Category Archives: Philosophy

Philosophy

“Digital Drugs” for Seniors:  Is it really possible to Overdose?

  

In a word – YES.  For some people it’s easy to go crazy over digital technology.  Something new, something more advanced, something to talk to friends and colleagues about.

If you (or someone you love) gets a “rush” out of having to have the latest smartphone, tablet, television, or gadget you might want to have “the talk.”

Hardware “drugs”:

Quite frankly it is almost impossible to keep up with the annual (or more often) cycle of technological hardware and software updates.  It’s getting harder now that manufacturers are adapting a “lease” based scenario – where the consumer gets a new smartphone (for example) every year.  What do the manufacturers do with the “old” device? Trust me that there are plenty of world-wide secondary markets and third world developing markets that are more than happy to purchase your last years device.

This phenomenon also takes place in other markets.  Automobiles for example.  New look, new features, new safety equipment, gotta have it!  A well organized and implemented “lease” program provides a good used car marketplace.  Don’t believe me?  Ask the owner of any new car dealership – who makes the most gross profit per vehicle – new or used?  If he/she is honest the correct answer is that the used car is the most profitable.

Software “fixes”:

In the mobile technology marketplace both Android “Droid” and Apple “IOS” software is inexpensive to begin with, and in the majority of cases FREE to update to the latest and greatest software version loaded with new features and bug fixes.

Is this a bad thing? No.  We all want more features that “do” more things.  And we certainly want all “bugs” to be eliminated.  But since software “feeds” hardware it becomes a way of forcing us to buy new hardware (since the old hardware may not support the new software features) from time to time.

Standing on the “soapbox”:

Here’s how this applies to Seniors.  First, a lot of Seniors will tell you that their mobile smartphone, smart watch, e-reader or tablet is an “extention” of their brain.  Something that remembers, looks up or gives them confidence in what they are doing (email, reading maps, checking financials, et cetra).  Second, for most Seniors we live on a fixed income so that axiom of what the large print (software) gives to us, the small print (hardware) takes away – because of the continuing cost.

Bottom line:

Everything in moderation.  As a successful tech “geezer” I love new “tech stuff.”  I try to do my reading, research, and rationalization (the 3R’s) carefully and thoughtfully. Obviously all of the “below” does not apply to me – since I need new stuff to help all of you with.

For most Seniors the following hardware purchasing cycle should work well:

  • New smartphones: every 2-3 years (look for major changes to the camera, screen resolution, system RAM, amount of on-board file storage)
  • New e-reader or tablet: every 3-4 years (same as for smart phones)
  • New smart watch: every 2-3 years (since this is a fairly new market the hardware will advance quickly)
  • New flat-panel television: every 5 – 7 years (4K or 5K screen resolution, always price drops)

For most Seniors the following software upgrade and updates cycle will work:

  • Rule #1 – when your software producer says there is a new upgrade/update – wait 7-10 days to allow for “an update to the update.”
  • Rule #2 – most Android and Apple “App Store” updates are free or very low cost.  Updates are almost always a good thing.  New features, security improvements and bug fixes.

Why there are no ads on my site.

What? NO ADVERTISING!
What? NO ADVERTISING!

Those who know me are probably gagging on their fourth cup of coffee as they read this article.  What? Tom Gordon – Mr. Marketing, Advertising Agency Guru – No Advertising? Has he gone mad?

My life WAS Advertising and Marketing:

Let’s start this blog article out by saying I believe in Advertising.  I was a practitioner on both the agency side and the client side of the desk for over 30 years.  I think advertising/marketing/public relations (now all heaped together as “communications”) help companies to grow, add new employees and fuel the economy.

My university degree is a B.S.in Advertising (circa 1969 – before the word “marketing” was coined).  And no, I don’t need to be kidded about how the “B.S.” part of my degree relates to the “Advertising” part of my degree.

The first 1/3 of my career was working for advertising agencies on accounts like Dow Corning, General Electric, Magnavox and many others. The middle 1/3 was being a Senior Vice President for Marketing on the “client” side of the desk for a now deceased Fortune 500 company – U.S. Office Products. The final 1/3 was as a marketing consultant to emerging web companies.

Here is why you WON’T find Advertising and Marketing on our blog site:

Recently I’ve done a lot of soul searching concerning advertising on web and blog sites.  Quite frankly most of it is intrusive, outdated, not realitive  (to the particular site), and makes for a not positive experience.

When I started iTechGeezer.com a few years ago my mission was to provide personal technology information to Seniors.  I’ve tried to be true to that mission.

My goals are to provide accurate advice, encouragement, information and direction that you could feel comfortable in sending your parents and grandparents to with no fear of finding “naughty” things, or misleading ads that are not realitive to our mission or goals.

Sure I wouldn’t mind picking up a few bucks from advertising on our web site.  A few bucks might buy some new technology, or a great lunch with friends. But I’m fortunate that I don’t have to make a living from blogging.  I respect those that do make a part-time or full-time living from blogging it is a tough way to go.

I’m sure that I’m not as pure and pristine as Consumer Reports.  I do have my “preferences” as to hardware and software brands.  I’m a stockholder in both Apple and Microsoft. We hope you will continue to support our blog by simply reading it, recommending it to friends and realitives and maybe linking your blog to ours.

Sincerely, Tom Gordon the iTechGeezer

A Tech ‘Happy New Year!’ Looking Backward, Looking Forward.

  

The Past Year:

2015 was a great year for Senior Mobile Technology.  Hardware became faster, easier to use and a little less expensive for some products.  Mobile Technology (smartphones, tablets, wearables) just keeps getting better with “smarter” and easier-to-use features. 

The “smartphone” (phones like Apple’s iPhone and Google’s Android (or Droid as it is sometimes referred to)) has really become the de facto personal computer.  A Personal Computer that we just so happen to be able to put in our pocket or purse.  The smartphone and tablet have really hastened the death of the desktop computer and laptop computer for Seniors.

Think about it, for what 95% of Seniors want to use a desktop/laptop to do – can now be done on a smartphone or tablet – that is always with us and always “connected.” Things like e-Mail, Facebook, on-line shopping, calendar, address book, telephone and a music and video player is what we do! Games? Ok, well then add in a game or two!  The point is that we no longer have a need for dinosaurs like desktop/laptop’s.

During the past year we’ve seen new hardware products like the Apple Watch (much more than just another-screen-to-keep-track-of), iPad Pro (a much larger almost 13″ screen that gives us a laptop form factor that only weighs 1-1/2 pounds), and a new 4th generation Apple TV with its own App Store, Siri voice commands and expanded storage.

I recently read where smartphones are now “hurting” the sales of high-speed home Internet WiFi because a combination of cellular 4G LTE and the availability of FREE WiFi in cities, neighborhoods, restaurants, schools, libraries and malls was so available.

The Next Year:

2016 is predicted to be an even more awesome year for Senior Mobile Technology. What’s the driving force? In one word: COMPETITION

Samsung vs. Apple. AT&T vs Sprint/Verizon,T-Mobile. Even Microsoft is beginning to turn the ‘aircraft carrier in the river’ around!  New versions of Microsoft Office for all OS platforms and the success of great hardware like the Microsoft Surface laptop/tablet have made for a great turn-around story.

Of course we will see new versions of the Apple iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, Mac and other “Stuff.”  We will certainly be treated to new Galaxies from Samsung. And Roku, Apple, Google, Amazon and others will bring us newer digital streaming devices.

A Simple Conclusion:

I could probably re-use this blog page every December 31st for years to come. Why? Because (thanks to Moore’s law – look it up or ‘Google’ it) digital technology gets faster, more advanced, and less expensive year-after-year.

I’ll be 70 years old in May of 2016. Truly an old tech geezer.  But one who simply loves technology, and was fortunate enough to get in the game early (1978 Apple ][) and stick with it ever since.  A thank you also goes out to my very supportive wife (who likes technology, but is not obsessed with it.)

The iTechGeezer wishes you the best “techno” New Years Eve and a blessed 2016.  Thank you for your many comments, suggestions, questions, and “likes” on our blog and also our Facebook page.

– Tom Gordon, the iTechGeezer, December 31, 2015

For Seniors: Ho! Ho! Ho! What Tech Did Santa Bring to YOU?

  
  
Obviously Tech is HOT. From kids to seniors, everyone seems to want the latest and greatest smartphone, tablet, TV streamer, digital watch and more.

For kids, teens, and most younger adults, getting acquainted with their new digital device is “easy peasy.”  Most folks, especially under the age of 30 grew up with digital devices of one sort or the other.  As a “geezer” (almost 70) I took “typing” class in the 10th grade. Actually it was one of the most practical and useful classes and skills I ever learned.  Younger folks today grew up with “keyboarding” classes to learn how to use personal computers.  They also have grown up with XBox’s, Playstations and “I” devices like iPhones, iPads and iPod Touches.

But what happens when someone fifty or older gets their first digital device from “Santa”?  How do they learn to use it? With a head full of lifetime experiences, responsibilities, and a few “senior moments” thrown in … How are these people supposed to get the most out of their gift?

My last job before retiring 2-1/2 years ago was working for Barnes & Noble. The national bookseller chain found in almost every major city in the USA.  I worked for B&N for six years – the last three in selling their Nook digital e-reader.  I taught weekly classes, and provided daily one-on-one help to adults and seniors that needed it. 

Here are a hand full of tips ‘n tricks I’ve used to help adults and seniors learn how to use digital devices to get the most out of their holiday gift…

  • Third Party Books: Head out to your local Barnes & Noble or larger regional or local book seller.  Ask where the books on mobile computing are.  Don’t be afraid to pick up the “… For Seniors” books.  Also the “Idiot” series of books are a good choice.  My favorite computing type books are those with lots of photos and drawings (as opposed to lots of words). Don’t buy and download electronic computer books.  You definitely want to hold the book in one hand and your new digital device in the other hand. Look at the published date in the first few pages, if it’s more than one year old (current year, plus one year) don’t buy it.  Too many things have changed since it was written!
  • Adult Education Classes: Check with local public schools, colleges, book stores, churches, and the public library.  Most offer free or low-cost getting started classes on how to use mobile digital devices.
  • On-Line Classes: There are many on-line services that offer training.  Some are local, some are national.  A resource that I have used and referred others to is http://www.lynda.com.  They offer thousands of courses for a reasonable fee.
  • Local Training Company: If you live in a larger city you may want to search for a local computer training company that offers daytime or evening training on mobile digital devices. Check out references and prices.
  • One-On-One Trainer or Consultant: This may be the best way to get started.  Look in your local newspaper for a classified ad, or ask at the Chamber of Commerce to get a recommendation on an experienced person.  Expect to pay an hourly rate of $25 – $75.  DON’T use Craig’s list. If you feel uncomfortable meeting in your home with a stranger then meet at a local coffee shop for your one-on-one meetings.
  • User Guides:  As an Apple enthusiast I’ve found FREE online user guides provided by Apple that are excellent as reference books when you need to learn how to use a new feature or have a tech problem.  Using the iBooks app on your iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch or Mac goto the iBooks store and search for something like… “IPhone Users Guide”.  The results list should include the users guide, it should be free, and it should be published by Apple.
  • User On-Line Forums: If you’re a little more adventurous and have an Apple device you want to goto: https://discussions.apple.com/welcome an look for a users group forum for your particular hardware or software questions.
  • Family Member:  If you are lucky enough to have a family member who is geeky and uses the same brand and type of device that your have this may a be a good way to get help and a basic overview of how to use your device.

Good luck – and have fun with your new digital device.  See… Old dogs CAN learn new tricks!

Soapbox: Sittin’ In Starbucks on a rainy Saturday Morning…

 

 

SOAPBOX*: OK, here’s the deal.  It’s raining, the dog kept me up most of last night, my local Starbucks opens at 5:30 AM on Saturdays, and did I mention it’s raining outside?

Over a cup of Caramel Macchiato and a sasuage, egg, and cheese breakfast sandwich I began to think about Apple and all the products I’ve seen come and go.

I really agree with the pundits that Apple rarely invents something new.  There were smart phones before the iPhone, streaming media TV boxes before the Apple TV, music players before the iPod and the list goes on. So why is Apple so revered?   What has made Apple the most successful and wealthiest company on the planet?

Three words:  Attention to detail.  From design, to engineering, to construction, to sales and after the sales service Apple has become the Porsche of consumer electronics.  If I were Sony, I would fallen on the sword when Steve Jobs returned to Apple in 1997 and declared that the company would slim down and focus on consumer electronics.  Sony, who has not had a truly innovative product since the “Walk Man,” has been on a downward spiral for years.  We won’t get into the Steve Balmer, Microsoft story today – I’ll save that for another blog post.

What other consumer “brand” has over a dozen magazines that cover the company’s products worldwide?  What other company controls which way the stock market sways each day?  How many Fortune 500 companies leaders are celebrated like rock stars on late night shows?

Therefore do I believe Apple is perfect?  No, far from it. They have had products like digital cameras, the Apple ///, the Apple Lisa, the Apple Newton, and a handful of others that just did not sell well.  Apple just has substantially more winners than losers.

I’ve watch a lot of my personal and business friends switch from IBM/Microsoft computers and mobile digital devices to Apple Macs and iDevices.  I’ve never seen the case where one of my friends switched the other way around.

Well enough of the Soapbox* for today. Hopefully the sun will come out, the dog will sleep better tonight, and Starbucks will reduce prices.

Soapbox* is a “from time-to-time” diatribe, designed to get stuff off my chest.  Thanks for your continued understanding.  It’s not easy being an almost 70 year old geek geezer. BTW I’m also an Apple shareholder – an darn proud of it.

10 Good Reasons “Smart” Technology For Seniors Can Be A Brain Extender.

 

10  Good Reasons
10 Good Reasons
 
If you are a senior (I’m 69 years young) you may want to print out this article and give it to your adult children.  After reading it your adult kids might buy you an iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch or Android device for the upcoming holiday.

Bottom line for seniors… “smart” technology can help improve your day-to-day life.  

Here are 10 Good Reasons why this makes sense:

  1. Everything is in one place.  If you carry your device with you wherever you go – you will never have to remember passwords, PIN numbers, insurance policy numbers, friends birthdays – addresses – phone numbers and dozens of others things.
  2. Smart phones provide you with peace of mind when on a walk, or shopping, or other things if you should become disoriented or fall.
  3. Forgotten baseball scores, movie star names, finding hard-to-find products – can all be found with Siri or Google.
  4. Directions for driving, walking, biking or mass transit can be found, routed and give you turn-by-turn directions that are spoken out loud and visible on screen. The Apple Watch can even gently “tap” you on the right side of your wrist when it is time to turn right (and obviously left if that is the appropriate direction.)
  5. The newest version of the Apple TV, rumored to be announced next week on September 9th, can let you control the content of your television by simply speaking to “Siri” which is built-into the device.
  6. Tablet PC’s like the iPad, iPad Mini (and soon the larger iPad Pro) and Android tablets like the Samsung Nook series are great devices for book reading, magazine reading, audio book listening and social networks like Facebook.
  7. Millions of music tracks and thousands of movies can be rented or purchased and listened to or viewed on your device.
  8. Simple things like using your phones or tablets built in camera lets you deposit checks to most banks from the security of your home without having to drive to the bank.
  9. Barnes & Noble and Amazon both carry illustrated “how-to” books for seniors that help you learn your smart phone.  Soon you will be “smarter” about mobile tech then your kids or grand kids!
  10. Pew Research recently reported that seniors (age 62+) felt more “connected” and “more freedom” if they had a smart phone.  App’s like Facebook, eMail, web browsing, phone calls and text provide ways for seniors to stay connected with family members and friends.

In April of 2015 Pew Research reported that just over 27% of seniors used smart devices.  Empower your favorite senior with the tools they need!

  

    Digital Multitasking – A good idea for Seniors?

     

    Digital  Multitasking
    Digital Multitasking
     

    Hip hip hooray for Multitasking – or not?

    I was involved in marketing, advertising, and public relations during my 33 year career.  The variety of projects and the responsibilities they carried, required that I multitask to get everything done – on time and below budget.

    The ability to do many things at once, often called multitasking, is easy when you are young.  However (IMHO) beyond age fifty multitasking is not so easy; it is tough and often frustrating.  You remember one thing, but forget another – actually get less things done.  There is definitly stress on your brain, as well as your body.

    For me “in-line” (one thing after another or singletasking) is the only thing that works with my retired list of things to do.  Make a list, prioritize it, do the tasks one at a time, then check off each item.  I’ve been using this method for the past ten to fifteen years and it works for me.

    So what’s up with Apple and multitasking?

    Apple is about to become the problem.  In the newest version of IOS 9 (available this fall) Apple has added the ability on a newer iPad to split the screen into two sections.  This gives the user the opportunity to do two things at once – in other words multitask.  I’ve tried the beta version and it is a nice feature.  But once again is the feature worth the consequences of human memory splitting for seniors?  I don’t think so.

    There are dozens of new and improved features coming in IOS 9 for iPhones and iPads.  Many of them make the digital devices better and easier for seniors.  I’ll do a full review of those features later this fall.  Mac OS X 11 also makes its debut and it’s better also.

    Apple devices work together – that’s good!

    Perhaps one of the strongest reasons that I think Apple hardware and software are good for seniors as that all the devices work in a similiar way.  Regardless if you use an iPhone, iPod, iPad, Mac or Apple Watch they all work in similar ways – and were designed to work side by side.