THE NEFF ZONE -- BY JIM NEFF
CADILLAC NEWS -- JULY 22, 2017
If you have more than a few miles on your life's odometer, see if this sounds familiar. Your grandchild asks: “Do you mind if I use your iPad/iPhone (or other device) for a while?” You say: “Okay, but don't change anything.”
The next day, you turn on your iPad/iPhone and there are about 47 new apps installed, all your passwords no longer work, and the Melodic Death Metal channel on RockRadio.com is permanently playing. As the 1950s icon The Old Philosopher used to say: “Is that what's bothering you, Bunkie?”
Well, the crux of this problem is that technology is only technology if it was invented after you were born. To your grandchildren, however, it's just the way things have always been. They have an insatiable need to update and upgrade everything around them – including you. They are new school; you are old school.
In case you are not sure if you're old school, there is a simple way to tell. If you would rather eat your food than take a picture of it, you are old school.
With that established, we can move on. First, flag down an elementary student in the neighborhood and have him/her remove all the unwanted apps from your device. Second, redo your passwords with something secure but memorable. For seniors I suggest your childhood phone number – spell out the exchange, add a symbol like an exclamation mark, and capitalize a couple of letters. These phone numbers and exchanges no longer exist, so they are perfect for passwords like PineCrest!18529.
Once your device is back to normal, perhaps you might be interested in some new old school tech. You know, things that might actually be useful to you, as opposed to things your grandchild is positive you “need” but you can live happily without. (Pretty much everything I'll cover here is available for both Apple and Android devices.)
A great app for everyone, seniors included, is ICE Standard. ICE stands for In Case of Emergency and is a place to store all of your medical information so first responders can easily access it. You enter your personal information, medications, contact phone numbers, allergies, special instructions and more. Then you create a “wallpaper” for the lock screen on your phone (opening screen). A first responder does not have to use any passwords to view this because the info is on the opening screen. This could save your life and it's free. (http://www.icestandardtech.com/)
Your grandchildren probably type everything on their phones using just their thumbs, but as a typical old schooler you probably type one letter at a time using just your index finger. This is really slow, but there is a better way – get a Bluetooth keyboard. I have a Logitech K380 that is 11 inches x 5 inches. With it, I can type on my iPhone and iPad, but you can use it with almost any device. There is no setup, just turn it on and type. Very useful for typing longer emails and texts. (http://www.logitech.com/en-us/product/multi-device-keyboard-k380?crid=27)
As long as you are in typing mode, perhaps you miss the decidedly old school sound and feel of a vintage manual typewriter. Actor Tom Hanks has you covered because he invented an app called the Hanx Writer. This emulates a 1940s manual typewriter right down to the “ding” when the carriage gets to the end of a line. You can send emails and texts right from the typewriter. Pair this free app with a bluetooth keyboard and you'll be very retro-chic. (http://www.hitcents.com/b2b/work/hanx)
When your grandchildren visit, you will undoubtedly notice that they spend a great deal of time just staring at their device screens. While they are doing this it's a good time for you to dive deep into old school entertainment – radio shows from the 1930s-1950s. My favorite free app for this is ROK Radio. It has ten channels from which to choose ranging from comedy to detectives, to science fiction, to westerns, to suspense. I regularly listen to Dragnet, This Is Your FBI, Sam Spade, The Great Gildersleeve, The Cisco Kid, and hundreds more. (http://rokradio.com/)
The old radio shows are fun, but if you graduated from high school between 1955-1965 there is no better music station on the Internet that 57 Chevy Radio. Simply put, this is the sound track of your high school years. The station is programmed by a real person, not a robot, so the playlists are unique and ever changing. This is an awesome free app. (http://www.outpostradio.com/57chevyradio/)
One way to make these Internet radio stations pop is to connect your device to a Bluetooth speaker. However, another option is to invest in an Internet capable radio. These are just like the old school table models from your youth except they connect to the wireless signal in your house and then can access thousands of free radio stations available on the Internet.
I have a Grace Digital Mondo that is next to my bed. It can get the ROK Radio stations, a dozen other radio drama stations, 57 Chevy, and stations from all over the globe. (https://gracedigital.com/)
Finally, everyone is interested in the weather. There are all sorts of great weather apps out there, but sometimes “simple” is all an old schooler wants. My Radar, a free app, just does that one thing very well – weather radar. This is a case of less is more. (https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/myradar-noaa-weather-radar-forecasts-storms/id322439990?mt=8)
Now when your grandchild asks to use your device you can politely say: “Sorry, no. I need it to listen to “Gangbusters” while I'm typing some emails with my new keyboard and 1940s typewriter.”
Jim Neff is a local columnist. Read Neff Zone columns online at CadillacNews.com and NeffZone.com/cadillacnews.