By Señior Tech on the April 2020 Edition
A movie released in 1990 was about a young boy accidentally left home alone by his family. The boy must fend for himself while keeping out 2 bumbling burglars. Not unlike the world in 2020. We are in our homes trying to keep out a ravaging virus. But, don’t despair, I hopefully have some tips that can make your social isolation more tolerable.
For all the negative aspects of technology, there are a thou-sand times more beneficial aids to our daily living.
Of the negative aspects relating to the internet, DO NOT RESPOND to any unsolicited emails, texts, or telephone calls. No company, bank or government agency will turn off your services or arrest you. Never give out any personal information or credit card info or passwords.
If you are contacted by someone asking for this information, go to their website or call their offices (do not call numbers that they provide) if you want to assure yourself that they are legitimate. This is a time when nefarious individuals will try to enrich themselves at another’s expense.
I will not be writing a book as space does not allow so in this e-magazine but I will touch on items I can think of to give ideas to readers to make the time in home more productive and enjoyable.
> Online shopping allows the reader the ability to buy essential items without leaving the confines of their home. Ama-zon.com has been hiring thousands of new employees to deal with the demand they believe COVID-19 will generate. There are numerous other vendors such as Costco.com and Walmart.com
> If you are tired of cooking, use Skip the Dishes, Uber Eats or local restaurants that are open and offering delivery or pick up. When receiving items handled by others, remember to sanitize the containers and dispose of them. This ad-vice goes for any online shopping items as well.
There are numerous online streaming services such as Netflix, Hulu, Disney, Prime by Amazon, and AppleTV to get movies, television series, and documentaries. You do need an internet speed with a minimum 5 mbps (but I would say 10 mbps should be minimum) in order to view the content without burps. Most smart TVs have apps to receive these services but, if not, you will need a streaming player like Roku, Firestick, Google Chromecast, AppleTV. There are numerous more if you search online.
> IPTV (Internet Protocol Television) is another form of inter-net streaming television. I am not a lawyer and am not sure of the legality of these services but, for as little as US $15.00 a month, you can access over 7000 television feeds worldwide. Input ‘iptv’ into your search engine and you will find numerous vendors, and they will recommend the type of set-top box required to get their feed.
> If you have a library membership in your community, you have a wealth of digital content available. Login to your li-brary account online (or create one), then go to the digital content area. Many libraries allow the download of elearn-ing platforms, ebooks, audiobooks, magazines, and newspapers. These can be viewed on computers, tablets and smartphones. Libraries also have learning partners, so the reader can learn new languages, computer programs, or any other area of interest. The best part, these services are usually free with your library membership.
> Last month I wrote about streaming music. This is a good option to sit and enjoy the music you may not have had time to enjoy before COVID-19. Now you have the time.
> Online banking allows the reader to pay their bills without leaving their homes.
> Apple News+ offers a monthly subscription for hundreds of magazines. Amazon offers subscriptions as well, but each magazine is US $5.00 per month. Apple offers all for $12.95 per month and stores all previous monthly issues on their servers.
> If you have been taking digital photos, this is a perfect time to go through them and find the good ones. It is also a good time to learn a photo editing software app that can salvage some less-than-perfect photos. Affinity.serif.com is offering a 90 free trial of their photo editing, publishing and design apps (Windows and macOS).
> While you are at stay-in-home mode, communications with friends and family is important. Since you can’t and shouldn’t visit in person, consider one of the many free services such as: Skype, FaceTime, Messenger, WhatsApp and others. You can make a video call and see your loved ones. Some of the services allow conference calls, so several people can chat at the same time. Make sure to keep in touch with your loved ones. This way we can all get through these difficult times together.
> Online games are another way to divert your mind to more pleasant thoughts. I play Poker online (not for money). There are numerous social games like Words with Friends (Scrabble knockoff, download the app), solitaire, Simcity and many others that may pique your interest. Facebook has a whole section on games (remember to set your privacy settings on Facebook – to not sharing information about yourself).
> YouTube has free videos and documentaries. Search for dancing babies and let the fun begin!
> Every network and news provider has a website. Check many sites in order to keep up with daily news. Many of these services will also send notifications of breaking news to the reader’s phones, tablets, computers and smart watches.
> If you are artistically talented, or just want to dabble with drawing and painting, there are tablets such as Samsung’s Galaxy Tab S6 c/w S Pen and several Apple iPad models with Apple pencil. These devices, along with paint or graphics applications, give the artist an opportunity to sketch, paint, retouch photos or just take notes on their devices. My iPad Pro with Apple pencil can do amazing things. Too bad I do not have the talent to draw. But, I do take handwritten notes that I can reference now or anytime in the future.
> Rosetta Stone, Duolingo and Babbel are a few online apps that the reader can access to learn a new language. Many have free access but offer additional features if you don’t mind paying for those features and to eliminate the ads.
> If your interest is in good food and want to find new recipes, input ‘recipes’ in your favorite browser and several sites will display. I have a monthly subscription to the New York Times, and it includes access to their recipe app which also provides ‘how to’ tutorials. Doing a search on YouTube will also bring up tutorials on any topic you can think of, most of them for free.
> Start a Facebook or messenger group with friends with similar interests. We have a movie group on messenger that is used to inform everyone in the group about movies in town. This has been repurposed to share good reviews on movies or shows currently offered on streaming services. That way, we can watch the best shows.
> Use your phone, tablet, or smartwatch as an alarm. Start each day and continue your normal routines. Even if you don’t have any electronic distractions; paint, sketch, write or just call your family and friends.
> Several museums offer virtual tours online. The Google Arts and Culture app can help with that.
> Broadway shows and opera, as well as concerts, are popping up for free online.
The COVID-19 isolation will pass, and we will all be able to be busy in our lives once more. In the interim, be positive! Somewhere in the above list of suggestions, something should help you get through your “Home Alone” experience.
I must run. My wife and I have a mean game of analogue scrabble (board game not bored game) on the go.
If you have questions or suggestions about technology topics or issues, email me at email@example.com
Señior Tech is a technology addict that loves to share tips. He lives in Manzanillo full time and helps keep the community up on the latest tech tricks and toys.