Having worked at the Winnetka-Northfield Public Library for over 20 years years, the Seniorita has watched technology transform the library world. Her goal is to greet and welcome all of you who feel uncomfortable with technology. She invites you to share your thoughts and ideas on the Seniorita blog by sending a message to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Posted by on Friday, May 3, 2013 at 3:30 PM
Seniorita recently spent three days in the hospital being tested, poked and prodded; trying to sleep; feigning a positive attitude; worrying beyond reasonableness (perhaps my finest skill); and observing technology first hand.
Observation #1: the higher the position, the less visible the technology connection. Translated, that means attendings, residents, fellows and interns, walked the halls the old-fashioned way, that is, free of visible technology tools. On the other hand, nurses and other patient care staff all pushed around mobile stations with a computer monitor, keyboard, and small work surface. Each patient's complete medical record was available on screen, and every item of patient care was recorded in meticulous detail within minutes of its happening.
Observation #2: Each person, no matter what the job, seemed perfectly comfortable with the technology. No panics, tantrums, or emergencies.
Basically, Seniorita was in a blend of the old and the new, and it was a fine and comfortable place to be. Physicians without gadgets seemed very human; yet other humans with gadgets were constant reminders of how technology makes life easier.
As a curmudgeon's curmudgeon, Seniorita, of course, has many opinions about the state of health care in this country. I'm sure you share many of the criticisms. I can only say that having been plopped in the middle of the old and the new made me grateful for all that is good about technology and health care.
Now if my bank account could only have an infusion...
Posted by on Wednesday, February 13, 2013 at 12:25 PM
Seniorita is about as far from the cutting edge of technology as possible. I grumble loudly about the latest trick I need to learn (don't even think the "old dog/new trick" thing) and I've been known to wish my computer would implode. In short, I have a love-hate relationship with technology.
However, since Valentine's Day is here, I've decided to be more embracing and to pretend I love technology. Who knows, I may even convince myself I do. So, here's what I love:
Accessing the library's website (www.winnetkalibrary.org); downloading ebooks and audiobooks; checking my library account for all kinds of information such as titles on hold, books checked out, and due dates; downloading the library apps to my mobile devices. And, I get great help from the library staff when I'm stuck!
Confirming appointments. I'm grateful for any reminders!
Looking up facts quickly. What did we do before our librarian friends taught us to use the likes of Google and Wikipedia?
Paying taxes online. I love being able to use one of the free online tax services to prepare my state and federal income taxes and to schedule and pay estimated taxes.
Keeping my calendar and address book up to date.
Paying bills online and scheduling future payments. What a convenience this is, particularly when I'm on vacation. In the old days, I'd write checks and ask a friend to mail them when I was out of town. Of course, my friend sometimes forgot to mail the envelopes and I got slapped with nasty late charges. Online payment has probably also saved me hundreds of dollars in postage.
Shopping online. Ah, yes, my favorite online activity! I've never had a problem with payments or returns. Best of all, it's great fun!
Posted by on Tuesday, January 8, 2013 at 3:23 PM
Now that Season 3 of Downton Abbey has debuted in the US, it's fun to get caught up in the buzz. Will someone save Downton? Will Matthew evolve into a total prig? Is the Bates story arcing downward? Will Lady Edith ever find a match? Will Lady Violet and Martha Levinson duke it out somehow? Who cares, you might ask, and what's it all got to do with technology in 2013?
Seniorita thinks the predicament of a new age enveloping Downton Abbey is not unlike the proliferation of technology in 2013. And those who are not able to adapt themselves to the realities of 2013 and beyond have a tough road ahead, just as all the Downton folks do. It seems that only Cora and the Bransons have a sense of the realities and possibilities of the new era that is dawning. But never in a million years could they foresee the 1929 crash, the importance of the jazz age, the buildup to another world war, for example.
Nor is every bit of their future gloomy and disastrous. Wonderful things like space exploration, TV, and the Internet are just around the corner. So, my fellow seniors, be of good cheer about technology. It may be confusing, unfamiliar and daunting, but it's the present and the future. Who knows what wondrous things it will bring us.
Posted by on Sunday, December 16, 2012 at 1:05 PM
Seniorita's been in a funk, the work equivalent of hiding under a desk and pretending to be invisible. How could this possibly be, you might ask: Had technology finally turned me into a babbling fool who was becoming more inept than usual with technology?.
But trying to hide isn't a good employment strategy, so I'm crawling back to reality in baby steps. Hence, the tale of the big black box (BBB). It's really a multitasking copy, fax, scan and email machine that lives here at the library in one of the staff areas. I usually look at the thing with horror &$151; too many bells and whistles to decipher, too many odd noises, and many other booby traps for the uninitiated and tech weary. I've managed to avoid using the BBB (except for simple photocopying jobs) for at least two years.
Well, confound it, last week I was forced to meet and greet the BBB big time. I had to figure out how to scan and email an exam the library had proctored for a distance learning student. Naturally, my innards churned at the prospect of this puzzle.
Well, here's the story and the beginning of my coming out from under my desk. After about a 2-minute lesson from our technology librarian, I learned that I could send off the required document with two simple clicks. Oh, BBB, I now consider you a best friend and one of the world's most wonderful machines. The moral of the story: Don't cringe and avoid whatever piece of technology bugs you. Find a charming guru, get a lesson, and keep smiling.
Oh, yes, and happy holidays.
Posted by on Wednesday, October 10, 2012 at 5:08 PM
House cleaning, spring cleaning, cleanup days the concepts give Seniorita the creeps. It's not that I'm hopelessly messy, although some might agree with that assessment. It's that "cleaning" seems to me a huge waste of time. Why in the world would I want to scrub a floor when I could do almost anything else?
Turns out, my aversion can have catastrophic results in the technology world. Computers need cleanups and they need them often. One of my friends, a retired IT chief and an engineer, recommends cleanup as a daily routine or one followed every time you log on if you're not a daily user.
Brian Krebs, an expert on internet security, discusses and explains three rules for online security in a great post: http://krebsonsecurity.com/2011/05/krebss-3-basic-rules-for-online-safety/. His Rule #2 is particularly applicable: If you installed it, update it. Says Krebs: "Bad guys are constantly attacking flaws in widely-installed software products, such as JAVA, Adobe PDF Reader, Flash and Quicktime. The vendors that make these products ship updates to fix security bugs several times a year, so it's important to update to the latest version of these products as soon as possible."
And, if you've installed software and no longer need it or use it, remove it. Leaving software active for longer than you need it creates opportunities for miscreants to damage your computer with viruses.
As to deleting these programs, be sure you uninstall them. Simply deleting the icon of the program only deletes the shortcut to start the program. To really remove the program, you need to uninstall it. The steps for this are different for a MAC than for a PC. These links will help you do it.
Free up data space by deleting files and emails that you no longer need. You probably, for example, don't need to keep the email that notified you that your order for chocolate truffles has shipped long after you've eaten the truffles. If you're sick of junk mail, you might want to unsubscribe from companies you don't want to hear from. At the bottom of these emails, a link usually tells you how to unsubscribe to these lists.
Then there's the issue of what to do if you want to donate your computer, pass it on to a friend or relative or recycle it through a community trash day. You certainly need to make sure that sensitive data on your hard drive doesn't fall into the wrong hands. Don't assume that deleting a file is enough to safeguard your personal information. And, deleting isn't as easy as it sounds. Some good tips on protecting yourself can be found at http://www.microsoft.com/athome/organization/personalfiles.aspx. There are services that will do the deed for you, most often with a fee. You can also buy software to do the cleanup. However you choose to do it, make sure you do it!
October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month. Go to www.staysafe.org for some great tips and information.
Posted by on Monday, September 17, 2012 at 4:45 PM
As are all libraries, the Winnetka-Northfield Public Library District is positioning itself to be vital and vibrant for now and the future. The only thing we know for certain is that libraries must change if they are to continue to be relevant to their communities. As books emerge in new formats, access points change almost as fast as the many issues in digital rights management.
As part of its commitment to staying relevant, the Library is revamping its collection to make sure it is up-to-date and as useful as possible. We have removed approximately 8000 books from the collection. You might well wonder how we chose which books to get rid of. The criteria were both simple and complex. If a book had not circulated in four years or was in poor condition, it was removed. Librarians used their judgment in evaluating each volume. For instance, major classics in a genre were retained even if they had not circulated.
The space formerly devoted to shelving these books is being redesigned into an inviting leisure area on our mezzanine. Our patrons will be able to browse books and magazines and read or listen to them from comfortable chairs. Laptops will be available; coffee will be offered. You might also wonder what's happening to those 8000 books. Rest assured, they are not going to the dumpster. We have signed a contract with Better World Books, a company that will sell the books online and send the Friends of the Library a quarterly check for the proceeds. To date, Better World books has picked up almost 300 cartons of books and sold over 600 of them. If you want to take a look at what's for sale, go to Better World Books.
Their site is full of useful information and statistics about the books. Check it out!
Posted by on Wednesday, June 13, 2012 at 3:46 PM
Hardly a day goes by without hearing about another Internet scam, identity theft problem or fraudulent phone call. It's bad enough that scammers and other pests are poised to pounce. The fact that seniors may be special targets is reprehensible. Take the case of one of my dear friends, an educated and intelligent woman who's managed her life quite brilliantly, thank you. Not too long ago, she got a robo call from a lovely young man who offered to help lower the interest rate on her credit cards. His spiel went something like this: "I know it would be hard for you to negotiate with your credit card companies on your own, but since I represent many, many people, the credit card companies will listen to me. All I need from you is your social security number." Of course, she gave it to him. Within hours, $2000 had been fraudulently charged to one of her credit cards. I don't have the heart to ask if her IRA and other accounts are still intact.
The cautions of the tale: Don't lose your common sense for a few disastrous minutes! As are many seniors, my friend is concerned about preserving her capital, so lowering interest rates is particularly appealing. The nice young man schtick was a factor, too. Don't be charmed by a charmer! NEVER give out your social security number to an unconfirmed source.
Then there's the relative in distress scam: it's so outrageous that one of the national TV news organizations did a segment on it. The facts: an unsuspecting grandmother got a phone call from her alleged grandson who was out of the country, in trouble, and in need of a great deal of money. She was about to send the money when she realized something was wrong. Her grandson's name was Matthew; he never, ever was known by Matt. However, when the caller referred to himself as Matt, grandma's alert button went on.
The cautions of the tale: This was a sophisticated operation in which the crooks had used one of the grandson's social media accounts to duplicate his voice and speech patterns. Many variations of this deviltry can tempt the vulnerable, such as the scam where a person gets an email from a friend who is traveling and needs money immediately. Think long and hard before succumbing to such a request. And, by all means, do a little research. The friend in need might be safely at home.
If you're wondering about simple ways to protect your identity, stay tuned for more on passwords, viruses, etc. In the meantime, take a look at AARP's new book, Outsmarting the Scam Artists: How to Protect Yourself from the Most Clever Cons or The Complete Idiot's Guide to Protecting Yourself Online.
Posted by on Friday, April 13, 2012 at 2:28 PM
Seniors suck. At the library, we have a bowl of help-yourself lollipops at the Reference Desk. One of our librarians noted with a twinkle that it seemed that older patrons were the most common raiders of the sucker dish. Seniorita's ears flapped but soon realized that older people often suck (literally) because of bad teeth or sore or dry mouths. I guess it's self-evident that use of some of the technology gadgets might be difficult for people with poor vision, poor hearing, or physical problems such as arthritis or Parkinson's. My point: It would be a kinder world if everyone remembered that not all of us are nimble, quick, and graceful.
An apple a day... Apples once referred to chewy things, but today's usage probably has more to do with Apple (and other) technology products and customer service. Daunted by buying and setting up a fabulous new tech toy? Don't be. On a recent excursion to a local Apple store, for example, Seniorita and her trusty companion were wowed by the store's commitment to customer service. Seventeen (really!) store staffers circulated throughout the small retail space, answered every possible question about every product in the store and made each customer feel special. Even Seniorita didn't feel like a dolt. Moral of this maxim: As a senior, you have every right to be treated with dignity and enthusiasm. Expect and demand great customer service; you'll probably get it. If you don't, go elsewhere. Remember, too, that you can always bring your device to the library for some TLC. We often have drop-in clinics/petting zoos. On Friday afternoon, May 28, for example, you can try out popular eReaders, receive one-on-one assistance and learn how to download free eBooks and audiobooks from the library. Come any time from 3 to 5.
Why? Because... Sometimes there's no rhyme or reason for something, and it's useless to obsess (those who know me will find that most amusing!) about trivia. I cannot help but marvel at some of the tech nomenclature. For example, to me a python is a big snake (shiver), but I now know it's a popular programming language developed by devoted fans of Monty Python. If you're often bewildered like Seniorita, get yourself a good overview of technology. At the library we have many fine offerings. One of them is The Nature of Technology by W. Brian Arthur. The Senior Sleuth's Guide to Technology is another great overview. And, a series called Computer Books for Seniors addresses all kinds of topics. iPad for Seniors, for example, is scheduled for June publication. To give still more clues on tech topics, Best Buy's Geek Squad is coming to both libraries in July. Check our website calendar for details. The word is that the program is not only informative but hugely entertaining.
His head's in the clouds. Cloud technology has replaced the notion of daydreaming in modern tech speak. The ambition of the cloud is to liberate your computer from the clunky, terrestrial box sitting on your desk and to send data off to the ether of the internet. This is the modern equivalent of the old-school practice of sending cumbersome files away for offsite storage. In more concrete terms, the cloud shares computing resources across the internet, so that you can run programs and access files that are not stored on your local computer or device. This helps keep your device light in both weight and price, since intense computations and large file storage can be performed by powerhouse computers elsewhere. More on cloud technology is promised.
For now, gotta go. Dewey calls. TTFN.
Posted by on Thursday, January 26, 2012 at 3:46 PM
Seniorita confesses to being rather frivolous lately with Christmas cruises and online dating on her mind. Reality set in, however, with the arrival of the January 23 issue of The New Yorker and Donald Hall's wondrous piece on aging, "Out the Window." Don't miss it!
Hall at age 83 speaks eloquently of the passage of the seasons, the passage of decades, and the passage into old age. None of what he says is a touchy-feely paean to aging; in fact, his observations are bittersweet, sans nasty bitterness. The piece is the most realistic and compassionate description of old age I've ever read. My favorite parts: "...old age is a ceremony of losses" and "When we turn eighty, we understand that we are extraterrestrial." The totality of the piece will break your heart. It also amazed me that technology never once came up!
I recommended the article to a friend who read it and called to say that Donald Hall had been one of his professors at the University of Michigan and, you Dumb Seniorita, that Hall is a distinguished writer and poet who was Poet Laureate of the United States in 2006! (Check out Hall's credentials in the Wikipedia.) No wonder he is able to sum up the enormity of old age in a little more than three pages.
"Out the Window" should be required reading for every person over 60. And, with a little luck, some under 60 may read it and look at us old goats differently, although that may be too much to hope for.
Posted by on Thursday, January 19, 2012 at 3:24 PM
The North Shore Senior Center's e-newsletter reports on its tantalizing program that's coming up at its Morton Grove Campus:
Seniorita wishes she'd thought of this program first but promises to follow up with something equally fantastic at the Winnetka Library. In the meantime, one of our young librarians is willing to help anyone write an online dating profile. She's too adorable, so won't someone please take her up on her offer? Who knows, you might end up sounding like Matt Damon or Angelina Jolie.
Anyone willing to share online dating experiences??
Happy Valentine's Day in advance.
Posted by on Monday, January 9, 2012 at 10:57 AM
Seniorita is spending two weeks on a small cruise ship in the Caribbean. Yep, it's totally decadent, but I'm enjoying every moment. Ever the Seniorita, I decided to check out how my fellow passengers are using technology. Keep in mind that most of us are over 60, with perhaps 25% of us over 70. Here's where I looked and what I found.
Poolside: I thought I'd see loads of Kindles and Nooks, particularly because we were intermittently at sea for four days with no shore excursions. So, my traveling companion and I took a stroll around the pool deck, each spying on half of the crowd to find out what passengers were reading and how. Much to our surprise, we found that printed books were the overwhelming choice . We estimate that printed books were used by at least 80% of those who were reading. Most of the books were best sellers, thrillers or suspense novels (Stieg Larsson, James Patterson, Kathryn Stockett, for example). I'm the first to admit that this little exercise was totally unscientific; the results, however, were not what we expected. Perhaps ereaders are not as popular as the hype has lead us to believe?
Public Areas and Open Decks: Here, too, we found very few Kindles/Nooks, but we did see iPads in use. Now I have to tell on myself. I brought along a copy of Robert Massie's Catherine the Great. It's over 500 pages, but, what the heck, I was sure I'd get through it in 14 days. Well, I got to page 200!! The warm air, sun, and gentle (mostly) rolling of the ship put me to sleep almost every time I opened the book NOT because of the quality of the book. I'd feel shame, except it was too much fun to pretend that I too was a Russian grand duchess who could nap whenever.
Library and Internet Café: Books, magazines and newspapers ruled here, too. There were seven public Internet stations, never all in use at the same time. All were used to access email. A ship's staff person was on hand to help the needy. Not only did he speak several languages, he had to deal with various levels of proficiency. He did it kindly and intelligently. Everyone was happy! Customer service is customer service anywhere in the world!
How about sharing your experiences with technology when you're far from home. Do you go techless and revert to being incognito? Do you bring your Kindle and/or Blackberry with you? Incidentally, Blackberry users (mostly men checking business dealings) were able to connect about 90% of the time. What do you like to read on vacation? Do you keep in touch with family and friends at home on a regular basis?
Posted by on Wednesday, December 21, 2011 at 11:57 AM
One of my friends is a SuperSeniorita she was head of Information Technology for 28 years for a large, national insurance firm until her recent retirement.
I asked her what she thought seniors should be doing with computers and technology in 2012. Her advice: "Learn one feature a week or month and get that one down pat. Also focus on only one way to do something and continually use that method. The old adage about 'keeping it simple' is very applicable to technology. Technology is only good when you use it to make a task easier or to enable a capability you did not previously have. Less is more!!!"
How simple is that? Why not carve out a few hours to learn Excel? The Library offers quarterly classes in both Basic and Intermediate Excel. The classes are announced in The Source, the library's newsletter, at the beginning of each quarter. You can also see the list of computer clases on the library's website and register online. When you register, you will receive a confirming email about the class.
If the class is full, you can work at your own pace through one of the tutorials offered on the library's website. Click on the "Research" tab, then on "24-hour Resources," then scroll down to the "Computers" section.
Posted by on Wednesday, December 21, 2011 at 10:33 AM
It could be two new front teeth, but a better bet is that someone in your family wants to give you an e-reader as a holiday present. You might want to drop a hint about which gadget you'd like a Kindle, Nook, or something else. Scroll down for a comparison of the many available devices. Please keep in mind that some of the information may be inaccurate because the technology changes so fast.
You'll need access to a computer to do the initial setup for the device you choose, but once you're set up, it's a cinch to download books. If you're traveling this winter, you won't have to clutter up your suitcase with heavy books. Maybe you'll even have a new device before your grandkids do!! That would please Seniorita no end!!
The library has instructions for downloading to your new device or you can bring it to the library for hands-on personal assistance.
A word of advice: Be patient and read the device instructions carefully. Yes, you will be able to understand them! One of our library visitors brought in his disabled device, plunked it down on the Reference Desk, and said it was the worst present he ever got. Turns out too many helpers at home tried to fix a small problem and managed to temporarily hobble his device. (The solution was a simple hard reset!) If you get in a mess, trust your own good sense and don't for a minute believe the technology is beyond you. It isn't!
Have a great holiday.
|Price||$79 - 389, no tax||$139, plus tax||$149, tax may apply|
|Screen||6 or 9.7||6||6 (5, 7 older models)|
|Connectivity||- WiFi, all models|
- WiFi and 3G, some models
|Wifi only||- Wifi|
- (none or 3G, older models)
|Touchscreen interface||Some models||Y||Some models|
|Capacity||2-4 GB||2 GB (expandable)||2 GB (expandable)|
|Compatible with Library downloads?||Y||Y||Y|
|iPad||Nook Color||Kindle Fire|
|Price||$499 - $829, plus tax||$249, plus tax||$199, no tax|
|Connectivity||- WiFi, all models|
- WiFi and 3G, some models
|WiFi only||WiFi only|
|Capacity||16-64 GB||8 GB (expandable)||8 GB|
|Compatible with most Library downloads?||Y||Y||??|
Posted by on Tuesday, December 20, 2011 at 2:23 PM
Having worked at the Winnetka-Northfield Public Library for 21 years, I've watched technology transform the library world that we of a certain age fondly remember. I'm not always certain what the transformation means, and I'm not so sure all of it's a good thing, but change and technology are constant and ever-present.
If you're over 60 like me, you may suffer from varying degrees of bewilderment. Why in the world do I need the Internet, I-phones, I-pads, E-readers, MP3 players, Twitter, Facebook and so on? And if I have access to them, how in the heck do I use them? We're often stymied unless grandchildren or tech-savvy family members or friends have the time to explain what they've learned in school or at work.
And did I mention patience? I've seen those looks from grandchildren who make us feel so out of date when we don't know the most basic computer convention. One staff person at the Northfield Branch library reminded me, however, that many of us older library users have enjoyed wonderfully successful careers before the Internet changed the world. We're all just a bit ahead of the times, not behind them!
To try to keep up, some of us have run to formal classes, to online demos, to books and to the Internet itself. Bravo, I say. On the other hand, some of us would rather crawl naked through a parking lot than admit we're clueless. I must confess, I'm often part of the latter group especially when I've fumbled around on my computer and done something I didn't mean to!
Hence, I'm trying to morph into Seniorita, the Technology Maven. My goal is to greet and welcome all of you who feel uncomfortable with technology. I invite you to share your thoughts and ideas on the Seniorita blog. I plan to share news of the tech world that is particularly exciting and relevant for seniors, to ask for your opinions and ideas, to report your triumphs and frustrations, to find answers for you, and so on. In short, to set up a dialog that anyone in our community can be part of.
Two caveats: As a library employee, I cannot and will not endorse one product over another, nor can I be responsible for any operating problems you may have as a result of something Seniorita says.
All that having been said, I am looking forward to hearing from you!