By Charlie Hoover, Senior e-Life Technologist at Geek Housecalls Inc.
Welcome to the first e-Life Advisor column! Think of it as a Dear Abby for the 21st century. Rather than focusing on tech disasters, my goal is to help empower you to make the most of the technology in your life. Everything from computers, smartphones and home automation to online privacy, child safety, and the mysterious 'cloud'. Your e-Life may be complicated, but it doesn't need to be stressful!
Wait, e-what? e-Life. It's a term we use to describe the fact that no matter what you do these days you're interacting with technology. In a world where your TV can browse the web and your phone can control your thermostat, it's about managing your personal technology ecosystem, knowing what your options are, and only using what you need. Obviously going into too much detail in this article would likely put most readers to sleep, so you'll find much more detailed information on our website. But enough about that, let's get to your questions...
Susan from Lexington asks: "My husband and I have three children ages 6, 11 and 13. Our schedules are almost unmanageable at this point with work, school, sports, playdates, etc. Is there anything out there better than my old paper planner for us?"
The short answer, Susan, is yes! There are numerous solutions for this including Google Calendar, Apple's iCloud service, the Cozi Family Organizer, and even Facebook depending on your needs. All of them can be synced to computers, smartphones and tablets so your information follows you through your day. The hardest part is getting the initial setup done and putting your data in. Just a word of warning though, once you get used to these kinds of systems you'll wonder how you lived without them!
Joe from Concord asks: "I'm 65 and would like to stay in touch with my grandkids but they seem to only want to talk through Facebook. I hear all kinds of bad things about Facebook but don't want to lose touch. What would you advise?"
This is a very common question Joe, and to be honest, there isn't just one answer. It all depends on your comfort level with having personal information on the internet. The truth is that most kids consider email to be like the Pony Express and rarely use it. The good news is that you can still talk to them even if you decide not to sign up. Unbeknownst to most folks, every Facebook account has a hidden email address with it. Get that address from them and you'll be able to talk back and forth via what looks like email to you but shows up on Facebook for them. The best of both worlds!
- For more information on Susan's question regarding calendar troubles, please see the expanded article; "Calendar Chaos Contained".
- For more information on Joe's question about Facebook, please see the companion article; "Facebook Without Facebook".
Thank you for your questions Susan and Joe!
As always, if you have a question about e-Life issues like this one, email me or tweet me. Thank you for your time. I look forward to helping you help yourself!