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Technology March 2018

Bob’s Tech Talk

Kindle Advice, Robot Toys, How to Leave Facebook

By Bob DeLaurentis

When I first joined Facebook, it was fun. Now, it is a distraction I do not need in my life. Can I delete my account?

Q. My wife and I spend the winter months in our RV. We are both voracious readers, and I am considering a Kindle to help declutter our coach. Which one do you recommend?   

A. The simple answer is that any Kindle is better than no Kindle at all. Each of the four current models has advantages and drawbacks, so here are a few items to consider.

The entry level model, which sells for less than $100, is probably best avoided. The screen is an older design, and I much prefer the sharper screens used on newer models.

The second model in the lineup, the Kindle Paperwhite, is my personal favorite. It includes a much better screen compared to the base model and cellular connectivity. For me, Paperwhite delivers the most value for its price.

The Kindle Voyage is a spiffy upgrade from the Paperwrite, with some nice touches such as an adaptive backlight.

The top-of-the-line Kindle Oasis is first class in every way. The screen is larger, it uses real buttons rather than a touchscreen to  turn pages, and it is waterproof. Longtime Kindle fans will find a lot to like. The uncompromising design comes at a price however, one that places it close to an entry-level tablet.

The "special offers" described in the Kindle feature set is Amazon-speak for advertisements. For a one-time fee, these ads can be disabled.

Although I revere printed bound books, they have downsides too. Adding a Kindle to your shelf will definitely lighten your load.


Q. We bought our grandson a drone for Christmas. It survived less than an hour before it was completely wrecked. Can you suggest a similar tech-related product that is less dependent on the skill of the owner?

A. Flying drones do not fail gracefully. They smash into the ground or disappear from view with disturbing regularity. Piloting a drone is a lot more challenging than driving a remote control car.

Drones are effectively robots that fly. Non-flying robots deliver many of the same experiences, without the smashing.

There are robots appropriate for nearly every age group, including simple devices like the Star Wars inspired Sphero BB-8 that can be controlled from a smartphone.

For children who might be interested in a bigger robotic challenge, I suggest something like the Lego Mindstorms EV3 kit.

The EV3 kit has enough parts to build several different robots that follow personalized commands. There is a great deal of depth here, exploring how complex devices interact with the world and how they can be commanded to follow instructions.

And best of all, when things do not go as expected, the result will not be a mangled heap of useless plastic.


Q. When I first joined Facebook, it was fun. Now, it is a distraction I do not need in my life. Can I delete my account?

A. Facebook accounts can be deleted. To delete your account, go to Facebook and search help for "delete account," or point your browser to "" and click the Delete My Account button. The deletion starts immediately, but there is a 14-day grace period.

Note that the deletion removes your account, but it does not wipe every trace of you off of the system. You may appear in another person's photo, for example. If you change your mind within 14 days, simply log back on and cancel the deletion process.

There is another option: deactivate account. When an account is deactivated, it is removed from view but the data is retained, providing you an option to change your mind at some future date.

My advice is to take a Facebook vacation. Social networks were fun when they were novel, but the influx of bad actors spoiled much of the landscape. Deactivate Facebook and enjoy life. There are still many ways to keep in touch over the Internet. When the vacation is over, you can choose whether Facebook is worthy of your time and attention.


Wander the Web - Here are my picks for worthwhile browsing this month:

Good Reads

This site is a social network designed to help you find your next favorite book. It is owned by Amazon and includes a bit of marketing copy, but the core of the site is focused on making new discoveries related to books you already know and enjoy.


Crash course

Crash course is a YouTube channel with short videos on a broad range of topics, from history and politics to my personal favorite, computer science. Each video is about 10 minutes, and they cover individual subjects with clarity and precision.


Remember When?

Look backward in time and scroll through this collection of vintage print advertisements from the 20th century. Laugh at the lawn darts and DDT aerosol for babies.


A tech enthusiast his entire life, Bob is currently developing an educational software project. When not writing, he is in the kitchen cooking up something unusual, or outside with a camera. He can be contacted at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

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