Monday, January 27, 2014

Technology for Senior Households

I will have more than one entry on technology and seniors as I consider this a key topic for all of us in improving our lives. Certainly everyone in my age group has seen us go from no tech to high tech during our life spans thus far.  My husband and I both traded our manual typewriters for an electric one when we were in college and that was our high tech investment for 1968 (he typed the papers for both of us so I made out well on that swap). My no tech life is in the photo to the left.

Let us consider today how home environment overall can improve from the use of high tech.  I will use our own lives as examples. We went from a four bedroom colonial with a basement to a two bedroom condo, i.e. from a full scale house to a flat style apartment. That is a huge reduction in physical space. However, we had also become very high tech over the ensuing years.

Jim has both a PC and Mac.  They are both laptops but he uses them mostly at a desk.  He also has a Samsung combo phone and tablet.  I have a Mac Air laptop (with a Macbook from four years ago as backup), an iPhone, three iPads and one iPad mini. I also have five auxiliary hard drives where I store books, movies, tv shows, documents and so forth. And I have music on three iPods. I rarely use a desk.  I am a bed and sofa person.

We both have high computer skills with my having spent more time on developing skills on various types of high end software, such as Photoshop. It was not easy gaining these skills because we had to pick up all our knowledge at middle age. I wish I had been one of these kids picking it up right from the get go instead.

Now let's examine what we don't have in our household as a result. We no longer own any tv sets, hifi or stereo, bookshelves, landline phone, or radio. We own no physical books, no CDs, no videotapes, no DVDs, no DVD or CD players. Yet we now have more books, music, movies and tv shows than we ever previously had. This is the wonder of the digital world.  It is very tiny and enables you to drastically reduce your living space. We need no shelving of any sort anywhere. For example, if I need to refer to a recipe or cookbook, they are all digital so my kitchen is no longer littered with them. I have no stacks of magazines as I get those all digitally as well. I carry an iPad into both the kitchen and the bathroom when I need the pertinent reading matter.

The one disadvantage would seem to be that it is hard to watch movies and tv on these devices together.  Well, that had become impossible anyway.  Due to my hearing and now my vision problems, I needed a much higher volume than he did and also now need the screen right up close to my face. I would get complaints from my condo neighbors if I used the volume as high as I need it.  I use headphones for everything instead and thus maintain the peace and quiet of living here.

We also have the usual arguments which define our era, i.e. should we be using Apple based products or PC-android based or should we go wholly open source and vault into Linux. I am firmly in the Apple camp after many distressing years of using PCs while he is primarily in the PC-android world with only minimal Apple use.  Neither of us use Linux although we tried it. However, we both use a lot of open source (free) software which was largely inspired by Linux's development. Thus, we use the free Open Office instead of MS Office.  We are each happy with our choices so it is hard to make a sweeping statement about which way you should go.  But we will make recs in later entries on this blog.  I also do consumer reviews on Amazon so will be referring you over to my high tech reviews over there. I do have one to make today.  I specifically tailored my review of my Mac Air on Amazon to the senior market.  You can find that review here.

This seems enough for one entry and I will pick up the technology discussion with tomorrow's entry.

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