Recommend easy-to-use software for elderly people
July 2, 2008 5:13 AM   Subscribe

Help me with some free, easy to use software for elderly people to use on a computer. Specifically: hands-off, self-maintaining security, and a good replacement for Windows Explorer.

I have to set up a computer for my wife's mother to use to Skype us while we're abroad for a year. I imagine that we will also send her pictures or video via Skype chat that she will want to save and view later. My first challenge is choosing free security software that maintains itself and doesn't have too many dialog boxes popping up; then, if possible, I want to find an alternative to Windows Explorer that makes it easier to save and find files.
posted by biwa-shu to Computers & Internet (9 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Set up a normal Windows box. Put free anti-virus on it and set Windows Updates to automatic.

Then on the desktop:
SKYPE as a big icon (maybe even re-name it Video Chat or Chat with Biwa-Shu and Mrs. Biwa-Shu)

Then ensure that her dial-up account will go automatically when she clicks on Skype.
posted by k8t at 5:44 AM on July 2, 2008

OH and set the pictures/video download folder in Skype to go to a desktop folder called PICTURES AND VIDEO.
posted by k8t at 5:48 AM on July 2, 2008

AVG Free is basically pain-free as well as *actually* free. My husband has his parents set up on it, and I think they called us once about it when you recently had to download a whole new client (we've used it for years and I think this is the only time it's happened). He was able to talk them thru it no big deal and it still works fine.
posted by Medieval Maven at 6:10 AM on July 2, 2008

You should look into implementing MS Steadystate onto that machine. Or the very least setting her account to be a limited user.

You can also enlarge the system font.

I've never used this but "EasyMode XP" was developed for netbooks but may work well for you. There are other kiosk solutions. Search askme for the keyword kiosk.
posted by damn dirty ape at 7:03 AM on July 2, 2008

Err, ignore easymode xp. Its not for xp. Still, steadystate might be what youre looking for.
posted by damn dirty ape at 7:14 AM on July 2, 2008

With Skype be sure to disable some of the more recent and invasive "features" that might freak non-computer-types out as follows: view > tabs and panels > uncheck Livetab and Skypefind.

Also, so Skype doesn't bother them disable a few more things: tools > options > advanced > disable automatic things and Skype updates, etc. Updates freak people out.

If she's browsing with Firefox, disable auto-updates as well, I'd suggest.

A good passive security aid is Spywareblaster. Be sure to manually update it when you install it.
posted by rumbles at 9:19 PM on July 3, 2008

Jarte or AbiWord might be a good word processors, if that's needed.
posted by rumbles at 9:27 PM on July 3, 2008

Rather than find an alternative to Windows Explorer, I'd find an alternative to Windows. There's Skype for OS X and Linux. The Nautilus file manager that comes with Ubuntu and other linux distributions that use the GNOME desktop environment is pretty simple to use. Ubuntu also comes with a nice photo manager called F-spot.
posted by PueExMachina at 12:03 AM on July 4, 2008

I suggest ELDY
works both linux and windows

ELDY has email (imap/pop), browsing, chat, skype interface, editor, .. etc
free of charge and free from commercial, from good old Europe.
posted by enriconeri at 4:22 AM on October 14, 2008

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