Saturday, June 27, 2020

What to do with an old iPad 2

Staying at home has made me look for new ways of spending my time.

Two ways.

I had been thinking of what to do with old abandoned devices, and I had been playing piano after a long interim.

The two came together.

I could use the old tablet for sheet music at the piano.

That would allow me to rediscover and maybe revive what I had half-forgotten from the past. Maybe learn something new.

The process of doing just that resulted in some discoveries.

I needed first to create a library of sheet music.

I went to the Internet Archive to download some fakebooks, a process which reacquainted me with the wonders of the archive. No cost and an abundance of free media of all kinds. We all use it for too little.

I downloaded two huge fakebooks to iBooks.

I then printed out a few items and then decided to simply to use the iPad screen for sheet music rignt on the piano.

I then decided to add a few functions to the iPad in between playing.

The iPad 2 cannot run newer apps.  I reset the iPad to factory with as few apps as possible to avoid slowing things down.
Most can be done with the browser anyway.

But nowadays we need to be able to stream video and prefer to use voice input.

The old iPad did a good job with YouTube streaming but at first I could not dictate to the browser.

I could not load the chrome browser and Safari did not support voice.

A big downer.

I wad stunned to find a simple solution from an unsuspected source. Microsoft Edge provided voice browsing.  A solution from Apple's competitor!!!

I could also have installed Dragon Dictate but I did not try it.

So the old iPad 2 could be made to work just fine if a bit on the slow side, well worth the effort.

Don't get me wrong. The new iPad is a bargain for its speed and updated apps.

But the only important thing I could not do with the old iPad was to dictate into Google Docs. I do that with my iPhone anyway.

Maybe I could have done that with Dragon Dictate. No matter.

Anyway, don't give up on your old iPad!





In






Thursday, June 18, 2020

Getting Computing Up to Date for Covid-19

 With covid-19, more time at home, and slower internet, I needed to rework my computer arrangements.     I needed to speed everything up since I am using internet so much more than before.

I realized my five year old router was very slow and I replaced it and moved it to a central position in our living space.    

At my computer stations, I installed  Intel PC Windows 10 sticks so that I could locate them in the best position to receive Wi-Fi.  They save space. 

I added a new 24” Insignia Fire TV with 3 HDMI inputs, one for my old Tower, one for the Windows PC stick, and one for Chromecast.    I installed endless Linux alongside Windows for a faster speed and fewer support issues.

I kept an old Dell display for a Chromebook and for Roku.    It never worked well with Windows.

Wherever possible, I moved away from Wi-Fi, which has become extremely slow with heavy usage nearby.     When our living space is re-carpeted this fall,  I will be extending flat ethernet cable under it to reach  everywhere as opposed to relying on Wi-Fi.     I have ethernet adapters for iPad and and tablets.

I retired other older tablets and replaced them with a Kindle Fire 8, a Walmart ONN tablet*, and a wonderful Lenovo Chromebook designed for students: fast and rugged and with a wonderful trackpad,      I use all these in my easy chair or at bedside or away from home.

None of this equipment requires special attention except where Windows is used.     I need to police Windows memory tightly, even though I added SD memory to the sticks and primarily use cloud memory anyway.  

I have added very inexpensive (under $30) microphone headsets which work both wired and with Bluetooth so that I can take advantage of using voice wherever necessary as opposed to typing.    These included a headset which works directly with USB.     

I added 7-port powered hubs for the sticks, to service printers and also support USB mics and speakers.      I did away with wireless mouses to avoid the annoyance of batteries going dead.

So now I am back to getting things done fast. 


  •   if you buy this, don't buy the Walmart case, but get a Fintie case which fits better





Thursday, April 16, 2020

Covid 19 and slow Wi-Fi

With more and more of us staying in place at home, away from Covid-19,  our usage of Wi-Fi is going up and the speed of Wi-Fi is going way down, sometimes to a trickle. Video gets the hiccups.

What to do?

Being at home, we have more time to think about it and do something.

The first thing I did was to take my shared printers offline and connect them directly to computers.  I found an inexpensive Brother laser printer with ability to connect direct to 
Ethernet.

Next I connected everything else possible direct to ethernet. My routers are of necessity next to my TV, so that I simply extended cables wherever practical, up to 25 feet away to another room.

When re-carpeting is done later this year, I will have flat cables installed under the carpet.

I used USB to ethernet converters with laptops. I ordered a special lightning converter for my iPad and iPhone.

I then checked the age of my routers only to discover they were way out of date and slow.

Much better routers are available under $50, and I purchased a TP
-link unit as a replacement. This is highly rated, speedy, and has four antennas.   I put down ethernet cable to a central location.

I will need to switch my Alexa switches over to the new network, which can be done on the Alexa site.

I installed Endless Linux on my tower in addition to slower Windows.  

I put older tablets aside and purchased a fast up-to-date touch screen RCA Cambio tablet for $99.   Why pay more?  Also an up-to-date Chromebook with strong Wi-Fi and ability to run Linux.

Where I don't need a large screen, I use a smartphone which does not need the slow refresh on a large screen and therefore runs faster.

I then settled down with a best-seller for when Wi-Fi does not work at all.  For that I put an old nook and new Walmart tablet back into use again.





Thursday, April 9, 2020

Computing with Covid-19

Covid-29 has changed the way we use our computers.

With so many at home, the use of Wi-Fi has increased and the speed decreased, sometimes to the point where it is almost unusable.

This affects iPads especially since they're almost always used only on Wi-Fi, though connectors are available to ethernet directly.

With a lot of time available at home, I took the opportunity to upgrade my computing experience with my old computers.

I had been thinking of upgrading to a newer Windows device or even a Mac.

I found a better way.

I replaced Wi-Fi with ethernet wherever possible, and after attempting to upgrade existing equipment with Windows, reverted to Chromebook and to Endless Linux.

My older computers then came to life where  Windows upgrades failed.

With Windows one Asus laptop had no voice recognition in Google Docs and would not connect to an ethernet adapter until I installed Linux.  It took ages to upgrade anything.

Wanting a large screen, I purchased an Insignia Fire TV and display from Best Buy at $120, and connected my other computers to it.

That also gave me the enhanced capability of streaming and accessing recorded TV with YouTube TV.

Linux also gave me the capability of editing PDF files and running other apps, such as CAD and Scribus professional apps.

So for a pittance I got the equivalent performance of new machines.

Oddly, the best performer with Windows was a 32-bit $99 RCA touchscreen laptop.   If you are addicted to Windows, you might like it.

Endless Linux works better, (but 64-bit).

So here is my setup.

At my primary work station, I now have an Asus tablet with Windows, Chromecast, and a Dell tower with Endless Linux, all connected to the Insignia TV/display, and a four-port ethernet
hub to Fire TV on the Insignia, Asus tablet, Dell PC, and VOIP phone.    No phone line $ or cable $ or cable alternative, just internet.  The VOIP box is Polycom from Obitalk with Anvio VOIP service with a (free) Google Voice phone number.  I also have a Chromebook connectable to the TV/display.







Saturday, April 4, 2020

A Better OS

For years we have wanted a better operating system for our computers.

Better means less vulnerable than Windows and less expensive then Macintosh.

For years the Linux operating system has been almost ready for primetime.

To date however, it has never made it.

The problem has always been like something did not work properly. It always took expertise to get things working,

Finally that has changed.

To my surprise, the Endless Linux version installed perfectly with no more effort on my part then tapping on download from the Endless website.

I note that Endless requires a 64-bit computer. That said, everything else works without a flaw.

A stunning surprise.    Faster than Windows, safer, and better apps such aa PDF editor.

Finally finally finally.    So far, not going back to Windows