Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Old and New Tech Choices

 When someone asks me to recommend a solution to a problem,   I usually turn to the latest technology.

Why is that so?

Generally it is easier to use the newest technology, and often it is less expensive.

In my engineering days,  if I did not adopt the most modern efficient solution, a year would go by and somebody would say why did you go with the old inefficient solution?

And more recently, when I see seniors wrestling with the old ways,  I especially  recommend a new and better way.

That does not work for  everyone.

Many still want to do  it the old way, however complex, and many  simply do not want to invest time in learning something new.   Some just like the old ways.

That is okay.     I simply feel obligated to offer more than old options to solve problems.    

I do draw the line at offering solutions to Windows XT troubles, even though some old technology has stood up well over the years, such as Apple's original iPhone.   Windows XT, is a Model T, by Microsoft's own evaluation, with Windows 7 not long behind.

Serious problems with Windows, and Intel chips, are not found in alternative systems.   Worse,  we have no solutions yet.

Smartphones, though, do not have Intel chips, and offer a safer place to do most of your computer tasks.   The handwriting is on the wall.   

Monday, January 29, 2018

Emergency Windows Update

I am extremely concerned about Windows' & Intel's future.   

Start using alternatives.

Tap or Click for the "Fix"

Friday, January 26, 2018

Computing for Seniors

 What should a senior have in a computing device?   I get this question all the time.

Working with many different senior users and a wide variety of equipment, I have come up with the following.

More and more,  the iPad is taking the lead,  especially with the reduction to $250.

Up to now I had concerns about the iPad’s lack of a control panel, limited file access, lack of  heavy duty apps like  Windows PowerPoint, Scrivener, and others,  some concerns about  proprietariness,  and the $500 price.

Those concerns are gone.     

I have given the iPad some serious challenges and it has met or exceeded expectations.    Using it for a presentation proved far easier than any of the old alternatives.

I do recommend that users do not restrict themselves to limited “iPad only apps”  when they can run what they call “cross-platform apps” which run anywhere.

What about old Windows?

With its confusing Windows 10 screen and security challenges, along with the demise of the Windows phone,  Microsoft has had some setbacks in devices for seniors.

Now,  for some seniors it is possible to go cheaper.      The $50 Nook from Barnes & Noble tablet can even be made to phone over WiFi using Google Voice.     That way it works like a large smartphone.      The Kindle Fire 8 is a larger alternative at $80.      Both are frequently discounted.

For those who want a keyboard,  Chromebooks are the obvious choice at under $200.      I like my big brand new HP 15 inch which I got for $90.

The big point rows here is that these devices need not cost that much money,  whereas  seniors often think they need to spend a good deal more based on past purchases.    

Even a good Windows laptop can now be had under $200.    Problems occur too often with Windows however.    They need to be ”nursed along”  to work well.    Do you want to do that?
Going smaller, most seasonewd users like a 4”  smartphone, not a bigger one.     There are far more Android phones than Apple iPhones out there, but Apple has a great iPhone SE at under $200.      For a larger phone go to an Android Moto phone.    Get one with a large battery or replaceable battery.    

 Good plans have dropped as low as $25 a month,  but you don't need any plan if you always phone in a WIFI area.    With almost all devices and apps like Hangouts will do your phoning for you where there is WiFi.

Practically all devices can use a large screen or TV screen with an adapter so that a PC or Mac is not so much desirable anymore.     LG makes a cheap 24 inch smart TV which doubles as a computer display.

What is often highly desirable is the kind of support and helping hand  that Apple alone provides for its devices.   It is worth the extra cost.

More and more attractive to seniors are those voice devices  which are on the rapid rise.     Amazon’s Echo is very cheap for $35 and switches to control appliances are dropping under $20.  
Nowadays everything needs to work with voice and does.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Resurrect an Old Laptop Easily

It has always seemed high-handed to me for Microsoft to terminate support for an older product when device hardware is still working perfectly.

That creates a dilemma for many seniors who want to do only limited computer tasks with their old laptop, for which they may have paid a princely sum.

So is there a way to resurrect that old XT laptop?

There is indeed, though it is honestly better to switch new iPad at $250 or to Chromebook at about the same price level or less.

The software to resurrect the old laptop comes from Neverwhere.  Tap or click for it.    It is free for personal use.

For my old laptop I needed to use the new Neverware Chrome OS as a Guest and I needed to use a cheap router extender with an ethernet cable in place of WiFi.

Simple browsing and email worked outstandingly well.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

iPod Touch - Still Great Old Tech

The iPod Touch is 10 years old and no longer offered.       Yet even old broken devices are still popular.    Working, like new, units cell for up to $100.  How so?

I revisited our old iPod Touch 2 which had been relegated to music listening while plugged in.    The battery was still good.

How does it compare to present-day devices?

I was surprised, but there are just a few tricks to making it still useful.

It can receive and send telephone calls with Google Voice  from wifi or hotspot.

Many apps will not run which have been updated for newer devices.


I was able to run Pandora, Tunein radio, NPR news, Spotify, Overdrive, Google, Battery status, Audiobooks, Kobo, CNET,  New York Times, and even WAZE.

In some cases I needed simply to run from the Safari browser and add to the home screen.

That covers a lot of ground.

Thanks, Steve.

Monday, January 1, 2018

Connecting Headsets and Speakers

Our new TV came with no jacks nor wireless for listening privately with headsets.  Headsets are also desirable for clear hearing for old ears.

The TV did come with an optical jack, but optical is no good for wireless.     
Similarly smartphones do come with the wireless capability for old style headsets but how do we get that sound to speakers?     Some devices come now only with USB ports and do not accept other audio input.   Tap or click for such a speaker solution.

What to do about all this?

The following will discuss the issues and the solutions.

For a TV with Optical,  the simplest is a wired solution like this one. Tap or click for it.

Wireless is a whole lot more complicated.     Optical needs to be translated to bluetooth.    Bluetooth needs to be extended to a Bluetooth device or receiver.   The receiver needs to be connected to your old style radio frequency headsets such as those from Sennheiser with RCA or  3.5 mm cell phone type jacks.

Sounds complicated?.    Indeed.     But it does work.    Tap or click for an optical to bluetooth converter.    Tap or click for a bluetooth receiver.   Or maybe just use a second optical to Bluetooth converter as a receiver.     These devices work both ways.


So what about sending that smartphone sound out to speakers.

There are three ways to do this all of them quite simple, cheap,  and uncomplicated...fortunately.

Bluetooth is the most used.      Much less known is  Google's Chromecast Audio.   

There are plenty of bluetooth speaker, but I have found the Oontz speakers easiest to set up.     they come in various sizes with varied ranges and loudness.  Tap or click for them.

Then there is Chromecast audio which will send sound out to  headsets and speakers. Tap or click for these.

The third way is simply to send sound out to your Echo device and speakers.    Tap or click for how to do it.

Now finally,  what about cost?

Nowadays outstanding speakers and headsets can be found for a pittance.

Here are a few:

Old cheap vintage KLH speakers can be wonderful end can be found on eBay,  even new.