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.