Monthly Archives: February 2013

Email Hoaxes

Countless Email messages are circulated around the world daily containing misinformation, rumours, urban legends, folklore, and myths. Although the Internet is an almost limitless source of useful information, some people just cannot be content with that, and for reasons known only to them, feel a need to mislead others by spreading false information.

It could be anything from the latest health scare or miracle cure, to a story about the next computer virus that is poised to attack your computer. Many of these “tall tales” sound quite plausible, and therefore the immediate tendency is to want to spread this new “knowledge” to your family and friends as a public service announcement. After all, who does not want to save the life of your family members and/or friends or protect their beloved computers from impending doom?

All too often, this information gets “forwarded” at “face value”, without doing any research into it at all to validate the information. To make matters even worse, these messages are often sent without using Bcc (Blind Carbon Copy), thus exposing Email addresses to others… When you send an E-Mail message to multiple recipients, it is usually considered proper Email etiquette to use Bcc (instead of “To” or “Cc”) to hide the list of Email addresses from the other recipients.

To reduce this Email plague of misinformation, you can investigate possible hoaxes on websites such as Snopes and Hoax Busters. These are tools you can use for free when trying to determine if something you read has already been identified as a hoax or scam. Visit Techrepublic for some additional website suggestions. I’ve personally found Snopes to be one of the more comprehensive sites for ferreting out hoaxes.

Whenever I receive an E-Mail message that sounds somewhat unbelievable, I usually use Google with a few choice “keywords” from the “story” (such as names, places, or other very specific information), and I also include the words “hoax” and “Snopes” in the search criteria. More often than not, there will be an entry in the Snopes (or one of the other sites) databases to tell you if the story is true or false.

Please be diligent, and take a moment to check the authenticity of any Email “story” before forwarding it along to others.

– David Spearns (ETAG Volunteer Technology Tutor)

Super workshop in T.O!

On February 7th, ETAG’s Lifelong Learning Workshop touched down in Toronto and received rave reviews yet again. With 70+ curious senior participants in the crowd, ETAG’s team of technology savvy tutors helped inform the audience about what technologies are available today, what they can do to enhance daily life, where to get them, and how they work.

In collaboration with our friends at P.O.I.N.T., ETAG’s team introduced concepts like 3G/LTE, cloud computing, and voice dictation, while demonstrating how devices like the Blackberry Playbook, Doro’s PhoneEasy 612, and laptop computers can make life for everyone a little easier and ultimately better.

Participants love trying different devices and deciding which one is right for them. We like to help people feel comfortable with technology and not be intimidated by it. Today’s technologies help us all stay connected with our loved ones easier than ever, which is why it’s essential that everyone has the right information and support needed to embrace it. ETAG strives to make this possible.

We cant wait to visit the Toronto community again soon. Remember .. if you’ve attended one of ETAG’s Lifelong Learning Workshops in your neighbourhood, it will not repeat again. That means, you should always stop by when our events come to town. There is always something new to learn about technology 🙂

Thanks again to the New Horizon for Seniors Program for making ETAG’s Lifelong Learning Workshop project possible.

Taking breaks is healthy

Technology is everywhere! With computers now intertwined in our everyday lives, it’s important to pay attention and take care of our physical health. Frequent breaks away from your digital devices can decrease fatigue, eye strain and headaches, which are caused by prolonged technology use. We tend to limit the amount of time our kids use Microsoft Kinect or their iPod, for example, but we forget to apply the same rule to ourselves.

The problem with focusing on objects such as cell phones, laptops and tablets like the Blackberry Playbook  in close proximity for long periods is that your eye muscles can get irritated or your joints can become sore. Unless your eyes are constantly focusing and re-focusing on moving objects at various distances, your eyes will not get the workout needed to stay healthy. Likewise, typing and using a mouse or touch screen for long periods of time without proper stretching a breaks can cause discomfort and could lead to conditions like carpel tunnel syndrome.

It is recommended that after an hour at the computer you should take a break. If you find that you are forgetting to take breaks, you might want to use a timer to remind you. Micro pauses are just as important as long breaks. Micro pauses are frequent short breaks within the hour. Take a moment to stretch your fingers and clench your fists to keep your hands loose and nimble. Take 20 seconds to focus your eyes 20 feet away; maybe read a clock on a far wall. You should get up, take a walk and stretch those joints that have been engaged in an extended static position for a while.

Here is a link to a great guide to basic computer stretching: Technology user stretch guide

At ETAG, our site leads are constantly reminding participants to take frequent breaks during our hour and a half sessions. It’s good practice for everyone though, not just adults 55+. We all need to take care of our selves now, so we can continue being healthy in the future.

– Simone Carpio (ETAG Lead Volunteer)