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Are we having fun yet?

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Are we having fun yet!?

Apparently, we are! So, a couple of weeks ago, I asked how you use your technology for fun. You probably already know, given what Ask Leo! is all about, people come to me with problems and questions and frustrations and complaints, so that’s pretty much what I see every day.

It’s interesting, and I’m fine with that, I mean, like I said, it’s part of what I signed up for by doing this, but it was really interesting and extremely refreshing (to be honest) to hear some of the many ways that people are using their technology to have fun, to enrich their lives, to connect with others. I really, really enjoyed reading all of the comments on that video, and I wanted to share some of the ones that caught my eye.

Normally, I would throw a few of these into the newsletter featured comments section, but there were just so many, and some were so touching that I wanted to spend today’s video on exactly that. A common example that I saw repeatedly, was that several folks are using their technology, or using their computer for ancestry and genealogy and just family historical related research.

Not to mention preserving old photographs – something personally I want to do more of. It’s one of those things that I’ve got a couple of boxes down in my basement with old albums, old photograph albums from my parents, from my grandparents that they’re sitting in a box; they’re the only copy. They’re not backed up.

So, one of the things I’d like to do is take the time to actually get them scanned and shared with more interested people and have them preserved for posterity. As an example, here’s a picture of my great-grandmother. You can tell it’s a fairly old photograph and this one now is preserved. The photograph, of course, continues to fade and it’s at risk. In that same vein, here’s a recording of my grandmother (plays video here).

Years ago, she and my mother would exchange audio tapes instead of letters because my grandmother’s eyesight was failing. It was a perfect opportunity; I sent her a letter once, a letter in this audio form, and she responded one day. I was lucky in that 20 years ago or thereabouts, I decided to digitize that audio and save it and now I’ve got it for as long as I want.

Music and media were common responses. I want to read you a couple of these of people are using their PCs as media devices more than ever and actually makes this recent decision of removing Windows Media Center from Windows 10 problematic for a lot of people. Alex has a music collection and he says that “Everything is so easy that listening to my collection is a joy again.”

Lee converts audio books for his wife who’s blind. Tony takes his music with him: “When I’m on the go I take my 160 GB iPod loaded with 19,000 tracks of music.”

Steve plays a virtual pipe organ (I didn’t even know a virtual pipe organ existed; of course everything exists on the internet), but that was pretty cool.

Many people, myself included, are using the internet and our technology, for the more social aspects. For example, just the other day, I had a friend over for dinner; we reconnected after several years through Facebook. We used to work at Microsoft together.

Some other examples: there’s a lot of knitting going on; a lot of hobby related use of social media and websites and computers in general for knitting and crocheting and quilting and all sorts of other handcrafts that are focused around various types of hobbies.

JBR reads a lot, apparently, but he also shared, “It’s such a visual treasure too. To be able to virtually tour great museums, architecture, landscapes, cities, all the places that I’ve never been to; cultures that I’ve never known; the arts of the world, the news of the world as seen through other cultures’ perspectives.”

This one is a little long but it really spoke to me. Dick says, “I’m an 82-year-old retired physician in an independent assisted living facility. Without my computer, almost my only source of fun would be watching sports on TV. I used to desktop-publish newsletters, but now I use skills I learned with Adobe, InDesign and Photoshop to self-publish a few books and greeting cards. I’ve taken up visual photography, art, and love to create my own impressionistic ‘paintings’ from the photos I’ve made myself and public domain ones that I’ve downloaded from the web.

I specialize in panoramic photos and art which I turn into 3840 x 1080 pixel wallpapers that spread across the four feet of real estate on my dual monitors. My other passion, since the infirmities of old age, years ago, forced me to abandon my physically active sources of fun (sailboat racing and bicycling) is genealogy, which, for me is nearly exclusively internet/computer based. I just finished combining computer graphics and genealogy by building with Photoshop a wallpaper panorama that shows 34 generations of ancestry and assorted thumbnail graphics stretching across 10 generations. Great fun indeed!” No kidding!

Bill shares an interesting activity: “I tour the world. When I just need to relax or have fun, I take a tour on Google Earth. For example, I’ve traveled the Amazon River and the Mississippi River from source to mouth looking at every picture, zooming in and out as required. If you run out of time, you just leave it and then come back to it when you wish. I’ve seen the pyramids in Egypt using street view. I’ve driven every street in Alice Springs, Australia, towns in Germany, Italy, Botswana, the USA, etc. One can cruise down the streets looking left and right, and you get a pretty fair idea of the people, how they live and play. Google Earth allows an old man to see the sites of the world that would otherwise be unavailable to me. This then branches me many times to do a search of something I see on Google Earth for gaining more knowledge. I tour museums the same way. For me, so much world, so little time.”

These guys are examples of exactly why I get up in the morning. They really are. I want technology to work; I want technology to work for you; I want technology to work for people like Dick and Bill because it enables so much in their lives.

Let’s see Vicky is taking MOOCS (you may have seen the acronym) it stands for Massive Online Open Classes. Basically, they are free online courses for just about anything. She says, “Now, in this excellent MOOC world, I can take any class I like. “

Sue is working on her house: “Using the House App on my iPad to find and save ideas for my current house remodeling.”

Diane shares: “I can honestly, without exaggeration, say that the computer made my parents’ final years not only bearable but in many ways the best years they had. They had many good years after they thought they were too old to learn how to use a computer, and it took a lot of convincing for them to believe that they would want to. You know, who needs MapQuest when you’ve got an atlas? It’s been awesome to think that if the planets had not aligned, I wouldn’t have been positioned to help them. If my life had gone like it was supposed to, I would have been in the wrong place at the wrong time with the wrong skills and education. I love karma.” Diane goes into more detail in her comment but it’s an awesome testament to those of use with computer skills and how we can help those around us.

You don’t have to set up an Ask Leo! site to do that. There are plenty of opportunities to enrich the lives of the folks around you who may be struggling or just ignorant of what computers and technology can make available, and of course, there are countless stories of folks writing letters and connecting with people, playing games, talking, taking educational courses, editing and sharing pictures and videos, researching, learning, traveling, engaging in hobbies and so on, both solo and with others. The list really does go on.

Peggy sums it up nicely: “What do I do with my technology? Better to ask what I don’t do with it and how I use it. It’s taken me hours to think of all the things I do with my computer and smartphone and digital cameras and the ways I feel they have improved my life and brought the world to me. The list got so long that it would take me days to write it all out.”

Lastly, I want to echo Ginger’s comment: “The fun you can have with a computer is limited only by your own imagination and the amount of free time you have at your disposal.

You know, there’s so much more; I really suggest that you take a few minutes and go visit that article from a couple of weeks ago; I’ll put the link right here. Just take some time and read through the comments. For me, particularly, it was very impressive, very moving; it was just really wonderful to see all of the different ways that people are using technology to enrich their lives and the lives of others around them.

As always, you’re more than welcome to leave a comment on this video. If you’re watching it anywhere else but on Ask Leo! go visit this link, and down below on that page, you’ll have the opportunity to leave a comment. Let me know what you think. Let me know what you’re doing for fun with your computer if you haven’t yet. You can do this here on this video or on the one from a couple of weeks ago. Either way, it’s all good, and I’m very happy to have heard from you all. Like I said, it really, really made my week. I will see you again next week!

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6 comments on “Are we having fun yet?”

  1. Maybe a bit different than most folks, I do some design work in CorelDRAW & CorelPHOTOPAINT… design is a passion for me… I spent years drawing & painting by hand, doing creative airbrush effects in paint, illustration of products, etc… the newer digital capabilities have so expanded my capabilities, that I wonder how I ever existed prior to them… computer technology has incredibly enriched what I love to do… layout for signs & such, enhancing photographs, cleaning up designs, etc. Most of the effects I used in the past, by hand, are now available in a digital form & save huge amounts of time & brain damage. The results always astound me!! I no longer have to do multiple sketches, on paper, to achieve desired results, but can rely on my software to do the work for me… I spent 20+ years making signs & creating layouts for print with a Custom & Artistic look… the days of paper proofs are now long past… no longer used are Process Cameras that require a huge space to install & operate… print technology has far surpassed the old ways of reproducing artwork… I use the newer technology on a daily basis for both clients & my personal enjoyment…

  2. What a lovely video, Leo. I spent thirty-five years volunteering with the elderly at nursing homes; this interval (the early 00’s) represented the last generation of elderly folk simply too uninterested in technology to ever interest them in it–in any form. Computers were available in the homes; the old folks eschewed them. I have no doubt whatsoever that in the future, old age–even for the very poor among us–will be less harsh for those of us who enter assisted living or other care facilities. I only wish that my beloved friends, now all passed, had been over “the hump” and able to enjoy it, as so many of the people you talked about in this video have come to.

  3. In the video, you mention that you wish to scan your old family photos. I do not know what you do or not know about Photoshop, but if your knowledge on restoring old photos is limited, I might be able to partially repay you for all I have learned from your articles.

  4. This was a great idea, Leo.
    I use Google Earth to track & revisit the places I traveled to in Southern Africa and Great Britain, and to explore in street view places I haven’t been. The Adobe Suite – especially Photoshop, Premiere, After Effects and Audition are used extensively both professionally and for fun. And I like sharing photos and videos on Flickr and Facebook, as well as seeing what other people are shooting. And of course there’s You Tube, Crackle, and all kinds of other television network feeds.

  5. As I watched this video, I listened to the comments you were reading, and I felt I should put in what I do with the computer. I really love my computer, and I do a lot of things: I now use Office 365, thanks to a great price for students going to school. I love Outlook, and I’ve used Word to write instructional manuals for board games that I have written. It’s even allowed me to print paper money and cards for the games, as well. (I didn’t use Office 365 for those, and I have yet to play with new features when I convert those files.)

    The main reason for this comment is that I have created my own radio station–at least, emulated one. I did what the one guy did and put all my music onto my 160 gig iPod, but I took it a step further. I recorded voice intros for the music. I just say what the title and the artist is. Some people at work ask what radio station I’m listening to, and I say that it’s my personal collection, and they’re supPOSED to think it is a radio station. I even have music in multiple languages, mostly Japanese, and I only know a few Japanese words. I can, at least, pronounce the words for the voice intros.

    I also play computer games. I don’t have the money to keep up with the various video game consoles out there, and most of the games just don’t interest me. However, I found a web site that had some great games, and I built quite a collection of ’em.

    I enjoy looking things up, and I read stories from a few sites on my phone. I really enjoy technology.

    All of my financial records are in the computer. Financial software easily tracks spending.

    There’s more ways I have fun with my computer, but I feel this is sufficient. Yeah, I have lots of fun with technology, but I also have things to do that doesn’t require advanced technology, in case there’s a power outage, which doesn’t happen very often.


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