Family 2.0

Story Text:

Teaching parents, friends and general non-techies about such things as Firefox, folder management, searching, etc etc is tough. Tough with a big fat capital T. I figured it might be worth investing a little time now though, in order to save time in the long run. Surprisingly, i've had quite good results so far...

It's frustrating when you're trying to explain the concept of Firefox tabs to someone on the telephone when they can't seem to grasp the difference between browser tabs and items in the system tray, but trust me, have patience, persevere, and don't give up, it'll be worth it.

I've now got my sister writing a blog and have taught my mum the following:

  • To use a Wiki
  • How to subscribe to feeds with Bloglines
  • How to build folder hierachies to better organize her PC
  • How to use Firefox effectively
  • To keep a tab open with today's TaDaList, so she's more organized (she's very busy, and like many busy people, finds it tough to focus when all around her is happening at once).

Some pain in the beginning, but on the whole, it only gets easier as time goes by. The big thing is overcoming that "fear of the unknown" - the mindset that says "i can't do this" before even looking at something to do with computers - I do this myself with housework heh..

Once you break that though, it's a breeze, and getting non-techies that regularly need help educated, rather than simply helped, is saving me some time and given them (most notably my mum) a feeling of power over her online/pc life rather than feeling confused and powerless.

This weekend's lessons are Flickr and :-)


Well done

Good for you Nick, but you try explaining such things to your computer-illiterate parents in Luxembourg, who have a limited grasp of English, and whose work computers can have software in either English, French or German! :)

break on through

Good on ya. It is tough. Classically, my own mom asked me "how do you get rid of files"

I say, "left click on the file once, then press 'delete'"

She says "there's a delete button?"

That's the problem I have, teaching people that don't speak the fundamental bits of the digital language.

You must have the patience of a saint.

cool...can you teach me about tabs?

not kidding, I've been using FF along side IE which also has tabs now, and I just don't see much benefit over good old CTRL+N

MS helps a bit when teaching family members

seriously if any of you use XP NetMeeting, LiveMeeting, and Active Desktop make helping others so much easier. turn 2 hours on the phone into 10mins of "shut up and watch"

Get your malware & registry

Get your malware & registry cleaning toolkits in order're gonna need them. Bigtime.

I guess it's my fault RC

Those last 2 posts probably made you think I'm new to the game, I'm not. I could use another set up, but that would be just another learning curve much like dealing with malware and registry cleaning was back in the day.

Know anything about the love of tabs? You could certainly give me some pointers there :) I certainly like them, I just don't get why people think they're the shit!?

I was just commenting in

I was just commenting in general, Pickled.

Trust me on this one, even the moderately savvy family members won't be able to keep the machine clean. Within months it will be almost crippled . If there are teens (particularly younger teens) in the household there is no hope for the registry. Within a few short weeks it will be a showcase for every piece of malware known and unknown.

I've got ZoneAlarm Pro on my

I've got ZoneAlarm Pro on my mums machines, im figuring that'll do a pretty good job of keeping it tight. (hoping, im no Win expert.. linux all the way for me)

MS Antispyware

MS antispyware is pretty good, plus norton antivirus. VNC or RD are musts.

If you keep her within a

If you keep her within a close circle of feeds 'n reads I think you can keep her machine relatively safe (pun), but no guarantees. If she branches out on her own, particularly into some of the shopping realms, or ~worse~ crafts, or ~worst~ social(izing) sites you won't be able to lock it down.

Heh, yeah

My wifes dad killed our laptop looking for cheap holidays. *Riddled* with scumware after that.

BTW, did you know that you

BTW, did you know that you can use FF adblock to blacklist sites or even whole genres of sites? Set Options > Site Blocking. Then wildcards like *romance* or *crafts* or even *threadwatch* will keep them somewhat corraled.

You might consider that last example, Nick, might save you from a beating, hhh!

And put her on TEXT email

And put her on TEXT email only. And NO IM!!

heh! Well, it's probably


Well, it's probably time i got the MS stuff (which is free right chris?) and got her started on general PC maintenance...

She's writing all the stuff she learns on a wiki, so she can always refer to it, the very act of writing it down has helped her remember stuff - but she can always go check it, and i can easily correct it if need be..

Where do i get that MS stuff chris?


There's just no stopping her now she's got the bug...

MS Antispyware

Download Beta Free (will be free when out of beta too, rumoured to also contain anti-virus ..)

True Story:

Mom calls me up.

Mom:"You know, my computer never says, "You've Got Mail!" anymore."

Me: "OK, let's look at some things. Do you see a little speaker in the bottom right corner of the screen?"

Mom: "A what?"

Me: "In the bottom right corner, do you see your clock?"

Mom: "No"

Me: "What is in the bottom corner of your screen?"

Mom: "Just some numbers. 8:22 PM"

Me: "That's a clock"

Mom: "OH, I expected it to have hands"

ME: "OK, see a little yellow thing next to it with little lines coming out? Double click that. Where it says volume, is the slider all the way up?"

Mom: "Double click...?"

Mom: "Oh, ok, got it. It's all the way at the top"

Me: "Ok then, let's look at your speakers. Are they turned up?"

Mom: "Speakers? I never hooked those up the last time I moved."

Me: "That's why you can't hear anything. How about I send you the steps to hook them up to your email?"

Mom: "OK, but use my Comcast address. I don't have AOL anymore..."

Damn, Nick, a hosted blog?

Damn, Nick, a hosted blog? Couldn't you at least spring for an account and a proper domain? You KNOW she's going to be really upset when you have to explain how all her se rankings are going to go belly-up when she moves.

hehe dont think she'll worry


dont think she'll worry too much about ranking!

Mate of mine uses UltraVNC

Mate of mine uses UltraVNC to take control and demonstrate features on client machines – allows him to create an exe file with his IP already setup, all they client has to do is click and install(and allow access if using a firewall like ZA) and it’s free :)

Since i’m always trying free software out I use MS anti-spyware and Lavasofts free ad-aware app, had them both miss Trojans but together they seem to do the job. Use AVG for anti-virus, ZA for firewall.

>dont think she'll worry too

>dont think she'll worry too much about ranking!

Yeah, right. Just wait until the fam members get bitten by the $bug. I can't go to a family event without someone wanting to know how to get their home-grown site to the top of their serps. Of course, I tell them (truthfully) that I haven't a clue.

Text e-mail and IMs

> And put her on TEXT email only. And NO IM!!

I have to strongly disagree with the first, and at least moderately disagree with the second.

Regarding enforcing text-only e-mail...
1) There's no non-geek-friendly reader I know that'll do this.
2) Even if there was, you'd get "Honey, why do all these e-mails look funny?!"

About IM'ing... on one hand, once I got my mom on IM, now she IM's me nearly daily... often times when I'm really trying to get work done. But at the same time, it makes her really really happy (my sis told me, "Oh Lord, do you realize how excited mom gets when she gets to chat with you online... everytime it's 'oh, I got to chat with Adam yesterday... isn't it [im'ing] wonderful?'")

>>1) There's no

>>1) There's no non-geek-friendly reader I know that'll do this.

You can make outlook do text only - im pretty certain you can...

Send-only (except maybe with plugins...?)

I can easily configure Outlook to SEND only plain text, and I think I may have heard of some add-in / plugin to possibly read only plain-text. But my other argument still stands. I think today, with newsletters, people embedding photos, etc... forcing anyone to deal with text-only e-mail is really a bad idea.

With that said, I heartily agree with others who mentioned MS antispyware utility. I've found it to be surprisingly quite robust and rather easy to use, and my friends I've recommended it to (even non-geeks) have really appreciated it.

> text

> text

That's why I keep an old .exe of Eudora v3.5.1 which was the last (I think) to not handle html or offer an option ot auto-open attachments.

> today, with newsletters, people embedding photos, etc... forcing anyone to deal with text-only e-mail is really a bad idea.

It is inconvenient to be unable to swap photos and we hear some grumbling (my mail servers are also set to bounce back large files, so they learn pretty quickly about my preferences). After about the third time they've had their own machines totally crippled they tend to become believers. There are secondary ways to get important info/files after they're pre-cleared.

IM, particularly among the pre-teen set (but office staff as well), is what I've found to be the A#1 backdoor to sites harboring malware. You can *almost* teach then to be sceptical of email attachments but I guarantee that they will not fail to be seduced by a link sent to them by someone on their IM list.

BTW, while we're on the

BTW, while we're on the subject of locking down a machine and tools to cull idiot users --did you know there's a FF ext which will record browser history into a text file? Very handy. slogger.

But IMs aren't the problem there, gullibility / clicking *IS*

Why blame the tool?

>blame You must be the


You must be the patient, understanding type. I'm not widely known for those attributes.

Heh heh, no...

...just have friends plagued with OTHER compu-problems ("How many times have I told you... do *NOT* sign up for free anything or contests on the Web, or you *WILL* get buried in spam!!!")

>How many times have I told

>How many times have I told you... do *NOT* sign up for free anything or contests on the Web

Oh yeah, Nick, tell mum NO DAMN COUPON OR FREEBIE SITES! And, for good measure, no bingo or Texas Hold'em, either.

(Now how do we tell chrisgarret that his father-in-law's searches for "Paris Hilton" were not travel-related?)


teach them how to use sneakemail. It is worth the effort.


My wifes nephew mullered their pc with MSN IM - every time he logged in he was bomarded by crap. I am guessing though he clicked on the stuff that looked saucy ;O)

My mum and dad use mobile texting and IM to keep track of me and my brother. (first questions tend to be asking if we have all been eating properly) It does brighten up their day when they get chance to chat a little and especially where my brother is concerned, they wouldnt know where he was or what he was doing if it wasnt for IM and his blog.

Another one to tell them to avoid are those animated e-cards, I am sure lots of stuff could be traced back to those. While we are on the subject, no forwarding chain letters even if the little girl in the picture looks sad!

Flickr has been a godsend for us (and before that my own hosted gallery) because one thing families like to do is share pictures, especially when there are little uns. As photography is one of my hobbies (not had chance of late) I am only too happy to oblige and it is a lot easier to just post up a pic than email round everyone who might be interested!

MS Antispyware

Wow, I just ran it side by side 2 other antispyware programs and it blew them out of the water! Found 2x the amount of crap, that was a nice surpise.


Sounds strange but I trust them more than the other guys too - There is a spyware prog going round that seems to beat it but then turns out it is removing other spyware then adding their own.

My Dad doesn't use a computer...

He 'drives' a computer. And so does my Mom.

"You're father has gotten a lot better at driving the computer."

Ok Mom.

driving the computer

Slightly off topic but the above reminded me of my yoga teacher who once described a motherboard as a mothership.

Speaking of mother's, the day I set up her laptop was the beginning of the end of my life.

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.