Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Hearing and Hearing Aids

Bedeviled with problems with my old hearing aids, I needed to inform myself better about hearing loss and hearing aids. 

That process started as I was standing in a CVS drugstore and looking at a hearing amplifier at $20.

Shortly, as I stood there, an an older gentleman came by and volunteered that he had been successful in using this simple device.

The first point he made was that it is too easy to turn it off or leave it on the battery runs out.

He then indicated that it is best to replace the receiver loosely in the ear and not tightly so as to avoid interfering noise and occlusion.   But try the smallest, too.

He also volunteered that then lowest volume setting was enough.  (Consumer Reports warns against setting such a device too loud.)

He made a special point that it needs to be kept clean.   The device may seem to be working well when only dirty.

I bought the $20 device.   Trying this inexpensive amplifier, I then found it most useful in a quiet environment, but of no benefit in a noisy environment.

Far more expressive aids are able to shut out sounds which interfere with voice. That process is essential.   That capability drives up the cost.

Otherwise the hardware is pretty much the same. 

So, then, how to choose the best hearing aid?

Get an audiogram, of course, just to find out if anything will work with your particular hearing.

Then, the only thing you can do is try before you buy from an entity whch has them available to try. 

Monday, July 23, 2018

Music & Money

 As more and more seniors venture into smartphones, some are unaware of the capabilities, and are surprised to find them useful for more than telephony.

Sometimes I hear a senior say that they don't do much phoning and don't need a smartphone.  (Yet more and more medical practices are using text messaging to communicate with their patients.)

But it is the non phoning activity that takes them unawares.

Listening to music is one.     Money is another.

All it takes is a smartphone to enjoy Concert Hall quality of music.     iPhones are delivered with a superb set of earphones with microphone. They don't look like much,  but the quality of sound will be as good as the most expensive speaker systems.

That is because there is nothing to get in the way of the sound.   

Hearing impaired seniors will hear even better than with speaker systems.      I found a $5 set of earphones from Five and Below which performs outstandingly.    Really!!

Then what about buying?

Buying on eBay alone will find you items you no longer can find in the stores, replacement parts you can't find anywhere else, and prices way below store prices.       Just take care in looking at the seller's history and the way the seller presents items for sale and handles your questions.

Seniors can buy online from nearly everybody nowadays and Amazon boxes are a common sight everywhere here

As I write this I am enjoying music and wearing $80 shoes I just got for $20 on eBay.   Really.

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Which Cell Phone Service

 As more and more seniors start to use smartphones,  I get more and more questions about which cell phone service to choose.

At the moment, in general I am recommending Consumer Cellular,  especially for use with an iPhone, and for iPad owners. CC is easily accessible by phone.

That does not mean that there are not plenty of excellent alternatives.

In the past I have recommended Republic Wireless as costing a bit less.    Republic Wireless does not communicate by phone but only by email. Recently a resident had to go through a procedure of taking out the SIM card and upgrading to restore a locked up phone back to use, before re-inserting the SIM.

I have also used PureTalk.      Phone support is very good and prices are competitive.    This service uses AT&T as opposed to the others here which use Sprint.     I have heard that Pure Talk belongs to AT&T.

FreedomPop offers the lowest cost service but phone support is terrible.   I use it anyway.

Another service with low cost is Tello, which I have not tried, but offers phone, text, and data at just $10 a month.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Your Old Smartphone

 Users love to upgrade their old smartphones and show off their new ones.     

Often there is a good reason, such as getting a cheaper or faster plan, selecting a larger or smaller phone, or upgrading the operating system.    But maybe just for fun.

Yet if the phone is simply not running well,  there is a better solution.

That solution is a reset.   

I did both a factory reset, and a reset in settings where I deleted all my data.      The factory reset for my Moto G and Moto E is simply done by holding down the Run and Volume Down buttons at the same time for 30 seconds and then selecting reset with the up and down button.

The result can be miraculous.

The phones run just like new.

Memory is a bit short on the Moto G, and this time I employed a new approach from my efforts in the past to make the best use of memory.

I just installed as few apps as possible.      Instead of installing news apps,  I mainly had my news delivered by email.

I then simply installed:

Accubattery to assure that my battery was still good, Hangouts, Kindle Reader, Amazon. Microsoft News, Amazon Music, eBay, Google Podcast,  WeatherBug, and ConnectDrive to run media from a separate Wi-Fi equipped flash drive.

Google apps, especially the essential Google Docs, had been installed by default.

That way,  I came nowhere close to using up the limited memory.     In the Moto E I was able to install a separate 32 GB flash drive.   Most of the above apps are transferred to it.

If I need other apps, I can install and use them when I need them,  and then delete them If necessary.

Alternatively, I can run applications from websites designed for access from small devices.    These I can then add to the home screen just like other apps.


Saturday, June 30, 2018

FedEx Woes

Fedex Pickup  

(A few days after this posting, I received a FedEx Delivery Manager code giving me the ability to control deliveries online: at

Ever receive a fedex shipment which needed to be returned?    Hold your breath!

When you receive a fedex shipment, a return label will be included.     Or you may request the label to be emailed from your seller. The label may be copied onto adhesive label paper to make it easier to affix.

The label will include a tracking number.

Now, to get it picked up…

Tap or click to fill out this form, once you have a tracking number.

Or phone 1-800-463-3339  (1-800-GO-FEDEX) to authorize a pickup.  Ask for the "Return Manager" and have the return label at hand.    

You may find that you are required to have a fedex account.   If so,  tap or click here,

If you live here at Happy Valley, don’t be surprised if it is not picked anyway.   If not picked up at one concierge desk, try another.

Happy Valley’s pickup is actually listed for a non-Happy Valley location elsewhere, but under the same name, at a grocery store nearby, and your item may not appear on fedex’s pickup list for our front desk(s), but for this nearby dropbox at 200 WV Square.

You then need to drive you package to the nearest depot as a last resort.