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Old 02-11-2007, 10:58 PM   #1
tea of evil
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Question Best computer for old people?


Alright, I think I've got a unique one here.

I'm a college student who has grandparents, and I take them out from time to time. Recently, they asked me about getting a computer, and I simply answered that such a thing is "possible."

I don't have much of a problem per-se; I have a couple of machines dating from '99 and '00 that I could fix up and make do things like e-mail, web browsing, etc. But how do I make the thing useful for people who retired before the internet came to be?

Yes, my grandparents are very old...and from another country. I just to set them up with web-access, e-mail, and maybe--maybe--using pictures. I would need to protect them from pop-ups, spam, and phishing even before they could use the machine. Oh, and they can't see very well either. Any ideas on hardware, distro, technology-barrier?
 
Old 02-12-2007, 02:17 AM   #2
MS3FGX
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I'm not sure how to respond here.

If they are that completely clueless about technology, I don't suspect it matters much what exactly it is you put in front of them. As they have no predisposition, they are going to have to learn it from scratch anyway.

You might as well give them something like Kubuntu or Ubuntu, which will contain most of the software they are going need, and won't need to actually be administered as such. Firefox with AdBlock will make popups and ads a distant memory, so no problems there.

But more importantly, do you intend to sit with them and teach them every aspect of this system? With no previous experience, and no "Seniors Guide to Ubuntu" in existence (at least, as far as I know), you are going to be the only source of information for them.

As much as it sickens me at this point in my life, it seems like it would be a better idea to just install XP and get them a few good books about using Windows written for older people (of which there are many) and a few "Idiots Guide to..." books.

Of course, you said they are from a different country, so I don't know if there is going to be a language barrier in terms of documentation. But whatever language they speak/read, there is certainly going to be Windows documentation written in it someplace.

Of course, you could always get a second hand G4 for cheap, I have seen them going for $150 fully loaded at computer shows. They will run OS X very nicely. I can't say I know how well older people specifically adapt to OS X, but I know from my own experience that it is definitely one of the most user friendly and intuitive GUIs out there.
 
Old 02-12-2007, 05:34 AM   #3
dasy2k1
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if you can get an old mac running OSX then that is the answer. OSX is teh easuiest to use for older people and tehre is plenty of documentation avalable.

an old G4 iMac or somthing should be sutable (pixar lamp style)if you can get one
(If it has OSX pre 10.3 i woudl upgrade (which is quite cheap) they still run 10.4 really well)

and teh plus, you can just walk into any aple shop (if tehre are any near you)
and ask even teh most stupid questeion and tehy will be happy to answer (even show you on a machine instore)
 
Old 02-12-2007, 06:22 AM   #4
alred
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ok , probably i understand the problems more ...

just get them a pc , not so great but not too low ... basic p4 with "cock-sure to work" basic hardwares is enough ... try to anticipate what things(therefore new hardwares) they will be asking for in the future when they get more "intelligent" ... customize the system with ubuntu yourself ... just the desktop "availibilty" part first ...


generally speaking you do it once only during the initial stage ...


[FORGOT TO MENTION ::] when you sit them down showing(or sharing with) them the very basic skills in computing , do not encourage them to customzie the desktop or system too early , tell them that the desktop is "fully set" and the system will stop working if they messed up with "the order of things" while you customize the system/desktop according to their improvements in skills and on-going needs quietly ...


//.2 cents ...

.

Last edited by alred; 02-12-2007 at 06:53 AM.
 
Old 02-12-2007, 03:21 PM   #5
linux-goot
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Some browsers and email clients (e.g., Firefox, Thunderbird, and IE) allow you to change the display settings as far as font size and colors go. Some browsers even allow you to set up over-riding cascading style sheets to display web pages in a manner more beneficial to people with vision problems.

Also, many OS' have assistive technology assets that you can setup for people with vision, hearing, and/or physical disabilities. Although I'm not sitting at my FC6 or Chubby Puppy boxes at the moment, I do know FC does have assistive technology applications available in its system or administrative tools section.

So, as far as vision problems go, no matter what kind of box or OS you get, you probably can set things up to help your grandparents 'see' things well enough to use the web and email with relative ease and enjoyment.
 
Old 02-12-2007, 09:31 PM   #6
alred
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ooops ... sorry tea of evil , i cant see properly ... generally speaking this sorts of questions automatically is an ubuntu problems , you cant blame me ... ^_^


yeah , use suse also will do anyway ...


.

Last edited by alred; 02-12-2007 at 09:33 PM.
 
Old 02-12-2007, 11:40 PM   #7
tea of evil
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Hey guys, thanks for the info.

Getting a Mac does seem like the best way to go if I can, but if getting such a machine is not it the cards I will definitely be customizing up some Ubuntu. I know Linux can do everything they would want to do in Windows...only without the BSOD.

I kinda have a rebuttal question though. Any tips on "locking-down" a computer from spam, phisher sites, and the like? Basically, whats the best way you would put parental controls on a computer for a kid, only for people old enough to rent "ultra-porn"? (pardon my Futurama)
 
Old 02-13-2007, 01:04 AM   #8
MS3FGX
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There really isn't anything you can do to block phishing, as far as I understand it. The computer doesn't know if a site is legitimate or not (besides some sort of blacklist), it is up to the user to be savvy enough to tell when something doesn't sound right. That is a lot of what is covered in those "Senior's Guide to the Internet" type books.

For spam, you are best off just letting their email provider handle it. They all have spam blocking integrated now. They will probably be using web-based email in the first place, older people seem more comfortable with that then a mail client that needs configuring and has too many buttons and options.

Going back to the blacklist, perhaps that would be the best plan of attack. I don't off hand know of any software for Linux that will keep updated with a list of garbage sites and block them, but I am sure it exists out there.
 
Old 02-13-2007, 08:40 AM   #9
archtoad6
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I have friend who has set her mother (70 or 80-ish) up w/ Linspire (pre-Freespire Linspire). I would recommend you look at that, if only because it does not confuse w/ multiple workspaces.

Personally, I like SimplyMEPIS. You should consider that, or perhaps MEPIS Lite if the hardware is old.

For "old eyes" Opera is MY favorite browser. Its zoom, out of the box, is true magnification, not font bumping, of both text & pictures. Furthermore, Opera has both mouse gestures, if you want them, & extensive keyboard shortcuts. Also, a built-in Google toolbar. I can't speak to the built-in "M2" mail client because I prefer web based e-mail.

For locking down, you could put a SmoothWall Express firewall/router in front of the surfing box & set it up so you (& you only) can administer it from the outside. At the least you can set up an ad & malicious site blocking hosts file. Later, you can do this w/ dnsmasq.conf. The difference is that the hosts file has to do it host by host, whereas dnsmasq.conf can block whole domains. If you like blocking crap for your own LAN, it should be easy to place the same rules on your grandparents "LAN".

Q: Which DE do you use? -- You should probably give them the same thing, perhaps w/ simplifications like only 1 workspace (virtual desktop).
 
Old 02-13-2007, 09:09 AM   #10
alred
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if you want to go for that on their machines , for blocking adults sites probably you can have a look at this ... there are 2 further links inside the passage ...

http://software.newsforge.com/softwa.../1521209.shtml

btw , when you are still working on the above , probably you can disable unnecessary and redundant plugins features and fancy drawing of pages initially ... many of the totally unnecessary sites out there on the internet will never work if you do that ...


//goodluck ...


.
 
Old 02-13-2007, 09:44 AM   #11
Tortanick
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I disagree with all the *buntu suggestions, Ubunutu may be easier out of the box, but since you'll be setting up the system why not go with debian, or slackware since after setup they'll be far faster and far more stable.

Last edited by Tortanick; 02-13-2007 at 09:53 AM.
 
Old 02-13-2007, 01:11 PM   #12
MS3FGX
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Because there is more setup on a computer required then just the initial install.

If he puts Slackware on there, what is he going to do in a few months if they decide now they want to get a digital camera to take pictures of their retirement? They going to compile gPhoto? Or go on LinuxPackages.net, get the .tgz, and have to run installpkg from the terminal?

Or how would they even keep the system updated? You would have to install one of the unofficial package managers, and even then, none of them have a function that will alert the user to available updates automatically.

The reason Ubuntu is so popular is because it does all of this by itself. There are near limitless available packages to install, automatic configuration for everything, and easy to understand GUIs for all system configuration. Despite my undying love for Slackware, there is no doubt that if Ubuntu was anything like Slackware, it would have never gotten as popular as it is.

You could use Debian, which would give you a lot of the advantages that Ubuntu has, but what would really be the point? A bit more granular control over what is installed, maybe start with a leaner base system? Doesn't really seem worth it, especially when you consider the relative speed of the computer running Debian/Slackware versus Ubuntu is never going to be something the users here are ever going to think about, let alone be interested in.
 
Old 02-13-2007, 01:32 PM   #13
oskar
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On ubuntu you have assistive technologies installed by default. (system-preferences-assistive-technologies) On - I think every Gnome Desktop - you can zoom in - out by using ctrl-alt-+/- on the num pad.
I'm not old, but I'm very lazy... And Ubuntu is the only distribution where I didn't have to fight with anything If I didn't ask for it.
If you know suse - I don't think it's a bad choice eighter. The only problem is the yast package manager, and that it doesn't have too many packages.
I'll be setting up a system for a friend this week. He's not old, but he knows next to nothing about linux. I'm pretty confident that it's easily possible to set up a linux machine to do basic tasks without requiring the user to know much about anything.
I second the zoom feature on Opera - I like to use font zoom on Firefox, but it tends to mess things up. There's a plugin for firefox (mousezoom) but it's rather sluggish.

+ you can very easily set up remote access - so even when you're not around, you can log in and fix something if they need help.

Last edited by oskar; 02-13-2007 at 01:36 PM.
 
Old 02-13-2007, 03:04 PM   #14
Tortanick
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MS3FGX

If he puts Slackware on there, what is he going to do in a few months if they decide now they want to get a digital camera to take pictures of their retirement? They going to compile gPhoto? Or go on LinuxPackages.net, get the .tgz, and have to run installpkg from the terminal?
Unless his grandparents put in some effort into learning the system I doub't they'll have much luck even with ubuntu.

Quote:
Originally Posted by MS3FGX
Or how would they even keep the system updated? You would have to install one of the unofficial package managers, and even then, none of them have a function that will alert the user to available updates automatically.
Ok maby slackware wasn't the best idea, but most distros have something to help keep the system updated, not just Ubuntu.

Quote:
Originally Posted by MS3FGX
The reason Ubuntu is so popular is because it does all of this by itself. There are near limitless available packages to install, automatic configuration for everything, and easy to understand GUIs for all system configuration. Despite my undying love for Slackware, there is no doubt that if Ubuntu was anything like Slackware, it would have never gotten as popular as it is.
Last time I checked (dapper) Ubuntu's "near limitless pacakges" and "automatic configuration" came from Debian while the GUI tools came from Gnome, KDE or XFCE. So they can't explain why Ubuntu is so popular. I wish I actually knew the reason.

Quote:
Originally Posted by MS3FGX
You could use Debian, which would give you a lot of the advantages that Ubuntu has, but what would really be the point? A bit more granular control over what is installed, maybe start with a leaner base system? Doesn't really seem worth it, especially when you consider the relative speed of the computer running Debian/Slackware versus Ubuntu is never going to be something the users here are ever going to think about, let alone be interested in.
Debian is more stable than Ubuntu.
Debian upgrades easier than Ubuntu.
That seems like enough to be worth it to me.

Last edited by Tortanick; 02-13-2007 at 03:07 PM.
 
Old 02-13-2007, 03:51 PM   #15
IndyGunFreak
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tortanick
Unless his grandparents put in some effort into learning the system I doub't they'll have much luck even with ubuntu.
The truth is, they'll have luck with anything. As the OP mentioned, they are in their 80's, and will be using only the very very basics of the PC(web, email, and once they get going, they'll likely end up with a Digital camera).... At their age, the chances of them wanting to put effort into learning anything as complex as a PC Operating system, is highly unlikely(no matter wether its OSX, MS, Linux, etc.) You could almost set them up with a CLI, and they wouldn't know the difference(note to OP, I'm not bashing your grandparents, it just sounds like they are totally unaware of PC technology).

Personally, I'd go with Ubuntu 6.10, set them both up with a GMAIL account that they access via GMAils website, and Gimp(or FSpot is pretty good), you can even be really nice and set up Open Office for them . If you use one of your "clunker" PC's, I'd prolly go with Xubuntu 6.10.

Just curious, how do you plan to get them on the internet? Dial up, Cable, DSL, etc? If you go with DSL/Cable, which I'd recommend given the price is so similar nowadays, not to mention this will keep them from getting frustrated while sending/receiving pics, etc. I'd recommend a good, wired firewall/router to protect them from intrusions.

Here's the one I set up on my parents network. They've got a Windows box, but even then, I've yet to have any problems with viruses, spyware, pop-ups, etc. with them. I check the logs on it probably once a week when I visit, and it never shows anything to alarming. I didn't choose the option, but I'm pretty sure it can easily be set to email you on certain events.

http://www.tigerdirect.com/applicati...&sku=N100-2044

As for phishing, the elderly are often susceptible to, and targeted by, scams. I'd just tell them to delete any email that is not from known family, friends, etc.

Good luck

IGF
 
  


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