Friday, June 17, 2022

Thrifty Tech for the Aging

Proper tools can overcome some of the limits of aging. 

What are those limits and tools?

The KEY and basic limitation is limited ACCESS.   We start to lose access to many of our normal pursuits.

BUT there is technology out there to help.

Consider where you live as to whether it gives you the access you need to services and resources.   Can you get to what you need easily?

The newest universal access resource is of course, Internet, which brings us closer to everything.  A simple Kindle Fire 8 inch tablet at less than $50 it’s all we really need if cost is in question.

The Fire does offer a subset of capabilities which can be largely offset by adding four files which give access to the entire Android library of apps and tools.

There are other access tools…More about non-Internet tools and technology below.

You really don’t need anything else but it is very handy to have some other internet access.    You don’t need Windows or Macintosh unless you really really want them.   (Yes I have a big HP touchscreen Windows 11 laptop.)

A much underused Internet resource is YouTube, which I always consult when trying to figure out how to do something or enter into someone else’s world for a time. Or for going to a concert online.   Also much underused is the Internet Archive.   Want to listen to the old radio programs from the 30s.  They are there with much music and video

A Kindle Fire TV at $100 will provide a larger dkisplay but your own TV can probably receive casts from the above tablet.

A Moto G cell phone with a year's service from TracFone is available on HSN for $70.   It could be an alternative to the Kindle Fire above.

Expensive phones have stunning graphics and photography for those who want it.   I won’t pay for that, but it can be impressive.

You can also get free cell phone service from Textnow using an unlocked phone. Data service will cost you $10.     Ting offers service at $10 a month for phoning but charges only when you use data.

A more expensive and elegant alternative to these is an iPad, often selling for $250-330.  A benefit here is widespread use and help.   There are less expensive folding chromebooks for laptop and tablet use.

What about physical access in the world around you?

Light weight scooters and walkers have much appeal if you cannot walk safely.  Easy transfer to car is desirable as is the ability to carry items.

Many seniors are unaware that there are walkers which prevent you from falling, such as the Lifeglider or Zeen.   I find the conventional walker to be a bad choice because it fosters bad posture and strain on muscles.  I fell backward one day twice with one.

Note that some wheelchairs come with removable wheels for easy transport. There are also lightweight wheelchairs with magnesium bodies.

Now to smaller “access” tools.

Alexa is dirt cheap and makes it easy to access information without a computer as well as control lights and other devices remotely.

With Alexa one small lamp in the bedroom can illuminate from one percent to 100% of a 100 W bulb and so illuminate the whole room or just light faintly at the bedside when getting up at night.   That just takes a cheap programmable bulb and does away with too many lights taking space in one room.

Battery lamps are portable.   These are handy if you have a less than $100 big screen projector which works only in a dark room.

Simple things such as stick-on door handles at the center of doors make it easier to open and close from a wheelchair.

I might add that any of these Internet devices will access TV with the proper apps.  I use Watchnewspro for the networks. Podcasts offer recorded shows.   TV channels and networks have their own apps.

With the Internet being so important, our apartment is under a carpet Ethernet cable line to provide fast Internet wherever it is used, including on laptops.  Wi-Fi is just plain too slow.

To accommodate so many devices I use a plug-in which extends one non switched outlet to six sockets. General Electric makes it.

Back to other devices.    The latest electric blankets can even be voice or phone controlled.

I use enclosed bamboo boxes to enclose surge strips and cabling and make cleaning easier.

To conserve space, a bedside table can serve for storage and as a laptop desk, as done in the local hospital.    That is also a good place for a projector, in a good room with blackout curtains for projection.    Cheap blackout curtains slide along a simple pole rod.

Speaking of cheap, I consult Amazon, Walmart, Costco, and eBay whenever I buy anything.    I also sell on Amazon and eBay.    Replacements is a good place to sell china.

With eBay it is a good idea to correspond by email with the seller before buying or bidding.    With some trepidation I bought a very lightweight mobility scooter directly from the factory in China through eBay.    It is great but all the instructions are in Chinese.

I have found eBay to be a good source of such items as stretch socks, toothbrush inserts, polo shirts, even iPhone, but checking out the latter very carefully.    I am very fond of the iPhone SE but unwilling to pay the normal retail cost.    eBay has always made good when something has been unsatisfactory, but take care.

There are devices to assist with hearing.    Sennheiser TV headphones are the Cadillac.  They look cheap, cost a lot, but work very well.     There are some good cheap alternatives…

For the hearing impaired some hearing aids enable sending and sound from TV or Internet or even from a smartphone itself.

I do see internet devices out there advertised as designed specifically for seniors. Forget them.    You cannot beat an iPad for ease-of-use.    Windows 11 is improving and a must for a new Windows user.     

www. is also

Make a note that you may in the future need to access this website as follows:

Wednesday, December 8, 2021

Free Phone Service

If you're connected to Wi-Fi, free phone service is available from Textnow.   The app is installed on your tablet with a free phone number to receive calls.

For free cell service Textnow supplies a SIM card at $4.99.

The services are supported with advertising.  Without advertising the cost is $9.99 per month.

Monday, February 8, 2021

What to do when Internet Freezes

Recently I have experienced the Internet situation where the speed drops to zero.

In other words no service.  Dead.

So what to do when you have an urgent need such as communication with the doctor.

You reach for your cell phone of course.

So how do you get cell phone data cheaply?

I have been using Tello.   Not only do they offer plans and less than $10 a month, but for $25 you can get eight gigabytes a month.

That might be enough to handle all of your internet without any other service.

Even better you can modify your usage at any time.

Friday, January 29, 2021


In my last In my last posting I indicated that it was difficult to find a satisfactory medium size tablet.

In the meantime I have found that the Kindle Fire 7 9th Version is pretty satisfactory and can be had on sale for as little as $35.

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Getting up to speed

With technology and our needs constantly changing, we are faced with the task of getting up to speed.

Speed is pretty much what it's all about when it comes to computers and internet.

So I have been in the process of doing what's needed so that I can do my activities in the least possible time.

After a long time I finally decided that Wi-Fi slows everything down too much.

When it came time to put down new carpet I had flat ethernet cable laid under it to make direct access to Internet available wherever I needed it.

Other efforts to speed up Wi-Fi really were just a crutch which did not work very well.

I have the latest routers now at the furthest distance apart.

I have adapters which enable me to plug in tablets.

I bought an Amazon Kindle Fire 10-in tablet on sale at $80 only to find that this device was way faster than any that I had ever used except an iPad.

I attributed that to the octocore processor which I also have in my Android phone.

That obsoleted my older smaller tablets.  Trash.

I simply replaced them with an old iPad Air version 1 and a second Amazon Kindle Fire 10 for my wife.

I also resurrected an original iPad for use at the piano. I downloaded sheet music from the Internet Archive to Apple Notes where I can read it at the piano or print it out.

I switched to YouTube music and added VLC to play music from my digital library on SD card.

I got rid of some old large space taking speakers and replaced them with Echo Dots plugged into the wall with adapters.   These these also enabled me to play to a tiny quality MP3 speaker.

I do play music through my hearing aids for a quality experience.

With Alexa I'm able to direct music to any of the plugin Dots.

The Alexa app also enables me to play music from a variety of sources, such as Amazon music, Pandora, and so on.

I use a Moto G4 older smartphone with its wider screen in addition to a narrower screen on a newer Moto device.

I am not changing from my great Apple iPhone SEs,
but I did drop expensive plans.

A new plan from Hello costs me just $5 a month for a 500 minutes and half a gig.  I can buy a gig of data anytime I need it

At a price of only $70 I could not resist a projector, just for movies and TV shows available on line.  it needs a dark room and a convenient place to place the projector.

One thing I could not do was find a seven to eight inch tablet that was fast enough for me.  My latest Moto does have an octa-core processor and is the only alternative at 5 in.

I use Windows only in a pinch when nothing else will do, only because it is sooo slow.

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Displacing the Old

Every now and then new technology is so good that it displaces the old. In other words it gets to be the time to throw the old stuff out.

When devices get a lot faster and easier to use, that time has come.

It is here with the latest iPad and Amazon Kindle Fire 10 9th Generation.

Both are lightning fast and have much approved navigation, the iPad with its stack and the Fire with its ability to emulate The Echo Show and do everything by voice without any keyboard or mouse.

I am doing away with my older tablets entirely. They are now time wasters.