Saturday, July 30, 2016

ChromeBook Printing for Newbies

As Chromebooks take over the PC and laptop world, users need to set up printing in new ways, so figure that into your costs!

Ideally a Cloud Ready Printer is needed, especially a printer with a touch screen control panel.

Additionally a router is required to provide networking  to connect the Chromebook with the printer.

HP has an app to connect HP printers.   Other  printers need to be connected through Chromeprint via browser.

But don't let that hold you back from a new Chromebook!!

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Getting Up to Date on Phones and Plans

As smartphones are exploding into much wider use among seniors,  it is time to  take stock and get up to date, as both phones and plans have plummeted in price, and our use of these phones has changed.

As we become aware of what smartphones can do,  become more proficient in their use, and we increase what we do with new smartphones, the old phones fall short.   

Seniors are finding that their smartphone is the ideal way to keep connected to the world via internet as they age, while also keeping their library and music within easy reacb.

Battery life becomes an issue in older phones for which battery replacement is difficult or expensive. Memory becomes a problem as we use more and more apps.    Memory is also desirable to hold all our reading matter and music away from Wi-Fi to avoid cell data cost.  

Nowadays we also need more data for traffic info and communication away from Wi-Fi.   That data is free on Wi-Fi, but can be expensive away from it, usually $10 per gigabyte.

Meanwhile, as older phones have recently dropped in price, newer phones with broader capabilities have undercut even those discounted prices. A new Blu R1 phone at $60 promises easy battery replacement, memory expansion, and unlocked status to use with inexpensive “bring your own phone” carriers.

Here are competitive carriers with plans I am aware of.  These are no contract plans and also they are not prepaid plans which still can be expensive.

Republic Wireless has been an inexpensive carrier and offers currently a Moto E phone at $100 along with a $25 plan which refunds unused data. Republic Wireless uses the Sprint service.

FreedomPop offers Moto E refurbished phone at $40 with an even cheaper plan in which unused data is applied for future use.    FreedomPop also offers a  “bring your own” plan for selected phones and carriers which use the Sprint service.

Pure Talk offers a ”bring your own phone” plan for phones using AT&T service with up to one  gig of data per month at $25.    This is the fastest data service I have experienced in this area..

Some carriers, such as Republic Wireless, also offer so-called tethering ,which enables another phone to use the  tethering phone’s plan via Wi-Fi.    That comes in handy especially if you have a plan you do not want to lose.

TPO offers a $25 “bring your own phone”  plans inclusive of more data than the others.

(Note that if you use a “bring your own phone plan”, you may need to program it in settings to recognize the service.)   

It is convenient to have more than one phone simply to have one that is always charged. If one of these is a Windows phone it can be started up and shut down more quickly than an Android phone.    That is handy if you are in a hurry or need to conserve battery life, plus they're cheap.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

A Remarkable Phone

The new Blu R1 HD R1 HD phone is a very advanced phone at a very low price $60 unlocked, way below anything else to date and usable with bring your own phone plans as low as $5 a month.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Three Apps to Keep Your Sanity

Here are three very essential Android phone apps to avoid some major frustrations:

For battery life: Autosync

When your phone is expending so much of its battery life just trying to keep up with pollling for Wi-Fi and GPS position and updates and notifications and syncing, battery life dwindles quickly.
This app at least turns off Google constantly syncing when you don't need it.

Note: To clear your phone of unseen battery drainage, it is good to reset to factory now and then.

For Hearing while phoning: AutoSpeaker

Auto speaker turns on your speaker when calling, a big benefit for those with less than the best hearing. The phone otherwise turns off the speaker as you hold it to your ear.

For making space for apps: MovApp2SD (and similar)

If your phone has room for an SD memory expansion card, these are apps which will give you more space to hold apps in general.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Making Yourself Heard and Understood

With aging, hearing frequently deteriorates.

You can make yourself understood better with a few tips derived from development of voice recognition systems for computers.



Place spaces between words

Speak in sentences.

Note this from an explanation of what made speech recognition systems as successful as they are today.

The Bakers' approach (to speech recognition) was based purely on statistical relationships, such as the probability that any two or three words would appear one after another in spoken English. They created a phonetic dictionary with the sounds of different word groups and then set to work on an algorithm to decipher a string of spoken words based on phonetic sound matches and the probability that someone would speak the words in that order. Their approach soon began outperforming competing systems.

For a computer, it is terribly difficult to understand the first sounds of any word. Therefore avoid short statements.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Simplifying Things

I like simplifying things.

And making things simple has changed my approach to computers.

More and more, I have switched to smartphones for most of my computer activity.  Initially I hesitated to do more complex tasks, but as time goes by I have disciplined myself to give it all a try, such as with maintaining my website and for preparing a presentation

I turn to the smartphone because it is easy at hand.   It is there when I need it.   I can do a lot with voice input.

However, I find myself going to larger and larger smartphones!

An old tiny smartphone still holds all my music.  I have no calling plan on it.

A 5 1/2 inch smartphone now handles just about everything and has all my books and music stored aboard on its SD memory.

On its home screen I now have only a single page with a few folders for easy navigation.  These folders are:  phoning, reading, writing, listening, media, accounts, Google, and Amazon.     If an app needs to be in two different folders for ease of navigation I put it in both places.

A few taps then get me quickly to where I want to go.

I do keep everything on a 10 inch Android tablet for when I will mostly be reading.       I also keep all my reading matter there on an SD card.     I do not lug it around as many do with their iPads.

I see that there is a development in which you plug your smartphone into a device which works  like a laptop when you need a large screen and keyboard.   Combines both into one, a further simplification.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Hearing, Health, and Costs

Choosing a new hearing aid is a challenge, especially for seniors.

Seniors can be vulnerable buyers and subject to overselling and over pricing.

Some seniors also have special needs wherein hearing is closely connected to their general health and mobility.  Others need only the most basic and inexpensive aids.

New developments here make it a bit easier in this area, though still not ideal.

Willow Valley has established its own audiologist who represents the major providers of hearing aids, but not all providers yet.  Well done.

One of the latter providers, though not nearby yet, is the fast-growing company, Zounds.   Zounds sells good basic hearing aids for a very low price and also hearing aids with rechargeable batteries that do not need to be inserted by the fumbly fingered user at all.  The nearest store is in Lititz, PA.

No single source provides all options.   The user is still faced with challenging task of choosing what he needs and what he wants.   Many users will find a very basic hearing aid satisfactory, but some will need special features such as a remote microphone to talk to people with weak voices.

Also, hearing aids can provide coils to improve use with the telephone, circuits which work with auditoriums which are wired for them, such as here,  and Bluetooth for use with mini computerized devices and TV.

Providers may or may not be able to assess whether a senior is incapacitated or limited, or be willing to work together with medical support whenever really essential.

Your Voice Computer

Voice computers are the way of the future as evidenced by the popularity of the Amazon Echo, using Alexa.
But did you realize but you probably already have a voice computer.
Your smartphone is a voice computer, and it is a whole lot easier to use than earlier cell phones.
All you need to do in the smartphone is to go to the home screen, tap on the microphone, and say things like

Send a text
Take me home
Tell me how
Remind me