Category Archives: Mobile Technology

Mobile Technology

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!

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.

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!

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!

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.