the primary readers of this blog, always like FREE stuff) and paid. The paid version comes with more features.

The Grammarly app can also check an entire block of text and make suggestions for grammar, spelling and sentence structure.

Check Grammarly out in Apple’s app store:

Amazon is on the prowl: Be afraid, be very afraid!

Macy’s - Crossroads Mall, Portage, MI

This is a tech blog. Why are we talking about department stores? Because our old nemesis Amazon is on the move again.

The picture shown above was taken at a Macy’s department store in Crossroads Mall in Portage, Michigan, a suburb of Kalamazoo. The merchandise was beautifully displayed and plentiful in colors, sizes, name brands, and variety of styles. Most items were discounted, and prices seemed reasonable.

Two things were missing: customers and sales associates. It is hard to afford good help and enough of them when store sales are down.

About fifty miles North of this store, in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Amazon has just signed the papers to build a new one million square foot (that’s 1,000,000 sq. ft.) distribution center that will employ over 1,000 new full-time workers.

This will be the fourth new Amazon distribution center in Michigan (the other three are in the greater Detroit area). Where will these new workers come from? Other retail, wholesale, and service organizations in the area pay their warehouse people about $13.00 per hour. Amazon pays their workers about $17.00 per hour. You do the math.

As consumers, we all love to buy from Amazon. Variety (paper diapers to tablet computers), lower prices, no state sales tax (in some states), and free shipping (if I’m an Amazon Prime member.) Amazon is squeezing retailers from every angle and will soon offer same day delivery in medium-size cities (they are already doing this in larger cities.)

I was recently in the market for Philips Hue programmable LED bulbs and switches. I was amazed to go to my local Home Depot store and find that their selection of Philips Hue items was at the same discounted prices as Amazon. I have also experienced that both Staples and Best Buy will price match Amazon prices if asked and if Amazon (not a third party) directly delivers the product.

I would like you to consider shopping locally. Ask the merchant if they will match Amazon’s price. The worst thing they can say is no.

Unless we all want to work for Amazon and shop only Amazon (can you say the word monopoly), we need to keep local businesses alive. Regardless if the store is called ”Bob’s Books” or Barnes & Noble, keeping them alive brings wages to local employees and service company’s.

Seniors: Meet Libby, your new best reading friend!

Libby digital library app for mobile devices

A couple of days ago I posted a blog page that said photography was one of my favorite hobbies. My second favorite (there are many more favorite hobbies) is reading. And for seniors, there is no better way to read than Libby.

Libby is a free software app that works on Apple and Android mobile devices (smartphones and tablets) so that you can “borrow” books to read or to listen to them. Libby is the second generation app from developer OverDrive to support digital reading from public libraries.

Of course, we all know that reading books (or listening to them) is great for seniors. It keeps us sharp, active, knowledgeable, and more. Regardless if you purchase them from your local bookstore, Amazon, or Barnes & Noble – books are expensive.

Seniors who love to read (some read two or three books a week) and live on a fixed income have difficulty in justifying purchasing books.

Sure, you can walk, take an Uber, bus, or drive to your local library to borrow a book or sit and read but why? Paper books look and smell great. But if you are a tree hugger books are made of paper and paper is made from trees. Printing inks, binding glue, and delivery of books to stores by trucks all cause a carbon footprint.

The Libby app has similar reading tools like Barnes & Noble Nook and Amazon’s Kindle reading apps. Bookmarks, type font changes, themes, lookups, highlighting, search, and page location syncs between devices are all supported.

Check with your local public library and see if they do offer digital reading and audiobooks. If they do download the Libby app from the Apple or Android app store, enter your library card number and get reading!

Olloclip lens system for the iPhone X. Do I NEED my DSLR camera any longer?

Olloclip for iPhone X

Digital photography is one of my favorite hobbies. For years I’ve carried large, heavy, and unwieldy DSLR cameras around my neck. I’ve used Sony alpha series cameras and they have served me well.

Since 2007 I’ve also used the cameras in my Apple iPhone as a back up. The Sony has been used for “serious” shots, and the iPhone for “simple” (non-serious?) shots. Each year as I’ve purchased new iPhones the camera and software have gotten better and more sophisticated. My last couple of iPhones – an iPhone 7 Plus, and the latest iPhone X have included dual lens cameras. One lens is for regular use (sort of wide angle), and the other lens is for telephoto (2x) use.

The iPhone X camera hardware and software are so good that I have begun using the system as my primary go-to camera and photo editing “lab.” But I wanted to add a lens for every day and particular use – like super wide-angle, or fisheye, or even more telephoto and macro close-ups.

I think I’ve found the answer in a lens system called “CONNECT X” from Olloclips. Olloclips has made a snap-on lens for iPhones and some Android phones for the last five-plus years. I’ve tried them on older iPhones with some good luck, and some frustration concerning attachment and detachment.

A couple of weeks ago Olloclips sent me an email that they were releasing a new connection system for the iPhone X that was easy to use, aggressively priced, and flexible.

The Olloclip system is easy to use and extremely clever in its design. Each lens can be flipped and used with either of the back two Apple camera or the front camera. Using the Olloclip “Slim Case,” the lens holder can be easily attached or detached. Each lens is metal and glass. Well designed and sharp in their views.

I purchased the “Mobile Photography Box Set” for the iPhone X ($99.99). It includes three lens – super wide, macro 15x, and a fisheye. The set also comes with the easy-to-attach and use clip system for attaching to your iPhone X. In addition, I purchased the telephoto 2X lens which should make the iPhone X into a 4X camera.

Finally, I bought the “Slim Case” for the iPhone X for $29.99 which provides back and side protection for the phone as well as an oversized opening to attach the Olloclip CONNECT X system. Be aware the CONNECT X system does not work with any other protective case for the iPhone (even Apple’s). You will need to remove your protective case to use CONNECT X unless you buy Olloclip’s “Slim Case.” The good news is that most front screen protectors (I use and recommend Zagg’s “Sapphire Defense” extreme hybrid glass cover that has sapphire infused into the glass) can be used and do not have to be removed when using the CONNECT X base and lens’.

I could spend the next few paragraphs describing the photographic quality of each lens, and how easy it is to put on and take off. I could also show you dozens of photos that I, or others, have taken with the system. But I won’t. You can see lots of videos, before and after photos, etc. on the Olloclip.com website. Trust me this stuff is reasonably priced, built like a tank, cleverly designed, and easy-to-use. You can also go to instagram.com and search by the tag #olloclip to see photos made by Apple iPhone Olloclip users.

I’ve seen everything now! Ember heated mug is a winner!

Ember heated mug

Wow! Just when you thought you had seen it all along comes ember click here to go to the ember web site. This is perhaps one of the sweetest uses of technology that I’ve seen in a while. While I probably would not have been the first on my block to run out and pick one up for about $80.00, our son and his sweetie thought this would be the perfect (and it is) gift for dad’s birthday.

Overview:

The ember is a porcelain mug that contains a surprising amount of technology, plus a rechargeable battery system that keeps your coffee, tea, or other hot beverage at precisely the right temperature. You use an Apple or Android app on your smartphone tablet, or Apple Watch to set the temperature in Fahrenheit or Celsius degrees. The app sends a Bluetooth signal to your mug that maintains the temperature selected by using a rechargeable battery operated heating element.

Are there benefits, or is this a gimmick?:

There are benefits to this system that are emotional, practical and economic…

  • The consistency of taste – from your first sip until your last the coffee tastes the same.
  • No guesswork involved – you are alerted on your watch, tablet or smartphone when your beverage is at your preferred temperature.
  • Save money – since the hot beverage tastes the same from beginning to end no more throwing away cold or lukewarm coffee.
  • No disappointment – your ember lets you know when it needs recharging with a red LED and you just set it on the charging pad. The onboard LED glows green when it is fully charged and ready-to-go.

Is it worth the price?:

Yes, the ember unit is sturdily packaged (very Apple-like), beautiful minimalist design, solid construction, well engineered and enjoyable to use on a day-to-day basis. Although you can’t pop it in a dishwasher, it is easy to rinse out, or hand wash.

The bottom line:

The ember is a practical and fun device if you enjoy hot beverages. Ember makes the porcelain mug shown here as well as a travel mug for your car. You can purchase ember at Starbucks, Best Buy, Target, and Amazon.

Say Hello To A Good Buy! Local and National TV for Just Twenty Cents a Day.

TV for Twenty Cents a day!

You might be familiar with the concept of “The Third Wave” as applied to marketing or economics. The first “wave” introduces the concept. The second “wave” is the new and improved concept. The third “wave” is the one that finally gets “it” (whatever “it” is) right.

The “First Wave”:

Introduced in the early 1950’s TV was an immediate success. The good news is that over-the-air programming was free. The bad news is it required an expensive (at that time) TV set and big and ugly antenna on your roof – or “rabbit ears” and tin foil in your living room.

The “Second Wave”:

Of course, viewers couldn’t be satisfied with only three networks (CBS, NBC, and ABC). In the late sixties and early seventies, cable TV and Satellite systems brought us over a hundred different channels to watch – at a price. The average price for cable and satellite soon zoomed upwards to around $50 a month. This was during the days of hard-wired telephone “land lines” and “dial-up” internet.

The “Third Wave”:

Today, with high-speed internet service, WiFi, digital televisions, and mobile devices it became possible, practical and affordable to use the internet for your TV viewing. The phrase “cut the cord” became the rallying cry.

Television for Twenty Cents a Day:

If you own an Apple TV or Roku streaming box and can live with just one local station and national network you can use the CBS All Access app to watch live TV on your flat panel TV for only $5.99 a month (twenty cents a day). You can also view limited programming on other apps included with Apple TV or Roku. You can also watch CBS All Access live TV on your smartphone or tablet at home or on-the-go.

The “Land Rush”:

Cable TV and Satellite are “dead” technologies. Aging dinosaurs like buggy whips. There are almost a dozen new internet streaming television services from DirecTV NOW, Hulu, Sling, Spectrum, and others that require no hardware tuning boxes. Some even provide DVR in “the cloud.” Some of these services even include a FREE new Apple TV or Roku if you pre-pay for a few months of service.

My Mom:

A few years ago my mother lived in a senior citizens apartment on a fixed income. To watch television on her 24″ Zenith Early American console TV, she had to pay $49.95 per month to the cable company (after also paying to rent the “tuner box,” the sign-up cost, and the installation charges.) Mom would have been happy paying $5.99 per month and only getting CBS – local and national. Sigh…

Egad’s! Senior Tech Power … it’s here to stay!

Egads! Senior Power!!!

I’ve been messing with so-called personal computers since 1978. Yikes, that’s 40 years ago! I’ll be 72 years old in early May. That’s ancient!

Quite frankly I’ve seen a lot of hardware and software come and go. In the late ’70’s and early ’80’s hardware “boxes” reigned supreme. In a nutshell, the first personal computers were expensive, big, bulky, slow and awkward to use. Software, if you could find any, was expensive, erratic, buggy, and quite frankly, somewhat useless. Mobile phones were bolted to your car along with an ugly antenna, and a monthly cellular bill that was a killer.

However, as with all technology, time brought progress, and things got cheaper, lighter, faster and more useful.

Believe it or not, farmers were early adopters of personal computing – with thousands of Apple ][‘s purchased to manage land, animal husbandry, and business expenses. Schools and small business’ were quick to get into PCs.

One group that was slow to adapt were seniors. Most seniors wanted no part of this personal computer thing. “I don’t need it, I don’t understand it, and I certainly don’t want any part of it!” shouted seniors from coast to coast.

Fast forward to early 2018. Most seniors carry mobile smartphones to communicate, read books on, surf, get an email, play games, and keep track of important calendar dates. I challenge you to go to a restaurant, airport terminal, doctors office and not find a senior that is staring down at that little glowing screen.

What happened? Certainly making mobile smartphones that were easier to use, slimmer, faster, with bigger screens and lower prices helped increase the number of users. Lower rates for monthly service with vendors like Consumer Cellular, or pre-paid services.

Community education classes, computer classes at church and the library – all helped confidence. More than one teenager has set up and helped granny or memaw learn about mobile computing. Third-party books with detailed indexes and lots of visual instructions (OK, photos) has gone a long way to educate seniors.

Good job seniors – carry on!