Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Monday, December 11, 2017

Resurrecting an old iPod Touch 2nd Gen

It's been more than 10 years since the iPhone was introduced.

Shortly after that a look-alike was introduced without phoning, an iPod Touch.

Some years ago ours, a 2nd gen,  had been relegated to using it only to listen to the radio as we transferred other functions to our  newer smartphone.

I reevaluated its usefulness.

It is very small compared to newer smartphones.      That turns out to be a benefit.      Most of ,s now experienced, smartphone users have found that it's best to have the smallest device possible in our pocket..

I considered selling it.  To my surprise I found that it sells for as much as $100 when in extremely good condition.      What's going on?

It turns out that it can now phone out using Google Voice in areas where there is WiFi.     It  also works with a hotspot.

It holds a surprising amount of music and delivers it beautifully to a good set of earbuds or Bluetooth headphones.

As many apps have been updated so that they no longer run in an old iPod Touch,  I found I could run Pandora, TuneIn Radio, Spotify, NPR news, Overdrive, Google, one version of audio books, and Kobo.

As for news,  I simply set it up for daily briefings from The New York Times,  Washington Post,  Google News,  the News Journal,  MSN news,  and the like.

It does the basics.   it's very small.    it's still a keeper.

Friday, December 8, 2017

Which computer device for which tasks?

 If you have an overriding need to do one particular thing with a computer device,  then which device would be the most suitable choice for you?

These choices are changing and challenging.

If you are a senior,  your general and specific needs will probably be best met with an iPad, especially if you are going to need help     The iPad is becoming more and more useful with ever new capabilities.   The outstanding new control panel makes it easier to use.  

Newly for seniors with mobility problems,  is voice computing using Amazon Echo and/or Google devices.     Their capabilities will extend further and further into traditional computing tasks. They are also dirt cheap, but you do need internet access.

If you are a reader, an eReader makes a lot of sense,  especially for offline reading, large memory capacity, and long times between charges.  Most popular are the Kindle Paperwhite and the Nook alternative.    You might even want both,  because the Kindle Fire supports Kindle books best,  while the Nook supports the Epub format best.    However,  the seven inch Nook tablet  is also a nice choice, as it fits comfortably into a pocket  and runs the full Android Google app library.   I read with the cheap Moto E smartphone because I always have it with me.

Now,  if you are a writer,  choices are changing.      Notably voice input is desirable for many.    In the past a serious writer needed to use a serious tool such as Scrivener.  which ran only on PCS and Macs  in the past.   The eye opener is that it now runs on the iPad, of all places.      That is a game changer.       For those still using Word,  Word now runs on almost anything.

If you are an exhaustive reader,  you need a better choice than limited libraries.     Calibre  may not be familiar but is is the quint essential app for managing and accessing content from all sources.   Nowadays it require Windows or Mac operating systems.    

For communicating the smartphone is the choice.      The easiest way to use it as simply to dictate a text message which is then received to be able to be accessed at the convenience of the user at that end.     Just say:  “send a text message to Charlie” and let the phone prompt you through the rest of it.

Getting the news also works well on any smartphone,  but a big screen offers you more of a newspaper like array.

Facebook works well with any device which can be used with a large screen.

Many older users still rely on spreadsheets.      Ideally spreadsheets necessitate a big screen,   yet smaller laptops and even smartphones can manage spreadsheets on a large screen. The bigger question is why you would nowadays use the spreadsheet at all as opposed to a more competent dedicated application.

In the past presentations were best done with PowerPoint in Windows.    The eye opener nowadays is that the Keynote application for iPad is slicker to use once you get to know it.    The iPad also makes it easier to incorporate photos and editing into your presentation.

If browsing is your cup of tea,  you need a fast browser.      That will be best supplied by a Chromebook,  clear and simple.

If buying is your thing, you can accomplish that task in any device that runs a browser.  The Chromebook is a good choice.

When selling,  however, whether on eBay or Amazon or Craigslist,  it is highly desirable to use a device with a built-in camera  to take pictures of what is being sold.     That is why I use a  cell phone (yep) or an iPad.   I find it much easier to put up a listing on a smartphone than on any other device.

What about for addressing mailing lists, such as Christmas lists?     Sadly I have never found anything really  better than an old program from Casio which ran on a PDA.    Remember PDAs?   However there is a very decent program for the iPad described elsewhere on this website.

If your thing is your finances,  that poses a very special situation.      You may want to keep everything  entirely off the internet, which dictates a device that runs well off the internet      A Chromebook adapted for Linux will do that.      Other devices running Linux will also do that.     The $99 Linux Mac-lookalike Pinebook will do just that.   However,  the Mint application is said to run safely on internet  with bank encryption and I know of no efficient alternative for it.

Photo editing it may be your thing.      In that case the  Macintosh makes a fine choice.     We just don't know how long the Mac  will continue, as the iPad Pro takes over more functionality.  Right now the MacBook Air has some special appeal for that functionality with its camera.      For most purposes the iPad will do what you need.

Video editing requires heavy duty high speed hardware and maybe even a tower.      Users need to know that professional movie editing is done with Linux, which can be a challenge to use.    I know that Linux has great promise of moving more into mainstream devices,  but it has always been “almost” there.  Try Linux Mint on your old but high-speed PC or Mac.

If printing is a paramount concern,  Windows simply offers the most drivers for the newest printers to enable you just to plug them in direct.   Linux offers many such drivers for older printers.  Chromebooks depend on wireless and networks, but, that is just starting to change.

What about music?      The good news is that music is accessible from many devices.      Consider which sources though, and their associated libraries    There is the Apple iTunes library.     There is the Amazon library.     There is the Google library.      Just pick the device that best accesses your library of choice.

What about streaming video?     Here you want a high speed internet connection.      That restricts the choices right there.     Your device needs to operate either plugged in direct to internet wireless or wirelessly on the 5 gigahertz WiFi band      The device also needs a fast processor and fast graphics.      Much of the time the iPad will do.      Little known, however is that there is a device which will enable you to connect that iPad directr without using wireless for a higher speed streaming.

A smart TV can also provide high speed streaming.      There are also TVs which can be used both as standalone TVs and as displays for almost any other device, like your smartphone.     They are also quite cheap.    Pair a Chromebook with such a TV.    

Monday, December 4, 2017

Linux For EXPO Attenders

Tap or Click for 25 Resources to learn about Linux

Tap or Click to Get Started with Linux

Presentations Revisited

Recently a resident was stressed out about needing to create a presentation In a short time while also learning to use a new device for this user, an iPad.

It developed that the easiest approach was to create the presentation separately from the iPad,  and keep the learning effort as a separate project,

A presentation can be handled without a computer with simple paper handouts showing the slides in order, such a 6 / page.     No computer is needed at all.

On a computer the simplest way is to use a familiar word processor but save the document of slides in a PDF format.    That PDF format can be accessed and projected from any device.   Thanks to Tony Poulos for the suggestion.

More challenging is to use a computer program dedicated to creating presentations.

Of these, Microsoft PowerPoint is probably the most familiar to most users.      PowerPoint is even available now on an iPad.

Simpler is to create the presentation with PowerPoint on a machine familiar to the user,  and then exporting it to a separate device for projection if necessary.

PowerPoint requires some learning because of its exhaustive capabilities.   A class is advised,  and desirable if you are going to create many presentations.

More newly Apple has created Keynote for Macs and iPads and even iPhones.      The idea was to simplify the process while also offering many of PowerPoints capabilities.     

The result was a touch screen program which can create a sophisticated slideshow in minutes. Keynote is a stunning creation inspired by Steve Jobs' goal of making complex things simple.

If you are going to be making many, many presentations,  I think Keynote  is the best way to go, with a big caution.   The caution is that the documentation to use this program is awful.

(And don't bother if you are already using PowerPoint.)

In a past posting I have provided a detailed step-by-step tutorial to get you up and running quickly on Keynote.   Search this site for it.   Or just Tap or click for it...

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Getting Computer Help

The computer is a do-it-yourself instrument.   The computer is just a tool.      It is the hammer and saw to get the job done.

The mission of those helping others with computers is simply to help others learn how to do it and use the tool for themselves.

If someone wants someone else to do computing work for them using a computer, thatcomplicates the task of getting the job done altogether.

Such a prtcess introduces a complication.  There now needs to be a lot of intercommunication.   Takes a lot of time.     It is always easier to do it yourself.

Doing it yourself does require preparation end the use of all the resources available, of which there are many.

Classes,  books,  videos,  one-on-one sessions,  and more.

In learning difficult computer related tasks,  such as programming, I found it most useful to sit and observe the programmer without interfering or commenting at all,  simply observing.

Nowadays such a process of learning can be done by  watching a YouTube video.     Simply pick your task and look for the best YouTube video.

If there is no time to leafn, then do it the old non-computer way.

As Times Change...

As times change we find new ways to do our stuff.

Time was when we would go to our tower computer to do our computing at our desk.

Now, we reach in our pocket for smartphone, the smaller the better.

In our easy chair we reach for our iPad or other tablet, such as Amazon Fire or a Nook tablet or reader.

Alternatively, we use our laptop.

New intel-based Chromebooks work as tablets, smartphones, and even Linux computers. These  can also power a big screen.

The old tower sits more and more abandoned.

Barnes and Noble Nook TABLET

Recently I've been thinking about getting a new smartphone with a larger screen. These are still pricey.      What gave me pause is that I normally reach for my smallest $30 smartphone anyway when going anywhere.    I only use my largest one occasionally.     Not worth a new investment.

I think a lot of regular smartphone users do the same, even though seniors do tote big iPads around to show pictures to their friends,,,and take pictures with them, too.

Anyway, for many such Apple users the new four inch iPhone SE is very appealing despite its small size (and at its lower price).   
When Barnes & Noble came out with a special $30 sale on their Nook tablet,  I jumped at the opportunity to get one cheap as an alternative.    Bigger than  smartphones, it is still very portable, a better choice than a new smartphone.    It actually fits in my pocket.   Phones with Hangouts and even away from WiFi  with a Hotspot. If you have a Google Voice number, it will even receive calls to that number via Hangouts.

The Nook tablet enables the addition of  up to 128 gigs memory.       BUT when I put in a card with 16 Gigs, it suddenly disappeared.       I wondered if it had somehow slid into the interior of the tablet.

I called  Barnes and Nobles and they told me they could take a look at it, and when I got there they were immediately helpful.     Apparently the card had popped out without my noticing it.      When a new card was inserted,  it worked fine.

The Nook tablet is even better than the very positive reviews indicate.       It' has the familiar Android smartphone screen.      It's a bit smaller than the Amazon Fire and fits better in, at least, my hand.  It's lighter.   It's fast.

I like it a lot.    I can recommend it to anybody.

Even more, I like the way Barnes & Noble addressed  my trivial issue, and I am adding them to my list of computer friendly companies which include, of course, Apple and Best Buy.

Amazon notwithstanding,  we need to keep all of these customer friendly companies alive.