Computer for elder novice

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Sheepdog
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Computer for elder novice

Post by Sheepdog » Thu Feb 02, 2017 3:40 pm

Another computer question and advice needed.
My wife (age 77) has never used a computer or cell phone even, hasn't needed to or wanted to (I'm here). In today's world that will be bad news when I become incapacitated or gone by-by and it can't be too long. I talked with her last night about this, for the umpteenth time for 20 years. She didn't say NO this time, but she didn't say yes, either.
I want to get her something simple which would be used for only, off the top of my head, emails and financial communication (my main concerns) such as at our financial accounts at Vanguard, banks, and credit cards. She won't search the internet, take photos or videos. It would not be a tablet. It would have a keyboard and maybe a wireless mouse. A touch screen would probably not be used, but maybe it would for easy connection.. A wifi connection would probably be used. What would you advise (beyond her hiring a handsome young computer geek houseboy)? Thanks.
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mouses
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Re: Computer for elder novice

Post by mouses » Thu Feb 02, 2017 3:44 pm

My Mom learned to use Windows when she was in her eighties. I did a lot of initial handholding.

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Watty
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Re: Computer for elder novice

Post by Watty » Thu Feb 02, 2017 3:48 pm

Sheepdog wrote:I want to get her something simple which would be used for only, off the top of my head, emails and financial communication (my main concerns) such as at our financial accounts at Vanguard, banks, and credit cards.


Email would be great but at this point it it might be best her to not try doing the finances online. Paper statements and checks still work just fine and when she needs to do something she can call the 800 number to have it taken care of.

Fidelity has branches in most large cities so if she has accounts with them she may be able to go into the branch if she needs help.

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Vulcan
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Re: Computer for elder novice

Post by Vulcan » Thu Feb 02, 2017 3:49 pm

Sheepdog wrote:I want to get her something simple which would be used for only, off the top of my head, emails and financial communication (my main concerns) such as at our financial accounts at Vanguard, banks, and credit cards. She won't search the internet, take photos or videos. It would not be a tablet. It would have a keyboard and maybe a wireless mouse. A touch screen would probably not be used, but maybe it would for easy connection.. A wifi connection would probably be used. What would you advise (beyond her hiring a handsome young computer geek houseboy)?

Chromebook, no question about it.
Last edited by Vulcan on Thu Feb 02, 2017 3:51 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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cheese_breath
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Re: Computer for elder novice

Post by cheese_breath » Thu Feb 02, 2017 3:51 pm

It's been said in many other threads... Chromebook. Great for the simple tasks like that.
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TerryDMillerMBA
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Re: Computer for elder novice

Post by TerryDMillerMBA » Thu Feb 02, 2017 3:52 pm

You are going to get a LOT of responses. I am going to preface mine with my background: former software engineer, programmed both major formats (Windows and Mac), and used both. As far as BASIC usage, it DOESN'T MATTER. Of course, they will say it does. It doesn't; especially at the level of usage your wife intends to concern herself with.

Get a basic laptop or desktop in Windows or Mac flavor and you will be more than fine. If she decides that she likes these new-fangled gizmos, then you could easily reward her with something more powerful.

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Re: Computer for elder novice

Post by TerryDMillerMBA » Thu Feb 02, 2017 3:52 pm

cheese_breath wrote:It's been said in many other threads... Chromebook. Great for the simple tasks like that.


Chromebook is perfect.

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Re: Computer for elder novice

Post by curmudgeon » Thu Feb 02, 2017 3:53 pm

It is a challenge. Are you sure you don't want to go the tablet route? While they have a lot of limitations, they can be somewhat more intuitive.

For a regular computer, set up a few simple games according to her interests (maybe word games, minesweeper, sudoku, etc) that will interest her and get her to practice using the mouse. Do this for a while before much of anything else. Then set up a facebook account (and make sure it has appropriate privacy settings); seeing what is going on with younger friends/family will drive the interest. Only then add in email, general browsing etc.

Atilla
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Re: Computer for elder novice

Post by Atilla » Thu Feb 02, 2017 3:53 pm

Chromebook - you can't screw it up. I use one for in front of the TV or in bed. My dad got one on my recommendation and keeps in his car for when he goes to the tavern for coffee or beer and gets his surfing done.

They are foolproof.
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cheese_breath
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Re: Computer for elder novice

Post by cheese_breath » Thu Feb 02, 2017 3:54 pm

TerryDMillerMBA wrote:
cheese_breath wrote:It's been said in many other threads... Chromebook. Great for the simple tasks like that.


Chromebook is perfect.

She can even post on Bogleheads with a Chromebook... as I'm doing right now.
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cheese_breath
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Re: Computer for elder novice

Post by cheese_breath » Thu Feb 02, 2017 3:55 pm

cheese_breath wrote:
TerryDMillerMBA wrote:
cheese_breath wrote:It's been said in many other threads... Chromebook. Great for the simple tasks like that.


Chromebook is perfect.

She can even post on Bogleheads with a Chromebook... as I'm doing right now.


edit: I just noticed, this is my 7,000th post, most of them with a Chromebook.
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jchris
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Re: Computer for elder novice

Post by jchris » Thu Feb 02, 2017 4:02 pm

That's a lot of posts!

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Re: Computer for elder novice

Post by DTSC » Thu Feb 02, 2017 4:05 pm

An iPad is best if you don't want to do tech support

You can attach a Bluetooth keyboard.

Broken Man 1999
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Re: Computer for elder novice

Post by Broken Man 1999 » Thu Feb 02, 2017 4:14 pm

Another vote for a chromebook. We have one from HP.

MIL used it for about three years prior to her death at age 82.

At first we let her use a spare laptop. But she could seldom get through one internet session without locking herself, changing various (and sometimes very important) settings; downloading just about everything she ran across, bogging the device down by having 142 open windows. OK, that was an exaggeration.... maybe only 20-30 open. Still, it was a total disaster, along with being a black hole of time.

Chromebook worked out fine for her, though she still locked herself out occasionally.

I use the chromebook myself time to time, when my desktop gets in an ornery mood.

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cheese_breath
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Re: Computer for elder novice

Post by cheese_breath » Thu Feb 02, 2017 4:23 pm

jchris wrote:That's a lot of posts!

Not compared to some people on her who are in the five digit category
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azurekep
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Re: Computer for elder novice

Post by azurekep » Thu Feb 02, 2017 4:24 pm

Sheepdog wrote:
I want to get her something simple which would be used for only, off the top of my head, emails and financial communication (my main concerns) such as at our financial accounts at Vanguard, banks, and credit cards. She won't search the internet, take photos or videos


It really doesn't matter what operating system you get - Wndows, Mac, Linux, Chrome. Any computer can be set up for an elderly novice by optimizing the interface so that only needed features are shown or made obvious.

I've set up computers for elderly people whose only needs are:

1. Surfing the web
2. Email with their friends
3. Internet shortcuts on their desktop
4. Icons on their desktop for favorite sites
5. The ability to print

#3 and #4 are probably things most people don't think about. But clicking on a colorful icon on the desktop can be a lot easier than using a menu. I've found that many elderly people don't understand menus, navigation bars, taskbars or other items of the desktop. They just want an icon that they can click. It's important to customize the icons so they are colorful and stand out. Like the red duck for DuckDuckGo or the standard blue icon for Google. And of course a colorful icon for email.

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Re: Computer for elder novice

Post by livesoft » Thu Feb 02, 2017 4:25 pm

Does your wife have any friends that use a computer? They would be the best people to advise her. I might even count husband and Bogleheads among the worst people to get advice for this from.

My octagenarian mom used Linux on her home-built box, but I thought that was pretty weird. Let's hope your wife does not have friends like my mom.
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Re: Computer for elder novice

Post by fourwheelcycle » Thu Feb 02, 2017 4:36 pm

What do you use for a computer on your home wifi network? If you are going to set up a new computer for her and teach her how to use it I think it would be easiest to get her a basic model of whatever computer/OS you use yourself. I think Macs are simplest, but I know many people think it is a toss-up.

A bigger issue is whether or not she will use it. Unless you have an adult child or a someone at a local computer store who can assist her after you are gone I suspect your plan will not work out. As someone else suggested, it would be better to let her use paper statements for her banking and financial institution accounts.

I think a higher priority than setting her up with a computer would be to plan now for who can serve as her DPOA for finances and health care after you are gone. She may not need this support right away once she is on her own, but she may need it eventually if she lives long enough, as may you. You can help her now by anticipating these needs, picking the right people, and executing the necessary documents. Congratulations if you have already done this for her and for yourself.

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Re: Computer for elder novice

Post by cheese_breath » Thu Feb 02, 2017 4:50 pm

Watch out you don't create a monster Sheep. My DW hated my computer, wouldn't have anything to do with it, and resented every minute I spent on it. Then she learned about Email from one of her friends. Then she learned some of the collector and nostalgia groups she belonged to had web sites. Then she discovered Google. Then she discovered eBay. :( Then ... you get the idea.

The reason I got a Chromebook in the first place was because she's always on the computer. But that doesn't mean she always knows what she's doing. Some questions I've answered dozens of times, and she still hasn't got it. But at least yesterday when she came upon one of those "your computer has a virus" she came and got me instead of pressing OK. So there's hope.

I'm on my second Chromebook now. The first one is permanently attached to my dumb HDTV to make it a smart HDTV.
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Re: Computer for elder novice

Post by just frank » Thu Feb 02, 2017 5:13 pm

IF you did a tablet, then picking up a smartphone would be easy later. The photo and video conferencing thing makes it fun. Think texting photos to relatives and getting photos back. Fun.

A tablet is also much easier.

My parents (now in their 80s) had a Windows box and then laptops for the last 20 years, and always struggled with getting things to work, losing al their email, etc. They were not really internet-able after 20 years in windows. My mom would write these long letter-like emails to me pecking out on the keyboard for an hour, press send and then there would be an error and it would all be lost. And she would cry and be frustrated and give up.

They took the dive and got an iPad a couple years ago, and after an adjustment period (with a little help from friends and family with iPads) they are now very comfortable with both the iPad and their new IPhones and are fully 'connected' and able to navigate the internet. They are also primed for other tech like smart TVs, etc, which use a similar interface.

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Re: Computer for elder novice

Post by azurekep » Thu Feb 02, 2017 5:18 pm

fourwheelcycle wrote:
A bigger issue is whether or not she will use it. Unless you have an adult child or a someone at a local computer store who can assist her after you are gone I suspect your plan will not work out. As someone else suggested, it would be better to let her use paper statements for her banking and financial institution accounts. .


There are some other considerations...

An elderly person may not want to drive, or be capable of driving, to pick up groceries or do other shopping. Using online grocery delivery and Amazon, they can obtain most of their needs without driving or relying on other people.

Also, an inducement for elderly people to use their computer and get warm, fuzzy feelings about it is to have wallpaper made from a photograph that's meaningful for them. Whether it's a beloved place or person, it makes their computer "friendlier" and more inviting.

Obviously combining the two -- online and paper -- offers the msot flexibility.

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Re: Computer for elder novice

Post by Sheepdog » Fri Feb 03, 2017 12:36 am

curmudgeon wrote:It is a challenge. Are you sure you don't want to go the tablet route? While they have a lot of limitations, they can be somewhat more intuitive.

For a regular computer, set up a few simple games according to her interests (maybe word games, minesweeper, sudoku, etc) that will interest her and get her to practice using the mouse. Do this for a while before much of anything else. Then set up a facebook account (and make sure it has appropriate privacy settings); seeing what is going on with younger friends/family will drive the interest. Only then add in email, general browsing etc.

Thanks, but that won't work. I have a tablet, but she won't try to use. If she does use one, she will want a keyboard. Games? Never would she do that.
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Re: Computer for elder novice

Post by Sheepdog » Fri Feb 03, 2017 12:38 am

cheese_breath wrote:
edit: I just noticed, this is my 7,000th post, most of them with a Chromebook.


7000? Thank you for being here.

Watch out you don't create a monster Sheep. My DW hated my computer, wouldn't have anything to do with it, and resented every minute I spent on it. Then she learned about Email from one of her friends. Then she learned some of the collector and nostalgia groups she belonged to had web sites. Then she discovered Google. Then she discovered eBay. :( Then ... you get the idea


Yeah, I hear you.
Last edited by Sheepdog on Fri Feb 03, 2017 1:05 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Computer for elder novice

Post by Sheepdog » Fri Feb 03, 2017 1:02 am

fourwheelcycle wrote:What do you use for a computer on your home wifi network? If you are going to set up a new computer for her and teach her how to use it I think it would be easiest to get her a basic model of whatever computer/OS you use yourself. I think Macs are simplest, but I know many people think it is a toss-up.

A bigger issue is whether or not she will use it. Unless you have an adult child or a someone at a local computer store who can assist her after you are gone I suspect your plan will not work out. As someone else suggested, it would be better to let her use paper statements for her banking and financial institution accounts.

I think a higher priority than setting her up with a computer would be to plan now for who can serve as her DPOA for finances and health care after you are gone. She may not need this support right away once she is on her own, but she may need it eventually if she lives long enough, as may you. You can help her now by anticipating these needs, picking the right people, and executing the necessary documents. Congratulations if you have already done this for her and for yourself.

I use an old 2002 model Dell (Windows XP) desktop, Toshiba Windows 7 laptop, a 7 inch Medion tablet which fits in my pocket, and a Samsung smart phone which I didn't like so I never use it except as an alarm clock. (Weird, I know!! :)
You are right, will she use it? She has absolutely no interest. I take the tablet or laptop to her to read some emails or maybe some news. She doesn't care other than that. Talking with her today at dinner, she may do it, but when I got her a smart phone a 2 years ago, she hardly looked at it or even make a call on it, so I got rid of it. Anyway, I think she will try at least looking at our financial stuff and maybe emails. She realizes that she should...She just hates these things as she says, "People just look at those stupid things, don't talk to each other face to face anymore."
Thank you for your last comment about having a DPOA, yes that is set up, but she should do things herself. She is very intelligent, so she will do fine by telephone and mail, but a computer would be so much more convenient.....like me writing this at 1 am.
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Sheepdog
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Re: Computer for elder novice

Post by Sheepdog » Fri Feb 03, 2017 1:15 am

just frank wrote:IF you did a tablet, then picking up a smartphone would be easy later. The photo and video conferencing thing makes it fun. Think texting photos to relatives and getting photos back. Fun.

A tablet is also much easier.

Thanks, I agree with you, but she doesn't. Her sister, in laws, children all use those things. She doesn't care. I am her secretary and that's all she wants. As I have written, I am trying to scare her a little bit, that I ain't going to be around here some day. We'll see.

I went to Best Buy and a couple of other places today. I think I will take her to Best Buy today or Saturday and have her talk to a Geek to show her how easy a Chromebook would be for her. I get frustrated, so maybe he or she could convince her.

Thank you everyone here for your contributions to help solve my problem
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Re: Computer for elder novice

Post by Miriam2 » Fri Feb 03, 2017 3:17 am

cheese_breath wrote:She can even post on Bogleheads with a Chromebook... as I'm doing right now.

edit: I just noticed, this is my 7,000th post, most of them with a Chromebook.

Congratulations Cheese_breath! Enjoyed every one of your posts :happy

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Re: Computer for elder novice

Post by rgs92 » Fri Feb 03, 2017 3:29 am

Has she always been this reluctant to use technology even when she was younger? If so, I think you need to get to the root of the problem if you want her to change. Maybe there is some sort of therapy for this.
She may be afraid of something that you don't know about. I have heard that some people are sheepish that they will look stupid if they use it, or that they will "break something" if they touch it, or that if they type the wrong thing their private information will be divulged.
They may have seen something on TV about computer cameras spying on them.
There are all sorts of anxiety-causing semi-paranoid things that could cause this.
Perhaps you could play 20-questions with her to find out what's wrong and assuage her fears.
Do this in a non-threatening way.

Or, you could try playing cat-videos for her to get her hooked...

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Re: Computer for elder novice

Post by jlawrence01 » Fri Feb 03, 2017 5:23 am

Do realize that e-mail is one of the most productive means for fraudsters to get in touch with grandma. The local "scam squad" receives dozens of complaints from seniors who have suffered financial loss over the computer.

The obvious scams and "phishing" that we as frequent users are immune to are often perceived as real by our elderly neighbors. For example, my 87 year old neighbor brought down her laptop last week to show me a collection e-mail that she had received "from the IRS." She has been recently widowed and was very concerned that her late husband had forgotten something. It took me about 45 minutes to convince her that the IRS does not contatc people by e-mail.

Be very careful.

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just frank
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Re: Computer for elder novice

Post by just frank » Fri Feb 03, 2017 5:48 am

Maybe Mrs. Sheepdog doesn't like her husbands choice of tablet. :wink:

Just go get a ipad mini (ideal for older hands) for $300 and surprise her. Set it up for wifi, put her contacts into for texts, don't use any login or fingerprint code (just swipe to open) and tell her family to start sending her baby and pet pictures.

Normal politeness will demand her response. She can watch you do the first one. Get her a keyboard if she wants. If she stops using it, that's ok too.

Done.

Once she's texting and sharing photos, everything else will come. Next time she needs something around the house...search for it and buy it from amazon, all on the tablet. Pick something that the whole process will take less than 60 seconds.

Then if she asks for a book, get her one. Not before.

I have met several older couples where the wife is completely non-computer ready. In each case, the husband is a long-standing computer guru.

In this case, you having to figure out a new OS/tech, and fumble with it might make it more appealing or approachable to her.

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Re: Computer for elder novice

Post by SeekingAPlan » Fri Feb 03, 2017 7:48 am

Chromebook.

I have a financial account which has a tablet app which will instruct the user to logon from a computer to see the rest of their information. Sometimes it will say a communication from the institution is waiting but can only be viewed from a computer. What if she only had tablet access and got such a message?

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Re: Computer for elder novice

Post by Watty » Fri Feb 03, 2017 8:00 am

jlawrence01 wrote:Do realize that e-mail is one of the most productive means for fraudsters to get in touch with grandma. The local "scam squad" receives dozens of complaints from seniors who have suffered financial loss over the computer.

The obvious scams and "phishing" that we as frequent users are immune to are often perceived as real by our elderly neighbors. For example, my 87 year old neighbor brought down her laptop last week to show me a collection e-mail that she had received "from the IRS." She has been recently widowed and was very concerned that her late husband had forgotten something. It took me about 45 minutes to convince her that the IRS does not contatc people by e-mail.

Be very careful.


+1000

She will also get calls on the telephone from "Microsoft" telling her that they need to fix her computer.

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Re: Computer for elder novice

Post by cheese_breath » Fri Feb 03, 2017 8:25 am

Watty wrote:
jlawrence01 wrote:Do realize that e-mail is one of the most productive means for fraudsters to get in touch with grandma. The local "scam squad" receives dozens of complaints from seniors who have suffered financial loss over the computer.

The obvious scams and "phishing" that we as frequent users are immune to are often perceived as real by our elderly neighbors. For example, my 87 year old neighbor brought down her laptop last week to show me a collection e-mail that she had received "from the IRS." She has been recently widowed and was very concerned that her late husband had forgotten something. It took me about 45 minutes to convince her that the IRS does not contatc people by e-mail.

Be very careful.


+1000

She will also get calls on the telephone from "Microsoft" telling her that they need to fix her computer.

I'd like to see "Microsoft" try to fix a Chromebook. :D
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Re: Computer for elder novice

Post by SpringMan » Fri Feb 03, 2017 8:37 am

cheese_breath wrote:
Watty wrote:
jlawrence01 wrote:Do realize that e-mail is one of the most productive means for fraudsters to get in touch with grandma. The local "scam squad" receives dozens of complaints from seniors who have suffered financial loss over the computer.

The obvious scams and "phishing" that we as frequent users are immune to are often perceived as real by our elderly neighbors. For example, my 87 year old neighbor brought down her laptop last week to show me a collection e-mail that she had received "from the IRS." She has been recently widowed and was very concerned that her late husband had forgotten something. It took me about 45 minutes to convince her that the IRS does not contatc people by e-mail.

Be very careful.


+1000

She will also get calls on the telephone from "Microsoft" telling her that they need to fix her computer.

I'd like to see "Microsoft" try to fix a Chromebook. :D

It is not Microsoft doing the calls, the scammers usually just say they are calling from windows technical support. Folks assume that means Microsoft. Like the IRS, Microsoft does not cold call people. The scammers don't know if you even have a computer. I got one of these calls while using MacOs X on my 2012 MacBook pro. It was fun to play around with the heavily accented scammer who told me to check my Windows event log for errors.
Best Wishes, SpringMan

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Re: Computer for elder novice

Post by cheese_breath » Fri Feb 03, 2017 8:43 am

SpringMan wrote:
cheese_breath wrote:
Watty wrote:
jlawrence01 wrote:Do realize that e-mail is one of the most productive means for fraudsters to get in touch with grandma. The local "scam squad" receives dozens of complaints from seniors who have suffered financial loss over the computer.

The obvious scams and "phishing" that we as frequent users are immune to are often perceived as real by our elderly neighbors. For example, my 87 year old neighbor brought down her laptop last week to show me a collection e-mail that she had received "from the IRS." She has been recently widowed and was very concerned that her late husband had forgotten something. It took me about 45 minutes to convince her that the IRS does not contatc people by e-mail.

Be very careful.


+1000

She will also get calls on the telephone from "Microsoft" telling her that they need to fix her computer.

I'd like to see "Microsoft" try to fix a Chromebook. :D

It is not Microsoft doing the calls, the scammers usually just say they are calling from windows technical support. Folks assume that means Microsoft. Like the IRS, Microsoft does not cold call people. The scammers don't know if you even have a computer....

I know. I was being sarcastic. :D
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Re: Computer for elder novice

Post by Dimitri » Fri Feb 03, 2017 8:46 am

Chrome for sure. But rather than a Chromebook how about a Chromebase (all-in-one computer with a much larger screen)? I have both. That said, the Chromebook is only used if I go on a trip. Otherwise it sits in the drawer.
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Re: Computer for elder novice

Post by Watty » Fri Feb 03, 2017 9:03 am

cheese_breath wrote:
Watty wrote:
jlawrence01 wrote:Do realize that e-mail is one of the most productive means for fraudsters to get in touch with grandma. The local "scam squad" receives dozens of complaints from seniors who have suffered financial loss over the computer.

The obvious scams and "phishing" that we as frequent users are immune to are often perceived as real by our elderly neighbors. For example, my 87 year old neighbor brought down her laptop last week to show me a collection e-mail that she had received "from the IRS." She has been recently widowed and was very concerned that her late husband had forgotten something. It took me about 45 minutes to convince her that the IRS does not contatc people by e-mail.

Be very careful.


+1000

She will also get calls on the telephone from "Microsoft" telling her that they need to fix her computer.

I'd like to see "Microsoft" try to fix a Chromebook. :D


If they get a gullible person they can easily log in remotely to a chromebook or a Mac and go through your files, or possible install who-knows-what.

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Re: Computer for elder novice

Post by oldcomputerguy » Fri Feb 03, 2017 9:06 am

Watty wrote:She will also get calls on the telephone from "Microsoft" telling her that they need to fix her computer.


Or from "Macafee" claiming "your antivirus is about to expire, renew now with a credit card". My mom got one of those the other day. Still not sure if it was kosher, but it makes me nervous.
Anybody know why there's a 20-pound frozen turkey up in the light grid?

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