After a long absence from WordPress I intend to develop this page further. After 18 years i am still keen to help older people with computer problems. I still receive enquiries via e-mail and from my site at http://www.silverhairs.co.uk. But I believe that the problems of computer complexity have largely been solved by the advent of much simpler and portable devices such as the tablet and mobile phone, which a child can use, let alone a technophobic retiree. To that extent I believe that the PC has had its day except for their use in business for tasks such as word processing and accounting. Mictosft’s Windows, with its 30 year history of developments has reached a stage of such complexity that Microsoft has difficulty maintaining its own OS and is unable to issue updates without bugs, which then have to be corrected within the following days. A quick look at the Control Panel Services section demonstrates the extent to which Microsoft has painted itself into a corner’. And yet Windows is still the major operating system of the world with Apple OS still trailing behind
This is the blog associated with my site at http://www.silverhairs.co.uk – a help site on computing. I welcome questions on computing, whether Desktop or Laptop PCs and Apple iPads.
I have been involved with Personal Computing ever since I worked in the Cambridgeshire Careers Service in the 1980s. After setting up computing throughout the service (Cambridge, Huntingdon, Peterborough and Wisbech) I retired from full time work and set up a company called SOS Computing (Support on Site) I ran this for ten years, fixing up company and private computers and writing databases (with Foxpro – some still in use 15 years later !). I finally retired again in 2001 at the age of 70. But couldn’t stop using computer, of course, so developed a website at www.silverhairs.co.uk with the intention of helping the many seniors who were keen to use computers. I wrote a book with this theme called “Hints and Tips for Silver Surfers which, to my surprise sold 800 copies via the ‘net’. I still keep in touch with many of the people who bought the book and get emails, especially when they have problems. I send notes out now and again if I find there are new things which are important, such as scams and new developments e.g. Windows 10. I added Google adverts to the site and this was initially very profitable, with the most popular page being Pensioners, which is still the most visited of my pages. But, in addition many companies were keen to have links to my site and I suggested that they send a donation to a charity I support at www.khayalethu.org.za. To date this has raised over £10,000, which helps kids in a poor Port Elizabeth (RSA) township go to school and gives them training. Apart from these benefits, keeping up with computer developments and updating the site is, I think, and excellent way to keep my mind active, which at 87 is important.
Over the last 20 years I have become progressively deaf. I have no problem on the net, because everything is visual. So, why is this methodology not applied as a means of overcoming deafness ? With an ageing population it is likely that eventually one fifth of adults will have this problem.
Thanks to the NHS, I have a cochlear implant but this requires surgery and is very expensive. Take a look at my video on this subject: Https:///www.youtube.com/watch?v=P1RchFo_Is0. Using vision is surely the way forward. But Google failed to take up the baton. One day cheap techology and glasses of this type will enable the hard of hearing to SEE what is being said.
I am now 87 but keep my site at http://www.silverhairs.co.uk updated and am still helping people with computer problems. For a number of reasons the enquiries are becoming less frequent. The technophobic older generation is doing what older generations inevitably do. But also the remainder are becoming more clued up AND the technology is becoming more user friendly. The tablet, phone and ‘phablet’ can be used by anyone from a three year old to someone suffering from early stage alzheimers disease. Apart from the fragility of the screens they are difficult to damage. The touch screen interface is intuitive. This was/is not the case with the hitherto trusted PC with its dependence on spinning disks and easily corrupted software. The tablet or mobile phone can be left in a sleep mode and brought to life at a single touch. Not so the PC which, if switched off, can take minutes to settle down when ‘booted up’. The Windows Operating System has developed gradually oder 30 years and depends upon dozens of small programs, which can become corrupted. I recently counted 160 ‘services’ which could be called upon to make the OS work satifactorily. In fact, only half of the were active. Other were stopped, waiting in the wings to be called upon.
But Oh! Technology!
People complain that their PC is slow and what can be done about it. The answer is “very little”. Of course one can pay top dollar to get the latest processor and graphics chips. But my modern desktop is slower to start than the earliest IBM PC that I first used in 1980! Start to use it before it considers itself ready and it will grind to a frustrating halt!
Recently I pressed the ON button. I was eager to edit some photographs and make a DVD slideshow. What stopped me ? A check on the Contol Panel showed that although no ‘programs’were running the main processor was, at times, being used 100% ! Without any obvious evidence, it was downloading the latest Windows updates. After minutes it told me that I should reboot to install these. With a groan I dutifully rebooted. At that point one of my security programs (Superantispyware) suggested I install the latest anti virus files. That done, the second security suite (Iobit) said that it was time to do a full security scan. Then Avast wanted its turn. Half an hour later I was able to make a DVD.
Millions of hours are being wasted in business around the world as people face this problem. They tackle it in different ways. Leave the machines on permanently; switch on as soon as they get to work; put them in Sleep mode at night; or just don’t bother with all this security.
It is a sad situation. But Microsoft has the problem of trying to support a range of versions of Windows on a wide variety of hardware. They must envy Apple which has greater control over its hardware and software.
Perhaps the time has come for Microsoft to develop two parallel Operating Systems. Windows 10 with ever more bells and whistles and a cut down Windows which will run the communications and financial software which most businesses depend upon. But it must be fast and it must be secure.
October 2011. My site at http://www.silverhairs.co.uk was started in the year 2000 and has since grown to over 50 pages. Although it concentrates on all things computing it also has sections on health and travel. It was developed after the success of my self-published book “Hints and Tips for SilverSurfers”. My passion to help older people master this important technology subsequently resulted in my winning the AgeUK title of Internet Champion and, later, an MBE from Prince Charles. I continue to help people with computing, although I am pleased to say that the earlier difficulties have now eased because of the development of user friendly software and the reliability of the hardware.
In 2013, another site was developed by friends called https:/www.silversurfers.com. This has gone from strength to strength. I wish them well.