Wire my granny!
January 3, 2007 9:09 AM   Subscribe

What are some wonderful things with which to fill granny's new iMac?

My grandmother, who is 89 and has very low tech skills, has agreed to get a computer and try to use it. We've selected the new iMac because video conferencing and VNC will be a big part of our master plan for offering constant tech support from 60 miles away.

We're using parental controls to create a grandma account that can only access a limited range of applications: Safari, iPhoto, iTunes, Skype (for calls to cousins in Irael), Mail, iDVD and a couple of board games that came with the system (for mouse practice). She will only be able to get emails from people whose addresses have been pre-approved, which I hope will eliminate spam and phishing entirely (though I expect her coffee clatch pals will be a hotbed of urban legend forwards).

I've already gone to the Internet Archive and downloaded scads of episodes of her favorite radio dramas (Lux Radio Theater and The Goldbergs) and put them into iTunes, and subscribed to a podcast of radio mysteries. I filled iPhoto with my wedding photos. I built her a google homepage with local and national news and weather, her horoscope, local time, health news and a separate tab for Middle East news.

Now I'm wondering what other goodies she might enjoy, either as part of her system or sites that she could visit regularly. I'm especially looking for a very user-friendly desktop based news aggregator (bloglines is probably too confusing) that could be installed and customized.

Also, does anyone have experience creating an account for a dynamic IP address, so I can keep track of it remotely, without having to call and ask her to read the microscopic widget on her dashboard?

If anyone has set up computers for older folks and can recommend sites and programs that have been especially interesting or helpful to improving their online experience, I'd appreciate any suggestions. I'm hoping that if what we install for her next week is simple to use and fun that she'll stick with it and be glad she made the effort. Many thanks for any ideas you can share.
posted by Scram to Computers & Internet (7 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Also, does anyone have experience creating an account for a dynamic IP address, so I can keep track of it remotely, without having to call and ask her to read the microscopic widget on her dashboard?

The account doesn't matter so much as the dynamic address. You might use FreeDNS to create a static name, making the remote administration part easier.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:15 AM on January 3, 2007

To add on to Blazecock's answer--you'll want to get a dynamic DNS client program to run in the background of her computer which will periodically update the static name with the new dynamic IP address.

It's not hard to set up--I used to use this program with the DynDNS service.

Basically you make an account on the website, give it a name (like grannyrocks.dyndns.org), stick the login information into the client program, and set the client program to launch automatically on login in the Accounts pane of your System Prefs.

It will run silently in the background and you can then use grannyrocks.dyndns.org for all your VNC or Timbuktuing needs.

You should still give her the IP address widget on the dashboard as a backup in case you can't figure out the DynDNS stuff.
posted by bcwinters at 9:31 AM on January 3, 2007

Sites you might want to link your Grandma to: Flickr (set up a family ring of photos), This American Life, Ask MeFi (naturally!),
Pandora, and sites related to any crafts she enjoys.
posted by Sara Anne at 9:39 AM on January 3, 2007

Don't forget a few nice simple games. I recommend Mike's Cards. Card games are familiar, and if her eyesight maybe isn't what it was 50 years ago, nice big brightly colored cards and hints about what are legal moves might be very helpful. Do you think she'd like puzzle games such as Snood or Bejeweled? Maybe she likes word games?
posted by ilsa at 10:06 AM on January 3, 2007

what about cute overload,
posted by baker dave at 2:16 PM on January 3, 2007

On behalf of my grandma, thanks for all the great information and suggestions!
posted by Scram at 7:59 PM on January 3, 2007

I bet you have thought of this, but just in case: if at all possible, make sure there's a painless way she can whitelist new email addresses on her own. (I can see not being able to get an email from a new friend as a potential source of frustration.)
posted by allterrainbrain at 2:02 AM on January 5, 2007

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