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Enabling Seniors To Leverage Technology & Stay Home, Will Be *Very* Big Business

netsurfIn November of 2013, I wrote a post called New Connected Device for Seniors at Home that received thousands of unique views in its first month. That post was one that continued on a topic regarding technology for seniors that started with one of my most popular posts ever with tens of thousands of views, Elderly Need Super-Simple, Phone-like Skype.

I was certainly interested in this topic…but why were so many others?

My interest began as my father, Bill Borsch, was aging-in-place and in his last few years (he passed away in March of 2013). I was filled with anxiety knowing so much about available technology, but feeling like I couldn’t quite leverage what was currently available.

Knowing that we were right on the cusp of tech that would transform his world was both exciting and anxiety-producing since I really wanted to help him out. Sadly, it turns out that 2011-2013 was still too early for me to deliver any sort of transformative technology in Dad’s home. I’d purchased him a very early SmartThings kit (from their Kickstarter project) but even that was too early at the time.

Today we have a lot of great technology for (or able to be leveraged) that seniors can use, but the entire “connected aging” space is changing almost by the week. There are so many things going on in the space right now like personal security and medical alert stuff, wearables including the Apple Watch, connected in-home automation sensors and devices, and so much more, that it is really hard to stay on top of what’s going on.

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Backup Factoids to (Hopefully) Get You Off Your A$$

infographic-snippetIf you already backup all of your digital data on all devices—or have a company strategy that takes care of it all for you along with your mission-critical data—go ahead and watch this instead of reading this post.

If you don’t, or are looking for some data on the costs of loss or downtime, you need to peek at what the gang over at Singlehop sent me after reading my post, Your Mom DEMANDS That You Backup Your Computer!. In it they asked if they could send over an infographic they’d created which I could share with you.

Normally I decline when I get these sorts of requests, especially since they number 2-3 per week, but I am passionate and adamant about backing up and hopefully these factoids will motivate you to take steps NOW to do the same for yourself or your organization. Besides, it has some really interesting factoids within it you will undoubtedly find interesting.

Here is that infographic:

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My Apple Watch & Dick Tracy

dtwtchAs a kid, I was always fascinated by Dick Tracy and his gadgets. Add to that my interest in mystery novels—especially ones like Mike Hammer when I got older—buying a smartwatch has been in the back of my mind but I didn’t like any of the current ones. Getting the functionality promised in my soon-to-arrive Apple Watch, however, is something I’m looking forward to not as a gadget guy, but as that little kid who wanted a wrist-radio-watch.

Now I kinda, sorta regret not building my “private detective office” when my wife and I were constructing our current house back in the early 1990s since having my wrist-radio-watch would have fit in perfectly.

My home office space would have been awesome as a “private eye’s” office. With french doors that swing open to the office space, I thought I’d make something that looked somewhat like this 1930s-era private eye’s office:

pdoff

20-inch-monitor-on-deskBut it wouldn’t have made sense, especially since I had a HUGE computer display, Mac tower, VoIP digital phone with headset and a Powerbook laptop on my desk! As you can see from the photo on the left, that enormous display and other technology would have looked very weird in a 1930s-era private eye’s office.

Still, I was able to get my “private detective fix” by getting my kids in on the action. They, too, were enthusiastic about kids being resourceful or as private detectives in movies such as Home Alone, Harriet the Spy, and Who Framed Roger Rabbit. My son and I would read my old Hardy Boys books together as well, and he became an avid reader of those and hundreds of other fantasy, science fiction and mystery genres.

kids-as-detectivesIn the photo on the right, taken one very cold and bleak winter-weekend day, I’ve hidden my pager (yes, I carried a pager in the 90s!) and it has been stolen and the country’s two best detectives, Alex and Biz, are on the case. I made fake fingerprints and put them around the house and they set about solving the mystery.

Only one fingerprint was different and, of course, it had a matching one on the pager itself (which was stuck in a drawer). There were a bunch of other clues and the kids had to investigate and figure out where the pager had been placed. It was fun and they solved the mystery, albeit too fast so we had to find other stuff to do that day.  😉

dtwbDid you order an Apple Watch? It’s highly unlikely that anyone under 40 years of age—and especially my own kids—won’t have a lot of context for Dick Tracy and probably won’t even think about how awesome and cool the technology really is with a wearable device like this one. My kids don’t seem to ache for future technology like I did as a child. They just expect that new technology will appear, be awesome, and enable them to do things better, cheaper and faster.

By the way, if you happen to bump in to me after my Apple Watch arrives, and I’m dressed like Warren Beatty in the Dick Tracy movie, please do not just walk up and say, “Hi Steve!” since I might be on an important case.

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Your Mom DEMANDS That You Backup Your Computer!

mom-n-kidI know, I know…when someone gets after you for not backing up your computer, it sort of feels like Mom is badgering you to brush your teeth and wash your hands, right?

Mom was right. Clean teeth are happy teeth and don’t you DARE touch anything with those filthy hands! If your Mom had included data backup in her admonishments to you, she would have been right about that too.

forgotWhen it comes to backing up your personal computer—you know, the one that contains all your digital photos, videos, music, important files and more—you probably think to yourself, “I’ll do it soon” or “Maybe I’ll use a cloud backup service someday” or “I have a solid state drive and, um, they don’t crash?” Unfortunately your best intentions, procrastination, laziness or nonchalant attitude won’t save those ONLY COPIES of precious baby photos, images from your wedding, videos of a family vacation, or those critically important, now-digital documents you’ve already shredded, when your hard drive crashes and can’t be recovered.

You have four options when it comes to backing up your one-and-only copy of a digital file:

  1. Buy a cheap drive and backup to it. Cheap drives don’t last long and aren’t that durable. I’ve had several go bad on me over the last 10-20 years.
  2. Backup to the cloud with a service like Crashplan. If you have multiple terabytes of data, however, it could take weeks to backup (and use a lot of your internet bandwidth) or you’ll be sent a big drive and you’ll have to backup to it and then ship it to the cloud service (to get a headstart on future backups and save both you, and the cloud backup service, a lot of bandwidth cost).
  3. Buy an ioSafe secure vault drive (more on that below).
  4. Do nothing and hope your computer’s drive never crashes, a power surge or brownout doesn’t fry the drive, your house doesn’t start on fire, or some burglar doesn’t come in and take your computer and its files for a joy ride in his stolen car.

Option #4 is like not having homeowner’s, auto, or health insurance. You may never need any of them, but if you do and aren’t insured, you’ll likely lose big or lose everything.

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John Oliver on Surveillance

Love how he can wrap very serious content with enough funny stuff to keep us paying attention…and understanding what’s coming is exactly what we all need to do (and yes, that includes you):

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Anyone, Anywhere, Anytime (Unless You Use Apple)

webrtcAs more of us work virtually, it is imperative that we can communicate with each other easily, seamlessly, and that the web browsers we use support standards vendors agree upon.

One such browser-based technology already exists. With it you launch a web browser that supports this technology and “call” anyone, anywhere who has internet access. You could see them on video. Share your screen with them. Get in to a chat or a group chat. Share files with each other. Plus, since web browsers run on virtually every modern mobile device, this ability would extend to your communications anytime.

Unfortunately, the #1 most promising technology, WebRTC, is only minimally supported at this moment. A standards battle is underway and is yet another one amongst giants hoping to dominate the next wave of unified communications…to our detriment IMHO. Seamless, easy, ubiquitous communication capability—with anyone, anywhere and anytime—should be in our hands already. The technology exists and works well.

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Napkin: A Surprisingly Powerful Communication Tool

napkin-logoGoing through my news reader early this morning I came across this one sentence post by John Gruber at Daring Fireball. It referenced a Mac app called “Napkin” and Gruber said that it’s a “great update” so I thought I’d check it out.

Wow. How did I not know about this app? Napkin allows you to essentially create a mashup of media that you can annotate and quickly share.

Huh?” you may ask. What do you mean by “annotate and quickly share” Borsch?

napkin-pip

An example of a screenshot annotated in Napkin and immediately exported to my desktop and imported in to this post. Time to create was about 1 minute.

My workflow consists of communicating with people every single day that are not in my office and some I’ve never even met personally. I have to communicate concepts to people at our clients, on my team, to subcontractors, and to friends and family. If I write up a bunch of text about a concept, often people just don’t get it. Creating a quick screencast is very time consuming so I only do that when my communication to one or more people absolutely requires it.

For my high value concept communications, let me tell you about the steps I went through before, and then after, I used Napkin.

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Would Steve Jobs have thought STEM dangerous?

stem-sj-fzIf you care about American education, our kids and our future, you should take a few minutes to read one of the best defenses of a liberal education I’ve read in a long while.

The article by Fareed Zakaria in his Washington Post column, Why America’s obsession with STEM education is dangerous, argues that a liberal arts education

Mr. Zakaria starts of with an understanding that most of us agree that the current state of education in the United States is flawed. That education is a critical precursor driving our ability to compete in the world, and that America’s seeming defocus on science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) is at the root of our nation’s perceived competitive decline in the world.

What does this have to do with Steve Jobs?

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Never, Ever, Send Confidential Stuff via Email

Do you send private, confidential or secure information inside an email? Don’t. Never. Ever.

You might already know that emailing from a public Wifi hotspot is a huge problem since it is so incredibly insecure (see my post You’re in Danger on Public Wifi! for more). Since all of your information passes in the clear, it’s trivial for someone to snag it and read it or download the attachments.

The kicker? Email heading across the internet, sitting on a mailserver, or being retrieved by someone else in a non-secured way means that your private, confidential, secure information is also exposed.

Two reasons you should care about your email getting hacked.

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One Word Describes the Retina iMac with an SSD: Wow!

retina-imac

Yesterday I picked up a 27″ iMac with Retina display that I’d ordered in December with some end-of-year money. The machine has so stunned me with its display, thin design, and super-fast solid state drive (SSD), that it has almost instantly changed my relationship with my Mac.

huggingYou may ask, “What…are you in love with your Mac, Borsch? Do you hug it?” (That came from a buddy in an email, who thinks I have far too much affection for technology!). 😉

The answer is “yes” since my face is in front of this machine for hours each day. I use it for photo work, video editing, podcasting, writing, finance work, and a bunch of other tasks. I’d played with one in the store, but until I got it home, migrated my previous 27″ iMac’s files and settings to this new one and started to use it, did I realize why and how that relationship has shifted with just a couple of hours of use.

In no particular order, here are a few impressions with only a few hours usage:

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