Saturday, July 24, 2010


    Much talk today is about easy and efficient access to information and services.      Innovation is centered around getting you what you need as efficiently as possible, and when and where you want it.    The economy is driven by it.  Those who find new and better ways are rewarded for finding them.

    Access does not necessarily mean providing the services, just making access easier.

    In technology the new Apple iPad is an example.     The time and effort to get information and services is slashed.

    Earlier, EMail pointed the way.   Email slashes mail delay.    EMail also does away with the annoyances of telephone queues and interruptions, and allows us to address needs more efficiently.   Your communications are there when you want them.

    Access  is not all about computers, though.   Years ago, there was a trend towards pretty shopping malls.    Nowadays it is towards ugly strip malls.   Why?  You drive right up to where you need to go and get done with it.   Or you go to a single "box" store that has nearly anything.    Also more efficient than a mall.   Many more stores have restrooms right there, now often easily accessible at the front.  More have a place to grab a bite to eat.    More stores deliver, often with online ordering, even delivering groceries.

    This is a change in culture from the past, good or bad.     But it gives a social insight into what computing, and life, is nowadays, for many, especially busy younger people.  Yet it could not be more beneficial for us seniors, too, as our mobility decreases.

    Skype brings your grandchildren to you at home.   The smartphone brings access wherever you are.    With a netbook you can connect to internet even from fast foods like McDonald's.

    Development is not done, though.    The new iPad only accesses information best when another computer is used to channel information to it.    Apple pretty much controlled that process, and clones of the iPhone lacked that capability.   Of course, it should not be necessary at all to depend on a another computer to use the iPad.   To improve access that dependence must disappear.   That will happen.   (As I was writing this, a program called doubleTwist appeared, a step in the right direction.)

    Now that competitors have gotten over the initial shock of iPad innovation, there is much stirring to compete with cheaper and even more advanced alternatives, using Google's open and free Android operating system, already in wide use on smartphones.    We will see tablet or book-like products everywhere at $200 and used as matter-of-factly as books, which they really are.   EBooks are more accessible than hardcovers and paperbacks, and now outsell them on Amazon.
    Years ago, computing was all about calculating or spreadsheets or word processing.   The direction has completely changed.    Now it is all about access and easing your everyday life.
    All this is a boon for seniors who stand to benefit if they can only see what is newly available to them, and its merits, and adapt to new the improvements.    All we need to do is learn how to use the new tech.   Successful businesses of the future will be those who bring their senior services closer to us than ever thought possible before.

    In retirement communities, too, the future is all about bringing access to services closer to residents, or residents closer to services.


Saturday, July 3, 2010

What I Do with Computers

    Whatever do You DO at the computer?   I get that question sometimes, though less and less nowadays.

    I know that the person asking the question is often either thinking that I am using it as a calculator or that I am busy with spreadsheets and databases and programming.   Never mind that I do not use it for any of those things, nor have I in ten years.   They may be thinking I am using a Radio Shack TRS-80 from the 70s.

    It is still a legitimate question.    Some of us retired long before I began to do most of then things I do now.    And many of the things I am doing, I have only just begun to do.

    So what ARE they?:

    Here are some of my favorite applications!!   (Nowadays done mostly online and accessible almost anywhere.)

    I do my news reading, now mostly on the iPad.   I use Yahoo, Google News, AP, NYT and WSJ.

    I listen to the radio, especially PBS, nearly any program at any time, and from any station in the country as it is broadcast.

    I watch TV news (ABC, CNN and newspaper videos, YouTube).

    I keep my datebook calendar and notes with Google Calendar.

    I write my letters, and keep my address, contacts, and phone book, on GMail, where available anywhere on my cellphone.

    I keep indexed notes on things I don't want to forget, or keep forgetting, via Evernote.

    I get the papers screened according to my interests, using Google Reader as a selector.

    I do my shopping.  Amazon sells everything; JCPenney has a great online catalog, as does Target.

    I get rid of old stuff (and tech) around the house thru Craigslist (classified) and EBay.

    I get answers to health questions thru Mayo and the National Institute of Health (NIH).

    I arrange for travel with Southwest, Tripadvisor, and Travelocity, checking hotel and restaurant reviews first.

    I find low prices by just searching for items on Google.

    I phone with speaker and free calling, using Skype, though EMail takes much less time.

    I get solutions to computer problems. I just describe them for Google to solve.    

    I print stuff out, like maps, directions, instructions, recipes, cats.  I send my photos to Walgreen's.

    I check out books from the library and even for online reading.

    I keep up with technology via NYT thenTechnology page, WSJ, and others like TWIT.

    I get facts to support my political opinions, and vice-versa, get facts to develop my political opinions, though the latter is passe nowadays.

    I enjoy the challenge of problem solving of all kinds, and internet helps me out a lot.  eHow is a favorites site, but YouTube shows how, too.

    I voice dictate brief notes and searches with Dragon Dictate and Search.

    I maintain my blog: (snrtech), write Tech Notes, and submit comments and items of common interest to share with others on the wider world of Amazon and FaceBook..     

    Generally, Internet and networking not only service computers, but also our two iinternet bedside world clock-radios, Skype connected phones, Netflix, and even network my DISH TV to wherever I am.    Internet lets me use my CD  music library anywhere.   

    The cellphone connects to internet and also gives us driving guidance and traffic reports.  Through it my music collection, and world radio stations, play in the car and in the fitness room through smartphone or iPod.   Smartphones have their pros and cons.   Mine contains about 100 CDs of music, all on a chip the size of a pencil eraser.   I suppose they will soon be able to put them on a head of a pin.    (I don't really care--I must getting older.)    I am about to get the phone to find our car in parking lots---the car doesn't see to know where I am, or is it the reverse?

    I published two books, one with an ISBN and available anywhere in the world.   (I preserved a wonderful old autobiography by my great grandfather.)

    That would just about encompass it?   Right?

    Not at all.  Residents here are using computers to do all sorts of other things: voice recognition, designing web pages, planning social events, preparing slide shows, photos, archiving, converting slides, managing finances, tracking stocks, bird watching, and all the rest of the many activities of our busy lives.   How could we otherwise get it all done and still enjoy retirement?