This Christmas, my dad told me he wanted to get rid of their desktop PC dinosaur running Windows XP and filled with a tremendous amount of who-knows-what. Getting the call sometimes to help with computer problems, I knew there was more in that office that should be replaced. Shortly after this conversation my dad called again to tell me that his network of Linksys routers also stopped working, again. I decided to help my parents move into the 21st century and leave the extinct technology to fossilize in the dump and move on to the latest and greatest pieces of tech they will ever need!
The computer: iPad. Lighter, completely wireless, faster, simpler, and elegant. It makes so much sense. And in the time since the original iPad, the latest models are much more powerful and designed for personal computing than just browsing the Internet, this device, in my opinion, can and should replace the home desktop. The webcams in the newest models allow for video chatting with friends and family and make it a very pleasant experience. The simple navigation style is perfect: you want pictures, go to pictures; you want Angry Birds, go there; you want e-mail, voila! there it is. No need to navigate through which folders and subfolders you hid them in. I told my dad to replace the dinosaur with a refurbished iPad 2, just what mom needs for home and work.
I’ll admit, it can be a bit frightening to give up the desktop format to something so much more mobile. Mom didn’t like the idea, she needed a mouse and a keyboard. Dad almost got her a laptop, but I knew that even having a new laptop, you would have to move on to Windows 8, which is another different design and layout from XP, making everyone need to learn a new style no matter what! I pushed for the iPad, and one popped up on Apple’s site, and dad bought it right away. He added a bluetooth keyboard, and the last I heard, my mother doesn’t answer him when she is called because she is so enthralled with her new toy!
The router: Airport Express/Extreme. My dad is a lover of music and has a great classical music and spanish music collection and playing music while having company is a custom at home. I knew adding this to the upgrade would be simple with the Airport Express. The Express has a headphone jack and allows for Airplay, wirelessly streaming music/video to a compatible device from your iPhone/Pod/Pad through any household speaker system. After the installation, I showed my dad how to work Airplay with some guitar music, and using headphones (what we had available at the time) he could hear his music coming from the Express even though he was controlling it from the other side of the room.
The printer: hp or other AirPrint printers. The Airport Express also serves a few more purposes. It has a USB port for wirelessly printing as well. My dad does have a laptop of his own, and their printer is not compatible with their iOS devices. Until the time comes for an AirPrint printer, the USB will suffice with their current one. (I bought a wireless printer from Goodwill for a fraction of the cost, and with a firmware upgrade, it became AirPrint capable. I was printing Qdoba coupons from my iPhone!)
However, I made one mistake when telling my dad to get the Express. I believed the USB could also connect to an external hard drive, like the Extreme can. My research showed this was not true. Why is this important? My mother had bought terabyte drives for her and my dad to put everything on as a backup. But externals don’t work with iPads. What to do…
The external drive: Buffalo network drives. This external drive connects to a computer with an ethernet cable and not USB, so it can plug in directly to the Express’ LAN port, while the modem is still plugged into the WAN port. This was useful for my dad’s laptop, but mom still had the iPad to worry about. Dad was ready to buy her a laptop as a solution. But we were so close!
The network drives files: FileBrowser app. This app from the Appstore is incredible! Using this little guy, you can access network drives, USB drives, computer hard drives within your home network, even when you are not home! I researched it and found for $5 this app would save my dad from paying more for a laptop, and even give him the capability to use the same network drive from his iPhone, if he ever wants to.
FileBrowser is an exceptional app. You can access any file, and even move, rename, and transfer it to your iPad and edit it there. Mom still had Word, Excel, and PowerPoint files she needed working on from that Buffalo drive. What to do…
The old files: iWork. iWork for iPad, including Pages, Numbers, and Keynote, are three apps i had my mom download so she could transfer and edit any documents she had for school or their non-profit, and even send them back to the drive for storage. I spent a good 2 hours with her showing her how it would all work. Needless to say, she was amazed by what that little iPad could do!
In some earlier posts I talked about how I could see the Internet’s potential being used and that websites, though still present, will be replaced by apps, or functionality, of a modern computer. It’s clear to me that the giant leaps in computing technology and wireless communications can simplify what is really necessary in a home. Wirelessly streaming music, and accessing files from network drives are a simple process these days.
New innovations and the level of connectedness of our society through social media, and even more breakthroughs in digital wizardry make me excited for what is still yet to come. But in this last year, I made some predictions about what can be in the future, especially in what is essential for a modern American family to have to experience life with new technology.
I hope you can see the possibilities with the software and hardware I’ve mentioned here on how you can make your home a more simple and unified one…as far as technology goes. Mind you, I am partial to Apple products, but I believe that Windows and Google have really stepped up in the world of computing in 2012. I demonstrated my ideas with Apple, and you should convert this information to whichever brand you like best!