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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Keeping in Touch with Young Grandchildren

Mini fun copyIt’s been a while since the last post, due to the extremely important business of making a trip to see my youngest grandchild. She now has the rapidly expanding vocabulary and grand scale emotions of the two-year-old she has just become…a wonder and a joy to behold. So, of course, it was with great sadness that I left her, thinking of all the changes she will have made by the next time we meet, in July, and wondering if she will remember anything of our last few days. With that in mind, I began to think of ways to make use of all the communication tools we now have available, to keep in touch.

First, I did some internet searching to find fun things to entertain a child of 2. There are any number of songs, stories, coloring pages and poems to forward.

Second, I made a video using my tablet. Reverse the camera toward yourself and observe the angle and lighting. (I have terrified the poor child on Skype when I don’t pay attention to those things.)

Lastly I addressed an e-mail to her mother with the video attached, and told them that I was also sending a video “gift”. If you have chosen a You Tube story video, as I did for my first message, you could send directly from there using the sideways V icon in the top right corner of the video. For coloring pages or poems, copy them and send as an attachment. You might even wish to read a chosen poem in your video, next time.

I’m guessing that there may be a way to attach both your selfie video, and your “gift” in one message, but I have not yet made that discovery. Please post a comment if you can help us out or have other ideas.


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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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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.


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Getting Creative

Created using abcya.com

Created using abcya.com

Today’s tip uses a website that I am crazy about; abcya.com/word_clouds.htm. I recently discovered that there are several free websites that create custom artwork from words, such as the one I used for today’s photo. I like this site because, having been created for 1st to 5th graders, it is simple for a granny to use. You simply enter the words you wish to use, into a box and press a button. You are then given a choice of layouts, fonts and colors and you’ll find yourself producing something as wonderful as you can find in any selection of commercial wordy artwork!

I plan to make use of this program in combination with my card-making program, or possibly for framed wall art. An interesting use with a grandchild might be to talk about favorite things and then make a printable poster.


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Step Away from the Computer

As much as I find technology fascinating and helpful, my oldest granddaughter reminds me that there are many times when it is even more important to stay firmly grounded in the “real” world. Time with friends and family still takes precedence for most of us. Table games and conversation are even more satisfying than the electronic ones. And when I am on the phone with one friend I do not feel any need to check on an in-coming call. I don’t have to have my phone at the dinner table or even in my pocket when I’m out. E-mail is helpful, but people still like getting snail mail and packages. And the world is even bigger and more beautiful when not looking through the screen on a phone.


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Time with the Grandchildren

image courtesy of debspoons/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

image courtesy of debspoons/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

There is a wealth of ideas available on-line when in need of a fun new idea of something to do when the grandchildren visit. As I’ve mentioned in other posts, a search for “Fun with the Grandchildren” will lead you to brand new activities, some never before seen by you or me.

If, however, you wish to share with your grandchild, some of the ways we used our imaginations for play, here is the site for you:

http://www.cfpic.org/kcan/files/1108/Grandparents_100FREEThings.pdf

As you read you will realize that, had you dredged the furthest reaches of your brain, you might have come up with at least 50 of the 100 ideas presented. So many are things we thought of as children and did with our own offspring. This has been supplemented with a few new ideas, as well, so that the generations can try something new together.