The Digital World

Tak dreams of ubiquitous communication

On many occasions I've been asked about which app I use for a certain task. I happily share the app I actually use on my Android smartphone. If my favorite app is not available on the iPhone, I consult my wife's iPhone as I manage what is on her smartphone too. My answers, though, do raise an eyebrow when I rattle off more than one app for the task in question. Let me explain ...

Apps for making video calls are a good example. I have no less than five video calling apps installed. Currently, they are Duo and Meet (from Google), Skype and Teams (from Microsoft), and Zoom.

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Volume 13, Issue 4, Posted 11:05 AM, 02.16.2021

Physical distancing but not social distancing

In the real world I continue to physically distance, wear a mask, and use a hand sanitizer every time I get back in the car while running essential errands like grocery shopping or going to the post office. Until COVID-19 is under control, which hopefully will be sometime later this year with the various phases of the vaccination trudging along slowly but surely, we have digital-world tools and services to be thankful for. As I always preach, we have to embrace the 21st century life skill of digital literacy!

Many digital-world tools and services help us accomplish essential tasks and that was even before this pandemic forced us to temporarily coop up at home. (The phrase "coop up" may only apply to me, who has a very small house, LOL.) Other digital-world tools and services are not about accomplishing tasks efficiently but more about new ways of receiving entertainment and life's other pleasures.

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Volume 13, Issue 3, Posted 10:08 AM, 02.02.2021

You are the product

As I pen this column in mid-January, experts are still uncovering the extent of the damage caused by the Solarwinds breach, aka SUNBURST, discovered last December. Solarwinds's tool is used by many businesses and government agencies, thus the implications of this breach can be profound. 

When a breach affects business and/or government systems, ultimately consumers are affected since these organizations hold our PII (Personally Identifiable Information) that, in nefarious actors' possession, can lead to all sorts of trouble. Even on our own devices such as computers, smartphones or tablets, protecting PII is of utmost importance.

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Volume 13, Issue 2, Posted 9:56 AM, 01.19.2021

My tech resolution for 2021

I know Hanukkah just started and Christmas is still over a week away but I've been thinking about 2021 often. Perhaps it's the unprecedented year that 2020 turned out to be and the hope of 2021 being better. So today I want to talk about my numero uno tech resolution for 2021.

For most technology related tasks like backing up the data on my computer or keeping the various files on my computer organized, I have a proclivity for well-defined processes. However, such predisposition has evaded my conscience when it comes to the curation of digital photos/videos taken with my digital cameras and smartphones. Simply, I have been importing all the photos/videos I take onto my computer indiscriminately – i.e. the good, the bad and the ugly – and they take residence in my portfolio.

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Volume 12, Issue 24, Posted 9:51 AM, 12.15.2020

Appropriateness while technology shopping

I've talked before about "appropriateness" when shopping for technology devices. Although price will always be a limiting factor, appropriateness of the device's features should be aligned to how you will use them ... regardless of how big your piggy bank may be.

Here are two examples you may ponder this holiday season:

  • iPhone 12 Pro at $999+ or iPhone SE at $399+?

  • Entry level Windows 10 laptop at $350+ or Chromebook at $150+?

With the iPhone, a smartphone from Apple, for many with typical usage like voice calls, texts, emails, video chats, useful apps, and web surfing, the cost-conscious iPhone SE introduced this spring fits the bill (and saves some bills too). Just because it's cheaper doesn't mean you forgo the Apple premium quality.

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Volume 12, Issue 23, Posted 9:58 AM, 12.01.2020

Keeping tabs on auto-renewals

Several columns ago I talked about the "subscription" option, i.e. leasing, for Microsoft's productivity software suite "Microsoft 365" as opposed to buying "Office" outright. Another example, commercial anti-virus software, operates under a similar principle where they require their users to annually renew (pay) to continue getting the virus signatures to prevent known viruses from infecting your computer or identifying virus infections and eradicating them by using the updated digital antidotes.

I'm confident that many of you are seasoned geeks who can fix different ailments our technology devices succumb to. I also know some friends who opted for computer repair services from office supply stores or big box electronic stores locally. For the latter, many technology services have also adopted the subscription model to sell their preventative services after repair.

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Volume 12, Issue 22, Posted 9:20 AM, 11.17.2020

Digital-world butler to your rescue

I wish I could have a butler who will do all my assigned household chores so I can be a 21st century couch potato. In the real world, I am "Tak who does windows [grudgingly]" but I'm more comfortable cleaning "Windows" in the digital world, i.e. the operating system from Microsoft for the computers.

In the digital world, though, I already have butlers and that probably goes for you too. We don't have to be millionaires and the only requirement is that we own a computer, smartphone, tablet, or any wired or wireless (Wi-Fi) gadget that connects us to the digital world.

The latter is basically an electronic object prefixed with the word "smart," like "Smart TV" or "Smart Speaker." All smart gadgets connect to the internet, aka the cloud, and can be controlled by the owner (Smart Plug for example) or stream content, i.e. TV shows, movies, music, etc. like what Smart TV does for our enjoyment.

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Volume 12, Issue 21, Posted 9:26 AM, 11.03.2020

Building good habits

As a writer, I enjoy discovering the etymology of the words I use in my columns. I enjoy looking up a word's meaning, even simple words such as "habit." After all, I'm a creature of habits.

Managing money wisely is always a good habit to have. Compared to when I was learning to save my allowance or learning to maximize my 401(k) contributions when I started my first job, building good habits have become rather complex nowadays.

In geek-speak and business-speak alike, we oft use the words "attack vector" to describe the different methodology a nefarious actor may use to victimize us out of our money. Although new attack vectors may have sprouted with the consumerization of the internet, aka the cloud, even the nefarious are creatures of habit. The ways in which they try to victimize us is still the same from the pre-internet era.

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Volume 12, Issue 19, Posted 9:48 AM, 10.06.2020

Oh, the phones you can phone

As long as you have a tablet, computer, or even a retired smartphone connected to the internet, aka the cloud, you can make calls to any 10-digit domestic phone number (free), or even an international number (fee), from your device.

We'll concentrate on the service "Google Voice" (GV) and their app. There are other free and paid services too. For example, you've been able to get a 10-digit number and buy minutes for domestic/international calls through "Skype" from Microsoft for over a decade.

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Volume 12, Issue 18, Posted 10:19 AM, 09.15.2020

Oh, the ways we communicate!

From cellular phones the size of a brick to our current crop of smartphones slightly longer than a deck of cards except thinner, our communication medium – since the invention of telephones – has always been supported by technology. Even the older-than-dirt letter writing has evolved into email thanks to technology.

Rotary and push-button telephones relied on Plain Old Telephone Services (aka "POTS"), including the earliest era of needing switchboard operators, on the telephone lines operated and connected worldwide. Cellular towers added mobility so you can be reached anytime/anywhere, freeing you from a sedentary lifestyle but cursing at robocallers. With the internet, aka the cloud, your ubiquity is now supercharged.

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Volume 12, Issue 17, Posted 9:31 AM, 09.01.2020

Supporting your favorite apps

Hand-held devices such as smartphones and tablets – whether iPhone/iPad exclusively built by Apple based on their "iOS" operating system, or other makes/models where manufacturers like Samsung, Motorola, LG, and others license Google's "Android" operating system – all come with a set of basic apps pre-installed. I'll also use the term "ecosystem" to describe the services and functionalities built around the respective operating systems that add further value to these handheld devices beyond the pre-installed apps.

An example of a pre-installed app on the smartphone is the "Phone" or "Dialer," often represented by an icon of a telephone handset and enables you to make/receive telephone calls. Most tablets can only connect to the internet, aka the cloud, through Wi-Fi so they do not come pre-installed with the Phone app. Tip: Wi-Fi only tablets can still be made to make/receive phone calls using an app like Google Voice. For the curious, we'll cover Google Voice and other VoIP (Voice of Internet Protocol) apps in a future column.

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Volume 12, Issue 15, Posted 9:50 AM, 08.04.2020

Free Office suite in the cloud

In the previous issue, I discussed Microsoft Office licensing options and a free alternative, LibreOffice. This week, I'll go over free offerings from Google and Microsoft that live entirely on the internet, aka the cloud, that are also compatible with Microsoft's Office.

To use Google's and Microsoft's free online offerings, aka "services," from your Windows/Mac computer or Chromebook, you will use your favorite browser (Chrome, FireFox, Safari or EDGE).

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Volume 12, Issue 14, Posted 10:05 AM, 07.21.2020

Deciding on subscription, perpetual license or free software

Similar to the decision-making process required to buy or lease your next car, leasing computer hardware was popularized for businesses before the "subscription" model, i.e. leasing [the right to use] software, started to also become an industry trend in the early 2010s.

Whether leasing computer hardware or subscribing for software usage, the concept is the same: you don't own anything when the lease/subscription ends.

Let's review the options:

• Buying software upfront gives you a perpetual license to use the software on one computer, akin to buying a car. You own it when paid upfront or financing is paid off.

• Buying a subscription to software is like leasing a car. You enter an annually renewable contract for a discounted monthly rate or opt for a month-to-month contract at a slightly higher rate. You use the software, just like you drive a leased car, but at the end of the subscription term, if you don't renew, you lose the usage rights. You never own it.

People often ask me questions about Microsoft's productivity suite "Office" and the options available. Formerly known as "Office 365 Home," recently rebranded as "Microsoft 365 for home" (really, can we stop confusing consumers?), it is a subscription offering: you lease the Office software for use on your personal computer, tablet, smartphone or the cloud.

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Volume 12, Issue 13, Posted 10:04 AM, 07.07.2020

A new dimension to embrace

"Other than throwing it at me or against the wall out of frustration, I can fix anything so don't be afraid to experiment." This is one of the many "Tak-isms" my students will hear throughout the Discover Digital Literacy! (DDL!) program, taken from the "Satosan Method" I devised for teaching seniors. In the last three years, I haven't seen a single tablet fly out of our students' hands and that's a good thing. Although tablets are near commodities, we are only able to assign them as a hands-on learning tool to each student because of our generous donors.

The Satosan Method, a handbook of sorts, is the culmination of my experience over the span of three decades in helping people with technology and specifically tuned for helping seniors discover digital literacy.

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Volume 12, Issue 11, Posted 10:35 AM, 06.02.2020

Digital literacy is the new life skill

In the ancient Chinese philosophy of "yin and yang," similar to the idiom "double edged-sword" in our culture, the concept of dualism exists everywhere. In my column I keep referring to the internet, aka the cloud, having those traits. I also continue to believe that the good (benefits) outweighs the bad (nefarious actors).

One benefit we like to share often in this column is our personal experiences dating back to the late 1990s where AOL's Instant Messenger (AIM) assuaged our feelings of being homesick. We could see and talk to each other by using AIM thus keeping our connectedness factor in check. Two decades later, our society has been forced to reckon what I've been preaching for the longest time, no thanks to the novel coronavirus pandemic and the required social distancing.

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Volume 12, Issue 9, Posted 9:40 AM, 05.05.2020

Disposing of your old computer

Westlake and Bay Village service departments postponed their spring eWaste roundup events due to social distancing mandates. A little more time to prepare your eWaste before disposal!

Preparing your eWaste for safe disposal is about minimizing the chance of your information stored on the old computer, aka data, from falling into the possession of nefarious entities.

Whether computers, tablets, smartphones, or other computer-like electronic devices including Smart TVs, most save mountains of information during the years of usage. We'll cover computers today and cover tablets and smartphones in future issues.

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Volume 12, Issue 8, Posted 8:59 AM, 04.21.2020

WFH? Be vigilant to protect your computer from another type of virus malware

In the infancy of personal computing, and predating the consumerization of the internet, nefarious entities like computer virus authors were likely not financially motivated. They were probably driven by mischief and the resulting notoriety by claiming "I did that."

For example, I remember being infected by a computer virus in early 1992 that simply made the noise of water going down the drain with the author's name prominently displayed as ending credits while his laughter as background music.

Today, it's usually run like a business, albeit illicit and surrounding illegal activities like extortion through ransomware attacks. Just like any other business, they go for maximum ill-gained returns. Their weapon is not just viruses but an arsenal known as "malware" (concatenation of the words "malicious" and "software").

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Volume 12, Issue 7, Posted 9:41 AM, 04.07.2020

Help our seniors avoid loneliness and social isolation

The prior issue of WBVO, always available at our website,, had a great article on spring cleaning in Jennifer Hartzell's The Green Report column that even a self-proclaimed “geek” learned something from: Best Buy recycles TV for a nominal fee.

Adding to that informative article, I want to remind our readers that before taking a computer, tablet or smartphone to the Bay Village or Westlake service departments for disposal, please make sure to physically extract the “storage devices” from computers (geeky terminology: “hard drives” or “solid state drives”) for safekeeping. For smartphones and tablets, it is important to factory reset the devices before drop-off. In a future column, we’ll demystify these necessary processes so you can minimize the risk of the nefarious getting hold of your personal data.

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Volume 12, Issue 6, Posted 9:41 AM, 03.17.2020

Coping with social distancing measures

I had forgotten how taxing the flu can be and getting the strength back after being horizontal for five days is proving to require patience. At least I’m not contagious anymore! High fever was controlled by ibuprofen/acetaminophen but body aches and incessant coughs made it hard to get sleep. To pass time during this artificial insomnia, the Flipster app enabled me access to the magazine collection at Bay Village Library and Westlake Porter Public Library 24 hours a day. Not to mention the community benefit of not sharing my flu virus with other in-library patrons.

In the first five days of my flu, I also read a lot of online articles about the coronavirus, aka COVID-19. A New York Times article piqued my interest when the director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases mentioned that communities should plan for “social distancing measures” to minimize outbreak.

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Volume 12, Issue 5, Posted 9:59 AM, 03.03.2020

Unpatched cracks in the foundation

I know some of you are still using Windows 7 and my recommendation is to upgrade as soon as possible. The expiration date for Microsoft’s Windows 7 is now in our rearview mirror.

It’s easy to become complacent, even wonder what the big deal was to move off of Windows 7, as your computer continued to tick when the sun rose on Jan. 15. Probably that’s how many of us felt with the “Y2K scare” when the sky didn’t fall, the missiles didn’t auto-launch, and the financial markets – for the most part – didn’t crash when the clock struck midnight on Jan. 1, 2000.

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Volume 12, Issue 4, Posted 10:08 AM, 02.18.2020

Scanning the airwaves

As Clevelanders, we are used to “whiteouts” during winter snowstorms. Whiteout imagery outside the windshield reminds me of what showed up on our TV screen when fiddling with rabbit-ears to get a good reception in the good old days.

When the “analog” broadcast ended in mid-2009 with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) mandate requiring all TV stations broadcast exclusively in a “digital” format, blocky (geeky term: pixelated) imagery on the TV screen equated to poor reception. Many were already on cable or satellite TV service so never saw change.

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Volume 12, Issue 2, Posted 9:47 AM, 01.21.2020

Kicking the tires of your digital-world ride

Are you ready to kick the tires of the Power of One device or shiny new computer you found under your tree? The former, i.e. tablets and smartphones, are also referred to as consumption devices since you consume, or more appropriately “stream,” various content such as entertainment and knowledge from the internet, aka the cloud. Computers can also consume but additionally can be used to create documents and many others for self or to share with others.

If you are ready to find out what your gift is capable of, just whip out your … library card! Being a card-carrying digital-world citizen has its privileges as libraries have adjusted nicely to the world after the internet. They continue to embrace digital-world-based services as society changes the way they do things and all the while continuing to service the people who walk into the libraries in the real world.

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Volume 12, Issue 1, Posted 10:33 AM, 01.07.2020

Be smart this holiday season

As we welcome a new decade … wait, does the new decade start on Jan. 1 of 2020 or 2021? I felt dumb “googling” this but it turns out two smart groups of people couldn’t agree; in other words it was clear as mud. At least I have an excuse to party! Speaking of dumb and smart ... 

As technology continues to permeate into every nook and cranny of our lives, the possibilities are high that you’ll gift yourself, or others, a device with the prefix “smart.” Smart TV, Smartwatch, Smart Lightbulb, and Smart Thermostat are all too common as we bid farewell to 2019. On the same token, people may call you a grinch if you gift ‘em “dumb” electronics such as a Dumb TV – I doubt you can find one outside eBay or Craigslist!

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Volume 11, Issue 24, Posted 10:08 AM, 12.17.2019

The importance of an annual invoice review

Growing up in Japan, I helped out in my parents' sewing machine sales and repair shop when not in school. My wife also grew up helping her parents' farming supply store in the Philippines. One common denominator of our childhood, we both saw our parents work hard to keep customer “loyalty.” Those customers must’ve also expected something back for their loyalty as everyone knows it’s a two-way street.

Last week I helped a soon-to-be-alumni from our seventh Discover Digital Literacy! class, a 16-week program offered for free by our nonprofit to seniors 60 years and older, get internet service at her home. After all was said and done in under 30 minutes, we walked out with an installation date and a contract-free internet service of $45 per month which was $25 cheaper than what I was paying per month.

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Volume 11, Issue 23, Posted 10:08 AM, 12.03.2019

Don't get skimmed

With holiday gauntlet quickly approaching, travel – whether to see family or for a quick jaunt to a warmer climate – may be in your cards. Just like we rely on our smartphones to accomplish everyday tasks, these days your smartphone can carry your airplane boarding pass or contactless payment credentials while traveling.

If your travel is on the longer end of the spectrum, let's say more than 8 hours, you may be anxious about your smartphone battery lasting the entire duration of your trip. Gone are the days when smartphones had replaceable batteries where you could carry a fully charged extra battery to swap in if your battery dies mid-journey!

If you are traveling by car, you can buy one of those $10 cigarette socket battery chargers for your smartphone to quell the anxiety of premature smartphone death. But if you are traveling by other modes of transportation, for example an airplane, what options do you have?

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Volume 11, Issue 22, Posted 9:24 AM, 11.19.2019

Being a 21st century couch potato

Many of you may recall when, years ago, having Wi-Fi in your home was either a DIY project or an add-on service you paid for each month.

These days, however, the Internet Service Providers (or ISPs) like Spectrum, WOW or AT&T servicing Westlake and Bay Village may already have Wi-Fi capability built into their equipment and even turned on whether you use it or not. As long as it is protected to make it a “private” Wi-Fi, as opposed to an “open” or “public” Wi-Fi, you are ready to become a 21st century couch potato.

As it becomes increasingly common for each family member to own multiple digital world devices such as a computer, smartphone and tablet, and the only televisions you can buy these days are labeled as being “smart” anyways, having Wi-Fi capability provided through ISP equipment has become an expectation rather than an exception.

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Volume 11, Issue 21, Posted 9:23 AM, 11.05.2019

Only 13 weeks left from today

That’s 91 days, 2184 hours, 131,040 minutes, or 7,862,400 seconds. The writing on the wall is unmistakable: for most of us, we have to move off of Windows 7 before Jan. 14, 2020!

Sure, there is an annual paid option to extend, up to three years, the ability to continue to receive monthly security updates. Narrow criteria exists to use this option, officially christened as the Extended Security Update program (“ESU” for short), which requires your Windows 7 computer to be part of a volume licensing contract with Microsoft; it also has to be a certain “trim level” of Windows 7 operating system to even qualify. Hence, most residential users and many small businesses too are out of luck.

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Volume 11, Issue 20, Posted 9:19 AM, 10.15.2019

'Tis the season for unveiling new top shelf smartphones

Just like we expect the “white things” to start making their appearance by late November/early December each year in Cleveland, we have come to expect the smartphone giants, Apple and Google, to unveil their new smartphones this time of the year. As I type this article, Apple has announced their 2019 iPhone model (iPhone 11) while Google is slated to unveil their 2019 Pixel model (Pixel 4) in mid-October.

As always, the popular media outlets have penned a smorgasbord of information on the titans’ 2019 smartphone refreshes; if you're interested in learning more, they are only a “googling” away! You can also visit Westlake Porter Public Library or Cuyahoga County Public Library’s Bay Village branch for periodicals. The same magazines you find there, like research favorite Consumer Reports, are available in the digital world as “eMagazines” to read on your tablet, smartphone, or computer from the comfort of your home. Not limited to eMagazines, their digital services include available eBooks, movies, TV shows, music, and many other benefits that you can access over the internet.

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Volume 11, Issue 18, Posted 9:08 AM, 09.17.2019

A case for resurrecting Clippy

Do you remember “Clippy?” His official name was “Clippit” and his official capacity as an office assistant meant Clippy used his charm to give users helpful advice for the office productivity software suite from Microsoft that they were using to create documents and crunch numbers.

Clippy, and other office assistant characters available for selection, garnered a lot of criticism from computer users. Many deemed Clippy to be “intrusive and annoying” (per Wikipedia) because it interrupted the user's workflow at inopportune times and with rather elementary advice to the task at hand. To its creators’ credit, the ability to silence office assistants like Clippy from interrupting one's workflow was offered but that did not appease users enough. Clippy and his gang of user-selectable office assistants bid farewell in 2001.

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Volume 11, Issue 17, Posted 9:48 AM, 09.04.2019

Smartphone buying tips

A portable form factor, combined with the ease of operation using only one finger – which I coined as “Power of One” devices – smartphones have become ubiquitous devices that are always connected to the internet, aka the cloud, and always with you.

While we use a smartphone in the real world, it is a vehicle into the digital world that supports the duality-in-lifestyle of living in both real and digital worlds simultaneously. There are no beginnings nor endings to these worlds; they coexist and are interwoven, blurring the boundaries as technology continues to permeate into every nook-and-cranny of our lives.

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Volume 11, Issue 16, Posted 9:17 AM, 08.20.2019

Consider 'appropriateness' when back-to-school shopping

While communicating with my editor over the summer, it dawned on me that I haven’t written about back-to-school for a couple years … about time for a refresher!

Whether you are buying a device for your child's educational needs or yourself, "appropriateness” is still very important.

Many schools continue to become “Google schools,” an unofficial term for the official “Google for Education” program. It includes Google’s free applications (jargon: “G Suite for Education”). Further, your kid's school/district may have instituted the “One-to-One” educational concept, often abbreviated as “1:1,” where the idea is for each pupil to have access to a digital-world device so teachers can use the trove of information available on the internet, aka the cloud, to augment their curricula.

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Volume 11, Issue 15, Posted 10:09 AM, 08.06.2019

Don't get phished

You’ve probably heard about “phishing” – how the nefarious use digital world communications tools such as emails and text messages to try to con you into giving up Personally Identifiable Information (PII) or your login credentials to banking or online shopping websites.

If the impersonating nefarious actor is not outright asking you for your PII or website credentials, the message will probably contain a clickable link that leads you to a legitimate-looking but “fake” website that opens up in your browser. Due to increased sophistication, it has often become indiscernible from the real website, thereby increasing the risk of falling prey to the con.

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Volume 11, Issue 13, Posted 9:50 AM, 07.02.2019

A 2019 review of internet street smarts

Part one in a series on staying safe in the digital world.

A new piece of legislation, a “do not call” list, an app … these and more are often promoted as silver bullets to protect our privacy. But acknowledging the sheer frequency of debilitating data breach news pushed to my smartphone, I think the efficacy of these solutions are yet to be proven.

We, the real-world denizens, put up many a wall next to the digital world – aka internet or the cloud – to prevent the nefarious from coming through. At the same time, we utilize our 21st-century life skills of “digital literacy” to perform many everyday activities in the digital world.

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Volume 11, Issue 12, Posted 9:40 AM, 06.18.2019

Weighing the appropriateness factor for your Windows 7 successor

This is the third and final installment (for now) discussing options for computers running the Windows 7 operating system destined for the pastures on Jan. 14, 2020. This series can also be a guide to choosing your first "digital world," aka internet or the cloud, connected device.

There are numerous idioms, or expressions, in our language that are analogous to my philosophy of “appropriateness” when embracing technology. For example, if your needs are simple then you don’t want a complex technology that is capable of doing “everything but the kitchen sink.”

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Volume 11, Issue 11, Posted 10:22 AM, 06.04.2019

How to replace your 7 depends on your usage

In my March 5 article that highlighted Windows 7’s impending demise, I mentioned Microsoft’s forthcoming annual subscription option that will provide Windows 7 “Pro” edition users the monthly security updates (up to three additional years) beyond the expiration date. However, there is no such offering for Windows 7 “Home” edition users. To check which edition you have, go to “Start” -> “Control Panel” -> “System.”

A couple of weeks after that article went to press, Microsoft announced the pricing for its Extended Security Updates subscription. Whether burning $350 over three years ($50, $100 and $200 respectively) is a good option or a money pit will depend on your price sensitivity and other personal parameters.

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Volume 11, Issue 8, Posted 9:43 AM, 04.16.2019

Making it 'smart'

A shot-in-the-arm can turn a regular TV that cannot connect to the internet, what I call a DumbTV, into a SmartTV that can connect to the cloud – aka internet. An available HDMI connection port on the DumbTV, wireless internet, and a streaming device completes the transformation. It's a far cry from buying a new SmartTV as streaming devices can be had for under $100 or even under $50!

Comparatively, the hit on your wallet may be more marginal when you decide to replace your LED light bulb at the front door with a “Smart” LED light bulb so you can turn it on with your phone rather than fumble through your keychain in the dark.

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Volume 11, Issue 6, Posted 10:05 AM, 03.19.2019

Sun is setting on Windows 7

I don’t know if something first built in 1987 is old enough to qualify as a “classic” but I would love to own a Ferrari F40, a modern classic in my eyes, as my daily driver; scout’s honor that it won’t become a “garage queen” under my watch – vroom, vroom!

The digital world has its own classics. For example Microsoft’s Windows computer operating system has had classics, and duds, over the decades.

Remember Windows XP? That was a classic, both in terms of how long it lasted in the market and how versatile it was as an operating system. Of the many versions that followed Windows XP, one worthy of one day being called a classic is Windows 7.

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Volume 11, Issue 5, Posted 9:50 AM, 03.05.2019

Is this app for me?

How’s your pet lizard doing? You do own a pet chameleon if you have a smartphone or a tablet.

A chameleon, my favorite analogy for a smartphone, can change its body colors for “camouflage, but most commonly in social signaling and in reactions to temperature and other conditions” per Wikipedia. If environmental conditions trigger a chameleon's multiple palette skin tones to adapt to their surroundings, apps enable a smartphone to be more than a phone.

But there are too many apps in the mutually exclusive “App Store” for Apple devices and Google’s “Play Store” for Android-based devices. I quickly searched for a magnifying glass app and at least 200 different magnifying glass apps were in the Play Store; probably similar observations can be made in the App Store. Fortunately, there are tips to narrow down your candidates by looking at the data presented for each app listed.

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Volume 11, Issue 4, Posted 9:57 AM, 02.19.2019

Limiting your financial exposure in apps

To wrap up this series on using your new digital-world tool such as a tablet or a smartphone that you may have received over the holidays, I want to tie up loose ends.

Although many things, including “apps” you use on your new device, are promoted as being free, we should recognize that there is no such thing as a free lunch in the digital world either.

You may have heard the phrase “if you are not paying for the product, you are the product” used often in reference to the free products such as apps and services like email in recent years. Frankly, I thought it was such an appropriate phrase born to describe the utility of internet but a student in our program for seniors reminded me that it was first used in the early 1970s to describe the efficacy of television advertisements. To this day, for example, you can imagine why advertisers will pay millions of dollars for a 30-second advertising spot during the Super Bowl game!

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Volume 11, Issue 3, Posted 9:51 AM, 02.05.2019

Set up once but reap benefits repeatedly

Although one may think that an Android-based tablet/smartphone is a totally different animal than an iOS-based device (iPad or iPhone), they are not too different; their utility is the same. It’s more like do you prefer Navel or Valencia oranges?

Like the case of two oranges, comparing a Toyota Camry to a Ford Fusion is another of my analogies. iPad and Galaxy Tab are “models” (think: Camry and Fusion) with their respective “makes” being Apple and Samsung (think: Toyota and Ford), both belonging to the “tablets” category (think: four-door sedans), and variations within a model line such as iPad and iPad Pro are akin to “trims” (think: Camry V6 vs. Camry Hybrid).

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Volume 11, Issue 2, Posted 9:59 AM, 01.22.2019