Much to my surprise and delight, about five years ago my Dad started taking computer classes at a senior center. My sister’s and I bought my (then) 76 year old Dad an inexpensive eMachines PC running Windows XP for Christmas. The computer, 17″ monitor and cheap inkjet printer was less than $600 so we got him setup quickly and easily without breaking our holiday budgets.
Since I’m the family propellerhead, all tech support was my responsibility (I support both Mac’s and PC’s). Though Dad is only about 20 minutes from my house, I set him up with a VNC server that I could get into securely so I could perform remote tech support for him. Every time I touched his system, there was an incredible amount of spyware and adware on it or something had gotten hosed up somehow.
Dad is now 81 years old. Since he loves his computer, broadband connection and uses them often, I wanted to upgrade the memory and get it to run faster. But it was worse than just a slow machine. When I was at his house fixing something there were dancing naked ladies on his taskbar since he’d inadvertently clicked on a spam email attachment and this garbage was loaded. It was sort of funny if you knew my Dad…but also I was just tearing my hair out over the constant tweaking necessary to keep the system running. After looking into the cost of upgrading this ancient computer, I decided to make HIS life and MY life alot easier: I bought him a Mac mini, an LCD monitor and my sister got him a new printer.
If you’re a PC user that helps out family and friends or is incredibly frustrated as you spend hours futzing with your Windows PC…listen up. If you’re a Mac user, this is old news so feel free to take a quick nap.
My Dad loves the new Mac. I made the icons huge so he can see everything, it’s easier to navigate, and the spyware and adware are now a complete non-issue. There’s nothing that he cannot do on this computer and I *rarely* have to do any remote logging in to fix something. I’ve now discovered that one of my favorite utilities (Onyx) can “lock” the icons in the dock so the last little problem of him inadvertently dragging an application icon from the dock and having it disappear is soon to be another non-issue.
You’re undoubtedly well aware of the religious wars between Mac and PC users and it’s not my intention to fan the flames since I really don’t care what anyone else is using. I just quietly revel in my delight with my own machines and choices. But damn…this one decision has saved me HOURS of time and his machine just runs…and runs….and runs.
I’m not alone in this position. All around geek and multi-platform media god, Leo Laporte, is a TV, radio and netcasting master at helping people with computer issues and routinely recommends that neophytes or modestly techno-futzing people buy a Mac vs. wrestling with a PC.