Category Archives: Internet

Facebook Privacy

When signing up for a social media account to keep up-to-date with people around us, we often don’t think twice about giving our personal information away online. As technology advances, so do online scams that attempt to obtain information about users including name, age, and even credit card number. It’s important for people to feel comfortable and aware of the information they share online and where they share it. There are some best practices that can help limit what is shown on your Facebook profile, how to block certain users and activities, and protect your password.

I want a Facebook account but only want my friends to see it. How can I do this?
Facebook has made controlling who can see your profile easy. By clicking on the upside down triangle in the upper right corner of the Facebook home screen, a drop down menu will appear. Then, click on “Settings”, listed near the bottom of the drop down menu. A new screen will appear with the option to click “Privacy” on the menu along the left side of the screen. It is here that you will be able to switch the “Who can see my future posts?” setting from “public” to “friends”. Now your Facebook account is only accessible by people you accept as a Facebook friend.

I was tagged in a photo on Facebook that I want to be removed. How can I do this?
The privacy menu also has the option “Review all your posts and things you’re tagged in”, which also contains a link to Facebook’s activity log. When viewing your activity log, you can see all posts and photos that you have been tagged in. From here, you have the option to remove the content, by clicking on the pencil icon in the upper right corner of the post.

Someone I don’t know is trying to add me as a friend and is sending me messages. How can I prevent them from interacting with me?
From the Settings screen found by clicking on the upside down triangle in the upper right corner of the Facebook home screen, click on “Blocking” listed along the left side. When clicked on, Facebook allows you to block users by inserting the name or email of that specific person. When completed, the user will not be able to send messages and view your Facebook content.

I received an email asking me to provide my Facebook password because there was a problem with my account. What should I do?
NEVER provide your Facebook or any other important passwords via email or any online forum. Your password should always remain confidential. This is most likely an email scam attempting to obtain your personal information. To remember your password, write it down and store it in a secure area.

Facebook continues to ask me to add information, like my education and workplace to my profile. Is this mandatory?
No, you are not required to add this information to your profile. Information such as your phone number can also be hidden from the public. When clicking on Contact and Basic Info, found on the upper left-hand side of your profile page, you can switch the option from “friends” to “only me”.

Internet scams and hoaxes will never fully dissolve from the web. However, as users of technology, we can educate ourselves about how to safely surf the web and what information we choose to share online. The more people that learn about online security and how crucial it is to protect personal information, the less effect these scams and hoaxes will have on the online population. Knowing that you can use social media while maintaining your privacy makes the experience more user-friendly.

Be sure to check out ETAG’s Volunteer Technology Education Program that incorporates learning about passwords and online safety in our beginners’ curriculum.

– Rosario Commisso (Intern and ETAG Volunteer Technology Tutor)

New VTEP Curriculum

With the help of coordinators, volunteers, community partners, and participants, ETAG has helped hundreds of older adults develop the skills needed to become comfortable users of technology. ETAG’s programs prioritize the needs and interests of the seniors participating. With patient and understanding volunteer technology tutors, the interactions participants engage in makes their visit both enjoyable and rewarding.

The 4000+ visits to the Volunteer Technology Assistance Program during 2016 reflect the participants’ commitment and eagerness to learn and become a part of the digital world.

A constant challenge many organizations face is how to improve. More specifically in ETAG’s case, what can be done to make the participant’s experience more valuable while also enhancing the volunteers’ involvement? To address this challenge head-on, ETAG’s team has created a new EDUCATION based curriculum for participants.

The new Volunteer Technology Education Program is divided into three progressive sections; learner, intermediate, and adventurer, each with its own subjects and objectives.

Learner
The learner level curriculum begins with an introduction to Windows and Apple computers and ends with an explanation of online security and virus protection. Users also have an opportunity to focus on Android/Apple tablets and a few “apps” available. Objectives in this section include but are not limited to, having a basic understanding of a computer’s hardware, knowing how to connect to Wi-Fi and distinguishing what files are safe to download from the Internet.

Intermediate
The intermediate level curriculum starts to explore email, cameras, photos/videos, and maps. Additionally, applications such as WhatsApp and social media websites like Twitter and Facebook are popular intermediate topics. Objectives in this section include but are not limited to, attaching a photo to an email, finding directions on a map, and posting on Twitter or Facebook.

Adventurer
The adventurer curriculum dives into advanced level functions on various social media websites and exposes participants to online storage services in “the cloud”. Objectives in this section include but are not limited to, tagging photos on Facebook, creating backup files and playing online games such as Bejeweled.

TechChecks
To help participants feel comfortable while progressing through the Volunteer Technology Education Program, TechChecks were designed to “check” a participant’s knowledge of a particular task. TechChecks are an excellent way to ensure that participants are reaching an understanding of the topics being discussed. For instance in the subject “Introduction to Windows”, participants are asked to properly power on and off their computer to prove to themselves that they confidently know how to.

The program has no time limit. Whether it’s two months or a year, participants are free to take as much time as they need to build the skills to succeed. Participants have the opportunity to leave the program with an understanding of both basic and advanced level skills in technology, which includes most popular devices, applications, and operating systems. The completion of the program is a reflection of the participant’s hard work and graduates receive a certificate of recognition from ETAG!

Below is the current schedule for VTEP. Please call and make a reservation if you’d like to join us!

Oakville
690 Dorval Dr. Suite 100
905.875.3851 X 5008
Monday (9am-12pm)
Wednesday (9am-12pm)

Brampton
263 Queen St. E. Suite 14
905.595.0722 X 4000
Wednesday (9am-12pm)

7700 Hurontario St. Unit 601, Suite 100
905.457.4747 X 3013
Friday (9am-12pm)

Mississauga
50 Burnhamthorpe Rd. W. Suite 300
905.949.0049 X 1266
Friday (9am-4pm)

Malton
7420 Airport Road, Suite 104
905.677.0007 X 5233
Wednesday (9am-12pm)

– Rosario Commisso (Intern and ETAG Volunteer Technology Tutor)

Keyword searches

The Internet is an incredibly powerful and versatile tool. One of the Internet’s best qualities is the seemingly endless amount of data it consists of. Any kind of information is just a few clicks away, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week… Wow!

The trick to finding the right information online is to track down the most appropriate search results. In order to do that, you must first think of the specific keywords that will lead you there. Keywords are a small selection of important words related to your query or information request.

The first step to finding information online is to use a search engine. Using a search engine, a person can type in their selected keywords, which in turn, generate the search results available. Sometimes you should think of other keywords you can try, if you do not find what you’re looking for with the keywords you’ve already tried. It’s important to note that many search engines are able to find similar or the same information. A short list of popular search engines includes:

www.google.ca

www.yahoo.com

www.bing.com

www.duckduckgo.com

To save some time and effort, only type specific keywords in the search bar, rather than entire questions. For example, if you’re looking for an Indian restaurant in your area, rather than typing, “Where is the nearest Indian restaurant in Toronto?” try typing “Toronto Indian restaurant”.

Google is likely the most popular search engine used by Canadians. There are a few tricks and shortcuts that can help improve your search results:

  • Use quotation marks to get results that contain exact words: “Indian restaurant”
  • Type define:(word) to quickly find the top definition of the word in question
  • If you’ve invested in stocks, type stocks:(symbol) to receive quick stock updates
  • Type weather:(city) to quickly get the current week’s weather
  • Type filetype:(.mp3, .avi…) if you’re looking for a specific type of file, like an mp3 format song, or an avi video

Happy searching!!

– Aneet Hundal (ETAG Volunteer Technology Writer)

Up in the cloud

The “cloud” is a term that gets thrown around often these days but what is it exactly?

It’s a data storage service that operates online. Simply put, the cloud consists of any software that allows you to store your information on the Internet rather than on your computer, tablet or phone. These cloud software services can be set to public, private or semi-private, depending on what, if anything, you want to share with others.

Many companies depend on cloud services; you could be using a cloud service right now without even knowing it! Many popular web services like iCloud, Dropbox, OneDrive, even Netflix rely on the cloud. For instance, Netflix allows you to stream TV shows and movies from their catalogue of titles, which is stored and then accessed by users online.

Losing data because your laptop, tablet or phone crashed is very frustrating. One key element of the cloud is that it’s a convenient way to store a backup of your documents, music, movies, or photos. Additionally, the cloud extends the storage capacity of our existing devices by providing external storage resources. Many cloud storage services offer anywhere between 2GB and 5GB of free storage. Additionally cloud storage can be purchased if needed.

There are some important things to recognize about using the cloud to store your files. For instance, if your information is stored on any cloud-oriented service, deleting it from your device does not also remove it from the cloud. A common example of this would be if you deleted a picture from your smartphone that you had already posted on Facebook… Deleting the photo from the phone does not remove it from Facebook. The photo exists in two locations, the phone and Facebook, which requires removal from both independently.

The cloud is used all around us in our everyday lives. To use it safely, users should not store any secret personal or financial details about their life, such as scanned passports, lists of passwords or sensitive health information. These related documents should be stored on a computer/tablet/smartphone and a backup should be made on a USB flash drive as an alternative to using the cloud.

– Aneet Hundal (ETAG Volunteer Technology Writer)

What are Apps?

Applications or “apps” are computer-generated programs created for smartphones, tablets, and various other devices. Phones and tablets often come preloaded with many handy apps that work as calendars, clocks, and even check the weather specifically for your location. There is a huge variety of apps available on the market. The categories range from monitoring your health and fitness, to productivity, to keeping up with sports, or even just for enjoying some games.

Apps can make using your devices more convenient and enjoyable. You can customize your phone or tablet to make it unique to you. For instance, if you’re interested in photography, there are many photo editing apps that can enhance the photos you take for a professional finish. Once you have edited your photos, you can share them with your friends and family via social networking apps like Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.

This is a list of 4 useful apps you can download for free:

Converter Plus

The preloaded calculator on your iPhone or iPad is designed for basic calculations. Converter Plus allows you to convert currencies and units so you won’t have to search for conversion tables anymore. It also does advanced computations like mortgages, loans, and fuel consumption, to name only a few.
Apple App Store:
https://itunes.apple.com/ca/app/converter-plus-units-currencies/id370146222?mt=8

Dropbox

Dropbox is a cloud storage app, which is useful when you start to run out of space on your smartphone, tablet, or computer. After signing up for a free account, you start by uploading your files over the Internet onto Dropbox. Once complete, you can open your files on any device connected to the Internet that you log into your Dropbox account with. That means you can access your photos, music, or documents from just about anywhere.
Apple App Store: https://itunes.apple.com/ca/app/dropbox/id327630330?mt=8
Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.dropbox.android&hl=en

Duolingo

Duolingo help you learn a new language right from your phone or tablet. Languages you can learn include Spanish, French, English, German and many more. The app starts with the basics like phrases, food, and animals. As you get better, Duolingo starts introducing more advanced language rules and vocabulary, pushing users to build on their knowledge. The app monitors your progress to keep you on track with achieving set goals, so you’ll be reading, speaking and writing in a new language in no time.
Apple App Store:
https://itunes.apple.com/ca/app/duolingo-learn-languages-for/id570060128?mt=8
Google Play:
https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.duolingo&hl=en

iBooks, Kindle

The above are apps that allow you to read ebooks on your device. With slight variations, these apps all offer a similar service – a large collection of books from every genre that you can purchase and read on your device. You can also access free ebooks from your local library.
The App Store:
iBooks: https://itunes.apple.com/ca/app/ibooks/id364709193?mt=8
Kindle: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/kindle-read-books-ebooks-magazines/id302584613?mt=8

Google Play:
Kindle: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.amazon.kindle&hl=en

– Aneet Hundal (ETAG Volunteer Technology Writer)

Reclaim your money!

The Bank of Canada is holding approximately 1.4 million “unclaimed balances” worth about $532 million! Wow!

According to the Bank of Canada website, an “unclaimed balance” is a Canadian-dollar deposit or negotiable instrument, issued or held by a federally regulated bank or trust company. It can be in the form of a deposit account, bank draft, certified cheque, deposit receipt, money order, GIC, term deposit, credit card balance, or traveller’s cheque.

When there has been no owner activity in relation to the balance for a period of 10 years, and the owner cannot be contacted by the institution holding it, the balance is turned over to the Bank of Canada, which acts as custodian on behalf of the owner. The Bank of Canada holds unclaimed balances of less than $1,000 for thirty years, once they have been inactive for ten years at the financial institutions.

Balances of $1,000 or more will be held for 100 years once transferred to the Bank of Canada. If the balance remains unclaimed until the end of the prescribed custody period, the Bank of Canada transfers the funds to the Receiver General for Canada.

For whatever reasons, people sometimes forget about these bank balances, and they end up in the hands of the Bank of Canada, instead of in the pockets of their rightful owners. This could be due to relocation, illness, death or for many other reasons. The good news is that this money can be claimed and returned to the rightful owner (or their heirs) without too much trouble.

I have personally helped both family members and friends become reunited with their long-lost money, consisting of balances that were both small and large. You too can search for your own name or that of your family members, your friends, and just about anyone you wish via the Bank of Canada Unclaimed Balances website:
http://ucbswww.bank-banque-canada.ca/scripts/search_english.cfm

Please do not think that you can “make a quick buck” for yourself at the expense of others by using this website, as the claimant does need to “jump through hoops” to prove that they have the lawful ownership of the funds in question.

Why not try a few queries with your own name along with those of family and friends. You might just get treated to a nice lunch if you do reunite someone with their money!

Let’s not give the government any more money than we need to 🙂

– David Spearns (ETAG Volunteer Technology Tutor)

Tech Savvy Retirement

With access to social media tools like Facebook and Twitter, people around the world can connect and interact with their family members, friends, and communities (both near and far) within a virtual space.

This digital forum of communication and entertainment promotes the extension of personal networks and helps maintain strong relationships within them by increasing our perceived proximity to the people we care about.

There are many benefits for older adults living in retirement communities and long-term care centres to use social media on a regular basis:

  • Decrease feelings of isolation
  • Provide users with the abilities to share narratives about themselves
  • Post pictures and videos from their daily lives
  • Read updates from other users
  • Participate in free video calls with loved ones
  • Play games with others

To continue reading the original posting of ETAG’s article, please visit www.retirementhomes.com

Online Newspapers

 

In a nation as culturally diverse as Canada, there are millions of people living here who still have strong ties with the country they once called home. Likewise, there are also many people who were born in Canada, and have “moved away” from the province or city they grew up in, attended school, or worked at one time.

If you are at all like me, you are probably still interested in what is happening “back home”. The Internet provides you with ample means to stay in touch with your roots via that age-old tradition – the daily newspaper! If there is a particular newspaper from your home town that you would like to read, you may simply use Google to find a link to it, as most newspapers around the world are “online” to some extent these days.

There are also many websites that present you with a list of links to multiple newspapers from all corners of the world. A few of my favourites are:

http://www.thepaperboy.com/newspapers-by-country.cfm

http://www.newseum.org/todaysfrontpages/flash/

http://www.onlinenewspapers.com/

http://www.refdesk.com/paper.html

http://www.allnewspapers.com/

Please note that much of the “general” newspaper content found online may be viewed for FREE, although many of them may charge for the “full content” of their daily editions in order to help pay their bills 🙂

In any case, why not give it a try to remain aware of the latest news and happenings from all points abroad, as you continue to embrace your new home sweet home in your corner of Canada.

– David Spearns (ETAG Volunteer Technology Tutor)

Old Time Radio

Old Time Radio

It may be hard to imagine a modern family room without one or more big screen televisions, computers, or video game consoles. For some generations, this idea seems foreign as they grew up without any television, let alone the Internet! Back in those days (before my time), instead of computers and television being the main focal point for family entertainment, it was the good old-fashioned radio that dominated the living rooms of North America and around the world.

In the days of Old Time Radio,  you had to use your imagination while listening to the dialogue, music, and sound effects (many of which may seem quite crude by today’s standards), but they engaged your mind just as much (if not more) than the current entertainment options that we now take for granted.

If you wish to take a step back in time, you can use the Internet to bring back to life the “golden days” of radio by visiting the Old Time Radio Network website. There are more than 12,000 old radio programs to be found that cater to all tastes, and it can be quite interesting and entertaining to listeners at any age.

Whether it was the “serials” like The Lone Ranger or “comedies” such as The Jack Benny Show, most of the popular radio programs of the radio era may be found and enjoyed by visiting the website. If you have a parent or grandparent who might remember these radio programs, it would be a wonderful treat for them to hear them once again, and I assure you that you will enjoy them also.

I personally get a kick out of the “commercials” and how consumer products were portrayed and pitched back then 🙂

For seniors living in retirement communities, it might be fun to have a regular gathering night around a laptop or tablet (just like they did around the radio) to bring back some very memorable times. Hopefully it will not create any conflicts over which shows are being played!

Technical Caveat:

At the OTR.net website, the radio programs are recorded in .ram format (Real Audio Metadata), and thus they require a media player (such as Real Player) capable of playing Real Audio files. It can be downloaded from the following website: Download Real Player. If you do need to download and install this free software, make sure that you pay attention so that you only install the program in question, and also be alert to uncheck many of the optional “offers” that may come bundled with the media player itself.

See also:

http://www.radiolovers.com/pages/allshows.html

http://archive.org/details/oldtimeradio

http://www.dumb.com/oldtimeradio/

http://www.otrfan.com/otr/random.php

– David Spearns (ETAG Volunteer Technology Tutor)

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)