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Configuring a Windows PC For a Senior Citizen? 823

Posted by kdawson
from the keeping-it-simple dept.
An anonymous reader writes "I would like to know if there are any resources on the Web or elsewhere describing how to configure a Windows PC for an older parent not living in the same household. Assume little computer familiarity or aptitude. Some stuff is obvious, like using only a few large icons for favorite Web sites, or an icon perhaps for composing email and another for checking email. Other considerations are eliminating nuisance messages from Windows update and antivirus/firewall. What works and what doesn't? Can anyone who has worked/volunteered at a senior center offer some insights?"
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Configuring a Windows PC For a Senior Citizen?

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  • Install Ubuntu (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Peeloo (760936) on Wednesday December 24, 2008 @05:46AM (#26221241) Homepage
    I've had the same problem with my parents for years, going back home each Christmas to reformat windows and spending the week getting the configuration back to normal. For the last 3 years they've used Ubuntu, with some problem with the printer the first few months, but now I'm just spending a few minutes pushing the "Upgrade Version" button instead of a total reformat. They can check their mail/internet and you don't have to worry about virus/firewall, win-win :)
  • Re:Install Ubuntu (Score:5, Insightful)

    by silanea (1241518) on Wednesday December 24, 2008 @05:57AM (#26221291)

    Second that. My mother had avoided any and all contact with computers up until a year ago. I slapped Ubuntu on my old notebook, gave her a crash course in "doing things with that machine" and happiness ensued. She does ask me things from time to time, but so far she hasn't been able to break anything.

    Particularly the update management comes in handy: On Windows every program has its own confusing and annoying way of locating updates. On Linux you get one window asking you for one click.

  • Done this before (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dmneoblade (848781) on Wednesday December 24, 2008 @06:02AM (#26221313)
    Make sure you give the computer with remote administration capabilities pre-setup and tested. Be prepared to be called with questions, and remote desktop can save you a LOT of time when grandma discovers popups. Or when something inevitably goes wrong.
  • Easy... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by 800DeadCCs (996359) on Wednesday December 24, 2008 @06:04AM (#26221327)

    DON'T!!!

    I've done some tech support for people in my mother's building (and since then, re-affirmed my oath to NOT FUCKING do that ever again!),
    You may as well surf all the virus/trojan loaded sites before you give it to them and save them the trouble.
    And save yourself the trouble of having to explain why all their pictures are gone, or why they're victims of ID theft and not able to do anything about it.

    Many people are going to shout "UBUNTU!!! They can just do the updates themselves."
    Yeah, and then you're gonna be over there figuring out what happened when they do a version upgrade and it not just breaks, but shatters to pieces.

    I got my mom a mini-mac. The only issues I've had to fix are getting an old version of photoshop running on it, and telling her that "no, you don't have to pay for Open Office, that's a donation button, like on PBS."

    Disclaimers: I use ubuntu on my systems; no problems, I like it. I am not a mac fanboi. I know not every senior is technically inept; I've seen plenty who do amazing things on their systems, I've also seen some who shouldn't be allowed to own a toaster.

  • Re:Install Ubuntu (Score:5, Insightful)

    by msormune (808119) on Wednesday December 24, 2008 @06:16AM (#26221383)
    A Week? Really? :) Why did you format it in the first place? Why did you setup a restore image in the first place created on the Windows clean installation?

    And the last time I did Upgrade Version on Ubuntu, it took an hour just to download the new files.

    I have really no problem your post and have used Ubuntu desktop with success in the past, but it just irks me how much GNU/Linux people bend the truth when pushing their agenda. Or maybe they really just don't know any better than just to "format and reinstall" on Windows.
  • While we're here (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 24, 2008 @06:16AM (#26221385)

    My parents have never driven a car, and i plan on buying them one for christmas.

    As well as never driving, they tell me they have no intention of learning but they fully intend to take it for a spin on christmas morning to go an see my brother who lives 50 miles away.

    Can someone recommend me a good car to buy them? preferably one which will work for it's entire lifetime with no maintenance or refuelling, and is instantly drivable by someone who does not know how to drive?

  • by MarkvW (1037596) on Wednesday December 24, 2008 @06:18AM (#26221389)

    Older people generally have either no sensitivity to malware, or are extremely oversensitive on the subject. If you can make clean re-installs easy for them you'll be doing them a great service.

  • by somenickname (1270442) on Wednesday December 24, 2008 @06:30AM (#26221449)

    The responses of "Use Ubuntu instead" are not all based on fanboi-ism. Most are probably based on the fact that the question as asked is not a solvable problem. In that case, "You can't but, I've used another OS to accomplish this very thing for my parents and it's worked very well" seems like helpful advice to me.

  • Re:Install Ubuntu (Score:5, Insightful)

    by meringuoid (568297) on Wednesday December 24, 2008 @06:32AM (#26221467)
    And the last time I did Upgrade Version on Ubuntu, it took an hour just to download the new files.

    Perhaps, but did you have to intervene while it did that? How long the computer takes to do its stuff is less important: the question is how long the human job takes, and that is indeed only a few minutes.

  • Linux of Mac (Score:5, Insightful)

    by robinjo (15698) on Wednesday December 24, 2008 @06:47AM (#26221527)

    Really, do not install Windows for your older parents. They will just get in trouble with it. Get them a Mac or some really user friendly Linux distro, like Ubuntu.

    The #1 problem with Windows is not usability, but malware. As older people don't probably have any clue about security, it's best to let them use an OS, that will keep them out of trouble.

  • Re:Buy 'em a Mac (Score:3, Insightful)

    by plasmacutter (901737) on Wednesday December 24, 2008 @07:05AM (#26221631)

    My father had a succession of Windows boxes. Hopeless: he's not naive, having used systems back to Wordstar on CP/M in the late seventies, but they kept on getting screwed up. My mother got fed up with the email breaking, so I slung Linux (Redhat 7 or something) on an old laptop: she loved it, and nothing seemed to break. But she wanted Office to interwork with newsletters she was helping on. So, although at the time I had little to no Mac experience, I got her to buy an iBook G4. It just worked. Dad bought one. It just worked. I switched my house over later, building on their good experience. A lot of their friends are making the same switch. Windows just doesn't work unattended, or at least the effort required to make it run unattended is beyond most people.

    Seconded if there's a local apple store.

    If things do become a problem, the genius gets the call, NOT YOU!

  • Re:Install Ubuntu (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Lumpy (12016) on Wednesday December 24, 2008 @08:04AM (#26221959) Homepage

    Because Most of the time I dont travel with my entire IT kit. so making a restore image and everything else is not on my mind.

    Backup data - 1-2 hours
    Install XP - 1-3 hours. depending on machine speed
    Install SP3 - 1 hour
    Install drivers and find drivers - 1 hour
    Install apps - 4-6 hours
    move saved data back 1-2 hours
    Now try to set things back up so parents can simply get to it, which is importing the saved data back into the applications. 1-3 hours.

    Yup that's a solid day.

    Ubuntu complete reinstall...

    save /home/user directory - 1-2 hours.
    reinstall ubuntu 1-2 hours
    put /usr/home back 1-2 hours

    All done.

    It's not an agenda, Windows DOES in fact suck up acres of time.

    Windows "security" model causes heartache for the IT guy. I should be able to change the UID to match that of the saved data and simply plop it back in place and it and all apps magically work as if they were never reinstalled.

    Windows apps all suck, because the dev's are out of control and put things everywhere. The Registry is the stupidest idea ever. and finally windows security model is not only flawed it get's in the way of IT.

  • Re:Install Ubuntu (Score:5, Insightful)

    by suckmysav (763172) <suckmysav@gm[ ].com ['ail' in gap]> on Wednesday December 24, 2008 @08:15AM (#26222003) Journal

    "I never realised how much time I spent on fixing friends windows boxen until recently."

    I'm probably a bit older than you. Quite a while back I learned to "just say no". It gets easier when you can say "I don't use Windows, you will have to find a windows person to fix that."

    Inevitably, they then ask "Don't use Windows? What do you use then?" and I'm sure you can fill in the rest yourself.

    As you've obviously realised, life gets sooo much easier after you've done this.

  • Re:Install Ubuntu (Score:5, Insightful)

    by BrentH (1154987) on Wednesday December 24, 2008 @08:17AM (#26222013)
    Thing is, Windows systems do appear to accumulate clutter, no matter how you use it. Be it viruses or spyware (a big problem with senior citizens, in fact all non computer aficionados) or all the updates from the basic software utils you need (Adobe reader, Quicktime, some sort of Office suite), Windows itself even. I find that a Linux system (Ubuntu in particular for me) takes all that away. Of course, no viruses or spyware, and a central updatemanager that knows what it does and doesnt accumulate cruft in the way Windows does.

    If you want maintenance free, go with Ubuntu.
  • Re:Install Ubuntu (Score:3, Insightful)

    by mpe (36238) on Wednesday December 24, 2008 @08:17AM (#26222021)
    First off, I am not aware of any desktop-oriented Linux distribution that ships without a preinstalled web browser, mail client and office suite.

    As well as lots of other stuff which would be extra under Windows. Often integrated (or integratable) with the same management system as the core OS.

    Secondly, the times when printing or using web cams under Linux was reserved for kernel hackers are long gone. The initial installation is still not as simple and accessible as it should be, but day-to-day usability is, at least in my experience, better than the hog-pog mix of HP printer applets, Epson scan software and Creative web cam managers.

    Installing and using are different things. The former being something which should only happen very infrequently.
  • by MickLinux (579158) on Wednesday December 24, 2008 @08:22AM (#26222049) Journal

    Since you're talking about a senior citizen, sometimes it pays to consider their physical disabilities, too. For example, consider a large-screen TV/Monitor, if they have trouble seeing the small typefaces.

    Consider using a large-keys keyboard (http://www.fentek-ind.com/bigkey.htm), if they have parkinsons, or other motor-control problems.

  • Re:Install Ubuntu (Score:1, Insightful)

    by betso.net (950024) on Wednesday December 24, 2008 @08:22AM (#26222051) Homepage Journal
    Your knowledge about the OS's produced in Redmond does not make them better. My parents use also Ubuntu since years and the problems they had in the past with Windows are gone... however you may name this phenomenon. I don't see any reason except for some gamers to stick with Windows anymore. This is a perfect situation for a Linux/BSD/Solaris solution.
  • by Dokterdok (961082) on Wednesday December 24, 2008 @08:24AM (#26222055)

    Unless you can get them to understand the basics of security (...virus scanner, a firewall, something like Revo Uninstaller and maybe Process Explorer)) your fighting a losing battle.

    I think you should avoid explaining tech stuff as to an 80+ years old grandpa as much as possible. Perceived complexity is exactly why a lot of senior people won't even touch a computer with a pole stick. I've been recently confronted to the similar problem as the author: give the simplest computer to my grandpa, and teach him how to use it. He already tried using Windows and Mac, but gave up because it was too complicated for him. I hope my experience will help you somehow. First, you have to ask yourself the right questions:

    - What exactly does he want to do on his computer?
    - What is the best and easiest way to present these functionalities on his screen?
    - What time do I have?
    And *then only* you can ask yourself what software/hardware you'll use, depending on the answers of the two above questions.
    I customized a Xandros EeePC 900 to be even simpler to use than with stock setting. Here's what I personalized:

    - Five functionalities: Internet, Email, Writer, Solitaire, Skype. That's five huge buttons on the main screen (no other buttons, there's alt+t terminal for administration)
    - Kiosk mode Firefox: fullscreen, back button, home button, print button, font size up/down buttons, close button (and Adblock plus installed)
    - Netvibes homepage with local news, weather, wikipedia search, and video search. (no Google, too exotic for my grandpa).
    - Disabled reminders, unnecessary tooltips, auto-updates, etc.
    - Removed all the unnecessary buttons from OpenOffice, Firefox, Thunderbird, Skype.
    - Removed the taskbar, and the maximize/minimize buttons from windows (basically: removed apparent multitasking).
    - Configured the power button to be instant on/off (no confirmation screen etc).
    - Configured Thunderbird with his email address, ready to be used.

    Then comes the teaching part. In my free time I made him a little manual with a lot of screenshots, and spent two hours with him explaining him what he wanted to know, and I used a tutorial approach.

    The only downside of my experience is the great amount of time required to customize Xandros and to write the manual, so your solution might might be different depending on the time you have on your hands.
    But my grandpa seems to be satisfied with the result. It has been six months since he touched his EeePC for the first time. He uses it everyday now, and never had a crash/problem (yet).

  • Re:Easy... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by suckmysav (763172) <suckmysav@gm[ ].com ['ail' in gap]> on Wednesday December 24, 2008 @08:28AM (#26222075) Journal

    Uhuh, because we all know that mac upgrades never introduce problems [theregister.co.uk], right?

  • Re:Install Ubuntu (Score:4, Insightful)

    by JamesTRexx (675890) <m@nystrom.mbitz@nl> on Wednesday December 24, 2008 @08:41AM (#26222121) Homepage Journal
    The problem isn't the lack of knowledge, the problem is that you need the knowledge to do things that are not needed on Ubuntu for instance.
    Set file permissions, locking down Windows and applications takes more work and knowledge than installing most popular distros.
    If there's an equal choice between Windows and *nix, I always go for *nix.
  • 640 X 480 (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Comboman (895500) on Wednesday December 24, 2008 @08:53AM (#26222181)
    I've tried to explain to my mom that she's not utilizing the full power of her graphics card and that if she wants large fonts, she can adjust the font size in the display properties to be whatever she wants. I even set it up for her once. The next time I came over, it was set back to 640 X 480 because "it looks better". Apparently big blocky fonts are easier for seniors to see than big smooth fonts. Who knew?
  • Lack of competence (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Ralish (775196) <ralish AT gmail DOT com> on Wednesday December 24, 2008 @08:59AM (#26222217)

    Some of those acres are self imposed, let's see:

    a) If you're installing SP3 every time (as you should be), why are you doing it separately? You should be slipstreaming the SP3 installation into the original installation media, so no separate installation is required, it's integrated as part of the main install. This will save a significant amount of time (by your estimation, an hour), and many would argue, is cleaner as well. It'll probably even save space, as old files from the RTM/SP1/SP2 installation won't be backed up.

    b) Assuming these are just everyday desktop boxes, most of the hardware should be found on Windows Update in the hardware section, this isn't a guarantee, but I've had great success with it. It of course won't be the latest available much of the time, but it will likely have been tested by Microsoft and certified, so stability is likely very high. What isn't found, manually install.

    c) When copying the saved data back, the permission specific metadata will usually (I add the qualifier for specific cases that no doubt exist) automatically change to match the logged on user doing the copying. If they don't, change them? You say you should be able to change the UID, by UID, I assume you mean either the owner or the permissions. You can change the owner and permissions of all files and folders in a directory recursively through the permissions GUI in Explorer, or do it by the command line: takeown.exe for fiddling with ownership, cacls.exe for ACL's (icacls.exe is preferred in Vista). You have _BOTH_ a GUI and CLI frontend to make the changes you desire, so what's the problem?

    Finally, some of your estimations seem a little "padded", I've done a ridiculous amount of XP installations, and THREE HOURS?! What are you installing it on? You'd be hard pushed to find 2001 era hardware from the original XP release that took anywhere near that long. In my experience, 1.5hrs is usually the upper bound, with 30minutes the lower bound.

    Bluntly, this comes down to competence; a competent technician knows the tricks to accomplish his objective efficiently and save time, just like a efficient Linux/Unix admin will save time with his tricks of the trade. The above three recommendations, _especially_ the first of slipstreaming the service pack is ridiculously basic. If you aren't doing this, I wonder what else you are doing wrong that isn't in your account.

    I'm not even going into the whole registry, security, out of control dev's of your last paragraph. It'd take forever, and is just a random selection/rant of Windows issues that are frequently not issues and just poorly understood and managed.

  • PCLOS. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by upyouns (1438281) on Wednesday December 24, 2008 @09:04AM (#26222249)
    I am a senior citizen and have configure several PC's for my fellow seniors. The thing to do is have a fellow senior experienced with PC's configure it for them. I configure PCLOS or UBUNTU for them. Then explain how to use it. Usually that involves setting up email, setting up Kopete or pidgen, OpenOffice and firefox. The I show them how to contact me with Kopete. Most seniors are more comfortable with other seniors.
  • Re:Install Ubuntu (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Casandro (751346) on Wednesday December 24, 2008 @09:18AM (#26222333)

    1. Interface standards: Every programm looks different depending on the year is was made. Some things don't even make sense, unless you take the history behind it into account.

    2. Of course you can modify a Windows machine to be user-friendly and managable, but that takes days of work. And even then you'll still need to manually restore it. A typical Ubuntu installation is done in less than an hour and you already have a fairly optimal system. I mean Windows doesn't even come with Firefox!

  • Re:Install Ubuntu (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 24, 2008 @09:34AM (#26222409)
    He's not saying he knows all but saying parent does not.
  • Re:Install Ubuntu (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Malevolyn (776946) <signedlongint AT gmail DOT com> on Wednesday December 24, 2008 @10:13AM (#26222701) Homepage
    The simple fact that Linux isn't Windows doesn't inherently make it better, either. Arguable, yes, but hopefully the point is gotten. But while my parents use Xubuntu and are fine with it, they do have their gripes. They come from long time use of Windows, so the transition was somewhat difficult. The only reason I didn't just set them back up with XP is due to fact that setting up a thumbdrive live distro of Xubuntu was easier than replacing the optical drive in their laptop (works fine, but you can't boot from it for whatever reason that doesn't matter anymore).

    Honestly, I don't think OS matters for users that only need, say, email, a browser, and a word processor. You could probably get away with something like MenuetOS.

    The only reason I stick with Windows is because it's more work than it's worth to get a decent music production setup in Linux. I'm stuck with Windows and OS X for that.
  • Re:Install Ubuntu (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Just Some Guy (3352) <kirk+slashdot@strauser.com> on Wednesday December 24, 2008 @10:20AM (#26222761) Homepage Journal

    With all that necessary just to run an end-user system, Windows will never be ready for the desktop.

  • Re:Install Ubuntu (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 24, 2008 @10:37AM (#26222909)

    Dude, read what you just wrote. If you are serious, I would like to know how much you charge your folks for support.

    Score: 5 Ridiculous

  • Re:Install Ubuntu (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Darundal (891860) on Wednesday December 24, 2008 @10:38AM (#26222927) Journal
    You know you can make Ubuntu or pretty much any other Linux distro (especially any that you would be installing for less knowledgeable tech users) look like Windows. I actually have a guest account set up on my computer that is all Windowsified.
  • Re:Install Ubuntu (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Gothmolly (148874) on Wednesday December 24, 2008 @10:44AM (#26222979)

    I guess you could do all this, or just install Ubuntu.

  • Re:Install Ubuntu (Score:3, Insightful)

    by suckmysav (763172) <suckmysav@gm[ ].com ['ail' in gap]> on Wednesday December 24, 2008 @10:56AM (#26223067) Journal

    "Right click My Docs and see if you can't figure out how to do that on Windows."

    Been there, done that. Once you reinstall you have to go through (every user) and reinstate those "non-standard" My Documents locations manually, all the while hoping that each NTUSER.DAT file doesn't spit the dummy because something has changed in the god-forsaken clusterfuck that is the registry that it doesn't like.

    No thanks.

    "if you want the profile you'll have to right click my computer and change some settings in Computer Management."

    You have obviously never had to re-instate a Windows box with multiple user accounts. You make this process sound easy, whereas in reality it can be a huge pita, which multiplies by the number of accounts you have to do it for.

    By contrast, on Linux, you have to do . . . ummm, nothing

    "On a network there is something called group policy and active directory that lets you set this for the entire domain"

    Yes, well, when you have a domain at your grandmothers house please get back to us, until then you are nothing but a tosser with an overpriced MS certification looking to justify your ill-advised training investment.

  • by fieldstone (985598) on Wednesday December 24, 2008 @11:02AM (#26223137)

    I feel like I should speak to this as extensively as I can, since I'm self-employed as a tech support guy, and around 95 percent of my 250+ clients are seniors.

    The suggestion about using Ubuntu is a good one, but Ubuntu may not be going far enough in the direction of ease-of-use. I'm surprised more people don't seem to be aware of Linux Mint, which removes the hassle of installing video codecs and browser plugins, so the setup process for a basic user is two steps - 1. Install the OS, and 2. Install Acrobat Reader and the browser plugin for it. This takes around half an hour, and then you're done, and Mint 6 is based on Ubuntu Intrepid anyway, but the menu is a bit slicker (imho), and the artwork more polished.

    Putting icons on the desktop for the browser and the email program, and also the word processor, is essential, of course. Ubuntu or Mint is a great Windows replacement for nearly any beginning or advanced user - it's normally only intermediate users who want to install lots of random crap from the internet who might get upset when they can't under Wine. In my experience, most seniors fall into the "basic user" category anyway, so they won't really notice a difference between Windows and Ubuntu unless they're already dependent on AOL 9.

    With seniors, the most important thing is to be not just patient but reassuring. Many seniors have a mental block against technology, but if you patiently reassure them that yes, they really can figure it out if they just read everything on the screen and use logic, eventually they'll believe you and try. This can be time consuming at first, but in the long run it will save you a great deal of time as they start to become self-sufficient. It's a natural human tendency in most people to bug someone else if you think you can get away with it, rather than trying to fix your problems yourself - training that out of a person can be tricky, but is ultimately very beneficial for both you and your time.

  • Re:640 X 480 (Score:4, Insightful)

    by AbRASiON (589899) * on Wednesday December 24, 2008 @11:17AM (#26223283) Journal

    And she'd be right.
    Assuming we're talking about Windows, graphics simply doesn't scale 'right' in the different DPI or font size modes, it simply looks 'wrong'
    It always has looked wrong and it's why, still today as a support tech in an office of 5000 people that over 50% of the employees use 800x600 or 1024x768.
    Yes over 50% because they don't like the size of the fonts / text on an LCD in windows.

    It's about time they made 20" LCD's with a 1280x1024 resolution for people over the age of 40 who use it as a tool and not a hobby.

  • Re:Install Ubuntu (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Toll_Free (1295136) on Wednesday December 24, 2008 @11:21AM (#26223311)

    Yeah, make it real easy.

    Install Linux. So every time your parents need help, they can get STFU n00b, go RTFM.

    Ubuntu on my grandmothers laptop was a mission in pulling my hair out, getting a divorce, wanting to kill every small puppy I ever ran across for 6 months afterwards, etc.

    OTOH, installing XP was easy, everything on the laptop works, she has OFFICE (which all her friends have, and makes it VERY easy. Instead of hearing "lucy does it this way, why doesn't my computer work that way", I now hear "This is great. I have the same thing as Lucy, and when I had a problem last night, I could call her instead of you!!!".

    Oh yeah, I guess I should have told Granny to go to the local Linux Users Group, huh?

    People who OS bash are like runners in the special olympics. Even if you win, you're still a retard

    --Toll_Free

  • Re:Install Ubuntu (Score:5, Insightful)

    by snowraver1 (1052510) on Wednesday December 24, 2008 @11:24AM (#26223337)
    Grr, I wish I could so something about my parents computers. I got called several days ago, and then again yesterday after I didn't retrun the call (I'm a bad son).

    I am sick and tired of fixing fucked up windows installs. The problem is that windows is a major pain in the ass without an admin account, and running as an admin is just asking for trouble.

    Looks like this christmas, I get to fix a computer! YEY! Just like last christmas...
  • Re:Install Ubuntu (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Toll_Free (1295136) on Wednesday December 24, 2008 @11:45AM (#26223513)

    Except for the simple fact that you ignored the "flash didn't install properly" in the beginning of the sentence.

    If it doesn't install properly, you're left with going and getting a tarball and making it install properly.

    Please, before you stop reading a sentence in your zeal to get your fanboi activism off, comprehend the ENTIRE sentence first.

    And yes, it's still the case, installing from tarballs, when the magicall mythicall UBUNTU repository stops working.

    --Toll_Free
    (disclaimer, I have a ubuntu system, at the house, working. It's my living room PC, and it works OK. The NVIDIA card works 90 percent (still don't have SVHS out working correctly, with the NVIDIA supplied drivers). WiFi sometimes drops for no apparent reason, etc. Otherwise, it's stable as FUCK. Just those couple little things REALLY piss me off).

  • Re:Install Ubuntu (Score:3, Insightful)

    by evanbd (210358) on Wednesday December 24, 2008 @11:57AM (#26223593)
    If your goal is minimal time involvement in someone else's computer, you absolutely are doing it wrong. Setting up Ubuntu will be quicker and require less maintenance. Also, are you seriously suggesting disabling Windows update on an internet-connected computer that gets maintenance once a year? If so, you're insane, considering the frequency of security holes. Remember, this is for a user who won't be running it manually, and if they were it wouldn't have any decision-making benefit over doing it automatically.
  • by javaxjb (931766) on Wednesday December 24, 2008 @01:39PM (#26224329)
    So many comments and nobody thinks this was satire? Not one single funny mod? I was laughing through the entire post and can't imagine the parent was serious. I could be wrong, but this reads like a geek version of an SNL skit.
  • Re:Install Ubuntu (Score:5, Insightful)

    by d3ac0n (715594) on Wednesday December 24, 2008 @01:56PM (#26224473)

    1) It's called "Add Programs", a nice little gui utility in the main Ubuntu menu.

    2) Ubuntu doesn't even come with vi installed as part of the base distribution. It does have Gedit though.

    3) I haven't had to TOUCH an xorg.conf file in 3 years of using Ubuntu.

    Welcome to 2008. How are things going back there in 2005?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 24, 2008 @02:14PM (#26224665)

    AMEN! My grandparents asked what computer to buy in 95/96. I suggested a mac, since I could walk them through about anything over the phone....

    They bought a gateway... with win95 and my grandfather got to know most of the gateway support staff by name over the next few years.

    Later, they were ready to buy another machine... So they again asked what to buy. Again, I suggested a mac, since again, I could troubleshoot just about anything over the phone, and set up a 2nd clean partition to emergency boot from without difficulty. (hold option key of course)

    Again, they bought another gateway..... again they got to know the gateway support people by name.

    Now the REST of the family has ALL switched to mac. Except my grandparents, who are on their fourth gateway. Who still seem to know all the gateway tech support people by name.

    I wouldn't be surprised at all to find out that they're all on the xmas card mailing list.....

    I've found that everytime they want a suggestion, I suggest a mac... and everytime they save a couple hundred bucks by buying a gateway, and end up paying FAR more when you count all the tech support, etc.

    The ONE major plus side, is I don't have to support it. Every year at xmas time... I go through and out of curiosity look at all the malware, spyware, viruses, etc on their gateway. And every year, it gets worse and worse. But thats their deal.... I don't support it, Won't support it.

    I figure not supporting their gateways has saved me 2-4 hours a week for the last 10+ years now. Maybe next time they buy a new computer they'll listen, but I doubt it.

  • Re:Old != stupid (Score:2, Insightful)

    by ThinkDifferently (853608) on Wednesday December 24, 2008 @03:18PM (#26225255)
    My in-laws are not good with PCs. My mother is. They're all in their mid to late 60s.

    The difference is that my mother worked in an office environment for 2 decades, where developing PC skills were essential. My mother-in-law is a nurse and my father-in-law (now retired) was a book keeper. It's not that they're unintelligent, it's just that their jobs never had them develop those skills. Now, in their retirement years, my in-laws just don't have much interest in learning PC skills.

    Still, they have picked up all of the basics--Word editing, web surfing, Outlook e-mail, and even Yahoo IM chatting.

    I really think they could do everything on their own, but they have PC-savvy children and in-laws that they can pursuade to do it for them. I'd say that's intelligent.

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