How to Cut the Cord

Say “Goodbye!” to the Cable Guy!

What does it mean to “cut the cord” and why is everyone doing it? Should you cut your cord, too, assuming you know what it means?

The answer depends.

Cutting the cord means dropping traditional cable television subscriptions in favor of inexpensive streaming services. With cable bills rising to over $100 per month on many providers, more people are choosing to say goodbye to cable.

What do you need to cut the cord?

1.  Wifi
Wifi is wireless high-speed internet access. Most streaming devices connect with wifi, although some may still have a traditional ethernet port for plugging in a cord. You will need high-speed internet access to play streaming content, and it will probably need to be wireless unless you have a cable modem and an ethernet cord close to your streaming device.

2.  A streaming content device
Streaming content devices vary widely in price, size, and functionality. The most popular streaming content devices are Roku, AppleTV, and the Amazon Fire Stick. Smart TVs also have the ability to stream from a variety of content providers, but their interfaces are not as user-friendly, so I recommend getting a dedicated streaming device. Many video gaming systems like Xbox and Playstation can also play streaming content. You don’t have to spend much money to get started: the base model Roku retails for only $30.

3.  A streaming content Service Provider
There are a variety of streaming content service providers. Here are the most popular:

Netflix
On-demand movies, TV shows, documentaries, and Netflix-only content.
Netflix has a variety of “Netflix-only” series like Orange is the New Black and House of Cards. Netflix also has a giant collection of movies and many seasons of popular TV shows. Be aware, current TV shows are usually 1 season behind, so if you want to see the latest episode of Chopped or This Is Us, you’ll need to look elsewhere.
Cost: $9.99/month to watch on 2 streaming devices at once, or $11.99/month for 4 devices.

Hulu
On-demand Movies, TV shows, Documentaries, and Hulu-only content.
Taking a page from the Netflix playbook, Hulu now offers many “Hulu-only” series like The Handmaid’s Tale and 11.22.63. Unlike Netflix, Hulu focuses on the latest TV shows, typically airing new episodes a day after they air on cable TV. If you like to discuss the latest episodes of your favorite cable TV shows, Hulu is for you. Hulu also has a “commercial free” option, meaning you can watch Guy’s Grocery Games all day long without a single commercial. Hurray!
Cost: $7.99/month to watch on 1 device, or $11.99/month for commercial free.
Hulu is also now experimenting with providing Live TV, offering a Live TV beta for $39.99/month. Expect this to become more popular and widespread as content service providers try to knock the expensive cable TV companies out of the market altogether.

Amazon Prime Video
On-demand Movies, TV shows, Documentaries, and Amazon-only content.
Amazon Prime video is similar to Netflix, although some might argue it doesn’t offer as much quality content. Like both Netflix and Hulu, Amazon has “Amazon-only” series like Transparent, Sneaky Pete, and The Man in the High Castle.
Cost: Amazon Prime Video is free with your Amazon Prime account ($99/year) or you can purchase a monthly membership for $8.99/month if you do not wish to purchase a year of Prime membership.

Other options exist for getting your favorite shows:

HBO Now – For $15/month, you can watch every series that ever aired on HBO, including the latest releases merely minutes after they air Live. HBO Now also has a backlog of many popular movies, comedy specials, and documentaries. If you need your Game of Thrones fix, this is for you.

Showtime Anytime – Showtime has a similar service to HBO offering the latest in Showtime series and movies for $11/month.

YouTube Live TV – For $35/month, you can now watch Live TV streaming from ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC, and popular cable networks on up to 6 devices at a time. This is a new service from YouTube and one to keep your eye on.

iTunes – With an Apple TV, iOS device, or computer, you can purchase TV shows and Movies directly from the iTunes store. Hate monthly subscription fees? Just buy the shows and movies you want to watch or rent them for 24 hours at a lower price.

Amazon Video – Without Amazon Prime Video, you can purchase or rent the shows and movies you’d like to watch through Amazon Video.

Sling TV – Sling TV is a new service to the streaming industry. It offers streaming Live TV, not on-demand. There are mixed reviews about its quality and reliability, but this is sure to be a service to keep your eye on in the coming months. It can only improve, and the demand for this type of Live TV service is very high.

We have walls and walls of DVDs and Blurays!

Your Public Library – Last but never least, keep in mind the many movies, TV shows, documentaries, musicals, foreign films and more that are available from your local public library. Cheshire Public Library has a wide selection of popular “Quik Fliks” if you’re looking for the latest movies, not to mention a huuuge collection of DVDs, Blurays, and downloadable and streaming content. Best of all? They’re all FREE to borrow, and nothing beats free! 🙂


Technology Help – Need device advice? Come to Drop-in Tech Help. No appointment necessary. We provide help with smartphones, laptops, tablets, ereaders, email, Facebook, social media, cutting the cord questions and more! Check out the calendar for our next session.

Teach Yourself Technology

technology support help me please!

At Cheshire Public Library’s weekly Drop-In Tech Help, I am often told that people don’t know where to begin with learning technology. They ask me what special resource of knowledge I use and where I went to school and how long it took me to learn all of these tricks and devices. The answer is simple: There is no secret knowledge! I use books and the internet, and you can, too.

If you recently got a new device or you feel overwhelmed by your device’s capabilities, start with a book. The library has a variety of books on popular devices, and we can always get something for you if we fail to carry it. Books are great for starting out with a new computer, smart phone, or tablet. You can look up topics like Setting Up Your Email or page through the whole book at your own pace. Most technology books are visual, and you can go through step-by-step instructions with your device at your side.

If you prefer video instruction, you can try Lynda.com, which is now available for all Cheshire Public Library resident cardholders. Lynda.com is an online learning site that hosts a constantly growing library of over 3,000 courses.

What are you waiting for? Here’s a small sample of the books we have available:

jacket-aspx iPhone: The Missing Manual by David Pogue

Covers all models with iOS 8.1 software, including iPhone 6 and 6 Plus.

 

 

jacket-aspx iPad for Seniors by Nancy Muir

Learn about all the incredible things your iPad can do with this friendly guide. Learn to make video calls, navigate with maps, find almost anything with Siri, and more!

 

jacket-aspx Teach Yourself Visually: Android Phones and Tablets by Guy Hart-Davis

Includes customizing your phone or tablet, working with text and voice, making calls and instant messaging, enjoying social networking, working with apps, browsing the web and e-mailing, taking and using photos and videos, using maps, Google Earth, and clock, playing music and videos, troubleshooting your device.

jacket-aspx Kindle Fire HDX for Dummies by Nancy Muir

Also covers the Kindle Fire HD!

 

 

jacket-aspx My Windows 10 by Katherine Murray

An easy, full-color tutorial on the latest operating system from Microsoft.

 

 


Technology Help – Need device advice? Come to Drop-in Tech Help. No appointment necessary. We provide help with smartphones, laptops, tablets, ereaders, email, Facebook, social media, and more! Check out the calendar for our next session.

Where Did My Games Go?!

Solitaire Screenshot

Solitaire Screenshot

The Windows 10 upgrade removes the classic Windows games we’ve all enjoyed for decades. It replaces games like Solitaire and Minesweeper with new versions that are marred by advertising. Anyone who wants to remove the intrusive ads needs to buy a “Premium” subscription for $10 per year.

In other words, Windows 10 gets rid of beloved and free classic games in an attempt to monetize them. Not cool!

But don’t despair.  You can get your classic games back. A quick Google search reveals numerous sites where you can download the games again. I’ll even give you a link to my favorite option, Winaero, which also provides a tutorial for installing them.

One caveat: if Windows 10 updates, the games are deleted again! You have two options for protecting your Minesweeper habit: (1) Disable Windows Automatic Updates, or (2) Keep the classic games install file, and reinstall when necessary. Your choice!


Technology Help – Need device advice? Schedule a one-on-one lesson in the basics of computers, laptops, tablets, and eReaders. Click here to request an appointment online or call the library at 203-272-2245 to make an appointment. The library also offers a monthly Drop-in Tech Help program.

Protect Yourself from Tech Support Scams

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As the Technology Coordinator at the Cheshire Public Library, I am sometimes asked about the legitimacy of virus and malware alerts.

Imagine you’re browsing the web or enjoying a cup of coffee at home and you receive a phone call from someone claiming to be from Microsoft or another well-known technology company. They say they’ve detected viruses or spyware or malware on your computer that could damage your system or steal your identity. They emphasize the danger you’re in and say your bank account and credit card information could be in jeopardy. They offer to sell you anti-virus software or fix your computer. Does this scenario sound familiar?

IT’S A SCAM! Instead of a phone call, these scams can also take the form of pop-up warnings or email messages. These scammers might:

  1. Try to enroll you in a bogus computer security or virus protection subscription program that does nothing.
  2. Ask you for your credit card information to bill you for phony services or protection you can get for free.
  3. Trick you into installing malware that could steal your usernames, passwords, and financial information.
  4. Ask you to give them remote access to your computer and then change settings so they can then infect your computer.
  5. Ask you to visit certain malicious websites to enter credit card information and personal details that they then use to make fraudulent charges.

These scam artists take advantage of our reasonable concerns about viruses, privacy, and identity theft. They purposely prey on groups who may not have as much experience with computers and the way they work, like senior citizens. Their aim is not to protect your computer or your identity, but the exact opposite. They want to make money, steal your identity, or take over your computer to do just that. It is these pop-ups, ads, emails and phone calls that are the real security threats.

If you find yourself dealing with one of these scams, please stay calm. Rest assured your computer or identity are not in peril and do not give out any personal or financial information. Report the phone call, pop-up, or email to the Federal Trade Commission by calling the Identity Theft Hotline at 1-877-438-4338 or TTY 1-866-653-4261.


Technology Help – Need device advice? Schedule a one-on-one lesson in the basics of computers, laptops, tablets, and eReaders. Click here to request an appointment online or call the library at 203-272-2245 to make an appointment. The library also offers a monthly Drop-in Tech Help program.

 

Technology Is Good for Seniors

senior-man-and-woman-using-a-computer-laptop

I’ve tutored many seniors in using technology, and our sessions typically begin the same way. The student announces, “I’m no good with computers! I’m computer illiterate. I can’t learn this stuff.” I then disagree and say anyone can learn technology, no matter their age, and in fact, everyone should learn. Just because you didn’t grow up with internet and touch screens doesn’t mean you can’t learn how to use them. We all have to start somewhere.

Once you begin learning, you’ll be very glad you did. From email and social media to advanced topics in file management—seniors are embracing tech as they see the value it can bring to their lives. The next time you feel like saying, “I don’t use computers” or “I have no use for a tablet” consider this list of reasons to start learning tech today!

  • You can bring the world to you. As we age, our mobility is sometimes restricted. Some seniors no longer drive, and others have health issues impeding their ability to go where they wish. Technology can even the playing field by bringing the entire world to your doorstep.
  • You can keep up-to-date on news and current events through online media.
  • You can research the latest information on topics from medical conditions to travel to cooking to gardening—the sky’s the limit.
  • You can stay in touch with friends and family through social media, messages, and email. Apps like Skype, FaceTime, and other video chat applications allow you to actually see and talk with friends and loved ones who may live far away.
  • You can stimulate your brain with hundreds of thousands of games. Many seniors especially enjoy Words with Friends, a form of Scrabble, that lets you play against people all over the world.
  • You can buy clothes, prescription eyeglasses, medical supplies, laundry detergent, olive oil, cat food—anything you can think of, and usually with free shipping to your doorstep. You can even order perishable groceries through services like Stop & Shop’s PeaPod and ShopRite from Home and arrange a day and time for them to be delivered.
  • And most important to us libraries — You can READ! Tablets like iPads and Kindles and e-readers are wonderful for those seniors who enjoy reading but struggle with aging eyes. Book text can be made larger and brighter allowing a more comfortable reading experience. E-readers are also very light. The newest Kindle is only 6.3 oz, much lighter than a standard hardcover book. Thousands of titles are available right now for FREE through your local library.

Are you ready to start learning? No excuses!  4abc340cf5d893ff4bf6ebc17b29c221


Technology Help – Need device advice? Schedule a one-on-one lesson in the basics of computers, laptops, tablets, and eReaders. Call the library at 203-272-2245 to make an appointment or come to our monthly Drop-in Tech Help program.