The internet, cell phones and ipads for beginners.

Information overload

The abundance of information on the internet can feel overwhelming at times. There is a tendency to spend a lot of time surfing the net and/or downloading files, editing files etc.  once you are on-line   As a result people can shut down from going online or else feel that it is too complex to use, especially if they have not gotten used to it over the years.  This may be true for some older people but many older people are very computer savvy.  I have one friend who is 68 and is a guru with Garage Band, a program that generates music scores on a computer screen and generates print outs of scores in different keys for different instruments.

Mobile Devices/hardware


I just love my Ipad.  I have the Ipad mini which severed me well in my trip to Mexico. There are now Ipads that are cellular enabled so you don’t need to take an Iphone with you.  However that is just wishfully thinking as the phone is easier to carry around.  The new Ipad pro comes with a stylus for drawing programs which in on my wish list.

Cell phones

I can only speak about my iphones which I have been using since the Iphone4.  I  will list the useful apps I have on my phone and I pad  and what they do.  I especially like the transit apps for Translink in Vancouver and Google Maps.

Here is the highest rated phone on Amazon.

function name of app ipad iphone purpose frequency of use
          3 = daily, 2 = weekly, 1 < weekly
entertainment scrabble x x play on line 3
entertainment CBC radio x listen on line 1
entertainment twitter x x read on line 3
entertainment Facetime x x talk on line 1
entertainment skype x x talk on line 1
entertainment Vancouver Public Library x read on line 1
entertainment overdrive x download from library, read on line 3
entertainment brainHQ x play on line 2
entertainment clarient tuner x x play on line 1
entertainment Itunes x download 1
entertainment optik TV x TV guide telus 3
entertainment Facebook x x read on line 3
finances Inverstorline BMO x x read on line 1
finances Vectorvest stock advisory (paid) x x read on line 1
health pacer x track steps 3
health my ehealth x x view lab tests on line 1
travel pay by phone x pay on line 2
travel BMO account access x x read on line 2
travel Hangtag x read on line 1
travel transit360 x way finding 2
travel findmycar x way finding 1
travel airline apps x x pay on line 1
travel google maps x x way finding 2
utilities roboform x x keeps passwords 2
utilities weathernetwork x x weather 3
utilities email x x read on line 3
utilities drop box x x save files 1
utilities daily notes x x keeps notes 1
utilities flashlight x view things in the dark 1
utilities magnifier 30x x enlarge print 1
utilities google drive x x safe files 1
utilities wordpress x x post to blog 1
seldom used
linked in


The chief value of the ipod that I can listen to music, the radio or pod casts and the battery doesn’t run down as fast as the battery in the iphone so you can listed for a couple of hours.

Navigating the internet

Site functions value
Facebook Set up your account. personal site created by you, open to viewing by  your friends by adding them.  You can upload pictures or links to other sites. 5/5  Good way to stay connected with friends and family or special interest groups.  Easy to use.
Twitter  Set up your account.

Brief news feeds from selected organizations or individuals.

 3/5. Kind of a time waster but fascinating none-the-less.  Nothing required of you unless  you want to retweet a feed to your followers. Easy to use.
Instagram Download to Iphone to post pictures.  Need to set up an account 1/5 It seems popular with younger people.  It could work as a photo album. You can share with selected people.
Skype Download the program to computer, tables or phone. You can talk over the internet with a webcam and it is free to chat with people everywhere for free or minimal cost. 4/5 Very useful for staying in touch with friends and family.
Facetime  Like Skype but for MACs and IPads and Ipods  5/5 Easier to use than Skype.
Pinterest  A web site with a lot of eye candy, especially food, fashion and pets.  You can post and view others posts. 1/5 Popular with a certain demographic but not very useful.  The recipe pictures are several clicks away from the recipes. Very annoying
YouTube view short videos about many things, including music, how to videos including many videos about computer instructions.  You can save videos if you set up and account. 3/5 Entertainment, some self help.  I don’t use this more than once a week.

Downloading and uploading music- Itunes

Undercover TouristIf you want to have music or the spoken word while you walk or run, you will want to download files from your computer and/or from Itunes  and upload it to your phone or ipod. You need your Apple ID and password to download.  You can also download audio books and podcasts.  The Itunes app will need to be installed on your computer and Iphone and and is free to use. However downloading music from Itunes costs about $ 1.00 per tune downloaded.  You have to set up an Itunes account if you want to buy files to download.    Itunes used to be easy to use but over the past couple of years it seems to be less user friendly.  Apple is moving to a paid music subscription service call Spotify   which is $10.00 a month so you can download as much music as you want.  Once you download files to your computer into the Itunes program, the music will synch with your iphone and ipod by plugging the iphone or ipod into the computer USB port.   You can also synch files on your computer via wifi or download files to your iphone directly from the Itunes app on your iphone.

Photos- uploading and downloading.

There are many packages for uploading photos and some are more complex than others.  The easiest way is to install Icloud on your PC and IPhone.  This takes about 5 minutes.  You need your Apple ID and password to download the software from the Apple Store.  Once it is set up on your PC you can choose what kind of files you want synched across your devices.   Having you email and bookmarks synched on all your devices is a must have.  I give Icloud a 4/5 but sometimes it stops working and you have to sign out and sign in again or restart or computer.

Password protection/software

My favourite software for saving passwords is  RoboForm.  I have used it for over 5 years and it is free. It saves all your passwords on your PC, your IPhone and Ipad and synchs them all.  It is quick and easy to install.  When you log into a site it presents you with the option to automatically save the password if it has not been previously saved.  And if the password has been saved you click on the name of the password and it will automatically fill in the password.  The whole system can be password protected.  This software gets a 5/5 from me.

Volunteer job screening

Like many other retirees, I thought volunteering was going to be an opportunity for personal development and social connections after I stopped working. I found that not to be the case.  So here is my check list to assess volunteer opportunities that may fit your wish list. The scores can be changed depending on what you are looking for.  I higher score is a more intense volunteer experience, a lower score, one that will take less time and resources.  You can download the Excel file here so you can score the form easily. volunteer screen.

 Recruitment and training  
1         How long is the volunteer candidate screening process? 1 month 2 months 3 or > 3 months score
3 2 1
2 Will a criminal record check be required? yes no
2 1
3 Will training be required yes no
2 1
4 how long is the training? 1 day or more 4-8 hours 1-4 hours
3 2 1
5 Can you walk there from home? no yes
2 1
6 Is parking available? no yes
2 1
7 How available is parking ? never sometimes always
3 3 1
8 What does parking cost? <$5 per shift > $ 5 per shift free
3 2 1
9 Is parking reimbursed? no yes
2 1
10 How long does it take to get there from the time you leave home? < 1 hour 30-60 min < 30 min
3 2 1
11 Is it on public transit? no yes
2 1
12 Personal safety in location scary Normal secure
3 2 1
13 How long is a shift? 8 hours 4-8 hours < 4 hours
3 2 1
14 How many shifts a week are required 5 or more 2-4 1
3 2 1
15 How long is the volunteer commitment? More than one month Less than one month One time only
3 2 1
16 What about if you want to take some time off? They can’t accommodate can accommodate with notice no problem
3 2 1
17 Can you take the winter season off to be a snow bird no yes
2 1
18 Morning shift Yes no
2 1
Nature of the work/job
19 What are the demographics the volunteers? Students Job seekers Seniors
3 2 1
20 What kind of clients? Vulnerable/     fragile/non English speaking normal Low maintenance/easy
3 2 1
21 What is the boredom meter (repetitive tasks with zero mental challenge) high medium low
3 2 1
22 Intellectual challenge low Medium high
3 2 1
23 Social interaction low medium high
3 2 1
24 New skills or knowledge acquired? none some lots
3 2 1
25 Travel required yes no
2 1
26 Physical energy required A lot some none
3 2 1
27 Speed required A lot some none
3 2 1
28 Patience required A lot some none
3 2 1
29 Stamina required A lot some none
3 2 1
30 Computer skills required A lot some none
3 2 1
31 Memory required A lot some none
3 2 1
Total score 0