I’m a Senior, and I need help…

House after Irma

I consider myself a partially-tech-savy senior. I’m 62, and I have built several websites in the last few years. But there are things I simply do not understand. In my former professional life, I managed a large marketing database for a major bank, and my department built a Management Information System for one of the largest credit card operations in the country. That was in the 1990’s.

You might think, well, a guy with that experience should understand all kinds of technical stuff. The technology world is changing much faster than I can (or sometimes care to) keep up. I still haven’t figured out many of the functions on my Android phone. I still have not fully made the connection that my phone (it’s only a phone to me) is actually a very sophisticated computer.

A friend of mine gave me an Amazon Fire for helping him build his website – and that is another astounding piece of equipment. That little device kept me connected all during Hurricane Irma, and through the immediate aftermath. It became much more than a book reading tool, and I was grateful to have it. My mis-understood Android phone was my secure hotspot, and the Amazon Fire became my day-to-day computer.

The Hurricane Irma experience provided me with a new outlook – and believe me, it was not by choice. There are truly amazing little tools all around us, if we embrace them. My phone and my book reader became critically important in the blink of an eye, and made me extend my vision and acceptance of technology that surrounds us. Sometimes we don’t realize what we have right in front of us.

Neighborhood after Irma NOAA

Please don’t wait for a disaster, like I did, to find out.

Now, as I am rebuilding my house in a post-Irma world, I am also trying to learn more about new technology that can make my life simple. I mean, simple – after the learning curve. I think with the newest devices, it’s not the sticker shock that gets me, it’s the shock I get after I open the box, look at the new device and say “What do I do now”? If you have ever had that feeling, you are not alone.

According to Pew Research, a major issue for adults over 50 is the learning curve: “… 48% of seniors say that this statement describes them very well: “When I get a new electronic device, I usually need someone else to set it up or show me how to use it”. This is complicated by the fact that the over 50 crowd is buying and using new devices at a very rapid rate. It is a strong wave fueled by the purchasing power of the Baby Boomers and the lack of knowledge of technological advancements in communications and the internet, including the IoT (Internet of Things).

When I came across TechStar Tutors, I applied to become a tutor. There are basic things I could teach, and I was also looking at it as a way to generate a little income while pursuing my interests in new technology. My logic was simple: the more I learn about technology and devices, the more I can teach. After talking with the owners, I am now the EVP of Business Development, and I am loving every minute of this gig!

We want to be there for all the people, like me, who need help when they open the box, or need help with a technical issue they cannot fix themselves. Right now we can help you in a handful of cities on a face-to-face basis, and we can help you anywhere via a remote connection (there’s that technology thing again – embrace it!). We are here for you. My job is to help expand TechStar Tutors across the country by opening satellite offices.

Sometimes things do not end up the way you see them in your mind. I have another experience that demonstrates that, which I will publish in another post. For now, grab that phone, book reader or laptop, and jump on the technology train!

Tim Grollimund is a published newspaper columnist, award-winning underwater photographer, Irma survivor and recently became the Executive Vice President, Business Development, for TechStar Tutors (https://www.techstartutors.com/).

Why You Should Buy the Apple Music App

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If you want a go-to music app that connects you with all the right features you need and want on an everyday basis, Apple Music may be the app for you. You may see the price of $9.99 a month (for one person) and think its pricy, but Apple Music provides you with enough functions and features to be well worth the price. To start out, the $9.99 price only comes into play 3 months after you first try it. They currently are offering a free 3 month trial on their website so you receive a decent amount of time to get accustomed to the app and it’s capabilities.

Do you have family members that could use a music app? If you do, then there is a family plan available for up to 6 family members for only $14.99. Not only is the price per person low for the family plan, it also allows you to access iCloud family sharing (A way to easily share all the music of your family members into one connected playlist).

Now let me take you through the app and provide a description of the different categories.

 

(1) “Library”

Apple Music Music Library Categories and Genres. Description of Apple Music and its categories.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Once you open up your Apple Music app, your “Library” is the first category available. In this area, you are able to see your own music library (if you have it uploaded/downloaded onto your phone). It also give you relevant categories such as Recently Added, My Top Rated, Top 25 Most Played, and other categories to organize your imported music library. If you have an iCloud music library, this would also be where it would show up.

 

(2) “For You”

Apple Music For You Category Page. Apple, account settings, music library, music, apple products, apple icloud, icloud, icloud library, family sharing, apple library, apple music appApple Music Account Setting Category Page. Apple, account settings, music library, music, apple products, apple icloud, icloud, icloud library, family sharing, apple library, apple music app

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the “For You” category (the above picture on the left), Apple Music uses your input on the “Get Started” tab to customize this page with handpicked playlists & albums based on your selections.

Also, this is the page where you can check your account information by clicking the red person in the top right corner. The account settings screen should look identical to the above picture on the right, and this is where you can view your Apple ID, change your name and redeem gift cards.

 

(3) “Browse”

Apple Music Browse Category Page. Apple, account settings, music library, music, apple products, apple icloud, icloud, icloud library, family sharing, apple library, apple music app

On the browse page, Apple Music gives you plenty of useful shortcuts for browsing the endless amounts of great music available for you to listen to. The big pictures on the top that you can swipe through right-to-left are the newest albums available on Apple Music… If you are looking for a quick way to access the newest material, the “New Albums” or the “New Music” category are good areas to look through.

Below the “New Albums” area, Apple Music has a variety of categories to make it easy to find what you are looking for. It gives you the option of choosing between New Music, Curated Playlists, Videos, Top Charts,  and Genres.  All of these options provide fantastic ways to find the newest and hottest music around at the touch of a finger. You could browse music for days upon days in this area.

 

(4) “Radio”

Apple Music Radio Category Page. Apple, account settings, music library, music, apple products, apple icloud, icloud, icloud library, family sharing, apple library, apple music app

Besides all the curated and handpicked playlists, genres, and charts, Apple Music also provides a “Radio” category. On this page, you can either check out the featured and live radio stations at the top (the ones with big pictures in the right-to-left swipe through area), or you can look at the categories below that.

You get to choose between “Beats 1 Shows” or “Radio Stations” and then you can browse to find a show or station that you may like; once you find and start playing a station or show, that station/show will now be conveniently available to you under the sub-category “Recently Played.” This provides an easy way to find the recent stations or shows that you enjoyed listening to.

 

(5) “Search”

Apple Music Search Category Page. Apple, account settings, music library, music, apple products, apple icloud, icloud, icloud library, family sharing, apple library, apple music app

Last but not least is the “Search” category page. This page allows you to search all of Apple Music for your favorite bands or songs; it also allows you to find the most trending artists or songs in the “Search” area.

Apple Music Search Category Page. Apple, account settings, music library, music, apple products, apple icloud, icloud, icloud library, family sharing, apple library, apple music app, the weeknd, apple search

As you can see, when you search for an artist (such as “The Weeknd” in the above example), the Apple Music search will pull up the “Top Results” (includes artist profiles, songs and albums) as well as a section for specifically “Albums.” If you keep scrolling down on the page you would see sections for categories such as Songs, Videos, Artists, Playlists and more. In the above example, the best place to go would be the Artist Profile so I’m going to touch on the top result labeled “The Weeknd” with the profile pic.

Apple Music Search Category Page. Apple, account settings, music library, music, apple products, apple icloud, icloud, icloud library, family sharing, apple library, apple music app, the weeknd, new music, search

This is what the Artists Profile looks like once you go into it. From here, you have access to that Artist’s Top Songs, Latest Releases, Albums, Videos, Playlists, Artist Description/Info, Connected Social Media posts, and Similar Artists. Take a note of the “+” symbol on the right of each song as I will talk about that below.

Apple Music Search Category Page. Apple, account settings, music library, music, apple products, apple icloud, icloud, icloud library, family sharing, apple library, apple music app, the weeknd music, apple music search

To reach this menu, you will need to hold/press down on the song name long enough for this menu to appear (this may only work on newer iPhones/Smartphones). One important thing to note is the “Add to Library” and the “+” symbol next to it. This plus symbol can be accessed from outside the menu as well and it allows you to add the song to your iCloud music library if you have one set up.

If not, there are plenty of other options available on this menu. You can Add to a Playlist, Play Next or Play Later  (Play Next means that you add the song next up on your song queue of music that will play; note that Play Next always adds the song directly next so as you add songs, the others ones you chose Play Next for will be pushed back in line. Play Later adds the song to the end of the current queue), Create Station, Share Song (through text, email, social media), Lyrics (to see the songs lyrics), and a Love and Dislike option to keep track of favorite songs.

 

 

As you can see, the Apple Music app is very beneficial to lovers of music that want a go-to app for everything music. It’s not a very expensive app for all that you get out of it. In fact, here is Ten Things Americans Waste the Most Money Onand a quick spoiler is that the annual cost of Apple Music is considerably less than all these ten things.

Now you know a little bit more about the benefits of Apple Music and why it may be a worthwhile investment for you or a friend. If you are interested in other technology articles, make sure to subscribe to our blog in the top right corner and follow our social accounts below!

 

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Did You Receive a New Technology Device for Christmas?

Using a new technology device. Apple iPad, tablets, apple, technology lessons, tablet lessons.

If you live in Richmond, VA and you received a new technology device for Christmas, you’re in luck! TechStar Tutors, a technology tutoring company for adults over 50, is providing the one-on-one and group technology lessons you need in order to fully utilize your device! We employ local college-aged technology Tutors that will meet with you for a personalized and face-to-face technology tutoring experience.Using a new technology device. Apple iPad, tablets, apple, technology lessons, tablet lessons.

In this blog, I will share with you 3 activities on your smartphone or tablet that can make life easier and more enjoyable.

(1) Online Shopping

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As major companies like AmazonApple and Google dabble more and more with online shopping, an increasing amount of gifts and products nowadays are being shipped directly to customers. Why not? Online products may be less expensive than their counter-parts in regular stores and all it takes is a couple clicks in order to receive the product without ever needing to leave your house!

(2) Online Banking and Finances

Using a tablet for banking and finances. Apple ipad, samsung tablet, smart tablets, tablet banking, online banking, mobile banking.

Many people use their computer/laptop to check their bank account and finances. How can a smartphone or tablet make this common process easier? It’s called banking on-the-go. With a smartphone or tablet, you can keep up with your banking statements, notices, accounts and stock portfolio while you are out and about! You can also download financial apps from companies like Wells Fargo, Bank of America, Chase, Paypal, E-Trade and Scottrade.

(3) Games and Apps

Collage of the icons of different tablet and smartphones applications and games. Smartphone games, Smartphone apps, Tablet games, Tablet apps, Words with Friends, Poker, Chess, Scrabble, Pinball, Zombies.

Move over computer and board games! There are numerous games and apps available on the tablet and smartphone. While board games and computer games can be more complex, the draw of an app is that it’s only a fingers touch away. From classics (ex: Chess, Scrabble, and Poker) to variations of classics (ex: Words with Friends, Star Wars Pinball, Battle Chess 3D) to entirely new creations (ex: Zombieville, Plants vs. Zombies, Candy Crush), the wide variety of categories will ensure you never grow tired of the App Store.

Besides the multitude of games available, there are plenty of useful apps that can simplify your life. From money-exchanging platforms (ex: Venmo and Paypal) to ride-share platforms (ex: Uber and Lyft) to tools (ex: Calculator, Notes Plus, Leveling Tools, AccuWeather, Google Maps, Reminders, Compass, LiftMaster, Translator, Decibel Meter) to social applications (ex: Snapchat, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, Skype, Facetime), there are plenty of non-game applications that will make life more convenient for you.

What are you waiting for? Use your new smartphone or tablet to improve your quality of life today! If you find yourself yourself needing to learn more about your smartphone or tablet, make sure you schedule a one-on-one technology lesson with us at TechStar Tutors!

TechStar Toons: Stay In “Toon” With Technology

technology problems, senior technology help, older adult needs tech help, computer assistance, computer lessons, technology tutoring, cartoon, funny cartoon

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If this TechStar Toon resonates with you, you’re not alone!  These days, older adults are trying to stay up to date with technology, so they can keep in touch with their friends and family, yet it’s often challenging and frustrating to do so.

Their children are too busy with their own lives to help: juggling demanding jobs, raising kids, enjoying a social life and managing a household. Plus, if families aren’t able to get together frequently or live in different places, it is even more difficult to help with technology questions over the phone. What adults over 50 really need is a go-to technology expert that has the time to patiently walk them through technology devices, social media, managing pictures and other questions they have.

That’s where TechStar Tutors comes to the rescue. TechStar Tutors connects adults over 50 with tech-savvy college students and graduates for personalized technology lessons, helping them to better use computers, laptops, smartphones, tablets, social media and other technology.  With one-on-one or group lessons, older adults can learn the skills they need to stay better connected with family and friends through technology.

Be sure to tell your loved ones that TechStar Tutors is here to help with all their technology questions!  Schedule a lesson today by visiting our website at www.techstartutors.com or calling 804-442-7827.  For more information, check out these resources below:

Click HERE for a blog on the benefits that social media can provide to adults over 50.

Click HERE for a story on how TechStar Tutors was started.

Click HERE for a list of technology lessons offered.

Learn about exciting new technology that lets older adults go on a virtual ride HERE.

Please subscribe to our blog on the right!

Benefits of Social Media for Adults 50 and Over

Teaching personalized technology tutoring lessons to adults 50 years and older. Benefiting older adults through one-on-one or group technology lessons. Picture of college-aged young woman teaching technology to older adult.

Positive health benefits attributed to social media make it well worth exploring.
By Jenna Harvey | July 14, 2016

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Social networking sites continue to expand and become an important part of today’s life both at home and work, with recent reports noting that two-thirds of American adults are using social networking sites.

Although one would think it’s the younger generations participating in all the social networking action, usage for the 65 and older crowd is on the rise. Pew Research Center reports that 35% of Americans 65 and older are using social media, nearly tripling numbers from 2010. Why is social media increasing in popularity for older adults?  Mainly, they want to feel better connected to family and re-connect with old friends.

Turns out, bridging generational connections with social media has positive health benefits attributed too. A recent research study determined that “training older people to use social media improves cognitive capacity, increases a sense of self-competence and could have a beneficial overall impact on mental health and physical well-being.”

Luckily, adults can become a social media maven at any age.  And with the endless opportunities to connect, learn, and be in the know, it’s well worth exploring.

“Training older people to use social media improves cognitive capacity, increases a sense of self-competence and could have a beneficial overall impact on mental health and physical well-being.”

For adults that need help in setting up their devices, learning social media, or finding the social networking sites that fit their interests, providers likeTechStar Tutors are ready to help. TechStar Tutors employs tech-savvy college students to deliver one-on-one or group technology tutoring lessons to help adults over 50.

With so many benefits of social media, we all have a role in encouraging our parents and grandparents stay better connected with us by getting involved on social networking sites.

Jenna’s Text-Savvy Tips

My parents tend to write their text messages like a formal email, including proper introduction, punctuation, and signature.  I always think about how much time it must take to think through each text, when it’s really not even necessary!  I have to give them credit though, as they have been getting better at texting, but I figured a few tips couldn’t hurt for them and the other parents out there.  

If you want to make your texting more seamless, here are a few tips I’d recommend: 

  1. No need for introductions.  You don’t have to be so formal, as texting is all about communicating quickly.  Feel free to just directly write what you are texting to ask or say. The “Hi Jenna. How are you?” introduction is not needed! 
  2. Skip the signature.  We already know who you are, since your text message is associated to your contact. “Love Mom” not necessary! 
  3. Shorthand is okay.  It’s totally fine to not spell out every word and just use abbreviations.  A few acronyms I tend to use are JIC (just in case), BTW (by the way), THX (thanks), IDK (I don’t know).  Brush up on other abbreviations here:
    http://www.connexin.net/internet-acronyms.html. 
  4. Punctuation is optional.  Along with the shorthand topic, proper sentences and punctuation are totally optional.  You can put a punctuation in between thoughts, not even use one at all, or use multiple in a row (!?!?!). Texting is one time its fine to ignore all your schooling on grammar lessons. 
  5. Emoji’s welcome.  Emoji’s help you express emotions and ideas, while livening up your text messages.  Share that you are excited, want to dance, are traveling, are doing something sporty, or anything else via a quick emoji (or a few) instead of typing it all out.  If you don’t have the emoji keyboard, ask your TechStar Tutor to help you.  For iPhone, here is a link to Apple support on how to use emojis (emoticons): https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT202332
Thanks for reading my texting tips! Feel free to leave any comments or share if you have any tips to add to the list! 

How I Started Teaching Personalized Technology Lessons to Older Adults

Back in High School when I was a cashier at Martins, I never imagined that teaching adults technology would be my next job. It’s not like I planned on it happening that way, but fortunately, one of my toughest setbacks ended up being a bridge for a brilliant business idea.

Right before Summer in 2015 at the end of my Freshman year at Virginia Tech, I completely tore my ACL and partially tore my MCL while playing a game of flag football with friends. I’m not unfamiliar with injuries because I’ve had my fair share of them, but this was definitely the worst one of the bunch. No longer could I get a job as a waiter or a cashier during the summer because of the intensive physical rehab and the long recovery time. At this point, it had seemed like all hope was lost for making money in the summer.

One day, my grandmother came over to see me after my surgery. She was talking about needing to call one of her friends, and took out her phone to do so. This all seems like a normal thing to do, right? The only shocking factor to me was she also took out a contact book to look up her friend’s number and was commenting on how it was frustrating to always carry it around with her. I asked her, “Why don’t you put your contacts into your phone and call your contacts using your phone instead?” After replying she didn’t know how to transfer the contacts, I offered to help her out sometime when she was free. This is when the initial business concept was born.

My grandmother knew that I wasn’t able to earn money throughout the summer, and offered to pay me in order for me to come teach her technology lessons at her home. I started helping her in a variety of different ways, I set-up her smartphone, customized her laptop for her, and got all her email settings the way she wanted them.

Eventually, she started becoming better and better at what I was teaching her and her friends were taking notice. I would go over for a lesson, and she would tell me that her friends from a community group she was in were all surprised and even a little jealous of her new technology skills and knowledge. This got me thinking about the bigger picture, instead of just being focused on what I was doing.

I realized the gigantic need there is for a personalized technology tutoring service that offers in-home technology lessons for older adults. There is a large market of adults 50 years and older that could use these customized technology lessons! At the same time, why not target college-aged students and graduates as the technology Tutors? College students like myself have grown up in this new technology age and have already learned most of the skills required to be a tutor simply because of the generation we are in. This way, we are providing a way to fulfill two different needs in society: Provide college students flexible, great wage jobs, and effectively train older adults on all the skills, knowledge and uses of their technology devices in a personalized setting.

I started working more on the overall business idea and came up with the name TechStar Tutors as our brand name. Also, our logo is symbolic and represents the bridging of the technology gap between generations by having the two sides come together in the middle to form a bridge.  Our logo runs with our tagline: Bridging the technology gap between generations.

In the end, I just want to provide qualified college students with the best part-time jobs at the same time as helping older adults better access their technology devices. I really hope this company does take-off so we can serve more and more people in different cities and eventually all over the country. If you know someone today that could use our services, make sure you direct them to our technology lessons today!