May Update

Hmmm, since May is nearly gone, perhaps I should have titled this post “June Update” … oh well, it IS May and this is my latest Update, so May Update it is!

BoomerLife (dot) Live, my podcast, is gaining traction (albeit on a slippery slope). I have listeners “reminding” me that the interval between my last post and an update has been, ummmmm, too long. (I appreciate that feedback! It tells me that there ARE people listening! Thank you!!)

For those of you new here, BoomerLife.Live (this site) and BoomerLife (dot) Live, my podcast, offer useful information about technology specifically designed, developed or proven useful, for us Baby Boomers/Senior Citizens. Both this site and my podcast are based upon seminars I conduct (meetings I convene) with groups of my peers to explore the digital world around us. I call one of those meetings “TechTalk” and the other “Computers Made Easy” – combined, they convene five times each month.

TechTalk topics run the gamut of today’s technology: apps to laptops, tablets to smartphones, WiFi and mesh WiFi, keyboarding to voice input and so very much more! While Computers Made Easy attempts to stay close to topic: using a computer! (Some of the participants have computer “exposure” and less everyday experience.) My goal is to help them get comfortable using their device(s) in order to help them become more involved with today’s technology. It’s fun for me and extremely rewarding! When someone tells a story about a “new” experience they had using their computer (or other tech device), I feel a sense of pride!

My work with these groups is pro bono. One of the benefits of retirement: the time and ability to teach a subject about I am passionate!

There was a time I referred to the meeting as “Digital Literacy Group” – They weren’t very fond of that identification. It was tooooooo technical and nobody really wants to learn digital literacy. “How about some plain ol’ tech talk to bring us up to speed on what’s new?!”

That worked: TechTalk it became! If you want a brief sample, visit my podcast: BoomerLife (dot) Live and have a listen!

Stay healthy! Have fun! Enjoy your BoomerLife – Live!

More soon!

PodCast #7 Links:

During Episode #7 of my podcast BoomerLife.Live I mentioned a number of SmartWatch developers (in order to provide listeners with a broader range of choices … er, more exposure to the W I D E array of SmartWatches available. Below is a list of those SmartWatches and links to their respective websites. Enjoy!

Apple Watch 4: www.apple.com

Asus WI503Q-SL-BG Zenwatch: https://goo.gl/XJLvZr

FitBit Versa: https://goo.gl/Qctw7X

Fitbit Ionic: https://goo.gl/VwJDp1

Misfit Vapor 2: https://goo.gl/qKy8Dd

Fossil Men’s Gen 4 Explorist https://goo.gl/qKy8Dd

Fossil Q Venture HR: https://goo.gl/qKy8Dd

Kate Spade Scallop: https://goo.gl/R4ayJi

Michael Kors Access Sofie: https://goo.gl/poebm9

Garmin Vivoactive 3 https://goo.gl/6LDKHe

Garmin Vivomive HR: https://goo.gl/6LDKHe

Garmin Forerunner 645 Music: https://goo.gl/6LDKHe

Garmin Fenix 5 https://goo.gl/6LDKHe

Garmin Approach S20 Golf watch https://goo.gl/6LDKHe

Google Pixel Watch https://goo.gl/B1FeBp

Huawei Watch GT: https://goo.gl/CoFKSp

Huawei Watch 2 LTE: https://goo.gl/CoFKSp

LG W270.AUSATN https://goo.gl/Y4hj8T

LG Sport: https://goo.gl/Y4hj8T

Motorola Moro 360 Sport: https://goo.gl/sydLB2

PowerWatch 2: https://goo.gl/3wqe7W

Samsung Galaxy Watch Active: https://goo.gl/yk9JtG

Samsung Galaxy Sport https://goo.gl/yk9JtG

Skagen Falster 2 Wear https://www.skagen.com/en-us/wearable-technology/smartwatches

Skagen Holst hybrid https://www.skagen.com/en-us/wearable-technology/smartwatches

Tag Heuer Smartwatch https://www.tagheuer.com/en-us/watches/smartwatch

TicWatch Pro: https://goo.gl/gHJXmN

TicWatch S2: https://goo.gl/gHJXmN

TicWatch C2: https://goo.gl/gHJXmN

Withings Move ECG https://goo.gl/F8xFCA

Withings Move (absent the ECG) https://goo.gl/F8xFCA https://goo.gl/tScg2d

Withings Activite Steel https://goo.gl/tScg2d

Withings Activite Pop https://goo.gl/tScg2d

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”

November Update #2: 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?!!

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.

Amazon Echo Show

I’ve had “Alexa” from day ONE. As an Amazon Prime member, I was offered, and accepted, pre-order of the original Echo. Never looked back! It’s was love at first conversation, request, question … and now, again using my Prime account, I pre-ordered Echo Show. My experiences with it begin in the next paragraph.

Overall: I find no compelling reason to own it. There. That’s said.

It IS Alexa with a screen. OK, so what! I have other devices with screens. I have other devices that are akin to Alexa (Google Home, Apple Siri, Microsoft Cortana, and soon, Samsung Bixby). They all perform the same with varying degrees of success.

What makes “Show” better or worth more than Echo? Nada. (IMHO).

Yes, it can make phone calls. I believe the original Echo can now do that, too. It can make video calls (hello, Skype! GoToMeeting, oovoo, webex, FaceTime … just to name a few). So, what makes Echo Show better. Again, I say: nothing makes it better than the original Echo. THAT is a cool device!

I’m not knocking the platform. I believe Echo has dominated the market. It has “skills” providing myriad capabilities with new ones being introduced daily. I frequently use it as a timer or to play music while I cook. Recently, I learned that it can control my Visio TV. Now THAT’S pretty neat! (Guess you can tell by my vocabulary I’m not a millennial).

So, I’m suggesting that, if you already own an Echo, don’t spend your money on the version with the screen. There’s nothing there that you can’t do with any of your other digital devices that have screens!

I’ll play with it a little longer and post an update. And, I’ll keep an open mind about it. As of today, I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone just yet.

More to follow.

June Update #2

Technology is a great thing except when used to answer phone calls to businesses and do Senior Management (“C” staff) ever call into their own Customer Service centers?

I doubt it! If they did, they’d learn just how bad “most” are … from the maze of automated call directing (what annoying crap!) to the hold “music” that is interrupted very 40 seconds with apologies and reassurances that they’ll get to you “as soon as possible” because “your call is important to us” … (If it REALLY was, you’d have someone on the phone now). “You wait time is expected to be … three and one-half minutes” – It’s already been nine!

Then, there are the front line representatives who must obtain specific identifying information (which, by the way, seldom gets passed along when your call is escalated requiring you to provide all that identifying information all over again…). Once front line reps are convinced they are unable to assist, they transfer you to another representative. Back to that wonderful hold music…

Second level representative asks. for identification purposes, all the same information. (Must be some law they are NOT going to mess because we live in such a litigious society one slip could bring the house down). And, then you are told there is a specific group within the organization that handles your type of question because it’s related to a speciality service or product. “Please hold while I transfer you to that group.”

“Hi! This is ______, of the speciality group. Before we begin, I have to ask some identifying questions…” (again)

I’m attempting to be as generic as possible because I believe this scenario plays out across businesses that use 1) automated answering equipment, 2) music on hold with interruptions less than one minute apart telling you how much they value your time, 3) call centers (off-shore and/or in the Deep South, using, 4) under-skilled front line representatives (less expensive than the technicians to whom the calls are ultimately escalated).

Today’s call started with an “anticipated hold time of three and one-half minutes”. It lasted ten during which I was told nine times how much they appreciate my business. I was transferred four times before getting to a wonderful, helpful, understanding individual who needed to transfer me one more time to the specific-product/service group…

It’s an hour later. I think I might have completed the business that I called about an hour ago (although I won’t be certain until they phone back and confirm they have all the needed paperwork).

Technology should be able to make this process less annoying (Build it into Amazon’s Echo, Google’s Home Assistant, Apple’s Siri, Microsoft’s Cortana!) and “C” staff should call their customer service centers on a regular basis to experience what their customers experience. The world would be a nicer place – IMHO.

June Update #

The Matrix is out of align! I haven’t found any “new” tech worth writing about and THAT’S troublesome.

Hmmm, well, maybe … Apple recently held its annual World Wide Developers Conference (WWDC) whereupon 5600(±) developers descended upon Cupertino, CA to learn about all the new “stuff” Apple is soon to release. I can write about this here because I doubt any of my readers watched the event. My peeps dip a toe in the technological waters and most, infrequently (at first). So, while this is old news to the enthusiast, it’s NEW news to my peeps.

This year Apple presented a few surprises, the highlight of which (IMHO) was “HomePod”: a cylindrical speaker that pushes (reportedly) extraordinary sound into your space. Oh, and it has a built-in “musicologist” to assist you building playlists and providing information about artists, songs, albums, and collections. Oh, this “musicologist” just happens to be Siri, Apple’s voice-assistant a la Amazon Echo and Google Home Assistant. But, it’s a speaker first, musicologist second, and voice-activated computer third.

Interesting concept: rather than go head-to-head with Amazon or Google on the voice-interface of a smart device, go toe-to-toe with Sonos and bring wonderful wireless sound to and throughout your home. Apple wants to automate your home and that’s NOT necessarily a bad thing. HomePod will work with iHome and that’s developing nicely, thank you.

Unfortunately, Apple is late to that game and is playing catch-up HOWEVER, Apple IS Apple and that matters. They CAN COME LATE and still win (again, IMHO) simply because they ARE Apple. We love their devices. We pay their prices. And they know it.

All that being said, it IS a great looking device and reports indicate it sounds great as well! Release is announced as “sometime in December” (Merry Christmas everyone!)

Another interesting introduction was the iMac Pro. Apple finally took a shot at Microsoft’s Surface Studio and it just might get back some who left the fold of cult Mac and jumped to Surface Studio because of its great looks and specs. HOWEVER, the iMac Pro is enough to bring the lost souls back into the fold! Sleek, powerful and aimed squarely at the high-end graphics professional, this iMac hits all the right notes, checks all the right boxes, rings all the right bells … (OK, enough already…)

Finally, an undercurrent of technology that cannot be ignored: AI and machine learning. Apple seems to be doubling-down on AI development and it shows in subtle and not-so-subtle ways. For example, the camera app that, after snapping a photo of a Broadway musical ad in some magazine, will summon the Apple Pay app and ask if you want to purchase tickets and, if you do, for what date(s). Then it will open the calendar app and schedule the event for you. Siri might inquire whether or not you have transportation arranged to attend the event and, if not, ask if you;d like it to arrange some for you.

Extrapolate that interconnectedness … as apps begin to learn your routines and proactively schedule, inquire, and remind, Siri and your device(s) will become increasingly helpful. What a GREAT time to be alive. The technology just keeps getting better and better and more and more helpful!

More on all this later!

 

May Update #2

Hi! Just a few days ago I wrote that I would post more frequently AND that I’d get these Product Reviews started: today is the day!

Click on the Product Review tab (above) and you’ll get to read my first reviews … about wifi garage door openers! Funny thing happened to get this topic of interest: I “lost” a garage door opener at an car dealer. Left it in the old car when driving out of the lot in a new one. “Not to worry” said the Sales Manager, “We’ll find it and ship it to you!”

The idea of my garage door opener somewhere other than in my car was a little unsettling. Might someone find it and drive through the neighborhood clicking away until a garage door opens? Naw, never happen. (Not gonna’ take that chance!)

 

Read the review …

May

Hmmmmm … these once monthly missives seem unusually short and far between. I’m thinking that I need to increase the frequency, adjust the topic range, dig deeper into the gadgets we ‘Boomers use (or should use) and solicit more input from you!

I’ve been educating my home! Yep, we’re living in an ever increasingly smart, SmartHome! I’ve have my LED kitchen lights connected to a smartswitch and have that connected to a smarthub and have that linked to my Amazon Echo (voice-controlled, computer-like thingie that’s sweeping the market (followed closely by Google Home Assistant and others certain to follow). My point? I walk into the room and speak to my Echo, “Alexa, kitchen on.” and the ceiling lights illuminate!

Added another to the Master bathroom: “Alexa, master bath lights on!” and, viola’, the lights illuminate!

Also just added a wifi-enabled garage door opener. No more wondering whether or not I closed it. I glance at the app on my smartphone and I can see whether it’s open or closed and, using the app, I can close (or open) it from anywhere in the world!

Speaking of being home and anywhere in the world simultaneously, I have a Ring© doorbell. It’s more than a doorbell: it’s a wifi-connected, camera and audio, motion-sensing notification device. (Sounds fancy, eh?!) As someone approaches my front door, a chime rings on my smartphone and I get a message that someone’s there. I also have the opportunity to tap the app, open the video, see who’s there … and talk to (whoever) – in real-time, FROM ANYWHERE IN THE WORLD* as if I’m on the other side of the door!

*(Anywhere in the world that provides wifi access, that is)

And then there are my wifi-enabled cameras. I have them strategically located around the property monitoring the comings and goings of anyone on or nearby my property. It’s sad, actually, nonetheless becoming “necessary” as some bold (or brave and stupid) individuals steal shit from other peoples’ front porches. (If it happens here, I’ll plant another package and wire it with a non-lethal-but-powerful charge that’ll shock the poop outta’ whoever tries to snag it.

All these gadgets make life a bit safer, easier, more comfortable (and fun!) L O V E technology!

As usual, I want you to know I am in NO WAY compensated by any manufacturer, reseller or business regarding any products I mention by name. I purchase them myself, install (and sometimes, uninstall) them myself and have no vested interest in anything other than my reputation. I guarantee to you that my opinions are just that: my opinions.

Be safe and c’mon back soon. I’ll be writing more often, I promise!