Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Offline Safety for Media

 Not long ago everything was offline.

Then online became available,

Despite fears, online has pretty well taken over,  even for backup of a computer.
From the beginning there were questions about online safety.      Suppose it went away,  would we lose our books, music and photos?    

The more probable exposure is that our media will not be there when we need it,  as when we are away from WiFi.      Wifi is not always reliable, either.

Cell coverage is more reliable, but much more expensive.

So,  getting down to the point, how do we make everything available offline,  available when we need it, wherever we are?

For convenience,  I decided to put music on a Kindle Fire 7.      I added 128 GB SD memory for the purpose.    Alternatively I could have put it on a memory stick with Wi-Fi.      And indeed,  I did that, but for backup.

Kindle books went downloaded to a second Kindle Fire 7.     Google Books, however,  required the use of internal memory,  and I needed another device with plenty of internal memory for them.

I had consolidated all my music.

LPS and  78s  had been converted earlier to digital format on a PC, using software originally developed for a Linux called Audacity, and a turntable sending the music to the PC.

CDs were converted by the PC,  but using Apple iTunes.     You just insert the CD and iTunes does the rest.

As others have abandoned CDs except for using in the car, I have collected some of them,  especially popular music of earlier times.

Then I have accumulated some music from Amazon where you can get 100 piano concertos for $0.99,  and so on.     When I buy something from Amazon and choose  not to have immediate shipment,  I get a credit for such a purpose.     There is also plenty of free music from the Internet Archive.

Consequently my music library takes up a little more than 64 gigabytes.  Ten thousand pieces.   It took more than 24 hours to send it from PC to Kindle Fire.

That means I can take with me all the music I would ever want to listen to.

My library of books similarly includes anything II would ever want to read, no need ever to go to the library.

Ask for photos, the only steps  I have taken so far is to have them printed out book form.      It would be a simple matter to download them to a Kindle Fire.

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Match Your Computing to Your Tasks

Nowadays computing devices are so inexpensive that you can have several of them for your various needs.

For reading,  the Kindle 8 and Nook 7 or both are best suited for that purpose.     Although the Kindle app can be run on other devices,  these are cheaper and more convenient than most.

If you are a heavy reader you will probably need to use an app called Calibre,,  available only on a Mac or PC.

For writing you will need a device with a keyboard such as a Chromebook.     If you are a more demanding writer,  you will need a device which runs the Scrivener app,  such as a PC or Mac.

For browsing you will want a fast browser,  the best choice being a Chromebook,  although Linux on a PC can also run fast browsing.

An iPad, with or without keyboard (using voice)  will also handle your reading and writing needs, including Scrivener.    It will also offer fast browsing.

For music,  Spotify will run on almost anything and give you access to almost any music at $10 a month.   Amazon offers in alternative.  If you have a large library of music,  you will require a device with a lot of memory for the ability to add such,  such as a smartphone.     The Pandora app will guide you to new music on almost any device.

Most agree that for finances Quicken is the choice so that you needed advice that are run it.    I disagree a bit.    Mint  from Quicken will do the heavy work for you and run on many more devices.

For photography, there are three choices all of them pretty decent:  Apple, Google,  and Amazon. But your choice of device may limit which are available.     I suggest the cheapest iPhone which will run all three and replace your camera.

Spreadsheets and presentations will run on many devices and not just Windows or Mac.

If you are fond of tinkering,  you absolutely need a PC,  which needs to be tinkered with all the time just to keep running.      Windows is the most adaptable interface but also the most exposed to trouble.

Summary: I suggest that you can have all of the devices you need to do just about anything for less than the cost most people pay for a single device.

This includes a Kindle 8, a Nook 7, a Chromebook,  a cheap Windows laptop, and a smartphone.

For voice phoning,  almost any of the devices will work from WiFi with such an application as Hangouts,    All you need is a $5 or $10 a month account away from WiFi , or alternatively a hotspot.    

If you use voice broadly for your computing,  it will be available on most devices but you need to assure that before you commit.

If you do a lot of communicating by phone, it  is far easier, cheaper, and less intrusive to the person you are calling,  to use text messages.      You just dictate them and they appear on the destination phone without disturbing anyone.

If you do use that phone for browsing away from WiFi I,  especially for navigation,  you need a gigabyte a month for about $10  over and above your basic $5 or $10 a month phoning.     Waze for navigating is almost mandatory for seniors who drive.

If you use headphones,  the new ones are cheaper and better, especially wireless (bluetooth).      I found one on Amazon which shuffles music from a memory card directly and sells for about $25.     

There are headphones now which include amplification and even plug into USB ports.  

Where you use headphones will determine your choice.       The old radio frequency headphones for TV are still around, but for new TVs with only optical output you need an adapter to use your new bluetooth headphones.

Bottom line:  you can have it all now cheap without struggling to make one device stumble through things it cannot do well.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

The Type is Too Small

 Some seniors struggle with the small type size of various devices.

Recently a senior here had difficulty with an iPad Mini,  which is especially vulnerable to such a problem.

There are lots of remedies,  but for the iPad Mini it is probably best to upgrade to the latest iPad.

Most devices offer the ability to increase type size, often through accessibility settings.

Individual apps,  such as Kindle,  will have the ability to increase type size built in.     Look for an Aa icon.

Often spreading your fingers on the screen will enlarge the type size.

Shift ++  will enlarge the screen in Chrome and other browsers.

Amazon Kindle also has the ability to read out loud.   Tap anywhere on a page screen for instructions, once activated in Settings.

Newly,  the Microsoft Edge browser app enables reading out loud.    Tap or Click for more about it,   

iPads and Android tablets already read highlighted text aloud, once activated in settings.

@Voice, a more general app, will read aloud in most other apps.

Monday, February 19, 2018

You Need GMail

For anyone using a tablet or smartphone, indeed any computer,  Gmail is essential, regardless of what you have been using in the past.

It is all the more essential for a new user,  even though that user already has a different email account.

Gmail simply opens up a vast category of tools,  including encrypted email, a calendar, an Office Suite, and much else.

You get all the tools you need to avoid using antiquated the equipment and software.

If you want to know all the benefits Tap or click for them.

Or more simply just tap or click to sign up.

During the sign-up process it is absolutely essential for a senior to remember the Gmail password,  which will be called for again and again.

Seniors often forget passwords.     When this happens, and they try to sign in,  they get this message in the in the form of a question:  Did you forget your password?

Click on that message and enter your e-mail address to receive an email giving you the ability to establish a new password.

You probably will never get back your old forgotten password since you established it to prevent access to your email anyway and it is working to do that job.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Phoning from a Smartphone

 So how do you place a phone call from a smartphone?      A new smartphone owner posed the question, migrating from an old cell phone.

Whoops.      Not what you might be thinking.

We do it now with voice.    

Just tap on the microphone in the browser.   Simply say  “ Call  Susie”.     If our contacts include Susie, the phone will do the rest.

If we don't know the number,  such as for a business,  all we need to do is to say the name of the business and the calling option will come up.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018


 I get the question as to what I am doing when I am wearing headphones while exercising.

I am listening to music, of course.

I use an old iPod Touch deivce,  which is an ancestor of the present-day iPad.     

I bought it on eBay for $15 for its memory in which I could store and stream about 1500 items.      The old iPod Touch 2  was battered from long years (10) of use but still working perfectly.

Any iPad or iPod touch or smartphone will do the same.

It works by  activating Bluetooth wireless in settings and ”pairing” a  Bluetooth headset.     I picked up a Billboard headset for less than $20 at Staples

It is also possible to listen to audiobooks in addition to music.

If you don't have any music to install,  you can stream almost anything from Spotify for $10 a month.  Just install the Spotify app into your device.     On Amazon you can buy huge collections of music for $0.99 each.    Amazon also has in alternative to Spotify.

If you don't know what music you like,  then you can use the Pandora app to find music for you.   

If you have a large library of CDs,  these can be converted to digital form. Tap or click to find out how.

Old LPs can be converted using a player which converts the music to digital form.     About $50.

If you want to be able to stream your original collection of music,  it can be uploaded to Amazon music so that it will be accessible to you anywhere.    Just install Amazon music on your device or computer.

What do I listen to?      Anything from the Brahms Liebeslieder to the Firehouse Five and everything in between.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

My Tech Choices

 Computers are constantly changing and my own tech choices are also changing.   So what are they?

I now prefer the Apple iPhone to Android phones, specifically the iPhone SE,  because it is simple, small,  inexpensive, technically up-to-date, and now easy to navigate. Service from ConsumerCellular is well priced at $25 a month.

Next,  I like the Android Moto G4 as a large phone,  but not one to take with me most of the time because of its size.

I think now that the $250 iPad Is the preferred device for seniors, with its control panel,  even though you cannot stream music from iCloud.     Worse,  you need a PC to manage it at times.

My workhorse is a Chromebook,  specifically an HP Chromebook 15 which I got for $90 and you can get for about $200.     The Chromebook now runs Android smartphone apps, even Microsoft Office..

As for a tablet,  the  Amazon Kindle tablet is hard to be in function and price, But I am still using my old Nexus 7 along with a cheap Nook tablet which runs Google apps.

My choice of printers are Brothers,  whether laser or dot matrix.  I've had this preference for a long time.      My MFC-J875 has expensive print cartridges from A-Z.    I do have an HP LaserJet p1102w which works with a Chromebook and has cheap replaceable toner.

My 24 in LG TV monitor  is inexpensive and really the only such device in its class.

Amazon’s Echo voice systems are becoming more and more useful over time and spreading widely in this community.   I like the Lightify bulbs for Alexa.

I like the Billboard headphones and the Oontz speakers,  both inexpensive.

I see no reason to spend big bucks on anything.

I am not fond of Windows but you do need it now and then.