Saturday, December 24, 2011

Making the Fire into a Tablet

To expand the Kindle Fire into a tablet, you will need apps.     To get apps from Amazon, you will need an account.     If you bought your Kindle Fire from Amazon, that will already have been done.   If not, register by clicking on the gear icon at top right of the home screen, then "more...", then "account".

Click to read the Amazon support videos.

The Kindle Fire comes with some built-in apps, plus more that can be installed direct from Amazon once you have an account.    Most are free.   An additional number of apps can be obtained from Amazon's broader android  "Market".   Some of these will work and others will not.

The main source of apps, however is Android Market, and these apps cannot be installed to the Fire, at least not from Android Market (yet).

However, there are many other sources and ways to install apps.   Many more online "app markets" have sprung up    Note that there is no guarantee that there will not be malware; however I have found none, even using antivirus software.    (However, the AVG anti-virus apk software has warned against  Google Chrome apk from AndroidZoom.)

Apps which can be installed have the ".apk" (filetype) suffix.     When loaded direct into the Fire, clicking on them will start the installation process, if compatible.  I have found most apps compatible     Sometimes the file must first be downloaded, then located and installed

For now, apk files may be widely found by simply Googling for them, which will also turn up many sources in addition to the originator of the app.

But then, there are still some apps for which apk files cannot be found online.    Many of these do exist on cellphones.     From a cellphone these apks can be "sideloaded".  That means installed on the cell phone, then transferred to the Fire via PC.

To sideload an app, you need the app "Appmanager" on your cellphone, which will list the cellphone's apps and provide the ability to back them up on the sd drive.    Then the phone can be connected to a PC and files can be copied to the PC, where files can be, in turn, EMailed as an attachment to your own EMail address.     They will then appear as an attachment in the Kindle Fire EMail. where they may be saved and installed.

Programs like Astro, Explorer, and Documents to GO all help in locating, managing, and installing files.

Happy searching for apks!!

Some apk source links (click below):

getjar,1market.Slideme,appbrain,filecrop,4shared, pandaappandrolib,AndroidCommunity,Handango

In the worst case, here is a way to run almost ANY app on the Fire.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Firing Up for Exercise

For years I have used an mp3 player to take the monotony out of exercise.    A little $30 player holds my old LPs and CDs, 50 of each.   It is nice to have them all when I want.     But by now I have heard them hundreds of times.

Suppose I could listen to almost anything at any time, in stereo, without wires, and with the best possible sound.   Suppose I could read nearly any book with the same device.    Suppose I could do all of it...anywhere.  Suppose I could access almost any radio station in the world.

I would need wifi, which WV has supplied throughout this community.   The access points are in the ceiling in central areas such as the library and lobby.  There is also access in the Vitality Center exercise room, although it never worked for my wifi equipped cell phone

I looked at the Kindle Fire wistfully.    It has no bluetooth, but I remembered I had an old Jabra headphone bluetooth adapter I had used with an old Nokia N800, now obsolete...

If you need to make it all work, let me know in comments below.       There are a few tricks to get it all working.

The Fire makes better use of time when exercising.    I put the Fire where convenient and exercise with wifi wireless headphones.   Now all that old music comes to life again that I have not heard for so many years.

Fire away, Kindle Fire.    Does the Fire suggest the computer of the future, albeit the addition of mic, camera, and keyboard.   Do most of us need anything else than this perfect size?

Saturday, December 10, 2011


Spotify is a legitimate music service with a vast streaming music library which plays high quality sound instantly.  You need to use it to believe it.   I listen to it it all the time.

In telling others about it, I neglected to mention that I was successful installing it only by putting it on a PC before using it on iPad, Touch, or Fire    My PC is connected to a sound system.    I pay the monthly fee of $10 for the non-PC devices.

You may need to sign in via Facebook.     If that bothers, keep only information on Facebook which you wan public.

Friday, November 18, 2011

The Amazon Kindle (a) Fire

Note: You must have easy access to WiFi for this device!!

This is it.    The best device yet for lots of seniors.   I can say that after only a few hours with it.

It is so good that it is hard to concentrate on the shortcomings, and there are some..

But for many seniors, either traveling or confined, this is it, especially if they are fairly new or green to computers.

Now, I know, I will see it in better perspective once the newness has worn off.    But I also expect its utility to grow with more apps and more user input.   The browser will speed up as its remote supercomputer gathers data from us.

This is the most advanced media access device yet.  It is the right size   It is fast.    It you hands it transforms itself instantly into a book, library, radio, tv, victrola, computer, EMailer, and internet browser.

It leaves phoning and camera to the cell phone, wisely I think.   It has no microphone.  You cannot dictate to it and have it transcribe for you.   Otherwise it is a jack of all trades.

This product is worthy of Apple, Microsoft, and Google.     It makes the fact that it is a computer drop into the background a it should.     It is a no-nonsense appliance.

Of course, the iPhone does it all, and iPod Touch nearly all, even GPS, if you don't mind a very small screen.   Click here to compare to iPad

Shortcomings?     It does not begin to offer the choices of any other computer.    The good side is that you do not need to choose which of 300,000 iPad apps to use.    The bad side is that the choice is limited.   That is a benefit for the inexperienced user.   The experienced computer user gains from size. speed, mobility.  AND LOW PRICE!!!

The bad side may also be that access to functions can be controlled by Amazon   You may become a captive user.    The techie will find many limitations too constricting.  The Fire did not run Google eBooks.   It did run Google Books, just not eBooks.

The browser needs some work to be smooth.   It took some patience to use it.  Pages got scrambled.  (I was able to install another browserwhich does not go through Amazons super cloud computer.)

However, the device has potential to overcome most such limits.   The basic logic is public domain and that can be altered or replaced.   Also, so far Amazon has done nothing to restrict others from adapting it, as all of its competitors have indeed done.*

So, Merry Christmas with your new Amazon Kindle.

My initial app choices:

AK Notepad
Adobe Reader
Audible Books
Documents To Go
Dolphin Browser
Easy PDF Reader
Enhanced EMail
ES File Explorer
German Newspapers
iHeart Radio
Meet the Press
On Air Mediafly
Public Radio International
Quick Office
Read it Later
Reader; Digest
Stitcher Podcast
The New Yorker
The Weather Channel
TuneIn Radio
US Newspapers
Volume Master
Washiungton Post
LangtoLang Translator
WiFi Analyzer (signal sniffer)
World News
Words with Friends

Click for Kindle Fire Users Guide

Sunday, November 13, 2011

EBooks and Apps

More and more, seniors would like to have the functions of a computer without all the fuss.    They would like the device to accommodate to them rather than require them to accommodate to the device.     More are therefore adopting easy-to-use tablets like the iPad and Fire.  These are, in a way, chameleons which can pretend to be a book, or a library, a guitar, a radio, a tv,  a museum, a photo album, and so on.  but the key to how to use them is choosing the right app.    The best app makes it easy, but which app to use?    For example, there are dozens of ebook apps, each covering a particular "library".     There are many more apps for media.  Then there are many tools.   And so on.    Hundreds of thousands, but you need only a few dozen.

I should get together a senior's guide to apps, which would be, in fact, a guide to how to use a tablet.   Identify the best app to access broadcasts, podcasts, download versus streamed, and so on.     Comments and suggestions will be much appreciated.

Meanwhile, until then, how do more computer literate users access the particular book or media they want, for example?    For now, I have come across an ebook search engine which I have added at right.    Or, search the Google eBookstore, or Kindle, or Nook, or Kobo, or Stanza, or iBooks----you get the idea!  Or go to ManyBooks, Gutenberg, MobiPocket, etc.

Friday, November 11, 2011

When Things Go Wrong

This website was originally started to supplement one-to-one help sessions.   When an issue comes up with a user, it often is of interest to others.    The website helps me cover more ground  with users.  
So here goes with the latest fixes.

First, if a wired device, pull the plug from the wall and plug it back in after a few minutes

Next, try the process of elimination.      If you have a problem with a peripheral, try it with another computer.      Or try another like peripheral with your computer.

Search for a solution from internet---just Google it.   Someone else may have had the same problem.  Change that "may" to "will".

"FaceBook" it.     Though targeted for privacy problems, FaceBook can air your problems so that they are seen.     They can be posted wiith complete privacy (anonimity) for you and read by the world without giving up privacy on either end.  

   Another unsuspected source of help..if a device gives trouble, is to search and read Amazon comments.    Lots of help there.

Read the instructions.     Google for a manual.   Keep solutions  on Evernote---you may need them later.

Sleep on the problem.   Present all the facts to your mind and let your mind work on it free of your  mental micromanagement.     Give your subconscious mind a chance.    It is smarter than your conscious mind.

Try online support.     It is better to chat on-screen than try to understand someone unintelligible.     But if you do need to phone, use Skype.   Better sound.

Newly, Google offers a program to remotely operate your computer so that an expert can deal with the problem from afar, such as your kid(s).

Then, try prevention.    Use the internet "cloud" next time you create content or need storage.     Backup your files online. Automatically, if possible, as via Carbonite.

Once, carrying an old 1992 H-P printer, I lost control of it and it went bouncing down the stairs at Lumberton.    Never had any trouble with it since.     But DO NOT TRY THIS.   With another one I took all 1,000 parts apart and replaced the scanner motor.    Still works.    Don't try this either, though.  Get a cheap new all-in-one or laser.

  If totally frustrated with your PC, go buy a MacBook Air.  No mechanical parts and great for toting around, but make sure someone does not steal it.   If the price bothers you, consider it artwork, which it is.  You get Apple help and training with it. Look at an iPad first, though, and maybe an Amazon Fire when it is available. Use the latest technology.   Keep informed and use the best equipment for your needs.  The lowest cost new equipment may be far better than the best expensive old stuff.

From a cable company, you might  rent your internet router and access point initially and use  the provider's equipment until you have configured your own.   Configuring these devices yourself can be a challenge.   Read Amazon comments before buying equipment.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Fix HDTV Sound for Senior Ears

HDTV televisions have technology built into them to deliver stunning sound.  Unfortunately most of them have cheap speakers, which produce bad sound.    There is no room to include good speakers, so that cheap 3” speakers are usually what you get, no better than one of the early radios in the 20s and 30s, in other words, awful.

With more and more concert productions coming over Internet and devices like TIVO, I wanted to hear the good sound.    There are two main approaches: obtain a remote headset, or add external speakers.

Here are some headsets.

Click for the Sennheiser RS120 926 MHz Wireless RF Headphones with Charging Cradle, which are are well-rated.    I like them, but if you do not like the large ear pads, there are stethoscope types, such as these Click for TV Ears Headsets.   Or you could go for wired earbud earbuds like those for the MP3 and iPod players.   Some of these have a volume control on them.

Click for Philips-SHE2850-37-Earbuds-Control/dp/B000G33V6G with volume control. You just plug them in to the earphone jack.

You could go out and buy a theater sound system for hundreds of dollars but those systems often take up a lot of space.

A few of the newest hearing aids have bluetooth technology which delivers sound directly into the ear and not out thru a speaker and back in through the hearing aids microphone, eliminating ambient sounds which interfere.  Click for Bluetooth Hearing Aids.   Normal hearing aids will just give you the bad sound from the set's internal speakers.

For seniors who may not have the space or want big speakers, this is a problem.   The average senior also has hearing loss.   Half of men have a 40% hearing loss, concentrated mostly in  the upper registers (see my earlier post on hearing aids).

Yet with some hearing loss, I still love music and and good sound.

One option was to plug in computer speakers into the headphone jack.   Dell has some good such speakers.

I realized that all I needed was an amplifier and good speakers.  I had an old set ot KLH speakers, 20 years old.   They were designed by the legendary Henry Kloss.   Could they still be available?

These speakers are used with a ancient amplifier and my PC to deliver sound from Spotify which are stunningly beautiful, even to my old ears.  Spotify provides sound using better technology than most computer sound.   I boost the weak upper frequencies with the computer’s equalizer.

The old speakers deliver as good sound as I have ever heard.   They are small, well made, and cheap.

I wrote the KLH company in Santa Inez California, a beautiful coastal town in California.   Sure enough, they still had a pair of 970as, shipped for $30.  Click here for KLH.   In BestBuy I saw what looked like the same speakers for about the same price, but under a different brand name, maybe a knock-off

Looking thru Amazon for a cheap amplifier, I found a well-rated one for $30 with lots of good comments on it from those who bought one.   The amplifier was from Pyle, a PCA1. Click here for the Pyle amplifier.

Like most HDTVs, ours has the ability to provide great sounds thru the amp and speakers.    The HDTVs usually have equalizers which adjust the sound to your hearing.   Add to that the wonderful technical sound cspabilities of the HDTV, and you have a concert home theater system for almost a  pittance (less than $65 as opposed to hundreds of dollars.

Note that the first set of speakers from KLH included one bad speaker, which was replaced at no cost by KLH.

Other well-commented bookshelf speakers from Amazon include a Sony pair, Sony SS-B1000 5 1/8-Inch Bookshelf Speakers, Click here for the Sonys, plus speakers from the amplifier people, Pyle Home PDWR50B 6.5-Inch Indoor/Outdoor Click here for the Pyles.   Dual and BIC also offer very inexpensive well-rated bookshelf speakers.

I also got  a switch to switch between headset and speakers, a RCA DT902AV 2-Way A/V Switcher   Click here for the switch.

It  is a good idea to check that the speaker “impedance” specs in ohms match those of the amplifier.   Also, read the many comments of Amazon buyers, including the bad comments.   If the bad comments are over-fussy, you are on to a good buy.

There is no reason for seniors to deny themselves good TV sound, if only to use earbuds with a long earbud extension.   Click for earbud extension cords

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Review Your Subscriptions

You might review your subscriptions, paper and otherwise.

I switched from Comcast  to SeniorTV to save $40  month---I was paying for more than one HDTV/computer.     Then, when the price went up, I cut off NetFlix online, but kept the mail version which has more movies,   Then I cut that off, too.      I can resume for a month when movies come up that I like.           

I started up HULU, which offers a wealth of recorded TV, and subscribed to Spotify with its virtually unlimited music anywhere for iPad and iTouch.    HULU is $5.99 a month but it comes on a free trial with TIVO.    I then subscribed to TIME, paper plus Kindle, at $30 a year---works beautifully on iPad.

I do subscribe to the local Lancaster Sunday edition in paper form (it’s fun to spread it out and sit down with it), but discontinued the online daily until they offer it for the Kindle.     We get the Kindle edition of the Inquirer for $5.99 a month, and the New York Times latest news for Kindle for $1.99 a month, updated every 4 hours, a bargain.  

All in all, much better choices.     With all media, including paper, you want it so that it is available wnen YOU want it.   With libraries all over WV, it is fun to see what others are reading, like Grogan’s autobiography I browsed thru up at Spring Run but then checked out of the Lancaster library online for the Bookmobile   Some books just don’t come in eBook form yet, or are already checked out online by someone else.

The books I have published come both ways---don’t know why anyone would do it any other way.   I get the cheapest way when I buy one, lots of time an overun like TIVO for Dummies at a few dollars.  My Lulu books are free online.   Be sure to publish the stuff you are creating.

So far, Flipboard on Ipad brings me the New Yorker, The Atlantic Wire, the Economist, not to mention Facebook, and even this website, all in magazine form, all free, for now.   I get the Wall Street Journal online “TV” channel on iPad.  I read both the WSJ and NYT and LA Times on the browser..

I should add that I read the online Lifehacker website and enjoy it immensely.  Try it!

Old or New Hardware with the Cloud??

With cloud computing, and with the computer acting largely as a terminal to other  powerful computers in the internet cloud, you would think an old computer would do fine.

Yes and No.

There are trade-offs.   There are pros and cons.

Battery, speed, multitasking, software, proprietariness, ease of use, cost, and so on.

I got out an abandoned 7” EEE PC to see what it could do.   It runs Ubuntu 9.10 very well indeed, so it has access to internet.     It is fast enough if you are doing only one thing at a time.

(Available now is a slimmed-down fast version of Ubuntu for old netbooks, called Lunbuntu (light Ubuntu).     Click to download Lubuntu, then follow the simple instructions.   You download two files--starting one sets up a flash drive which, when will start up a live version.) Ran live on my 10" EEE PC without incident---runs lightning fast. hmmm.

It lacks a Kindle reader for now, but it does have Lucidor, a very capable reader.    It also accesses most cloud music, and Hulu recorded TV..     It runs Chrome browser and apps generally.

It has no spinning drive, a big advantage for portability.   But its battery life is low.    It is fussy to connect to wifi.     Otherwise good.

Newer devices are proprietary to some extent.   They do not access everything.  The new Kindle Fire is nice and small, easily carried in a big picket.     The unknown is to what extent  browsing will be limited by having Amazon mediate everything.

Now  I don’t mind that mediation.    If I subscribe to Spotify (nearly all) music for a fixed fee for anything, it is OK with me for Spotify to see what I am listening to, and pay royalties accordingly.  However, if mediation restricts my access too much, that will be a no-no, and a farewell to that system.

Whether the Spotify  marketing scheme will come to eBooks is still unknown.   This scheme offers broad access at a fixed fee (or free with advertising).  I would welcome it.    In the meantime, I am stuck with the Fire’s library or the iPad/Touch  libraries.

I would do the same for TV, pay a fixed fee for my choice of content, a little like cable or satellite.    

The selection of device, therefore is  contingent on content availability and content cost.

There is also the choice of apps, with Apple way out in front.     Old equipment will handle most Google apps, though.

We will see what apps are coming with Windows 8. 
  Each provider has a unique marketing stance.

Apple sells content in order to sell devices.    Amazon sells devices in order to sell content.     Google provides device and content in order to sell advertising.     Microsoft sells Windows software for nearly any computer.   Ubuntu gives it away free.

They all have a role.   They all need to do what it takes to compete with each other.  I don’t see  a “winner”.  I see development until all media is available at the least cost.

Keep your old computer for generation of documents (what more do you need, unless it is too slow?) and try a new device for consumption of media.     Minimally, have a Kindle, iTouch, or iPad.     In not too long most of us will have shifted from paper to device for a lot of reading (I still read the Sunday paper; I get some stuff BOTH ways--does not cost any more for TIME, for example ($30 a year).)    

Then, with a cheap cellphone and GPS you have it all on the cheap.     The iTouch even has a GPS adapter.    

Check out eBooks from (Lancaster,etc) Library

As of this month, eBooks may be checked out of your local library for Kindle (available earlier for some other devices):

Click here for the Lancaster Library Check-out Page

Update 4-8-2012: Or Click here to start the process.

Check Out a Public Library Book for Kindle

You can borrow Kindle books from your local library's website, and, with the click of a button, have them delivered to your Kindle device or free reading app.
  1. Visit the website of a U.S. library that offers digital services from OverDrive.
  2. Check out a Kindle book (library card required).
  3. Click on "Get for Kindle." You will then be directed to to redeem your public library loan. You may be required to login to your account -- or create a new account -- if you're not already logged in.
  4. Choose to read the book on your Kindle device, free reading app, or Kindle Cloud Reader.
Note: Public library books require an active Wi-Fi connection for wireless delivery to a Kindle device. Library books will not be delivered via your Kindle's 3G connection. If trying to send to a Kindle device and do not have an active Wi-Fi connection, you may instead choose to load your library book via USB. Both Mac and Windows users can manage Kindle content through a USB connection.

You may also check out audio books.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Cloud Begets Kindle Fire and Weebly Website Maker

BANG!!   Something good for seriors.    Coming out of nowhere, Amazon has come out with the Kindle Fire, a mid-sized color touch Pad/eReader halfway between iPad and smartphone.   The eBook comes of age. 

(Voltaire: The instruction we find in books is like fire. We fetch It from our neighbors, kindle it at home, communicate it to others and it becomes property of all.)           

To deal with its 7"screen, in between smartphone and iPad, they have employed cloud tech    The cloud is used simply to mediate websites to fit the screen, and refresh quickly using powerful cloud computers to "feed" the Fire.     I don't think Amazon would dare risk its reputation to fail on this---I ordered one immediately.   Does this start to render operating systems obsolete?   Think so.

I also tested out the Weebly web page which creates a website quickly online from the cloud.    Could it possibly work?     Indeed, it did, a new website with blog included in about an hour.    Another creator is Webnode.    Click for Weebly Howto Video

So, more and more goes to the cloud, unrelentingly.    The combination of small mobile computers with cloud supercomputers is a winning combination, and to use a hackneyed phrase, certainly a game changer.   The same goes for migration of apps to the cloud.   What came before will soon become obsolete.    I will need to rewrite parts of my November talk---we are entering on a new phase of computing!!

Note: the Fire is $200; the existing $114 Kindle is now $79.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Recording SeniorTV Local HD with TIVO

Recording Local HDTV with TIVO 

(for Willow Valley Retirement Community residents who need to watch TV, and the wealth of online media, from SeniorTV (like lectures) at their convenience by recording it with the TIVO.)

(In short, do a manual scan of channels so that "dot" channels appear; get the program, time and non-HD channel information; then set up a manual recording for the corresponding "dot" HD channel.)

Basic Set Up (does not need to be repeated):

1. Do a manual scan: (just one time)
 Settings & Messages > Settings > Channels > Channel Scan > Scan.
 Then, go to the Channel List and make sure the HD channels do appear: i. e. 8.1, 21.1, etc.

2. Go to the Program Guide.   To make things easier, if not already set up as a Grid, hit <enter> to then select Grid mode from the selection.   Go to Tivo Live Guide and hit <enter> to change to Grid.

3. Record an Episode

Important below: to get the program information for the HD channels, you must go to the corresponding SD or standard definition channels in the program guide.   The HD channels do not show the program information.   So...

Find the time and channel for the program for the standard definition channel, i.e. look at channel 6 (or 33-PBS), 7 or (27-ABC), 8 for NBC, 9 or (21-CBS), and 11 for Fox.  Or from the online guides or newspaper.

Note the corresponding HD "dot" channels  you will be scheduling:

6, PBS – 33.1  
7, ABC – 27.1 
8, NBC – 8.1 
9, CBS – 21.1 

Set up a manual TiVo recording for these HD channels:
(Find Shows > Record by Time or Channel > Set UP Manual Recording)
 for the time and appropriate "dot" channel.

/MK, with appreciation for the work of T. Poulos to solve this vexing problem for senior TV viewers.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

What is a Computer?

What is a computer?   The question comes up from time to time.

I sometimes get described as a computer/PC user/teacher with a missionary zeal.   Thanks, but no.  

Actually I am a tech guy who is always looking for the most appropriate tools, whatever they may be.   It is not so much the tool that interests me as the problem and solution.   I often do not recommend a PC.    One resident here says the ONLY device a senior should use is an iPad.

That comes from working with individuals users directly, one-on-one.  The biggest complaint from users: why does it need to be so complicated?  What will WORK for me?

It doesn't need to be complicated to be a computer.     New devices, both more specialized and more converging, work better.     So often I see a senior trying to use a cast-off device under a great handicap.

I don't classify devices by type at all, I look for the best tool.  I don't care what people call it    Kindles, smartphones, TIVOs, and so on, are all computers, just with a specialized function.     All the devices with processors are computers if you look up definitions in any dictionary or encyclopedia.  .   No definition confines computers to PCs and/or Macs, which are an older type of computer with a keyboard.   Newer are smartphones, getting bigger all the time.

Check out the definitions.   Look for the best tool for the job.    Also, the best all-round computer for some might be a ChromeBook.    Then, there is that new color Kindle 7" Android device.    For seniors, the Telikin.  

Friday, September 2, 2011

How to Set Up Your TIVO

To watch TV at your convenience your need to record it.    Your choices are limited.    I have found the TIVO to be the best bet with Comcast.

The TIVO is by far the most versatile box apart from a computer. It accesses pre-recorded shows from such sources as HULU.

Browse these videos to get the idea:

Here is a video on how to do the basic setup.

Now, the TIVO needs to be connected to your TV provider and to your phone or internet.    I connected mine to internet with TIVO’s wireless adapter, which just plugs into the back of the TIVO.     

I have Windstream as my internet provider, which installed a way to connect my computer wirelessly.   I like the fact that Windstream did the installation and provided a simple and reliable combo “box”.

For those who want to know the details, the Windstream DSL router, which plugs into a telephone jack, is uniquely a DSL combo modem/router and has wireless built-in.     It could not be simpler to use.    

The Windstream internet service is a sustained speed of 3 mbps, just enough to handle TIVO, movies, and all the rest.  

Alternatives to Windstream:  

maybe...Clear Communications - I have had this service for a year now..     It could not be simpler to use:   Just a small device which needs only power.   A computer with wireless picks up internet from it wirelessly.    With Clear it is important to make sure it will work at your location---easily done by borrowing someone else’s device.    Works well with Netflix.   BUT, there may be setup issues with TIVO---I have it only for use with my iPad.     Try at your own risk.

Comcast internet service offers faster “burst” speeds but no sustained guarantee.   Not only must the user pay for a modem but also a wireless router, and here, have Comcast cable, too.  For every HDTV device attached, you pay more.      However, you CAN use TIVO with Comcast; it works well.    Even a Comcast service tech recommended it over the Comcast box.   A cable card from Comcast is also required.       Comcast is starting to provide these from its stores for self installation into the TIVO box

This brings me to a key point.    To get full use of TIVO, such as Netflix, movies, and pre-recorded TV from YouTube and HULU---like 50 past shows of NOVA, a few more things need to be done.    I would not have it any other way, as major TIVO functions would be lost.    This requires internet service as described, and wireless, unless you have internet service at your TV.

TIVO takes you thru the steps to activate all the wealth of TV and video online.   What is happening is that you are connecting TIVO to internet via your internet service.   These are described in the documentation and on the website.

What needs to be done is to set up networking.    This is done at the TIVO.    Anyone with computer savvy will find it a smooth process.     For wireless, TIVO will ask the name of your wireless and the password.    

Connecting to computer makes it easy to access photos and music.   TIVO guides you through that.    At this point others who do not have or use a computer will have TIVO access to internet, where most of the action is nowadays.   (It should not be necessary to be computer literate to use TIVO and access online stuff, but computer literacy helps with installation.)

Then, another optional step.    TIVO offers a way to transfer recorded shows to a computer and reverse (the latter costs another $25 or so).    Since my computer is where I exercise, I view TV on computer while exercising, when I have time.    I don’t need the reverse function---everything is already accessible on TIVO.

I had trouble finding a complete setup video on YouTube.   Here is a “wordy” but thorough setup.

Another resource is “TIVO for Dummies”.   I found it quite useful and available on Amazon new as a remainder for less than $2 but with $3.99 media shipping.    Also for Kindle, etc.

Note: SeniorTV will be offering ISP service here at WV, but we will not know how it will perform until installed. We need to learn if it will provide the needed bandwidth or speed in mbps locally and, especially, under load for video. The TIVO channelguide may or may not work, or work well, with SeniorTV.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Some Cloud Computing Resources

Cloud Computing is the natural evolution of the Web as envisioned by Tim Berners-Lee, its founder, using many technologies, starting with peer-to-peer networking as he first conceived Web interconnection, to today's  increasingly web-based computer.  Click links below for more...

What is Cloud Computing?

Cloud Computing Short and Sweet - with more good information about computing securely

A Short (Free Downloadable) Book on Cloud Computing - more technical about the cloud concept

For iPad, just download and drag the downloaded pdf  file to iTunes Books, then select for transfer; for Kindle EMail as described at right; or just download and click on the file to read on your computer.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011


Working with users, I am never at a loss for subjects for new posts, and will welcome comments on this one: Security.

At the outset, let me say I don't even trust the so-called experts, and conspiracy theorists, on security.    If there were that many true experts on security, we would have few failures.    So, what to do!   Simple:


That might not be entirely possible, but it is a good objective for computers and everything else.   The big exposures are credit cards,  Social Security numbers, and the like, and not computers per se.     Shopping in stores is where you need to be careful.

However, as always with changes and with what is new, there are always new fears.   Also, it is not just us seniors who resist change.   Yet changes are making things a lot better for all of us.     If you work individually with users, as I do, you have experienced the need for newer simpler and safer systems and have seen them develop.

The "cloud" is really just a new name for internet, but with programs and data in a safer place than your home computer connected to internet,  especially wirelessly.     Rapidly adopting cloud computing: Microsoft, Apple, Walmart, EMI Industries, (music), Sony, Amazon, Intel, oh, and IBM---you get the idea!!

To be considered protected, data from one user must be segregated from that of another, it must be stored securely at rest and it must be able to more securely from place place.    Newly cloud providers have systems in place to prevent against data leaks or access.   These safeties too often did not exist heretofore.

I believe cloud computing to be a great resource to improve security.   Cloud computers minimize the threat from viruses, keep data more safely, eliminate failure to update, and are free from crashes.     With data in the "cloud", in fewer places,exposure to risk is also minimized.     I keep backup data in more than one place, though.     Suffice it to say that if the cloud computer I am using quits, it is of little concern to me---I just go to another one: all my stuff is there.   I cannot think of why anyone would want to hack into it.

The latest cloud computer apps, which use the web page for an application in the cloud, can be a great step ahead in security.   The new Kindle app is a wonder.     It is in one place, and not on your computer at all.    Way to go, Amazon!!    Better that program and data be in one well-policed central place where quickly updated than exposed to millions of computers.

We all have our money in a bank computer if not under our bed.    Our bank account is just numbers in some computer somewhere.   You can, however, keep accessibility limited.    You should keep paper records somewhere, such as a safe deposit box. I therefore use computers for transactions in a very limited way.     Obviously, it is nearly impossible not to use them nowadays, especially if you are not so mobile.

In theory there is always a loophole somewhere for security, however remote.     There are ways to protect further, thru tunneling and VPN.   You could run a complete virtual operating In system like EyeOS, and so on.    You could route thru a second router.   You could use a Linux computer.   By all means, use these measures if you are concerned.    BUT, wherever possible, just



Why the Cloud is Safer - (Click) - by Simon Crosby, (taught at Cambridge University, England before going into the private sector)

Even Safer with a new dedicated "cloud computer" - (Click).

Safer with an older computer:

Some old tried and true rules for safer computing from Leo Laporte:

1. Don’t open email attachments; even if it’s from someone you know. If you do get something from someone you know, make sure that they really sent it to you. Email attachments are the number one way viruses and trojan horses get into your email. You might also want to turn off HTML email in Outlook and other programs. HTML emails are just as dangerous as rogue web sites, and can spread infections just by previewing them.
2. Don’t click links in email. That link could lead you to a phishing site, or the link may lead you to install malicious software. Copy and paste links into your browser, or type them in by hand instead. Another reason to disable HTML email – the HTML hides the real destination of that seemingly innocuous link.
3. Don’t download files from places you aren’t absolutely sure are safe. Stick with the well known sites. Teeneagers who use filesharing software like BitTorrent, Azureus, Kazaa, Morpheus, Grokster, and Limewire, often unwittingly download spyware and trojans. If you must, quarantine all downloads then scan them a few days later with an updated anti-virus.
4. Update your OS regularly! Turn on automatic updates in OS X and Windows. Apply all critical updates immediately. Criminals often create hacks within 24 hours of Microsoft’s patches (these are called zero day exploits), so you need to protect yourself the day the patches appear.
5. Use a firewall. The best firewall is a hardware router – the kind you use to share an internet connection. Even if they’re not billed as firewalls, they are, and they’re quite effective. I also recommend turning on your operating system’s firewall – even if you have a router – but I don’t recommend third-party software firewalls. They cause more problems than they solve.
6. Never run as an administrator in any operating system. Administrators have way too many priveleges that malicious people/code can take advantage of. Run as a limited user as much as possible. Windows Vista, Linux, and Mac OSX allow you to run a majority of features, but with some additional safety, as a limited user.
...and from Microsoft, if you are paranoid... - (Click)

...and a video on security from Google... - (Click)