"Grandpa/Grandma Mode" for PCs

Cartoonist Scott Adams is a guy that's full of idea. Today he has an idea to make email simpler for senior citizens.
Written by Adrian Kingsley-Hughes, Contributing Writer

Cartoonist Scott Adams is a guy that's full of idea. Today he has an idea to make email simpler for senior citizens.

His idea is a "Grandpa Mode" ...

What we need is software that acts as a "mask" and sits on top of, for example, Gmail. Its main function would be to hide all the options that aren't relevant. All you would see is very large buttons labeled READ, WRITE, and OTHER. Seniors should never see more than three large, clear choices on the screen at one time.

And there should never be any double-click situations. One click is enough.

And seniors should only receive e-mail from people who are in their address books. No spam allowed.

Any attachments should open automatically, as if they are part of the e-mail body.

Obviously someone would have to be available to do tech support, including entering new e-mail addresses in address books, and that sort of thing.

Now, I wouldn't be happy with the idea of attachments opening automatically, and I'm not sure about how you achieve a 100% spam-free email because the idea of only receiving emails from people in your address book just isn't feasible, especially if you do online shopping. That said, I do like his idea for a simplified system.

I get the feeling that Scott's has recently been involved in setting up a PC for a relative (perhaps over Thanksgiving) and discovered just how much of a hassle it can be. Not only do you have to set a system up, but then you have to explain (and maybe even document) every task. Then there's the fact that you have to set it up so that it does everything the other person wants it to do. The problem here is that while you can set up a system to do 90% of what the other person wants it to do, the remaining 10% turns out to be impossible, infeasible, too costly or just too much hassle.

Note: Just to be clear here, I'm not suggesting that every senior needs a "Grandpa Mode," and there are also plenty of people who aren't seniors who could benefit from such a mode.

I believe that a lot of things can be simplified, and to be honest, I think that everyone would benefit. However, I'm not too sure that a "one size fits all" approach like the one Scott is suggestion would work. Not because it's not do-able, but because a system like this sounds like it needs quite a bit of hand-holding. Maybe it needs a tech support contract attached?


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