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Beacon Senior News

But... what does it do?

Dec 05, 2017 11:53PM ● By Adam Cochran

The next time you read the BEACON Senior News, it will be 2018. I have two predictions about the coming year.

Prediction 1: Your January issue of the BEACON will be a hologram, read to you by a robot in your flying car.

Prediction 2: You will give or receive a technology gift this holiday season.

Unfortunately, this column has a word limit so I’ll only be expounding upon the second prediction.

Believe it or not, most people are a little embarrassed when they receive a new gadget. These gifts often represent investments of both time and money, and it can be difficult for the recipient to muster enough courage to ask, “What is this?”

My first recommendation is to ask as many questions as you need to about the gadget. Ask the giver to spend some time with you demonstrating what it does.

If the gift giver isn’t around, you can learn almost everything you need to know by searching for videos about the device at You’ll find videos on everything from taking it out of the box to explanations of each feature.

Be careful taking the device out of the box. I keep all of packaging for about two weeks, just in case I need to return a new gadget (or re-gift it).

Don’t expect the device to come with a manual. If there isn’t one in the box, you will likely find it on the manufacturer’s website or on a CD/DVD in the box. Once you find it, you may want to save it to a flash drive, then have any copy place print and bind it for you.

Before you begin setting up your new device (especially if it’s a TV or computer), set out all of its parts and pieces and take inventory. All computers use the same power and Internet cable, and you may love your current mouse and keyboard. There’s no point in stringing the same cables twice, so setup will go faster.

Adapting to a new device can be frustrating. Expect to spend a little time programming the gadget, and remember that it also needs some time to program you. Whether technology is involved or not, efficiency and improvement always require some change in routine and habit.

Give the device three months of sincere effort before giving it to your kids or stowing it in your sock drawer. A Fitbit can improve your health, an iPad can improve your digital aptitude and a smart TV or streaming media player may improve your media consumption experience.

You should not fear new technology. New gadgets represent new opportunities to learn, access entertainment, meet new people and acquire new experiences.

The results are worth it.