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  1. #1
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    Becoming a self-sufficient computer user

    I am not sure where to ask this question or even how to title it, but looking for the broadest exposure. I have been the primary IT manager of computers used by my wife and myself. I do the maintenance, backups, troubleshooting, scans, etc. However, we are both seniors and I foresee the day when I am no longer able to perform my duties, so to speak, and I am looking for ideas on how to best prepare my wife to be self-sufficient.

    She is by no means a beginner so the Dummy series of books, or equivalent, are not appropriate. However, she is just not hard-wired to intuitively deal with the computer. She is a heavy user of e-mail, internet, MS Word, occasional PowerPoint and of course Windows 10. And if everything goes well, there is no problem. But when a hiccup occurs, the shades come down and I get the call. Usually, if I am not around, she will come up with some workaround and I am often very surprised and impressed.

    So what might be appropriate for a user with this level of knowledge and ability but with no “geek” genes in her DNA? I hope to get some good ideas from the forum and get started on the implementation. And perhaps this is of a general interest subject and can become an ongoing topic which would certainly be good.

    Thanks for listening.
    Seattlerust

  2. #2
    Silver Lounger lumpy95's Avatar
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    My first suggestion would be to get her familiar with this forum. 2nd, show her how to take screenshots to submit and how to submit them. 3rd, show her how to google for answers.
    4th, maybe find a trustworthy repair shop.
    Hope this helps
    Last edited by lumpy95; 2016-11-10 at 14:54.

  3. #3
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    In addition to Lumpy's post, I recommend you install OneNote and start a troubleshooting notebook for her. You can be as detailed as needed and add graphics, web links, your own scribbles, etc. Plus, if you save it in OneDrive you can access it from any device.
    Joe

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    This is@seattlerust,
    the others please don't yell, I know...
    Do you have an older machine like a mainstream laptop sitting around?
    If yes then get and install Linux Lite on it and let her "play" with it. You both might be surprised.
    Eike J Heinze
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  6. #5
    Super Moderator jwitalka's Avatar
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    My job as IT support for my wife got considerably simpler once I got her an Ipad. Her usage is mainly email and games and occasionally photos. Not totally without issues but an order of magnitude less than Windows.

    Jerry

  7. #6
    5 Star Lounger Lugh's Avatar
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    If you have someone remote who would help out, teach her to use screen sharing and remote access software.

    For the routine maintenance set it up via Task Scheduler, or else maybe via some Win automation scripting like PowerShell or AutoHotkey.

    Written and auto help will only go so far, as MS will keep fiddling with Win10 and make tools and techniques go obsolete over time.

    ETA As well as web search, show her the wealth of Win10 videos on YouTube--maybe that will 'click' with her.

    Kudos on your thoughtfulness, it's a good topic
    Lugh.
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  8. #7
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    @seattlerust you have an excellent attitude: kudos to you. I am a simple computer user but have been able to help family and friends over the years.
    *** My approach is: determine what the user does and what they expect out of their computer. ***
    After a problem is fixed I sit down with the user to explain how it was fixed and put it in writing: most of the time ask them to follow those instructions before I leave.
    --- When a problem returns I explain why.
    I always recommend recording what happened, what the problem is as they perceive it along with the exact error message if there is one
    --- Using OneNote for recording troubleshooting and fixes is an excellent idea.
    --- Many people I help won't do that so then I recommend a full size (8 1/2 x 11) notebook (not pieces of paper). Actually most of the time I give them one, label it for computer use only and get it started for them.
    I also would like to mention Lumpy's summary is very good

  9. #8
    WS Lounge VIP mrjimphelps's Avatar
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    Seattlerust: I agree with everything that everyone has posted here. But I would like to add my perspective to what has been said.

    As you very eloquently said, not everyone is hard-wired to intuitively deal with the computer. I know people like that. No matter how much you explain things to them, and no matter how many protective measures you set up on their computer, it isn't long before they are making the same mistakes and getting the same problems again and again.

    Here are some things I would suggest that you do:

    1. Get your computers set up with an online auto-backup service. In this way, you (or she) can recover if something goes badly wrong. And don't pick a "cheap" service, which may be out of business before long. Pick someone who will be around for the long term, such as Carbonite or Mozy.

    2. Get brand new computers - the latest and greatest you can find - and go with Windows 10 and Office 365. Ordinarily I wouldn't recommend Windows 10 and Office 365. But if you have the very latest computers, Windows 10 and Office 365 should work for a very long time on your computers; and they will be kept up to date. If Microsoft spying bothers you, then you might not want to go with Windows 10. But if you weren't around to maintain things, Windows 10 and Office 365 might not be a bad option.

    3. Hire a trusted assistant, and work him into the computer support role. He can take over if something happens to you.
    Last edited by mrjimphelps; 2016-11-14 at 12:33.

  10. #9
    Silver Lounger wavy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by seattlerust View Post

    Thanks for listening.
    Seattlerust
    Maybe she just likes you helping her.
    My advice is to give her a good idea of the bad way to deal with things: don't give away the bank via phishing, don't just install anything that pops into her radar, make backups, basic security stuff. When the time comes if she is not a fixer she will still be a knowledgeable user and not fall for gunk online promising miracles. Paying techs is not a bad thing if you need it getting ripped-off IS. Some will never have the 'Fix-It' mind-set some just have it.
    David

    Just because you don't know where you are going doesn't mean any road will get you there.

  11. #10
    Super Moderator Rick Corbett's Avatar
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    What I would like to see is techno bajillionaires like Mr. Gates, Mr. Zuckerberg, etc. to spend a tiny, tiny amount of time and money (for them) to create a non-profit IT Support organisation (in partnership with, for example, TeamViewer) specifically for elderly/disabled/disadvantaged people who, for whatever reason (cost, distance, etc.), just don't have the all-important access to free IT support that they need in order to keep in contact with family, friends and other support.

    In my mind it's simply a case of 'giving back'.

    WSL is amazing IMO... but, unfortunately, often has its limitations in the amount of support it can offer to people supporting other people.

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  14. #12
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    It has been a week since I posted my request and I want to thank all the people who have posted for their thoughts and ideas. I have begun to develop a game plan now and will be implementing many of these ideas into it. It will be a work in process for some time, I am sure, and I hope more ideas keep coming.

    I was particularly intrigued by Rick Corbett’s post. It makes me wonder how this community could do something like a reverse “crowd source” to those techno bajillionaires, as Rick so aptly put it. By and large, they are probably good people who might just take up the challenge if they knew about it. Any ideas on that?

    Again, I thank you all and will continue to look for ideas.
    Seattlerust

  15. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by jwitalka View Post
    My job as IT support for my wife got considerably simpler once I got her an Ipad. Her usage is mainly email and games and occasionally photos. Not totally without issues but an order of magnitude less than Windows.

    Jerry
    Exactly our experience. My wife got an iPad and quit using her Windows Vista machine completely a couple years ago. I also have an iPad but also a Win 10 HP desktop that I am very happy with.

    I am now trying to get her used to an Android smartphone. iPhone prices are ridiculous!

  16. #14
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    I am an old person, well relatively at 75. I recommend to any elderly asking me what to do.......I know this will be heresy but.......I recommend Chromebook. It's about as bullet proof as they come. To get around the small screen you only need to HDMI to a larger one if you need a larger screen.

  17. #15
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    I know this will be heresy but.......I recommend Chromebook.
    Not heresy at all! If you listen to your customers and respond to their needs, I take that as an unalloyed good. If Chromebook is a good answer there's no need to apologize for it.

    One thing that does bother me about the modern computing world. For some seniors, they come from a safer and more protected world. They were raised at a time when authority figures were trusted and respected. Bad people were easy to identify and stay away from. Many such seniors aren't equipped with the danger detectors needed online today. They don't have proper B.S. detectors and they aren't cynical enough to ask, "could this be a fraud?" when they are asked for money, personal information, and the like.

    The one thing that we lack, entirely, is a "safe zone" online. A place where seniors can do what they want without being harassed by people who only mean them harm. Come to think of it, the same could be said for children and special needs individuals.

    From what I've observed, the seniors on this site are pretty savvy. They don't necessarily need this kind of protection.

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