Tag Archives: computer

FaceTime equals family time.

February 23, 2014 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann
We all know that chatting with family and friends through a computer screen is not the same as sitting down face-to-face. But if your loved one lives cross-country, why not keep in touch via video chat? PJ Feinstein, local blogger and creator of bunnyanddolly.com, video chats to stay in touch with family from New Jersey, Ohio, and Georgia.

Feinstein and her toddler son have a daily video chatting routine. They chat with her parents or his baby cousin over lunch and his other grandparents before dinner.

“We mostly talk with family, and I totally credit video chatting with letting him form relationships with grandparents that he only sees a few times a year. Frequently interacting with them over FaceTime has made it less awkward when we see them in person; we haven’t had to reintroduce family members to him,” Feinstein says.

Feinstein believes that video chatting has a much more personal element than staying connected over the phone. “I’ve never been much of a phone person, but video chatting feels so much more intimate—almost like I’m having an in-person conversation with somebody.”20140214_bs_7144

Feinstein occasionally uses Skype but finds FaceTime much more convenient because she can connect anywhere there is Wi-Fi, not just on her home computer. Another huge perk for Feinstein is the ability to see family and friends on a daily basis without paying for a plane ticket.

Good lighting is key. Feinstein recommends not sitting with your back to a window or lamp because it will be hard for your companion to see you. “And cell phone etiquette still applies even if you’re video chatting: When in public, talk quietly and wear headphones instead of listening on speakerphone,” she says.

Video chatting is very simple now that most devices have built-in cameras, no longer making it necessary to hook up external cameras. “The process goes a lot smoother, whether you’re using FaceTime, Skype, or Google Hangout,” says Feinstein.

The only downside of FaceTime is getting those early morning chat requests. It is completely acceptable to deny a 6 a.m. FaceTime call. No one wants to see your bedhead.

The Break-Point Generation

June 20, 2013 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

It’s not an uncommon tradition. The Roemmich family gathers every year for a reunion. It’s also not uncommon at such reunions to have boxes of black-and-white photos of family members no one can identify any more.

So Ron Roemmich decided to create a video cataloging all the family he and his siblings still could name—a historical record for the younger generations.

Just one problem. Ron didn’t know how to create this video.

Ron and his wife, Berdeen, signed up for a movie-making class at Metro Community College. Their class was taught by Laurie Brodeur, a semi-retired Millard teacher who now leads six technology courses in Metro’s continuing education curriculum.

Although Brodeur was “very gracious with senior citizens,” Ron admits to feeling behind the other eight or nine students—and like he was taking up a lot of Brodeur’s attention during the class period.

“I suppose the real confession is: We had her come back and help us after the class was over,” he says.

“We’re kind of the break-point generation. People 10 years younger than us are probably okay. But anybody over 60, I bet 50 percent know what they’re doing [with computers].” – Ron Roemmich

Having a project with a firm deadline made learning the program an imperative goal. “It was fun, but it would be desperately frustrating if you didn’t have a goal,” Ron says. And though they had 500 photos, “It was not gonna whip us.”

The Roemmiches were pleased with their final product. In fact, they made two more videos for a reunion of Ron’s doctoral classmates, making good use of their new movie-making skills.

Even so, Ron says, “We’ve explored I’d say 1 percent of what a computer can do for us.”

The Roemmiches do have a Facebook account but only check it when their kids tell them to. After checking their 100-200 e-mails per day, Berdeen says, “you don’t want to go on Facebook. You’re just tired.”

“We’re kind of the break-point generation,” Ron says. “People 10 years younger than us are probably okay. But anybody over 60, I bet 50 percent know what they’re doing—or would that be 20 percent? Not a lot.”

It doesn’t take much to fall behind in technology. “When it could have burst open for me,” Ron says, “would have been in the ’80s maybe. But my boss was afraid of computers, so he told the rest of us we should leave them alone. So we really got behind. And now we don’t even know the language.”

Along with computers are phones, televisions, and other electronic systems. Like the DVR the Roemmiches got for Christmas and don’t really understand how to use.

Asking people for help is the best way Berdeen knows to learn something new. That and practicing. “You just have to keep using it and trying different things,” she says.

Brodeur is one of those people the Roemmiches will ask for help. And she would agree with Berdeen: Practice and patience are key.

“Students can see their progression from one class to the next and enjoy being able to go home and try their skills and return to the next class in the series with questions.” – Emily Getzschman, marketing and media relations manager with Omaha Public Library

Among her Metro classes is a series of technology update courses for seniors (although non-seniors are of course also welcome). The first class is broad, covering things like the difference between a browser and a search engine; the many uses of Google; and introductions to some sites like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Hulu. It helps students become comfortable using the computer.

Exploring those sites is important, Brodeur says, because “you can use Google and YouTube to learn how to do almost anything on your computer.”

The second and third levels help set students up with Facebook accounts and learn more and more about using the program.

Brodeur loves to see her students have an “aha” moment and tries to always stress that no question is a stupid one. This is important, because adults rarely like to admit when they don’t know something. Overall, she says, it is a very positive experience because her students come eager to learn with optimistic attitudes.

Omaha Public Library also offers computer classes for beginners and older adults. OPL partners with AARP for a series that gives an introduction to computers, including training on Microsoft Word, e-mail, and the internet. Seniors who are not new to computers can take classes for specialized software to manipulate photos, create greeting cards, and learn how to use social media tools, like Facebook and Pinterest. Classes can even aid seniors who are unexpectedly re-entering the job market.

Emily Getzschman, marketing and media relations manager for OPL, says that the introductory classes offered in a series are very well-attended. “Students can see their progression from one class to the next and enjoy being able to go home and try their skills and return to the next class in the series with questions and to build on their new computer experiences,” Getzschman says.

Classes are free, with no limit on the number of times you can take them. And they’re offered every month.

Like at Metro, the library class instructors strive to make students feel supported, never stupid. Getzschman has heard students say the instructors “were patient and let the student work at a comfortable pace.”

 

A resource guide for seniors can be found at http://guides.omahalibrary.org/Seniors.

A Square Deal

May 25, 2013 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Café 110 opened its doors at the corner of 13th and Farnam in March 2012. Owner Allan Zeeck had been at the Benson Grind in the hip Benson neighborhood for about eight years before he closed shop and headed downtown with his eyes set on a space in the Old Market’s business district.

The business, which is known for its catering and live music weekends, serves delicious foods and drinks to its Old Market customers from 7am to 5pm Monday through Friday and 9am to 2pm on Saturdays and Sundays. Breakfast and coffee are the main attractions, in Zeeck’s opinion, but Café 110 also has an assortment of pastries, a healthy soup and salad bar, and fresh sandwiches.

But it’s not just the food that has Omaha buzzing about Café 110. It’s Zeeck’s implementation of an electronic payment service called Square.

Similar to the Passbook app, which stores coupons, boarding passes, event tickets, and more on a smartphone, Square is the new-age system of business transaction around the country. Rather than using the traditional cash register, businesses that use Square can have their customers pay either by swiping the card through a reader attached to a portable device, like a smartphone or computer tablet, or through the Square Wallet app.

“[Square] keeps track of my inventory, taxes, gratuity, credit card statements—it has a whole library of my entire history that I have access to any time I need.” – Allan Zeeck, owner

With the Square Wallet app, customers can set up a user profile on a smartphone, linking their name, a photo, and their credit or debit card information. When it’s time to pay, all customers need to do is open the app and make a quick payment with the touch of a finger. Receipts are then sent directly to the customer via text or e-mail. The app also allows customers to pay with gift cards and coupons and keep track of business punch cards.

Zeeck, who began experimenting with Square four years ago and has been using it ever since, has nothing but praise for the technology. “The process is very efficient,” he says. “It keeps track of my inventory, taxes, gratuity, credit card statements—it has a whole library of my entire history that I have access to any time I need. It [also] lets me know what sells and what isn’t selling.” He adds that the best parts of using Square are that each swipe is only 2.75 percent with no additional fees and that the money is in his business account the next day.

Though he’s heard some mixed reviews about the Square technology at his café, Zeeck says overall, his customers have received it very positively. “People like that it’s so snazzy and modern. There’s no pen or stylus to deal with; you just use a finger and a phone…It’s easier to retain records of the purchase, too, so if there’s ever any kind of misunderstanding with a purchase, I have the ability to go back and refund without the pain of the bank.”

Zeeck knows there are other systems similar to Square available, but he’s certain that he wants to stick with Square. Down the road, he even hopes that his customers will be able to both order and purchase from their phones with Square. “You always worry about minimizing the personal communication with your customers, but I think as long as [Square] continues to progress at a rapid pace and continues being so efficient, I’ll keep using it.”

Café 110
1299 Farnam St. #110
402-932-4040
cafe110omaha.com

Stimulate Your Kids’ Brains This Summer

Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Summer Time = Fun Time! This is true for all of us, especially kids who are looking for a break from school. But according to Harris Cooper, author of Summer Learning Loss: The Problem and Some Solutions, a concern of educators and parents is that the long summer vacation breaks the rhythm of instruction, since children learn best when instruction is continuous. Long breaks from school can often require educators to do a significant amount of review of material when students return to school in the fall. Below are some suggestions on ways to keep your child’s brain engaged throughout the summer while still having opportunities to practice skills they acquired in the classroom.

Lakeshore Learning Center, located at 12005 W. Center Rd., offers free crafts for kids every Saturday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. You can even check the website to preview the craft. While you are there, pick up some educational games and activities your child can do during the week. The store offers educational games for all ages and in every subject area in which your child may have an interest.

If your budget is a little tight, your children can participate in the Omaha Public Library’s free summer reading program. Each library will post a schedule online describing the special activities your children can participate in, along with the days and the times they will be taking place. They also can earn points for reading each day and exchange their points for prizes. Another good source for free activities is familyfuninomaha.com. This website features a page entitled “Summer Fun Series,” in which parents can find free summer activities throughout Omaha. Some of these may include special kid-friendly activities at the local malls, free local fine arts performances, and community events.

We all know how much our children love to spend time on the computer, so make it worth their while by directing them to websites that encourage them to practice reading and math skills while still having a good time. Try out some of the following sites:

Remember—making sure your kids’ brains stay active throughout the summer will help them transition into the next grade smoothly and lessen their stress level at the start of the year.