My Mum is now in her mid 70’s and has been embracing technology for several years now, which is great but it does require a fair amount of IT support. It all started with a desktop pc running windows 98. A steep learning curve ensued required new skills to be mastered both mentally and physically. What I considered simple tasks were painful to watch, the simple point and click with the mouse proved arduous and the introduction of the right mouse button brought the whole thing tumbling down.
But once up and running it wasn’t long before she found her feet and was writing documents and filing them away in the most unusual places. The next piece of technology to arrive was the digital camera which, thanks to Picasa was much less painful than I expected. The only problem with the digital camera was the much more traditional analog problem of either losing it or dropping it in her drink.
Technology was now winning and we were on a roll with the introduction of her first mobile phone around 10 years ago we gave her the simplest one we could find and it all went smoothly with the only real problem being convincing her that she does’t need to keep switching it off to preserve the battery! The phone was very intuitive just dial the number on the easy to read backlight rubber keys and press the green telephone button and off you go. Not forgetting to press the red handset button when you’ve finished the call. Green to go red to stop, i like that!
Then about 3 years ago she got a pc laptop. This wasn’t as bad as you might think, she’s had the desk top for many years now so she understood the basics. Learning the new skills required to use the touch pad was the biggest problem and the handy autoscroll feature down the side of the touchpad caused no end of problems with the pages flicking up and down unexpectedly. ‘Tim the page I was looking at has just disappeared’ was a common call.
So Mum now had her techno life in order her own gmail account for communicating with friends, Skype for video meetings with her son and grandchild in the States and a word processor for the creative writing. What more could she want….”picture texting sounds good, how do I do that Tim?” enter the Samsung touchphone, fancy screen, camera, phone, Internet all controlled with an easy to use totally intuitive touch interface. not so. It no longer had the familiar number keypad so useful for making phone calls, it had a couple of silver phone buttons a bit too small to use and ulcer which one to press to make and end a call. the touch screen kept activating unwanted applications when all she wanted to do was scroll down a page, but the biggest problem was that the local memory soon filled up and she had to store photos on an sd card, getting the phone to do that was only half the battle once safely stored the phone could’t use pictures stored on the card for picture texting, this was after all what she wanted to do most of all. The technology was losing ground, enter the iPad.
You would think this would be the the tech saviour, not so. Which way is up? Why can I never find the side button I’m looking for? How does this volume switch work? Why can’t I watch this video clip? Where’s the camera? How do I connect it to my PC? Where do I plug my USB stick. But as time went by the ‘I’ way started to make sense and the touch interface made moving around the Internet so much easier….she was falling back in love with technology and it was doing what she wanted to do better, at least most of the time.