Saturday, May 4, 2013

Some Seniors Need it Still Simpler

Seniors need it simple. With or without computers seniors need simplification of their lives. 

Computers can provide that simplification if not riddled with hassles, viruses, slow ups, and high cost. Sometimes it is more work to maintain an old laptop than to use it.

Most seniors, who are not Windows or Apple addicts, mainly want to keep in touch by using email or browsers. More and more they need to do such things as shopping and managing money and communications with health services. They need to check out and read library books. 

They may also eventually want Skype or even texting to keep in touch with the family, including grandchildren.

I have scratched my head about how to provide this. For a long time there was no simple way. It took a major effort to learn to use a computer. It was even like learning to play a piano. It should not be that way. 

The whole idea of computers is to simplify work, not to make things more complicated. That is what I used them for in industry and social services. 

When tablets came along these offered new possibilities. They are free of the host of problems associated with older Windows and Apple technology. Tablets do offer a major simplification but do require some learning up front. They are my personal choice for ultimate ease of us but are not for everyone. 

There are those who want a keyboard and those who like Windows or Apple if only there were not major drawbacks. The drawbacks are unusual complexity and costs. Unfortunately these drawbacks are getting worse. Windows 8 puts an unfamiliar desktop over the old already complicated desktop. The local Apple store is not friendly to seniors. 

I needed a better way for those I try to help. One resident surveyed her contacts asking the best recommendation for a new computer. It would need to be inexpensive, simple, and have a keyboard. No cluttered menus and sub menues, no viruses, no slow ups, no malware, no need for support calls, no error messages, no hassles, no loss of data. 

By the time she got to me she had already asked other acquaintances and contacts for their suggestions. I showed her all the options and she made her selection. It happened that Best Buy and I and others had all suggested the same solution.

This was the Chromebook, a product from Google. This device has had a major upgrade since it was introduced just two years ago. 

The Chromebook is a computer which simply eliminates the hassles of the past. It accomplishes this result by eliminating most of the complexity. Few menus, no hard drive, no CD, minimum memory, and not much to learn. 

Eliminated is the duplication of functions carried out locally and those carried out on the so-called called Internet cloud. If the functions of many computers can be handled at a single location in the cloud, then why duplicate them in every laptop? If this had been accomplished with the smartphone and the tablet, then why not apply it to the laptop? 

The result was the Chromebook. Although it looks just like the nicest featherweight laptops of the past , it is new. It certainly represents a fine device for seniors who mainly want do emails and browsing and want the familiarity of laptops of the past without the hassles. 

But where are the limitations? But could it do the job for a more demanding user? 

I have been putting it to the test. It is really hard to find any downsides.

I have had in the corner original Chromebook introduced two years ago. It indeed had its limitations. Slow, no Skype, and so on. 

However, the basic system has been upgraded to the point were those limitations are gone. It now even runs basic office apps away from internet. Although the newer updated Chromebooks are much faster, however, I was able to do a few tweaks to bring my "prototype" up to speed. 

Newly it runs Skype under Google+ hangouts. There are even online photo editing tools. In other words, nearly everything has been moving to the Internet cloud, without which the Chromebook would be more limited. In fact, it is nowadays normal to do most work on the Internet cloud with any laptop. 

The older laptop no longer offers any extra benefits, as it just includes a lot of unnecessary hardware and cost. 

So why have any other laptop? Why be bothered with the troubles of the past? The new Chromebooks are solidly made, very nearly indestructible, sleek and lightweight, and under $250. 

What do you think? Has the day of the older laptop passed? 

Dictated and published from my Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7 tablet.

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