Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Learning to Use Your Future Computer

Your future supercomputer is a smartphone.

Once a you recognize that the smartphone is certainly nothing like the crude earlier cell phones and is, in fact the slick voice-operated computer of the future, seniors warily turn to it.

I always have three or four seniors just starting to learn to use one.  I have found no really good presentation to help them get past the very steep but thankfully short learning curve.

So here goes:

So how do we turn it on?   

Unplug it after it has been charged. Look for a short push button on the side. Hold that push button in for a time. Give it a minute or so to start up.   You may need to swipe up on the screen to get to the home (so-called) desktop.

The desktop is home base. It can be identified on the most widely used Android phones by the tiny circle at the bottom of the screen.   Tapping on the square at the right shows past screens  where you can tap to go back to them.  Tapping on the left goes back to the last screen.

Tapping is not jabbing. You need to hold the tap for a moment.

Swipes to the left to the right and up and down will take you to different places.  Explore.

At the top of the screen is the all-important search bar. Tap on the microphone and speak out what you were looking for,  such as “Play NPR one”  for the latest news.

Elsewhere on the home screen are icons for the many things that you can do, to which many more can be added.  

These apps can be added from the Play Store icon. You do need to set up an account.   

Almost all apps are free. You just need the account so that the cloud will know what apps are yours...since most of the work of the phone is being done elsewhere in the cloud on another computer.

You need to be very very very very careful about recalling your passwords.  This is the biggest problem most seniors seem to have.

Otherwise, tap away. You are off and running.

For more Tap or click to read a free Google Book on Android. READ IT THROUGH to become an instant expert.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

FIND IT !!!!!

Computers and Internet are confounding and intimidating, especially to new users, but to all of us at some level.

How do we get to where we want and need to go? How to we find it?

It's easy once you know the secret.

Eventually you will use that secret to create your own bookmarks.

(How do I know that? Simply because my posting on bookmarks a few years ago is the most widely read posting I have ever done.    There is nothing I can write to keep up with it.)

Actually that question, how do we get  where we want to go, was what led to internet as it is today  and the secret to “getting there”.

At CERN in Switzerland, scientists did not know what their contemporaries were doing and often duplicated effort or failed to benefit from what others were doing.   Lack of interconnectedness was stifling and costly.

Tim Berners-Lee was assigned the task of making it easier to access the information needed.   He tried many approaches, including hierarchical menus, before settling on the one which is taking over the world of information, the World Wide Web, which he invented for CERN,  and gave to the world.

So, how do we find things?

In the past it was not easy.     As an example, we have 2400 people of all vocations and avocations that have a presence here in this retirement community but have no index to what they know.  We, and the management cannot use these vast resources.

In the past we had books end tables of contents and indexes.    The table of contents took us through the sequence of the book as the author would have it.  The index singled out certain key phrases.  Crude.

In a well-organized library we had such a system as the Library of Congress subject based system which allowed us to roam  the shelves by subject...and to browse and search.  That helped a lot,

That was pretty much it.     

We did have our subconscious mind, but usually didn't use it very well.  To get all the information we need we needed first to define the problem in the greatest detail, then let our collective minds  work on it for a time.   Instead we force our conscious minds to too quick and easy a solution.

We need better.

Yet even in the early days of computing we chose the wrong tools to find what we needed.   The Microsoft Windows operating system uses cascading menus on a hierarchical basis. That it is hard to use is accepted by everybody.

So what did Tim Berners-Lee invent and how does it work?   And what happened subsequently so that today we can get where we need to go in an instant?

Let's say you are navigating this website or blog and you need to find something. iI would take ages to create a hierarchical directory and then a lot of time using it to know where to go.   We need to get the computer to do that work.

This website was never designed as a database to which we could attach cascaded menus or  a hierarchical menu. It was designed to share the solution of problems drug to me by others. it just happened that over time it has attacked the whole range of problems which are now a resource.

The challenge was so great that I abandoned the idea of creating a book from it.    I planned to put all the postings into a database, organize that database using Scrivener by subject, then use a hierarchical table of contents.      

It came to me then that I would essentially be rewriting all those postings and doing all that work over again by using outmoded methods of connecting and accessing information which ought to be buried in the past.

I need to spend my time where there is no help desk, and extend that help as far as possible. I am a fireman.

We now have browsing, hypertext and search engines which did the job I'm searching such a resource.   We need to use the new tools.

Tim Berners-Lee set up the means to connect everything together in websites. Hypertext was invented to enable you to dig down into marked text for more depth, search engines took more development to work well.

A search engine can go through interconnected computers in an instant to find what you need, but a bit more lodging is needed for them to be effective.

When two students at Stanford wrote a paper specifying what was needed, they formed Google. Although commentators have insisted that Google uses secrets in how they search, all their particulars were related in their initial proposal.

Your challenge now  is to find that proposal, using the new tools of the search engine.

Meanwhile, here is how Google works and how you can use it at your fingertips or in the palm of your hand to find anything, best done with that badly named miracle computer lamely called a cell phone, just by using your voice and a well-formed query.

It is after all, not what you know but whether you know how to find it that defines the extent of your knowledge so use the new tools available to you.   Learn how.

Note: to the right top you will find a keyword based search tool, but also a simple search of this specific website.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

A Windows Phone for Seniors?

A Windows phone can be a great choice for seniors if eyesight is good.    These are easiest to use of all smartphones, cheap, and with voice input irresistible, even though cheap.

That is true even though Windows on a traditional computer is hard to navigate. Nonetheless Windows on a Windows phone is the ultimate in simplicity.

I suggest Windows phones even though my personal preference would be an Android smartphone and for those using an iPad I would recommend an iPhone. (The latter are expensive.)

Windows phones are currently falling in popularity and therefore cheap, and that makes them appealing.

Long-term they may even replace other Windows devices, however.    You just plug a phone into a display and keyboard and it becomes your Windows computer.   That is already true with the Nokia Lumia 920 smartphone.

Windows smartphones are $50-100 and plans from $10 and up    

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Learn What a Smartphone Can Do to Keep you Connected

Learn What an Android Smartphone can do to Keep you Connected (other smartphones share much of this).

Tap or click here...

Monday, August 8, 2016

Getting the right phone

Getting the right phone is not really a question of getting the right phone. It is more a question of getting the right computer.

That is because the right phone is not just a phone but your next computer.
So you just pick out the right phone, right?

No, you first pick up the right service plan.

You do not want a contract plan ($$$) OR a "prepaid no contract" ($$) plan.   You want a plan that works with unlocked phones ($).

And, before choosing that plan, you need to determine the amount of data you will use when away from WiFi.

The amount of data will also determine the usefulness of the device.

That amount will also determine the majority of your cost.

Basically, you will pay $10 per gigabyte, and your use in gigabytes needs to be determined before selecting a carrier.

For casual users 1-2  GB per month, even 500 MB, is enough. That gives you enough data for traffic information from Waze en route. That Waze app is a must for seniors.

To use the browser widely, away from WiFi, however you will probably want up to 5 GB per month.

So how do we get the least cost service?  Let's say down to $25 a month or less.

I have experience with Republic Wireless, FreedomPop, Pure Talk, and Tello, TBP, and Ting.
Some of these enable you to tailor your use right down to your monthly number of calls, number of texts, and data.

Now, you will need an unlocked phone and not every unlocked phone works with every service.   The provider will advise and may supply the phone.

Dictated in a normal noisy environment while waiting for car repair.

Your next computer is a smartphone

Your next computer is a smartphone. Tap to see why.