Category Archives: For Seniors

How did Apple defy physics in the new 10.5″ iPad Pro?

Stuffing clowns into a car
Stuffing clowns into a car

  
Hardware:

Many people are scratching their heads about how Apple managed to cram an iPad Pro with a 10.5 inch screen into a case that is only 9.8 inches tall. This new model replaces the “old” (last year’s model) iPad Pro which featured a 9.7 inch screen stuffed into a 9.4 inch tall case.

The answer is simple: Apple pretty much took out the margins (bezels) on both sides of the screen and raised the top by only .4 inches. The margins are the areas that allowed us to rest our fingers or palms on the screen yet would not activate the screen. It seems that Apple has improved the hardware and software to a point where the screen does not register misplaced fingers and palms. Bottom line: the new screen, in pretty much the old case, gives us 20% more screen “real estate” to enjoy sharper (i.e. higher resolution) images, and 50% brighter than last year’s model.

The new iPad Pro 10.5 retains all the quality of the original with an ingenious four speaker stereo system and side edge connectors for accessories like the super slim Apple Smart Keyboard. Upgrades to the device include a more powerful set of cameras (front and rear), the main CPU goes from an Apple 9x chip to an Apple 10x chip which boosts basic processing, resulting in an increase over 250% faster than the previous model, and graphic processing is over 400% quicker than before. Apple claims that all this new hardware will not affect the strong 10-hour battery life.

Other improvements include the availability of a full-size Apple Smart Keyboard and new cases and covers to accommodate the slightly taller body. The new iPad Pro 10.5 also has the fingerprint scanner home button and supports the Apple Pencil. Internal storage RAM begins at 64GB (up from the previous 32GB), and then proceeds to 128GB and a first-ever capacity of 512GB. The iPad Pro 10.5 is reported to have 4GB of RAM.

The old 9.7″ iPad Pro with 32GB and WiFi was $599, the new 10.5″ iPad Pro with 64GB and WiFi is $649. The old 9.7″ iPad Pro with 256GB and WiFi was $899, the new 10.5″ iPad Pro with 256GB and WiFi is $749. The new 10.5″ WiFi iPad Pro with a whopping 512GB of storage is $949. The “sweet spot” appears to be the 256GB WiFi model which packs a larger screen, faster processor, and a whole lot more for about $150 less than last year’s model. If you need the WiFi + LTE cellular models, add $130 to the WiFi-only pricing.

Software:

The new device initially ships with IOS 10.3.2. The bigger deal is IOS 11, which ships in the Fall with enhancements available only to iPads. These enhancements will primarily be in multitasking, screen splits (allowing two apps to run side by side in adjacent windows), an application launch bar at the bottom of the screen (similar to a Mac), and a “file” app which allows for controlling where files go (local or cloud). Finally, the updated IOS 11 allows for “drag and drop” for web links, photos, text, and more — from one app to another.

The Bottom Line:

Apple is concerned about the decline in tablet device sales. Consumers do not seem to be in a hurry to purchase newer models, unlike smart phones. Apple has given us a new device with a solid update to both the hardware and software of the iPad Pro line (there is also a 12.9 inch screen series). Even the price seems to be sweeter for the 256GB model. Both hardware and software seem to be moving closer and closer to the tablet form,replacing traditional desktops and laptops. Certainly a case can be made that tablets (especially iPads) make more sense for seniors – the focus of this blog. As always, your comments are welcome.

To check out the new 10.5 inch iPad Pro Click/Tap Here!

Oh no! My wife’s Apple Watch fell apart.

My wife's Apple Watch fell apart
My wife’s Apple Watch fell apart

Yikes! Recently, I came down for breakfast and found my wife looking upset . The back cover (which contains the heart beat sensor) on her Apple Watch had popped off when she removed the watch from its magnetic charger.

With a hand-held magnifying glass I carefully checked out the thin band of glue that encircled the sensor. The incredibly thin, flat -ribbon cable was still attached to the sensor and the back of the watch. 

My next step was to search “sensor popped off Apple Watch” using Google and I immediately found that we were not alone with this problem. One of my search links led to the Apple Watch customer support site on the apple.com web site. Over 490 people had reported to Apple that they had had this problem.

Most of the support messages said that we ought to simply take the watch to an Apple Store, and a Genius Bar representative would make things right. Sure.

My wife’s Apple Watch was one of the first groups manufactured and is almost two years old. In other words, it’s definitely out of warranty. Even with an Apple Care warranty, it would be out of the coverage dates. The watch is a stainless steel model and retailed for around $500 when we purchased it. “This can’t be good” I fretted.

For our family the nearest Apple Store is located in East Lansing, Michigan – about an hour away from where we live. Upon arriving the Apple Genius looked at the watch and stated that this was a known problem and that Apple had a program to take care of it. 

It seems that using body lotion or sun tan lotion causes the seal to weaken. Within a few minutes he had collected all the important information from me and said that a replacement watch would arrive within 3-5 business days. Since the watch was out of warranty, the price for the replacement was $249 – half the price of the original watch. But wait! Glancing to the right side of the work order/invoice I read what the customer was expected to pay. Obviously I was expecting to pay $249, but the amount showing what the customer was to pay was $0.00: Fantastic.

Five days later we received the replacement watch via FedEx. It was a “Like new” factory re-manufactured watch that was scratch-free and contained a new battery. I simply “paired” the watch with my wife’s iPhone and restored her data from a previous backup. It took less than a half-hour and all went well.

This experience is yet another reason that I’m a solid Apple customer and shareholder. To use that overworked term, Apple “gets it”. They understand that so-called “early adapters” are important to the long- term success of a product and the company that made it and sold it.

Kudos Apple!

UPDATE: Product recall of a device we reviewed

B&N Nook 7 Tablet
B&N Nook 7 Tablet

Last month we reviewed (and recommended as a “good buy”) the new Barnes & Noble Nook 7 Tablet. We recently received an email from Barnes & Noble informing us of a product recall on the Power Adapter included with the device. It seems that the Power Adapter can break and expose metal parts that could lead to an electrical shock hazard when the device is plugged into the wall.

B&N Nook 7 Tablet Power Adapter
B&N Nook 7 Tablet Power Adapter

If you purchased this device on-line or at a Barnes & Noble store you need to return the Power Adapter using the on-line form at the following web site Nook 7 Tablet Recall Information. Upon receipt, Barnes & Noble will send you a replacement Power Adapter and a $5.00 gift card.

I’m fairly confident that at the original selling price of $49.99 B&N was not making any serious money on the Nook 7 Tablet. This is the only current Nook Tablet device (not counting e-readers) that is NOT manufactured and co-branded with Samsung. I’m also pretty confident that the cost for a replacement Power Adapter, two way shipping and handling, plus the value of the $5.00 gift card makes the recall cost total about $40.00 per return. According to published details the company has sold approximately 140,000 of the affected Nook 7 Tablets. If every person returns the defective Power Adapter the cost to Barnes & Noble would exceed $5,000,000 dollars.

Barnes & Noble can’t seem to catch a break on selling digital devices.  For several years B&N invested many millions of dollars on R&D, custom manufacturing, marketing, special store fixtures and dedicated sales, training and support personnel.  B&N competed during those years with Apple, Samsung, Amazon and others for both the consumer, business and education markets. During that period I personally worked for B&N and helped sell and support Nooks at two retail stores. In the last two-three years B&N has co-branded Nooks that are manufactured by Samsung – a better and more successful approach.

If you purchased the new Nook 7 Tablet for $49.99 during the period of November 2016 through January 2017 you can check your devices serial number against the recall list by clicking this link Nook 7 Tablet Recall Information.  We recommend that you do so – and especially if you purchased the device for a child or grand child. 

What happens when the computer nerd gets hacked?

Hackers are bad
Hackers are bad

I’m considered by most of my family and friends to be some sort of computer tech nerd. This means that I am supposed to know more than the average person about computer technology. So, imagine their surprise when I got hacked on Facebook a few days ago. Now imagine my surprise that I got hacked on Facebook a few days ago.

How I got hacked on Facebook

I have absolutely no idea how I got hacked. Obviously the bad guy(s) had to break through my – what I thought was strong – password. The password I’d used consisted of three joined words (comprised of both lowercase and uppercase letters), one random punctuation symbol, and four numerals. This adds up to a total of fourteen characters. Should have been safe, right? Unfortunately, no. 

It may have been easier for her/his computer hacking software (no hacker really just guesses your password) to decode my password because: 

1. I used a short phrase (e.g. “LongLiveTheQueen”). 

2. I used a popular punctuation symbol (e.g. “#”, “!”, “$”).

3. The numerical portion was a four digit combination (e.g. Such as a PIN number, or a year, like my birth year, wedding year, or birth year of a child).
 

So, what did I do about being hacked? 

Of course, the first thing I did was to change my Facebook password and apologize to all my Facebook friends for the appearance of strange Facebook Messenger texts, emails, and even phone calls from “me” asking that they become friends (strange, they already were friends)and then invest in some sort of financial scam. 

The second thing I did was to use a feature of my password manager (the software that keeps a list of my passwords) that can generate passwords that are truly random and secure. Something such as “8aE@6QQ$17+5&d”.  

This is not an advertisement for 1Password, but it could be

I’ve tried many different password managers over the years (since 1978). My favorite is 1Password. Here’s why:

1. It works on virtually every popular computer platform – Windows PC’s, Apple Mac’s, IOS (iPhones, iPads, etc.), and Android. 

2. It allows you to access all of your passwords from all of your devices with just one “master” password.

3. It synchronizes all of your passwords and user information to all of your devices.

4. Email support is extremely fast and exceedingly friendly if you have a question or problem.

5. It provides 1GB of on-line storage to securely store your documents.

6. It works with most modern web browsers.

7. It works when you are offline.

8. It has an easy to use “app” on Windows, Macs, and mobile devices (such as Apple or Android).

9. It keeps a 365-day history that allows you to restore deleted items and passwords.

10. It’s reasonably priced, at $2.99 per month for individuals and $4.99 per month for families (up to five people).

1Password keeps track of passwords, Social Security numbers, software licenses, driver’s licenses, passports, bank account numbers, credit card numbers, and many other things. Their method of security is essentially bullet proof. Agile Bits, which owns and develops 1Password, scrambles your information on their servers so no prying eyes (theirs or the bad guys’) can get to it.  Check out 1Password at the Agile Bits web site: 1password.com

My family uses it so that we’re able to have access to all of our confidential information on any of our devices by simply having to remember a single password. 

Here’s my plan to remain immune from hackers 

Beginning today, I will go through all of our on-line passwords and change each to be truly unique using the random password generator of 1Password. No more using simple, easy-to-remember passwords. 

I’m starting with the important ones first (bank and credit cards, Social Security, passports, etc.), and then on to department stores, social media sites, and the rest. 

In this digital age, $4.99 per month for security is pretty reasonable, considering that most of us spend substantial amounts on computers, smart phones, and tablets. 

A final note

Secure unique passwords are only part of the not-getting-hacked story. Strong hardware and/or software firewalls and up-to-date anti-spam and anti-virus software are also part of securing your computer and mobile devices. 

“Say Hello to a Good Buy!” Barnes & Noble’s new Nook 7 tablet, just $49.99, Simply AMAZING!

B&N Nook 7 Tablet
B&N Nook 7 Tablet

The new Barnes & Noble Nook 7 Tablet is a great device at an astonishingly low price.

Is it the best tablet? No. Is it a good value? Yes!

Here are 21 reasons why it makes a great stocking stuffer this holiday season:

1. The Nook 7 is perfect for kids under 10 (before they get brand envy) and budget-conscious seniors who want to read books, play Solitaire, receive email, and read about their families and friends on Facebook.

2. Why buy the Nook 7 over an Amazon Fire at the same price with similar features? Two answers: (1) You get Barnes & Noble in-store setup, training, and service help, if needed. (2) The Nook 7 uses the Google Play Store for app purchases; the Amazon Fire does not without modification.

3. The Nook 7 has 8GB of storage memory and can be expanded up to 128GB if you use a type UHS-1 MicroSD card (Class 10) and format it for internal use.

4. The spoken voice feature “OK Google” works great for searching and as an everyday assistant.

5. Video: live, streaming, and downloaded videos run smoothly.

6. The device runs a modern version of Android, 6.0 Marshmallow OS. It’s similar to using an Apple IOS device in look and feel.

7. The Nook 7’s screen is a 7″ IPS display and is very sharp and crisp. It is easy to read books, play games, and watch videos.

8. The Quad-core processor is reasonably fast for day-to-day use and may be the secret behind running videos that don’t stutter.

9. 1GB of RAM is not bad for a $50 device and helps in the overall zippy experience.

10. Wi-Fi 802.1 b/g/n dual-bands are quite good, with easy setup, quick connect, and reasonable range.

11. Up-to-date Bluetooth 4.0 hardware allows you to connect wireless headphones, printers, keyboards, and more.

12. It has a standard 3.5mm audio port for wired headphones and speakers.

13. A built-in microphone for use with applications such as “OK Google” searches. With additional apps you could record notes or use wireless phone services such as Skype.

14. Reset button for screen freezes, reboots, et cetera.

15. A Lithium-Ion battery powers the device for about 7 hours. It can be fully recharged in about 4 hours.

16. B&N thoughtfully included a wall power adapter and micro USB cable in the box.

17. You can project videos to your flat panel TV if you own a Google ChromeCast media streaming stick.

18. The B&N Nook reading software is mature, solid, and full of features. You can change fonts, type sizes, highlighting, notes, bookmarks, and dozens of other features.

19. Use the B&N Nook store for on-line book and magazine ordering and downloads.

20. The Nook 7 comes with a one-year warranty. For an additional $9.99 you can purchase an extended one-year (total of two years) warranty that covers accidental damage against drops, spills and other damage with no deductibles – perfect for the kids and grandkids.

21. Even with a 7” screen the Nook 7 tablet will fit in most classic-cut pant pockets, backpacks, and purses.

Here are a couple of things that are disappointing about the Nook 7:

1. Sound: the volume is way too soft out of the rear mono speaker. Although, music and video sounds great out of a Bluetooth or wired set of headphones.

2. Cameras: the device has front and rear cameras, yet they are too soft-focused and lack the contrast needed for crisp pictures and videos.

Overall, the Barnes & Noble Nook 7 is a triumph for consumers. It’s a wonderful pocket-computing device for just under fifty dollars. It may be the world’s first disposable computer; it would certainly cost more than fifty-dollars to have it repaired.

Inside the box you will find an easy-to-use Quick Start Guide booklet to help with the initial setup and configuration. Besides in-store support, you can find on-line email and chat support at nook.com, and by phone at 1-800-The-Book.

A final note: A few years ago there was a movement to bring the price of a personal computer down to $100 so that young students in third world countries could benefit from computer technology (obviously you would still need electricity to recharge the device and Wi-Fi to connect to the Internet). Now we can answer that call with a $50 B&N Nook 7 tablet. This kind of reminds me of the “I’d like to buy the world a Coke” TV commercial from the early 1970’s. (Click here:) YouTube: I’d Like To Buy The World A Coke tv spot

Happy holidays from Tom Gordon, the iTechGeezer

    What’s Best for Seniors: Electronic or Paper Magazines?

    Electronic Magazines - Great for Seniors?
    Electronic Magazines – Great for Seniors?

    I’ve always loved to read magazines; more than TV, more than radio, even more than books. As a kid I preferred Boy’s Life, Popular Science (or Popular anything: Mechanics, Photography, et. cetera), National Geographic, Mad Magazine, Car & Driver – and many others. It was how I learned about stuff, and it showed me how that stuff worked.

    Reading on Mac’s and Windows PC’s:

    I’ve tried to read magazines electronically for many years; first on Mac’s and Windows PC’s by using services like Zinio. But this approach was often cumbersome – resulting in slow downloads, big downloads, tedious scrolling, and hard to read type-faces and -sizes. Overall, not a great experience. I thought that there had to be a better way.

    Reading on Smartphones and Tablets:

    In January of 2007 Apple introduced the iPhone, and it was now possible (but not enjoyable) to read magazines on a high resolution, yet very small (3.5”), screen. In January of 2010 Apple introduced the iPad, allowing us to now be able to read a magazine on an ultra-high resolution, and almost perfectly sized, screen (9.75”). This approach is much better than reading a magazine on traditional desktops and laptops. Magazines designed for mobile devices download faster, have smaller file sizes, are easier to navigate using your fingertips, and have adjustable type sizes. A much better experience. This is the better way.

    Is this really a better way than paper to read magazines?

    Maybe. Some people prefer paper. It’s easy to carry around. Some like the “look and feel” of paper (similar to how some prefer paper books over digital books). Some people even like the smell of paper and ink. The flip side of the coin is that electronic (digital) magazines may be better for the environment (no trees die in this process). They are also easier to store as collections, have far easier search-capabilities, have additional features like hyperlinks, embedded audio and video, and some even have interactive features built into the magazines, which is not possible on paper.

    Are seniors better off with electronic magazines?

    I believe so. Most seniors have diminishing vision over time. Improvements in eye glasses and eye surgery have helped. Digital magazine reading software (provided by the magazine publishers as part of the magazine itself) allows seniors to adjust the size of the typeface. With most mobile devices you can pinch and un-pinch your device screen to increase or decrease the size of the magazine article. Some newer magazine software, like the magazine service Magzter, offers a feature called “EZread” where the magazine article is automatically re-sized and re-paginated for easy reading.

    Where do I get electronic magazines?

    Almost all traditional paper magazines offer electronic versions; some charge for the digital edition, some offer it for free with a paid paper subscription. Check the magazine’s website for more details. You might consider an electronic magazine service like Magzter which offers unlimited access to over 4,000 magazines for $7.99 per month if you use Apple iTunes. If you pay the annual price of $49.99 directly to Magzter, it works out to just $4.17 per month – less than the price of 1 paper magazine. Magzter has a thirty-day free trial – a good way to see if electronic magazines are right for you. Go to: http://www.magzter.com and check it out. Further details about the annual pricing are available on their website. Magzter also lets you share your subscription with up to four family members at no additional charge.

    Happy reading!

    Do seniors really need to update to Apple’s newest software?

    Apple OS updates
    Apple OS updates

    You don’t need to update, but it’s almost always a good idea. Updates provide us with a measure of comfort by contributing a number of things:

    • Generally, a slightly faster, and more reliable device (iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, Apple Watch, Apple TV, and Mac).

    • Usually a number of new and improved features that make day-to-day use more enjoyable.

    • Security updates that help protect our devices from nasty hackers.

    • Bug fixes that repair problems discovered before the update.

    A better question may be: Why wouldn’t you want to update your device? Here are a few reasons to update:

    • It’s free (Apple never charges for updates).

    • It’s easy to do (Follow the steps below).

    • You will receive bug fixes and new features.

    • Get a leg up on your kids and grand kids (beat them by updating first).

    Here is how to get started…

    1. On an IOS device (e.g. iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch)

    a. Look at the connector at the bottom of your device – where you plug it in to recharge the battery. If it has the older wider 20 pin connector you cannot upgrade your device to IOS 10. Sorry. If you have the newer, small “Lightning Connector” you can update to IOS 10.

    b. Make sure your device is attached to the charging cable and is at least 50% charged.

    c. Now go into “Settings” (it looks like a gear). Next press on the word “General”. Finally press on the words “Software Update”. The software should now be downloading, verifying, installing and then restarting the device. Once the restart has begun, you’ll see a black screen, then a white Apple logo, and then a progress bar. This should happen twice and then the update will be complete.

    2. On an Apple Watch (updating the Apple Watch from watchOS 2 to watchOS 3)

    a. Make sure your iPhone has been updated to IOS 10 (this is required).

    b. Connect your iPhone to its battery charger.

    c. Connect your Apple Watch to its battery charger.

    d. In the Watch app on your iPhone scroll down the screen until you see the “General” icon. Press on the word “General”. Next, press on the words “Software Update”. The software should now be downloading (to the Apple Watch), verifying, installing and then restarting the device. Once the restart has begun, you’ll see a black screen, then a white Apple logo, and then a progress circle. This should happen twice and then the update will be complete.

    3. On an Apple TV (Hardware Version 4)

    a. Start at the main menu of your Apple TV.

    b. Go to the settings menu (the Gear icon).

    c. Scroll down until you see the word “System” and then click on it.

    d. Now look below and find the words “Software Updates” and then click on it.

    e. Now click on the words “Update Software”.

    f. If the system needs to be updated, the software download will begin. The Apple will automatically restart upon completion.

    4. On a Mac computer (all newer models that use Mac OS 10 or newer)

    a. Start at the top left of the screen. Click on the “Apple” icon.

    b. The menu will drop down, and you need to click on the “App Store” menu item.

    c. Make sure you click on the word “Featured”.

    d. You should see the icon for “Mac OS 10 Sierra Update”. Click on this icon to begin downloading and installing the update. This is a large update and will take at least an hour to download and install. You can check on the progress by clicking on the words “Purchased” in the App Store.

    Apple has made free user guides for all of the updates. If you have iBooks installed on your iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, or Mac you can go to the “Featured” menu and search for the books:

    • iPhone Users Guide for IOS 10

    • iPad Users Guide for IOS 10

    • iPod Touch Users Guide for IOS 10

    • Apple Watch Users Guide

    • Apple TV Users Guide

    • MacBook Essentials

    • MacBook Pro Essentials

    • MacBook Air Essentials

    • iMac Essentials

    These free digital books provided by Apple are a great way to learn about the new and improved features. They’re also excellent reference guides for the “How do I…” questions that often come up.

    Happy updating!