Sunday, June 27, 2010

New Layout and New Background For Blog

Hello to my readers:
I recently experimented with a new background and new template for my blog. Let me know how you like it! I hope it makes reading my blog a more enjoyable experience.
Let me know. And thanks for reading Tech and the Baby Boomer.

Esther Surden

Friday, June 25, 2010

Updating to iPhone OS4---It's Really Not that Intuitive, Boomers

Sorry I haven't been posting regularly, but life has a way of getting in the way. And sometimes, even the gadgets you rely on to simplify your life, seem to be complicating it.

So it was for me this week, when Apple announced its upgrade to the OS4, and I couldn't even figure out how to download  the operating system onto my phone. My original iPhone was a 3GS, and I expected that when I synced to iTunes I would get a message telling me about the new OS and that I should upgrade my phone. Well that didn't happen.

When I complained to family about not being able to find the upgrade on the Apple site, my son took over and actually upgraded my phone for me, before I had a chance to look at all the steps it took. I made him show me what he did so I could blog about it.

Of course I found out that all you have to do is connect your device to iTunes, sync it, click on the little icon of the iPhone that appears under "Devices", and it will say "Check for Updates."

After you click, it will give you options to update your phone. My question for Apple is, why isn't this automatic? Shouldn't they notify you when an update is available? All my other programs do. Maybe there is something I'm missing here, like a setting I'm not seeing to set it to notify me right away when an update is available. Or maybe there  is a reason some people don't want to automatically upgrade to a new operating system when it comes out. Too many bugs, perhaps?

Anyway, once I updated the phone, I began exploring some of the new capabilities, and frankly, they just didn't seem so revolutionary to me. Yes, I got some spiffy new backgrounds for my phone. And I learned that if you double click on the home button you can keep some apps running while you go to another app. I can keep my mail open while I play a game, for example. That's good, and saves some steps. But is it revolutionary? Not really.

One thing I did like was that I was able to organize all my apps in folders, which significantly reduced the number of pages I have to deal with on my phone screen. All my social apps such as Facebook and Twitter are in a folder, as are all my music apps.

My son moved some of the apps together right on the phone screen, but when I tried to do this myself, I couldn't do it. However, following a tip from an EONs member, I decided to go into Apple iTunes, connect my iPhone, click on my iPhone icon which is under the Devices section, and click the tab called Apps. Then I was able to use my mouse to drag the apps icons to consolidate apps into appropriate folders.  Now I have two pages of icons rather than three, and am happy with the results.

This is how iTunes Help tells you how to do it:

I have to tell you that doing this wasn't intuitive or as easy as I expected from Apple. However, now that I've done it once, it seems easy in retrospect. At least, since Apple does things consistently, I'll know how to change my new iPad when the operating system update to that comes along in the fall.

My son, who has been helping me figure these things out, says he can't relate to my difficulties, and he is laughing at me a little today as he reads this post.  But  I'm guessing the rest of you can relate to me, right?

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Ever Hear of Location-based Services, Boomers? How about Foursquare?

Recently I read a post by a marketer who believes that Boomers increasingly will be using location-based services. In case you don't know what these are, I'll try my best to explain. Your cell phone probably has GPS in it, the same kind of GPS that gives you directions in the car. With many cell phones, especially smart phones, you can download geolocation apps such as Foursquare. Foursquare lets you "check in" when you are at a particular location, such as a concert, or even a department store or Starbucks. "Checking in" means letting all of your contacts know where you are at that particular moment, and also letting the establishment know that you are there.

When I first heard about this, I thought, why would anyone want to let people know where they are? That's fine for kids who have time to hang out together and want to find their friends, but why would I do it? Well apparently, according to blogger  Anne Mai Bertelsen, president of  MAI Strategies, Boomers, me included, are going to want to do this for many reasons.

First of all, I'll be able to keep track of all the places I've been. Ever wonder what the name of that great restaurant you went to in San Francisco was? Or where you saw that piece of jewelry you just couldn't decide whether you wanted or not? If you "check in" at the places you go you'll be able to track that information. You'll have a memory jogger, something Boomers can surely use.

Also, I'll be rewarded when I "check in" frequently at one place. So my 5th trip to Starbucks or my 3rd trip to an expensive restaurant will reap some kind of recognition. Perhaps a dollar off a Frappuccino will be in my future, Bertelson says. Or maybe I'll get a free desert at the restaurant.

One of the geo-location apps -- Loopt --that can be downloaded onto a smart phone is a sort of virtual loyalty program. I use my loyalty card to get discounts at the Shoprite near my home. Why wouldn't I want to use a virtual loyalty program? Discounts, without having to clip coupons, are something Boomers can easily understand. Below you'll see what the Loopt iPhone app looks like.

Bertelson says that one of the reasons she uses the services is that her friends use it. When they go to a restaurant they post what they liked eating there, for example. I suppose they also will post what to avoid. Then when she goes to that same restaurant and checks in, she finds recommendations from her own friends. That's kind of cool.

A working woman, Betelson says she is also able to use the services to find colleagues at conferences. Occasionally, she's even been able to locate relatives who happen to be in the same place she is at the same time. Here's how it would work. You are visiting a crowded craft fair and unbeknown to you Cousin Mary is wandering around the same craft fair. Odds are you won't meet. However, if you've both "checked in" to the craft fair, you'll know that Mary is there, and you'll be able to contact her and find her.

There are lots of other location based apps for the iPhone, for Twitter and even for Facebook.  Some other prominent new services include Gowalla, Where, BriteKite, MyTown, PegShot. They are catching on in popularity and my bet is that in another year or so, many Boomers who have never heard of these services will be using them with abandon, just as they use Facebook.

Just remember, if you do decide to experiment with location services, protect your privacy. Make sure that only friends you know can find you. Conversely, please be careful about letting everyone and anyone know that no one is at home.

Some sites are already exploiting the negative side of  geo-location. According to DYP Advisors, these services can let bad people know you are not home. "A website called Please Rob Me links Twitter updates of people who say they are not home to locations using Google Maps," a blog post on the DYP Advisors Inc.web site says. The DYP blog also says if you use geolocation services you might be in for higher home insurance premiums. When you visit Please Rob Me it really only demonstrates the possibility of using location-based services this way. Nevertheless, it's a scary thought how these services could be misused, and like anything else on the Internet, protect yourselves.

To see Anne Mai Bertelsen's complete post called "I Get Around" go to Engage Boomers at

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Who knew the iPad Doesn't Automatically Sync Calendars?

I got my new iPad this week! I know, I know, I said on this site I wouldn't get one until the price came down and it weighed less. ( Why I didn't Pre-Order the iPad) But my adult kids and my husband decided to get me one for my birthday and Mother's Day, and, how could I say no? Besides, I told myself, I'll get to write about it on my blog.

The device is amazing, but I haven't had a chance to try everything out on it. I've been busy with school, working and life, and haven't been in the consuming media frame of mind. However, the very first thing I did with the iPad was download all of my pictures to it. There can't be a better photo viewing experience available than this device. Every picture looks breathtaking.

I'll tell you another thing I love about it. I carry it around to the couch, to my bedroom, everywhere I go inside my house. The iPad makes computing just that much more accessible! Its hard to explain how much better an experience this is than my iPhone. My iPhone is amazing, but there are certain websites that just can't be read easily on the tiny screen. The iPad's screen size is just right and, yes, Steve Jobs, the device is almost magical.

So have I found anything I don't like so far? Of course. When I first plugged in the iPad to my computer to sync it, it didn't automatically sync my calendar. For those of you who don't know what syncing is, it is short for synchronizing, so that all the calendars, emails etc. on one device are up to date and the same as those on another. What's with that, Steve Jobs? I was told I could buy something called MobileMe for $99/year that would keep all of my calendars, email accounts, and contacts in sync for all my devices. Frankly, Boomers, this is a feature that should be free. The family paid enough for this device! We live in the 21st century now, and syncing should be included in any device that purports to be "easy to use."

Anyway, with the help of my son, we found the online instructions for syncing a calendar, notes and contacts to the iPad. It's really simple and the calendar etc. syncs every time you connect your iPad to the computer.  I'll present the steps  below, in case anyone else runs into this problem.

1. Plug your iPad into the USB port in your computer
2. When the  iTunes screen appears on your computer, go to the Devices icon

3. Click on the Devices icon
4. A series of tabs will appear

5. Click on the tab that says "Info"

6. Scroll down to the Sync Calendars area and click on the box

7. Take a look at the other options. You can sync your contacts and notes as well.

I hope this helps other Boomers set up their iPads. Can anyone think of a reason why this wouldn't be an automatic part of iPad setup? We are coming closer to devices that are as easy to use as the TV used to be, but not quite.