The Digital World

From my bottomless idea box

Someone recently asked me if I ever run out of topics to write about. She knew I write for this outstanding hyperlocal newspaper serving not one but two westside communities.

I have a bottomless idea box, courtesy of the Greater Cleveland area "community of learners" that I teach technology knowledge (digital literacy), help alleviate and solve technology related pain points and challenges. Rummaging through my box as end-of-year cleaning, I see a couple notable trends in the last months of 2023: an uptick in our seniors embracing smartphones and questions regarding artificial intelligence (AI).

Read Full Story
Volume 16, Issue 2, Posted 9:58 AM, 02.06.2024

Zip and loc it

To many Japanese, including this old geek who grew up in Japan, nothing is more relaxing than soaking in a bath. Mind you, not your typical tub full of bubbled lukewarm water but, for yours truly, the best kind often referred to as hot springs. The typical temperature of hot springs in Japan is around 106 degrees Fahrenheit.

I like how my go-to Wikipedia describes "onsen," a Japanese word for hot springs: "In Japan, onsen (温泉) are hot springs and the bathing facilities and traditional inns around them. There are approximately 25,000 hot spring sources throughout Japan, and approximately 3,000 onsen establishments use naturally hot water from these geothermally heated springs."

Read Full Story
Volume 16, Issue 1, Posted 9:45 AM, 01.16.2024

Algorithms are all around us

Part of a new mini-series demystifying how algorithms are used

Transportation, from personal anecdotal conversations with seniors and through consumption of popular media, seems to be a bane for the senior demographic.

As a college student, I relied on the RTA system, commuting from Lakewood or Westlake to Cleveland State University in the late '80s. Greater Cleveland is unlike metropolitan cities like Boston or New York City.

Beantown and the Big Apple's public transportation systems remind me of Japan's superb public transportation system, yet the iconic yellow cabs of the Big Apple also remind me that America is not a small island nation!

Read Full Story
Volume 15, Issue 23, Posted 9:40 AM, 12.19.2023

Fall risk? A smartwatch can be your insurance policy

If you own a home or rent an apartment, I'm sure you have homeowner's or renter's insurance. An auto insurance policy if you own a car. Your "body" is the most valuable asset you own, keeping it in tip-top shape through exercise and a healthy diet while relying on your private and/or public health insurance for unexpected events.

In a nutshell, insurance policies minimize our financial exposure for catastrophic or unexpected incidents.

It's also a fact of life that our physical stamina and senses, like hearing or seeing, gradually deteriorate as we age. Just several years ago, I didn't need to rest while climbing the 100 steps of Fort Hill in the Metroparks. This year, I had to make a couple pit stops before being rewarded with the spectacular fall foliage I could show my mom in Japan via FaceTime.

Read Full Story
Volume 15, Issue 21, Posted 8:25 AM, 11.21.2023

The 'Share' feature is your friend

From my experienced, old geek vantage point, smartphones/tablets with computer-rivaling processing power, at least in certain makes/models, may befit your use case better than ultrabooks – aka thin, light yet powerful laptops – due to their intuitiveness and mobility.

Further, although personal computers with new central processing unit (CPU) and/or graphical processing unit (GPU) continue to be introduced regularly, sales of personal computers have plateaued for markets worldwide for several years, except for the business sector. I've been using personal computers since 1983, since my first encounter with an Apple IIe in Japan circa 1983, when I knew I wanted to study computer science in the United States.

Apple was the first one to introduce the "copy & paste" feature in 1984, which has since become a staple with all modern operating systems. Of the other countless innovations packed into smartphones and tablets, which we have the late Steve Jobs to thank for, I want to single-out the "Share" feature today.

Read Full Story
Volume 15, Issue 19, Posted 9:11 AM, 10.17.2023

Unicorns for your devices

"Kamen Rider" was the superhero that I grew up watching in Japan, akin to "G.I. Joe" for American boys. Just like "Barbie'' dolls, there's "Licca-chan" dolls for Japanese girls. Unicorns are another such example for girls the world over. Growing up in Japan and living my adult life in CLE, it's rewarding to have been exposed to multiple cultures as I appreciate both the similarities and differences that lead to each culture's uniqueness.

The unicorns for your devices are not in the "fantasy world"; they are in the digital world, representative of the definition of "something unusual, rare, or unique" per Merriam Webster's website. It's rare to find unicorn apps, among the millions of apps in Apple's App Store or Google's Play Store, that are free to install on my smartphone/tablet, without advertisements, and provide entertainment, educational, or other "values" to the user.

Read Full Story
Volume 15, Issue 17, Posted 9:16 AM, 09.19.2023

Overcoming technology intimidation

A week before I start a new "Discover Digital Literacy!" program, I meet with each incoming student for an one-on-one assessment. My goals are to potentially find a common denominator among the students so I can customize and tailor the 16-class curriculum. Even when there are no common denominators identified, I'll have an opportunity to know them better and analyze the collected data appropriately.

Although there are at least three different definitions to what "digital divide" means, "society's lack of knowledge on how to make use of the information and communication tools once they exist within a community" (Wikipedia) is what I hear often. The good news is that when I meet with the students again before graduation, that perceived lack of knowledge or intimidation has all but dissipated from their attitude toward the information and communication tools of the digital world. Their attitude is more curious about technology than being intimidated by it.

Read Full Story
Volume 15, Issue 16, Posted 9:09 AM, 09.06.2023

Hook, line, and sinker

He said it was a message purportedly from Microsoft which he would regularly ignore, especially since he only owned an Apple iPhone and an iPad, except this particular email's messaging was different. Was it a phishing attempt or a legitimate email?

Wikipedia, second to "googling" which I do without thinking when traversing the information superhighway, says "Phishing is a form of social engineering and scam where attackers deceive people into revealing sensitive information or installing malware such as ransomware."

When I arrived at the location where the Bat-Signal originated, John explained to me that he clicked on the call-to-action link in the message because it referred to his free email address from Microsoft as being at risk for cancellation. He continued to explain that it was different from the other phishing email about his nonexistent "Windows computer being infected" that crowded his inbox daily.

Read Full Story
Volume 15, Issue 15, Posted 9:38 AM, 08.15.2023

Options to reach customer service

I was never fond of calling into customer service hotlines. The often long hold times, interactive voice response (IVR) systems programmed to play pre-recorded messages, commercials, and/or elevator music depending on my answers to their questions/prompts.

Plus the fear of being on hold for a long time, only to hear the familiar click of a dropped line which means calling back and going through the gauntlet again. Admittedly, though, many encounters were quick and resolute too.

Sometimes it took more than one call to customer service to get things resolved. When such was required, I quickly saw the importance of having a paper trail. Although logical and nothing to write home about, keeping good records of my conversation was critical.

Read Full Story
Volume 15, Issue 13, Posted 8:37 AM, 07.18.2023

Accessibility features for the hard-of-hearing

As I wrote in the previous column, despite market competition leading to differentiation including competing on pricing which is good for consumers, in the case of technology, differentiation also often leads to confusion.

Still, one of many good things that comes standard in your purchase of a device of any make or model is the "Accessibility" category in your device's "Settings" app. This is where you can make your device, for example your smartphone, into a true sidekick that can help with your sensory or motor-skill challenges.

Read Full Story
Volume 15, Issue 12, Posted 9:17 AM, 07.05.2023

Let your device be your sidekick

This summer marks the second anniversary of living with my new clutch, the cochlear implant (CI), which I call "black magic," that restored my hearing.

Importantly, I discovered many practical ways in which my sidekick, aka my smartphone, helped me communicate when my world was silent for 14 months before my CI surgery. I believe the solutions I discovered using my smartphone during those pre-surgery months can be equally beneficial to the hard-of-hearing even when they are not deaf.

As a consumer advocate most prominently on technology matters, I always preach the many practical benefits that can be gleaned from your investment in a smartphone. I consider those practical benefits analogous to the financial concept of "return on investment" (ROI), regardless of whether those investments are in technology devices and/or subscription services offered in the digital world, though technology's ROI is immeasureable in my opinion.

Read Full Story
Volume 15, Issue 11, Posted 8:23 AM, 06.20.2023

Yardstick, then and now

Before the advent of smartphones, cellular service providers invoiced us on how much we talked and texted; we had to pick a plan, aka "guess," how many minutes we'll be yapping and how many text messages we'll be tapping out on our cell phones each month. When smartphones began to replace the traditional cell phones, yapping and tapping became free while providers still make us guess how much "mobile data" we think we'll use while the smartphone is connected to the internet on mobile data.

The amount of mobile data we use on our smartphones, while not connected to Wi-Fi, became the new yardstick for your monthly charge. That yardstick can be either a finite or unlimited allotment of mobile data.

Read Full Story
Volume 15, Issue 9, Posted 9:49 AM, 05.16.2023

How hearing apps gave our family hope

It was March 23, 2020, when Tak, my husband and The Digital World columnist, said that he couldn’t hear.

“What do you mean by you can't hear?” I asked, puzzled and wondering if he was kidding. This was not the time to joke around. The COVID-19 pandemic had shut down many services. Schools even closed and conducted classes virtually. Libraries, recreation centers, churches, and colleges went remote.

As it turned out, getting an appointment was also a big ordeal as they cut down on unnecessary hospital visits. Unfortunately, hearing loss was not one to get an appointment right away either.

Read Full Story
Volume 15, Issue 8, Posted 9:21 AM, 05.02.2023

Think like an Egyptian

I've been feeling a bit nostalgic the past few weeks. The trigger may have been getting lost in the Flats. I never thought I'd have to pull aside and use Google Maps to get out of the maze; pretty embarrassing for 30+ years of being a Clevelander to be lost in the Flats!

That night, memories of how we spent our weekends while in college, circa late '80s, flooded back. Memories of dancing away to tunes like "Walk Like An Egyptian" by The Bangles at Club Coconuts on the West Bank. Guys dressed like Sonny Crockett (Don Johnson's character) of the era-defining iconic TV series "Miami Vice'' where pastel-colored baggy clothes and wearing shoes-sans-socks were their fashion trend "influences."

Read Full Story
Volume 15, Issue 6, Posted 9:21 AM, 04.04.2023

Hit by nostalgia, loving new discoveries

One of our favorite Sunday morning pastimes of the 1990s was to buy the Sunday newspaper and head out to the nursery-turned-cafe on Lake Road. I love coffee and I always prefer independent coffee houses if I had a choice; something about the ambiance I like instead of the cookie cutter architecture of a chain.

I would order a cuppa joe, my wife a cup of Mexican Hot Chocolate, and spend hours reading the Sunday newspaper. Sometimes I would treat myself to a second cup or even third – the latter giving me a buzz and jitters – what fun times! The Sunday paper was thick and fat back then because of the advertisements and the coupons we clipped religiously.

Read Full Story
Volume 15, Issue 5, Posted 10:14 AM, 03.21.2023

PhotoScan app to the rescue

This question "what would you take out of a burning house?" has been asked many times over, in popular media and in private chatterings, with the answer often being "photos." Why? Because we all know that memories are priceless!

Hindsight is always 20/20 but I wish I had the foresight to use "archival" quality materials  – paper, ink, plastic – when printing photos, when arranging photos in the album pockets, and while scrapbooking (the memory preservation methodology of choice for my wife). Since we didn't use archival quality materials, we've found some photos fading, album pages falling apart, photo corners curling up, and pictures kept in shoeboxes showing wear-and-tear.

Read Full Story
Volume 15, Issue 4, Posted 9:43 AM, 03.07.2023

Mom goes from a flip phone to a smartphone

When I was visiting my family this past December, my wife suggested upgrading my mom's flip phone. Just like in the U.S., Japanese cellular service providers are sunsetting the "3G" (third generation mobile communication standard/protocol) in 2023.

Since she enjoys FaceTime (Apple's video chat app) with us every morning using a hand-me-down Apple iPad, finding a smartphone to replace her flip phone was rather trivial after all things considered. I followed the same methodologies/curriculum I had developed, born from my career experiences, for Center for Aging in the Digital World's "Digital Literacy Series" classes offered free to seniors since 2016, to teach my Mom the use of her new smartphone.

Read Full Story
Volume 15, Issue 3, Posted 8:56 AM, 02.21.2023

Before flying abroad

I was blessed to be given an opportunity to visit my family in Japan after a four-year hiatus. With my jetlag finally jettisoned, I want to share a "Top 5" list of observations I made while traveling that show the continued convergence of the real and digital worlds.

No. 5: Use the internet to check destination country entry requirements that can be fluid.

I spent two hours submitting my passport and vaccination information to Japan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs before my trip. Upon approval, a QR code was issued which made entry into Japan one of the swiftest I remember.

No. 4: Install the airline's app for on-demand access to your trip information.

Not only will the airline's app give you on-demand access to your itinerary, many airlines let you track your baggage.

Read Full Story
Volume 15, Issue 2, Posted 10:04 AM, 02.07.2023

Lost & found, redux

Earlier this summer, I wrote about using the "Find My Device" app for Android smartphones/tablets and "Find My iPhone" app for iPhones/iPads and Mac computers on a borrowed device to locate your missing smartphone/tablet.

In a nutshell, when the "Find My Device" switch (found under the "Security" subcategory in the "Settings" app) or when the "Find My iPhone" switch (selectable once you click your name at the top of the screen in the Settings app of the Apple device) is enabled before your smartphone/tablet goes missing, your chances of locating your missing device increases. I can't stress this enough: please do not practice vigilantism if you were a victim of theft; hand over the location information to the authorities and let them handle it.

Read Full Story
Volume 14, Issue 24, Posted 11:22 AM, 12.20.2022

Gift of savings from digital library services

Do you keep a household budget? I do and I see my actuals creeping up. My family has been frugal but the current economic environment tests the definition of frugality for us. Probably many are in a similar boat so hang in there as this can't continue forever!

Although this is not a financial advice column, the digital world has been helping me save money, both literally and figuratively. Latter because "time is money" where efficiency or convenience brought forth by the services in the cloud, aka internet, gives me more time for the important things in life.

My readers know how much I appreciate the digital library services that our Westlake Porter Public Library and Bay Village branch of the Cuyahoga County Public Library provide. For this article, I thought why not tabulate how much I'm saving each year by using those services.

Read Full Story
Volume 14, Issue 22, Posted 10:07 AM, 11.15.2022

Taking mom for a virtual autumn drive

Last year, it started much later than normal. This year I even surveyed a week prior to make sure it hadn't peaked yet. I decided the following Wednesday to be the peak. Well, the following Monday was a gorgeous day – temps in the high 60s to low 70s – for late October. My wife said I shouldn't wait until midweek. After I dropped her off at work, I headed down to the Metroparks with my mom. In retrospect, if I stuck to my original plan, we would've missed the foliage as it rained on Wednesday and some trees were almost naked!

Although the winters can be a little milder, I love Cleveland for the four seasons because Yokohama, Japan, where I grew up, has four seasons. When I got off the boat more than three decades ago, my new friends introduced me to the Metroparks and it sure was a culture shock. Coming from a country where land is at premium, I marveled at how expansive the Metroparks system was, yet meticulously taken care of.

My mom has visited Cleveland before during different seasons but she hasn't been back for a while to enjoy the fall foliage or brave the frigid winter temps in-person. Thanks to technology, though, I can offer her the next best thing: put my phone in the smartphone holder suctioned onto the windshield, start FaceTime, set FaceTime to see out the phone's rear camera, and drive from Rocky River Marina to Berea Falls on the winding Valley Parkway. Video chat apps like Apple's FaceTime, Google's Meet, Zoom, and Meta's WhatsApp to name a few, are the next best thing when in-person is unattainable.

Read Full Story
Volume 14, Issue 21, Posted 10:11 AM, 11.01.2022

Are you a SmartPrinter?

Last week I was reminded of a joke which goes: "A printer consists of three main parts: the case, the jammed paper tray and the blinking red light." I first heard this 30 years ago and it is still pertinent in 2022.

Recently, many seniors have sought my recommendation for printer procurement/replacement candidates as inventory improved. I answer them with a question: How much do they print and how often?

I explain to them that printer ownership is like car ownership thus comes with recurring costs. Purchasing consumables, like toner/ink cartridges and paper, needs to be budgeted. It's similar to changing the oil and buying gasoline to drive a car. To top it off, the blinking yellow light on a printer is akin to the check engine light glowing on your dashboard.

Read Full Story
Volume 14, Issue 20, Posted 10:46 AM, 10.18.2022

Value of the digital world

During the pandemic, the availability of technology products became scarce. It also affected inventory of products that rely on electronic components, such as cars and household appliances.

I'm sure you'll remember dealership lots being empty for more than a year. I also remember a couple of our nonprofit's alumni telling us that they had to wait six months or more for parts to become available so the repair service could fix their washer, dryer, and the garage door opener.

With the WFH (Work From Home) mandate for office workers, participation in virtual meetings through services like Zoom and WebEx in lieu of in-person collaboration became the norm. During this transition, available webcams went like hotcakes, often at premium prices, while no new stock of webcams were coming once inventory was depleted. Selling price easily doubled the manufacturer's suggested retail price or more!

Read Full Story
Volume 14, Issue 19, Posted 11:16 AM, 10.04.2022

Senior Wisdom

As many of my readers know – of course I'm being presumptive that I have "many readers" LOL – I love using analogies when explaining anything technology. For example, I've often used the analogy "streaming is just like broadcasting" where one streams content onto their Smart TV, smartphone, tablet, or computer connected to the internet wirelessly or by wire; one receives broadcasts of TV programming onto their Smart or Dumb TV through the cable TV box, satellite dish, or thin air.

Most of the analogies I use, if not all, I come up with by thinking, "How would I explain 'xyz' to my aging parents?" But "streaming is just like broadcasting," which by the way is beautifully succinct, is borrowed from my oldest alumni of our nonprofit's "Discover Digital Literacy!" program who offered his take on what streaming was; the alumni is also a Westlake resident.

Read Full Story
Volume 14, Issue 17, Posted 9:56 AM, 09.07.2022

Life skills for the 21st century

When I start writing my column for the upcoming issue of WBVO, I do so in the cloud. No, it's not that my mind is in the clouds – although my wife may disagree, LOL – but my article starts as a blank Google "Doc" document that is saved in Google "Drive," my own secure storage space, again in the cloud (aka internet).

If I'm in my home office, I just sit in front of my desktop computer and work on it. If it's not too humid or frigging freezing outside, I take my Chromebook and type while lounging on our deck. If I'm teaching for the Center for Aging in the Digital World at Advent Church, I use my laptop between classes as my laptop is already up and running and is being used to mirror my devices' screens to the big screen for seniors to follow in the classes.

Read Full Story
Volume 14, Issue 16, Posted 9:51 AM, 08.16.2022

Attending Zoom meetings is trivial

Our nonprofit just held our second annual "Gathering in the Park" where attendees spanned from our first graduating class in 2016 to current students graduating in two weeks. What I realized was that the physical distance mandates of the past two years really made me miss "seeing" and talking to some of the alums who couldn't attend our "standing by the watercooler" Zoom meetings. 

Although I truly believe that COVID-19 is entering the endemic stage, unlike the flu whose season recurs only once a year, the COVID-19 endemic seems to have multiple flare-ups during the year. To avoid postponing or having to cancel our 16-class "Discover Digital Literacy!" program in progress when public health officials declare physical distancing mandates again, last fall I adjusted our program's curriculum to cover "How to Zoom" earlier than later.

Read Full Story
Volume 14, Issue 15, Posted 10:05 AM, 08.02.2022

Lost & digitally found

This is part of the series on privacy in the digital world.

An old friend of mine, who has a type B personality, was anything but calm when he called me one sweltering day last summer. So much so that I thought he was involved in an accident … or worse. I could guess only every other word he was rattling off at the speed of sound.

When I could finally interject, I told him to call me back on the Duo app I had taught him to use (instead of FaceTime) since I have an Android phone. I figured the added "visuals" of a video meeting app will help calm him down faster than just audio. But he couldn't call me back using the Duo app. The reason for his panic, and the reason he couldn't call me back using Duo, was because he had lost/misplaced his new $1,000+ iPhone while vacationing abroad!

Read Full Story
Volume 14, Issue 13, Posted 9:35 AM, 07.06.2022

Dealing with data collection

This is part of the series on privacy in the digital world.

More often than not, the popular-culture idiom "what you don't know won't hurt you" still rings true with your real world adventures but the same idiom is debatable at best when it comes to your digital world dealings.

I use the word "debatable" because on one hand the internet-based services, aka the cloud services, have and continue to provide benefits to our everyday life. On the other hand the business processes in place, i.e. data collection and related processes, fuel privacy debates.

Read Full Story
Volume 14, Issue 12, Posted 10:00 AM, 06.21.2022

Slow down for clarity of cookie options presented

This is part of the series on privacy in the digital world.

While trekking on the information superhighway, I recently stumbled upon a definition at dictionary.com that was very appropriate to this series: "On the internet, a rabbit hole frequently refers to an extremely engrossing and time-consuming topic." It sure feels like I'm going down a rabbit hole when researching the current state of "privacy," or lack of, in the digital world!

When I pull up a website in my browser, or get links to websites after googling, I want to get to the content in the shortest time. What's akin to speed bumps in parking lots of the real world, are the "pop-ups" in the digital world that you get when pulling up a website.

Read Full Story
Volume 14, Issue 11, Posted 10:06 AM, 06.07.2022

Browser cookies and your privacy

This is part of the series on privacy in the digital world.

You've probably heard/read these words in the same sentence: browsers, cookies, and your privacy. Most geeks and Klingons alike, aka technologists, will say there are multiple types of browser cookies but we'll condense them into first-party and third-party cookie categories.

For more than a decade, through my work, I observed "convenience" to be the number one reason for browser cookies to exist from a user's perspective. Conveniences such as being able to open a browser to check your email without having to remember the password to log into your account. First-party cookies enable you to do just that. They also enable you to have a personalized browsing experience based on what you have done while on that website. These first-party cookies are fed to your browser by the website you are visiting.

Read Full Story
Volume 14, Issue 9, Posted 10:30 AM, 05.03.2022

The scamming of Margaret

Margaret (*not her real name) recently shared her story with me of how she was scammed out of almost $12,000. She said even if her story helps only one Westlake/Bay senior, it would be worth retelling. We'll continue the series on privacy in the digital world in the next issue.

It started out as a text message from a friend: "My friend Margaret got her computer hacked and I need to talk to you."

When I called my friend, I found out that her friend Margaret actually reacted to a message that suddenly appeared on her computer screen while she was browsing. The message, purportedly from Microsoft, told her to call the number on the screen because her computer was infected. When she did, they eventually directed her to call another number, also given to her, which she was told is for the fraud department of a local bank in Cleveland.

Read Full Story
Volume 14, Issue 7, Posted 10:51 AM, 04.05.2022

Privacy settings in Firefox browser

This is the second in a series of articles on privacy in the digital world.

Having a specific app on your smartphone/tablet that caters to a digital world service, for example the "Giant Eagle" app to shop online, "Spotify" app to stream music, "Westlake Porter Public Library" app to reserve a Wi-Fi hotspot before a road trip, "Libby" app to find eBooks at Cuyahoga County Public Library – and the list goes on and on – is foolproof as there is an unique icon you tap for each service you want to use. 

But what if you could have only one app/aplication on your smartphone, tablet, or computer? For me that one app would be a "browser." In this always-connected-to-the-digital-world (aka internet or the cloud) lifestyle, a single browser can connect to the aforementioned services and more, although the process is a little more tedious because you have to enter the address of each service's website unless you google it.

Read Full Story
Volume 14, Issue 6, Posted 10:37 AM, 03.15.2022

Privacy in the digital world

This is the first in a series of articles on privacy in the digital world.

When it comes to the digital world – aka the internet or the cloud – your "right to privacy" is a hot-button subject that will always be highly debated.

I ponder if the same principles of the right to privacy in the real world are even applicable to the digital world. To be honest, I don't have a real good answer to that question and may never will. At least not definitively, not like it is guaranteed that the sun will rise from the east every morning.

My opinion has always been that our "information" is highly valued by the companies that offer products and services through the digital world. This information I speak of can be anything and everything from what we are "googling" to where we have been in the real world. Many make their bottom line by brokering our information to the highest bidder or sell other products

Read Full Story
Volume 14, Issue 5, Posted 10:27 AM, 03.01.2022

How to smoke out a phishing email

In the last issue of 2021, to lessen the chance of becoming a "phishing" or "smishing" victim (email or text respectively), I suggested a New Year's resolution: to continue building good habits by ignoring unsolicited emails and text messages. I also wrote about a way to help you smoke out a phishing email after opening an unsolicited message. As always you can read that article and more at wbvobserver.com.

We're only one month into 2022 and I've already been asked several times for my opinion on whether a particular email is legit or not. To empower more people, I'm going to share an additional method I use, in conjunction with the first method, to try to smoke out a phishing attempt.

Read Full Story
Volume 14, Issue 3, Posted 10:12 AM, 02.01.2022

Zooming without the visuals

We're only halfway through January, or about 3.8% of 2022 as I pen this, but I have already read several articles about the likelihood of the COVID-19 pandemic becoming an endemic – i.e. a disease that we live alongside like a flu – this year. I can't wait for the pandemic to be over!

In the last column of 2021, I wrote: "Frequent use of video chat apps like Duo and FaceTime, or attending Zoom events, stimulates our sense of 'seeing' and combined with 'hearing' can help isolation and loneliness from setting in." When isolation and loneliness are kept at bay even with the current physical distancing recommendations, I believe we also maintain "connectedness" to our family, friends, and the community.

Read Full Story
Volume 14, Issue 2, Posted 10:06 AM, 01.18.2022

A resolution for 2022: build good habits

The pandemic, once thought to be nearing control this past summer, continues to make us stand six feet apart in grocery checkout lines and wear masks and other PPE (personal protective equipment).

It has also underscored the many benefits provided by the digital world. Online grocery shopping affords you to be "physically" distant from crowds by ordering online and picking up your groceries curbside. Frequent use of video chat apps like Duo and FaceTime, or attending Zoom events, stimulates our sense of "seeing" and combined with "hearing" can help isolation and loneliness from setting in. In this case, loneliness is the unwanted side effect of continued physical distancing from family and friends during the pandemic.

Read Full Story
Volume 13, Issue 24, Posted 9:47 AM, 12.21.2021

Many ways to skin the cat when tech snafu strikes!

Living in the duality of the real world and the digital world means one thing is guaranteed: running into technical difficulties. Throughout the years helping to demystify technology, I've heard people repeatedly say things like, "I'm not technically savvy" or "technology hates me" when bitten by "tech snafu." If you are one of them, here's news for you: electronic devices such as smartphones, tablets, and computers are far from perfect.

One thing to accept, or more precisely "retrain" your thought process, is that the tech snafu you experience may have nothing to do with what you did or didn't do. So adopt the 1930s British slogan "Keep Calm and Carry On" – which was repopularized in the 2000s and variations of the phrase are still used to this day. I do!

Read Full Story
Volume 13, Issue 23, Posted 10:30 AM, 12.07.2021

Cacophony inside Tak's head

As we head into Thanksgiving, I have a lot of things to be thankful for this year. I regained my hearing after being deaf for almost 18 months, thanks to the University Hospitals team led by Dr. Rivas who handled my cochlear implant surgery.

Our non-profit, Center for Aging in the Digital World, after five years has a permanent home to offer the "Discover Digital Literacy!" programs, thanks to the in-kind gift from Advent Episcopal Church in Westlake. By having the use of their facilities, the organization will continue to help seniors in our communities discover the 21st-century life skill of digital literacy in 2022 without worrying about finding a teaching space every quarter.

Despite getting ready to finish 2021 strongly, I have a personal conundrum that I probably should consult fellow WBVO columnist Mr. Jeff Bing as it pertains to professional sports. My buddy Dave already tried to help me with my quest to find an "affordable" streaming service that will enable me to stream one thing, and one thing only, at a reasonable price: Cleveland Cavaliers games.

Read Full Story
Volume 13, Issue 22, Posted 10:15 AM, 11.16.2021

Windows 11 has arrived!

As promised, this week's column gives you more information on the brand new Windows 11 operating system that became officially available on Oct. 5 to many, but not all, PC users whose computer hardware meets the prerequisites. I use the word "many" as it has become a common industry practice to release new operating systems to users in waves rather than everyone eligible at once. 

First, a recap:

  • Microsoft will support computers running Windows 8.1 until Jan. 10, 2023, and until Oct. 14, 2025, for computers running Windows 10.

  • As you may have realized, your computer running Windows 8.1 or Windows 10 did not cease to work when Windows 11 became available a couple weeks ago.

  • When Microsoft ends support – i.e. stops providing monthly security updates – any unsupported version of Windows will still continue to work but it is strongly recommended that you move to a supported operating system version before that happens to minimize the risk of being victimized.

Read Full Story
Volume 13, Issue 20, Posted 10:12 AM, 10.19.2021

How to 'hide' photos on your device

In the previous issue, we talked about putting a PIN (Personal Identification Number) on your smartphone/tablet. A PIN that only you know is akin to a deadbolt on your front door. If your smartphone/tablet is lost or stolen, the person who finds it, or the nefarious person who stole it, will not be able to get into the device without knowing your PIN. 

I also wrote that both Apple and Google, creators of "iOS" and "Android" operating systems for their smartphones/tablets respectively, have a way to "hide" photos from appearing in their Photos (aka photo album) app. For example, if you take a digital photo of your vaccination card, moving it to the hidden album or locked folder will prevent that photo from appearing in the Photos app alongside pictures of your grandkids!

Read Full Story
Volume 13, Issue 19, Posted 9:56 AM, 10.05.2021