Tag Archives: zoomer technology

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)

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)

Tablets are so Easy!

Technology is easier to use than ever before… touch screens can be used by anyone, including older adults living with dementia, mobility and dexterity issues, and other common disabilities, like vision impairments. Everybody – with guidance, support, and a willingness to learn – can find great value in touch technologies and the Internet.

Tablets are the easiest device for beginners. Older adults without previous computer experience can begin by playing online games, asking Google to find information using a “voice search” command, or zooming in on their home town map – in only a few minutes.

To read ETAG’s full article posted on www.retirementhomes.com, click HERE.

Seniors IT Fair

Come experience an event dedicated to seniors and technology. In collaboration with the City of Mississauga and Peel Senior Link, join ETAG for a day of technology education and support with the help of our AMAZING technology tutor team!

Tuesday February 25, 2014 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
Burnhamthorpe Community Centre – 1500 Gulleden Drive, Mississauga, ON

Enjoy a free light lunch, a variety of local exhibitors, guest speakers, workshops, program demonstrations, prizes, and more!

Whether it’s controlling the mouse and learning the basics, setting up an e-mail account, or understanding the difference between Facebook and Twitter, ETAG’s team can answer just about any technology based question you might have.

Participants can get help with all types of technology, from personal laptops and tablets, to cell phones, MP3 players and digital cameras. With WiFi available, participants are encouraged to bring in their own devices.

Admission is FREE but space is limited!

Organize your files

Computers are a wonderful repository for a multitude of information, but unless you organize your data, it can become a virtual nightmare whenever you need to find something.

Most computer data resides on our internal hard disk drive (usually known as the “C: Drive” in the Windows world), although it can exist in many other places as well, such as external hard drives, CDs, DVDs, or USB drives, to name a few. For the purpose of this blog post, we will stick to the internal hard disk drive example; however the same concepts are applicable to the other storage devices as well.

Just about everyone is familiar with the idea of a plain old office “file cabinet”, where office workers store information (usually pieces of paper in file folders), using some form of “index” (such as alphabetical order), to make retrieval of this information relatively easy. Well, let’s use our imaginations for a moment, and pretend that your computer’s internal hard drive is nothing more than a drawer in an office file cabinet.

In computer terms we have “files”, which can be data in many forms, such as documents (just like the old-fashioned pieces of paper), photos, music, videos, spreadsheets, presentations, and so on. Each file has a “name” along with other attributes such as its type, size, and location on the computer’s internal hard disk. Files can exist totally on their own, or they can be grouped into “folders” just like in our office file cabinet example.

For tips on how to create folders in Microsoft Windows, watch these Youtube clips 🙂
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q2ka3149-z4
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bFN4BlgrQ2I 

In the office, one could simply throw their many pieces of paper or folders randomly into the cabinet drawer without any form of organization, but this practice would be disorganized and inefficient when the information on those papers/folders is required. Instead, the person doing the filing usually has a “system” that they use to keep the files and folders in some logical order to make it easy to find the information later.

Unfortunately, many computer users fail to employ a similar technique of file organization, which makes for nothing but headaches and frustration. Computers will blindly let you throw your files randomly into the drawer (the hard disk). There is definitely a better method for organizing files.

A folder can contain individual files, groups of files, or even other folders (sub-folders). You should create “folders” (with names that make sense to you) on your hard disk. When you wish to create a file, it would make life much easier for you if you store the file in an aptly-named folder, so that you will know where to find it tomorrow, next week, or next year.

For example, you could create a folder called My Music to house all of your music files. In the My Music folder you could have a sub-folder for each genre of music (Classical, Jazz, Pop, Reggae, Rock, etc.) Within each genre sub-folder, you could have an additional sub-folder for each album or artist, and then you could store the individual tracks (files) in its appropriate album or artist sub-folder.

If you only have a few music files on your computer, then this may seem like overkill, but if you have a music library containing hundreds or even thousands of songs, it becomes almost mandatory to organize them in some form of logical manner (in a way that has meaning to you, and the way that you think).

Having said all of this, Microsoft Windows does offer you some help via the program known as “Windows Explorer” (Please Note: Not “Internet Explorer” which is used to access the Internet). Windows Explorer allows you to explore and/or search the data on your computer, and to help you navigate through your files, folders, and sub-folders in order to find exactly the data that you are looking for. The Windows Explorer program can be invoked in several different ways, but the “Windows Key + E” keyboard shortcut combination  is probably the easiest way to start this program.

For those who are new to Microsoft Windows, I strongly urge you to master the Windows Explorer program as soon as possible. With this knowledge, your computer experience will be a much more pleasant and rewarding time.

Be sure to check out these helpful Youtube videos that might help you get started. Youtube is an AMAZING tool when you’re trying to learn something new, no matter what the topic might be.

How To Organize Computer Files

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bTJFNmrtW9g

Windows Explorer Tutorials

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OdPdLwDSFZ8

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RAi1n2lHUYU

– 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