Never Miss the Bus Again

Transit Technology Upgrades

Technology has changed on today’s modern buses, since that lovable bus driver (Ralph Kramden – A.K.A. Jackie Gleason) graced our old black and white televisions on the Honeymooners sitcom show so many years ago. Modern transit systems boast such features as on-board computer and communication systems, automated payment facilities, GPS locators, and the announcement of upcoming stops, just to name a few.

Although this blog entry mentions only the cities of Mississauga, Brampton, and Oakville located in the GTA, you can quickly perform a search using Google to find out information regarding your own municipality’s transit system, with a couple of well-chosen keywords, such as “transit your city name”.

By visiting the website of you local transit system, (Mississauga – Brampton – Oakville), you can access virtually everything there is to know about it. When visiting the websites, you can find out things such as fares, routes and schedules, alerts, maps, and the one that I use the most – the trip planner. When you give the trip planner both your starting and destination addresses, and your required departure and arrival times, it will provide you with a detailed “itinerary” including specific times, buses, and transfers. SO useful!!!

Here are the links to each city’s trip planner service:
Mississauga Bus Transit Trip Planner
Brampton Bus Transit Trip Planner
Oakville Bus Transit Trip Planner

And, for the folks with smart phones and tablet computers, the story possibly gets even better!!! We have all likely heard the expression “there’s an APP for that”… By downloading and using an appropriate “app” for your local transit system, you can have up-to-the-minute and real-time updates on the status of your particular bus trip with just a few taps on your screen. How convenient is that??    🙂

Given the amount of gridlock on the streets and highways in the Greater Toronto Area, the good old-fashioned bus may be a very viable alternative to sitting in your car in stop and go traffic for hours. By using technology, your commuting experience can be a quite pleasant one, and you should never miss the bus again when you have the most current information at your fingertips.

– David Spearns (ETAG Volunteer Technology Tutor)

Fun Tablet Workshops!

Smiling learners with ETAG

March has been a busy month. ETAG toured our new Lifelong Learning Workshop in Burlington, Oakville, and Mississauga, helping adults 55+ learn about the many tablet technologies available today. Over 60 attendees filled the seats at each of our incredible community partner venues, including the Burlington Seniors Centre, the Sir John Colborne Recreation Centre for Seniors, and Viva Retirement Community.

Happy at ETAG's Workshop!

With the help and guidance of ETAG’s amazing volunteer team, participants learned what tablets are (when compared to laptops) and what they are generally used for. Instructors discussed the different brands available, including Apple iPad, Android’s Asus Transformer Pad, Blackberry Playbook, Kobo’s Arch, and the Microsoft Surface.

ETAG’s tablet workshop is an opportunity for participants to learn about tablets in a neutral, unbiased forum to ensure they have a firm understanding of what they want before visiting a retail outlet. Instructors explored the different interfaces, explained the major hardware variances, and outlined the price ranges people should expect. Participants also learned about concepts like ‘open-source‘ and ‘proprietary‘.

Doro and iPad!

With a special sneak peak preview from our incredible sponsors at Doro, the Doro Experience App for Android was highlighted as an accessible option for older adults looking for a SUPER SIMPLE tablet interface that’s easy to learn and use. Terrific stuff! Not to mention Doro’s well received PhoneEasy cell phone, perfect for anyone looking for a reliable, basic mobile phone with usability at its core. Check them out online!

Thanks again to the New Horizons For Seniors Program, who is the primary supporter of ETAG’s Lifelong Learning Workshops across the GTA. We can’t wait for the next round of workshops in May. Visit ETAGonline’s FREE WORKSHOPS section for more details 🙂

– Chris Bint

 

Nothing Fishy About CARP

CARP's logo

Many of us at that “certain age” have heard about the CARP organization. You can learn a little more about CARP on their Wikipedia page too.

“CARP is a national, non-partisan, non-profit organization committed to a ‘New Vision of Aging for Canada’ promoting social change that will bring financial security, equitable access to health care and freedom from discrimination.” CARP’s mandate…”is to promote and protect the interests, rights and quality of life for Canadians as we age.”

The CARP website http://www.carp.ca/ is jam-packed with many excellent articles and news stories of special interest to “seniors” of all ages. There are several features such as your finances, your health, and your rights, along with many benefits and events to keep you accurately informed and fully engaged in enjoying life as a “senior”.

It is certainly well worth a visit to their website, and I am confident that once you explore it a little, that you will find it very helpful and informative, and that you will bookmark the site in your Internet browser to make it easy to visit it often.

They have even provided a link to Zoomer Radio so that you can listen to some age-appropriate radio during your visit to the website.

Zoomer Magazine

Also, be sure to check out CARP’s upcoming event in April 2013. CARP’s Mississauga Zoomer Fair will be held on April 18th from 10am to 2pm at the Sheridan Centre. It will feature 35+ exhibits with lots of helpful information from organizations in the community. Visit CARP’s website for more details.

So, if you’re looking for helpful information of interest to those of us with greying (or disappearing) hair, I recommend that you visit the CARP website regularly 🙂

– David Spearns (ETAG Volunteer Technology Tutor)

 

SNAP North Toronto

Chris and Phil from ETAG         Chris presenting workshop

ETAG was recently featured in SNAP North Toronto to highlight our Lifelong Learning Workshop about technology. In collaboration with P.O.I.N.T., ETAG shared useful information about today’s digital gadgets, like tablets and smartphones, explained some important technology buzz words like 3G/LTE, cloud computing, and Twitter, and identified several ways that adults 55+ can stay safe in our technology rich world.

Workshop Participants

Check out a few photos and the short write-up here.

Thanks to SNAP North Toronto for the use of their photographs from the event 🙂

Black Book of Scams

 

Book of Scams

We all read about scams in the news almost daily, and often simply dismiss these reports with something like “How could someone allow that to happen to them?” However, many instances of fraud do occur (and often go unreported) each and every day.

The “scam artists” can be quite clever and convincing, and honest and intelligent people can be innocently caught in the traps that these criminals set for them. Quite often, the victims of fraud are too ashamed or embarrassed to come forward, which only allows this crime wave to grow.

The information provided in The Little Black Book of Scams presents several scam scenarios, and some very sound advice on how to avoid being stung by these clever thieves. This is an official document developed and distributed by the Canadian government. The Little Black Book of Scams can prepare you with the knowledge that you need to keep your hard-earned money in your own pocket, and not in the pocket of someone who should be in jail.

I strongly urge you to read and actually study the The Little Black Book of Scams, and also make yourself aware of all of the resources provided at the Competition Bureau of Canada website. The document can be downloaded to your tablet in PDF format from the link provided above. You can also feel free to contact the Competition Bureau via telephone to request a printed copy.

Knowledge is Power, so please arm yourself with the proper information to help eliminate this plague.

– David Spearns (ETAG Volunteer Technology Tutor)

Volunteer with ETAG

Volunteers are an integral part of our community. Many social services rely on the efforts of a committed volunteer team to make a difference. When someone volunteers, everyone in the equation is a winner; the community or cause benefits from the contribution and the volunteer benefits from gaining experience. In fact, volunteering may be arguably the most invaluable experiences of your life. Being a volunteer can elevate your learning and give you insight into opportunities that you would normally not have had.

Volunteer opportunities for seniors play a important role for North America’s aging population. They provide an avenue for healthy seniors to remain active and stay connected with their community. According to Statistic Canada, seniors dedicate on average, over 223 volunteering hours per year, more than any other age group! This is not a surprise to us at ETAG; we have over 50 volunteer technology tutors assisting with our Volunteer Technology Assistance Program (VTAP) each week, many of whom are experienced older adults. Our successful VTAP initiative is made possible by our highly qualified volunteers who work tirelessly to bridge the gap between technology and older adults.

At ETAG, we are always looking for technology savvy tutors. If you’re a regular and confident technology user who has excellent communication skills and a passion for helping others, don’t hesitate to attend our next information session on March 7th. Visit our Volunteer section for all the details.

– Simone Carpio (ETAG Lead Volunteer)

3 March workshops!

Spring is a great time to learn something new about technology 🙂

ETAG’s free educational Lifelong Learning Workshops are happening across the GTA and there are three (3) dates scheduled in March 2013.

Upcoming March workshop details include:

March 13 9am – 12pm
Topic – Tablets and Apps
Burlington Senior’s Centre
2285 New St. Burlington
To RSVP, call 905-335-7888 or email info@etagonline.ca

March 19 1pm – 4pm
Topic – Today’s Digital World
Sir John Colborne Recreation Centre for Seniors
1565 Old Lakeshore Rd. Oakville
To RSVP, call 905-815-5960 or email info@etagonline.ca

March 26 1pm – 4pm
Topic – Tablets and Apps
Viva Retirement Community
5575 Bonnie St. Mississauga
To RSVP, call 905-566-4500 or email info@etagonline.ca

ETAG’s technology workshops are designed for older adults at all skill levels of technology use. No experience required. Our expert technology tutor team works hard to make our workshop content not only easy to understand, but also useful and relevant for even our technology savvy participants.

As always, if you’ve visited an ETAG Lifelong Learning Workshop in your community before, the concepts and ideas discussed will be new the next visit. Please attend our workshops as often as possible. There’s always such amazing change with technology. We’ve always got something new to talk about 🙂

– Chris Bint

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)