Tuesday, November 8, 2022

Listen to Text on Your Android Phone While Doing Something Else

 A much underused and very useful capability on smartphones is the ability to have text read aloud from the screen.

This capability can be used to read Kindle books.


The gestures to activate this capability vary from phone to phone.


They may require sliding two fingers up, or sliding two fingers down, or simply tapping on a “bubble” which appears on the screen.   Tapping the bubble, brings up the play or pause or quit options.


The capability needs to be installed.  Installation for Android is tricky.


Also, it is important to install the proper text to speech software. You want to be able to toggle the capability on and off simply.


That means you do NOT want the talk back capability, which reads back screen commands, unless you are sight impaired.  That can be very confusing and require a lot of effort. Also, you do NOT want the requirement to select text first.


You want to be able to turn speech off and on, or toggle it, easily when needed and when not wanted


Set up requires going to the accessibility options in settings, and also the general options, in settings for android.


Text to speech needs to be enabled and then voice data installed.   Then the speak text on/off toggle action needs to be installed.


Some devices require the android accessibility suite app to be installed first before the above actions, in order to accomplish the above.


Once you have the capability, you can listen to any reading material while your eyes are involved in doing something else.


(114) How to Turn On Text To Speech Read Aloud on Android/Samsung - 2022 - YouTube



Tuesday, October 25, 2022

Getting it Read Out Loud

 The very best way to have a book read aloud.Is Alexa. Once the book is available from audible.all that is necessary is to.ask Alexa to read it.    There are free books available from Audible on Amazon.  This is best for the sight impaired.   Those with good eyesight will find the audible app most helpful.

Next best is to use.text-to-speech on a Kindle Fire.  .Swiping up from the bottom of the screen.presents a speaker.and arrow to be clicked to start.   Simple. The iPad can be set to read aloud by swiping down with two fingers.

Also available on the Kindle Fire and eReaders  is Voiceview.   The problem with Voiceview is that it makes navigation much more difficult.


Audible books are then the next easiest on many devices from their app.   Just click to start reading.


Then there is Librivox with loads of free books.  Similarly Audiobooks app.


Beyond that is the Gutenberg app and.The Internet Archive.


Last, is your local library online.


Thursday, October 20, 2022

Updating for Better Tech for Seniors

 Things I have been selling or giving away…


  1. PC tower, eliminating clutter, cables, awkward hubs and wires, slow drives, and obsolescence, Windows 10

  2. Landline phone - too expensive, too many nuisance calls

  3. Kindle eReaders - Paperwhites too hard to navigate, books and media much too expensive

  4. Conventional speakers and sound systems - take too much space, are nowadays included in devices

  5. Old headphones - cost, confusing controls, poor fit, old bluetooth

  6. Most news and magazine subscriptions - far too costly on Amazon

  7. Many individual book purchases - available now with services and especially Calibre searches

  8. Older streaming TV “sticks


And replacing with…


  1. HP $200 Win 11 15” laptop, also 17” with touch screen at $400

  2. Ethernet phone service with Obihai adapter - $40 a .year

  3. Latest 8” Kindle Fire for easy ebook reading (with read aloud voice)

  4. Alexa Echo wall plugins with distributed speakers

  5. New $20 folding swivel bluetooth headphones with simple controls

  6. New Moto smart phone WITH year’s service for under $100 total (HSN)

  7. Old overstocked but still new top Nexus 5x phone now under $100 on eBay (with separate free TextNow phone number and service)

  8. Apple News on old iPad with VAST reading access, nothing else gives such broad reading access

  9. Calibre app on Mac or Windows for books - with broadest media searching and access at least cost (see wikihow)

  10.  Google Chromecast TV with remote control and ease of use, best searching by far, though limited apps

  11. Roku Ultra for ethernet, 4K, and vast app/channel library






Friday, June 17, 2022

Thrifty Tech for the Aging

Proper tools can overcome some of the limits of aging. 

What are those limits and tools?


The KEY and basic limitation is limited ACCESS.   We start to lose access to many of our normal pursuits.


BUT there is technology out there to help.


Consider where you live as to whether it gives you the access you need to services and resources.   Can you get to what you need easily?


The newest universal access resource is of course, Internet, which brings us closer to everything.  A simple Kindle Fire 8 inch tablet at less than $50 it’s all we really need if cost is in question.


The Fire does offer a subset of capabilities which can be largely offset by adding four files which give access to the entire Android library of apps and tools.


There are other access tools…More about non-Internet tools and technology below.


You really don’t need anything else but it is very handy to have some other internet access.    You don’t need Windows or Macintosh unless you really really want them.   (Yes I have a big HP touchscreen Windows 11 laptop.)


A much underused Internet resource is YouTube, which I always consult when trying to figure out how to do something or enter into someone else’s world for a time. Or for going to a concert online.   Also much underused is the Internet Archive.   Want to listen to the old radio programs from the 30s.  They are there with much music and video


A Kindle Fire TV at $100 will provide a larger dkisplay but your own TV can probably receive casts from the above tablet.


A Moto G cell phone with a year's service from TracFone is available on HSN for $70.   It could be an alternative to the Kindle Fire above.


Expensive phones have stunning graphics and photography for those who want it.   I won’t pay for that, but it can be impressive.


You can also get free cell phone service from Textnow using an unlocked phone. Data service will cost you $10.     Ting offers service at $10 a month for phoning but charges only when you use data.


A more expensive and elegant alternative to these is an iPad, often selling for $250-330.  A benefit here is widespread use and help.   There are less expensive folding chromebooks for laptop and tablet use.


What about physical access in the world around you?


Light weight scooters and walkers have much appeal if you cannot walk safely.  Easy transfer to car is desirable as is the ability to carry items.


Many seniors are unaware that there are walkers which prevent you from falling, such as the Lifeglider or Zeen.   I find the conventional walker to be a bad choice because it fosters bad posture and strain on muscles.  I fell backward one day twice with one.


Note that some wheelchairs come with removable wheels for easy transport. There are also lightweight wheelchairs with magnesium bodies.


Now to smaller “access” tools.


Alexa is dirt cheap and makes it easy to access information without a computer as well as control lights and other devices remotely.


With Alexa one small lamp in the bedroom can illuminate from one percent to 100% of a 100 W bulb and so illuminate the whole room or just light faintly at the bedside when getting up at night.   That just takes a cheap programmable bulb and does away with too many lights taking space in one room.


Battery lamps are portable.   These are handy if you have a less than $100 big screen projector which works only in a dark room.


Simple things such as stick-on door handles at the center of doors make it easier to open and close from a wheelchair.


I might add that any of these Internet devices will access TV with the proper apps.  I use Watchnewspro for the networks. Podcasts offer recorded shows.   TV channels and networks have their own apps.


With the Internet being so important, our apartment is under a carpet Ethernet cable line to provide fast Internet wherever it is used, including on laptops.  Wi-Fi is just plain too slow.


To accommodate so many devices I use a plug-in which extends one non switched outlet to six sockets. General Electric makes it.


Back to other devices.    The latest electric blankets can even be voice or phone controlled.


I use enclosed bamboo boxes to enclose surge strips and cabling and make cleaning easier.


To conserve space, a bedside table can serve for storage and as a laptop desk, as done in the local hospital.    That is also a good place for a projector, in a good room with blackout curtains for projection.    Cheap blackout curtains slide along a simple pole rod.


Speaking of cheap, I consult Amazon, Walmart, Costco, and eBay whenever I buy anything.    I also sell on Amazon and eBay.    Replacements is a good place to sell china.


With eBay it is a good idea to correspond by email with the seller before buying or bidding.    With some trepidation I bought a very lightweight mobility scooter directly from the factory in China through eBay.    It is great but all the instructions are in Chinese.


I have found eBay to be a good source of such items as stretch socks, toothbrush inserts, polo shirts, even iPhone, but checking out the latter very carefully.    I am very fond of the iPhone SE but unwilling to pay the normal retail cost.    eBay has always made good when something has been unsatisfactory, but take care.


There are devices to assist with hearing.    Sennheiser TV headphones are the Cadillac.  They look cheap, cost a lot, but work very well.     There are some good cheap alternatives…


For the hearing impaired some hearing aids enable sending and sound from TV or Internet or even from a smartphone itself.


I do see internet devices out there advertised as designed specifically for seniors. Forget them.    You cannot beat an iPad for ease-of-use.    Windows 11 is improving and a must for a new Windows user.     




































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