The Digital World

Stick shift for life!

I always preferred a manual transmission in my cars and not because there was a premium price for automatic transmission. I can’t even supply a coherent reason backing my preference, other than the simple love of cars, driving them and the control [I think] I have when selecting my own gear instead of the car selecting for me. I believe they label people like me “gearheads” or “pistonheads”; that’s “petrolheads” for folks across the pond, I’m told.

Due to my love of driving, I didn’t care too much about the early developments in autonomous, aka self-driving, cars either. Sure, being a self-professed geek at heart, I skimmed through articles about Google's and Tesla’s efforts as they had entertainment value for me. As a strategist, I was keenly aware of the business strategy Tesla deployed in bringing their electric cars to market.

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Volume 9, Issue 10, Posted 9:36 AM, 05.16.2017

Discovering digital literacy

I vividly remember the evening I was able to finally jettison my bicycle’s training wheels. Neighbors probably thought Indy 500 had arrived from across the pond as my friends and I zoomed around the block; no yellow flag, or Mom yelling “dinner!” for the hundredth time that evening, could keep me from stopping due to unfettered jubilation.

Similar exhilaration must accompany a child who just learned to read as parents find their youngsters reading under their covers with only a flashlight; words are coming to life in front of their eyes!

Whether riding a bicycle without training wheels or becoming literate, these are “life skills” that, once attained, are nurtured throughout life.

There is a new life skill that augments traditional literacy. It was borne upon the arrival of the internet (aka the cloud) and has made a huge impact on people's lives.

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Volume 9, Issue 9, Posted 9:30 AM, 05.02.2017

May the Fourth be with you!

I had a little fun in the headline with the famous line from the “Star Wars” saga for an easy-to-remember "save the date" reminder for an upcoming event for our beloved seniors, their families and friends.

Although the digital world, aka internet or the cloud, makes it easy to look up information for any senior-centric services and products, meeting the actual representatives to ask questions and receive literature in person in the real world is always helpful. After all, a 2016 Pew Research Center survey showed that 36 percent of Americans over 65 years of age do not use the internet.

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Volume 9, Issue 7, Posted 9:18 AM, 04.04.2017

Hasta la VISTA, baby!

According to Wikipedia, the above Spanish term is translated as "Until the (next) sighting" and means "See you later" and "Goodbye." The phrase has been made famous in our pop culture by Arnold Schwarzenegger in the movie “Terminator 2: Judgement Day” and also by several musicians.

In this case, it seemed the perfect way to say goodbye to Microsoft’s Windows VISTA operating system.

Microsoft is ceasing support for Windows VISTA on April 11. Using a computer running on Windows VISTA after that date, although functional, will increase your risk exposure especially when connected to the internet as Microsoft will NOT be releasing patches to cover up newly found vulnerabilities.

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Volume 9, Issue 6, Posted 10:11 AM, 03.21.2017

Understanding mobile data

It finally happened – you bought a smartphone. “Ha, Tak is right. This is not bad at all!” you said to yourself. You love not having to schedule your life around the 6 o’clock news, as your smartphone's apps provide news and other information instantly and on-demand. You even tried FaceTime, Apple’s video-chat app, with your daughter on the West Coast and your family is equally ecstatic about your increased level of connectedness.

The euphoria of finally starting to reap digital world benefits came to a screeching halt when you opened your first bill. You owed exactly $15 more than what the salesperson told you. Over Sunday brunch your son pointed out that you were charged a $15 overage fee on your “mobile data” usage during the month. You frustratingly replied, “but the salesperson told me I had unlimited talk and text!” Your son, the calm and logical one, asked if you understood what mobile data meant; you sheepishly admitted “no.”

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Volume 9, Issue 5, Posted 9:23 AM, 03.07.2017

Just hang up!

I’ve noticed a recent uptick in the number of messages left on our digital answering machine. We’ve gotten our share of solicitation scams from callers pretending to be the IRS but this surge seemed different and it's worth repeating the warnings by the national media for the readers of WBVO.

According to Wikipedia, a “phone call that uses a computerized autodialer to deliver a prerecorded message” is called a robocall. One such legitimate robocall is The Illuminating Company asking customers to keep their dogs on leash for the safety of their meter readers. But there are outright shady robocallers trying to scam you.

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Volume 9, Issue 3, Posted 9:48 AM, 02.07.2017

Ohayo! Good morning!

In my technology presentations, when I ask the audience, “What state are we in?”, I see some confused faces but most play along and answer “Ohio!” I proceed to explain that the cross-language homonym of the English word “Ohio” is “Ohayo” in Japanese which means “good morning.”

I tell the audience a white lie that we are about to wake up my parents at 2 a.m. Japan time. Uneasy laughter fills the room as they debate if they want to be part of my shenanigans. My answer? I simply hit the Skype app’s “video call” button on my tablet.

As the live image of my parents show up on the projected screen at the front of the room, the audience has no choice but shout “Ohayo!” in perfect unison. My dad, ever the show off, responds “Good morning! How are you today?” in English.

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Volume 9, Issue 1, Posted 10:11 AM, 01.10.2017

Connectedness through digital literacy

As I started writing the final WVBO column of 2016, I started reflecting on the mile markers my wife and I crossed this year. One of those milestones was starting a nonprofit, getting approved as a 501(c)(3) organization and graduating the first 12 senior participants from our pilot program – all in 367 days! In a future column I hope to talk about our mission and also additional important work undertaken by the Westshore Senior Center Collaborative, of which we are a part, and includes senior centers from the cities of Westlake and Bay Village, to help the senior citizens of the Westshore area.

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Volume 8, Issue 24, Posted 10:04 AM, 12.13.2016

Deal of the day

Black Friday has been part of the fabric of our culture for a long time, marking the start of the Christmas shopping season. In recent years, Black Friday festivities have started earlier and, to the discontent of some, retail employees have to spend part of Thanksgiving Day at their jobs instead of with their families. So when a handful of retailers announced that they were not going to be open on Thanksgiving Day this year, it must have been a welcome news to many.

There may be other reasons why the tradition of lining up well before midnight on the eve of Black Friday, dressed to the nines (more like dressed with nine layers of clothing to stay warm), to snag that limited-stock doorbuster deal may have lost its allure for many consumers.

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Volume 8, Issue 23, Posted 9:35 AM, 11.29.2016

WhatApps?

No, the headline above is not a typo. Although there is a popular messaging app that goes by a similar name, this week’s article is not about that app either. Today I want to share with you some of the apps I frequently used on my Android-based smartphone in 2016. When there is the same app for iOS (i.e. iPhone), I will put “(iOS too)” at the end of the sentence.

As an Android-based smartphone user, I always envied the intuitive videochat experience that my wife enjoyed with the Apple-exclusive "FaceTime" app on her iPhone. Imagine my surprise when Google came out with the “Duo” app. Duo is easy and intuitive to use like Apple’s FaceTime and the best part of it is that “Duo” exists for iOS too! So unlike FaceTime where usage is limited to communication between Apple products, I can call my wife’s iPhone that has Duo, from my Android-based smartphone, and start a videochat.

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Volume 8, Issue 22, Posted 9:41 AM, 11.15.2016

We are a 'lookup nation'

It sounds like a feature title that won the Best Documentary award at the Oscars but “Lookup Nation” aptly describes how we, in the real world, find information using tools that gather, aggregate and present data by scouring the digital world. You can even sort the aggregated information by more granular criteria such as relevance to your initial inquiry, utility of the supplied information and more. So did I just explain a new, innovative tool? Nope!

Welcome to early 1990s, as what I described above is basically the core competency of the now-ubiquitous search engine, offered by the likes of Google, Yahoo and Bing. Alta-Vista, Excite and Lycos, although short-lived, were early search-engine pioneers that eventually were dwarfed by Google and Yahoo in the early 2000s.

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Volume 8, Issue 21, Posted 10:02 AM, 11.01.2016

The movie that saw 25 years into the future

Does “art imitate life” or “life imitate art”? Although this column has not turned into a platform to debate Aristotle and Oscar Wilde’s take on art, I started thinking about this when I saw my favorite movie for the zillionth time the other day.

It hit the box office in 1992, a time when public and consumer access to the internet was nascent; limited to college computer labs, geeks with discretionary income, or businesses starting to use word processors and spreadsheets on personal computers to replace typewriters and augment calculators. A time when accessing the internet was 1/10th to 1/50th of today’s speeds and without many of the visual cues we see through our browsers today. I remember my first personal computer, which I used for almost 7 years, costing me $2,500 in 1995!

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Volume 8, Issue 20, Posted 10:19 AM, 10.18.2016

Simple steps to protect your privacy

In a previous article, I explained that everyone has “skin in the game” when it comes to protecting personal information. That includes business entities, you and me. Since we discussed businesses earlier, let’s turn the focus to what you and I can be doing.

I've written about how local pharmacies are not maximizing the use of digital tools that they have at their disposal. Pharmacists continue to ask you to verbally verify your date of birth when instead they could be using the credit card reader with keypad and screen (or touchscreen) to be more discreet. The next time I’m at the pharmacy to refill my diabetes medication, I am going to show my driver’s license instead of verbally verifying my date of birth. This minimizes risk by sharing my birthday with one pharmacist instead of everyone within earshot.

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Volume 8, Issue 18, Posted 9:46 AM, 09.20.2016

Digital tools can do more to protect privacy

Unlike an Indian summer that reminds us of the scorching season gone by, the digital world is feeling “heat” from an epidemic: media outlets are awash with reports of new strains of “ransomware” almost daily.

I just wrote about ransomware in late spring, but this is a good time to remind you to be vigilant with your digital world “habits.” I will review some do's and don'ts in an upcoming article.

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Volume 8, Issue 17, Posted 10:58 AM, 09.07.2016

Future back-to-school shopping list

If you ask me or my wife, we don’t have a good response as to why we procure all new school supplies for our son during the annual back-to-school ritual – we just do. This results in half-used pencils and crayon sets with six hues of blue winding up in my desk drawer when the school year ends. If those pencils and crayons could talk, they’d probably say, “We’re still good for another school year!”

Our educational system, whether at primary, higher or continuing education tiers, is using technology more than ever before to produce digital-world citizens equipped with the highest aptitude of digital literacy. As digital-world tools such as computers and tablets continue to be commoditized, I can see a day in the near future where, instead of pencils and crayons, students will be required to bring in their own digital device to use in class.

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Volume 8, Issue 16, Posted 9:39 AM, 08.16.2016

Using apps to cope with stress

Westshore seniors and residents have many valuable resources in their community to find information, learn and even get help, while also having the opportunity to socialize and make new friends.

Take, for example, UH St. John Medical Center's Community Outreach department which regularly schedules classes, roundtable talks, health screenings and more “to promote health and wellness in the community” they serve.

Recently Mary Kiczek, community outreach coordinator at SJMC, invited me to join a roundtable “Health Talk Series” presentation with Lydia Gadd, director of Community Services for the City of Westlake, and Bob Piovarchy from the Far West Center, on coping techniques to help seniors reduce the impact of stress and depression.

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Volume 8, Issue 15, Posted 9:06 AM, 08.02.2016

Telemedicine for you and me

Whether you work or stay home to raise a family, getting sick often throws a monkey wrench into your daily routine. As if the aches and pains slowing you down are not enough, trying to fit in 15 minutes of face-to-face time with your family doctor may introduce undue stress as you try to figure out how to accommodate the unexpected.

Unless you are fortunate enough to work or live close to your doctor’s office, you would have to include in your total time calculation: travel time, wait time, actual face time with your doctor, and depending on the doctor’s diagnosis, the time to pick up your medications. Add those up and it becomes an ordeal of an hour or two that you need to squeeze into your day.

My wife recently ran into such conundrum. Unless she missed a note from Dr. Spock that the “teleporter” (from Star Trek fame) is as common as an Uber service, she had to find a way to take close to two hours from her work for what amounted to 15 minutes of time with her doctor. I’m sure many can relate!

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Volume 8, Issue 14, Posted 9:43 AM, 07.19.2016

Upgrade to Windows 10 for the right reasons

A trending question in the digital world is whether to upgrade a Windows 7 computer to Windows 10. The upgrade is free until July 29; it jumps to $119 after that date. Here are some thoughts to help you decide whether to accept or continue to decline the offer to upgrade to Windows 10. (If your computer is not compatible to run Windows 10, you will not be eligible for the upgrade. Microsoft will continue to provide security-related updates for Windows 7 until January of 2020.)

The first thing to keep in mind is to look at this “to upgrade or not to upgrade” question in a holistic context. Just getting the assurance that your computer is compatible to run Windows 10 and that the software is totally free shouldn’t be the only deciding factors. The free upgrade may end up costing you in other ways.

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Volume 8, Issue 13, Posted 9:21 AM, 07.06.2016

Finding the best fit: tablet or computer

Last week a friend asked me whether she should get a Mac or Windows computer. She is embracing the digital world for the first time.

As my dear readers know, I advocate “Power of One” devices, such as tablets and smartphones, over traditional computers when the person’s needs are basic. The intuitiveness of these devices can help take down the intimidation barrier that often accompanies traditional computers.

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Volume 8, Issue 12, Posted 9:30 AM, 06.21.2016

What are bitcoins?

As of this writing, 1 U.S. dollar gives us 1.31 Canadian dollars or 108.91 Japanese yen; these are examples of currencies in the real world. With technology permeating into every nook and cranny of our lives, it was no surprise when seven years ago the digital world gave birth to its own currency called “cryptocurrency.”

Cryptocurrency may sound intimidating and can easily be perceived as more techno jargon, yet you’ve probably heard references to “bitcoin” in popular media; it is the most well-known digital currency. Today 1 bitcoin gives us 537.86 U.S. dollars.

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Volume 8, Issue 11, Posted 9:42 AM, 06.07.2016

Options to ease seniors into digital literacy

In recent issues, we explored the probable consequences stemming from the currently low digital literacy rate among seniors. Although each senior’s personal situation and life challenges are different, such as the benign sounding, yet common mental health symptom of “loneliness” that afflicts many aging-in-place seniors, as well as physical health issues, becoming digitally literate empowers seniors to overcome many of their challenges and enjoy digital world benefits.

I continue to exclude younger generations out of this discussion, as they are mostly well in-tune with the utility of the digital world. But communication requires at least two parties, so the younger generation – such as the seniors' offspring and their grandchildren – play an integral role in promoting digital literacy for seniors.

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Volume 8, Issue 10, Posted 9:41 AM, 05.17.2016

Don't invite a digital con artist into your computer

The digital world is experiencing an upward trend of nefarious activity utilizing malicious software called "ransomware." As the first half of the name implies, ransomware takes your computer's data hostage and demands a ransom in “bitcoins,” an untraceable internet-based payment system. (We’ll demystify bitcoins in a future issue).

Ransomware renders your data unreadable, and thus useless, until you pay the ransom. Non-payment means you lose your data forever (unless you have an uncompromised backup).

Individuals and organizations, including society’s lifeline services such as hospitals and police departments, have fallen victim to ransomware attacks. Numbers reported by the media are probably on the lower estimate as some victims may just pay the ransom and never report it to authorities. NBC News reports that last year more than 2,500 ransomware attacks were reported to the FBI, costing victims $24 million. The amount of reported damages skyrocketed to $209 million in just the first 3 months of this year.

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Volume 8, Issue 9, Posted 9:44 AM, 05.03.2016

Advocating for seniors 'aging in place'

Although I do miss my family and wish they were a little bit closer for more frequent weekend visits than what is becoming a biennial pilgrimage home, there’s still no other city I rather call my second home than Cleveland.

Participating in the recent Age-Friendly Cleveland planning summit at the Benjamin Rose conference center in Cleveland, where the task at hand was to collaboratively “develop a broad set of potential strategies … to help Cleveland become a premier age-friendly city,” reminded me of my aging-in-place parents in Japan.

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Volume 8, Issue 8, Posted 9:44 AM, 04.19.2016

Digital literacy is a necessary life skill

First in a series on digital literacy and the senior population

If you thought this article was going to be about electronic books, aka eBooks, I don’t blame you.

However “digital literacy” is about being able to use digital-world tools such as computers, tablets or smartphones to consume information, receive products and services while connected to the internet (yes, an eBook is one of those products delivered in the digital world).

Five “real world” years ago, which is like a fraction of a year in the digital world (akin to human vs. dog years), many aging baby boomer friends and acquaintances waved me off at the suggestion of becoming digitally literate. Their reasons mostly centered around “not necessary” and “too complex,” with “never again!” being the unanimous parting shot reflecting their frustrating experience of trying to embrace the digital world in the first place.

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Volume 8, Issue 7, Posted 10:02 AM, 04.05.2016

Scott Kelly's use of digital tools is out of this world

When I was growing up in Japan, I wanted to be an astronaut. That's probably nothing special as kids the world over must dream of being an astronaut when they grow up. Although multiple decades ago, I still can recall how obsessed I was with the idea. From my drawings to using big empty boxes from my dad’s shop strung together to look like a rocket lying horizontally on the ground, I could almost taste that cardboard cylinder rocket taking me into space.

As I mined my archived childhood memories, I do remember a distinctive “feature” all the rockets in my drawings had: mostly white from top to bottom, with black square patches strategically placed throughout. Yes, the telltale sign of the rockets from the mighty NASA Apollo program.

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Volume 8, Issue 6, Posted 9:59 AM, 03.15.2016

'Going paperless' becoming the new norm

One recent February night, the unusually strong winds kept me hopelessly awake. Perhaps I was thinking too much about my next column, or I was just envious of my wife snoring loudly only inches away from me, as I had a flashback.

It was about a particularly memorable conversation I had in 2012 with a despondent senior who attended a presentation I was giving.

During the post-presentation Q&A, as I was enumerating the advantages of buying Google’s Nexus tablet over Samsung’s Galaxy tablet, my wife interrupted me and said “Honey, you have to talk to that lady NOW … she is in tears!”

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Volume 8, Issue 5, Posted 9:27 AM, 03.01.2016

Taking the 'why' out of Wi-Fi

My wife recently had lunch with a staffer from Cleveland's Department of Aging at Ticket to Tokyo, a lunch-only eatery on Public Square that I discovered three decades ago when I was a homesick student fresh off the trans-Pacific flight to attend CSU. Of the many things they discussed over tempura and rice, digital illiteracy of some seniors was a hot topic of discussion. She learned that some seniors didn’t understand how Wi-Fi and tablet usage went hand-in-hand.

As an advocate for seniors to embrace the digital world, demystifying Wi-Fi seemed like a great topic for this issue. And rather than going over technical jargon related to Wi-Fi, we will go over the more popularized usage of the term "Wi-Fi" instead.

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Volume 8, Issue 4, Posted 9:28 AM, 02.16.2016

Digital world benefits right under your nose

From time to time, I write about the bountiful benefits we can harvest by embracing the digital world. One of my favorite sayings is how technology is in every nook and cranny of our lives, which is an increasingly true statement.

Ever since the internet became widely available, traditional institutions and businesses that thrived in the real world started to embrace the digital world. That, from a simpleton viewpoint, benefits consumers.

One such institution that continues to embrace the deepening convergence of the real and digital worlds are the libraries. The digital benefits offered to library patrons, both directly and indirectly, are staggering and complement the library's traditional benefits.

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Volume 8, Issue 3, Posted 9:47 AM, 02.02.2016

Time to upgrade from Windows 8

Windows XP’s tombstone says that it had almost a 14-year lifespan when Microsoft finally pulled the plug on it in early 2014. Compare that to the modern-day “black sheep” of the Windows family, Windows 8, which Microsoft just whacked earlier this month. It is recommended that all computers running Windows 8 upgrade their software to Windows 8.1 or higher.

Most users who upgraded their older system to Windows 8 or bought a computer that came with Windows 8 (approximately between late 2012 to late 2013), and follow the automatic Windows Update process monthly should have been upgraded to Windows 8.1 before Microsoft discontinued Windows 8 on Jan. 12, 2016. You will continue to receive software updates until 2023. (FYI, Windows 7 will continue to receive security updates until early 2020.)

If, on the other hand, you explicitly declined upgrading to Windows 8.1 and/or declined all automatic Windows Updates month after month, there is a good chance you are running Windows 8. You will not receive updates any longer, which is a risky situation.

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Volume 8, Issue 2, Posted 9:54 AM, 01.19.2016

Simplify to embrace new technology

If you made a New Year’s resolution to get your first tablet in 2016, or upgrade your beloved flip phone to a smartphone, or received one as a holiday gift from your well-meaning family member, you will be pleasantly surprised at what the digital world has to offer. As discussed in the last WBVO issue of 2015, these tablets and smartphones, what I call "Power of One" devices, are more intuitive to use compared to the traditional computer.

Still, for the uninitiated that first step can be intimidating as many manufacturers and purveyors of services based in the digital world still seem to assume a certain level of digital literacy by their users. This may be fine for those that have been exposed to technology and the internet, but for first-time users it can add to the perceived complexity even when using intuitive Power of One devices.

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Volume 8, Issue 1, Posted 9:52 AM, 01.05.2016

Gifting the 'Power of One'

Recently I talked to a group of seniors at the Westlake Center for Community Services. Our conversation was on Facebook and how it, and other services based in the digital world, can help people of all ages.

This group consisted of seniors already using some sort of technology, like a traditional computer, and seniors on-the-fence in adopting technology. Gauging from the questions coming at me, everyone was chomping at the bit to learn more!

It wasn’t like that when I started visiting area libraries, senior centers and senior communities almost four years ago. Back then technology was something seniors could ignore and not embrace. Seeing the senior demographic becoming more curious about the benefits offered by the digital world and open to the idea of embracing technology is promising since even senior services are starting to have their footprint in the digital world. And like a broken record: technology is in every nook and cranny of our lives, so let's benefit from it!

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Volume 7, Issue 24, Posted 9:42 AM, 12.15.2015

Read search results before clicking

If I had my druthers, a long-running topic of debate would focus on whether the effects of executing “just Google it” is beneficial or detrimental to our cognition. Just like how coffee/caffeine used to be considered good for you, then bad and then good again recently.

Thus I make my own judgment calls and practice accordingly. For example we continue to teach our son to use a traditional dictionary, instead of Googling a word he doesn’t know. I admit, it is easier to type or dictate a question into the browser and out come the answers ranked in relevance to the question.

Just like anything else the digital world has to offer, we need to be vigilant and practice good usage habits – akin to street smarts – before clicking on a search engine result. Failure to do so increases the chance of becoming a victim in the digital world that has real-world consequences (such as robbing your hard-earned cash).

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Volume 7, Issue 23, Posted 9:46 AM, 12.01.2015

Save money by bringing your own modem

Does the prospect of saving upwards of $10 a month, or $120 a year, perk up your ears? If you subscribe to high-speed internet service, aka broadband internet, through a cable TV company, your first step to potential savings of similar amounts is to look for line item that says something like “modem lease” in your monthly invoice.

Broadband internet can be thought of as another utility line coming into your house (just like electricity, water or natural gas). Taking water as an example, imagine a “shutoff valve” at the point where the water main comes into the house.

When you subscribe to high-speed internet service from a cable TV operator, your modem is akin to that shutoff valve. In an ode to former Vice President Al Gore who coined the term “information superhighway,” aka the internet, a modem is your on-ramp to the internet.

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Volume 7, Issue 22, Posted 9:07 AM, 11.17.2015

Smart facts about smartphone shopping

New or used? Buy or lease? You may think that I’m talking about cars and in most cases you'd be right. However, those same questions, and more, can apply to smartphone shopping.

I recently replaced my smartphone, which was just couple months shy of 3 years old but due to technology’s built-in obsolescence was becoming long in the tooth. I asked myself similar questions and did my homework before setting foot in a store.

The myriad options you are faced with when you walk into a store can be daunting, and outright intimidating, so doing your homework is a good way to prepare. Here are some of the things you want to think about before going shopping.

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Volume 7, Issue 21, Posted 10:02 AM, 11.03.2015

A looking glass into the digital world

You may recall the WBVO issue where I compared smartphones to chameleons, saying, “I consider smartphones to be the 'chameleons of the digital world' because their utility can be adapted for any situation, much as a chameleon changes colors to blend with its environment.”

While helping my friend pick a replacement mobile phone recently, that chameleon analogy was not working for him. Thinking on my feet as he complained about the lack of flip phone choices, I explained to him that smartphones are like Swiss Army knives, with “apps” being analogous to the various tools a Swiss Army knife holds … that was an analogy he understood right away (maybe being a Boy Scout five decades ago helped him too).

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Volume 7, Issue 20, Posted 10:00 AM, 10.20.2015

My email pet peeve

Let’s face it. Even with all the various communication tools the internet has given birth to, email is going to be around for a long time. After all, mankind has been writing letters for a long time and we still do even with the advent of email two dozen years ago.

The utility of writing letters remain the same, whether in the real world with pen and paper or in the digital world through email, which is to convey a message.

Personally, I still prefer certain kinds of messages, like cards and love notes, on paper rather than an email. The card my wife hands to me on Valentine's Day, or the Father’s Day card my son crafts, have an inexplicable power to stir up emotions that electronic communications can't match.

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Volume 7, Issue 19, Posted 8:42 AM, 10.06.2015

Keeping up with family and friends

Are you getting tired of people asking, “Are you on Facebook?” every time you go out? You might as well get used to it!

If you haven’t embraced social networking, such as Facebook, as one of your communication mediums to stay “connected” with family and friends, you may be in the minority. In 2014, Pew Research Center said 87 percent of our adult population use the internet. Of those online adults, 89 percent of ages 18 to 29, 82 percent of ages 30 to 49, 65 percent of ages 50 to 64, and 49 percent of ages 65+ use social networking.

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Volume 7, Issue 18, Posted 8:58 AM, 09.15.2015

Is Windows 10 Microsoft's redemption?

If you use Windows 7, 8 or 8.1, and your computer is receiving Windows Updates monthly like clockwork, you may have noticed a new icon in your System Tray. This icon is a reminder of your eligibility to upgrade to Windows 10 for free if you upgrade within the first year of Windows 10’s availability; users of pre-Windows 7 versions and/or users upgrading after the first year will pay $99 to $199.

For budding Windows computer users, the “System Tray” is where the current date and time are shown, flanked with small icons representing system functions such as the speaker, wired networking (or bars showing wireless networking strength), or battery gauge if it is a laptop computer.

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Volume 7, Issue 17, Posted 8:46 AM, 09.01.2015

Be inquisitive before back-to-school tech shopping

I love the movie "Groundhog Day" where actor Bill Murray, playing a weatherman named Phil, eventually realizes that he is living the same day over and over again. It feels like just yesterday that my wife and I survived the back-to-school gauntlet of getting our son ready for another school year!

Whether you are a proud parent sending your child off to college or your child is starting as high school freshman this fall, tools entrenched in the digital world are increasingly on our back-to-school shopping list.

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Volume 7, Issue 16, Posted 9:36 AM, 08.18.2015

Reducing risk of being victimized by 'Stagefright'

Tak is on vacation this week, so it's time to open the mailbag. Please look for his latest article in the next issue!

QUESTIONS ABOUT THE DIGITAL WORLD

I saw a news segment on TV about a virus that can affect hundreds of millions of smartphones in use today. They mentioned Google’s Android but not the iPhone. I use a smartphone but it is not an iPhone. Do I have to be concerned?

I was about to hit the door but vacation can wait as it is a staycation in our backyard paradise!

Before I address your question, I need to demystify smartphone operating systems. An operating system, “OS” for short, is the software that manages the hardware and the apps. It is analogous to your brain that gives the signal to, for example, to raise your right hand when you want to.

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Volume 7, Issue 15, Posted 9:42 AM, 08.04.2015