The “Golden Age” of TV has arrived!

Disney+ steaming service
Disney+ Streaming Service

Today I watched a national TV morning show host say that we are in the “Golden Age” of TV.

I believe that he hit the nail on the head! Never, since the advent of TV in the late 1940’s, have we had so many choices to watch on today’s not-so-little-screens.

In the United States since the 1950’s we have had the networks of ABC, CBS, and NBC on our televisions. More recently additional networks such as FOX, PBS, and few others joined in the fray.

With the advent of cable and satellite media in the 1960’s and1970’s additional public and commercial networks were introduced.

Most recently internet steaming boxes – like Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire, plus so-called “Smart TV’s” have offered almost unlimited choices in viewing with additional networks like Netflix, Hulu, ESPN, and dozens more.

In the last few days of October and the first few days of November of 2019 we have seen Apple+ and Disney+ streaming networks added to our choices.

These two are especially interesting based on price and content. Apple+ is free for one year if you recently purchased a new Apple device like an iPhone or iPad. If not (and after the first free year) then the normal price will be just $4.99 a month.

Disney+ with its huge library of Disney, Pixar, Marvel, and National Geographic movies and television shows is just $6.99 per month, or $70 per year pre-paid (that works out to $5.83 per month). For families the Disney+ offering is a great value.

Let’s make sure that we understand what the talking heads mean about the “Golden Age” of television. Additional services will be offered, and competition should bring lower prices.

A smorgasbord of viewing is definitely in your future.

Stay tuned!

Apple Event 9/10/2019 “TechGeezer” Summary…

iPhone 11iPhone 11

Overall it was a good presentation of new and improved products and services. Apple seems to be very aggressive on pricing and innovation. Here is what was presented today.

Apple iPad – New 7th generation iPad. 10.2” retina screen. Has side connectors so that it can use the Apple keyboard. Pricing begins at $329 ($299 for schools).

Apple Watch 5 – New 5th generation Apple Watch. New always-on display. Higher battery life – now 18 hours. Pricing begins at $399. Cases are available in Aluminum, stainless steel, ceramic and titanium. Apple is continuing to sell the Apple Watch 3 but has lowered the price to $199.

Apple iPhone 11 – New 6.1” iPhone 11 with a dual camera system (two cameras – wide angle and extra wide angle), improved battery life (extra hour), faster processor. Prices begin at $699.

Apple iPhone 11 ProNew 5.8” and 6.5” phones with a triple camera system (three cameras – wide angle, extra wide angle, telescopic), much improved battery life (extra four to five hours), faster processor. Prices begin at $999.

Apple TV+ – Over a dozen new TV series (all originals). Starts November 1st. $4.99 per month subscription service. FREE for one year with the purchase of Apple TV, Mac, iPad, IPhone and iPod Touch.

Apple Arcade – 100 games at launch. Starts September 19th. $4.99 per month subscription service. First month is free. All games can be downloaded and played on-line and off-line. All games are “rented” similar to the way Apple Music works.

UPDATE: Four years later – was it worth it to “Cut The Cord.” I’m not sure…

On August 15, 2015 we officially cut the cord on cable TV. Not that Charter/Spectrum had done a bad job. The channel selection, picture and sound quality, were great – but the price was too high.

Over the past four years we’ve seen streaming TV services come and go. In general the hardware and software apps have improved in features, quality, and reliability.

It used to be simple: ABC, CBS, and NBC. Now providers – some “old” cable companies like Charter/Spectrum, Comcast, Cox, and dozens of other regionals and locals have “found the light” and now offer streaming services.

Some of the individual streaming services like Hulu, now offer Hulu Live which offers Hulu plus dozens of other channels. Each channel now offers Apps that work with the providers to give you “live” broadcasts and additional content like past seasons, in depth information, upcoming details and more.

Pricing deals come and go. This past week (mid-August 2019) I changed providers from DirecTV Now ($50 per month including HBO), to Spectrum streaming TV ($24.95 per month plus $15 per month for a package that includes HBO, Showtime, and Starz.)

If I add the cost of Internet ($44.99 per month for 400Mbs service from Spectrum), plus Spectrum streaming TV ($40 total per month for dozens of channels), and then additional services like Netflix, Hulu, and a few others I’m pretty much at the cost of “regular” cable TV – which have in some cases, lowered the price because of streaming competition.

The major plus and minus works out to…

Cable: The company sets it up and maintains the hardware and software making it simple to watch dozens of channels – most of them you will probably not watch.

Streaming: YOU buy, install, setup, the hardware and software you need to watch what YOU want to watch. More of a smorgasbord approach.

Bottom line is four years ago I happily cut the cord – it saved a lot of money – at the time. Today… I’m not sure the savings are much different. The flexibility of watching what you want, when you want it, may still be the best the best reason today.

This ain’t my first rodeo. But it may be my last…

Rodeo Clown
Rodeo Clown

As a technology nerd (more severe than a technology geek), I have always prided myself as being in the know about Apple technology – both hardware and software.

Since 1978 when I bought my first Apple II personal computer, I’ve been enthusiastic about the company and its products. I’ve purchased and used almost everything Apple produced over the years. I’ve taught classes on Apple products. I’m a stockholder and have made more than enough to purchase a few Apple items with the profits.

But today I made a decision. That decision was to no longer “test” Apple beta software. In the past, I was an Apple developer and used very early versions of the latest system and application software. Recently (the last 3-4 years) I’ve been testing Apple’s public beta software, which is a generation or two more “mature” than the developer’s version(s).

Perhaps it is my age (73), but it is getting harder and harder to test the public beta versions and report problems to Apple. Both the hardware and software are indeed more sophisticated and advanced than earlier years. But the variety of hardware – Mac’s, iPhones, iPads, iPod touches, Apple Watch, and HomePod and the number of permutations that involve the interaction between each device and the software is overwhelming.

When the 2020 system software – beta version – comes around (sometime in early July) count me out to test it. I’ll wait until September for the final release.

Tech books are buggy whips!

The First Wave:

I’ve been reading (and referring to) computer tech books since 1978. For many years bookstores had bay-after-bay of third party computer books on virtually everything from operating systems to individual programs like QuickBooks or Microsoft Office.

The Second Wave:

I worked at Barnes & Noble bookstores from 2008 to 2014 and watched the shrinkage of books devoted to digital devices. For awhile tech books for seniors were all the rage. Buy grandpa or grandma a computer or smartphone or tablet and then show them big pictures with a little verbiage to help them get oriented to their new wizard machine(s).

The Third Wave:

A few weeks ago I was in our local Barnes & Noble and noted that the tech book sections on operating systems, dedicated devices, individual applications, personal communicators (smartphones and tablets), and even digital photography was down to just a few books in each area.

Where Did All The Tech Books Go?

It seems, much like buggy whips, we simply don’t need them anymore. We taught grandpa and grandma all they needed to know and they are now on their second or third generation of computers, smartphones and tablets. With thousands of on-line free instructional YouTube videos and PDF users guides books are no longer needed – even for seniors.

Progress? Well we are saving trees but lowering the sales of paper books and eBooks in bookstores. Oh well.

Come here kitty – I won’t hurt you!

I is a college gradduat3! Any my grammmer is really top natch!

I have always loved to write. Writing became easier after 10th-grade high school typing class. Note to Millenials: typing was performed on a machine called a typewriter that directly put letters and numbers on paper. For more information ask your parents.

The problem with writing, and then sharing it with others, is grammar. Grammar is knowing where to put the commas, correct spelling, dangling participles, split infinitives and much more.

Also the proper use of words like, “I should have gone to the store” rather than “I should have went to the store.”

There are automated spelling and grammar checkers built into the operating systems of computer software like Microsoft’s Windows and Apple’s IOS. And, of course, word processing software comes with built-in checkers.

A new grammar checking software for iPhones, iPads and Mac’s is Grammarly. It is a keyboard add-in that checks spelling, grammar and even makes text suggestions as you merrily type along on your on-screen keyboard, or your attached keyboard (if you know the trick).

Grammarly is available in two versions – FREE (Seniors, the primary readers of this blog, always like FREE stuff) and paid. The paid version comes with more features.

The Grammarly app can also check an entire block of text and make suggestions for grammar, spelling and sentence structure.

Check Grammarly out in Apple’s app store:

Amazon is on the prowl: Be afraid, be very afraid!

Macy’s - Crossroads Mall, Portage, MI

This is a tech blog. Why are we talking about department stores? Because our old nemesis Amazon is on the move again.

The picture shown above was taken at a Macy’s department store in Crossroads Mall in Portage, Michigan, a suburb of Kalamazoo. The merchandise was beautifully displayed and plentiful in colors, sizes, name brands, and variety of styles. Most items were discounted, and prices seemed reasonable.

Two things were missing: customers and sales associates. It is hard to afford good help and enough of them when store sales are down.

About fifty miles North of this store, in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Amazon has just signed the papers to build a new one million square foot (that’s 1,000,000 sq. ft.) distribution center that will employ over 1,000 new full-time workers.

This will be the fourth new Amazon distribution center in Michigan (the other three are in the greater Detroit area). Where will these new workers come from? Other retail, wholesale, and service organizations in the area pay their warehouse people about $13.00 per hour. Amazon pays their workers about $17.00 per hour. You do the math.

As consumers, we all love to buy from Amazon. Variety (paper diapers to tablet computers), lower prices, no state sales tax (in some states), and free shipping (if I’m an Amazon Prime member.) Amazon is squeezing retailers from every angle and will soon offer same day delivery in medium-size cities (they are already doing this in larger cities.)

I was recently in the market for Philips Hue programmable LED bulbs and switches. I was amazed to go to my local Home Depot store and find that their selection of Philips Hue items was at the same discounted prices as Amazon. I have also experienced that both Staples and Best Buy will price match Amazon prices if asked and if Amazon (not a third party) directly delivers the product.

I would like you to consider shopping locally. Ask the merchant if they will match Amazon’s price. The worst thing they can say is no.

Unless we all want to work for Amazon and shop only Amazon (can you say the word monopoly), we need to keep local businesses alive. Regardless if the store is called ”Bob’s Books” or Barnes & Noble, keeping them alive brings wages to local employees and service company’s.

Seniors: Meet Libby, your new best reading friend!

Libby digital library app for mobile devices

A couple of days ago I posted a blog page that said photography was one of my favorite hobbies. My second favorite (there are many more favorite hobbies) is reading. And for seniors, there is no better way to read than Libby.

Libby is a free software app that works on Apple and Android mobile devices (smartphones and tablets) so that you can “borrow” books to read or to listen to them. Libby is the second generation app from developer OverDrive to support digital reading from public libraries.

Of course, we all know that reading books (or listening to them) is great for seniors. It keeps us sharp, active, knowledgeable, and more. Regardless if you purchase them from your local bookstore, Amazon, or Barnes & Noble – books are expensive.

Seniors who love to read (some read two or three books a week) and live on a fixed income have difficulty in justifying purchasing books.

Sure, you can walk, take an Uber, bus, or drive to your local library to borrow a book or sit and read but why? Paper books look and smell great. But if you are a tree hugger books are made of paper and paper is made from trees. Printing inks, binding glue, and delivery of books to stores by trucks all cause a carbon footprint.

The Libby app has similar reading tools like Barnes & Noble Nook and Amazon’s Kindle reading apps. Bookmarks, type font changes, themes, lookups, highlighting, search, and page location syncs between devices are all supported.

Check with your local public library and see if they do offer digital reading and audiobooks. If they do download the Libby app from the Apple or Android app store, enter your library card number and get reading!

Olloclip lens system for the iPhone X. Do I NEED my DSLR camera any longer?

Olloclip for iPhone X

Digital photography is one of my favorite hobbies. For years I’ve carried large, heavy, and unwieldy DSLR cameras around my neck. I’ve used Sony alpha series cameras and they have served me well.

Since 2007 I’ve also used the cameras in my Apple iPhone as a back up. The Sony has been used for “serious” shots, and the iPhone for “simple” (non-serious?) shots. Each year as I’ve purchased new iPhones the camera and software have gotten better and more sophisticated. My last couple of iPhones – an iPhone 7 Plus, and the latest iPhone X have included dual lens cameras. One lens is for regular use (sort of wide angle), and the other lens is for telephoto (2x) use.

The iPhone X camera hardware and software are so good that I have begun using the system as my primary go-to camera and photo editing “lab.” But I wanted to add a lens for every day and particular use – like super wide-angle, or fisheye, or even more telephoto and macro close-ups.

I think I’ve found the answer in a lens system called “CONNECT X” from Olloclips. Olloclips has made a snap-on lens for iPhones and some Android phones for the last five-plus years. I’ve tried them on older iPhones with some good luck, and some frustration concerning attachment and detachment.

A couple of weeks ago Olloclips sent me an email that they were releasing a new connection system for the iPhone X that was easy to use, aggressively priced, and flexible.

The Olloclip system is easy to use and extremely clever in its design. Each lens can be flipped and used with either of the back two Apple camera or the front camera. Using the Olloclip “Slim Case,” the lens holder can be easily attached or detached. Each lens is metal and glass. Well designed and sharp in their views.

I purchased the “Mobile Photography Box Set” for the iPhone X ($99.99). It includes three lens – super wide, macro 15x, and a fisheye. The set also comes with the easy-to-attach and use clip system for attaching to your iPhone X. In addition, I purchased the telephoto 2X lens which should make the iPhone X into a 4X camera.

Finally, I bought the “Slim Case” for the iPhone X for $29.99 which provides back and side protection for the phone as well as an oversized opening to attach the Olloclip CONNECT X system. Be aware the CONNECT X system does not work with any other protective case for the iPhone (even Apple’s). You will need to remove your protective case to use CONNECT X unless you buy Olloclip’s “Slim Case.” The good news is that most front screen protectors (I use and recommend Zagg’s “Sapphire Defense” extreme hybrid glass cover that has sapphire infused into the glass) can be used and do not have to be removed when using the CONNECT X base and lens’.

I could spend the next few paragraphs describing the photographic quality of each lens, and how easy it is to put on and take off. I could also show you dozens of photos that I, or others, have taken with the system. But I won’t. You can see lots of videos, before and after photos, etc. on the website. Trust me this stuff is reasonably priced, built like a tank, cleverly designed, and easy-to-use. You can also go to and search by the tag #olloclip to see photos made by Apple iPhone Olloclip users.

I’ve seen everything now! Ember heated mug is a winner!

Ember heated mug

Wow! Just when you thought you had seen it all along comes ember click here to go to the ember web site. This is perhaps one of the sweetest uses of technology that I’ve seen in a while. While I probably would not have been the first on my block to run out and pick one up for about $80.00, our son and his sweetie thought this would be the perfect (and it is) gift for dad’s birthday.


The ember is a porcelain mug that contains a surprising amount of technology, plus a rechargeable battery system that keeps your coffee, tea, or other hot beverage at precisely the right temperature. You use an Apple or Android app on your smartphone tablet, or Apple Watch to set the temperature in Fahrenheit or Celsius degrees. The app sends a Bluetooth signal to your mug that maintains the temperature selected by using a rechargeable battery operated heating element.

Are there benefits, or is this a gimmick?:

There are benefits to this system that are emotional, practical and economic…

  • The consistency of taste – from your first sip until your last the coffee tastes the same.
  • No guesswork involved – you are alerted on your watch, tablet or smartphone when your beverage is at your preferred temperature.
  • Save money – since the hot beverage tastes the same from beginning to end no more throwing away cold or lukewarm coffee.
  • No disappointment – your ember lets you know when it needs recharging with a red LED and you just set it on the charging pad. The onboard LED glows green when it is fully charged and ready-to-go.

Is it worth the price?:

Yes, the ember unit is sturdily packaged (very Apple-like), beautiful minimalist design, solid construction, well engineered and enjoyable to use on a day-to-day basis. Although you can’t pop it in a dishwasher, it is easy to rinse out, or hand wash.

The bottom line:

The ember is a practical and fun device if you enjoy hot beverages. Ember makes the porcelain mug shown here as well as a travel mug for your car. You can purchase ember at Starbucks, Best Buy, Target, and Amazon.

Mobile Technology for Today's Savvy Geezer!

%d bloggers like this: