Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Easy Transitioning to a New Computer Device

The great wave of new devices is accompanied by many seniors now transitioning from old to new.  These devices include Kindle Fire, Nook, Nexus 7, iPad, smartphone, and the like.
It will be easier with the new equipment, but first comes some work.    It may also be necessary to coordinate both old and new. 
The new equipment is usually wireless.     The device, laptop or tablet, can be used with available wireless wherever you are, somewhere, such as here in the common areas.  
The name of nearby wireless access points, such as WVGuest,  and others, will be found by your device, in settings or accessible from an icon, such as shown for WiFi,    Here, since here at WV, there is more than one, only  the right connection needs to be selected: WVGuest.   Then you need a password.    (Ask a computer club members for it.)
That brings us to passwords, probably the biggest transitioning problem.   The solution to the “problem” (remembering) is to keep track of all of them while also keeping them private.
Most device users will want faster wireless at home.    This requires an installation.   You may already have a wired connection.
Your wireless, too will have a name.   On recent access point boxes, this will be listed on the box itself.    You then select that name and password from your device.   So here we have another name and password.
For the least trouble in getting wireless working, the provider will come in and set it up, providing also the provider’s box or boxes.    All the responsibility is then in one place.  To insure that, with cable, for example, I have usually rented the box or boxes and also paid for a monthly maintenance contract.   With DSL, I needed to buy the box, but bought it from the DSL (phone) company.  I don’t want division of responsibility when things go wrong.
It is also possible to buy the boxes separately, though, and get someone to help or do it all yourself.   It is well first to know how to set up the equipment.   For setup you need another login and password., plus some know-how.     My experience with doing this has run from a  breeze to a nightmare.    Often you need to install the latest firmware and configure it.
Another compromise approach is to rent the boxes until you have set up your own.
Alternatively, or in addition, you may need to set up 3G or 4G cell tower data access.    You need an account with login and password.    If your device does not have such access, you can also obtain a pocket “hotspot”, such as MiFi.
The device will then also display the connection as for WiFi and ask for the 3G or 4G password.
Before you get that far, you need to find out where you will have good access.    You need to pick the right service for your area.    Most providers provide maps on their internet websites.  
You can find these websites by searching for, for example, Verizon coverage maps.  Verizon has worked well for me.
I have found that my main current 4G provider. however,  blankets my community well but fails away from built-up areas and main roads.   In this area, service is slow, just fast enough for Spotify music, but not for video, whereas in Philadelphia the same service can handle HDTV video easily.
This brings us to GPS.    You might think GPS to be superfluous, but GPS is important.     Any senior who drives NEEDS GPS navigation if only for safety. 
Now, limited or lacking 3G or 4G may or may not be a problem for GPS.    If your device is a Google Nexus 7, you will STILL have GPS satellite location service.     You will know where your are and you will get navigation directions.  What you will not have while traveling is data service, such as traffic service.  Your maps will also need to be loaded on your device.
(Without data service, before you leave, when you set up your destinations, check out the traffic with Google maps to find the least traveled route and with WAZE to get accident and construction and detour data.) 
Turning back to setting up of your new device, most users want their old Email contacts.   Worse, they may want their old Email address.     The benefits of changing to Gmail are that so much is automatically shared  that you have it on all devices, such as contacts, calendar, and so on.  When you log in on your device with you Gmail address, everything is synchronized.
Set up the Chrome browser, including on the iPad, and you will even be able to print from iPad to ANY printer. 
So  whether you ever use it or note, go through the agonies of signing up for Gmail.    Make sure you know the new address and also the password!
Well, then, what about your old contacts and address lists?     There are new a new ways to get them into your device without going through the troubles of the past.
Google: Tap or Click for Google Apps Sync
iPad, etc. Tap or Click for Apple iCloud Control Panel
As you install applications on your device, many will have logins and passwords.   Often you can use your Email address for the login.   If you want to simplify your passwords, you can do that now with  Lastpass (tap or click for it. 
The process of setup is then completed with set up of applications.  With tablets, that is easily done by going to the Google or Amazon or Apple online “store” for which you will also need an account login and password.  Don’t worry, most applications are free, but the store needs to have your account so that it can update your apps when necessary, and apps are update daily.
To install an app, go to the store, (sign in), search for the app, and simply tap on it to install it.
Which apps?     Separately I have catalogued the basic apps needed to get reasonable full functionality out of your device.   You might think 100-125 is a lot, but you will get familiar with them over time.     There are basically two types of apps: Apple and Android, with most in either format.   Google Chrome apps run on all devices.   These include Calendar, Documents, Voice (phoning), and so on.    Separately, Tango is a video phoning app which runs on all devices with microphone---it needs (borrows) a phone number for each to ide identify you.
Remember those login names and passwords.   Don’t get them mixed up. I will not tell if you keep them in a little notebook.   .