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Iain Duncan Smith: Make computers easier to use

Iain Duncan Smith: Make computers easier to use

With 6.4 million over 65s currently not online, there's a potentially lucrative market for the first OAP-friendly PC.

UK Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Iain Duncan Smith, has challenged technology companies to make computers and other internet-enabled devices easier to use in a bid to get more people online.

The comments were made in a speech at the Digital Unite Silver Surfer Awards, and reflect a belief that it’s the complexity of technology that’s keeping many of the UK’s pensioners from getting online.

The Telegraph quotes Duncan Smith criticising technology companies, saying that they ‘sometimes assume that everyone out there is expert at computer use’. He also encourages tech companies and service providers ‘to look at the potential marketplace for better and easier to use equipment’.

It's a fair point too. According to the Telegraph, of the 9 million Britons who aren’t yet online, 6.4 million of them are over 65 - a potentially lucrative market for the first company to crack the OAP-friendly PC.

Do you think technology should be made simpler for the masses, or are you happy doing the odd spot of troubleshooting for your non-technical family members? Let us know your thoughts in the forums.

64 Comments

Discuss in the forums Reply
coolius 6th September 2011, 13:31 Quote
I don't think its computers that are to blame - its the huge number of different websites with different designs and layouts that make them hard to use.
Cobalt 6th September 2011, 13:36 Quote
I've heard this kind of thing before, but I don't buy it. It isn't about how complicated a device is at all. Its a willingness to learn. All of my grandparents regularly use the internet (and my Gran hardly ever puts down her iPad) and of course everybody who does use it learned how to do so at some point. IDS is being incredibly condescending here, by making it sound like older people are just too stupid to use something as complicated as a computer. I don't believe that. If someone wants to learn then they will. The case is really to convince those people that it is worth their while to put the effort in.
Blackshark 6th September 2011, 13:38 Quote
And lets not forget the bah humbug brigade who would not use one if 'someone' paid for it, installed it and offered them free lessons. There are elderly users out there (like every age group) who want to learn and progress and try, those people are very seldom held back by UI, different designs...
Bungletron 6th September 2011, 13:44 Quote
I think IDS may not have considered that the main barrier to OAPs using computers is that many inconceivably prefer to spend their pathetic incomes on frivolous things such as not starving and staying warm during the winter. Maybe IDS should do something about that?
trickster 6th September 2011, 13:44 Quote
Its not the computers its the software, internet and general thought processes used in computing.
Its alien for someone whos not used to computers to understand whats actually going on when they "double click " a folder to "open" it. Never mind understanding enough to deal with a problem when something goes wrong!
Tablets are very simplistic to use, yet my Dad, now in his 70's and has had a computer since the Sinclair ZX81, struggles to keep up with how it works, what things are and what they do. My 2 year old niece works the iPad better than he does!
A willingness to learn is very important, however peoples ability to learn can be severely reduced because of age and various other factors.
badders 6th September 2011, 13:50 Quote
Also I think a lot of it is psychological - some people see computers as magic boxes. If you try to guide them through a step-by-step process they just will not attempt to follow the instructions, insisting that "I'm not a computer person, can you just come and do it for me?"

Either that, or they gaily click on every pop-up, link and instant message that appears, and can only see "OK" and "Install Now!" buttons.
Thats when the trouble starts...
Glix 6th September 2011, 13:55 Quote
Oh look Windows 9 OLD edition.

xD
fodder 6th September 2011, 13:56 Quote
As above, people make assumptions before they even see or try something. I used to work in applications support for an industry that mainly used macs 'on the bench' but windows servers. Many customers refused to even pick up the mouse on the windows box as 'I am a mac person and can't use a pc'. The UI works in an almost identical way. Double click to open a folder, three little buttons to minimise/close a window etc.

It's just the way some people have learned to handle their environment. If I don't try it I won't fail at it. A lot of people haven't learned that failure is a part of learning.
SexyHyde 6th September 2011, 14:10 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bungletron
I think IDS may not have considered that the main barrier to OAPs using computers is that many inconceivably prefer to spend their pathetic incomes on frivolous things such as not starving and staying warm during the winter. Maybe IDS should do something about that?

As above. And the only computers they do get are ones that family can't be bothered to dispose of properly and give them to gran/gramps to play with, fact that it is slow and faulty doesn't help people who don't really know what they are doing.

I found Linux to be good for basic setups most things are straight forward, its hard to break and most include programs to do all the basics with the main install/distro
steveo_mcg 6th September 2011, 14:13 Quote
I'm not sure what hardware manufacturers can do to make things easier, after all that hardware operation of a computer ends when you press the button on the front. Maybe mark it "GO"....


If he wants to whinge he really needs to be talking to MS since, for better or worse, they'll represent most of the user base.
Da_Rude_Baboon 6th September 2011, 14:19 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bungletron
I think IDS may not have considered that the main barrier to OAPs using computers is that many inconceivably prefer to spend their pathetic incomes on frivolous things such as not starving and staying warm during the winter. Maybe IDS should do something about that?

+1 To that. IDS go sort out what your responsible for and IF your successful at that then we might listen to you.
TheLegendJoe 6th September 2011, 14:20 Quote
Aren't computers getting easier and easier to use anyway? Tablets and windows 8 all look easy to use for the older generation, and people new to the market. As long as the "advanced" options are always there for people like me (us probably, enthusiasts) I'll be happy.
wuyanxu 6th September 2011, 14:24 Quote
iPad

job done.

it really just works. even for my grandparents who don't understand basic mobile phones and struggles at computer beyond their usual websites (hotmail, a few established news sites) could work ipad, understood pinching and swiping instantly.
runadumb 6th September 2011, 14:27 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by badders

Either that, or they gaily click on every pop-up, link and instant message that appears, and can only see "OK" and "Install Now!" buttons.
Thats when the trouble starts...

I really wanted to teach my grandad how to use the internet before he passed but the above example just makes it almost impossible. Teaching them the absolute basics is difficult enough but trying to explain what's spam and what's not is extremely frustrating for a poor teacher like myself. I decided not even going to try and teach my gran, although her mind isn't what it used to be.

This is why I think Apples walled garden and Ipad *spits* really is the model of the future...which is a shame.
Woodspoon 6th September 2011, 14:29 Quote
I agree with what most people have put above.
There's also a different generations way of thinking to take into account, a good example is, if I want to know where a place in the world is I'll open Google earth with out even thinking about it, but if my 65 year old Mum want's to know where somewhere is she'll go straight to her atlas.
It's not because she cant use a pc it's just because that's where her default mindset is, her generation was taught "information comes from books" and that's where they'll default to to find information, where as younger generations that have grown up with pc's tend to default to pc's for information because it's what they've grown up with.
It's not because they don't understand, it's because they don't always think to use a pc that's all, just a different generations way of thinking.
r3loaded 6th September 2011, 14:42 Quote
I disagree that it's a generational thing. I know plenty of elderly people who are perfectly fine with using computers. The main factors are a person's attitude to life and their willingness to learn new things.
CarlT2001 6th September 2011, 14:47 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by r3loaded
I disagree that it's a generational thing. I know plenty of elderly people who are perfectly fine with using computers. The main factors are a person's attitude to life and their willingness to learn new things.

Agree. All people, regardless of their generation, can be ludites.
chemo 6th September 2011, 14:49 Quote
i take no notice of what this man says.
Dwarfer 6th September 2011, 14:55 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by arcticstoat
Hardware manufacturers shouldn't assume everyone is an expert, says minister.

http://www.bit-tech.net/news/hardware/2011/09/06/iain-duncan-smith-computers-should-be-easie/1

I've got a better suggestion. Teach our kids in schools not to be morons and have no ambition n life.

Didn't some CEO at Google the other week criticise that British schooling was shocking for when it came to technology!
Parge 6th September 2011, 15:34 Quote
Computer are the most technically advanced thing that any of us use in everyday life.

Sorry if they aren't easy!
gilljoy 6th September 2011, 15:40 Quote
I personally think its down to the fact that people who havent used computers much or at all are actually quite scared of them. My dad really doesn't know how to use them at all, I've tried to sit him down with my laptop or my macbook but he really doesnt like it at all.

My mum on the other hand is actually quite good, has picked up quite a lot, still doesnt really understand how keyboard shortcuts work and cant understand copy and paste yet lol.

Wouldnt even think of trying to teach my grandparents.

As other posters have said, the main reason is that a PC is simply too expensive for the majority of OAP especially if they just live off the state pension.
digitaldave 6th September 2011, 16:20 Quote
the problem alot of OAP's have in general is they simply do not want to learn how to use a computer, not all, not at all but a great number either listen then forget or refuse to take on board what you are telling them to do.

I have tried and tried and tried and will continue trying but certain members of the over 60s club are hard work when it comes to new technology, not just computers either for that matter.
tad2008 6th September 2011, 16:22 Quote
Iain Duncan wants to complain that computers aren't easy to use now? Perhaps he should have tried using one back in the good old DOS days and see how he gets on with just a command line.

Microsoft especially and even Apple in more recent years have made things considerably easier for everyone, old, young, blind and those with other accessibility difficulties. There are more blind people than old people that manage to use computers on a daily basis.

The main problem here I think is most don't really see a need for one or what it could really be used for in their lives. Staying warm and fed are their main priorities and a TV usually provides their entertainment and keeps them informed of what is going on in the world so they can discuss it when they collect their pension and moan about it when out on the bus.

A computer is just a tool, a very powerful and versatile one, but that doesn't mean it is necessarily suited to everyone. For those who might have trouble with the double click there is always right click and then choose your option or a simple settings change to make opening folders and programs with a single click.

The other problem with older people who have not grown up with technology is that to them its something to be feared, something they have great difficulty understanding and therefore tend to lack an overall willingness to learn resulting in those that will, that can, that can't and that won't.

Some people are the same with phones, most of the time they simply want to pick up the receiver, dial a number and talk to the person on the other end. What makes it all seem complicated is that even the humble phone can now do more than just make calls.
Anneon 6th September 2011, 16:23 Quote
Maybe while they are at it we should make new music more accessible to the OAP as its obviously too loud. Oh wait. Nm. Found it.
mattbailey 6th September 2011, 16:26 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Glix
Oh look Windows 9 OLD edition.

xD

+1 rep for originally, and +1 again for being funny!

Unknownsock 6th September 2011, 16:34 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by wuyanxu
iPad

job done.

it really just works.

Like most devices?
MjFrosty 6th September 2011, 16:42 Quote
Vague comment is vague.

Would you jump into a car for the first time and complain it's not easy to drive? No, you learn. Lets face it, if the old git can't work Windows 7 after a cup of tea and a few hours then there is no hope.

You've missed this particular boat, Iain. Just accept you're a minority.
RichCreedy 6th September 2011, 17:07 Quote
my mother-in-law, is 82, and just refuses to go online, or have a computer, she said she has to many doofers already, and she is too old to learn, but, she has learnt how to use her new digital tv, and the digibox recorder
and even the dvd player she now has, so saying she is too old to learn is wrong. she is unwilling to learn is a more accurate statement
Woodspoon 6th September 2011, 17:24 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by r3loaded
I disagree that it's a generational thing. I know plenty of elderly people who are perfectly fine with using computers. The main factors are a person's attitude to life and their willingness to learn new things.
Quote:
Originally Posted by tad2008


The other problem with older people who have not grown up with technology is that to them its something to be feared, something they have great difficulty understanding and therefore tend to lack an overall willingness to learn resulting in those that will, that can, that can't and that won't.

Some people are the same with phones, most of the time they simply want to pick up the receiver, dial a number and talk to the person on the other end. What makes it all seem complicated is that even the humble phone can now do more than just make calls.

Thank you for illustrating my earlier point tad : )
MrJay 6th September 2011, 17:30 Quote
It is 100% attitude based,

I work in IT helpdesk in a school and even some 'intelligent' teaching staff can’t perform even simple functions like navigate to a mapped drive in My Computer or select an alternate tray on a printer.
It’s the attitude of 'I’m not paid to deal with this, hold my hand I’m useless with computers'
This is university level educated people who simply do not wish to pick up the skill.

My Nan (75years old) has our old Tiny PC and despite being less than a wizz can facebook, email and order her Tesco shopping online.

An elderly couple over the road from me (they are in their 80's and I do work for them) are prolific users of Photoshop and she designs greetings cards on her machine.

Yes it is harder to pick up a skill when you are older, but it is completely possible if you are willing to learn.
Killbz 6th September 2011, 18:13 Quote
While I agree with what most people have written so far, in 20 years it wont matter anyway. Those old people today will be dead and gone and everyone else SHOULD know how to use computers or at least be able to learn very quickly. This is a problem that will sort itself out in a little time. And yes I did give up in frustration trying to explain to my father that you cant just rip a dvd by copying all the files on it to the hard drive and then play it. His response was "Its there why cant I just play it?"
SMIFFYDUDE 6th September 2011, 18:13 Quote
Nothing to do with computers being difficult, its to do with people being left to believe they are difficult and that doing anything will result in the computer breaking. How many of us have tried introducing an older person to computers only to hear them say "oooo no i'll break it". The people most likely to properly break a PC are people like us bit-techers, experienced users who are forever tinkering with the bios and components.
Fizzban 6th September 2011, 18:53 Quote
I helped a 90 year old man with his computer last week. He knew a fair bit already, but he had gaps in his learning. I was happy to help him out, I think it is great to see someone that age getting to grips with a computer.
hyperion 6th September 2011, 19:21 Quote
Think of the possibilities...

Apple gets 6.4mil OAPs online.
Sends them to 4chan.
http://i1227.photobucket.com/albums/ee431/Adamisbro/lol-face-meme.jpg
tad2008 6th September 2011, 19:27 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Woodspoon
Quote:
Originally Posted by r3loaded
I disagree that it's a generational thing. I know plenty of elderly people who are perfectly fine with using computers. The main factors are a person's attitude to life and their willingness to learn new things.
Quote:
Originally Posted by tad2008


The other problem with older people who have not grown up with technology is that to them its something to be feared, something they have great difficulty understanding and therefore tend to lack an overall willingness to learn resulting in those that will, that can, that can't and that won't.

Some people are the same with phones, most of the time they simply want to pick up the receiver, dial a number and talk to the person on the other end. What makes it all seem complicated is that even the humble phone can now do more than just make calls.

Thank you for illustrating my earlier point tad : )

Your welcome Woodspoon ;)

Though there is of course a flipside to all this. What about the poor younger generation, those who have grown up with technology and who feel cut off when the internet or their mobile network is down. Who supports this younger generation and teaches them about books and how to use the library or how to use the telephone directory, lol
ZERO <ibis> 6th September 2011, 19:35 Quote
If they are not learning anything they will not understand what they are doing and will be more vulnerable to threats on the internet.

I think the biggest obstetrical to computers is the fear factor due to lack of education that continues to this day. Young people are not taught useful information about computers and this lack of knowledge translates to older people worrying that if they kids can not figure this newfangled thing out it is just too dangerous to try.

If you can build a lego set you can build a computer. Schools need to have kids actually build a cheep computer in grade school level classes so they can learn that computers are not some crazy complicated thing to stay away from but something fun and exciting to learn about.

If I had not built my first computer when I was 12 I have no idea where I would be today but I can say that I would likely be a lot worse off. Being introduced at a young age opened new opportunities for me that changed my life forever. In addition it also changed the life of many other people b/c I was able to use my skills to enrich my high school though the creation of new classes such as video journalism that now are a major program at the school with some kids deciding to take a future in the industry.

Computers are everywhere around us and so they more that people are able to understand about them the more opportunities will open not only for them but for everyone.
fdbh96 6th September 2011, 19:38 Quote
I recently got an IPad 2 and pretty much anyone (grandparents included) know how to use it straight away. I think it's the touch interface that works well for less technically minded people as they just worry about what's on the screen and not having to use a keyboard and mouse aswell.

Having said that my mum learnt how to use a pc because she broke her leg and couldn't go to the shops so she had to learn how to shop online. If people need to use something then they have to learn how to use it.
Tulatin 6th September 2011, 20:57 Quote
For those of us who have had to do technical / user support for the Elderly, having more of them use computers is far from a good thing.
KingSheepy 6th September 2011, 21:21 Quote
If they made computers easier to use and harder to break then I'd be out of a job.
kzinti1 6th September 2011, 21:32 Quote
After reading all these hateful remarks about the elderly and their difficulties in using modern technology, there is one bright spot about the whole matter that you'll probably enjoy.
They'll all be dead soon and you won't have to waste your precious time worrying with them and their incessant incomprehension of technology that you grew up with. After they die off you can get back to growing old yourself, and thinking what you'll do when you're in the position that they're in now.
You know the old sayings. What goes around comes around. You reap what you sow. Etc.,etc...
And one little ditty that I've remembered since the day I wrote it:
In my "I"
the World's a Sty.
Life's a Bitch,
and then you Die.
Words to remember. Until you all get Alzheimers, of course.
Shabing 6th September 2011, 21:34 Quote
As a civil servant in the department he's head of, I'd say I'd like him to take a look at some of the basic i.t. infrastructure the majority of people under him use daily before making any comments that aren't within his remit anyway. Bet he isn't doing his work on an 8 year-odd old p4 piece of rubbish that struggles to handle being turned on in the morning.
echeb 6th September 2011, 21:41 Quote
In a small number of cases its the ability to learn, not the attitude to learn that's the problem. My gran's in her early 80s and can't text on her non colour Nokia, constantly forgets about the existence of the free view channels she has and the other day asked my mum how to play a cassette tape on the dvd player :/ yet she is forever asking me to take her down to the library and show her how to redeem a token on line from the daily mail for spa treatment or whatever. I've done this 3 or 4 times and and every time its like the first time she's ever held a mouse. On top of that she cant afford a BT land line, let alone broadband!
gosh 7th September 2011, 04:31 Quote
agree, can't say i'm some fancy tech support guy but i'm the go-to of all my relatives and i work in a bar with 90% old plumber/sparky/bricklayer/welder gits who wouldn't know the internet if it bit them on the arse.

internet is confusing for older generations and the under 30's really don't take that into account (plus there is enough of that group that somehow remain clueless) - think about it, anyone under 40 might have trained for it but anyone under 20 has grown up with fast weebz and universal standards so take it for granted - that leaves a massive section of the populace for whom internet and computers were either optional learning a school (and obsolete now) or more likely non existant.

companies (in my experience) make it far too hard for the non-tech-savvy, i recently helped a relative with a home network issue, when they rang the provider (talktalk) they were bombarded with jargon and told conflicting advice they didn't understand that helped not one bit, they didn't want to complain even though they get very sporadic 'net access. i have helped them in this case but i'm sure there are many others where the standard procedure is to upsell a horribly overpriced £60 netgear router that didn't fix the problem (as was suggested by ISP here) or various £50 'installation' packages.

we need a regulated ISP with dedicated support and installation for the tech-illiterate, to get them set up fuss free and without extra costs that would annoy/confuse them and most likely some preferred government PC supplier that can recommend a good workhorse PC with standard drivers/components and remote access or a no-fuss support package. i know it seems like a lot of effort to get people set up but you have no idea how valuable access to the world is to an old person, especially one who is home-bound, and access to internet services for those who didn't grow up with it could surely be a quality of life improvement for them and a saving on council calls, medical calls, tech calls and general paper correspondance.
rogerrabbits 7th September 2011, 04:46 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by wuyanxu
iPad

job done.

That's what I thought too. People can say whatever they want about iProducts, but they are very simple to use. No firewalls, virus checkers, defrags, adaware, etc, and very little jargon. Just a bunch of nice little buttons that do stuff and anyone can use easily.

I think Windows based PC's are not too hard to learn though too. The problem with the older people I know, is that they don't use them enough. I can show them to use a PC and they can find their way around. But then they don't use it for 8 months, and forget everything. I think most of them just don't really need the internet, they can still get by using the phone book, yellow pages, and calling places to book tickets or whatever. If they needed to use it more than that, I would get them in iPad though.

I think computers are doing just fine. They get better with each new version of Windows, and I think Windows deserves more credit. It might not be as simple to use as iOS, but it FAR more powerful so that is to be expected. iOS is basically just a simple desktop and browser, it doesn't let you do even half the stuff you can do in Windows. So I think Windows is pretty good, especially 7, and no doubt 8 will be even nicer.

I would say that the biggest problem facing British pensioners is that they get royally shafted by those ****ing **** bags at BT. I think most older people have not heard of most of the ISP's we can get, so BT is typical choice, and it's just so crap. It's totally over priced, totally under performs, and they just lie to people. I know some guy who "got the internet" from BT. They put a wireless router in one of his rooms, and he couldn't get a signal in his living room. He asked them if anything could be done, and they charged him to fit a new line in the living room and moved the router to that room, and now he can't get a signal in the previous room. Had they have just given a better wireless router in the first place, it would cover his whole house. And I can imagine this is nothing compared to some stuff they get away with, not doubt at the expense of our country's OAP's :(
fluxtatic 7th September 2011, 05:56 Quote
Like a lot of people, I agree that it's all attitude. I work with a married couple, both in their mid-50s. He's super laid-back and willing to learn things that make his job easier. I've shown him things that to me aren't complicated - mapping drives and printers, telneting into the business server, etc., and he takes it in stride and gets it down after a time or two. His wife is beyond easily frustrated, and gets all in a tizzy when she can't do something, insists she doesn't know how, until I point out that yes, she does, and I've already shown her how to do it six times. Then it's "OK, but can you just come over and do it?"...and I'm talking about copy and paste or putting column headers in Excel (srsly). Really, the only reason she hasn't been canned at this point is her husband is essential, and they're afraid he'll quit if she gets fired (not to worry, though, where the hell is one person in their 50s going to find a job in this economy, let alone two?)

Meanwhile, I've known people well into their seventies that had no problem cracking open a case to install a new modem (back in the weird old days of internal PCI DSL modems.)
Bindibadgi 7th September 2011, 07:46 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dwarfer
I've got a better suggestion. Teach our kids in schools not to be morons and have no ambition n life.

Didn't some CEO at Google the other week criticise that British schooling was shocking for when it came to technology!

This from me.

People learn how to drive, cook, bring up kids and do all manner of things.
thehippoz 7th September 2011, 08:09 Quote
they need to add a extra key.. takes them to the porn so they can fuel the botnet
Spreadie 7th September 2011, 09:49 Quote
Quote:
Iain Duncan Smith: Make computers easier to use
IDS wants the OAPs all webbed up and collecting their pensions online, so his lot can close the rest of the Post Offices.

Either that or it's a heart-felt plea from a poor chap, struggling to find decent pr0n online.
Xir 7th September 2011, 10:13 Quote
Well, I see how my parents use their computer. Doing very difficult stuff, like copying pictures from their camera to their computer.
2 Possibilities,
1) connect, windows says "hey you want to save these?" you click yes, and windows resizes and renames them all.
They look like crap and my parents can't find them.
2) copy and paste, look up or create a folder and copy them in there.
They look great and my parents created the folder themselves so.....they still can't find them afterwards. :|

And they have to go by written down step-by-step instructions every time. the learning curve equals zero. :'(

I COULD buy them an IPAD...but then the pictures would probably start turning up on facebook without them knowing it :D
Xir 7th September 2011, 10:17 Quote
Oh...and Internet or general Software notifications popping up in ENGLISH (which is not the language their windows is using) isn't very helpful either. ;-)
BLC 7th September 2011, 15:04 Quote
This is bull. What they need to do is to give people a reason to want to use a computer - they're already easy enough to use. Most of my elderly relatives don't see why they would need a computer, despite me raving on about all the wonderful things they'll be able to do with one. Especially when you explain that to do any of these wonderful things on the internet you'll need to pay extra per month for an internet connection. Those that are interested have already bought a compuer and are using it.
Quote:
Originally Posted by ZERO <ibis>
If they are not learning anything they will not understand what they are doing and will be more vulnerable to threats on the internet.

I think the biggest obstetrical to computers is the fear factor due to lack of education that continues to this day. Young people are not taught useful information about computers and this lack of knowledge translates to older people worrying that if they kids can not figure this newfangled thing out it is just too dangerous to try.

If you can build a lego set you can build a computer. Schools need to have kids actually build a cheep computer in grade school level classes so they can learn that computers are not some crazy complicated thing to stay away from but something fun and exciting to learn about.

If I had not built my first computer when I was 12 I have no idea where I would be today but I can say that I would likely be a lot worse off. Being introduced at a young age opened new opportunities for me that changed my life forever. In addition it also changed the life of many other people b/c I was able to use my skills to enrich my high school though the creation of new classes such as video journalism that now are a major program at the school with some kids deciding to take a future in the industry.

Computers are everywhere around us and so they more that people are able to understand about them the more opportunities will open not only for them but for everyone.

Enter the Raspberry Pi. A small single-board computer with a 700MHz ARM chip. They plan to sell these units at $25 for the basic model (128MB RAM, 1x USB) and $35 for the slightly better one (256MB RAM, 2x USB & Ethernet). They will also have a composite video output, in addition to HDMI, so you can turn any old TV into a computer - you don't need an expensive HDMI/DVI-D capable monitor. They also support hardware accelerated video decoding and OpenGL - they're capable of full 1080p HD video.

The whole idea of these machines is to support a fundamental change in the way that "IT" is taught in schools. Computers are usually seen as expensive luxuries, not to be tinkered with for fear of breaking them, and our education system bascially treats IT lessons as Microsoft Office training. At $25 (or around £15) a pop, schools can afford to dole one out to each student, let alone equip a classroom. Of course the price will go up slightly once you factor in SD cards pre-loaded with an OS, cases (of which no details are yet known), etc. But the hardware itself will remain around the same price as a text book.

They're also pretty tempting for a hobbyist too. If XBMC can be ported to ARM on these boards, and still support full 1080p video decoding, why the hell would I need to spend hundreds on an HTPC. Hell I could buy 5 of them and run a mini-cluster!
steveo_mcg 7th September 2011, 16:19 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by BLC

Enter the Raspberry Pi. A small single-board computer with a 700MHz ARM chip. They plan to sell these units at $25 for the basic model (128MB RAM, 1x USB) and $35 for the slightly better one (256MB RAM, 2x USB & Ethernet). They will also have a composite video output, in addition to HDMI, so you can turn any old TV into a computer - you don't need an expensive HDMI/DVI-D capable monitor. They also support hardware accelerated video decoding and OpenGL - they're capable of full 1080p HD video.

Now I want one of these! I've no use for it and its not out yet but....
Vo0Ds 7th September 2011, 16:32 Quote
Wow, I may finally get a UX job ;-)
BLC 7th September 2011, 16:56 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by steveo_mcg
Now I want one of these! I've no use for it and its not out yet but....

Hell, I'll buy several! I've got no real need/use for them either, but for $35 (or £22) you can't go wrong.

I'm surprised that I haven't seen any mention of these on the front page or in the forums before now.

Anyway, back on topic, as you were, nothing to see here... ;)
Nexxo 7th September 2011, 17:51 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by hyperion
Think of the possibilities...

Apple gets 6.4mil OAPs online.
Sends them to 4chan.
http://i1227.photobucket.com/albums/ee431/Adamisbro/lol-face-meme.jpg
You, Sir, win today's interwebz.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bindibadgi
This from me.

People learn how to drive, cook, bring up kids and do all manner of things.
Well, many people learn to drive, cook and bring up kids badly too. Do we need to have this conversation again:

http://forums.bit-tech.net/picture.php?albumid=32&pictureid=21639

So yeah, people can learn to use computers, but many of them are by no means straightforward. Apple tried to address that and gets accused of limiting systems, dumbing things down and locking things in a closed garden --but Apple's stuff sells. Because it is simple. As wuyanxu says: iPad. Job done.
Quote:
Originally Posted by BLC
Enter the Raspberry Pi. A small single-board computer with a 700MHz ARM chip. They plan to sell these units at $25 for the basic model (128MB RAM, 1x USB) and $35 for the slightly better one (256MB RAM, 2x USB & Ethernet).

The whole idea of these machines is to support a fundamental change in the way that "IT" is taught in schools. Computers are usually seen as expensive luxuries, not to be tinkered with for fear of breaking them, and our education system bascially treats IT lessons as Microsoft Office training. At $25 (or around £15) a pop, schools can afford to dole one out to each student, let alone equip a classroom. Of course the price will go up slightly once you factor in SD cards pre-loaded with an OS, cases (of which no details are yet known), etc. But the hardware itself will remain around the same price as a text book.

They're also pretty tempting for a hobbyist too. If XBMC can be ported to ARM on these boards, and still support full 1080p video decoding, why the hell would I need to spend hundreds on an HTPC. Hell I could buy 5 of them and run a mini-cluster!

It's so cute! And it runs Doom 3!

e_mDuJuvZjI

After that demo, the chip was still cool to the touch. Awesome. :) As the guy says: I remember a time when you had to buy a £100,-- + graphic card (on top of a beefy PC) to run that stuff.

I think one of those, and an Arduino should be standard kit for any secondary school science and tech pupil.
CashMoney 7th September 2011, 19:49 Quote
I've just read an article that states "More than half of UK pensioners use Facebook, says study". Might be just me, but I would assume that most of them are using a PC to do so, despite the incredible difficulty that IDS thinks OAP's have in using one.

http://www.digitalspy.co.uk/digitaltv/news/a339137/more-than-half-of-uk-pensioners-use-facebook-says-study.html

"While social media usage is lower amongst those of pensionable age, 55% of over-65s in Britain have an active Facebook page, while more than two-thirds regularly view videos on YouTube."
rogerrabbits 7th September 2011, 22:58 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by fluxtatic
His wife is beyond easily frustrated, and gets all in a tizzy when she can't do something, insists she doesn't know how, until I point out that yes, she does, and I've already shown her how to do it six times. Then it's "OK, but can you just come over and do it?"...and I'm talking about copy and paste or putting column headers in Excel (srsly).

I know a guy EXACTLY like that!

At the end of the day I realised that the computer itself is not his problem and he doesn't really need me anymore, he needs a psychiatrist to deal with whatever makes him unwilling to open up to it, and stop wigging out every 2 seconds.

They are very high tech and I think a lot of techy people do take it for granted and forget how intimidating and confusing it can be to a total newbie. But really it's only a bunch of buttons that you click with a pointer, it's not THAT hard. And if they are only going to be doing basic stuff like browsing the web for recipes and checking their email, it's really easy.
MrDomRocks 8th September 2011, 00:28 Quote
Computers arent hard to use, it's the terminoligy used which people don't understand, hence buying a pre built system for over the odds from PCWorld/Currys expecting something fantastic and all they end up with is crap.

My father is in his 50's he's computer literate, he can use most general applications, he can type pretty well and he taught himself.

People think computers are hard to use when you talk specs etc, I don't know what half of them mean. Hence being here for advice and assistance.

Iain Duncan Smith is an idiot xD
Xir 8th September 2011, 10:14 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by CashMoney
I've just read an article that states "More than half of UK pensioners use Facebook, says study".
That's just their IPhones copying everything to facebook while they THINK they're on the phone, hence the in-ear-video's :D

*coat...I know, going already*
AcidJiles 8th September 2011, 15:01 Quote
Coming from politicians who in general have a terrible understand of the new technological world, it may have some reasonable points to it but until politicians understand new technology everything else can wait.
SuicideNeil 8th September 2011, 16:16 Quote
Quote:
our education system bascially treats IT lessons as Microsoft Office training

Truth. Although it was a good ~15 years ago, all I can recall of my IT lessons for the 3 years I had to study it was how to generate a graph from a basic spread sheet, and how to insert a picture into a word document.

Make IT lessons compulsory at GCSE level and suddenly you have a generation of young people who are computer literate & will remain computer literate for the rest of their lives in all likelihood. As the current generation get older and the previous one snuffs it, there will be fewer and fewer 'old people' who don't know how to use a PC... or tune a TV & Freeview box.

Willingness to learn and general aptitude go a long way, but meaningful training from an early age is a real help & boosts future job prospects.
fathazza 8th September 2011, 22:38 Quote
I think by the same rationale IDS should change his first name to Ian. The extra I in his name clearly confuses portions of society...
stouffer 10th September 2011, 14:56 Quote
I don't know, computers and UIs are becoming so intuitive now it's hard to argue they're difficult to use, at least compared to wrestling with Windows 95
BLC 15th September 2011, 07:49 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nexxo
It's so cute! And it runs Doom 3!

e_mDuJuvZjI

After that demo, the chip was still cool to the touch. Awesome. :) As the guy says: I remember a time when you had to buy a £100,-- + graphic card (on top of a beefy PC) to run that stuff.

I think one of those, and an Arduino should be standard kit for any secondary school science and tech pupil.

That's the idea. The point is to make them as cheap as any other text book, so that schools can afford to kit out classrooms with them or even hand them out to students.

The only trouble I can see with Arduino however is that the official IDE uses Java, and there are questions as to whether Java will run on the Raspberry Pi... Although, depending on the final board design and the ease/complexity of programming it, it may be possible to do everything the Arduino does with the RasPi natively. There are GPIO pins, which should make it into the final board design, and there will also be expansion boards available. It may be possible to use the RasPi as a microcontroller/robotics platform with no additional hardware. Might be using a sledgehammer to crack a nut - a full computer doing the job of a teeny and comparatively slow microcontroller - but it would cut down on cost.
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