March 25, 2020 Technology

How To "Social Distance"

By Jeffrey M. Allen & Ashley Hallene

With communities being encouraged, or ordered, to stay at home and maintain social distance, understanding the technology tools at your disposal can come in handy. We thought we would put together a how-to article on using technology tools to survive quarantine and social distancing. What follows are a series of tips explaining how to video call, conference, order groceries or even restaurant dining, in case you are not familiar with any of them. 

The CDC reccomends limiting face-to-face contact with others to reduce the spread of coronavirus disease.

The CDC reccomends limiting face-to-face contact with others to reduce the spread of coronavirus disease.

Maskot/Maskot via Getty Images

How to video call family and friends through Amazon Echo Show

To make a video call, both participants will need to have an Amazon Echo show, or one participant needs to have a video-call enabled smart phone and the Alexa app installed. To make a video call, simply tap the on-screen icon. If the person you want to call is on your contact list, you can simply say "Alexa, Call [Person's Name]" and the Echo Show will connect you. Seeing the people you care about on the screen can help ebb feelings of isolation during this time. 

How to order groceries and supplies online

If you are nervous about going out for grocery shopping, consider ordering your groceries online. Depending on the stores near you, you may be able to order them for curbside pickup, allowing you to drive to the store, park in a designated location and have your order delivered to your car. Some stores even offer at-home delivery. Due to the current panic, there may be a delay in when you can pick up or have your groceries delivered, so try to make your order well ahead of when you run out of things. Some grocery stores that offer ordering and pick-up services include:

  • Walmart Grocery https://grocery.walmart.com/ 
  • Amazon Prime Now (Select Cities) https://primenow.amazon.com
  • Albertsons https://www.albertsons.com/
  • Vons https://www.vons.com/
  • Kroger https://www.kroger.com/
  • Target www.target.com
  • Instacart https://www.instacart.com/

These are just a few of the companies out there offering curb-side pick up or at home delivery services. To utilize these services, you will need to set up an account. Most accounts are free, with the exception of Amazon Prime Now. Have a phone number and email handy for the account registration. You only have to complete the registration once and then you can sign in to your profile and place your order when needed. Most companies organize their ordering site similar to how a grocery store is organized, with meat and produce on different pages, allowing you to browse the items on your computer screen and add them to your virtual cart for check-out. When you are ready to check out, you click on the check-out button or shopping cart icon and then fill in your payment details, select an available pickup or delivery date, and voila! Your groceries will be delivered to you, saving you the trouble, and risk, of going out to the store.

How to have prescriptions delivered to you at home

Many pharmacy chains have developed a home delivery prescription service, and not a moment too soon. Two established chains include CVS Pharmacy and Walgreens/Duane Reade. Some, but not all, Rite-aids offer this service as well. Similar to the grocery store service, you will need to set up an online account and add your prescriptions to it in order to arrange for home delivery. It is a bit of work on the front end, but can save you a lot of time and hassle if this quarantine drags on.

How to have restaurant food delivered to your home

If your favorite places to dine have any shot at surviving the financial crisis caused by this period of Social Distance/Quarantine, then you and other members of your community need to continue ordering and supporting them. In the areas under a quarantine/shelter in place order, restaurants have been forced to close their dining rooms, and only allowed to offer curbside or delivery service. 

If you prefer to have your food delivered, there are a few services online that will do this. Some restaurants have their own delivery service, and you need only phone the restaurant to place your order. Others may have arrangements with services such as DoorDash, GrubHub, or Uber Eats to deliver their food. To get started, you will need to sign up on their websites:

  • DoorDash https://www.doordash.com/en-US
  • GrubHub https://www.grubhub.com/
  • UberEats https://www.ubereats.com/

All of the services are free to sign up. Some will have a delivery charge, although many have waived this charge for a period during the quarantine. The services use your delivery address to pull up the locations who offer delivery in your area. Once you are signed up, simply go through and review the menu and add items to your order. They will notify you of when you can expect your delivery (keep in mind some times of day may be high demand, leading to longer waits.)

How to play games and socialize virtually

Facebook is a great place to find online games you can play with friends and maintain a social connection from the safety of your home, but if you do not have a Facebook account, fear not, there are other websites and services out there. For instance, Pogo.com offers a variety of free online games, including chess, scrabble, card games, word games and puzzles. 

Most of these gaming sites, while convenient, will require you to sign up with an email address. This inevitably leads to spam mail. 

Here are some tips to help you protect your privacy when using these services:

  1. Don't use your existing email account. Create a new one that you will use for online gaming services, preferably something with no identifying characteristics.
  2. Never click on an ad or download anything from a game site to your computer. If the game produces a pop up window that indicates you need to download the latest version of Adobe Flash to play, for instance, it could be malware. Don't download any kind of "Flash" update from any of these sites. Instead, go directly to Adobe and download it directly from them.
  3. Don't reveal any personal information about yourself to another gamer you virtually meet online, including your last name, age or location.
  4. If a gaming site asks you to create an account, choose a username that keeps your identity totally anonymous and create a secure password of 12 characters or longer that you only use for gaming (Example good username/password: GardenGnome14/Gametime2020). Never use the same password, username, or email that you use to log into an online bank account. Do not create passwords using the names of family members.
  5. Some games will only offer free access up to a certain level, then you will have to pay to continue the game.

To begin playing social online games, first decide where you want to play. If you have a Facebook account, open up your account to the home page. On the left side of the screen you will find a list of things under the header "Explore". Scroll down this list (you may have to click on a hyperlink to "See More") until you find "Games". To play games interactively with your friends, go to the tab at the top of the screen that reads "Instant Games". Some popular choices you may want to play with friends include: 

  • Words with Friends
  • Slotomania
  • Texas HoldEm Poker
  • SongPop
  • Word Crack

As mentioned earlier, if you do not have a Facebook account, you can still find a variety of free games to play online on Pogo.com. To start playing, go to https://earlyaccess.pogo.com/. You can play the games without registering, but if you want to keep track of your scores or find and play with friends online, you will need to set-up an account. To do this, click the "Register Now" button in the top right corner of the homepage. Follow the prompts and provide the requested information (remember our advice above.) Once you have done this, why not schedule a virtual game night with your friends, to keep in touch and stay mentally active. 

How to participate in a remote meeting or conference with colleagues

Several remote meeting companies are offering their services for free during this Social Distance/Quarantine period. Microsoft, Google, and Zoom have all offered a sort of work-from-home software for free. Microsoft is offering its premium version of Microsoft Teams for free for six months, and has lifted existing user limits on its free version. 

Google is offering its enterprise videoconferencing features — for example, larger meetings of up to 250 people and the ability to record — for free to G Suite and G Suite for Education customers through July 1, 2020. This could make Google's Hangouts Meet a useful tool for businesses. 

Slack has always offered similar services for free, but lately it has made a point of offering free webinars with live Q&As, consultations by phone, and information on working-from-home best practices to assist the influx of remote workers. 

Keep in mind as you use any of these services, people across the globe are getting the same free access and their systems can get overloaded at times. 

There is a lot of information flowing to you about COVID-19, the coronavirus, and social distancing. We wanted to take the time to explain some of the tools that are out there that can help you get through this time. We hope you and your loved ones stay safe and healthy during this period of uncertainty.

 

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Jeffrey M. Allen

Graves & Allen

Jeffrey M. Allen is the principal in the Graves & Allen law firm in Oakland, California, where he has practiced since 1973. He is active in the ABA, the California State Bar Association, and the Alameda County Bar Association. He is a co-author of the ABA books Technology Tips for Seniors and Technology Tips for Seniors Volume 2.0

Ashley Hallene

Alta Mesa Holdings, LP

Ashley Hallene is a petroleum landman at Alta Mesa Holdings, LP, and practices Oil and Gas law, Title Examination, Due Diligence, Acquisitions and Oil and Gas Leasing in Houston, Texas. She frequently speaks in technology CLEs and is Deputy Editor-in-Chief of the Technology and Reviews Department of the GPSolo eReport.  She is co-author of the ABA books Technology Tips for Seniors and Technology Tips for Seniors Volume 2.0