Ocvember Update

I can’t believe tomorrow is November (already). The signs are everywhere: the holidays are coming. (Cheeses, the local grocery [chain] put out Christmas displays during the first week of October – that’s JUST WRONG… wasn’t the “thing” to wait, at least, until AFTER Halloween?

I am stuck in tradition. Like putting up Christmas decorations AFTER Thanksgiving. Traditions: like using turning signals while driving… Continue reading “Ocvember Update”

July Update

“Currently, in Brentwood (Northern CA), it’s 101° and sunny! ” That’s my Google Assistant talking. I’m sitting in my home office surrounded by three Amazon Echo™s, two Oontz Angle 3™ wireless speakers (GREAT sound, ridiculously low price), and a small, white Maltese named Danny. It occurred to me that I haven’t written for a couple months and that’s NOT OK!

So, what am I going to espouse today? More tech for Seniors? Sure! How about VFI (voice first interface). I have seen the future and it’s here NOW! (Well, I haven’t just seen it – I’ve talked to it and it’s talking back to me!) Amazon Echo (Alexa) now has a “chat” mode that is initiated by saying “Alexa, let’s chat.” Amazon is sponsoring a University competition to create “chat” for Alexa and, even at this early stage, it’s fascinating and engaging.

Alexa will acknowledge your request to chat and then get a chat bot for you. The chat bot asks what you’d like to chat about and then begins casual conversation about any number of topics. It’s very real, give and take, conversation. Gone are the one-off interactions of a few months ago when Alexa couldn’t string together two requests, one after the other and only responded to the request at the moment. Now, she’s chatting!

Give her a try: “Alexa, let’s chat” nad be prepared to be blown away!

Next up: Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR) and the differences between them!

April Update

It’s been busy these last four months … (and, if you buy that, I’ve a bridge to sell you!)

Truth is: I find it more challenging than I expected to keep my pages “fresh” … and, I realize that’s my bad. During normal days, I fill my time searching for “new” technology. Specifically, new tech that might have an impact on the lives of my peers: Baby Boomers.

I have discovered, much to my dismay, a number of my cohort are digitally illiterate. They can use their devices – to some extent – however, they are woefully unaware of some of the most fundamental operations necessary to keep the device running. Case in point: a neighbor showed me his tablet that had “stopped” working. No matter what he “tapped”, the device was unresponsive. Looking closely, I noticed DOZENS of app running in the background. So many, in fact, that the device had simply “locked up” and had no available memory. Unfortunately, it did NOT provide any, on screen, notification of the problem, hence he had no way of knowing that what was needed was closing some (all?) of the open apps. Once he did this, the device was working normally and he was a happy camper!

It’s scenarios like that I enjoy most: Being able to help someone understand the technology just enough to be able to troubleshoot everyday “challenges” using the device!

Another example of a similar situation with an iPhone. An app would NOT “open” and the user was quite upset. He knew how to open apps and use them and he was NOT instructed how to “close” them (double tap on the home button to display all open apps, then swipe up to close them). Once he learned this little (necessary) function, he was able to keep his device working and his enjoyment more complete!

So, this type information is what I gather and disperse during the normal weekday: this is the type information I’ll begin sharing here! Perhaps that’ll keep me focused and you informed and “on the saddle” of your digital horse!

What a GREAT time to be alive! Enjoy the tech and learn a little more about it every day!!

January Update

Here I go again … it’s January (already?!) … another New Year. Another opportunity to accomplish something noteworthy (not just me, you too!)

What’s “noteworthy” in today’s world? ALmost anything being reported from the West Wing, eh?! (Can’t go there…)

How about something innocuous like picking up someone’s trash from some parking lot?

I’ll NEVER do that! It strikes me as “enabling” the litterbug. It’s like saying “Oh, you’re too good to put your trash in a trashcan, so I’ll take care of it for you!” (Bullshit) Or, you pay taxes to pay for other people to pick up your trash WHERE EVER you decide to toss it (more Bullshit: you probably don’t pay taxes … that’s why you feel so entitled to just discard your crap anywhere you choose.)

Can you guess I have a pet peeve? People who litter really piss me off. Who the hell do they think they are that they can just drop shit on the ground, where ever they are to leave for someone else to clean up. That’s attitude – and NOT a good one! (IMHO)

OK, off the soapbox for now. Happy New Year. Be nice. Be considerate. Don’t litter. Pick up after yourself.

(It’s worth the effort to ask, isn’t it?)

December Update

‘Twas the week before Christmas … (Holy Smokies! Already??!!)

Another year passes quicker than a commuter on Hwy 4 @ 6:00 A.M. (For those of you who don’t know about Hwy 4; it’s a commuter route used by po’ fo’ who live OUTSIDE the high rent district[s] and must commute to work. Although traffic usually crawls along @ ~ 15 mph, when it moves, traffic FLIES in excess of 80mph.  No kidding’! I have been rolling along @ 70mph and PASSED like I was standing still. THAT’S SCARY!)

As I was saying, another year passes and we’re all a bit wiser. (Well, most of us are … there are always a few dummies who will never be wiser;  they’ll simply get older and we’ll continue to tolerate them.)

I was recently invited to my high school graduation reunion. It was the 50th anniversary of my graduation (give you an idea of my age?). I live in Northern California. The reunion was being held at the school – in Chicago – during November. I LEFT Chicago because I HATE cold weather. Am I going to attend a reunion during November? Heck no! I wouldn’t attend a family funeral in Chicago during November (or any other Fall/Winter month!). My point? I graduated from high school 50 years ago. That’s a long damn time ago.

I don’t feel THAT old.

Now, at this point I could reminise about the good old high school days but why?! I don’t want to go back 50 years: I want to celebrate another day TODAY!! (Sly & the Family Stone: “I just want to celebrate another day of livin’  – I just want to celebrate another day of … life …!” Get the tune in your head and you’ll be treated to an ear worm for hours!

Celebrate today – everyday! Going back in time is a waste thereof (IMHO) and may be an indication that you’re NOT too pleased with “today” and, if that’s true, why? Inhale! Embrace today! L I V E it!

Merry Christmas! Happy New Year! (And remember: keep Christ in Christmas!)

 

iPhone X Review

OK, so I’m not the first person to offer a review of the iPhone X and I doubt that I’ll be the last!

I believe I’m becoming a bit jaded: I received my “X” on Friday, the first day it shipped. I did NOT set it up (or even open the box) until Saturday. Yawn.

Out-of-the-box set-up was crazy simple. The device seemed to anticipate EACH step from getting facial recognition set to restoring apps from my old “7+” … except … (and this is B-I-G!) Once set-up was complete, the “X” seemed operational. Note: I said “seemed” … It was NOT until the following Monday, after dropping my wife off at the commuter train (BART, for those of you in the San Francisco Bay Area), and driving home that I realized the “X” didn’t “bing” my wife’s usual message that she was “on board and rolling.”

Hmmm…???

When I arrived home, I checked the phone. The Message app indicated “awaiting authorization” (?!) SO did the Phone app ?!

Apparently, I had been carrying around a “brick”. The final step in the set-up was contacting the carrier (in this instance Sprint) and telling them to authorize the device.

Would have been nice to read that I must contact the carrier to authorize the device somewhere in the set-up instructions (I don’t remember reading any set-up instructions!)

I’m still adjusting to the subtle and not-so-subtle differences between the “X” and the “7+”. So far, so good. The facial recognition is excellent! Swipping up in lieu of the double press on the Home button to “Close” apps is taking a while to adjust to and switching among apps is easy and fast!

I’ll use it more and add to this brief review at a later date.

Isn’t it a GREAT time to be alive?!!

November Update #1

Holy Smokes! Is it REALLY November, already?! Time to begin defrosting the turkey and planning the menu… speaking about planning: it’s time to start planning how to compare my OLD iPhone 7+ to my NEW iPhone X (pronounced “10”). Yep! Received it last Friday. Set it up last Saturday and didn’t realize until this morning, that I’ve been carrying around a brick! Despite the overall ease with which it successfully restored from my backup, it did NOT activate nor did it notify me that I needed to activate it?!

Odd. I didn’t realize that it wasn’t activated because I did nothing that utilized that phone capability. It was sending and receiving emails and I had no reason to call or text anyone, so I ASSUMED it was fully operational. Don’t ever assume!

Lesson here to be learned: that device we generally call a “smartphone” is NOT a “phone, per se. I’ve read that the average user rarely used the device as a phone! We test, email, share photos, get directions, and “do” many activities BUT NOT MAKE PHONE CALLS!

Let’s call it a smart device from today forward, shall we?!

Trivia bit: it has been published (regrettably, I can’t locate the article, so you’ll need to take my word for it!) that the equivalent of our smart device would have cost a minimum of $3.5 million dollars 20 years ago! Another post (goo.gl/7uEams) estimates the collection of components and apps at more than $32 million dollars (today’s value). Whew!

What a great time to be alive!! Enjoy technology! Have fun with it!

October Update

Trick or Treat is just around the corner and I know where I’ll be going: (guess: it’s my favorite electronics store…). Why? ‘Cause EVERYBODY’S releasing digital devices that we “talk to” rather than “type to”! So, I can say “Hey Google, Trick or Treat”. (Try it. It response is hilarious!)

Technology has been toying with AI (artificial intelligence) for years however, it wasn’t until Amazon™ (WHO???) introduced us to Echo™/Alexa™ that we began to understand … we could Google anything or we could simply ask Alexa. The result will, most likely, be the same. Imagine: talking to your “computer” and telling it to “do” things for you. Things like “add eggs to my grocery list” or “play my workout music” or “remind me to pick up a Smartbulb” on my way home tonight” or … I trust you’re getting the picture!

I help folks gain confidence using digital devices (i.e. I teach them how to use computers and tablets, etc.) and I am at a crossroads: do I continue to teach them to interact via keyboard and mouse OR do I help them learn to “talk to” their “computer”?

Voice recognition has become so accurate and processors have become so fast that we can actually talk to our computers and accomplish most, if not all, the tasks we routinely do using a keyboard and mouse.

Amazon’s Echo™ and Google’s Assistant™ are leading the way HOWEVER, Apple™ (playing catchup) is introducing a speaker that includes a “musicologist” Follow this now: Apple is NOT positioning itself to compete with Amazon or Google on the “smart voice input device” platform. No, Apple is positioning itself to compete with Sonos and Bose on the high-end speaker front. But WAIT! Isn’t the “musicologist” Siri in different clothing? Doesn’t that mean I can ask my “musicologist” ANYTHING and NOT LIMIT interaction to music-related activities?! Hmmm, so Apple is positioning it’s smart assistant as a speaker and not as a smart assistant – even though it does/will do the same thing smart assistants do?! Gotta’ love marketing!

Not to be left in the dust, Sonos™ is introducing a smart speaker initially rumored to be on the Echo platform but also reported to be “intelligence independent” (my term) enabling it to interact with a number of intelligent assistants (think of one device capable of interacting with Echo or Google or Siri or Cortana, or …) And Microsoft™ is rumored to be working with Harman Kardon™ on a smart speaker.

We will all be like members of the Enterprise crew telling our computers what we want them to do for us:

“Computer, make an appointment for my haircut”

“On what day, Richard?”

“Tomorrow, around one in the afternoon, with my usual hairdresser”

“OK, Richard. Your appointment is made and I created a reminder for you an hour      prior. Is there anything else I can do for you at the moment?”

“No. We’re good, thanks”

That last bit of interaction “No. We’re good, thanks” is me speaking to my voice assistant (computer) as if it were an actual person. That’s a behavior called anthropomorphizing an object. (Think Easter Bunny)

We’ll, it’s time to go. Gotta’ teach a class today.

Hey Google, start the coffee, turn on the TV news, and tell me today’s weather forecast …

“OK, Richard …”

 

August Update

“TechTalk” is a bi-monthly gathering that I host to discuss all things techie that might be of value to the Baby Boomer generation. Today was our first August meeting and it was a winner!! We were introduced to “ELLI-Q” from Intuition Robotics.

“ELLI-Q™ is an active aging companion that keeps older adults active and engaged.”

Although NOT available to the public as yet, the company appears to have an excellent outreach program that introduces the concept and one of the original working prototypes to groups of older adults. These presentations take the form of a focus group. Our presenter, Danielle Ishak – User Experience Researcher – provided us with company background and then dove right into the gist of ELLI-Q stopping along the way to ask for questions and suggestions, likes and dislikes.

It’s a clever device that “emotes” with easily-interpreted gestures and sounds. She speaks, similar to Amazon’s Echo and Google’s Assistant, however she’s much more. Once “on-boarded”, ELLI-Q begins to “learn” her owner’s likes and dislikes and begins to – proactively – make suggestions for anything from playing music (“Shall I play Iron Butterfly’s In a gadda da vida?”) to playing games (“Hey! You’re going to be playing bridge with the girls this afternoon, would you like to practice for awhile?”).

She’ll also do all the routine things like reminding you to take your medications and to go for a walk and she’ll monitor your environment and your activity to be sure you’re safe. If she detects that something’s not right, she’ll alert whomever you have on her call list.

ELLI-Q is still in beta and the developers are working through kinks while adding new behaviors. And, they’re seeking the input of the folks they want ELLI-Q to live with: us!

Check ELLI-Q out: I’ve included the link above and another here.

July

What happened to June? Seems like I closed my eyes for a few minutes (cat nap) and June was gone! It didn’t seem any busier than usual: just quicker. Now, I’m a week into July and thinking the summer’s nearly half over … wait, no! There’s still half of summer left! THAT’S much better perspective!

So, how are YOU spending your summer? We retired folks spend it like we do the rest of the year:: doing whatever we want, whenever we want. Ah, retirement! Just keep busy so your muscles do contract and make moving around challenging. My WWW.Boomer.Life site is up and running. That’s my consulting venue. It’s a static site with information about me, the work I do, and how to contact me. Wait! Above I indicated that I am retired. True. However, one method I use to stay alert is to provide computer/digital device training and service. Nice to have a skill set that’s in demand!

I just posted a new product review: Amazon’s Echo Show. You can find it under the Product Review menu. Take a read and save a few dollars!

More later.

Take care of yourself and anyone special!!