Computer Clubs for Seniors – Why?

Some recent events have caused me to wonder about the nature and purpose of computer clubs, particularly those catering to seniors. I regularly attend two of them and occasionally a couple others. The range of activities is large. In all cases, I am talking about …continue reading

You Can Be Led Astray by Clients

Recently I made a rash decision that almost led to wasting time on a failed computer. It turned out well, and in the process provided a good example of how we can be led astray if we only listen to a client and do not …continue reading

Rewards of Tutoring

Tutoring seniors can have rewards in unsuspecting ways. One of my clients is a very senior person who decided to start writing books when he was about 80 years old. He had become mildly computer literate by generating weekly one-page tract for his church, but …continue reading

Excess Computing Power?

Another senior client with a quad-core PC who only plays solitaire and checks her emails called me to help with some slight problems. This excess of cheaply available computing power combined with essentially free hard disc storage (two terabytes for less than $100 has to …continue reading

Mature Computing?

How do we know when computing has matured? Many years ago, professor Don Norman answered that question for me by looking around his book-cluttered office and saying that computing will have matured when we are surrounded by computers and not aware of it. By comparison, …continue reading

Can You out PowerPoint a Fifth Grader?

Last Friday my wife and I accompanied the parents of our grandson to his graduation from fifth grade. This was a first time event for me. When my cohort passed from fifth to sixth grades, the only big deal about it was that we had …continue reading

Trash or Donate Old Electronics?

Sometimes things take a little longer to go around than you expect. Over a month ago a client gave me her old XP-based computer because she upgraded to a new one. She said I could have it in return for scrubbing her personal data off …continue reading

Effective PowerPoint Presentations Use Mechanics and Purpose

This week I was invited to give a two-hour presentation to a computer club on PowerPoint. That was the only direction. It was to be about PowerPoint. So I had latitude in deciding what to talk about. In essence, there are two main issues: the …continue reading

Teaching Seniors Computer Basics One Step at a Time

My newest client is an 85-year-old retired chaplain. He recently completed writing a book encapsulating his philosophy of life and how to deal with it. I do not know the details, but it is obviously self-published, and he wants to market it himself. He has …continue reading


This post is only peripherally about seniors and computing issues. It does involve some computing by me (a senior), as you will see, but the main point is the connections in our daily lives and how they can surprise us.

Through a strange linkage of …continue reading

Would You Throw This Computer Away?

Our trash is picked up on Monday. This Monday I a discarded the remains of a computer that had been dismantled for usable things. It was with mixed feelings that I wrapped the motherboard with CPU intact in a plastic bag and threw it away. …continue reading

Speech Recognition Redux

Recently I presented a lecture on the use of speech recognition to a computer club. This was the second presentation I have made on the subject. The two clubs I addressed have a partially overlapping membership. I started with the observation that history is not …continue reading

Usage Notes

This is probably a mis-leading caption, but I could not think of a better one. Some PC users are fanatic about not installing applications beyond what they immediately need. Some even install occasionally used applications and then un-install them to wait for the next need. …continue reading

Freebies from the Press

Most of you know I like free things. More than that, I like useful free things, and best of all, are free things that can be downloaded from the Internet safely. When I taught a course on how to find freebies safely, many of my …continue reading

Oops, a Simple Repair Gets Complicated

Recently I replaced a broken screen on a laptop for a client. She normally carries it in a large bag that seems to have been designed for gym clothes. It is not cushioned. She had no idea how the screen got broken, and the external …continue reading

Privacy Concerns Do Not Stop at the Internet

Many of my PC clients express concerns about Internet privacy. To some extent, this concern is justified, but in most cases is not consistent with the rest of their lives.

If privacy is your concern, instead of obsessing on the Internet, consider other aspects of …continue reading

Expanded Family and Computer Options

As happens to many seniors, our household recently expanded to include one of our daughters and two grand-daughters. This increase of population forces adaptations on everyone, including many who are not residents.

One unexpected adaptation is that we are a PC family and she …continue reading

Revolution and Privacy

The role of the Internet in the disturbances in both Tunis and Egypt is great. The ability of citizens to rapidly communicate changes the ability of authoritarian governments to control a population. It is no coincidence that when the disturbances continued to grow in Egypt, …continue reading

Disposing of Excess Parts: Trash, Gift, or Sell?

At our PC Users Club, some members and I occasionally bring in spare parts and extras to give away. If the item is valuable enough, it is sometimes offered for sale or silent auction. I have no figures on what the other members sell on …continue reading

Trash or Repair, That is the Question

When do you decide to give up? A friend gave me an ASUS custom-built computer. He was having problems with it and said that if I would copy all of his personal data so that he had a backup, and then scrub all his personal …continue reading

What to Tell Clients About Security

Here is a puzzle presented to me by a senior client. She was bothered by the necessity of logging on to Gmail. She wanted to simply open her browser and have immediate access to her mail. She had seen me do just that and wondered …continue reading

PC Cycles

Tutoring, or attempted tutoring goes in cycles. As the end of the year approaches, almost no one calls for tutoring sessions, but the traffic in dis-infecting PCs seems to increase. As much as I prefer tutoring, or even building new computers, I actually spend much …continue reading

It’s 10 O’Clock – Where is Your Password?

“Gawker advises password changes.” That is the headline on today’s newspaper. Coming on the heels of problems suffered by several of my clients, this event prompts me to consider again the whole issue of how to advise clients about password protection.

In the first place, …continue reading

What Do You Do While Windows is Booting?

While cleaning out my files (yes, just like everyone else, I get accumulated messes), I found an apparently unfinished project called “101 things to do while waiting for Windows to boot.” I have no idea how original this project was or why it started, but …continue reading

Backdoor Bot, Anyone?

Although I have a difficult time understanding it, this same thing keeps happening. A client calls with an immediate problem. A computer used primarily for business has become slow and now does not seem to work at all. The client urgently needs to check email.

…continue reading

Black Friday Aftermath

Black Friday morning I stood outside a Staples store waiting for it to open at 6:00 so I could purchase a few things on sale. Fry’s opened earlier, but I deliberately decided not to go there until after the opening rush. I had a list …continue reading

Is Getting a New Computer Always a Good Thing?

Have you changed computers lately? I have had the misfortune to have scored on both a new laptop and two new computers in exchange for some work. Why is that a misfortune? Getting a replacement laptop for the one I gave to my wife when …continue reading

It is Free!

Craigslist is a wonderful thing. I have bought and sold several items on it. Occasionally a listing can generate a surprise. Sometimes potential buyers want to negotiate or swap. Just yesterday I declined an offer to sell a computer that I had listed for the …continue reading

PayPal Spoof?

After a pleasant outing to the twice-a-year Carlsbad Street Fair, Patricia and I came home not expecting anything special. However, when I checked my email, there was a significant letter in the inbox. It announced that my PayPal account has been limited! This slick letter …continue reading

Laptop Dilemma

Much to my surprise, some good occasional clients recently decided to switch from PC to Mac after their business desktop crashed and would not boot beyond the Blue Screen anymore. They had two laptops and the faulty desktop. After saving all personal data on the …continue reading