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Thread: News - Valerie Singleton launches computers for the elderly

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    News - Valerie Singleton launches computers for the elderly

    Linux-based SimplicITy computers hope to encourage 50-pluses to get online.
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    Re: News - Valerie Singleton launches computers for the elderly

    They'll be Bashing in no time.

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    Re: News - Valerie Singleton launches computers for the elderly

    I think the idea is sound but using a bespoke version of linux like that is a little restrictive for the purposes of learning how to use a pc in a microsoft dominated world, and what about compatability with additional pieces of equipment people might want like printers and webcams? Might have been better to launch a computer with windows but with a frontend for learning?

    Also 50+?? both of my parents are over 50 but I think they would find a system like that terribly patronising, my 90year old grandmother on the other hand wouldn't mind so much.
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    Re: News - Valerie Singleton launches computers for the elderly

    Quote Originally Posted by Zadock View Post
    I think the idea is sound but using a bespoke version of linux like that is a little restrictive for the purposes of learning how to use a pc in a microsoft dominated world, and what about compatability with additional pieces of equipment people might want like printers and webcams? Might have been better to launch a computer with windows but with a frontend for learning?
    On the other hand, the person won't have the foggiest how to use Windows, and if they understand Linux by the end of their time with Val then I'm up for a copy, so what choice will they have for their next machine... hmm... oh yeah! Another one, just the same as the old one!

    No doubt it'll all go pearshaped when they discover that no-one else in their family recognises it as a computer, so probably no big deal anyway .

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    Re: News - Valerie Singleton launches computers for the elderly

    Quote Originally Posted by Zadock View Post
    I think the idea is sound but using a bespoke version of linux like that is a little restrictive for the purposes of learning how to use a pc in a microsoft dominated world, and what about compatability with additional pieces of equipment people might want like printers and webcams? Might have been better to launch a computer with windows but with a frontend for learning?

    Also 50+?? both of my parents are over 50 but I think they would find a system like that terribly patronising, my 90year old grandmother on the other hand wouldn't mind so much.
    Ah anyone remember Microsoft Bob?

    I must add that the system is a complete rip-off. You could get an Aspire Revo for about £150 ish with a simple version of Linux which looks far sleeker than the offering from Simplicity.

    This is just as bad as some dodgy door to door salesperson asking for your gran for expensive utilities.

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    Re: News - Valerie Singleton launches computers for the elderly

    Seems at last people are looking properly at the disenfranchised. By far and away the best product in the field was quietly launched last eek in the North East after extensive trialling.
    Named alex it claims to be Microsoft compatible and looks streets ahead of Ms Singleton's offering its at its wellcometoalex website or its youtube channel.

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    Re: News - Valerie Singleton launches computers for the elderly

    I've had the opportunity to look at both systems and Alex seems to be streets ahead of the SimplicITy's system.

    SimplicITy uses a user interface called Eldy which tries to keep things very simple at every step but it takes making things simple too far. As an example, if you're at the main screen and want to read an email you have to go through 4 layers of menus before you get to your message, each layer is there to ask the user a simple question but thats far too many layers and its easy to lose track of where you are. The simple decisions concept makes the system easy to learn to begin with but it if you use it for any length of time you'll realise what a pain it is to use and you can't change into any sort of more advanced mode.

    Alex is far less patronising and doesn't have as many layers of menus e.g. two mouse clicks gets you from the main screen to your email message and you can't get lost so easily. All in all I think that Alex is a more complete product, there is more functionality for a start (e.g. integrated office applications with Word / Excel compatibility). There is a video about Alex on Youtube which gives an idea of what it is and what it does.

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    Re: News - Valerie Singleton launches computers for the elderly

    I can understand the need to simplify task for new beginners, but, I find this approach (and this ad) for the elderly more patronising.

    Why is the mouse pointer the same default minuscule size?

    More Here: bbc

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    Re: News - Valerie Singleton launches computers for the elderly

    Quote Originally Posted by duc View Post
    I can understand the need to simplify task for new beginners, but, I find this approach (and this ad) for the elderly more patronising.

    Why is the mouse pointer the same default minuscule size?
    Because I finished putting the software together & getting the BBC's pre-launch demo ready at 5am - after 2h sleep the night before - and I missed a couple of standard touches off our default build. Next question?

    FWIW, I'm the guy behind the software on this machine. Not a terribly active Hexus member, I'm afraid, but I've been here a year or two.

    I deeply object to the comment that it's a terrible deal or that a £150 netbook is even remotely comparable. The basic machine is £300, which is not bad for a full-speed 64-bit compact PC with decent specs and excellent performance.

    It is a considerable amount faster than a netbook, and our standard screen is a big clear 19" one with proper beefy speakers and a range of simplified-layout, large-print keyboards.

    But most of all, our UI is vastly simpler than Windows, Mac OS X or any netbook GUI. It had been very carefully designed to remove complexities such as menu bars, right-clicking, double-clicking, window resizing and moving and all this sort of thing, which utterly confuses older people who've never used a computer before.

    Also, we include a complete 17-part video tutorial, explaining everything from the shift key to how to get photos off your digital camera and email them.

    We're getting interest from would-be users as young as their late 30s who find conventional machines utterly baffling.

    It is all too easy for techies to forget how completely initimidating ordinary computers are to millions of people.

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    Re: News - Valerie Singleton launches computers for the elderly

    Quote Originally Posted by KowShak View Post
    I've had the opportunity to look at both systems and Alex seems to be streets ahead of the SimplicITy's system.
    I think you're missing the point here, and badly.

    This Alex device is interesting, but it's a thin terminal, basically. No Internet connection, no computer, and if they go broke, or you stop paying, you lose everything.

    You may find Eldy irritating but for utter novices, it's a boon. No double-clicking, no right-clicking, no need to know the difference between icons or buttons, no menu bars or windows to manage and resize - but it's a full-function independent standalone PC, usable on any Internet connection from any company. No tie-in or bundled contracts or anything.

    Alex has its uses but it ties you to their service. SimplicITy doesn't do that, and if users outgrow Eldy, they have a complete OS and apps, all there ready to use - and updates are free forever, too.

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    Re: News - Valerie Singleton launches computers for the elderly

    lproven, mate, we are just giving you the very honest opinion. I know its easy to take it to heart but try to step back

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    Re: News - Valerie Singleton launches computers for the elderly

    IMHO, lproven makes some good points.

    I don't find what I read, or the product, patronising, and I'm in the target age group. Of course, I've also been a computer user, to one extent of another, since the middle-late 60's, so I'm not exactly a novice and the product isn't for me. I also know a fair few people in their 60s, 70's and even 80's that have taken to PCs and the Internet like ducks to water.

    But there's a fairly large group that find the remote for their video (and I do mean video because they haven't migrated to DVD recorders or HDRs yet) confusing.

    And this can be a serious problem. We are getting to the point where those without a net connection, and the ability to use it, are risking becoming seriously disenfranchised. More and more services are orientated towards the web, and we get told time and again, by everything from TV ad's to businesses and our banks, to government, that "details at www. etc".

    The best deals are accessible via the web. Hell, even the best insurance and utility services are located via web searches.

    So for those people that are intimidated by their video remote, imagine how off-putting a PC and web connection are. Yet these people aren't stupid, merely well out of their depth, and intimidated by something they may have absolutely no life experience of. One elderly lady I know (now in her 90s) started out not knowing how to hold a mouse, let alone what to do with it. 6 months later and she was emailing her family all over the world, ordering her clothes online, selling off a few bits and bobs on eBay and playing poker on Facebook. You now can't get her off the damned PC. She's found the web far more additive than crack cocaine (not that I'm aware she's tried the latter, but she's a lively old duck and I wouldn't put it past her ).

    If this machine helps break that initial unfamiliarity and techno-fear, then good luck to it. It's not for me, but I don't feel patronised by it. I just hope it helps people.

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    Re: News - Valerie Singleton launches computers for the elderly

    Quote Originally Posted by lproven View Post
    I think you're missing the point here, and badly.

    This Alex device is interesting, but it's a thin terminal, basically. No Internet connection, no computer, and if they go broke, or you stop paying, you lose everything.
    There is nothing "thin" about Alex, the applications run locally and the data is stored locally too. There is a subscription service, what you get for your subscription is the ability to back your files up to remote storage, an email account, technical support and updates to the service but most importantly the broadband connection comes as part of the bundle.

    The people that both of these products are aimed at are people who don't understand computers or people who want an easy to use computer. A good proportion of these people won't have a computer to begin with and if they don't have a computer they're will not have an internet connection either. Alex bundles the computer and broadband together as a package and provides a pre-configured router that will plug in and just work.

    While you're quick to point out "No Internet connection, no computer" for Alex, the same is true of Eldy. How much of Eldy will work without an internet connection?
    Quote Originally Posted by lproven View Post
    You may find Eldy irritating but for utter novices, it's a boon. No double-clicking, no right-clicking, no need to know the difference between icons or buttons, no menu bars or windows to manage and resize - but it's a full-function independent standalone PC, usable on any Internet connection from any company. No tie-in or bundled contracts or anything.
    You're right, Eldy has tried to make things simple in many ways, Alex does the same sorts of things. Where the Eldy approach fails for me is that by breaking tasks into simpler tasks, it breaks them into too many simple tasks, count how many mouse clicks it takes to read a single email. What Eldy doesn't do well is tell the user where they are in the decision tree, e.g. if I'm reading a email how do I write a new email, i.e. how many clicks of the back button do I need to make. Making things too simple means people will tire of the system quickly and want an "advanced" or "super user" mode and I think that is something Eldy needs to provide.
    Quote Originally Posted by lproven View Post
    Alex has its uses but it ties you to their service. SimplicITy doesn't do that, and if users outgrow Eldy, they have a complete OS and apps, all there ready to use - and updates are free forever, too.
    When the user outgrows Eldy (e.g. if the user wants to do any word processing or spreadsheets), there is a huge step in complexity between Eldy and the base OS. Updates are only free as long as Eldy is maintained, the support could be withdrawn at any point due to unforseen circumstance, just like you suggested could happen to Alex.

    When you've used Alex, you'll understand it better than the understanding you've got from the marketing material on the website and youtube videos
    Last edited by KowShak; 11-11-2009 at 07:04 PM. Reason: Typo

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    Re: News - Valerie Singleton launches computers for the elderly

    Either of these "big button" interfaces would be so much better with a touchscreen.

    First big barrier to PC use is learning to use the mouse after all.

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    Re: News - Valerie Singleton launches computers for the elderly

    Quote Originally Posted by mikerr View Post
    Either of these "big button" interfaces would be so much better with a touchscreen.

    First big barrier to PC use is learning to use the mouse after all.
    Touchscreens are easy and quite "intuitive" - but they have significant snags, too.

    Firstly, a cheap one is something like £400, more than doubling the cost of the system. The Italian programmers of Eldy sell an all-in-one touchscreen PC for it: it's €1000 or around £1000.

    Secondly, touchscreens are not very accurate & require regular recalibration. Not hard but not novice-friendly.

    But thirdly and mostly, buying a train ticket is very different from sitting surfing the web. The human arm tires very quickly when operated holding it up: 5-10min to fatigue, cramps and pain, and that's in a healthy fit young adult. You simply cannot use one for hours on end; human physiology does not permit it. You could lay it on the desktop, but then, you get neck & shoulder pain looking down.

    There are good ergonomic reasons for pointing devices!

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    Re: News - Valerie Singleton launches computers for the elderly

    Quote Originally Posted by usxhe190 View Post
    lproven, mate, we are just giving you the very honest opinion. I know its easy to take it to heart but try to step back
    Let's put it this way. I have had a total of 4h sleep this whole week getting this thing ready for launch; I even worked all day Sunday, my birthday, sorting last-minute issues.

    So yes, I am going to get a bit miffed at opinionated people who knock the machine, having never even seen one and completely failing to understand the purpose of the device!

    People do not think enough. Such as, "I learned Windows easily, so Windows is easy to learn", or "these are some random people on the Internet who'll never see what I write", not thinking that the guy that put together the system is already a member of their favourite web community...

    For some people who are so inclined, conventional OSs are easy enough to learn. For someone who is 70 or 80 years old, has never learned to program a VCR or work a mobile phone, it's different. The point here not that people should just learn to work computers: it's that the computers should be adapting to work with the people. If someone's enjoying their retirement, they might not want to learn to understand a complex desktop OS - they might just want to read the occasional webpage and email with their grandkids with the minumum of effort or acquisition of new skills.

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