Tuesday, June 28, 2016

A Better Way to Print

Update: Using an old computer with Ubuntu or Mint Linux works beautifully and simply as a print server, and better than anything else I have tried including dedicated print servers.

As Chromebooks come into so much wider use as a replacement for Windows, with its many problems, it is essential for users to deal with Chromebook printing.  Chromebooks are a trouble free resource for seniors, but do not connect directly to printers so far.

The main problem is then that for older printers Chromebooks require another device such as a Windows or Ubuntu computer as an intermediary to be able to print.   (Newer printers do not have this problem but connect to the router,)

I found Windows to be especially unsatisfactory as such a device. First,  Windows no longer had the needed drivers, and second, there appeared to be no way to prevent Windows from disconnecting frequently. (Internet time-outs may have had some effect here.)

So a Windows laptop was finally loaded with Ubuntu and worked beautifully. However, the necessity of having to have the old war-horse laptop taking up space on my desk was unsatisfactory.

So when a Ubuntu Linux stick dropped to $50, It appeared to be a simple way to avoid the last problem.

In actuality it was not quite so simple.

I discovered that Intel had not provided enough memory to do the job. The stick also had problems handling Wi-Fi and Bluetooth at the same time.

So what I had to do was to avoid both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth and probably a wireless keyboard.

I chose to use an ethernet adapter to plug directly into my router. Then I needed a hub to accommodate keyboard and mouse. Finally, I needed an old display just to set things up plus an HDMI to VGA converter for the last.

I needed to make as much memory available as possible. I deleted all the optional software consisting mainly of LibreOffice.   I use Google Docs anyway.

I set the Ubuntu settings so that display and power would never turn off.

It was a simple matter then to plug in the printer and go to Chromebook settings to activate for Cloudprint.

A side benefit was to have the display at the back of the desk playing CBS News without taking up the space of the old laptop.

Ubuntu worked very well if rather slow for the quad processor in the Intel stick.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Don't Make this Hearing Aid Mistake!

If you have a hearing problem, don't make the disastrous mistake that I made in setting them up.  

I am afraid that a lot of seniors do make the same mistake.

Simply,  my hearing aids produced a shrill and tinny effect which bothered me and were reduced by the audiologist at my request.

That was a mistake.

Like so many, my hearing problem was the loss of the ability to hear high-pitch sounds.

What I have learned since is that those tinny sounds were precisely the sounds I needed to hear again and that my brain was playing a trick on me by suggesting they were bothersome.

Unfortunately, this is a common experience, as I have learned from researching it.    When the brain has not heard high pitched sounds for a time it considers  them a problem and not a solution.

When the hearing aid was adjusted back to restore these tinny mechanical sounds, within just a few days my brain adjusted to them as natural and I did not hear them as tinny any more. Instead, I was now hearing the human voice as I had before my hearing began to fail.

My hearing improved drastically with the hearing aid adjusted back to restore and even exaggerate high pitches.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Having your Music and Books available anywhere

It is nice to be able to have your music and books accessible anywhere in a portable device such as a smartphone.

Windows smartphones serve very well for this purpose especially now that they are very cheap.

These phones typically have the capability to plug in extra memory and hold a huge library of music and books.

It takes some doing just to set them up for the job.

The most straightforward way to get content onto the phone is to use a Windows computer.

The Windows phone appears as just another directory on the PC once connected by cable.

Having the Windows Phone recognise the same content is something else.

I found just two apps which worked well for music, one of them VLC and the other Cool Reader. The files should also play from the Files app.

I found no way to play Amazon Cloud Music. Google Music played online through the Groove app.

Books are another matter. There was no problem downloading them direct or transfer from a PC, as with music.

Using the Kindle books app on the smartphone also gave the capability to download to read away from Wi-Fi.

It was necessary to use an app called Gooreader to read Google Books online and they could not be read offline.

A paid version of Gooreader could be installed on a PC to extract books from Google Books for transfer to smartphone. Better not to bother but simply to download the books on PC and transfer them.

If you transferred documents into either Amazon or Google Books these are not accessible on a Windows phone either online or offline.

There are plenty of reader apps to access and download ebooks elsewhere. A prominent app is FB reader.

Once setup you have all your music and books available in a small package offline anywhere you go.


Make a note that if you have a problem logging into snrtech.org, snrtech.blogspot.com will get you to the same site.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Smartphone Folders Keep You Well Connected

For those gingerly about starting to use computers to keep better connected as they grow older, I invariably recommend an iPad along with Apple training and support plans.

For others, even longtime users of Windows, I recommend simply a smartphone for everything.

I recommend a smartphone simply because it is the easiest and quickest to use to get things done.

Getting it ready to use efficiently, however, though, requires some forethought.

What you want to do is to be able to whip out the phone quickly, pick what you want to do, and get on with it.    Everything you need should be accessible with two taps from the first screen you see.

For that you need folders identified with icons. There are lots of ways to go about this, but here are a few.

You need a folder for Searches Google Chrome, Opera Explorer, Wikipedia, and so on.

Then you need a program for Reading such as newspapers Library and so forth.

Or you might go about setting up folders for Amazon and Google. The Amazon folder would include Amazon shopping Kindle music and cell on it. The Google folder would include the Google app.

Or you might have a folder for Buying.

Other folders need to include Music or Listening and for Media such as YouTube.

Have a folder for Accounts.

You could have stand-alone icons for Gmail and for Calendar that you use frequently.

I have s yeah yeah I didn't say anything about the futureelf standing icons for Alexa and for  Kindle Library.

Then there is a folder for Writing to include Pocket and Evernote and word processing.

Populate the folders as you use more and more apps.

(There is no reason you could not have the same apps appearing in several folders.)

Once filters are set up, all you then need to do is tap the folder and then the app to get you wherever you need to go In an instant.