Tech Tips for Retirees

For retirees interested in learning more, making life easier and staying connected with distant friends and family.


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Music on the Road – A Simple Solution

image courtesy of Boians Cho Joo Young@freedigitalphotos.net

image courtesy of Boians Cho Joo Young@freedigitalphotos.net

As with most of our electronics today, we have many options when it comes to music on the road. Most new cars come equipped with a trial subscription to a music service, but will we miss it if it’s gone? If you have an unlimited data package on your phone, you have access to music apps that allow you to select genres which is a reasonable alternative. If you have a MP3 player that is compatible to your car you have all of your favorites organized and at your fingertips. I personally even still enjoy sliding an actual CD into the player occasionally. But, if you don’t want to pay for a service, don’t have an unlimited data package on your phone, and your MP3 player isn’t compatible with your car, you need today’s tip. Pick up a 16 GB zip drive (under $10 on Amazon), plug it into your computer and move all your music there. I thought I had quite a bit stored and mine easily fit on 8 GB. This can then be plugged into any car with a USB port and will display music info while playing. All your favorites, on the cheap.

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Create Your Personal Garden Resource on Pinterest

tulips After having perused many of the available gardening apps, I continue to find that creating my own gardening files on Pinterest is the most satisfying and useful way to have a readily available gardening guide. This will be filled with ideas you truly love and will have all the information you could ask for, to meet all of the needs of your particular garden.

If you have not yet set up a Pinterest account, it is simple to do, and free. Follow the instructions on that site, then you are free to search for the ideas, photos, plants, designs and how-to’s for your garden beds. When you see an item you wish to save on your “board” you touch the “Pin-it” button. A pop-up will ask where you wish to save it, and you may start a new file or choose an existing one. You will soon have your own beautiful, photo rich selection of ideas that inspire you. Happy gardening!


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Rainy Day Fun with the Grandchildren

Many months ago I discovered Google Images as a wonderful resource for crafters and ran across paper dolls, such as the wonderful retro ones above. But I have since found that there are a wealth of paper toys available on-line: air planes, pinwheels, origami, paper figures to assemble and almost anything you can dream up. (I guess it’s true…there really is very little new under the sun.)

When confronted with a rainy day you can print up a few activities of your own choosing, or, especially with an older child, show them a search of “paper toys” in Google Images. (Go to Google, click on the word “images” on the Google page, then enter your search in the box.) I like this method as it essentially provides a visual links page. If you click on the image you are interested in, it will take you to the site it came from, which often has even more fun ideas. Your grandchildren will soon be thinking of their own searches and you’ll soon be off-line having some good old-fashioned rainy day fun.


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Using Your Computer for Creative Inspiration

image courtesy of Simon Howden/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

image courtesy of Simon Howden/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Expressing our creativity, plays a key part in retaining youthfulness. I pursue many hobbies, and find that they change over time. When feeling the need for a new idea it is easy to find inspiration as close as a computer. There are numerous sites with detailed how-to instruction, and blog sites where individuals share there own particular take on a skill. Be it painting, woodworking, needlecrafts, sculpture or photography, help is always at your fingertips.

Because my favorite pursuits are so visual (quilting, embroidery, and multimedia art) I especially enjoy finding inspiration in the photography of others. This works just as well, however, when you are looking for writing inspiration. A picture can set off a new idea for for a quilt pattern, color scheme, or story line. Try looking in such places as Google Images, photography blogs, Pinterest and clip art sites. In no time you’ll have a mind full of inspiration and will be excited about beginning your new project.

Please comment if you have found inspiration for your creativity on-line.


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VRBO for Unique Vacation Experiences

image courtesy of mapichai/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

image courtesy of mapichai/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I long ago gave up booking vacation lodging through large resorts or planning services, in favor of having the fun of searching out my own choices. I have used VRBO (http://www.vrbo.com/) for years now and have not had a single bad experience. It is very easy to navigate and allows you to view multiple pictures and read users reviews of properties all over the world. The process is so much fun, all in itself, that you might find yourself viewing properties in countries you had never before considered visiting. And you will definitely enjoy some great daydreams as you visualize yourself in the photos you view.

Closer to home, you will find hundreds of listings in your own state. Rates are clearly listed and by taking advantage of lower rates in off seasons, which retirees are free to enjoy, your vacation dollar will be well spent. When ready to book, you are required to make a down payment, with the remainder due prior to travel, as specified by the owner. This feels a little strange to us oldsters, who are used to seeing the product in person before purchasing. But VRBO stands behind the reputation of their listers, and you will not be disappointed.


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Road Scholar / Its Never too Late to Learn

image courtesy of taoty/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

image courtesy of taoty/FreeDigitalPhotos.com

Yes, just bring that coffee and pull up a chair to be taken to a website that can lead to the adventurous learning experience of a lifetime!
http://roadscholar.org which was formerly known as “Elderhostel”, plans for learning experiences from your home state to the other side of the world. These are in depth experiences, often with a focus on special interests, and in some cases are quite frugal. The details are all laid out for you and include information on the activity level and accommodations. People who have experienced these trips are quite enthusiastic and many return for other adventures throughout their senior years. All ages are welcome and you might also want to check out trips designed for mixed generations, such as grandparent and grandchild.


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The Most Valuable Software $10 Can Buy

Today’s tip addresses the creator present in us all. It serves the needs of the most creative of artists, or the “want-to-bes”, like me. I continue to be blown away by the software Broderbund produces for printing your own greeting cards, calendars, CD labels, T-shirt transfers, mailing labels, scrapbook pages and posters. This one was purchased within the last month at Office Max, and is the third such program from this company that I have owned. Each one has offered more features than the last.

This extremely user-friendly version of Broderbund has added a simple to use photo editor, which includes the ability to change colors and make corrections. You can then add text (with 500 choices for fonts (!)and/or art from their extensive collection of easily searchable images. The more you use it, the more uses you find for it. I have saved hundreds of dollars on the cost of greeting cards while producing much more personal greetings and can always find the image needed for needlework.