Monday, April 23, 2018

Easy Printer Setup

In setting up a new printer wirelessly, we are often confronted with CDs and complex installations.  With my Canon Image Laser, all I had to do is tap on the bluetooth button and then tap the router WPS button.   Done!

It's All About Speed

 No matter what device you use, using it is all about getting everything done as quickly as possible.  That is paramount. We all spend time browsing and we need pages to come up instantly. Forget operating systems, manufacturers and types of devices.

Next is getting devices cheap and getting them small for convenience, but compatible with a big screen.

Getting back to speed, what do we need?

We need a good fast internet connection.  That means not bogged down by multiple users on Wi-Fi nor bogged down by multiple splitters between you and the ISP.

Recently I looked over my system to see what I could do to speed things up.

Right at the start my ISP found bad splitters and replaced them.

I ran cables and installed inexpensive usb ethernet adapters to avoid Wi-Fi on laptops.

I concentrated on devices which support voice input, which also speeds up my activity on any device, not just smartphones.

I ruled out mechanical hard drives, and I looked for high speed memory devices.

I did not rule out Windows 10,  even though Windows 10 runs horribly badly on most  old equipment. Microsoft eventually catches up with new technology and the latest Windows 10 is much improved.

I tried a Lenovo Windows stick with an age-old display and it ran quite well.

For real speed I needed something better with 4 gigs Ram and 32 to 64 gigs memory, 32 for 32 bit and 64 for 64-bit.

That's not a lot of memory and you need to be astute in holding down use of that memory.  You need fast emmc memory nowadays. Windows gets cluttered with stuff too quickly.

As Windows is updated you need to do away with system files using disk cleanup,  and delete windows.old directories. Since most activity runs online anyway, there is no need to load much software.

Since this effort does not need to be expensive,  I picked up a flagship low-cost 2018 laptop at $200  meeting the above criteria.

Windows being Windows,  it took 10 hours to update the thing, but then a big surprise . This little laptop turned out to be the fastest device I think I have ever used.   Lightning speed.

Of course,  the very first thing I did with it was to dictate “ create a recovery drive”,  on a 16gb flash drive. That way, when Windows goes sour, it can be reinstalled without ado.

The laptop is light,  built to mil spec, and designed for rough and tumble treatment by students.  (Microsoft is trying to regain the school market lost to Chromebooks.)

It is very small and lightweight.    Works beautifully was a large external screen,  but also when the little display is set for max resolution but 150%  of normal font size.

The only downside is a soft screen which is certainly is vulnerable,  but nothing like as vulnerable as Microsoft Windows itself used by an unschooled person.

Windows has the great advantage is that it recognizes printers and many other devices simply by plugging them in.    To run on this laptop, however, it also took 10 special device drivers from the manufacturer. I put them on a separate flash drive for use in a future reinstallation.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Recovering Windows

 Sooner or later,  if your laptop has 32 gigs of memory or less,  that memory will fill up as you update Windows over time,  especially if you have an old Windows directory from a previous update.

At that point you may no longer be able to update at all.

it is therefore important that you prepare a recovery drive such as a USB recovery drive as soon as you start using a new computer.

The means to do so are are found separately on this website or can be found easily by searching  for instructions in a browser.

Here's the rub.  There may not be enough space for reinstallation.

It may be difficult to accomplish that result by deleting files.

Recently I needed to use Windows partitioning tool to create enough space.   That worked.

Unfortunately, running the recovery process still may not bring your laptop back to full functionality.   I was still not done.

There are usually a bunch of manufacturer’s files which need to be loaded to give access to everything,  such as a touchpad.

These can usually be downloaded and installed from the manufacturer support site.    

I needed to do that  to complete the job.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Rethinking Windows

When Windows 10 came out it was a fairly complete disaster.      It was hard to navigate and ran very badly on underpowered computers of the time.

Soon Chromebooks stole the show.  They pretty much took over the classroom.

In the meantime there have been some changes,  both in Windows itself and in its supporting hardware and hardware costs.

To attempt to regain the classroom market,  Microsoft now has much improved versions which run on rugged and cheap  laptops design for the classroom.

Those same laptops are also a draw for seniors.

Sufficiently large 64 gigabyte solid-state drives replace old clunky and slow hard drives.      Ram is now four gigabytes as opposed to two. Faster processors are in place. Repairs will be less frequent and easier.

There's also one big benefit in that Windows 10 configures a printer just by plugging it in.

Now available at as little as $200, all this does make Windows a more attractive choice, despite all the things that still can go wrong with Windows.

Monday, April 9, 2018

Three New Capabilities

 Updates : Three new capabilities

Nook Tablet

I've always been fascinated by trying to find the least cost item to do the job!     The Barnes & Noble Nook tablet was on sale for $30 and presented an opportunity and challenge (covered in previous posts).     The Nook can be sluggish and I have now found that it is better to use websites and bookmarks than apps, especially for News.  The bookmarks can be added to the home screen to look like apps.

Some new sources use up-to-date HTML 5 coding and some do not.    These news sites actually adapt themselves to the small screen without further ado.   These include the Washington Post, Reuters, Bloomberg, the Guardian, NPR, BBC, Google News, and MSN.

Kindle Fire TV

The Kindle Fire TV stick now has been greatly updated.      Not only that, but an adapter is available to bypass Wi-Fi and assure a smoother internet connection.

Alexa in the Car

A car adapter is now available to make it possible to do those things by voice, using Alexa.    Tap or click for the adapter.

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Learn to Do It All With Voice

 As more and more seniors use smartphones, too many of them still flounder with their fingers  to accomplish things the old hard way when the use of voice input (speech) newly makes everything ten times easier.   Yes 10x.

The use of voice has come on so quickly that many are still unaware of  the beauty of using voice or are at least uncertain as to how to use it.

Often the older phone has not been updated for voice.   This is done under settings and may require activation.

For iPhones Siri needs to be installed.     For Android phones Google + Google Assistant are needed.      Windows phones are dead but do indeed have Cortana for voice use.   Cortana can also be used on Android phones.

Don't know how to use text messaging?.      Simply hold down the home button on the iPhone and say “Send a text message” and the iPhone will guide you through it by talking to you..   Google will do the same.

The same voice commands will set an event in your calendar,  set up navigation, look up information. Simple.

Learn to do it!


Sunday, April 1, 2018

Low Internal Memory

There are a lot of small devices out there, such as smartphones,  which have low internal memory, so what can you do to make the most of it?

You can read elsewhere about how to keep your photos on the cloud and not on your phone,  along with a lot of other such data. But what about apps?     That's another story. To a degree some apps can be loaded onto expandable memory such as an SD card if you have it, there a better alternatives to start with.

Websites designed for smart devices can be added as bookmarks, and even better, added to the home screen where they look like any other app.  This website, snrtech, is optimized to be used from such a bookmark.

These websites include  ABC News, Evernote, and many others.   

Next come light apps.     These are made available by loading an enabling app called Hermit.  Hermit has both ready-made apps and ability for you to create such an app. These light apps also appear on the home screen as any other apps.

But then you will still find memory decreasing as conventional apps are updated. Here you need simply to turn off updating by the app store. Otherwise some apps will hog entirely too much space for no reason.

You can avoid adding Google Apps individually by using a browser which accesses them from the browser such as Opera.

If you have expandable memory,  it will be possible to move some apps to it.    

Then there are also apps which use extremely little memory anyway.    

You can cram a huge number of apps into a gigabyte of memory.