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Brad Fitzpatrick

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First time using a mouse [Feb. 17th, 2005|03:55 pm]
Brad Fitzpatrick
Dina's grandpa has never had or used a computer, but he's been wanting one for some time. He's like 80 or something, but he's big into technology. He got all excited when he saw Dina's phone show my face when I called her once while she was over there. Wide-eyed he asked, "Can you see them now when you talk to them?" Dina said no, and he just kinda sighed sadly and looked away. This guy wants the future.

So... with moving my house and the office (where most my old computers live), there were plenty of extra parts to build him a pretty nice computer.

We brought it over last night and I got my first experience introducing them to a mouse. It was a crazy experience watching them learn it. I had to bust out a lot of analogies about the mouse and the Internet. I opened up the computer and showed them all the (few) parts and what they do, so it wasn't so mystic.

The setup is Linux, GNOME, and GDM logging them right in without a username/password.

Yesterday they learned to turn it on, play Blackjack, and shut it down. Also minimize and maximize, so they can switch between games while she cooks.

Saturday we show them the Internet and how not to fall for Nigerian scammers.

[User Picture]From: tabbylove
2005-02-18 12:02 am (UTC)
brad that is so cute. are we talking about nona and dida or the other grandparents? I can imagine either of them saying that about the phone :)
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[User Picture]From: brad
2005-02-18 12:05 am (UTC)
Erv and Elaine.
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[User Picture]From: jonah
2005-02-18 12:02 am (UTC)
I tried teaching my grandpa how to use a mouse once--he ended up using both his hands because he didn't understand the concept of "double clicking." One hand was to hold the mouse in place, the other to hit the button fast.
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[User Picture]From: algeh
2005-02-18 12:48 am (UTC)
I never could get my grammy to learn how to use a mouse. She would sloooowly and caaarefully line up the arrow to juuuuuust the right spoooot......and then *CLICK!!!!* the hell out of it, pushing forward from the elbow as well and sending the arrow clean to the top of the screen well before the click was completed. I thought about teaching her how to use a trackball instead, but we finally concluded that she'd be much happier with a typewriter.
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[User Picture]From: j7xz49br3m93xrr
2005-02-18 12:24 am (UTC)
I find that seniors can generally get on with computers a lot more easily than their middle aged children, particularly if they've never had a computer before, or only briefly used one outside of a work environment.

Having a computer at work totally ruins your average "I don't really know much" user, as they demand Windows, demand Word, and half a ton of other useless bunk they really could live much better without. Linux and GNOME will go down well with the old folks, but for the 50 year old at-home mom who once used Windows 95 at her part-time job, she's going to get all pissy until she gets what she wants. The other benefit is that the seniors tend to prefer simple games, and aren't down at Wal*Mart buying the latest and greatest PC games and attempting to run them on their underpowered Intel onboard video powered rig!

I guess it's true. Older people really are wise.
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[User Picture]From: kaleidoscopeeye
2005-02-18 12:33 am (UTC)
I taught computer classes for an organization called Experience Works for a while. It is designed to teach older folks computer skills. The first class that they scheduled me to teach was beginning excel. No one in the class knew how to turn on a computer or use a mouse! Teaching them excel did not seem to be the priority!
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[User Picture]From: matthew
2005-02-18 01:09 am (UTC)
Oh man, he totally needs a mac with iChat AV and a camera :)
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[User Picture]From: terrajen
2005-02-18 01:18 am (UTC)
Are you sure they're ready for goatse? o_O
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[User Picture]From: gaal
2005-02-18 01:38 am (UTC)
> Saturday we show them the Internet and how not to fall for Nigerian scammers.

Sounds like sex ed for kids.
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[User Picture]From: loganb
2005-02-18 01:55 am (UTC)
One big problem I have introducing the Internet to older, non-tech literate folk is getting them to recognize the distinction between the web browser window and the window-looking elements on a web page.

Just recently I was helping an older woman learn to read her e-mail through the PeoplePC web gateway. The system would only show 10 messages at a time and she would assume there were no more when she scrolled to the bottom of the page with the scroll bar not realizing that there was a "next" link. I've also seen people use a scroll bar on a frame that is halfway off the screen, not be able to scroll far enough, and not realize that the main scroll bar will move the frame onto the screen. It gets worse with ads that look like windows because then they get confused because the 'X' in the corner didn't work as they expected.

Anyways, the abstraction of a web browser/page as a cropped, subview of a larger surface is often missed by the newcomers, so you may want to explain it very carefully. Good luck!
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[User Picture]From: mart
2005-02-18 09:28 am (UTC)

That's because web-based “user interfaces” suck. I've been saying this for years, but it doesn't stop people trying and failing over and over again. Just make a proper application and everyone will be happy. (or, alternatively, get something like XUL implemented for all current browsers and write web apps using a proper UI API/toolkit.)

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[User Picture]From: troworld
2005-02-18 02:07 am (UTC)
I tried to teach my grandma the mysterious ways of the mouse. The best she could do is push the mouse to the right position, then aim for a second and quickly stab the left mouse button like it was an insect needing to be squished.

Double-clicks were a problem. It took her a few tries each time it was necessary, but she only needed to click on little blue underlined text once to read the daily news. :)
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From: node
2005-02-18 09:32 am (UTC)
I actually learned something from my dad, watching him 'double-click'. What he'd do is click on an icon or whatever, and then hit the enter key. The interesting thing about it is that when you've just logged into the system and it's still loading up applications for your tray, it's not very responsive and will sometimes miss double-clicks. A single-click and hitting the enter key will always work, though.
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[User Picture]From: brad
2005-02-18 05:52 am (UTC)
AOL doesn't support Linux, plus it's too busy/flashy/annoying. I got them an el-cheapo 56k dial-up account from a local ISP.
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[User Picture]From: stalk_her
2005-02-18 03:10 am (UTC)
"Can you see them now when you talk to them?" Dina said no, and he just kinda sighed sadly and looked away. This guy wants the future.

that is super cute.
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From: postbagboy
2005-02-18 03:34 am (UTC)
Haha that kicks ass. Elders using computers is great.
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[User Picture]From: koehlerk
2005-02-18 04:44 am (UTC)
Brad, you are a good guy!
Speaking of old people and computers, I was in an orientation class for the State Parks Reservation System with a couple old timers in the agency. They were used to maintenance of restrooms, plumbing and the sort, but were to be put into the reservation booth the summer I worked there. During the class, the instructor assumed that everyone knew how to use a mouse and kept saying, "Move your mouse on the screen." The old timers picked up their mouses, and moved them around on the face of the monitor. Old timers, in a small town, working for a state agency--they had no clue. It was after that class the instructor advised the park manager not to let them work with the reservation system at all. We avoided many a pissed off camper thanks to that suggestion.
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From: xiambax
2005-02-18 06:28 am (UTC)
oh man, your awesome. as i was reading this i was thinking in the back of my head "man this dudes 80 and wants to learn something about a computer i hope brad hooks the dude up with a linux box". and you did, you are truly a man among men
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