[Linux-aus] Open Source for Seniors

Glen Turner glen.turner at aarnet.edu.au
Sun Feb 4 21:06:02 UTC 2007

Andrew Swinn wrote:
> I have been contacted by the Clubs Development Officer of the Australian 
> Seniors Computer Clubs Association in regards to the possibility of setting 
> up some sort of presence at a soon to be held expo. The ASCCA are an 
> association providing support to many computing clubs throughout Australia. 
> They hold an expo every year as part of Seniors Week and this year they are 
> holding it in Dubbo. 
> So being in Dubbo I have been asked if I could setup something about Linux and 
> Open Source Software and perhaps provide a 30 min seminar on the topic. 
> Seniors Week is in the middle of March so I don't have that long to organise 
> things, but first stop is this mailing list to ask for suggestions.
> Being that this is senior focused there is really no room for tech talk so I 
> am wondering what else is there? I am looking for suggestions for the best 
> approach to this sort of thing. What topics to discuss, how to discuss them 
> etc.

It's a show, so give them what they want.

They want cheap -- hardware and software. I wouldn't push
second-hand, there are plenty of affordable new PCs and
since they won't run Vista they are very cheap just now.
Mention the places that are fair and honest, by name.
You owe it to them not to enthuse them and then have
them drop a bundle at #### #### to some slick sales

They don't want to look under the hood. So push the ease
of use. All applications updated in one click. Same way
to install all applications.

They want to communicate. Firefox, E-mail works just like
under Windows. Do tell them about the plugin issues for
some media -- you need to be fair.  Show them how to
set up a web mail account and use it -- that's what
they most want the computer for so show them Linux does
it just as well as Windows.

Show them eBay. Show them Google Earth. Show them
RSS of the SMH, Australian, etc.

They want to play games. Not shoot-ems, but cards and
suduko and the like. Show them.

They want their grandkids to visit. Show them tuxpaint,
show them ABC Kids website, Wiggles.

They want to write a letter, we do word processing.
We do printing. We do accessibility. Show them.
Please just show then OpenOffice -- show them the
brand they'll hear about.  You want to get across
the notion that Linux is broad -- does everything
you want -- not that it supports umpteen increasingly
obscure ways to write a letter.

They've heard of MP3 and iPod. Demystify it. Rip a CD,
put it on a $30 MP3 player. Pass it around.

They might own a digital camera, and if they don't they
will soon -- the economics of film development push people
that way. So mention what they should look for in a camera,
take the group's photo, put it on the computer. Burn a
copy for the kids. Mention the importance of backups.

Mention that most ISPs now support Linux, just like they
do with Windows. Again, name names of good ISPs.

You don't need a virus scanner for Linux. You should
have one for Windows. If you don't then there are
some nice $0 ones for home users -- Grisoft's AVG
for example.

Mention the mailing lists -- SLUG and the like. There's a
group of people waiting to hear and help if they have
trouble.  Once upon a time I'd have had trouble with
that offer, but not anymore.

Now, they might not end up running Linux, but they will
remember your presentation and remember Linux fondly.
It's Linux, we are a volunteer group, we don't have to
"make the sale". We just want to show that there's a
wider world of computing and we want to help these
seniors understand computers a bit better whatever
OS they use.

Finally, I'd mention that it's all free. It's a gift from
us to them. Some people garden, we write software.
If they don't feel like running Linux, then
we'd at least like them to use Firefox so they get less
Internet nasties. We'd certainly like them to use
OpenOffice rather than some on-the-sly copy of Office.

 Glen Turner         Tel: (08) 8303 3936 or +61 8 8303 3936
 Australia's Academic & Research Network  www.aarnet.edu.au

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