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jack.chaney
Posts: 15
Joined: Sun May 31, 2015 5:17 pm

Pi for Seniors

Tue Oct 10, 2017 12:42 pm

Hi,
My name is Jack Chaney from the U.S. and my mother is in a senior center with a large number of other seniors, who, for many, grew up in the time before PCs were common. Many of them have a great desire to keep in contact with their children and grandchildren (some great-grandchildren). There are also a number of them that have shown an interest in learning new skills related to computers and networking. The problem is, they lack skills and confidence to engage with computers. I was wondering if there was a thread for the educational group that would be interested in developing a listing of the basic skills set for our seniors, using Raspberry Pi as an inexpensive platform.

Thank you,
Jack

B.Goode
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Joined: Mon Sep 01, 2014 4:03 pm
Location: UK

Re: Pi for Seniors

Tue Oct 10, 2017 1:58 pm

I am probably part of that group who might be described as 'Seniors', although towards the bottom of the range and not yet in need of care.

And I don't think it is a secret that quite a few of the most frequent and helpful posters in these forums probably qualify as well, or will shortly.

Other than for those with the greatest aptitude and determination I suspect that an RPi is not an ideal tool for social and communication tasks like contacting grandchildren. My limited experience with an older generation has been that even consumer-oriented technologies like digital watches, digital cameras and cellphones can be baffling and frustrating.

But I can see that if presented appropriately an RPi could be a useful tool for exposing the underlying technology and ideas. But it needs doing carefully, or the failures could be demotivating and alienating.

And isn't the same true for children?

So in what way do the materials, subject matter and presentation need to be different?

gkaiseril
Posts: 192
Joined: Mon Aug 08, 2016 9:27 pm
Location: Chicago, IL

Re: Pi for Seniors

Tue Oct 10, 2017 5:50 pm

first you need to determine the exact programs that the "seniors" need to use to contact their children, gran children or friends. Then look at what hardware could be used and how to configure that hardware for multiple users.

I would expect that they would want some type of email service and access to the Internet. This could be done using a browser like Chrome or FireFox where one could setup an individual profile and configure the user's tool bar with the programs or links the user is most interested in using. The user could then setup one of the many free email services available and integrate that into their choice of web browser. They also may need some type of word processor and spreadsheet program.

As for the use of the Raspberry Pi for this project. You need to decide if the Raspberry Pi is robust enough for the task. The SD card is not as robust as as a hard drive or SSD. This means someone needs to be available to replace the SD card when they fail. You may also need to prevent the SD cards from being removed by the casual user. The Raspberry Pi maybe cheap at $35.00 USD but one still needs to have a keyboard, mouse and monitor. The monitor being the most expensive piece to the system. When compared to a Chrome Book system, it might not be cost effective to be using the Pi. Also the Pi has many features like the GPIO that the seniors will not need.

Many senior centers used older computers since they mostly use the web browser and some type of office suit. There are many free or public domain web browsers and office suites available for many types or Operating Systems. OpenOffice.org offers a product that works on many OSs and was the base system Libre Office was started from.

W. H. Heydt
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Joined: Fri Mar 09, 2012 7:36 pm
Location: Vallejo, CA (US)

Re: Pi for Seniors

Thu Oct 12, 2017 12:41 am

My wife and I probably qualify on the age basis (she's 75 and I'm 68). I started thinking about these issues when she was recovering from pancreatitis the better part of 20 years ago and was in a long-term care facility for the last two weeks of her convalescence.

First principle....make sure that everything on the screen is big enough to read. Having a relatively large monitor and then setting the resolution lower than native. Say a 24" display running at 720p instead of 1080p.

Put any commonly used program icons on the desktop so they don't have to go hunting through menus to find what they want.

Have someone do regular system maintenance.

Usea Pi3B (the fastest available Pi) and set it up to boot from an SSD. That way, there are no moving parts if it gets dropped and there is enough space to handle anything anyone keeps. 60GB SSD are pretty inexpensive.

If you can get the users to the point that they can handle individual logins, do so.

Have someone with a great deal of patience to work with new users. don't expect the users to read manuals.

MakerBright
Posts: 1
Joined: Thu Oct 19, 2017 7:53 pm

Re: Pi for Seniors

Thu Oct 19, 2017 8:34 pm

After identifying the functionalities from the device, it may be something relatively simple where upon boot up, a Chromium window launches in full screen mode with a local home page. It could be used to launch applications or windows in specific states (ie. new email in gmail, compose new email to granddaughter, etc).

epoch1970
Posts: 1126
Joined: Thu May 05, 2016 9:33 am

Re: Pi for Seniors

Fri Oct 27, 2017 9:50 am

I'm not young either and my favorite senior is mom. I've been using the following recipe with reasonable success for a while:
- Setup a bridged (site-to-site) VPN tunnel on the device, so that the "maintainer" can fix almost anything on the remote network and have screen sharing work ok. Things will go wrong, that's one thing you can be certain of. Human interaction will be necessary.
- Have a "lab" for test and integration before deploying anything new. A must if there is no site-to-site link
- Use some system monitoring and watchdog to help ensure consistent behaviour on end-user devices
- Color-code every cable and plugs on the device, block unmanaged ports. Yes, once mom was plugging the PSU into the HDMI port on the Pi. Try it, you'll see it fits, sort of.
- Tuck an extra SD in the Pi as cold spare for disaster recovery, or setup USB boot from a rescue key.

Cloud services are fine, but they lack consistency due to the "continuous improvement" thing. I prefer to proxy services as much as possible.
The iPad is giving me a hard time as it is on the network but not remotely accessible as a Desktop would be. Adding a camera to the site would sometimes help troubleshoot issues. I work around it by having the same system to test on, but it is not ideal.

HTH
"S'il n'y a pas de solution, c'est qu'il n'y a pas de problème." Les Shadoks, J. Rouxel

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hansotten
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Re: Pi for Seniors

Fri Oct 27, 2017 10:44 am

Would a simple cheap tablet not be a better option? I like Raspberry's, can do a lot with them, but grab my tablet for these kind of socials and my big Windows 10 notebook/desktop for development work.

Tablets are so more compact and easier to work with. All communication with children and grandchildren is available (Facebook, browser mail,showing photos etc).A Pi, may be cheap, but it takes quite some effort and money to turn it into a desktop. Pi computers require keyboard, screen, mouse, SD card and some knowledge to operate.
http://duinorasp.hansotten.com for Raspberry Pi and Arduino and ESP8266
http://retro.hansotten.nl for retrocomputing with the 6502 cpu

W. H. Heydt
Posts: 7545
Joined: Fri Mar 09, 2012 7:36 pm
Location: Vallejo, CA (US)

Re: Pi for Seniors

Fri Oct 27, 2017 2:26 pm

hansotten wrote:
Fri Oct 27, 2017 10:44 am
Would a simple cheap tablet not be a better option? I like Raspberry's, can do a lot with them, but grab my tablet for these kind of socials and my big Windows 10 notebook/desktop for development work.

Tablets are so more compact and easier to work with. All communication with children and grandchildren is available (Facebook, browser mail,showing photos etc).A Pi, may be cheap, but it takes quite some effort and money to turn it into a desktop. Pi computers require keyboard, screen, mouse, SD card and some knowledge to operate.
As someone at least into the lower edge of the age bracket in question... No tablets are not a better option. The displayed text is too small and other details are hard to read due to size. A much bigger display will help a great deal. On display keyboards don't enhance anything, either. A decent (let alone *good*) keyboard helps a lot.

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fruitoftheloom
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Re: Pi for Seniors

Fri Oct 27, 2017 3:07 pm

I am not quite a Senior, but I have a relative who is and runs U3A UK Computing for Beginners Courses.

In his opinion a 9"/10" Android Tablet is the best for complete novices to break the 'fear' barrier.
My only "PC" is an Asus ChromeBit running ChromeOS, cloudcentric at its best !
Rockchip Quad-Core RK3288C SoC as used in ASUS Chromebook C201 & Chromebook Flip C100PA as well as the Tinker SBC

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