Tech for Seniors – Resources

I’ll bet you didn’t know that October 1st has been designated by the United Nations as the International Day of Older People. (UNIDOP for short!) When I found that out, it got me thinking about Tech for Seniors.  Many of our customers are Seniors. Just like every other demographic, they are all different.  Some of them call and say “I’m in my late 50’s and too old to learn this new technology,” while others are still working and adopting new technology well into their 70’s and 80’s!

United Nations 60+ Counts logo - Tech for seniors

Tech for Seniors – Resources:

Over time, we have found some resources to help our older customers.  Here are just a few:

(Note: As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.)

  • Set up your Alexa / Echo / Siri to call a trusted contact when you can’t get to the phone.  Keep in mind that it won’t be able to call 911 for you, but it could call a family member or neighbor. Check out this blog I wrote about why you can’t use Alexa to call 911.
  • At your next family gathering, ask your grandkids to show you how to use Facetime.  That way you can have a video chat with them very easily throughout the year.
  • You should also make sure your computer keyboard fits your needs.  I’ve talked to several people who have a separate keyboard and mouse even though they have a laptop.  Laptops are getting smaller and the keyboards are almost too small to type on!  After I made many (MANY!) fat-finger mistakes on my laptop, I got a wireless keyboard and mouse which helped immensely.  I wrote a post about wireless keyboards earlier this year.
  • Head over to your local bookstore or even Amazon and browse some of the “Dummy” or “Idiot” books for help with specific topics.  I also like David Pogue’s “Missing Manual” series.  I got turned on to them when I got my first iPhone and couldn’t figure out how to do anything.  It was very helpful!
  • Check with your local senior group, library, or Chamber of Commerce. They probably have classes on Social Media, photography, email, and other subjects that you may need help with. (Save the phone calls to your granddaughter for the tech emergencies!)
  • Then, cultivate a relationship with a tech expert that can come to you and fix problems and provide some training.  Ask your friends for recommendations.

Conclusion:

You know how they say that age is a state of mind?  Take your tech one step at a time.  Learn it in little bits and be open to finding out new ways to do things.  Before you know it you’ll be teaching your kids a thing or two!

Please share this with your “older” friends!

Information about Geek For Hire, Inc.

I’ve created a Free Report on what to look for to protect yourself from “phishing” scams. Click here to receive it!

Chris Eddy of Geek For Hire, Inc. has been providing computer service to families and small businesses with Mac’s and PCs for the past eighteen years. Angie’s List and the BBB rate Geek For Hire very highly.  You can find more on our website, or give us a call 303-618-0154. Geek For Hire, Inc. provides onsite service (Tier 3 support) to the Denver / Boulder / Front Range area as well as remote service throughout North America.

We’ve been using Amazon Prime for the past few years.  We like the free and fast shipping.  With Prime, we have access to online streaming too. Prime is usually $119/year, but you can get a free 30-day trial by clicking on this link: Try Amazon Prime 30-Day Free Trial. As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases.

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Cell Coverage – Where to go to get the best signal

Ever since my post a few months ago about poor cell service, I’ve been wondering where the cell towers are. Is there a way to determine if one area has better cell coverage than another area? And then I realized, there must be an app for that!

It turns out it’s not as easy as that.  There are plenty of apps which show coverage, but not location.  And the apps which show coverage aren’t always accurate. I looked at the AT&T map and was very surprised. I regularly drive through Boulder Canyon and know that there is zero coverage. However, according to their legend where blue equals service, AT&T says the entire mountain region west of Boulder has full coverage.

AT&T Cell Coverage

Frankly, I’d prefer to look at an independent app that measures actual cell coverage rather than advertised coverage.

I checked out the OpenSignal app on my phone.  This app showed actual coverage reported by consumers.  Green dots indicate adequate or great service and inferior coverage is indicated by red dots. It also shows the location of cell towers.Cell Coverage from OpenSignal

Other apps I’ve tried which measure cell coverage include:

  • I like FindTower because it tells me who provides the service on each tower. That is helpful information. If you’re driving around looking for a good signal, you’ll want to head to a location near the tower that provides your service.  No good to park near a Verizon tower if you have a T-Mobile phone!Cell Coverage - FindTower
  • Coverage Map has colored circles to tell you where the coverage is.  Dark blue circles indicate superior service, red circles indicate service which will be problematic. No circle equals no coverage!
  • I also tried Site Locater US but found it confusing and not intuitive.

Reminder: as long as you know your location, you do not need to provide your location to the app on your phone or your computer.  Think: Privacy!

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Information about Geek For Hire, Inc.

I’ve created a Free Report on what to look for to protect yourself from “phishing” scams. Click here to receive it!

Chris Eddy of Geek For Hire, Inc. has been providing computer service to families and small businesses with Mac’s and PCs for the past eighteen years. Angie’s List and the BBB rate Geek For Hire very highly.  You can find more on our website, or give us a call 303-618-0154. Geek For Hire, Inc. provides onsite service (Tier 3 support) to the Denver / Boulder / Front Range area as well as remote service throughout North America.

We’ve been using Amazon Prime for the past few years.  We like the free and fast shipping.  With Prime, we have access to online streaming too. Prime is usually $119/year, but you can get a free 30-day trial by clicking on this link: Try Amazon Prime 30-Day Free Trial. As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases.

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Sim Card Swapping Scam – Three easy steps to protect yourself

I just heard about a new scam that I want to make sure you aware of as well.  It’s called the Sim Card Swapping scam. This is when someone decides to target you (who knows why – your status? your wealth? your position in your community?) and takes over your cell phone number.  From there, they can take over your social media, gain access to your financial accounts accessed via your phone, and any number of any other nefarious acts.

How does this scam work?

The process is relatively simple.  The scammer enters the physical store of your cell phone provider, or they call the toll free number, pretending to be you.  Then they provide a forged license or other personal information. The scammer will say they lost their phone.  They say they already have a new phone; they just need your service provider to transfer all of the information from the “lost” phone onto the SIM card of the new phone.

sim card swapping scam

…. and Boom!  Just like that, they have access to all of your contacts, their phone numbers, affiliations, birthdays, and any personal information you have about each contact.  They also have access to any apps you’ve allowed from your phone. Do you have the Dropbox app installed on your phone?  Now they have access to all of those documents as well.  How about Amazon? Does the Amazon app have your credit card information stored? Sounds like a fun shopping spree…

I called my local AT&T store in Boulder, where I’ve been a customer for years and spoke with one of their floor representatives.  When I asked him about the SIM card swapping scam, he wasn’t aware that it was a problem.  He said that as long as you have a photo ID with the correct address, you should be able to gain access to your account. That didn’t give me a lot of confidence! I then asked him about the PIN that we set up a few years ago.  He indicated that if an account has a PIN set up, they will ask the customer for that number in addition to verifying name, address, and photo. I then asked what the maximum number of digits were for the PIN which he said was six.

How to protect yourself from the SIM card swapping scam:

In all likelihood, the vast majority of the public won’t be targeted. But if you are known in the crypto-currency community, are wealthy, or have a high profile in your town I would recommend that you be extra vigilant.  Regardless, I would recommend doing several things right away:

  • First, enable 2FA or two-factor authentication. In the past, I’ve talked about two-factor authentication and why it is so important. Try not to use “text message” as an option to confirm your identity. Set it up so that they need to call a land-line with the code, or send the code to an email address that is not set up on your cell phone.
  • Next, talk to your cell phone provider and make sure you have a PIN set up.  Make sure it is a long as they will allow.  (Note to self: Change AT&T PIN from four digits to six!)
  • Then, log out of all of your Social Media accounts on your phone.  Set it up so that you need to log in each time.  Remember to log out every time! (This is something that Chris does.  He has never downloaded the Facebook app to his phone.  Instead, he accesses Facebook via Safari and logs in/logs out each and every time.)

Here are some articles to learn more about SIM card swapping:

Please share this on Facebook and Twitter!

Information about Geek For Hire, Inc.

I’ve created a Free Report on what to look for to protect yourself from “phishing” scams. Click here to receive it!

Chris Eddy of Geek For Hire, Inc. has been providing computer service to families and small businesses with Mac’s and PCs for the past eighteen years. Angie’s List and the BBB rate Geek For Hire very highly.  You can find more on our website, or give us a call 303-618-0154. Geek For Hire, Inc. provides onsite service (Tier 3 support) to the Denver / Boulder / Front Range area as well as remote service throughout North America.

We’ve been using Amazon Prime for the past few years.  We like the free and fast shipping.  With Prime, we have access to online streaming too. Prime is usually $119/year, but you can get a free 30-day trial by clicking on this link: Try Amazon Prime 30-Day Free Trial. As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases.

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Is It Just Me, Or Is My Favorite App Down?

Does this happen to you too?  I head over to a certain app, whether for business or just goofing off, and I can’t log on!  I try again and again, being very purposeful entering my password.  I shut down the application and restart it.  I shut down my phone/laptop/tablet and restart it, but the problem persists.  What is going on?!

In some cases, it could be the application itself which is having the issue.  Their servers are not infallible, despite what they might claim.

Application down - WordPress 1 cropped

But WordPress can go down.  And so can Facebook, Twitter, Quickbooks Online, and many other.  To check the status of your app when you are having issues head over to any of these sites:

  • Down Detector – I like the visuals of their graph.  Very easy to understand.  Down Detector tracks Facebook, Netflix, AT&T, Verizon, eBay, Twitter, and many others: http://downdetector.com/
  • Down Right Now – I like the visuals of this site as well.  They mostly track Social Media and email sites: http://downrightnow.com/
  • Outage Report – Not only does this site provide a graph of down times, but they have a map to show where the outages are occuring.  In addition to Social Media and entertainment sites, this site also tracks online gaming apps: http://outage.report/

If you are experiencing difficulties getting on to one of your favorite apps, remember to check one of the above sites. and record your problem too.

 

Chris Eddy of Geek For Hire, Inc. has been providing computer service to families and small businesses with Mac’s and PC’s for the past fourteen years. His company is highly rated by both the BBB (Better Business Bureau) and by Angie’s List. You can find more on our website.  Geek For Hire, Inc. provides onsite service (Tier 3) to the Denver / Boulder / Front Range area and remote service throughout North America.

We’ve been using Amazon Prime for the past few years.  We like the free 2-3 day shipping and the online streaming. I haven’t tried the Kindle lending library yet, but I’m tempted!   Prime is normally $99/year, but you can try it for 30 day for free by clicking on this link: Try Amazon Prime 30-Day Free Trial (Yes, we’ll get a small commission when you sign up.)

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Wi-Fi Anywhere

Did you ever try to connect to WiFi and see a Hotspot choice like “Sam’s phone”? The fictional Sam has set his SmartPhone up to “tether” to the cell system so that his phone can send out a WiFi signal.

What is tethering? MobileBurn explains it this way:

“Tethering is the process of using a cell phone or smartphone as a modem for a personal computer of some sort – typically a laptop computer. The term gets its name from how a phone is attached, or tethered, to the computer via a USB cable, but wireless technologies such as Bluetooth can also be used for tethering. Typically the network carrier and the user’s account (contract) have to support tethering before it can be used. Many networks charge an additional fee for users that wish to connect their phones as tethered modems because it typically uses far more data than using the phone normally would.

There’s more information about tethering on Wikipedia.

Chris’ iPhone recently stopped working and he had to get a new one. (Just don’t ask him when the last time was that he backed up his old iPhone and please, please don’t ask him about all the photos on that phone!) He got a new cell phone with Verizon service. We wanted to know how the coverage differed in the Geek For Hire service area. He also had tethering turned on so that he can use his laptop in an area without WiFi. So far we’re pleased – not only with the WiFi tethering, but also with Verizon’s coverage. Plus, there doesn’t seem to be an extra monthly charge for the service, so long as we don’t use more than the 3gig of data we signed up for.

If you do decide to turn on tethering, remember that it will drain the battery of your SmartPhone much faster than just using that same phone for cell service. Think about getting a battery case. (Mophie and LifeProof are two that come to mind.)

Here are some other articles that describe tethering:

If your current SmartPhone allows tethering, you may have to call your carrier (or bring it in to a store) to get the capability turned on.

Do your use tethering? Are you using an app, or do you have your SmartPhone switched on to allow it? Let us know about your experiences in the comments below!

Chris Eddy of Geek For Hire, Inc. has been providing computer service to families and small businesses with Mac’s and PC’s for the past fourteen years. His company is highly rated by both the BBB (Better Business Bureau) and by Angie’s List. You can find more on our website.  Geek For Hire, Inc. provides onsite service (Tier 3) to the Denver / Boulder / Front Range area and remote service throughout North America.

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Cell Phone Spots Along the Peak to Peak Highway

We frequently drive along the Peak to Peak Highway. Usually I know I should just keep my phone tucked away because it’s not going to work. But sometimes, you really need to make a phone call or send a text. Here are some of the more reliable places to get AT&T cell service in the mountains from Estes Park to Black Hawk:

  • Estes Park has pretty good service throughout the city.
    Lily Lake, just south of Estes Park. Photo courtesy of http://www.rockymountainhikingtrails.com/lily-lake-loop.htm
    Lily Lake, just south of Estes Park. Photo courtesy of http://www.rockymountainhikingtrails.com/lily-lake-loop.htm
  • The highway near Lily Lake has surprisingly good service.
  • Service is sparse or non-existent until Gordon’s Gulch, near mile marker 37.5.
  • The next spot is just north of Sugarloaf Road, for about a half mile.

In Nederland, service is pretty good from Magnolia road on the south to the Community Center on the North. Service is very good from the Black Forest restaurant to the Fire Station.

Heading south out of Nederland, you can get a cell signal for much of the highway all the way to the Gilpin High School. There are small sections where there’s no service at all, and other sections where the service is marginal. So, if you need to place a phone call or send a text, here are some places to try:

  • You can get a reasonably good signal for about a 1/2 mile both north and south of Rollinsville, around mile marker 21.
  • Service is pretty good near the Lump Gulch Creek, from about mile marker 17.5 to mile marker 19.  You can get a signal near the Last Shot restaurant, but it’s not a strong signal!
  • Service near the Gilpin County Library isn’t great, but it’s usable.
  • Just south of the intersection of Highway 46 and 119, south to mile marker 12, service is good.
  • From mile marker 12 to the Gilpin County School, cell service is usable.
  • The City of Black Hawk has very strong service.

I hope this helps you as you explore the mountains west of the Front Range.  Let us know if you know of any additional spots!

Chris Eddy of Geek For Hire, Inc. has been providing computer service to families and small businesses with Mac’s and PC’s for the past fourteen years. His company is highly rated by both the BBB (Better Business Bureau) and by Angie’s List. You can find more on our website.  Geek For Hire, Inc. provides onsite service (Tier 3) to the Denver / Boulder / Front Range area and remote service throughout North America.

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