Category Archives: Philosophy

Philosophy

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!

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!

“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.