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.