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Planning Retirement Online

Beyond the Headlines

June 2014


By Jeanne DavisJeanne Davis

Each month our resident writer and commentator Jeanne Davis goes behind recent news stories to comment on various ideas and subjects that have special resonance for our age group.

Written in her usual thought provoking and entertaining style, we know you will enjoy this addition every month

To view all of Jeanne's articles visit the Interest Index.


Limping Along With Technology

There was a headline that caught my attention recently in the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal. “FITBIT ISSUES RECALL,” it read, “OF ITS FITNESS-TRACKING WRISTBAND DUE TO SEVERE SKIN IRRITATIONS.” What was all this about? Runners, joggers, and walkers, I learned, wear these trackers to record distance, speed, calories consumed and much more.

The Fitbit Force model went on sale just ahead of the Chritsmas holidays, but complaints began to surface before the end of the year. Customers on Amazon and other online forums described developing itchy red rashes, bumps and blisters after wearing the device. In many cases, the symptoms didn't go away even after they stopped using the device.

In the rush to add more and more functions to the trackers, and get them to the market, some may not have been adequately tested. The Force measured not only people’s activity but also sleep patterns. You wore it 24 hours a day. Why the rush? The competition is intense. Garmin, Polar and Tom Tom are the leaders and considered the most reliable.

And now there are apps. The latest technology lets you upload your stats to an app on your phone or tablet. The app can then create a fitness regime tailor- made just for you.

Reading this I’m reminded of the pedometer I was eager to use. This was twenty-five years ago. It sounded great. It would measure how many steps I took. The advice then was to walk 5000 steps a week for fitness. It would also tell me the distance I walked or ran and how many calories I burned.

I gave it up quite soon. It was laborious to set up and the device, which you clipped on to your waist band, kept falling off. Besides, the goal of 5000 steps was a step too far. I went back to my low-impact aerobic class for my cardiovascular exercise.

Now, I simply walk and since the current medical advice is 150 minutes a week or approximately 20 minutes a day it’s easy to figure out. I know the timing of my usual walk to the bus stop, to work, to the supermarket. And I do my leisurely stretching Pilates

I am still techno deficient. I am the only one I know who doesn’t carry a mobile phone. I just don’t use it that much. When I do take it on a train journey, in case the train is late and I need to call whoever is meeting me, I’ll discover I’ve left it unused for so long the battery is dead.

My computer is still a desk top after 15 years, though I did go to a flat screen four years ago. It does what I need it to do. But now I’ve been given an iPad just when I I‘m content. I’m told it’s more useful than my computer. I can pack the tablet in my handbag when I travel. I can still send emails, and surf the internet, but it will do much more. I can use it to take photos, read a book I’ve downloaded, and watch TV.

I recall all too well, though, the last trips I’ve taken. The fellow travellers always looking for a suitable plug to juice their tablets or phones, down on the floor in a hotel room in a foreign country, searching for an outlet.

On the ship I was on lately, the techies hovered around the reception desk waiting, often in vain, for the Wi-Fi to connect.

But my daughter in law, who gave the iPad to me for Christmas, says. You can use it to Skype the daughter and son-in- law and grandchildren in South Africa. A few years ago I did attempt to Skype. The program was easy to download but I could never get the right camera attachment for my computer. I gave up.

I telephone the family in South Africa using a cut rate telephone company. Very satisfactory.

But I’m being pressured by the family to use the free Skype. Both because it will save me money, but more important it will get me to use the iPad. That version of Skype is very easy, they say.


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The above article is part of the features section of called laterlife interest. laterlife interest contains a variety of articles of interest for visitors to written by a number of experienced and new journalists.

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