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Onyros
September 27th, 2006, 02:26 PM
Both my parents are now retired. My father never had to work with computers to go through his entire career, and my mother worked for a few years with Windows 2000 in my hometown's healthcare center, as chief of the administrative staff.

Therefore, their experience with computers was scarce, to say the least. Just a couple of months ago I set them up with an old Pentium III 733MHz, 384MB RAM and a "huge" (lol) HDD with 80GB for all their photos... with Dapper Drake installed ;) It's running flawlessly, and it's quite snappy on that hardware (it has a dedicated gfx card as well, an old nVidia TNT Pro, enough for foobillard to be playable).

My mother took it up almost instantly, being somewhat accustomed to computers (she even bought an English-Portuguese dictionary to help her out, as I installed Ubuntu in English, on purpose), but you wouldn't imagine how hard it was for my father. Now, he's a cunning, intelligent man, college graduate and all, just someone who never had to work with a computer.

I simplified it as much as possible, created desktop links for most tasks they'd want to do on a computer... but I had expected, from previous contact with computer illiterate people, a few problems with... using the MOUSE!

What for us is completely intuitive, is something that takes some time to get used to for someone who never had tested his hand-eye coordination in such a way. I lowered the mouse speed as much as possible, but still he lost track of the cursor. Imagine how frustrating that is for someone trying to learn how to use a computer.

Unfortunately, that has lead to his loss of interest, mostly because I still haven't had enough time these past two months to sit by his side and guide him through his problems with the use of computers.

So, I need suggestions of a few exercises, games (he specifically asked for a game he could try to get a better handle of the mouse) I can suggest to him, so that he truly masters the "mighty" mouse and so that he can be drawn back to Ubuntu.

Strangely enough, he types magnificently, because of his prior use of typewriters... he just won't do it on the computer because he doesn't want to depend on my mother to set him up (yeah, yeah, he's a stubborn and proud man).

Thanks in advance for your suggestions, guys, I really appreciate your help here ;)

fuscia
September 27th, 2006, 02:49 PM
bugsquish might do it. it's an arm being attacked by bugs that you kill with the mouse.

Onyros
September 27th, 2006, 04:35 PM
Thanks for the suggestion, fuscia ;)

It'll probably have to be something even easier than that, though. (I tried it myself, it might be my 5 dollar 800 dpi mouse, but it's "hard" even for me :P)

I've put him on a GIMP diet. He draws quite well with his own hands, and I've dared him to translate that to the computer screen and the mouse. I thought about keyboard shortcuts, but that doesn't cut it either, he has to master the mouse as well.

weatherman
September 27th, 2006, 04:46 PM
Thanks for the suggestion, fuscia ;)

It'll probably have to be something even easier than that, though. (I tried it myself, it might be my 5 dollar 800 dpi mouse, but it's "hard" even for me :P)

I've put him on a GIMP diet. He draws quite well with his own hands, and I've dared him to translate that to the computer screen and the mouse. I thought about keyboard shortcuts, but that doesn't cut it either, he has to master the mouse as well.
well to be able to make a decent drawing in gimp you need a lot of exercise, I don't think it's just about being able to draw and use a mouse. Why not try with some solitaire games? On kde it's kpatience.

ago
September 27th, 2006, 04:51 PM
This might be your answer (in italian):

http://www.eldy.org/

screenshots here: http://www.eldy.org/index.php?option=com_zoom&Itemid=30&catid=1

Not sure if it is translated into english (use translating tools for that), but it basically is a very nice distribution targeting older people with a much simplified desktop, using very few options and concepts they are familiar with (cannot do away with the mouse unless you use a touchscreen though).

As for my parents the only wanted to use the internet.

So I had a customized version autologging into X+metacity (a window manager is still required to take care of dialogs and some widgets) running a respawning Firefox in full screen mode, with no menu, only essential buttons and simple links to their websites of interest (I wrote a small FF extension for that). They loved it. Since then they refuse to use my brother's machine running XP, they say it is far too complicated... :D .

ago
September 27th, 2006, 04:57 PM
PS I would love to see an Ubuntu version of Eldy.

I think it would make a really great addition to the family. It is a worthy project that will help make ubuntu dominate the senior citizens market. And with little customization that would also make an ideal distro for children!!!

Even if you do not speak italian, try to spend a few minutes on the website (www.eldy.org )and use translators.

Yet another project idea. Anybody interested?

Sourceforge page (english) here:

http://sourceforge.net/projects/eldy
Other screenshots: http://sourceforge.net/project/screenshots.php?group_id=168102

fuscia
September 27th, 2006, 06:01 PM
if he's skilled at drawing, using a mouse in gimp will be frustrating to him. what about xeyes?

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/2/2e/Xeyes.png

Onyros
September 27th, 2006, 06:08 PM
I installed Fluxbox on their system, and simplified pretty much everything, with icons on the desktop saying things like "Send Email", "Check for New Messages", "Chat", "Write" (lol), links to their favourite publications on the internet and so on, so it's pretty much my version of Eldy, based on Ubuntu. Except mine looks much, much better :P

I chose Fluxbox because it fits the hardware better, it's harder for them to break and I can have desktop icons all the same (with idesk and idesktools).

I don't think they'll need such a stripped down version in the future, as they dominate it fully by now, my mother is handling it quite well, and my father's only problem is the mouse, really ;)

BTW, I also speak Italian, so it's not a problem for me, too ;)

Also, good solitarie games are a good suggestion (both cards and Mahjongg). I also favour the Gimp as a good exercise because he's prone to give it its full attention, with emphasis on detail, so he'll want to get very good at it as soon as he can ;)

Keep 'em coming :D

Onyros
September 27th, 2006, 06:10 PM
if he's skilled at drawing, using a mouse in gimp will be frustrating to him. what about xeyes?

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/2/2e/Xeyes.pngOh, nice, hadn't thought about that one.

That'll keep him from losing sight of the mouse cursor ;)

jimrz
September 28th, 2006, 03:30 AM
Oh, nice, hadn't thought about that one.

That'll keep him from losing sight of the mouse cursor ;)

what about "mines"...teaches moving and clicking the mouse accurately...and is one of the default Gnome games in Ubuntu

3rdalbum
September 28th, 2006, 05:11 AM
System > Preferences > Mouse > Pointers > Highlight Cursor when Control is Pressed

That should quite help him, as long as he remembers to use it. Or, even better, change the pointer to one of the larger Whiteglass themes.

You can set Gnome to use single-clicks just like KDE, or you could make the top panel bigger (right-click, Properties, change the Size field) to make your launchers bigger.

Oh, and DEFINATELY make it so that Evolution gets the e-mail when the program is opened. Despite my constant reminders, my grandfather thinks that his e-mail arrives in his computer even when it's turned off. He opens the e-mail program, sees that there's nothing new in the list, and then closes it. (not clicking the "Send and Recieve" button).

I might actually write some kind of Python program to set up Dapper computers for the elderly.

IYY
September 28th, 2006, 05:21 AM
Maybe you should teach him some terminal commands, if he doesn't like the mouse? It might be more intuitive for someone who has never used a mouse. I don't like using the mouse either, and use the terminal as much as possible, and when I do have to move windows I often do it via keyboard shortcuts.


He opens the e-mail program, sees that there's nothing new in the list, and then closes it.

Why not use an IMAP e-mail client, or something like GMail?

Slychilde
September 28th, 2006, 07:41 AM
I would load a theme with a big, big mouse. That way it would be eaisier to see, and also aid him when his eyesight starts to get really bad.

Is there a way to make global shortcuts? That may help as an interim step, until he gets used to the mouse a bit more. I understand the frustration and that way he wouldn't lose interest. Show him alt + F1 brings up the 'start' menu and then he can use the up and down key to navigate them menu, then hit enter to run the one he wants, etc.

This one may be a stretch: install Opera. Why? Well, first, it's a browers, so he can do get stuff done or have some fun...whatever he likes to do on the 'net. But, teach him mouse gestures. Not only will it help him a bit (and just a small bit), but it might increase his productivity which may score some bonus points.

Onyros
September 28th, 2006, 02:03 PM
First of all, thanks to everyone for your suggestions!

I now have a good list of suggestions to start off, included "Gnome Mines" in that list, it's a good challenge for him, I'm sure he'll undertake it.

As for the single-click suggestion, that's exactly how I left it configured, but remember I installed Fluxbox, there's no upper panel (and no need for one, as well ;))

I'll try finding a different mouse cursor theme, something flashy and that there's no way he'll lose on the screen (and yep, his eyesight is no longer what it used to be, he just turned 60 and it's quite normal, I think ;)

Also, Evolution is set to start automatically, and it downloads messages upon the program's start, so he'll always see new emails when he gets them. Even so, my mother had that one covered, she's now addicted to sending emails hehe!

The thing with keyboard shortcuts is that I want his use of computers to be as intuitive as it can be, to start off. He knows that if he wants to read the news, he just has to click once on a desktop icon and the window pops open with the current news; in order to send an email, he'll click once on a desktop icon, choose the recipient and type a few words... and so on ;)

He also knows that to access different programs, which have no desktop icon, he'll just have to click the right mouse button once (Fluxbox Menu), and he loves it like that.

I really think Fluxbox is perfect for him, right now. As for Opera... well, it's my default browser on any given system, anyway. Mouse gestures will be coming as soon as he masters the mouse.

Just a little OT... he's addicted on Frozen Bubble... Go figure!

Once again, thank you very much, there were a few things I hadn't thought about and you did help me here ;)

fuscia
September 28th, 2006, 04:25 PM
Maybe you should teach him some terminal commands, if he doesn't like the mouse?

yeah! hook him up with ratpoison or wii(whatever it is), elinks and pine and he can use mp3blaster for music.

roderikk
September 28th, 2006, 06:48 PM
Before I 'converted' to Ubuntu I installed a Win98 computer for my aunt. She is almost 70 now and is able to use it a bit now. They are however on a dial up connection. Also there windows sometimes crashes and even though I taught them not to press links in strange emails I am not sure when they will recieve a virus. So I would be very interested in how you have set up fluxbox to do all this. I tried out fluxbox recently but really couldn't understand it. Maybe it would be a nice idea to start a wiki page on how to customize a linux distro so it is 'easy'. I think if there would be some sort of eldy-desktop package which 'we' (as in the sons/nephews or whatever) could just set up and they would just be able to use it. Anyway, I am just rambling here, but maybe I can even convert my eighty year old grandma to use a computer than! Anyone else interested?

Onyros
September 28th, 2006, 10:27 PM
Before I 'converted' to Ubuntu I installed a Win98 computer for my aunt. She is almost 70 now and is able to use it a bit now. They are however on a dial up connection. Also there windows sometimes crashes and even though I taught them not to press links in strange emails I am not sure when they will recieve a virus. So I would be very interested in how you have set up fluxbox to do all this. I tried out fluxbox recently but really couldn't understand it. Maybe it would be a nice idea to start a wiki page on how to customize a linux distro so it is 'easy'. I think if there would be some sort of eldy-desktop package which 'we' (as in the sons/nephews or whatever) could just set up and they would just be able to use it. Anyway, I am just rambling here, but maybe I can even convert my eighty year old grandma to use a computer than! Anyone else interested?I'll set up a small "tutorial" of which packages I installed and how I configured the desktop, as soon as I have the time, it's much easier than it seems.

Actually, this weekend I'll be visiting the folks and I'll be able to even take a few screenies to accompany the "tutorial" ;)

Configuring Fluxbox's menu is actually pretty simple, once you the hang of it.

There's a wiki on the use of Fluxbox in Ubuntu somewhere around here, but actually I only found about it AFTER I started using it, and I don't think it mentions idesk anywhere.

Michael_aust
September 28th, 2006, 11:13 PM
Well if he needs help with his typing look into tuxtype.

As for mouse work how about barrage or something, move the mouse around click the left button and bang, you blow up some tanks and solidures. You have to have fun while learning to do things.

OffHand
September 29th, 2006, 12:01 AM
http://fun.from.hell.pl/2003-11-24/bubblewrap.swf

And when your dad has warmed up a bit he could try this:

http://www.euscad.net/Crazy%20Red%20Block.htm :D

ncappel1
March 9th, 2007, 07:55 PM
http://fun.from.hell.pl/2003-11-24/bubblewrap.swf

And when your dad has warmed up a bit he could try this:

http://www.euscad.net/Crazy%20Red%20Block.htm :D

These links don't work in my browser :(

What about a standard solitaire? There's got to be one of those that knows how to play, it introduces the click, the drag, the double click. it's like a dream come true!
;)

Tomosaur
March 9th, 2007, 09:25 PM
Why don't you just make the cursor a big red splodge?

bodycoach2
March 9th, 2007, 10:00 PM
I have recently setup my girlfriend's 85 year old mother with a nice desktop. She's never used a computer at all, but is highly motivated. I'm learning to teach people the most basic of computer skills. This site, and it's flash tutorials are excellent:

Basic Computer Skills (http://www.birmingham.gov.uk/GenerateContent?CONTENT_ITEM_ID=11451&CONTENT_ITEM_TYPE=0&MENU_ID=5250)

Her Internet connection is 'borrowed' from her neighbor wirelessly, so her signal tends to be off and on. I used a plugin on FireFox to 'rip' the flash off the site, and put it right on her desktop. She's used it to practice for several days now, and is getting pretty competent. She just wasn't getting the whole mouse thing at first.

IYY
March 9th, 2007, 10:44 PM
Why does he even need the mouse? What's wrong with using keyboard shortcuts and the CLI? I do it very often, and am far more productive than the mouse using people.