Monday, July 28, 2008

Are seniors really unplugged?

Bloggers, pundits, political cartoonists, late-night comedians and yes, me, continue to have fun with Senator John McCain's perceived lack of computer skills.

When asked about using a computer McCain said, "I'm an illiterate who has to rely on his wife for any assistance he can get." All this, and the real state of computer literacy among seniors is the subject of an article I just read online.

Associated Press Reporter Jocelyn Noveck has some interesting anecdotal and research data on seniors and computing. She writes about 106-year-old Kathryn Robinson who has been online since she was 98!

Overall however, according to the Pew Internet Project at the Pew Research Center, only 35 percent of people over the age of 65 are online.

When you factor in that the start of the baby boomers are among the fastest growing segment of our population, that's millions and millions of Americans.

A closer look at the Pew research shows that race, wealth and education play a very important factor. "About three-quarters of white, college-educated men over the age of 65 use the Internet," says Susannah Fox, director of the project.

In her article, Noveck also quotes Tobey Dichter, CEO of Generations on Line, a group that helps bring seniors, including the 106-year-old Robinson, into the digital age as saying McCain may be in “digital denial.”

McCain campaign spokesperson Brooke Buchanan has been quick to respond that the Senator does indeed know how to browse the Internet and check web sites. Wife Cindy McCain is often seen with a BlackBerry® in her hand, and one of the McCain daughters actively blogs about the campaign.

Barack Obama, in contrast, is seen punching away on his BlackBerry all the time.

For the 106-year-old Robinson, being computer savvy means being able to overcome the impact of a stroke. In many ways, it's her lifeline to the outside world, from shopping to communicating.

According to Noveck, the computer has been a lifesaver to her.

When you're a Senator or President, you have a huge staff to do all sorts of things for you, including respond to e-mails; research on the Internet and all matters of online activities.

But at the ripe old age of 106, Kathryn Robinson is on her own. Just like the rest of us, regardless of age. Robinson, however, proves that age is not a barrier.

Senator McCain could make this a terrific campaign issue by showing that age or circumstance is not a barrier to computer literacy. He needs to lead by example.

Computer literacy is the great equalizer. Just ask Kathryn Robinson. Or better yet, send her an e-mail.

John W. Scherer
John is CEO & Founder of Video Professor, Inc.
You can reach him at

Friday, July 18, 2008

John W. Scherer meets John McCain. Sort of.

This has been a fun week for all of us at Video Professor. The last thing I expected to be involved with was the Presidential Campaign of John McCain.

It all started with this video on YouTube that has had tens of thousands of hits. We don’t know who created the video, but they have a great sense of humor!

Apparently someone from the Jimmy Kimmel Live! Staff was watching and this ended up on YouTube, see Senator McCain morph into the Video Professor.

Senator McCain has been candid about his lack of knowledge with computers. It’s been the fodder for lots of great political satire. Frankly, I’m honored that people made the connection about his need for computer skills and Video Professor.

Just in case Senator McCain sees any of these YouTube videos, I invite him to try any of our Video Professor lessons as I do to all of you.

Computer literacy and laugher are great things, and we could most definitely use a lot more of both.

Like I said, it’s been a fun week!

John W. Scherer
John is CEO & Founder of Video Professor, Inc.
You can contact him at That includes Senator McCain.You too, Senator Obama.

Friday, July 11, 2008

More dots to connect (to)

Have you ever heard of ICANN? It's not a political campaign phrase, nor some motivational word.

It stands for the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers. So what the heck is it? It's the organization that regulates the Internet. I know; sometimes when you're on the Web it's hard to believe that anyone actually regulates it. But ICANN does. Or at least tries to.

And they're about to enact the biggest changes to the way the net has been used in 40 years. (Has it really been that long?)

You're familiar with ".org," ".com," ".edu" and ".gov." These are called TLD's or top-level domain names.

Reuters reports that ICANN has agreed to greatly expand the number of TLD's available. New ones, according to the article will be the Internet equivalent of personalized license plates, except they'll cost more. If you have an extra $100,000 you could have a custom domain name pertaining to just about anything.

Let's say you're General Motors. Think in terms of ".gm." could become Disneyland.mickey, the endings are limitless.

But just in case you'd try to honor the memory of George Carlin with one of those seven words, they're ahead of you (not quite sure what this means). Like the personalized license plates, I think more than a few folks will find a way to push the limit a tad.

These changes, which still need final approval from ICANN's board or directors, would also reflect languages other than English. The Internet is certainly global, so you could expect ".francais" or ".albergo."

This could create a gold rush of entrepreneurs with tons of cash, to make even more tons of cash beating you to the TLD punch. ICANN says trademarks won't be automatically protected. Which begs the question, what's the point of trademarks? ICANN does say, however, the trademark holders will be given first priority. Good luck with that.

If finally approved, this could all start in 2009. So put on your thinking caps, grab your checkbook and start getting creative.

Let me see, videoprofessor.freecomputerlearning or johnwscherer.trymyproduct.

I like the possibilities!

John W. Scherer
John is CEO & Founder of Video Professor, Inc.
You can reach him at

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Sweet Land of Liberty!

Sweet Land of Liberty!

In 1776, 232 years ago, an incredibly brave group of men risked their fortunes and their lives to shed the yoke of British tyranny. They did so with one of the more remarkable documents written in the history of mankind: The Declaration of Independence.

Please take a couple of minutes to read it, appreciate it and remember these men and all the men and women who fight today to preserve our freedom.
In Congress, July 4, 1776.
A Declaration
When, in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. -- That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. -- That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. -- Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.
He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the meantime exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
He has endeavored to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migration hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.
He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people, and eat out their substance.
He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.
He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.
He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
For protecting them, by mock Trial, from punishment for any murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:
For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offenses
For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule in these Colonies:
For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.
He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burned our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.
He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.
In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.
Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.
We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, that these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.
New Hampshire: Josiah Bartlett, William Whipple, Matthew Thornton
Massachusetts: John Hancock, Samuel Adams, John Adams, Robert Treat Paine, Elbridge Gerry
Rhode Island: Stephen Hopkins, William Ellery
Connecticut: Roger Sherman, Samuel Huntington, William Williams, Oliver Wolcott
New York: William Floyd, Philip Livingston, Francis Lewis, Lewis Morris
New Jersey: Richard Stockton, John Witherspoon, Francis Hopkinson, John Hart, Abraham Clark
Pennsylvania: Robert Morris, Benjamin Rush, Benjamin Franklin, John Morton, George Clymer, James Smith, George Taylor, James Wilson, George Ross
Delaware: Caesar Rodney, George Read, Thomas McKean
Maryland: Samuel Chase, William Paca, Thomas Stone, Charles Carroll of Carrollton
Virginia: George Wythe, Richard Henry Lee, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Harrison, Thomas Nelson, Jr., Francis Lightfoot Lee, Carter Braxton
North Carolina: William Hooper, Joseph Hewes, John Penn
South Carolina: Edward Rutledge, Thomas Heyward, Jr., Thomas Lynch, Jr., Arthur Middleton
Georgia: Button Gwinnett, Lyman Hall, George Walton
Have a happy and safe July 4th weekend everyone.
John W. Scherer
John is CEO & Founder of Video Professor, Inc.
Reach him at