Monday, December 28, 2015

Alternative WiFi

With their new Kindle Fire 7 5 tablet, users are asking what to do about getting Wi-Fi cheaply.

There is free Wi-Fi in the public areas, of course, but sometimes it is unreliable, and it is not available free  in apartments here.

Indeed, it costs $$ to provide the necessary hardware, along with the monthly fee, and even then may not be reliable. If there are problems you need to go out and hire an outside consultant at $100 per hour or more.

It is sort of like if you were served bad food in the dining room, it would be up to you to find out why and correct it.

A so called hot spot is an alternative. This device connects directly to cell towers without a router and Wi-Fi access point and without installation expense.

The Freedompop hotspot costs $80 with no contract and inexpensive plans.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Amazon Innovates

We are all accustomed to regular physical product innovations from Google and from Apple, though a bit less so from Amazon.  That may be changing with an innovation from Amazon worthy of Apple.

I am very hopeful about Amazon's development of Echo, essentially a computer without screen or keyboard. You talk to it and it talks back.   

It is, after all, crazy to need run back and forth to your suitcased size tower with keyboard to do all your stuff.

The smartphone has already proved that we need our computer device everywhere and at the center of what we are doing.

That is the direction in which we are going with Echo.

I am hopeful that the Echo will open up new connectedness and functionality for those seniors who have vision and mobility problems, even if someone with good vision needs to assist.

Now, Amazon has gone even further.  

Amazon has taken another step forward by adding some of the Echo capability to its Fire TV stick.

The basic voice input feature of Echo, called Alexa, is being extended to the same Fire TV stick which brings internet media to your TV.

Now, that same Fire TV stick comes with voice input to accomplish a multitude of tasks via voice. That even includes such tasks as turning appliances on and off.

All this moves the computer to the center of our activity where we need it most, especially for seniors with limitations.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

iPad Marketshare Falling

The iPad marketshare, (like the Windows phone marketshare) is falling.  For more, click or tap for

For those who do not need the excellent support available from Apple, a $50 Kindle Fire 5th generation might be all a senior might need in a computer.

Put Google Apps on Kindle

Kindle tablets include a subset of the larger library of applications available for Android devices.

If you would like to add one of the Google applications, don't give up the ship.
What you need to do is to download a file with an apk after the dot in the file name. That will be an installation file.

Sources of these files are detailed below.

To be able to install that file, you first need to provide permission in settings.

Then there are three ways to get the particular file that you need.

1. The standard way is to sideload the application on a PC and then transfer it by cable to the tablet.

2. Another way is to download the file directly to the tablet or email it to yourself where are you can install it in the tablet.

3. A third way is to use a Chrome browser extension called APK Downloader.
Once you have the particular file on the tablet, just tapping on it will usually install it.

If not, it is worthwhile to first install a helper app called ES File Explorer. Tapping on the file name in ES File Explorer download folder will install the app.
Now, where to get those files. The APK Downloader app, of course, will get them for you.

This is the latest way to do it and probably the best.

Otherwise, there are several sites which provides such apps. These are 1mobile market, slideme, APKmirror.

From such sites you can also obtain three files which will actually install Google Play Store in your Kindle.

These are Google Account Manager and reboot the tablet, Google Services Framework and reboot the tablet, Google Play Services and reboot the tablet, and then probably Gmail and reboot the tablet once again.

Having done the last, the whole library of Android apps will now be available.

Newly, Google has simply started streaming apps.  Try Weather in your browser.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Run Another OS

More and more, you can run another operating system on the computer you are using.

You can run Windows on a Mac, and Windows Office on almost any other OS or piece of equipment.

You can run the Chromebook operating system via Chrome OS on most equipment.

 Also, you can install the Chrome OS on an old Windows tower.

Or you could just run the Chrome browser on most other equipment.

To compete with the Chromebook Microsoft has modified Windows 10 to run on minimal equipment at low cost.

You can also run Linux on an old Windows tower or indeed via an application on an Android device.

Android can also run now on a Windows computer or tablet.

It is also becoming possible to run some Android apps on Windows.

More and more apps run on all three main operating systems

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Internet Service at Willow Valley

Here at Willow Valley we have had two basic choices for Internet service, Comcast or Willow Valley service.

A third choice is to use a hotspot. The hotspot works like a cell phone but also provides Wi-Fi access to other devices.

FreedomSpot service has been available here also for quite a long time using the older Wimax protocol.

Reception was quite marginal, although I was always able to use it when there was a problem with my other internet choice here.

The hot spot was also portable and I could use it with any device.

Now there is a new and better choice than WiMAX. Available now is so called LTE service. While WiMAX service was poor in this area the LTE service is excellent and can be recommended.

I know that because I have the LTE service on my smartphone and it works extremely well here and along the routes I usually follow to Philadelphia and Wilmington. It works throughout Lancaster.

This service is extremely inexpensive for moderate use. However, you do need the hotspot at the start. I paid $50 for it. As a new user, you may need to spend more.

It would not be practical if you download or stream movies or videos but may suffice for many users just for documents and music.

Also, the service goes anywhere with you.

The old WiMAX service has been retired.

A big benefit of hotspot service is that you do not need to be bothered with routers and access points and expensive support.

Solving One of a Kind Problems

Caduter problems, which are probably more common on Windows than any other platform, can be fairly common problems or they can be one of a kind problems you have never seen before.

It may never be possible to determine the cause.

To find a solution it is wise to go to your browser and search for a solution to the problem by describing it. Someone probably encountered something like it before and may have a possible solution for it.

Then more simply all that may be necessary is to  unplug everything from the wall and reboot.

Often drivers or apps simply need to be reinstalled to solve the problem.

Then it may be possible simply to reset the OS from settings.

(Google has started to stream apps so that it is no longer necessary to install them to access them. A search in Google brings up the app which is then streamed to your computer without further ado.)

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Tech Videos for Seniors

Intimidated by technology? Here is an AARP site to guide you. Tap or click for

Organize Your GMail

Looks like we have a new tool to organize our GMail.   Tap or click for:

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Why bother with Windows 10?

Why use Windows at all?

Nowadays there are plenty of alternatives for everything most of us need to do.

But there are also plenty of reasons to use the new Windows 10.

So what are the pros and cons?

Windows has been around for a long time, and Windows 10 is very much improved over all previous versions.

It has been reengineered to run on minimal hardware.

It will run on a very inexpensive $150 laptop and much old equipment. It is a free upgrade for older equipment.

Most important, it can run some of the best software out there for special purposes.
If you are writing or publishing a book it will run Scrivener. If you are an avid reader, it will run Calibre. These applications organize what you are doing better than others.

Most of us will simply use Word or Kindle for these purposes. Both are wanting when push comes to shove. These can run almost on any system whereas Scrivener and Calibre cannot.

So those are compelling reasons to use Windows 10.

So why not use Windows 10? What are the negatives?

If you need help or simpler and more easy to use software just avoid Windows.

If you are paranoid about privacy, avoid Windows.

If you fear viruses avoid Windows unless you take measures to keep safe. That means keeping sensitive data off your computer or encrypted.

Let me emphasize that it is dangerous to keep sensitive data on your computer whether connected to internet or not. Better to keep that data on the cloud, just as it is better to keep your money in the bank than under your bed.

Encryption is safe. Virtual private networks are used to keep it that way. You can use one too.

Weigh the alternatives and use what works best for you and for those around you. If you do expose yourself to viruses, you can bring down other computers and the common network they are using. You can expose others to theft of their personal information.

Or do like me. Use Windows 10 when you need to and otherwise not.

Monday, November 16, 2015


Malwarebytes is often proposed as a solution to Microsoft Windows virus problems.

If you read widely on internet, you will know that it is one of the least effective antivirus programs out there.

Malwarebytes does claim to remove a virus. The problem is that you can never be sure that it fully removes all malware content.

When you do have a virus, the only safety measure you can really depend upon is to reinstall the operating system altogether.

Fortunately, Windows 10 makes that more than easy.

Malwarebytes gives a false sense of security. Even though it may remove a virus in your computer, that same virus  may have infected other computers on the network and indeed the network itself.

It is better to protect yourself with rock-solid encryption and a VPN.

Then always keep at hand a reinstall DVD and restore your files from a safe place on internet where you have kept them.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

No Screen , No Keyboard

Imagine, a computer with no screen and no keyboard. It just listens and talks to you.

That would be Alexa, the newest mass market introduction from Amazon. It is called Amazon Echo.

The closest device to it heretofore would be a GPS. You say "Take me to XXX" and it takes you there. It is the closest device to a real person today as it talks you there by voice.

Alexa, though, can talk about many things while you are busy doing something else like working in your kitchen.

I have not tried it yet, but I see nearly 30,000 mostly favourable comments about it on Amazon.

It could be a boon for those with limited vision and limited mobility, as attested to by commenters.

Somebody needs to set it up for them, of course.  I would think that would be someone who is quite computer literate.

That could be someone who is comfortable using voice now with their computer, as I am doing as I dictate this posting.

What next?

So Alexa, what is the weather today?

Friday, November 13, 2015

Important Windows 10 Update

Tap or click on the following for information on an important Windows Update.

Be sure to download and burn a DVD of a Windows 10 1115 ISO as a disk image back up after you install it, just in case you need it when things go sour.   

Organizing Documents

We are all deluged with documents, seniors most of all.

With internet documents, my first line of defense is to send them off to Pocket. Pocket is just a holding tank where I can read them later. I keep them there temporarily and delete them after I have read them.

Short permanent notes go straight to Evernote  where they are automatically indexed and easy to access later. I use a browser extension that sends them off to Evernote.

Longer documents present more of a problem. I use a similar browser extension which sends them off to Kindle. The extension is called Push to Kindle.

I also use email to send documents to Kindle. In the subject line I type convert for PDF documents.   I use dotEPUB to convert to ebook.

This works well for digital manuals and instructions, and everything else.  For paper documents I need something else.

If these documents have very tiny type I scan them to my PC using my Brother printer. The printer will convert them to digital text, send them to PC, and magnify the document for easier reading.

I keep track of these documents on the Kindle page for managing content and devices, where I can deliver them to a tablet or phone. I keep a bookmark on my PC browser for that purpose.  They will not appear on a device until that Kindle content is synced.

To organize all these documents, I use a Kindle Paperwhite reader. There I can distribute them into Collections by subject. Since the Paperwhite can handle a huge number of documents in its memory without going to the cloud, I keep them all there to access anywhere.

So there is then just one place to go when I am looking for a document, my Kindle Paperwhite. No more going through piles of papers.

Windows 10 Recovery Options

Tap or click or Windows 10 recovery options

I keep all of them available in the event that I have a problem with Windows.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Being Peppered by Nuisance EMail?

If you are being peppered by nuisance email, Go here:

In GMail you can also mark it as spam.

Snrtech Print Archive Available

A perfect bound paperback printed version of all snrtech posts from 2007 thru late 2015, including all typos and warts, is available from        Copyright ISBN 2015. Price $20.

Accessing of links can only be done from online, as links are frequently not listed with URLs.   You can preview the first pages of the book before ordering.

As the postings are almost always a result of questions from seniors in one-on-one help sessions, the archive shows interesting and changing trends of senior concerns and of technology over the years.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

New Breed of Cat

Coming out now are a new breed of cat, Flip Chromebooks which work both as laptops and tablets, at around $250, from Asus and Acer.

They look promising for those who want both laptop and touchscreen tablet, plus a high degree of security, all at low cost.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Favorite Apps

OK, here are my favorite apps:  (not including bookmarks and websites).

Google Voice Search

Google Mail








Amazon Music

CBS News



Google News and Weather










The Old Reader



Ookla Speedtest

ES File Explorer


Google Maps



Push to Kindle


iTunes Radio



Volume in Notifications


WiFi Analyzer

Microsoft Word

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Windows and Seniors

A recent serious Windows 10 malware "bot" incident here reminds me again that seniors and all versions of Windows are magnets for such attacks.  A bot can not only bring down a computer but also a network and infect other computers.  That is scary.

More and more senior users "just say no to Windows" and use almost anything else, like an iPad, or Kindle or Google tablet.  A lot less learning required, too.

Chromebooks are actually impervious to such attacks because the inner workings of the computer are not held locally and vulnerably on your local machine's memory at all.  Chromebooks work just like your browser.

Now that your old computer can be used as a Chromebook or converted with a $5 flash drive, that would be a cheap alternative. Tap or click for how to do it at

Disclaimer:   I use (and like) Windows (10 only now) but use it only occasionally, with care, encryption active, VPN, security and updates enabled and current.

Microsoft recently announced a coming security improvement in keeping your version of Windows up to date by automatically updating it to Windows 10.

Sunday, October 25, 2015


My experience with helping seniors ranges from one extreme to the other.

One 95-year-old woman who had never used a computer was computer literate within an hour, exclaiming "oh, look at what I can DO!"

Another scolded me for encouraging her to get a smartphone.   "It took me all night to learn to use it".

But others just say "I just don't get it".

So how do we learn?

I faced a block when I needed to minor in history in graduate school.    I hated history and thought I had a poor memory.

The History Department head offered to help me.   Simply, he asked me to memorize 50 dates.   That's all.    That simple exercise gave me the "hooks" I needed to pull everything together.     I never had to work at memorizing dates again.    I went to top of the department's classes.

So it is selective memory you need.    Your brain will automatically connect and remember if you give it a few dozen mental landmarks.  

Tap or click for a site to get grounded if you are new at computers.

Or tap or click for a $.99 ebook on how to use your brain to learn.

Another highly effective way to learn to use a computer is to sit alongside someone else who knows how.   I learned programming that way.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

My Favorite Tech

I see an awful lot of technology.  I work with all systems.

I hold no brief for any particular technology but try to help others select what is best for them. However, I do have some subjective top favorites.

I thought you might like to know what they are, especially with Christmas coming.

I like the $130 Moto G phone from Republic with a $10-25 a month plan.

I like most of the Chromebook laptops. I like the ability to turn any compatible computer into a Chromebook using Chrome Ready. Need only a $5 8GB flash drive.

I like Windows 10 way better than any other version of Windows ever produced.

I like the $150 Nexus 7 best of all tablets.

I like the new $50 Kindle Fire 7.

I like the latest Asus routers. For those who need it simpler, I like the Securify Almond touchscreen router.

I like the very cheap (<$10> Sport Stereo Bluetooth headset.

I like Amazon Prime.

I like Apple's support for all its ($$$!!!) equipment.

I like Google's innovations.

I like Craigslist and eBay.

I like The Tech Guy broadcasts and Podcasts.

There is plenty of other top tech out there but you will notice that much of it is not at the top of my list.  Think why...

I like to keep it simple.

Most of all, I like seniors determined to make the effort to learn how to use this technology to keep connected and help others.

Happy Christmas shopping and know that you need not to pay a lot for some wonderful Tech.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Breathe Life into an Old Computer

Tap or click for a page about how to breathe life into an old computer by making a Chromebook out of it.

Bottom line: For the price of 8GB USB drive ($5-10) you can create a PC stick to run as a ChromeBook on an ancient computer in just a few minutes, and run fast and well, too!!

This should be an option for a senior with an old PC.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Kindle $50

For some seniors, the new $50 Kindle 7 inch tablet might be all you need to do all your computer activity. It might be the easiest to use of all computers. Certainly it is ideal for media.

You simply slide your finger right and left across pages for books, movies, web, and so on.

You can also do your writing and communicating and shopping.

You do not have all the bells and whistles but you do have wide functionality..  There is no stereo sound, limited voice recognition, and some (overcomeable by a techie) limitation in accessing Google apps.

Yet there are ways to use the device with keyboard, display, and printer.  There is much for the visually impaired, too.   This device accommodates adding sd memory, so you can keep your music and photos for access anywhere.

Get one.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

You do Need a Computer

By the way, seniors do need computers to avoid becoming disconnected as they age.

Aging brings too many new challenges to be without a wizard at your side.

So, you who do not have a computer or access to one need to get going with learning sooner rather than later.

The least cost Kindle Fire at $50 would be a good place to start.

Or Windows 10 or an iPad.

The day will come when you cannot do the simplest things, such as minding your medical matters, or even shopping, without it.

So enjoy learning how to use it and make sure you use the latest and most advanced devices and systems to make that process as easy as possible.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Computers are Just a Tool

A fellow resident asked me to help another resident (xxxxx), who had been given a digital picture frame but was not interested in doing anything with it.

Here was my reply:

This link pretty well covers my approach to digital picture frames: Tap or click for it.

To date xxxxx is frank that she has little use for computers.  She simply hasn't yet found how to use the tool and what to use it for.  She is probably put off by techies.

I think she should get a cheap phone or tablet and expose herself to it, anyway.

In my work I had to deal with one woman who was about to resign rather than learn.     The "chief" assigned her to me for an hour a day.  The first day she came in distressed.   I noticed, but she said it had nothing to do with computers.

It seemed she had a child with a rare disease and did not know where to go for help.   In an hour on internet we found the world expert on the disease, and this physician put her in touch with internet resources and even contacted her by phone.   The next day she came in and smilingly said she needed no more convincing about computers.

The chief came in a little later and said "HOW did you do that?"

What are xxxxx's interests?   Computers are just a tool for how she wants to live as she ages.

/Martin (

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Keeping Connected

All I try to do is help seniors keep connected to the world, and there is no better way than to use a computer.

So how is it I get hung up with panics about Windows? And worries and fears about any computer.

Look, I hold no brief for Windows, but a lot of people like it and and Microsoft has just come out with the best version yet.

All I want to do is get seniors connected to the computer which serves their needs and capabilities best. And there are plenty of choices these days.

How about the new Kindle Fire at $49? It will do it all, with fewer security exposures. You can even add a display and a keyboard. And you can even get help on call from Amazon.

The latest Kindle Fire 7 at  $49 is a cheap way to get your computer feet wet.
(Just add the free Lookout antivirus, and don't install any flashlight or screensaver apps.)

All I need much of the time is my cheap but wonderful $100 smartphone with a plan as low as $5 a month (after putting up with phones I hated at $100 a month for years).

So, guys, don't make it so difficult for yourselves and everybody else..

If you really want Windows just install it with a VPN app, and rest back and enjoy it.

And rather than spending your time preoccupied with technical computer issues, just enjoy being connected to the world and all its marvels and resources to help you along the way as you get older.

As for me, internet pointed me to a medical procedure which changed my whole quality of life for the better. I hope Internet changes your life for the better in countless ways.

Bedridden for a time, one senior here stopped me one day and just said simply "Thank goodness for my iPad. I don't know what I would have done without it lying there all day."

I was glad I had helped her with it.

You do need Wi-Fi. Willow Valley here has it in all the public places and throughout areas of special care.

There are PC kiosks everywhere, interest groups for PC and Mac, and training for iPad.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

VPN Safety

If your are really spooked about security, you might try a Virtual Private Network or VPN which insulates you from internet exposure.  Easy and simple.

Tap or click for how VPNs work. 

Monday, September 14, 2015

Overblown Windows 10 Worries

In updating to Windows 10, with its great ease-of-use improvements, the following may help you to keep it secure once you have taken the common sense precautions for any operating system: minimize sensitive data and keep it encrypted, and so on.

Click or tap for an evaluation of Windows 10 Worries.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Wrap-up W10 and Security

Windows 10 is by far the best version of Windows yet and a major improvement for seniors over previous versions.

Here is a wrapup on Windows 10 and security.

If you are really really concerned about security in any version of Windows, go to an alternative operating system. Windows is the leakiest of all systems.

If not, take special measures with sensitive information, especially financial information. Then, it goes without saying in Windows, set security settings to your comfort level.

I set up a virtual private network for maximum protection.   Tap or click for VPN info.

For alternative operating systems, the Chromebook or Chromebox is the safest simply because it is extremely difficult to implant spyware into it.

Next, the Apple operating system was completely rebuilt several years ago to make it safer.

Finally, the Linux operating system is the most capable to do everything offline and therefore not expose to online security problems. Of course, your data is still exposed in your computer.

Otherwise take special care with sensitive and financial information and get ready for the best Windows ever.

You could simply leave such information off Windows all altogether, the most drastic solution. Or you could be highly selective, my personal choice.

Otherwise, encrypt your spreadsheets, and make sure online applications are using encryption. That can be done by looking at the URL search box.

Whatever you do, do not respond to questionable communications.

Bottom line, it is your choice.

For the most functionality you will need to deal with Windows and Windows 10 offers that.

If your needs are simple, then a Chromebook would be the safest choice.

Apple computers and tablets offer the additional benefit of widespread support.
There are plenty of other alternatives in tablets and smartphones.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Windows 10 Insecure?

I have been very much surprised at all the  alarms I read on internet about Windows 10 security.   I have delved into them to see what the furor is all about.

I have never been a champion of Windows. And all Windows versions have had security problems.  

BUT security problems rest mainly with the user. You just have to work at being secure.   Otherwise, all versions of Windows have malware traps.

And this version of Windows is by far the best yet.

Also, the so-called Windows 10 unique exposures cited insecure to date are based on theoretical rather than actual cases.  And they are being extended back to earlier versions of Windows anyway!

Worse, the two main complaints are based on some wrong assumptions that some old procedures are something new and evil!

They are based on logging your keystrokes and by sharing transmittal of data.

These have been around forever and are not new but are now being described with new technical catch phrases as new and dangerous.

In fact, both date right back to the origin of Internet as visualized by Tim Berners-Lee, its creator.

Internet was conceived of as a peer-to-peer network and only in the more recent past understood as more efficient than a client server based network.

In comparison, the client server system is incredibly inefficient.

It is just that Microsoft is taking peer-to-peer seriously now and using it for major improvements.

It appears that the alarms are based more about paranoia than reality. That paranoia is more a religion than a reality. It is an irrational fear about the Internet cloud.

It is irrational because you, the user, are in control of your security, and no one else. It has little to do with the version of operating system.

As for financial security, financial apps and services use safe encryption which displays on the URL search window.  Spreadsheets do need to be protected using specific spreadsheet encryption tools.  They are not safe otherwise.

I opposed Windows 8 and Windows 8.1 because they made it difficult to navigate the system. I would never have accepted it as a business user.

I support Windows 10 for careful users because it simplifies and improves so much. Seniors need that.

The response from those who have used it has been overwhelmingly positive.   Microsoft is going in new and important directions get seniors better connected.  It would be foolish to "throw out the baby with the bath water".

Microsoft is not overriding our 4th amendment rights to privacy.

So take the alarm jargon with a grain of salt.  Let the critics cite actual cases of unique Windows 10 security holes.   If Windows bothers you, then take the time and effort to learn to use something else.

It looks like the new iPad Pro offers a better platform than Windows anyway,  and there is plenty of support, as opposed to Windows' lack of it.   Click or tap for a comparison of Surface vs. iPad Pro

Monday, September 7, 2015

The Paranoid Survival Guide

If you are paranoid about computers, or Windows, or especially Windows 10, or even none of those and just about security, here is a good read. Click or tap for The Paranoid's Survival Guide.  

But if you are paranoid about the Cloud, click or tap for Whats With all the Cloud Paranoia?   

Then, if you want to "fix" Windows 10 particularly, click or tap for "Fix" Windows 10.  Try not to overdo it, but do what you need to do to use Windows 10.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015


When Windows 10 came out in final form at the end of July there followed a whole series of updates one after the other.

That spooked a a lot of people. What? So many security holes so soon?

Actually, no one should have been surprised. Windows will never be free of security leaks.

As they say nowadays, "ain't gonna happen". It is up to the user to provide security. Microsoft Windows was never designed to do that.

That is reality, so we need to deal with it.

There are much more secure systems out there, but Windows 10 offers a lot.

So there are a whole range of actions you as the user can take to protect yourself.

Just a sampling:

Keep your sensitive data off Windows altogether.

Set up your firewall and don't respond to anybody suspicious. They cannot get at you through that firewall unless your respond.

Restrict to sites and applications which use their own security measures.

Setup a virtual private network.

For sensitive data use an Android device.

Keep your spreadsheets offline. Set up a live Linux flash drive for the purpose.

In other words, face the reality of Windows leaks and use common sense.

Then, enjoy the wonderful new Windows 10 upgrade.

Just don't let anybody ever tell you that Windows 10 is now safe. Ain't going to happen.

And backup everything in every way so that you can get back running again when your system crashes for whatever reason.

That includes disk image(64gb flash) system restore with system image(16gb flash) disc(CD). The disk image must be recorded as a flash shared drive under networking.

No, if all this is still scary, avoid Windows. Safest might be a Nexus 7 tablet at $149.


Monday, August 31, 2015

Upgrade to Windows 10 NOW

I have never been a real fan of Windows for seniors simply because I don't want to see them bogged down in maintenance and thereby lose the  benefits of computing. Use of a computer can mean all the difference in finding good health care  resources, for example.

So Seniors have other things to attend to and need to have an easy way to use the computer. There are plenty  of alternatives to Windows.

BUT if you are willing to do the maintenance then by all means go to Windows 10 NOW.   It is the most capable of all systems.   It is a major step forward.   It cures a lot of ills.  It is an easy upgrade to do.

Maintenance also includes taking those measures to protect the security of your information since Windows is not constructed to do that for you. You cannot rely on Windows to keep your data safe.

That maintenance includes upgrading and updating. You must do all upgrades as new security exposures occur almost every day. That includes Windows 10. Windows 10 is an upgrade.   Most of the changes are behind the scenes to provide a more friendly and reliable system.

It makes no sense at all to stick with an earlier more limited version..    Windows 10 is free and you can even switch back easily with 30 days.

When you do upgrade to Windows 10 you will suddenly find that you have a lot less maintenance to do and far fewer problems. Windows 10 fixes a whole host of problems of the past.

Every computer I have upgraded runs better and more safely than it did before.

Note: If you not know how to protect your sensitive information, either keep it off Windows, learn how to do so, or use an alternative system..

Friday, July 31, 2015

Installing Windows 10

This will take you to the easy way to update to Windows 10 without waiting.


In other words, to make this simple, just  search and find the Microsoft Windows 10 download page, click to download for 32 or 64 bit, click on the downloaded file, and sit back to follow instructions.  That is it.   Then download to make a DVD also.

Windows 10 worked very well indeed on the seven low cost computers I updated, from phone to tablet to laptop to tower.   I liked it.   If you are an old hand at Windows, it is an essential upgrade, all upside.  Go for it!

Windows is a jack-of-all-trades, and Windows 10 is faster, easier, and safer.  The same system runs on all devices, now including older computers and tablets. Windows 10 worked best on my Winbook 10, less well on my Dell tower, but much better than Windows 7.

To get familiar with it, the easiest way is to tap or click on each icon going across the bottom of the desktop page from left to right to see what they do.

Windows is also the most capable, universal, and configurable of all systems, BUT thus also necessarily carries a lot of baggage and can require extensive support to run well.   For example, you will want to set up security patches for regular updating,  and, when happy with W10, clean up leftover system files for a big boost in system memory, especially for computers with SSD drives (which, incidentally, ran faster on W10 than those with hard drives), and make a WINDOWS 10 RECOVERY DRIVE WITH SYSTEM IMAGE.  Avoid Disk Image.

There are better choices if you are not comfortable with Windows. There are friendlier phones, tablets, laptops, and desktops without the baggage and with other benefits.

If you need help a lot, an Apple iPad or Mac is a better choice.   A Nexus 7 tablet is a marvelous $149 choice.   An HP 14" Chromebook laptop.

I use Windows when nothing else will do, such as for Calibre, the ultimate ebook reader and ebook access tool, (though most of the time Kindle will do). (Calibre also is accessible on MacBook and Linux for those who use these systems.)

But when I just want to get things done fast, I use anything else.    I use a Chromebook for when I need a large screen and fast browsing, otherwise a smartphone.   Both can be cheap, but you do need a cloudprint printer such as the Brother MFC J775DW which will print your back up CD above.

(I note that my Dell Inspiron 560 tower turned out not to be configured
by Dell for Windows 10, so that although it ran Windows 10 well, it crashed on Dell local backup.)  A fix is in the works.   Alternatively use  the Windows 10 Recovery Drive you made above. And have ready those original Dell backups you made when your tower was new---I had to reinstall to factory and re-install Windows 10.

Tap or Click to read more here...    And here...

I took the opportunity to check out my tower via Dell online support and scrub the hard drive before reinstalling, something everyone should do now and then anyway to keep running well..   If not prepared to do such things, best to stay away from Windows.   As for me, Windows 10 saved my old tower from oblivion and gave it new life.  Glad to have it back.

Windows is finally back in the saddle again.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Power Up to Keep Connected

It is easier than ever to keep connected as you grow older.

All it takes is a smartphone and they are easier to use and cheaper than ever.

But most people who have one also have no idea of all they can do.

For example, in a crowded restaurant with a TV which you cannot hear, they can pipe that sound direct to your smartphone.

To call them phones at all though is to miss the point. They are a whole lot more than phones. They are what you want them to be.

For example, they can be a radio. All it takes is an app to make them into one.

They can then access nearly any radio station or program.

Or they can be your News TV station such as CBS News live.

Or they can just play music of your choice.

They can get completely up to date weather info instantly.

They can direct you there just by asking for directions to a specific place. When you ask they will  phone  or take you to the website. They will order lunch.

They will find a book and get it to you in any form from anywhere, on your phone or in your hands.

They will let you shop for anything else.

And if you do not know where to go to get them to do something you can have them find out for you.

The sky is the limit.

Saturday, May 2, 2015


If you are comfortable with the intricacies of setting up a router, you might want to install an Asus RT-n56u.

This router supports the uncrowded 5  gigahertz band and works also as a print server and data server, while offering the highest speed internet connection. I picked one up for $40. (This is a lot less than run of mill routers going for $150 and up.)

If you have more than a single device using wifi, this is absolutely the best way to go. It makes your printer and library available to everything.

Setup requires a PC or Mac. Browse for a YouTube video on how to do it or simply download the manual from Asus. As routers go, this was the easiest set up yet by far.

Basically, you plug in between your internet service and your Ethernet jack, type 192. 168. 1. 1 to your browser, login with admin, password admin, and follow the clean and clear instructions.

Choosing a Phone - Update

It has been a while since I covered choosing a smartphone, so here goes with an update.

Choose carefully. This smart phone is going to be your multipurpose device for far more than phoning. It will be your connection to all media, too. It will keep you connected to everything.

For more and more of us our smart phone is the only computer we need most of the time. We keep it with us.

Unless you go with a Republic Wireless phone and plan, as I do, go to an unlocked phone and plan.

Then use such a service as Puretalk for unlimited calling and text. For data use a hotspot such as Freedompop.

Only choose a prepaid plan if you will be very careful about your usage. Prepaid plans can be very cheap or very expensive depending upon you.

Only if you will be needing a lot of help, choose an iPhone. With Apple products, that is what you are paying for.

Instead, go to an Android phone, which is the only game in town for most people.

If you are a Windows fanatic, consider the Windows 10 phones coming out this summer.

As you start to do more and more of your computer work with the phone, as opposed to tower and laptop, consider more than one phone and/or a tablet. The tablet of choice is the Nexus 7.

You can then use that tablet with a phoning app at such as Skype or Hangouts or Talkatone. If always near wifi you could even do without a phone plan all together.

When you have made a choice, then go about switching more and more of your computer activity to the phone.

Dictated to my Republic Wireless Moto G smartphone.

Sunday, April 19, 2015


Bluetooth is a short range wireless technology which connects devices and peripherals.

Bluetooth was named for Norse King Harald Bluetooth who united tribes together. Bluetooth provides a single common technology to unite various devices and peripherals. It can also connect two computers together.

Bluetooth wirelessly connects mouse, headphones, speakers, keyboards, and so on to different computers, such as desktops, laptops, tablets, cell phones, and the like.

It works by first setting up the computer device to which you will be connecting a peripheral as follows. In Settings you put the device into bluetooth search mode. You may also need to make visible to other devices.

The next is tricky.  The peripheral you are connecting then needs to be paired. The process is unique to every device. The peripheral is put into pairing mode.

The peripheral you are connecting comes with instructions. You need to be sure to turn that device on. Then typically you need to tap and hold a pairing button on it, or more than one button. That may take as long as 30 seconds or more. Be patient. There may be a flashing light to show that it is in pairing mode.

Finally, if all goes well, the computer device to which you are connecting the peripheral displays a name for the peripheral.

That computer device may also ask for a pairing code and usually 0000 or 1234 will suffice. If not the instructions for the peripheral device you are connecting will provide another code.

Once the devices are paired, they should automatically connect later.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Internet Has Changed How We Read

Internet has effected a change in the way we read and all to our benefit.

The old way was passively to absorb what was presented to us. The new way is to be proactive about it.

They old way was for the media to become the master of what we think. The new way is to look at the media and treat it as something to use as we see fit.

We become the master of the learning process. We become the jury examining evidence.

In that way the internet empowers us in a new way. It just takes awhile to learn to use the new tool.

A little example from the non internet world will illustrate my point.

The story is about Germany and the rise of Hitler. A defeated people was ready to believe in anything without questioning. After the Second World War they learned their lesson.

They had been gullible, but gullibility is part of the old way of taking in information.

I learned that, ironically, from a German professor of philosophy in Germany who had assigned me volumes of German philosophy to read over a weekend. I complained.  It was bad enough to plow through volumes of philosophy and even worse in another language.

Surprisingly, the professor asked me how I approached reading. I explained that I started at the beginning of a book. I got no further when he interrupted.

That's wrong, he said.

Your objective is to learn and any means at your disposal is OK. The objective is to find out what the writer was thinking, whatever that takes. We do not need to be led through the writers work the way he planned it. We treat his writings as evidence of what he was thinking.

Start in the middle if the book. Randomly browse through it. Try another book. Talk about it to other students. Read about the book from other sources. Think. We do not need to be led through the philosophers writing the way he wanted in order to to understand them. We draw our own conclusions.

There is no ethics in learning. We use whatever tool we choose.

In other words, be proactive. There is no one way to learn, no plodding pedantic approach to learning. We use whatever it takes to get the knowledge we need.

In my final exam, the good professor told me he had only one question: Herr Klaver, take Schopenhauer's basic premise and develop his philosophy. Oral or written.

There was the silence. I was stunned. I had never thought how to do that. But suddenly it came to me.

You may do that in English if you wish, he said.

Having done all my research in German I suddenly realized that I could do it and suddenly it flowed out easily.

He had showed me how to master the subject myself. We both laughed when I had finished. He had done the job and I had too. He had taught me how to think, just as the German people had learned how to do so after Hitler.

Internet now gives us the resources for all to do the same, to get all the facts and form our own conclusions and put an end to gullibiliy which still infects too much of what we do

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Printer Solutions

The easiest way to install a printer is to plug it in to your primary computer. With the latest computers the drivers are automatically installed.

That does not work so well when you have more than one computer plus cell phones and tablets and so on.  Many users have both a  black and white laser and a color inkjet printer, to have color available while keeping non-color costs down.

The old way was to set up the printer as a shared printer on your network. That required that the computer be turned on to which the printer was attached. That is awkward.

The best way to proceed nowadays is to obtain a cloud ready printer.

Under $100 will get you a splendid printer with all the bells and whistles.

The cloud ready printer then works as follows: accepts your job from the Internet cloud when you send the job from your computer to the cloud, in other words from anywhere to anywhere.

First you need to set it up Cloudprint.

Two ways. It will be set up either at the computer or at the printer itself, following the instructions which came with the printer. This makes your router aware of the printer.

A so-called IP address will then be assigned to identify. The router now knows where to send the print jobs.

The Cloud also needs to know where to send the print job, so that the printer IP addresses need to be registered there, too

This is accomplished by going to the Cloud Print website which will then automatically register your computers and printers. There is no charge for the service.

It may be necessary to register a printer through a different process whereby the IP address is entered where the website address is normally entered. This is done in the format http://192.168.x.x, where is the x's are the numbers for your specific printer or printers.

To find these addresses I use an Android app called FING.

On your phone or tablet you will need an app for the printer.  You will then be able to share documents to the printer.

For Those Who READ

Those who do a lot of reading need the proper tools for the job. These have changed a lot over time.

It is now easy to read books directly from your local library just with the Overdrive app alone,  on any device, much simplified.

But readers especially need easy access anywhere to their large  personal library.  They need access In an organized fashion.

The Kindle Paperwhite is a good place to start.

It is easily portable, hold its charge for a long time, keeps thousands of books, and provides an easy way to organize them by creating and maintaining collections by subject matter. And even offers a cheap New York Times subscription not available elsewhere.

The Kindle Paperwhite, however, does not read aloud to you nor does it access major Internet sources of books. Yet it can be the best repository for them.

For easy access and reading aloud, and for least cost, an Android phone or tablet would be the best choice.

But, if you are really a dedicated reader, you will need a computer additionally.

A computer is needed to manage your Kindle library and also to organize your library with a program like Calibre.

With this hardware you are now in a position to build and maintain your own library.

That process has been in continuing development and is much easier now than just a short time ago.

To use your Kindle Paperwhite as an archive, it is now easy to email documents to it, once set up for it in the Kindle library manager on a PC.

This setup requires going to the manager and authorizing your Kindle and any other device you'll be using for reading to receive emailed the documents. additionally you must authorize the source email addresses from which you will be transmitting documents.

The major tools for obtaining books are nowadays Open Library and Calibre and available on PC, Mac, or Linux.

Open Library is the librarian's and heavy reader's tool to obtain documents. It is easy to use. More challenging is Calibre, which will automatically subscribe,  organize your documents, and deliver them.

Typically you search Open Library for your book in order to find its availability in all forms, both digital and hard copy.

A digital copy in the mobi format can be emailed as an attachment to your Paperwhite archive or other holding tank for your books. You can also archive a copy in your Kindle library if configured to do so in your library management for Kindle.

Emailing to a phone requires downloading the email attachment and reading with something like ES File Explorer.

Note also that a search of much more limited resources in Amazon may also produce a free or inexpensive digital or hard copy.

Calibre is the tool of choice to obtain subscriptions of worldwide periodicals and newspapers and deliver them automatically to your devices.

In addition to Open Library and Calibre, there are other valuable tools to obtain documents.

The most important is Pocket, which I resisted using for a long time and now use everyday. What Pocket does is to hold for later reading when you come across something you don't want to bother with now but want to read later.

Another valuable tool is Push to Kindle which sends webpage material to Kindle.

Further, documents can be sent to Dropbox in the Cloud for easy access from any device.

Some digital copies can be read aloud in various other digital formats than mobi and not on the Paperwhite. It is also possible in Amazon to buy the read aloud copy in addition to the screen or paper copy.

Further, on your Android phone or tablet there are apps to read aloud.  One of these is @Voice. 

Non Kindle readers such as Mantano and FBreader and many others also can read aloud. These use the ePub digital format. The ePub format is the other main digital format.

Umano offers human read articles of general interest, and Web to go offers computer read articles.

Two very useful apps for reading ebooks are Bookshelf and Pocketbook. I recommend them both.

It is very handy to have all of these tools on your cell phone so that access two documents is available anywhere.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Future coming to Lancaster & WV

Two invaluable public services are about to come to Lancaster, one already starting.

Uber brings transportation at any time of day cheaply. Pick up your phone and transportation is moments away.

AND Lancaster City public WiFi will replace old patched together systems which have limited reliability and speed.

The latter will give fiber optics based reliable access in place of satellite, old cabling, and overcrowded spectrum.

Although most would question it, yet the day will come sooner than expected when driverless cars will become available for residents any time of day.

Driving that development is the huge economic pressure for it, and more safety for all of us.

What once took decades from notion to reality now just takes months.

It is services like these which will assure a steady of flow of seniors into Lancaster's  senior care industry.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Ordering Eyeglasses or Frames Online

Here is helpful info from a user on ordering glasses online from Zenni and others:

What is PD-Pupil distance   Where to get it or measure it.
Miller Optical had this measure for me.

2. Converting the prescription to reading glasses (Zenni had instructions for this) 

My prescription for example:
Using sphere reading:
OD -1.00  add the ADD reading 1.75= OD .75
OS -0.25  add the ADD reading  1.75= OS 1.50
PD # less 3 if PD for reading glasses.

3. Reading the eyeglass frame numbers from a current pair of glasses.

4. Comparison of Online Eyeglasses companies.

Paul & I spent a lot of time finding this information . And I spent hours going through frame sizes until I found one that closely matched my current frames.  My frame # is 51019140  That translates into
Lens width 51
Bridge width 19
Temple Length  140

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Windows Sea Change

Lilliputing online magazine reports that Windows 10 will be out this summer free and configured to work with older computers back through Windows 7 even without licenses.

For some computers it will come out as a normal update and for others as a downloadable installation ISO.

So, if you used Windows in the past, but had strayed away from it, you may want to try it again.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Keep it Simple

I do what I can to help seniors keep computing simple and therefore avoid complexity and ongoing trouble.

(It should not be necessary for every senior to go through all the hurdles to get on track to keep comfortably connected.)

I talk to a lot of users and work with many and I have experience with every imaginable type of equipment.

Here are some simple guidelines.

If you're at all uneasy about computers, get an iPad and avail yourself of all the help available for it.

If you are very comfortable with computers, you are probably already doing most of your work on a smartphone, as surprising as that might be to many.

Smartphones, and plans, are cheap now.

Despite the glitter of other equipment, the device I use most is my Moto G Republic smartphone. Such phones start at about $100 with plans at $10 a month.

Nicer to use is a tablet and the tablet of choice is the book sized Nexus 7. This becomes your computerized book.

As for phones, Windows 10 on a Windows phone is also impressive.

It is now time to move to Windows. Microsoft is making great strides in making it better, and it is worthwhile to spend a few minutes simply learning the few new navigation commands, which consist of touch swipes and equivalent mouse actions.

Get accustomed to frequent use of the Windows key and swiping down from the top of the screen to the bottom in order to close out applications after you are finished with them.

In the Modern or tiles screen you simply start typing in order to search without further ado.

It is now easy to make backup, recovery, and restore media and avoid patching up things when they go shower by simply reinstalling.

So it is easy now to switch to the newest version of Windows as tablets and laptops are available at under $200. Get rid of that old equipment.

As more and more seniors have more and more devices they need printers to work with them.

That requires Cloud Print, which works in 3 ways.

Cloud Print is an application which works from internet to connect your devices with your printers. The Cloud Print site will find your printers and set them up.

Here is how it works.

An old printer will work but only if attached to a Windows computer. A newer wifi printer can work if set up on a Windows computer for wireless.

Better, a newer Cloud Print printer will work independently of any device. These run as low as $50.

Setting up Cloud Print simply require going to the internet site and following instructions.

Just as important as printing is connecting your device to your TV.

I have all the dongles but recommend the Chromecast dongle for most as a starter. It is cheap.

Headphones are also needed. I use a simple Bluetooth or wireless set. I am evaluating a $7 headset from China which looks good.

Once settled on a device or devices, don't forget to use them to keep learning and connected and informed.

Then make use of the many tools to get information. They are vast.

Let your browser answer your questions. Use Open Library to find books. Use the Internet Archive. Use your local library via Overdrive. If you read a lot of books, be sure to use the Calibre application to access the world of books and publications automatically and in an organized way.

Did I mention using your voice as opposed to typing? Do it. Windows 10 on a smartphone phone is geared to voice interaction with the device.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Hanging in there with Windows

Windows 8 navigation problems just about destroyed Windows.

Here are some easy tips for the newer Windows 8.1 for those who still want to hang in there with it as opposed to going to slicker Apple and Android systems.

Windows can be pretty nice. Windows is the jack of all trades.
Use the Windows key frequently to toggle back and forth between the familiar old desktop screen and the new Modern tiles screen.

If you are new to Windows, or computers all together, keep to the Modern screen.

Always close all applications immediately after you are done with them by swiping down from the top of the screen to the bottom or dragging your mouse down the same way.

Search from the Modern screen by simply typing and without doing anything else. Windows will know that you want to search.

Scroll right and left across the tile screen, and within apps, across pages by swiping right or left or by using the mouse roller.

If you fear viruses, be sure to use a router, or and even better two routers in series, one plugged into the USB port of the other where available . I use a $35 main router and plug in an old Netgear router to it that I bought for $5.  That will keep hackers at bay.

If you do not have Windows 8.1 already, to keep costs down, just buy a new Windows 8 tablet for less than $100 or a laptop at less than $150. It will be upgradeable to Windows 10 with lots of improvements, especially under the surface.

Save the rest of your budget for a cheap smartphone under $100 with a cheap plan.

Seniors need more information and more resources just to get along and survive. The info and resources are out there, you just need to get to them.

The smartphone is the easiest and best and most convenient gateway to get answers to all those questions you really need to be able to maintain your independence as your grow older.

Don't be without one. Any of the major ones will do.

Dictated from the device I use the most these days, my little Moto G smartphone from Republic Wireless, my little key to the kingdom of what I need to know.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Cheap Windows

BuyFor most of us seniors there are better choices than Windows. However Windows has one benefit that deserves attention. Windows can run the desktop and tablet tiles modes at the same time and on the same device.

At the point where that device costs only $120 and serves as laptop, tablet, and desktop in place of a tower, it deserves a second look.

The 8" Winbook tw801 does just that. Not only does it do it but it does it very well. You have full Windows in a very portable package and also as a replacement for your tower, and indeed as a cell phone and GPS.

I found it to be the fastest Windows 8.1 computer I have ever used.

You can plug in your hard drives and DVD drives and printers.

With it comes a copy of Microsoft Office for one year, normally $69 for the tablet + 1 PC or Mac.

For Microsoft fanatics you can get the same device a bit smaller for just $60. I say fanatics because you need a degree of expertise to manage the more limited memory of the smaller device.

Essentially, for the cheaper device, you need to move everything possible to a second microSD 32g drive, such as all Windows desktop apps, Google Chrome, and OneDrive.

Click for some tips.

Click for some more tips to make better use of memory for Google Chrome.

Those are mainly for a tablet with only 1 gig of working ram.

Windows really needs two gigs of working ram and 32 gigs of drive storage space, 64g of additional storage may be added to this device, however. The $120 device does have 2 gigs of working ram in the version identified below.

Installing the Chrome browser adds a lot of functionality hand efficiency in using memory.

Once installed, entering chrome://apps gives you access to the world of chrome apps.

It goes even further. By adding the Chrome Store new Metro tab app, chrome apps will show up in a Windows Metro or Modern screen form. Now you have a combined Windows and Chrome tablet.

Click for the store.

To use as a cell phone you need either WiFi or hotspot, and for receiving calls, an app able to provide you a phone number number or connect with your email address.

So having one device able to do it all compensates for the shortfalls of Windows.

It will take some doing to find the apps or equivalents normally found on iPads and Android tablets, but this is doable.

One important feature is the ability to create a so-called image backup to restore Windows when actually it is needed.

Note that the model number is for version which has a needed 2 gigs of RAM and a full sized USB port.

Click for a guide to Windows tablets.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Memory Problems?

UVery often a search for a solution to a problem will take you to the wrong solution. It is essential to get to the simplest solution.

This applies especially to Windows memory problems. They are often misunderstood.

Whereas, in the past Windows required large spaces for applications and data, that is no longer necessary. Most everything can run with cloud internet storage.

If you get a low memory warning, it probably has nothing at all to do with hard drive space. More likely, it has to do with other problems.

New devices with very limited memory, and very low cost, work just fine with Windows. It is just a matter of configuration.

A quick solution might be nothing more than using the ReadyBoost option offered by Windows.

Tap here.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

New Users Take Note

If you are a new user take note of the ancient Chinese Laundry adage:

No tickey---no laundry.

Which means that if you do not get your logins and passwords straight first off, then trouble.

Your logins and passwords are needed for many purposes. If you have lost them, then set them anew.

There will be passwords for your email account, your store, and so on. Without them, you will be blocked from much functioning right from the start.

Then take the time to read about the device even before you get it.

Find a good book or even better, if you are a YouTube user, watch instructional videos. Watch someone else use his device.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Windows Phone Apps Listed

For those just now starting with a smartphone, shifting from, or adding, another phone, the following Windows phone apps should cover most of the basic functions of other more widely selling phones.   If you install all of them, you will want to add SD memory and transfer a portion of them to that added memory.    The same or alternative apps should provide a similar library of functions specific to Windows tablets and laptops.

AirPlayer+, Alarms, Amazon App, Amazon Kindle, Apps for Google, AppSwitch, Audible, Audiobooks, Battery, Battery Saver, BBC News, Bloomberg, Bookvizer Reader, Brother iPrint&Scan, Calculator, Calendar, Camera, Casts, Cloud File Explorer, CNET, CNN News, Copilot GPS, Cortana Ctrl C,Dictate!, Dictation Station, eBay, Ebook Reader, ePub reader, Evernote, Facebook, FBReader, File Manager, Files, Flipboard, FM radio, Freda, GDocs, Gdrive, Gmail, Google Mail, Google Maps, Google Plus, Google Search Pro, gooroovster, GPS Voice Navigation, Internet Explorer, JW ePub Reader, Lancaster Online, Libby, Maps, Media Explorer, Messaging, Memo for Cortana, Metro File Manager, Metrotube, Music, Music Player, NBC News, News, News Reader for BBC, News Republic, Nextgen Reader, Office, Office Lens, Old Reader, OneDrive, oovoo Video Call, OverDrive, Pandora, PDF Reader, People, Photos, Podcast Lounge, Podcasts, Poki for Pocket, Pouch, QR Reader, Read Later, Reader4Books, Skype, Songza, SpeechTrans Dictation, Speedtest, Switch to Windows Phone, The Guardian, Top task List, TuneIn Radio, Twitter, TWIT View, Viber, video, VLC, Wallet, Weather, WAZE, WeatherBug, Weave News Reader, Wikipedia, Wunderlist, YouTube

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Microsoft Windows Apps

With the dominance of Apple iPad and Android devices and their phones, why would Microsoft apps be of any interest?

There are some important reasons.

The most important one is cost. It is far cheaper to buy a Windows phone or tablet or laptop than most offered by others. Windows phones and tablets are available under $100, and laptops well under $200.

But also, circumstances have changed. Availability of apps has increased. Windows 8.1 has been improved. Both the conventional desktop and the Modern desktop are available in the same tablets and laptop for broadened functionality from competing tablets and laptops

Microsoft also has reduced the licensing costs, and streamlined Windows to run from the cloud as much as possible. Basic hardware requirements have been reduced.

Especially, the availability of apps has increased. And many of us are now comfortable with the Modern desktop. Once comfortable with it, navigation of apps works very well.

So the challenge is to find apps that work as well or better than apps on other platforms such as iPad.

So how do we do that?

The basic source for apps is the Microsoft Store, which now has many more apps, especially for Windows RT devices, though more limited for smartphones.

In order to find apps which are equivalent to apps on iPad and Android devices, the best utility is called Appswitch. There is a good YouTube video on how to use it.

For windows phones, there is another app called Switch to Windows Phone which will find what you need.

Then, where Chrome is available, Chrome apps may be installed, along with Chrome extensions, such as for Hangouts.

If you have access to an Android device you can use an app called Chrome APK Packager to convert an Android program to a Chrome Extension.

Then again, where the old desktop is available apps may be downloaded which were formerly exclusively old desktop applications.

The Internet Explorer browser can create apps for Modern from websites.

Consequently, apps need not limit the capabilities of Windows anymore.

Gathering them just requires more work, but Windows has always required more support, and there are many who are not put off by it for the benefits indicated above.

The ability for one device to perform as a smartphone, a tablet, and a laptop, and even a desktop, at a very low price, is unique.

It goes even further. With a Microsoft TV Miracast dongle, Windows tablets and laptops can mirror both conventional desktop and also Modern tile desktop to TV to create a smart TV.

I was able to take such a device as the $60 7" inch WinBook and make it serve as smartphone, tablet, laptop, desktop and Smart TV. (It did take some knowledge about how to use memory well for success.)

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Apple vs Microsoft vs Google vs Android vs Kindle

Users are faced with a bewildering choice of different computers and devices.

So what are the basic differences between the different basic players in this business?

Apple's primary business is selling equipment. Apple is known for its outstanding help, training, and support. That is a big part of what you pay for. If you don't need these things, there are better alternatives. Their most appealing product is the iPad Air.

Google's primary business is advertising and it has provided the most widely used systems freely for other providers of phones, tablets and laptops. Google needs to get its message out there in the most effective possible way, whatever that takes. They have reduced the cost of equipment and made it better. The most appealing product is the Nexus 7 tablet, followed by a wide variety of Android phones which dominate the smartphone business

Microsoft's main business has been in the operating system itself and in software such as Windows Office. Long the standard, Windows runs consistently across a variety of devices. It is known for its configurability but also its requirement for support by the user.

This is changing as Microsoft tries to keep up with the competition. The user screens are now the best in the business with the Modern screen tiles.

With Microsoft switching to cloud based operation, and drastically reducing memory requirements, prices have fallen to as low as $60 for a fine WinBook 7 inch tablet which runs both the Modern tablet and the full Windows 8.1 operating system. The most appealing products are the latest under $100 and even under $200 phones, tablets, and laptops.

Amazon's main business is selling everything online, including media. Its devices are designed to serve that purpose. They do that job well. Their most desirable product is probably the $100 Kindle Fire 6" tablet which can be used as a phone with WiFi or a hotspot.

Both Microsoft, and especially Amazon, limit Google apps and important functionality, though.

These limitations can be overcome. "Sideloading" is a way doing that for Amazon. Using Favorites are Bookmarks provides another. These can be added to the home screen to work just like apps.

So how does this work out for users?

Those who need support should stay with the iPad. Those who do not need support can save the expense.

Many seniors also really need to carry a smartphone, if only the least cost such phone, with a cheap $10 a month plan.

A lightweight transportable device is desirable which is easier to read and home than a smartphone.

For Windows zealots, the Winbook can serve as one device which serves most of the functions of smart phone, tablet, and even laptop, at a ridiculously low price.

(It takes some doing to configure it with its rather limited memory, and the $100 HP Stream 7 inch tablet is an alternative)

The $100 Kindle Fire can bridge phone and tablet while also mirroring to large screen or TV.

At the point where these devices cost less than half a dozen books, more than one is desirable.