Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Cleaning House

I recently cleaned out my entire tech up to a year old and replaced it with new. An old DVD recorder and internet radio, even older type wireless keyboards and webcams, sold for more than new. These are getting scarce, but I had already converted all my tapes and the new tablets serve also as internet radios.

I also rearranged my choices based on uses.

I wanted a device which would transmit recorded videos to TV such as the huge offerings by PBS, also Internet Archive.

I wanted a device to generate documents. Now, that means dictation, since I do most documents that way, now, but I also wanted a regular keyboard.

I wanted to do videophoning trouble-free

I wanted a device with good loud stereo sound to play music.

I wanted device sized for easy reading without being too heavy.

I wanted a portable device to accompany me everywhere.

I wanted the device really fast.

Now, here is what I concluded.

The Apple devices are best at sending to an AppleTV ($100), but Google devices are catching up. Google's new $35 Chromecast may be all it takes.

Google devices, especially the new Nexus were best for dictation. They are also the fastest.

The Apple Facetime video phoning works only with other Apple devices but is the best.

The Nook HD+ had wonderful sound and and also is a great size and weight for reading.

My old cell phone was already the right size, maybe a little small, to carry around---but I did need to learn how to speed it up.

In the future we may find one device which does most of this. For now, it took more than one. I made my choices.

How would you have chosen? I did manage to come out ahead in dollars.


Now, I need to add that I do use Windows, but not Windows 8. I wavered back and forth about a Windows laptop or tablet and finally decided neither offered anything new and traded in my original Chromebook laptop for a nifty Samsung---light weight, fast, reliable, indestructible, portable, slick.

But for a very few others, there might me another choice if Microsoft ever gets it right. One resident who does a lot of writing for publication bought a MS Surface RT, lovely hardware with very limited software which does MS Office, though little else, well.

I found it appealing despite very negative reviews. It can actually serve as your main computer by just plugging in a keyboard and display, and is very portable indeed.

A poor choice now for most, but I do believe developers are working hard to get it right.

Typed and published from MS Word (my old tablets are gone and I don't have the new one(s) quite yet).

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Computer Hardware Survival for Seniors

Here are my recommendations for senior computer survival in the digital world as our whole way of using computers changes.

If you don't have an Apple computer then keep your old Windows 7 computer working as long as possible. Sooner or later it will need a reinstall of the operating system. 

Avoid Windows 8 unless you are faced with the need to buy a new computer, and even then consider leaving Windows. Windows 8 takes a lot of learning and it is s full of grief, based upon the deafening cries for help that I hear. In the past it was just a necessary evil. It is no longer necessary. 

So pick up a new tablet in any event.. 

If you need GPS, a good choice would be the Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7 or 10. These also have both front and back facing cameras. If not, and you need a camera, then the iPads are an appealing choice, maybe the only choice for a dedicated photographer. 

But if you don't need either, or have a separate device for either or both, then the big 9" Barnes and Noble Nook HD+ is a great bargain, even if it is to be phased out. For some this might be the only device you need.

If you need voice recognition , then the latest Android tablets are an exceptional choice. 

Consider the size of the device. Will you be using it mostly at home or on the go? Then, if you need to use a large screen wirelessly with your device, or a TV, any of the Apple offerings will work with Apple TV. If the small size does not put you off, then the Apple iPod Touch may be your choice. This device does almost everything the iPhone and iPad Mini do without the iPhone monthly fee.

While the ability to stream to your TV is a big plus for Apple, the big iPad is a bit heavy to hold for any length of time, and the Mini can bw a bit hard to read, being downsized from the original---unless used with an AppleTV and a remote display.

And so, in summary, both keep your old Windows 7 computer and add a tablet sometime soon, along with a GPS and/or camera if you need it. Neither of the latter should cost much more than $100 for a fine choice.

If you really need a laptop then consider the non-Windows Chromebook.

If you really need Microsoft Office, you can run it online. Click or tao to get it set up.

Or, consider the Microsoft Surface RT, a tablet which includes Windows Office and can even be used as your sole system by plugging in a display and keyboard.    This is a limited tablet and has limited tablet apps, device support, and will not run many Windows apps to date, either.    Still, if you MUST have MS Office, it is the cheapest way to go and now costs only $350.     Or just subscribe to MS 365 at $100 per year for 5 computers.

A budget not exceeding $400 should do the trick.

Oh, you will need a case or two. A poor case may discourage you from using a device. 

For use around home a "tire tread" rubber skin jacket both protects the device and makes it easier to handle. These cost about $5 or less delivered from eBay. On the go a better case is needed which gives you quick access. You need a case which opens up and gives access quickly. These are not easy to find. Search the online stores, Amazon, and eBay.

Finally, you may need a keyboard case. This choice may determine how well you use any device. Preferably you will find one with a removable keyboard which separates from the case but is included inside it. These cost about $30 from Amazon.

Digital Downsizing

As we get older we are faced with downsizing. That includes digital downsizing. 

Sooner or later that old tower and scramble of wires needs to disappear. We need the space. 

At the same time we need the capabilities of newer computers which address senior issues. 

These needs include decreasing mobility, problems with vision, and lessening dexterity with our fingers. 

It is also time to start enjoying the use of a computer and not be tied up forever with solving computer problems.

The time is ripe and the new technology can address our needs well. We can now benefit from portable devices, touch screens, use of large screens and TV, and voice recognition. We can now enjoy the resources of Internet on a TV connected to a small computer or tablet. 

Based on those requirements, then what are our choices? 

Apple addresses all these needs. Other tablets address many of them. Microsoft addresses fewer. Microsoft offers familiarity, though, so we stick to our older systems until they fail us. Windows 8 offers challenges. 

Apple is unique in offering a good wirelss connection between computers & TV. Apple's newer Apple TV technology permits use of a TV screen wirelessly with its devices. 

Microsoft is not quite that far yet but has announced the future wireless TV connectivity with Windows 8 .1. Meanwhile, a Windows software program,AirParrot, can provide the capability to those with an Apple TV device. 

The same technology is in the works for other future tablets. These other tablets, the Android ones, probably have the best speech recognition, while Apple follows not too far behind. Microsoft has a older system which requires special training by the user. 

It is up to the senior to decide which provider offers the equipment which best suits his. Typically a senior will work with Windows until it fails, meanwhile starting to work with tablets with the best combination of the above new capabilities. 

In our rocking chair more and more of us will have a tablet at our side while watching television which also serves as an Internet display resource. More of us will phone others to see them on our TV using tablets. 

More will browse library shelves without leaving the chair or listen to their sound systems via their tablets. 

More will use voice recognition for their email and browsing without leaving the chair. The device in their hands will serve as a radio and camera as well. It will go along with more of us us wherever we need to go. 

Rather than requiring us to conform our ways to the computer the tablet will adjust more and more to our needs and free us from some of our limitations.. As we age our Internet devices will become the magic carpet to keep us connected as our mobility decreases.

Dictated to my Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7

Thursday, July 4, 2013

How to Hook Up Your Printer

Hooking up a printer can be a chore. Using a printer with a tablet can be a challenge. 

The old way was to insert a CD and install the software or driver for your particular printer and operating system. With hundreds of printers out there and many versions of Windows it was easy to get things not working.

Downloading the software or driver from the printer manufacturer's website worked better, especially if your computer did not have a CD drive.

With Windows 7, however, there is a simpler way. Just plug the printer into the PC via the USB cable and Windows installs its own software.

There is a caution. If alternatively you are going to use a CD or downloaded software, don't plug in the printer to the computer until you are asked to do so. Otherwise there maybe a conflict. 

Newly there are other ways to hook up your printer. They also work with a tablet by replacing the wire with a wireless connection to your WiFi router or to the internet cloud.  

The simplest is to obtain a newer wireless printer, also called an eprint printer. On the printer display you just login to your wireless system. 

If your printer is not such a newer printer, you can accomplish the same result by installing software which enables your wireless system to "see" the printer from your PC or tablet.

For the iPad this software is called Fingerprint. It costs $20. Printing is done by tapping from the app on the share icon and selecting the printer, (once sharing is activated), .    Printhand for Android does similar for Android plus more, but from the file using the Priinthand app.

The last way to connect is through internet. Cloudprint from Google does a great job of this. Your print job is sent up to Google's server and then back to your printer. 

This sounds a bit complicated but actually works beautifully and has some extra benefits. You can print from anywhere to anywhere. You do not need any drivers.

If there is downside, it is that you must sign up for Gmail. That is a good idea anyway. It is just that Google makes you go through hoops to sign up. Make a note of your login and password.

Using these Android utilities, Write ($5) makes it easy to print from the application through an extensive sharing drop-down window, and Documents to Go ($15)  makes it easy to create Microsoft Office documents, but then you must locate the file from this utility, and then use Printhand to print.  Other documents creation apps have their own ways to print.

If you can work with small print on the screen, an even simpler may be to use the Kingsoft Office app, which works like MS Office Word, from which there is an options print with no further ado.   So, if your tablet is larger or can mirror to a larger display or TV, this would be the way to go.

To print via Windows attached printers, print sharing must be activated for each printer (right click).

One last easy way to print is to email the document to a PC already connected to a printer and print from that PC.    The EMail process is actually what is used in the above utilities and apps.

Tap or Click here for a nice video on the subject..

Or tap here for a way to hook up many an older printer.with ePrint.