Software for my mum.
July 5, 2007 7:32 AM   Subscribe

My mum loves interior design. She also loves puzzles but finds black belt Sudoku too easy. She's inheriting a laptop. What sort of programs and games can I load on this laptop for her?

I just got a new laptop, so my mum will "inherit" this one while I bring my new one overseas. I would like to load it with some useful software and games she can use.

She generally uses computers for the most basic tasks, though she has spent long nights playing Minesweeper. She's still getting the hang of things though, so we don't want anything complicated.

She'll mainly be checking email and looking at pretty interior design websites, so I'm keeping Firefox on there. I'm also keeping AVG. Is there any spyware program that doesn't need too much tech knowledge to run? I have Spybot S&D but I'm worried that it'll be too complex for her.

She LOVES puzzle games. As mentioned earlier, she has spent HOURS on past computers playing Tritryst, Minesweeper, Freecell, and Solitaire. She is now a Sudoku aficionado but is finding even "black belt" level puzzles to be too easy for her. What sort of games along the same vein (puzzle, easy to learn the basics, increasing difficulty, logical/mathematical) can I install? I'd prefer it be offline software than anything she has to go online for, but websites are good.

She also has asked for something that lets her design; I already have Photoshop on this laptop so I'm keeping it for her. Is there any good software for interior designers or those that like interior design?

Specs about this laptop:
* Acer TravelMate 290, 3 years old
* Windows XP SP2, has Office 2003 and Photoshop and a few other things
* 30GB altogether split in two partitions: C: has 20gb which is mostly taken up by software, D: has 10gb.
* 512MB RAM but kinda slow
* Internet connection is through a mobile modem (uses mobile SIM card); comparable to broadband but not always on
* Speakers passable, I think there's headsets in the house so she can use Skype
* Currently has trackpad; am considering getting optical mouse

Thanks! :)
posted by divabat to Computers & Internet (10 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
for the interior design, google sketch up might be fun. it has an awesome tutorial to get someone started (you know, click here, do this, ooh look: results) and is very simple over all. that said it is an extremely powerful tool!
posted by chasles at 8:00 AM on July 5, 2007 [1 favorite]

Games that I have loved, as a logic/puzzle aficionado but a non-gamer, have included Ring Pass Not, which is simple to play but gets delightfully challenging after a few levels (RPN is flash and requires accessing the website though)... I also loved some of the Popcap games like Alchemy and Atomica, both of which are downloads.

If she's a designer and has "spent long nights" playing games, I bet she'd like Enigmo, which is a download. It's more organic but it's still problem-solving, and as a puzzler who likes trying to make things work, it was high entertainment for me. The game environment is lovely too.

And, Puzzler's Paradise has loads of puzzles, with new content weekly.

Another download game, that was free and which has sucked much of my time, is Einstein, found right here at MeFi. The controls aren't immediately intuitive, but it's a small hump and once you get the hang of it, the game is loads of fun and different every time.
posted by pineapple at 8:03 AM on July 5, 2007

From the blue:

Desktop tower defence (though from 1.5 I've found it a pain to play offline. 1.2 was quit good for that, but it may just be me being an eedjit.

This weird crayon physics thing... but you'd likely have to gin up a few more levels for it - which is do-able, but not done.
posted by pompomtom at 8:18 AM on July 5, 2007

I got my mom up and running on the computer a few years ago. At first I couldn't get her to do much aside from some emailing and playing games like Freecell and Spider Solitaire. Her sister-in-law, however, got her into the Mystery Case File games.

I haven't played them myself, so I really don't know how difficult they are. They're mostly picture puzzles, and admittedly I doubt they're too difficult. But my mom and all her friends love them, so I thought I'd suggest it anyway.
posted by Squee at 8:32 AM on July 5, 2007

Has she given Kakuro (aka Cross Sums) a try? Sorry I don't have a better link or specific software recommendations (I prefer pencil and paper for these puzzles) but I'm sure some are out there.
posted by cgg at 8:46 AM on July 5, 2007

Griddlers has an enormous collection of pretty, addictive logic puzzles covering a pretty wide range of difficulty. I've never tried to play them offline but the front page claims they can be, so it's worth a try.
posted by Arasithil at 8:47 AM on July 5, 2007

Though it's not a game or an installable program, if she likes interior design she will love Bookmark it for her, or set it as a startup tab.

It's a point-and-click, drag-and-drop home planning utility that's simple and beautifully visual. You draw some walls, the floor is automatically created(you can customize it if you want), and then you place everything from stairs to chairs to video game consoles. She can save her designs, e-mail them to friends, print them, or even copy and paste some code to embed them on a page.

Hope she likes it!
posted by ElfWord at 9:20 AM on July 5, 2007 [1 favorite]

Er, this is a bit embarrassing, but I play The Sims all the time just to decorate houses and the town centers/shops - not actually playing with the people - well, maybe once in a while. It's very much like interior design, you can make your own stuff if inclined or search the internet for tons of fascinating stuff that other people labor over. It's perfect like little doll houses - only without the wasted space. The collection bundles are really affordable now.

I also love Mahjong, can waste hours on that, and a disk with hundreds of variants costs less than $10.

You sure I'm not your mum?
posted by eatdonuts at 10:08 AM on July 5, 2007

I will second the Kakuro recommendation. Like Sudoku, but rather more challenging.
posted by browse at 12:35 PM on July 5, 2007

I'm going to second The Sims as something that's fun for interior decorating almost as much as playing with the characters. I've got a to scale model of my house in there that I used to decide where furniture should go when we moved. I also use it to play around with landscaping ideas.
posted by saffry at 12:57 PM on July 5, 2007

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