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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The Smartphone and Air Travel

image courtesy of Franky242@freedigitalphotos.net

image courtesy of Franky242@freedigitalphotos.net

As promised, after having use of a smartphone while traveling, for the first time, I will share my thoughts. The app for my airline was helpful for having my travel info at my fingertips. It is also possible to download your boarding pass onto your phone, which was efficient for those using it. I am a senior, though, and old habits die hard, so I was more comfortable printing a paper version. If you are in circumstances where a printer is not available, this feature would be very helpful. I did not rely on my phone for the available info regarding locations of gates as the readily available schedule boards and floor plans of the terminals are so plentiful and large. It is likely that the airline apps will continue to improve in their usability and features, though, so overall, “thumbs up” on the helpfulness of the smartphone for air travel for the novice user.


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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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Cell Phone as Document Saver

Don't forget you have a powerful copier right in your pocket!

Don’t forget you have a powerful copier right in your pocket!

Today I witnessed a cell phone being put to a use I had never before considered. (This is definitely the result of technology not being a part of my life since childhood. Younger folks probably reach for their phones much more frequently without giving it a thought.)

I was in a group situation and a new recipe was offered up. I reached for pen and pencil as my neighbor grabbed her cell phone and took a photo! What an obvious solution to any situation where you want a quick copy of something and there is no copier readily available. She keeps a file of such recipes on her phone, but it seems more practical to me to store it elsewhere and not clutter my phone.

In the same meeting a schedule was shared on a handwritten flip chart. How simple to take a photo and e-mail it to all! Don’t you love it when you find ways to simplify life with technology?!


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Finding My Technological Comfort Zone

image courtesy of Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

image courtesy of Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

We seniors have a different perspective on technology than our predecessors who have grown up steeped in computer technology.

This morning, I breakfasted at Big Boy, where seniors in Michigan tend to gather after the “youngsters” have gone to work. Behind me I heard the waitress kidding with a man who was texting, and then heard his wife comment that she is puzzled by her aversion to electronic devices. She told the waitress that her previous employment was tied to new technology, so she is surprised with her lack of interest now.

The usefulness of technology in our lives is no longer about work related issues. I’m all for anything that simplifies my life, helps me continue to learn and use my mind, shows me new ways to look at my hobbies and keeps me connected to family and friends. But I feel the pain of my restaurant neighbor’s position. There is definitely a learning curve with each new development out there, and we have no interest in needless complications. When researching for relevant material to share here, my head swims with ideas presented for security, storage, interacting between devices and getting the best deals.

My plan for this site, then, will be to try to glean ideas and new technology of use to my peers and to present it in small, easy-to-use doses. User interest will provide a guide, so please comment freely.


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Simplify Travel with Your Smartphone

image courtesy of digitalart/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

image courtesy of digitalart/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

If you are planning a trip and have not yet become best friends with an app store, it is definitely time. The number of apps out there is growing at an astronomical rate, and if you are in need of assistance in an unfamiliar major city, chances are that there is an app for that.

There are now apps available specifically for using all modes of transportation, finding restaurants, seeking out the best coffee shops, exploring museums and identifying the building in front of which you are standing! Did you know you can now get a cab in London with the GetTaxi app. It claims to be able to send a cab and then to make it possible for you to track it’s progress to your location, and pay with a credit card with no extra charge! I haven’t personally tried this one, but it’s user reviews are great.

So much free help right in our pockets!

Do you have a favorite travel app. Please share by commenting.


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New Car Technology Blues

Chevy CruzeIt had seemed that this would be the logical year to give up leasing a new car and to pick a nice used vehicle. Most of my driving is around town and I prefer to fly when going long distances. I had even picked one that seemed perfect for my needs. My mistake was chosing a car (on-line) from a dealer. Next to all those beautiful new cars, it looked worn and ran as if tired. (Hmmm…just like me.) And, there was a big shiny sign promising low down payments and incredible monthly lease fees. How could I resist? Upon asking to see this beautiful machine, however, I learned that there was no “similarly equipped” car on the lot. As I turned to leave, the salesman said, “Do you like computers at all?” And the next thing I knew, I was driving away in the pretty little car you see above. It has the “electronics package” with a back-up camera and more features than anyone could ever safely use on the road.

I took my new car home, parked it in the drive and 30 minutes later was unable to unlock it with my key fob. When I submitted to using the key to unlock it the alarm went off, and now I am waiting for the part needed to restore it to rights. So while waiting I am driving around town and leaving it unlocked to avoid the embarrassment of that alarm. If you see it, please don’t hotwire it. (Is that still possible?) If I ever figure out some of it’s new tricks, I will let you know if they’re helpful.