Saturday, April 29, 2017


Computers can be a big assist for seniors downsizing to smaller quarters.

Books take up a lot of space and are expensive to transport.      Most of your books are probably accessible with Overdrive from your local library.     Ebook collections can be found for Kindle on Amazon for as little as $0.99 for both genres and collected works.     Then,  the Internet Archive is a major source for books at no cost.    You can also sell your old books on Amazon.

I simply sold and discarded most books, keeping only those not available in digital versions or frequently used.  Regional book are frequently in demand and can be sold.

Color slides also take up a lot of space,  including those you may have inherited. It is a nuisance to view them with a projector or viewer.   I hear of many seniors simply throwing them out.     I found it worthwhile to digitize selected slides with the Jumbl device.    It is worth noting that when previewed using a TV, the image was nowhere near as good as the final digitized image.

I then scrapped most of the slides but did keep the best of them as a backup.

Shoe boxes full of photos also take space.     Here a lot can be stored densely so that digitisation is optional.    Scanning them with the computer is cumbersome.   It is much more efficient to scan them with a smartphone using an app such as Google Photoscan.     The results can be  beautiful.     

The same smartphone process can be used to digitize documents in either image or text form using an OCR scan app.

LPs take up a lot of space but now can sometimes be sold.      I digitized mine years ago with a turntable designed for the purpose and now available for a fraction of what I paid for such a device years ago.   I just threw out the original LPs.

I also converted audio CDs to MP3s end back from MP3s to data CDs which hold five or six times as much music, as well as DVDS.    But most of my music is now on Amazon music and accessible instantly and everywhere.    

Know that a Prime Membership gives access to a huge library of music not in your collection..    Additionally Spotify offers similar access to almost all music, not to mention Pandora.   

I found wonderful recordings from the thirties also in the Internet Archive, along with books by authors from the same period.

So now you can take it all with you no matter how short on space--until you also move to the cloud!

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Making it Cheaper and Better

I am always looking for the cheapest and best tools for seniors.

For example,  I bought the $30 Moto G smartphone from FreedomPop (with free phone service) a while ago just to see if it was all it was trumped up to be.

Though it has somewhat limited memory, I've been able to make the best of it by using some new software tools (apps), notably Hermit.

Recently, however, I found that there are additional tools to make it do even more.   I recommend MX Player, Clean Master, and setting your location strictly to Wi-Fi, as recommended in a book entitled: 70 Must-Have Essential Android Apps by Saqib Khan.     These last apps make better use of storage space and extend battery life.

I have long half intended to write a short book on apps myself.   My long posting several years ago is still the most widely read posting on my website.    I don't agree with everything in the above book, but I think it's one of the best yet ($.99).

I continue to use a large variety of devices to find out which ones I really like best.    it's very easy for seniors to go overboard and unnecessary to spend a lot..

For example,for just plain reading,  the Kindle Paperwhite rules.     It is easier to use and cheaper than alternatives     I don't use it half enough myself,  but everybody else seems to make the most of it.     I have about 700 books on mined and am always engaged in reading multiple books at the same time.

Some residents here who do not use other computers at all, do use their Kindles heavily, so that the Kindle Paperwhite rules in more ways than one.

I just use a smartphone more often because of the many more things it can do, such as fast OCR scanning of documents and fast scanning of pictures.     I do like the big screen at times, of course,   It is just not always at hand.

Some other new tools are now coming to make things even less expensive and better.

Microsoft is bringing out a cloud laptop in competition with the Chromebook.    It should certainly be fast, although preliminary specifications do not indicate so.  Bbut using solid state memory, and the cloud, it should be an improvement over the sluggishness of older Windows computers.

Also, this is a cloud device and should bring prices down even lower.     Finally, and hopefully, it will be possible to use such a device to print directly without using a network as with the Chromebook.

I find the latest Windows update, called Windows Creator,  the best update yet.   Apps are installed just as they are installed on Windows smartphones.    That is a big Improvement.

Additionally,  NBC is now going into online TV, the last of the networks to do so.   That is a big change.     For those without the inexpensive service we have here at  Happy Valley,  prices will fall for cable channels moving to online.     

Separately, Reuters now has Reuters Now video online.     With it you can keep up-to-date with all that's going on in a very short time.      Beats cable.  CBS News Was the first to offer such a service.

Keep tuned.

(Forgive any typos---I dictate these these postings in about 10 minutes.)

Confused about Home Networking & WiFi

If you are confused about Home Networking & WiFi, here is a link explaining it...

Tap or click for clarity.

Cheap Alexa Thermostat

Here is a new inexpensive Alexa (voice) and/or Smartphone controlled thermostat to save on heating bills...

Tap or click for it.

You get precise control of temperature wherever you are.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Faster Windows

Windows runs much faster with solid-state hard drives (SSDs) which are getting more and more common in laptops these days than the old mechanical hard drives.

Windows also runs better without built-in hibernation, which can be a big bother.

If  Windows hibernation is bothering you, such as slowing you down, or interfering with shared printing, the fix is easy.

Type Windows key + X, select Windows Powershell (Admin), and answer “yes”.   

Then, type powerconfig -h off and press enter.

That is all there is to it.

For the particulars, if interested, tap or click for the tech details.

The same site has a  nice video which shows how to replace your old fragile hard drive with an up-to-date SSD.   A cheap upgrade.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Windows on the Cheap

If you use something else than Windows for most of your work but would still like occasional access to it, that can be had cheaply.

There are 10 inch Windows laptops out there for about $100 or a bit more or less.
Many offer the ability to plug in an external display or monitor.

The latter are quite inexpensive now.

The combination creates a super Windows system.

Just remember to run no more than one or two apps at a time and hold down use of  memory to the absolute minimum.

A big benefit of having a Windows system around is that it recognizes most printers automatically whereas most alternatives do not.