Increasing Understanding of Technology and Communication

Consider Benefits of Owning a ‘Burner Phone’

burner-phone

Despite all the buzz surrounding the new iPhone, many are considering something on the other end of the spectrum: a cheap, disposable, and prepaid mobile phone.

OK, so these “burner phones,” as they’re often referred to, may be an addendum to your pricey smartphone rather than a replacement for it, but these devices have some desirable benefits.

Maintains your privacy

While you might think a "burner phone" is something only a criminal may use to avoid being tracked by authorities – such as the drug dealers on a show like The Wire – law-abiding citizens may also appreciate the privacy awarded by a burner phone.

For example, you might not want to use your main phone number if you’re posting items on Craigslist or another classifieds site. After all, you’re opening up the possibility of unwanted calls or texts from strangers on your personal line. Instead, when the transactions are completed, you can simply dump (or “burn”) the temporary phone.

Burner phones are also desirable to those who use dating apps, as you might not want to give out your primary number to someone you don’t end up with. Sure, you can block someone on your main phone, but they could still contact you from another number.

Burner phones can be bought with cash and with no contract, plus providers that sell these devices don’t track personal data. Anonymity isn’t fully guaranteed, however, as burner phones can still be located over a cellular network by the temporary phone number, or logged whenever you call someone else’s phone via their carrier.

Other advantages

Aside from privacy, there are other reasons why you might consider a burner phone:

  • For emergencies: Thanks to a FCC mandate, every mobile phone must be able to dial 9-1-1 – even if you aren’t signed up with a carrier. Heck, you don’t even need a SIM card in the phone. And so a practical application for a cheap burner phone is to keep it for emergency purposes only. Toss it into your glove box and you’ll know it’s there, just in case.
  • Back-up phone: While some burner phones have some advanced features, most are barebones devices used for calls or texts only. Because most these devices don’t have big screens and advanced radios like 4G/LTE and GPS, they likely boast much longer battery life than a premium smartphone. This could be ideal for travelers, perhaps, or at least as a back-up phone if your main device’s battery peters out.
  • Low cost: Price is a good motivator, too. Rather than spend upwards of $850 for the latest iOS or premium Android device, pre-paid burner phones could be as low as $20 for the Motorola EX431G Tracfone, which includes a full physical keyboard and free double minutes for life. If you prefer a compact flip phone, the Samsung Entro is roughly $20 while the Kyocera Coast Prepaid Phone is $35. Pro tip: While your burner phone doesn’t have access to data, many social networks like Twitter and Facebook have a SMS option, so you can still be notified to get updates via text message.

There’s an app for that

Those who like the idea of a burner phone but aren’t quite ready to pick one up might consider an app like Burner, which allows you to create multiple numbers on your main smartphone. You might want one number for work, another for personal use, and a third for classifieds, shopping, dating, and so on.

Available at the App Store and Google Play, Burner is free to download and free to try. Additional time and numbers are available by in-app purchase (from $1.99) or a subscription for $4.99/month, which enables one burner line with unlimited calls, texts, and picture messages for one month. Be aware, however, phone calls use up your regular mobile phone minutes.

Read Article (Marc Saltzman | msn.com | 08/18/2016)

Europeans hold individual data privacy very high, which is not the case in the US. Some have begun to wonder, do they have it right? Well, only time will tell, though critics in the US say they’ve got it wrong, not surprising. But they also have trust in their government which is also not the case in the US. Analyze that!

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Tech-Savvy Algonquin Students Help Senior Citizens

Algonquin-Students

Northborough, Massachusetts – Senior citizens who have questions about their iPhones, iPads, Macs and PCs can find answers at Technology Afternoons, held from 2:15 to 4 p.m., two Thursdays a month at the Northborough Senior Center. Eileen Parker, Algonquin Regional High School math teacher, leads the school’s Community Action Program (CAP), which provides student volunteers for a variety of activities, including Technology Afternoons.

According to Palmer, “[CAP] consists of 35 [Algonquin] teens who are dedicated to giving back in the community. These students currently support the Northborough and Southborough senior centers, the Southborough Youth & Family Services, the Coleman House (in Northborough), and other community organizations.”

Palmer said that she recruits students, and advises them how to behave respectfully when volunteering. In her classroom, she keeps a large calendar listing upcoming service opportunities.

Currently there are 10 students who participate in Technology Afternoons. About their qualifications, Palmer said, “… Let’s face it. Teenagers are super savvy when it comes to technology. They have been using computers since elementary school and cell phones are really important to them!”

On a recent Thursday, Algonquin senior Danielle DellaPenna, 18, counseled Lisa, who was struggling to decide whether to replace her “Windows” cellphone with an iPhone, given to her by her son’s girlfriend.

“Windows allows me to do very safe text to speech while I am driving. With the iPhone, I’ll have to deal with Siri, and look at the phone while I’m driving,” Lisa said. “I’m going to tell my son that I’m not too old to learn about it, but I’m not changing phones.”

DellaPenna tried to sell Lisa on the benefit of apps with the iPhone, to no avail.

She said, “I’ve been doing [Technology Afternoons] since last year because community service is important to me.”

That sentiment was shared by Algonquin freshman Bradi Mullens. Both students said that they often help seniors set up email accounts on cellphones, and download music into iTunes.

Palmer added that the students deal with cellphone ring tones, cellphone pictures, texting, iPad usage, Kindle usage, and a lot of Word and Excel documents.

“One senior citizen had an [Algonquin] student help prepare all their labels for their Christmas cards this December,” she said. “Anything goes in this program!”

Kelly Burke, director of the Northborough Senior Center said, “It’s been phenomenal to work with all these students who are great experts, having grown up using technology. Our seniors sometimes need help, and we knew that we were going to the right place to find knowledgeable, willing helpers.”

Palmer echoed Burke’s sentiment, “The Algonquin students have a lot of energy, and good hearts. They embrace these CAP service projects.”

For more information and the schedule for Technology Afternoons, contact Kelly Burke at 508-393-5035 or Kburke@town.northborough.ma.us. Palmer can be reached at Epalmer@nsboro.k12.ma.us.

Read Article (Jane Keller Gordon | fiftyplusadvocate.com | 02/26/2016)

Internet availability and access is important without a doubt, but knowing how to fully utilize the constantly evolving devices that connect to it and the Internet itself, is an issue just as important if not more.

Despite technology not providing an adequate alternative for device user manuals, there are still many in society that see the need and do-the-right-thing. And no, apps don’t cut it, they obviously require a certain level of tech skill to use and understand.

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Wanted: Senior-Savvy Technologies

Senior-Savvy-Technologies

All hail, the Internet of Things! 2015’s wild, wacky foray into the connectedness of everything was both inspiring and laughable, especially through the lens of the senior demographic. While most seniors don’t need a talking toaster or a refrigerator that knows when the ketchup is almost gone, they certainly do need reliable and transparent technologies that can help them stay connected in ways that matter.

Amid what is increasingly being called “Silvertech,” what’s needed most is to get past the shiny, whiz-bang aspects of the gadgets and reach deeper into understanding what kind of technology seniors really need—and how they need it to work.

Using a wearable to track a few vital signs or record a sleep pattern? That’s so 2015. Using portable, easy-to-use technology platforms to encourage seniors to engage with others? Been there, done that. Many seniors, including my 72-year-old mother, use tablets, social media applications and digital communications platforms (think Skype and FaceTime) more than I do.

Senior tech startups are now trying to harness cloud computing, wireless data transfer and the growing acceptance of wearable technology in a grand convergence of capability, accessibility and acceptability.  New apps for tablets and smart phones will increase the functionality of a device a person already owns. The possibilities are tantalizing.

In some cases, the most-craved senior technology is about figuring out how to bridge the gap between A and B. For example, we all know that remote monitoring technology needs to be an added dimension of resident safety and falls prevention—not a substitute for human monitoring. So, how best to bridge the communication gaps between a senior who has fallen, the emergency responders, the family and the primary care provider?

At LeadingAge’s Hackfest, a competition to develop senior care-related technology applications, nearly all of the entrant prototypes were designed to be wearable or at least portable. Developers also will be integrating anywhere, anytime personal emergency response systems (PERS) and proximity sensors into pervasive consumer devices like cell phones and iPads, predicts Laurie Orlov, founder of Aging in Place Technology Watch, in a recent blog.

She also thinks voice activation will be a big part of senior tech’s future—being able to “converse” with a device means no more squinting at a minuscule smartphone screen or trying to get a Parkinson’s–wracked hand to push tiny buttons.

As senior monitoring technology continues to climb out of the IT department servers and adorn the resident’s wrist (or pocket or shoe), what we’ll need next is a reputable organization that is willing to start reporting on features relating to senior tech wearables--a huge lacuna in today’s market. “What we need is a Consumer Reports for Silvertech,” writes Paula Span in a New York Times article.

Then we need the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to realize that quality telehealth and remote health monitoring should be encouraged (i.e. reimbursed) everywhere, not just in rural regions and Accountable Care Organization contexts.

2016 will surely be an exciting year to see who comes up with the hottest app or bridge capability. Over the next few months, we’ll be taking a closer look at what’s happening in the senior technology field, so stay tuned for Long-Term Living’s new series on senior care startups!

Read Article (Pamela Tabar | ltlmagazine.com | 02/02/2016)

Reading an article like this about seniors and how technology is benefiting their lifestyle just kind of gets many of us all warm and fuzzy inside. But the truth of the matter is that many seniors do not have a warm relationship with technology. In fact, unless it’s a medical requirement, they choose to distance themselves from them.

We believe our face-to-face instructional webinars can change this awkward relationship by helping older adults understand more fully, just how they work and what they do to benefit us. All we ask of you is to help provide us the opportunity, the chance to make a difference in so many lives.

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Middle School Students Teach Seniors Technology

Middle-School-Students

ALAMO HEIGHTS, Texas - Students at a local middle school have come up with an innovative way to give back to the community. They've started a program that shows senior citizens the wonders of technology. Darian Trotter watched as students became teachers.

When school lets out, students at Alamo Heights Junior School are excited. Not because they're headed home, but because a small group of them are headed to an area nursing home.

Jean O'Brien said, "I believe the residents every week are very excited. They wait for us."

Every Thursday an enthusiastic group of students gets together for a program called "Cyber Seniors. " O'Brien said, "To open up a whole new world for them to teach them about internet and what's out there."

It's a chance to teach seniors at Alamo Heights Health and Rehabilitation technology; any and everything about computers and tablets.

"These people have probably never touched a computer or iPad or anything I'm not sure why but they never did," student Aaron Villanueva said.

Student Andrea Olague said, "And some people are afraid play the games, and I'm like you can do it."

Seniors love it, not only because they're learning new skills, but they look forward to their weekly visitors. "This is now their home so they don't have much to look forward to other than possibly dinner or the Sunday visit from their family," O'Brien said. So every week they know on Thursdays we're going to be coming."

Students love it because it gives them a sense of purpose and a chance to give back.

Villanueva said, "On my first day I cried. Trotter asked, Why? Because I was emotionally moved by it," he replied.

Fox San Antonio watched as residents got one on one instructions on everything from creating photo galleries to learning how to take selfies.

It's a program with a purpose, and here students are the teachers.

Olague said, "I feel like a teacher to others and I feel so proud of myself like showing others like helping."

Organizers at Alamo Heights Junior School are now challenging other schools to start similar programs at nursing homes across San Antonio.

Read Article (Darian Trotter | foxsanantonio.com | 03/10/2016)

Students from middle schools, high schools and colleges, sprinkled all across the nation have recognized and joined a cause to help address digital literacy among the elderly. Obviously this is not enough because addressing the digital literacy crisis will take a serious effort on the part of all of us, including you.

We are the only effective national service on the horizon that has the ability to reach anyone with internet access. Our instructional webinars are the long-term solution for addressing device usage. By supporting our efforts, you will be helping to address this issue that has global implications.

Contribute $5, $10, $20 or whatever you can today. So we can help them tomorrow.

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Lifelong Learning & Digital Literacy of Technology

Technology's-Digital-Divide

A large majority of Americans seek extra knowledge for personal and work-related reasons. Digital technology plays a notable role in these knowledge pursuits, but place-based learning remains vital to many and differences in education and income are a hallmark of people’s learning activities.

Most Americans feel they are lifelong learners, whether that means gathering knowledge for “do it yourself” projects, reading up on a personal interest or improving their job skills. For the most part, these learning activities occur in traditional places – at home, work, conferences or community institutions such as government agencies or libraries. The internet is also an important tool for many adults in the process of lifelong learning.

A new Pew Research Center survey shows the extent to which America is a nation of ongoing learners:

  • 73% of adults consider themselves lifelong learners.
  • 74% of adults are what we call personal learners – that is, they have participated in at least one of a number of possible activities in the past 12 months to advance their knowledge about something that personally interests them. These activities include reading, taking courses or attending meetings or events tied to learning more about their personal interests.
  • 63% of those who are working (or 36% of all adults) are what we call professional learners – that is, they have taken a course or gotten additional training in the past 12 months to improve their job skills or expertise connected to career advancement.

These learning activities take place in a variety of locations. The internet is often linked to a variety of learning pursuits. However, it is still the case that more learners pursue knowledge in physical settings than choose to seek it online.

  • By an 81% to 52% margin, personal learners are more likely to cite a locale such as a high school, place of worship or library as the site at which personal learning takes place than they are to cite the internet.
  • By a similar margin (75% to 55%), professional learners are more likely to say their professional training took place at a work-related venue than on the internet.

People cite several reasons for their interest in additional learning

Those who pursued learning for personal or professional reasons in the past 12 months say there are a number of reasons they took the plunge. Personal learners say they sought to strengthen their knowledge and skills for a mixture of individual and altruistic reasons:

  • 80% of personal learners say they pursued knowledge in an area of personal interest because they wanted to learn something that would help them make their life more interesting and full.
  • 64% say they wanted to learn something that would allow them to help others more effectively.
  • 60% say they had some extra time on their hands to pursue their interests.
  • 36% say they wanted to turn a hobby into something that generates income.
  • 33% say they wanted to learn things that would help them keep up with the schoolwork of their children, grandchildren or other kids in their lives.

For workers who took a course or got extra training in the past 12 months, their reasons for wanting doing so ranged from career growth to job insecurity:

  • 55% of full- or part-time workers say they participated in work or career learning to maintain or improve their job skills. That amounts to 87% of professional learners who cited this as the reason they wanted to improve their skills.
  • 36% of all workers say they did such learning in order to get a license or certification they needed for their job. That comes out to 57% of professional learners who cited this reason.
  • 24% of all workers say they wanted to upgrade their skills to help get a raise or promotion at work. That amounts to 39% of professional learners who cited this rationale.
  • 13% of the full- and part-time workers say they were hoping to get a new job with a different employer. That amounts to 21% of professional learners who gave this reason.
  • 7% of all workers say they were worried about possible downsizing where they currently work. That comes to 12% of professional learners who gave this reason.

Technology assets: Among those with a smartphone and a home broadband connection (just over half the population), 82% have done some personal learning activity in the past year. For the remaining adults (those with just one of these connection devices or neither of them), 64% have done personal learning in the past year.

Technology assets are strongly tied to the likelihood that people engage in personal learning online. Those with multiple access options (that is, a smartphone and home broadband connection) are much more likely to use the internet for most or all of their personal learning – by a 37% to 21% margin – relative to people with one or no access options.

Race and ethnicity: African Americans and Hispanics are less likely to say they have pursued personal learning activities in the past year by margins that differ significantly from white adults. The differences for professional learning are less pronounced for African Americans, though still substantial for Hispanics. Some 79% of white adults are personal learners, compared with 64% of blacks and 60% of Hispanics. Additionally, 65% of white workers are professional learners, compared with 59% of black workers and 52% of Hispanic workers.

Type of job: Finally, the type of job a person has shapes the likelihood of having had professional training. For instance, four-fifths (83%) of those who work for the government have had some job training in the past year, while half (50%) who work for small businesses have had such training.

Read Article (John B Horrigan | pewinternet.org | 03/22/2016)

Life is literally a learning pursuit and we would like to assist with our service. Anyone can log into one of our webinars from the comfort and security of home. With complete two-way communication, they will experience face-to-face assistance on how to use the digital device of their choosing with an expert facilitator.

This face-to-face experience allows for questions and answers, a very important element of the learning process and a pillar of our service. Please support this effort today.

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