Tag Archives: assistive technology

Transferring Photos

You’ve taken a perfect picture of your grandchild or “snapped” a great vacation shot on your smartphone. Now the question is, how do you transfer that photo to your computer so you can store it, forward it on to others or edit it to your liking?

It’s simpler than you might think.

3 common ways to download pictures from a smartphone are:

  1. Using a USB cable (that probably came with your smartphone)
    Connect your smartphone and computer together using the USB cable. If you are using a Windows computer, you’ll see a new item appear in the My Computer menu that represents the smartphone you have connected. If you open it, you will find a file called DCIM, which is the default system used to organize photos on smartphones. Save the pictures contained in the DCIM file to your computer by dragging them to a folder or your desktop. Here’s a quick video that demonstrates how to use the USB cable on Windows.If you are using an Apple computer and an iPhone, connect your two devices together with the USB cable, and open the iPhotos program on the computer. Click on “import photos” and you’re finished.Click on this link to read more instructions specific to transferring photo’s from iPhones.
  2. Email the photos to yourself
    If you only have a couple of pictures to transfer, you can always email the photos to yourself. Using the email app on your smartphone, enter your own email address in the “To” line and select attach files ( you’ll see an option to search and attach your pictures to the email). Send the email with the photo(s) attached from your smartphone and then access that email on your computer to download the photos.
    NOTE: It’s recommended that you do this while connected to WIFI, not your cellular data.
  3. Upload the photos to Facebook
    If you use Facebook, you can upload photos to your account straight from your smartphone. From your smartphone’s Facebook app, access the photos section of your own profile. Select the option to “Add photos” and choose the ones you want to include. Once you have uploaded the photos to Facebook, you can view your Facebook profile on your computer, access the recently uploaded photos and download them. Feel free to delete the photos from Facebook afterwards.
    NOTE: It’s recommended that you do this while connected to WIFI, not your cellular data.

For more information or troubleshooting help, or to walk through the process with an ETAG volunteer technology coach, check out the website for program locations nearest you.

– Lesley Morris (ETAG Volunteer Technology Coach)
LesleyeMorris.com

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)

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)

Shortcuts save time

Keyboard Shortcuts

Did you ever look at your computer keyboard and wonder about the function of the various “non-typing” keys? Hopefully, this article will take away a bit of the mystery associated with at least a few of these keys.

There are often multiple ways to accomplish the same thing/task using the keyboard and/or mouse on a computer. It might be interesting for you to know that Microsoft Windows comes with a huge set of keyboard “shortcuts”.

NOTE: Although this blog entry is specific to Windows users, the MAC users have similar functionality as well. Check out a list of MAC shortcuts here 🙂

A “shortcut” is usually taken by pressing (and holding) a key (such as Ctrl, Alt, or the Windows Logo Key), and then pressing another key simultaneously to direct the computer to perform a desired action (in lieu of using the computer mouse). You might want to learn just a handful of them to make your computer experience a much more pleasurable task.

Here are a few shortcuts that I find quite useful in my daily computer interaction:

Ctrl+c – Copy the selected item

Ctrl+v – Paste the selected item

Ctrl+a – Select all items in a document or window (usually followed by Ctrl+c)

Ctrl+z – Undo an action

Alt+F4 – Close the active window

Alt+Tab – Switch between open windows

Windows Logo Key+d – Display the desktop

Windows Logo Key+e – Open Windows Explorer (to find files on my computer)

Please note that some shortcuts may be program specific, while others are simply generic in nature, and work the same way for all programs.

When you have some time to spare, please peruse Microsoft’s complete list  to see if there are any shortcuts that are more pertinent to you and how you interact with your computer. If you memorize just a few of these shortcuts, I am confident that you will not only save time, but also save some wear and tear on your computer mouse, hand, and wrist 🙂

– David Spearns (ETAG Volunteer Technology Tutor)

ETAG Is Now A Charity

ETAG is now a Charity!!

Since 2008, ETAG has helped thousands of adults 55+ learn how to use the common technologies used by today’s digital generations. We’ve connected people with their loved ones around the world using tools like Gmail, Facebook, and Skype. Our amazing volunteer technology coaches have guided boomers/zoomers into the tablet era, helping explain the pros and cons, the ins and outs, the iPads and Androids… There is SO much reward in teaching someone’s Nana and Papa how to use Google to find information or to complete an online form; skills often taken for granted by many. Technology creates unbelievable possibilities for its users. Helping all generations benefit from these possibilities has been a remarkably fruitful adventure for ETAG 🙂

After years of providing seniors with a free and patient way to learn how to use technology, it is with great pleasure to announce that ETAG has been registered as a charitable organization in Canada! ETAG’s team is delighted to enter this new chapter and can’t wait for all the incredible opportunities and good that will follow as a result of this great news. On behalf of myself and the entire ETAG Leadership Team, thanks very much to our volunteer technology coaches, who are an essential part of the programs ETAG organizes. You are all SO supportive and make your communities a better place to live.

There are big things on ETAG’s horizon! As technology continues to change and get better, ETAG will too, helping everyone stay in touch with the essential information we need to enhance our lives by utilizing technology comfortably and confidently. I can’t wait for what’s next!!! Stay tuned 🙂

– Chris Bint

 

Backup your data!

No backup is bad

Most people who own a computer tend to store a multitude of important information on its hard drive disk. It could be things like precious wedding, vacation, or other treasured family photos, your music, your documents, spreadsheets and presentations, or your personal correspondence, just to name a few.

The problem is that many people accumulate this critical (and in many cases irreplaceable) data without a second thought about making regular backup copies of it. It is a sad but unfortunate reality about computer disks that it is not “if” they will fail, but rather, “when” they will fail! So many things (such as hardware malfunction, computer viruses, fire, flood, theft) can happen as part of daily life, making your computer data so very vulnerable to any one of these or other disasters.

The answer to this dilemma is to make proper (and regular) backup copies of your data. There are a variety of backup methods available to make copies of your data onto other media, such as external hard drives, USB drives (also known as a USB key or stick), CDs/DVDs, or the “cloud”, but many people lack the technical knowledge and/or the discipline to protect their valuable data on a regular basis.

One easy to-use-method of computer backup that I have used is called ClickFree: http://www.clickfree.com/

This device can be used by the full range of computer users from the complete novice up to the technical savvy expert alike, by doing nothing more than plugging it into a USB port on their computer. As its name implies, this device has the “smarts” built into it to backup your data without any human intervention. “It is easier than making toast” as one of their earlier advertisements boasted! The ClickFree device does cost a few dollars, but when you think of how valuable the data on your computer might be to you, it may seem very reasonably priced for your peace of mind.

Although somewhat dated, this promotional video illustrates just how simple it is to use the ClickFree device: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6e8HeZEUQ2I

The backup story does not end here though… Backups must be done regularly and the backup copy should be securely stored at an “offsite location” away from the computer itself. This could mean taking the backup copy to work or entrusting it to a family member or friend far away from your computer. After all, what good is the backup copy of your data if it becomes destroyed or stolen along with your computer!

PS – I do not work for ClickFree and do not have any affiliation with them, but rather, I simply believe that they have built an excellent and useful product for the masses. Enjoy! 🙂

– David Spearns (ETAG Volunteer Technology Tutor)

ETAG on Rogers TV

ETAG on Aging in Peel

Last week, ETAG was featured on an informative television show called Aging In Peel, put together by our good friends over at Peel Senior Link.

Chris Bint and Phil Shahinian joined host Ray Applebaum to explore what ETAG does to support technology use for adults 55+ and why it is important.

We also discussed ETAG’s helpful Technology Enabled Living program, that takes a mobile computer lab with WIFI Internet to retirement communities and long term care centres. It’s an incredibly accessible initiative that ETAG is happy to work on with Peel Senior Link, with support from the New Horizons for Seniors Program 🙂

In case you missed it, a link to the interview is available on the Rogers TV website.
Click here to watch!