Today I’ve read about this lovely granny in Pontevedra (Spain), who received a Blogger account as a 95th birthday present from her grandson. Maria Amelia writes about her memories and her daily life, and she’s become famous for being the oldest blogger in the world. This geeky grandmother has made me think about the kind of software apps that older users may find more useful or interesting. My own grandma would surely ask me for advice if she got herself a PC, so I’ve decided to create a grandparent-friendly basic software list for all our elderly users.
The first thing I would install on my grandma’s brand new PC is Firefox. I don’t think I’d install any extensions, though. I find them too advanced for a newcomer, so we’ll leave them aside for now. I’d also install a VoIP client, probably GTalk, which looks simple and it’s really easy to use. Then my grandma could call me any time and tell me her old stories without spending any money.
Regarding security, I would install an easy antivirus tool like AVG or Kaspersky: something that protects my granny’s computer without nagging her with messages and warnings. Another good security tool would be Cobian Backup, which can be scheduled to create backup copies automatically. She would probably need some maintenance tools as well: CCleaner is an excellent choice due to its ease of use and the wide range of elements it cleans. But I would also consider Tune Up Utilities, mainly for that great “1-Click Maintenance” that my grandma would be able to run by herself without any help. And in case she needs assistance, I can always use a remote desktop app like CrossLoop to access her computer.
As for multimedia, I guess she could just use Picasa to review photos, although there are other interesting alternatives like Windows Live Photo Gallery and Pictomio. Anything that’s simple to use and lets my grandma see photos in full size (she’s started to lose sight) would do. She likes listening to the radio, so I would add Last.fm here and then KMPlayer for her to enjoy old hits (once I’ve converted them from vinyl to MP3).
I think that’s pretty much everything the elders like my granny need to start using a computer. Don’t forget to teach them the basics of netiquette and the wonders of Google. Once they get the knack of it, you can start talking about tools to manage recipes, follow soccer results, organize trips, play cards or dominoes… you know, the kind of stuff grandparents love to do!