Listen as Irene McDermott, author of The Internet Book of Life, shares with Georgia’s Barbara Dooley her own story of finding romance over the internet . This interview originally appeared on WGAU AM, News and Talk radio in Athens Georgia.
The video phone of the future has arrived and it’s free. What a blessing for seniors who are separated from their families. “My 91-year-old grandmother in Tokyo uses Skype to keep in touch with my mother in Los Angeles,” writes special librarian Takako Nagumo. But Skype has practical implications beyond family cohesion.
“My 95-year-old grandfather is lucky enough to have found doctors who will make house calls, but my grandmother is always concerned that she may not understand all of the doctor’s instructions, so when the doctor comes, she and my mother both log on to Skype, so my mother can take notes and confer with the doctor, too.” Install Skype on any web-enabled device that is equipped with a camera and a microphone, including smart phones. Computers designed for seniors feature easy access to this generation-spanning technology. Skype was recently purchased by Microsoft.
After I turned on my Aunt Bert’s Wow! computer for seniors (http://www.mywowcomputer.com), I began to hook up her internet modem. Did it get its signal over a cable or the phone line? No! Following the suggestion of the Wow! computer people, Bert had contracted with Clear.com to receive her internet signal wirelessly through the 4G mobile network. We placed the modem near a window, plugged it in and voilà, it picked up the signal and began feeding high speed internet into the computer.
Bert’s plan costs $50 per month and she can end the contract at any time. Clear.com is now available in 80 cities across the United States. The company Clearwire, based in Bellingham, Washington, plans expansion of its network over the next year. Check the site to see if your city has coverage.
Toronto’s Jonathan Seliger’s company offers a web-based subscription solution for easy senior browsing. For about $150 per year, InTouchLink offers a simple interface designed to be used through the Firefox browser (http://www.mozilla.org) on any computer or tablet including Macs and iPads. It offers only large eight buttons including one for email, photos, and the web. InTouchLink stores the email and photos on its own server so that users can’t accidentally delete them. InTouchLink also sells licenses for multiple users in retirement communities.
GiftRocket is a new web-based app that connects with PayPal to wire money for any business listed in Yelp to anyone with an email address and a smart phone. Say that you have a pal in San Francisco who put you up over the weekend. You want to thank him with a gift certificate for his favorite restaurant. Send him the certificate from the GiftRocket site and pay for it with a credit card or via PayPal. (GiftRocket charges 5% extra for credit card processing fees.) When your friend arrives at the restaurant (which will be confirmed by the GPS on his cell phone), he can redeem the gift certificate. Well, “redeem.” What happens is that your money flows into his PayPal account. From there, he can spend it as he will.
In 1976, Albuquerque detective Greg MacAleese was determined to find out who gunned down college student Michael Carmen at a gas station where he worked as a clerk. MacAleese filmed a video re-enactment of the murder and broadcast it on local media. The community responded with anonymous tips that lead to the arrest of the suspects within in 72 hours. That success prompted MacAlesse to establish Crime Stoppers, a non-profit organization that encourages cooperation between the police, media, and the community to “stop, solve and prevent crime” across Europe, Canada, Australia, South Africa, and the United States.
In America, Crime Stoppers USA (http://www.crimestoppersusa.com) and its local chapters across the country partner with local law enforcement to raise awareness of crimes and to communicate anonymous citizen tips to the police. Crime Stoppers assign informants a “secret number” that allows them to possibly receive rewards if their information results in a conviction. Visit the national website to submit a tip. Or, find a local chapter of Crime Stoppers and SMS a tip by dialing 800-222-TIPS (8477).
Crime Stoppers also offers a smartphone app to make it easy to report crime on the go. Tip Submit is free to iPhone users (http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/tip-submit/id415165546?mt=8) and those with Android phones (https://market.android.com/details?id=com.tipsoft.tipsubmitmobile).
In 2004, my Prius offered the latest in dashboard infotainment. It features a six CD changer, a cassette player, and plenty of free radio. I control the interior car temp with my voice, talk on my cell phone through the rear-view mirror, and get GPS navigation on my display screen.
Still, the maps in my dash are pre-loaded, not live. The latest service offered by Toyota brings the internet into the car via an app on the driver’s web-enabled cell phone. The Entune app communicates through Bluetooth to stream music from Pandora, get live traffic and news, and purchase movie tickets or make restaurant reservations. You can even search the web through Bing, although not while the car is moving.
According to Toyota, the Entune app out yet but will be available later in 2011.