Saturday, December 22, 2012

Stop being a computer-illiterate geezer! Reclaim your youth!

Listen up, fellow fogies! If you have the feeling that the world is passing you by, that you don't know what's going on any more, that you might as well get measured for your box... it doesn't have to be that way!

You'd never guess it from my picture [or maybe you would! Ed.] but Walt is a senior citizen. But I'm not going quietly into the Home. And I'm not going to live like a hermit here in my log cabin either. I don't get out as much as I used to physically, but I get out mentally more than I ever used to. And it's all thanks to joining the wired world.

I got dragged into the computer age kicking and screaming. As recently as 20 years ago I wrote nasty letters on my trusty IBM Selectric. (Mrs. Walt finally threw it out in 2005. It had been used as a doorstop until then.) And I still have a broad-nibbed fountain pen that uses real ink. But my implement of choice nowadays is definitely my desktop PC.

Don't bother looking for me on Facebook or LinkedIn or elsewhere, because I'm not into the anti-social media. But I do spend hours online, writing this blog, exchanging e-mails with my Agents, friends and acquaintances around the world, reading the mainstream and out-of-the-stream media, and just surfing. All this keeps me connected and keeps me young(ish).

And my computer helps me manage my life: do my banking, pay my taxes, claim my entitlements, keep three sets of books, catalogue my library and so on. I learned to use spreadsheet and word processing programmes, desktop publishing software, all kinds of other stuff. About the only thing I don't do on the computer is play games... Unless you count Solitaire! Oh, and Literati.

But there are people of our generation -- "senior citizens" is the PC term -- who aren't enjoying the benefits -- and coping with the frustrations -- of computers and the Internet. Why? Because they don't know how and are afraid to ask.

Many communities have programmes and courses to help us old folks become computer literate. Some of the courses are even free. [You said in today's earlier post that means paid for by someone else's tax dollars. Ed.] But you need to be able to get out of your house or the Home to attend the teaching sessions, right? Not any more!

Kathryn Harwood, one of Walt's old(ish) high school chums [They had high school, way back then? Ed.] has set up a little online business called Eldersurf.

In the privacy and comfort of your home, with your own computer, Kathryn will guide you through the steps and processes you need to know to do whatever you want to do. Her blog lists these possibilities: send and receive photos; get onto Facebook; do a spreadsheet; make your photos better; do a photo album; subscribe to a podcast; get into iTunes; see yourscreen better; organize your contacts; print documents; buy a book or reserve a library book, and many more. She'll even teach you how to sit at your desk properly, so your back doesn't hurt!

Kathryn evidently shares Walt's belief in working to get what you want, and getting what you pay for, so there's a reasonable charge for her service. And, if you know nothing about computers but want to keep up with Walt, I'd say it's a good investment. Highly recommended!

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