Top 10 free Windows applications

These applications have been around for a while so they have been peer and community reviewed pretty thoroughly. Most of them are cross platform and they are all high performing applications . Some of them have a pro paid version but all of them are very functional as free applications. I am always using Gimp and I did used to use Scribus .This video reminded me to take another look at it. These applications are very much for 2018 so  , if you have time, take a look. Open Office is good to have loaded if you want an alternative to cloud services. It doesn’t have the high end graphics and presentation capabilities of the Apple and Microsoft alternatives but it works really well. Libre Office is also free and equally as good.

Linux Mint 17.2 Raphaela

Raphaela desktopI first encountered Linux Mint 17.2 when I installed it on an HP desktop computer in 2015. 3 years later and I have just installed it on my vintage 2006 HP Compaq Presario V6000 because the Linux Mint Nadia was unsupported. I was actually wondering whether it would run  or not. As it turns out it is running beautifully and very fast . I have a 1.6Ghz chip , 75Gb hard drive and 1.5Gb ram. I really was not expecting 17.2  to be this efficient. There are a couple of issues , though. When I first put Linux Mint on this laptop because it was struggling to run Windows I lost access to wifi capability. No amount of installing Broadcom drivers helped. Not working with Linux Mint 17.2 either and I have tried everything. I have used every fix I can find on the net and everything else I could think of. I am running wifi off an old D-Link wifi adapter. I have a nice little D-Link DWA-131 but that doesn’t work on Raphaela and doesn’t work on Ubuntu 16.04 either. Works instantly on Windows. The fixes do not work. My old D-Link adapter is reliable across all operating systems. That’s interesting.

I can’t load Virtual Box, which I was hoping , and have tried different versions. No matter. I have it on Windows 10 and Ubuntu 16.04. I probably don’t have enough system resources to run it on this Compaq . There is no excuse for the wifi, though . I have read that the onboard wifi card  for this V6000 can just stop working. Why? I have so much vintage technology which still runs fine and to different degrees to efficiency.

The two other odd things about 17.02 on this laptop is the driver manager doesn’t open first time. I always have to click on it a second time, then I have had tabs crashing on me in Firefox, a new experience for me, so I have downloaded and installed Chromium.

Apart from the things mentioned I am really pleased with how this is all going on my old laptop. This is the one I take out and about and I used to use a mobile stick with it which meant it didn’t matter if I could access wifi or not. Now I have to access wifi with a clunky dongle but I am in no way complaining. I live in 2018. I need wifi.  I have yet to see if it will run off a mobile hotspot.

The graphic display on this laptop is still excellent and it loads programmes like Gimp really quickly. It is working really well. Sometimes you just need to be using  an older laptop because you don’t want to put your new one at risk for whatever reason. I like the keyboard on this and it has stood the test of time since the keys are not worn in any way. Raphaela is cruisy and has given my old Compaq such a cool makeover.

iPad Pro or Surface Pro?

 

 

There is some good competition going on now between the iPad Pro and the Surface Pro. It means, down the track, we’ll actually get  really good,  bigger tablets than the ones we currently have. It will come down to price, stylus , battery life and use. We need to stop the notion that one size fits all and work on what users need and want and look at what users are using the device for. For some it will be an iPad Pro because they are used to an iPad and have an iPhone. They can easily go between their devices. For now, the iPad Pro is winning on art work capabilities and camera but the Surface Pro has the computing power and capabilities of a desktop/laptop and is improving all the time. The keyboard may or may not be an issue because it will depend on how you use the keyboard and what you need it for.  They are both bigger and so not so portable as such. An iPad mini or small tablet can just go anywhere really easily. A phone is even more portable.

A bigger tablet, though, takes advantage of the real graphics improvements we have had over the last couple of years. The screen real estate is superior and so can display images and videos better. Why peer at a tiny screen when you can really enjoy and appreciate the graphics quality in 2018?

Tablets are very bad at note taking. You can never write as neatly and as small as on paper. You can’t get the feedback properly and it always comes back to writing like an idiot. Yes, you can do some good artistic writing but for normal note taking there is a long way to go to get that screen response to the stylus and then the accuracy we are capable of with our manual dexterity. If either of those tablets could cross that bridge we’d all be winning. Why write when you can type is how it goes at the moment?

With a larger tablet you’d have to consider screen replacement costs should the screen become damaged. You’d have to know the serial number and have some sort of security apps installed because they are portable and then become a temptation to others. Protecting your tablet would become important as is the case with a laptop but these tablets are expensive and so it would be vital to ensure some sort of security if you were going to be taking them out.

How do you decide? The Surface pro is a lot dearer. For some that will decide it. The simpler models are more comparable in price. There are different versions of each so it is important to look at what you are getting for the price. You then have to look at what you would actually do with a bigger tablet. If you are a computer apps person and use a lot of Windows programmes then that is the way you go. iIf you happily use your iPad apps and your already have computing power in a laptop or desktop then that’s your choice if you want a bigger tablet screen. A lot of people would. They can see the screen better, use the screen better and then make better use of the tablet. You have to be able to sit comfortably with it , though, and so it’s important to consider how you will manage that aspect of tablet use without resting it directly on your body.

 

Tech savvy seniors

Seniors are more competent with technology than the world would have us believe. As mentioned in my post recently, the younger ones have been through jobs with technology training and requirements. As such they can be contributing to the backbone of technology today because they have the skills and knowledge to manage data, game,  curate, beta test, develop websites, online communities, video tutorials, online courses and so on. Some seniors remain disconnected because they haven’t had the chance to improve their skills and understand what connectivity might mean for them. The Australian Federal Government has responded to that need and learning gap by providing the Be Connected website and initiative:

Through Be Connected, older Australians are able to learn the basics of how to connect online, including how to:

  • use a digital device
  • be safe online
  • send emails
  • use Facebook and other social media
  • shop online
  • share holiday photos with family, and much more.

Organisations interested in in delivering these services and becoming part of the Be Connected Network should contact the Be Connected National Network Manager, Good Things Foundation.

Four years ago Mashable published an infographic about the technology which was used more by millennials than seniors in America. Four years laters I would expect that infographic to have changed. At the time basic mobile phones, desktop computers, VCRs, cable TV and satellite TV were more popular with people  of 65 and over. I doubt many seniors would be playing video tapes these days. More and more have adopted smartphones or come into retirement with a fully functioning smartphone. A lot more have tablets and the streaming market has burgeoned since then. It would be interesting to see how that played out now.

The Pew Research Centre has a very good article about technology use and seniors and the sorts of things which are blocking them. Seniors are no different to any other age group. They need personal learning plans, personal learning networks and personal learning options to enable their capacity to make best use of technology.

Pay attention to colour

aspergers syndrome colourImage: Aspergers syndrome – creating a supportive environment

 

Technology is colour. Screens are colour. Our life is very much visual. It is important to pay attention to the colours you use when you are creating screens for people to look at because colour enhances meaning, reaction, engagement and mood. There is currently a belief you need white areas to help the absorption of content. When it comes to reading the belief is that text should no longer be justified and have straight edges. I’d say that is for people whose reading skills are not optimum. People with good reading skills manage straight edges and dense text very effectively because they are taking in the information by reading downwards more than across. Jagged edges interrupt that downward flow as do areas of white space. Do your own research for your target audience. What do they react to better? What do they manage better? Can you offer visual options? Colour, though, is central to getting information across. Understanding Graphics has 10 good reasons why you should be paying attention to colour. .

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