Just a quick note to wish many of our users a very happy Grandparents Day!
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Just a quick note to wish many of our users a very happy Grandparents Day!
You can learn much more about this on the page describing it (our announcement of free e-mail this week for those over 100 years old), but here’s the upshot:
It’s never too late to get your grandparents, great-grandparents, or great-great-grandparents connected with the family. We just hope this will show you that you might just be wrong if you think “she’s too old” or “he’s not interested”. Try it, get a few photos from the relatives, and see!
PawPawMail has released a new version of its e-mail product specifically designed for senior communities — assisted living, retirement villages, etc.
We’ll be letting you know much more about the new edition soon. We’ve done a limited first release, but we’ll be available everywhere in November. But for now, check out some local coverage about one ALF using PawPawMail — Redstone Village in Huntsville, AL:
We got some great coverage of our easy e-mail product, as used in Assisted Living Facilities. We’ll tell you more in a bit, but for now, check out the coverage at http://bit.ly/cDCMSc
Scott Adams wrote in his blog recently about his ideal computer system for senior citizens (“E-mail for Senior Citizens”, Dec 3, The Scott Adams Blog), which is an overlay for regular e-mail, showing only the basic functions while hiding the unnecessary complexity.
We like to think that his vision looked something like the screen you see here.
But regardless, check out this quote from the blog entry:
“All you would see is very large buttons labeled READ, WRITE, and OTHER. … 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…. 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.”
It’s great to get some validation like this! Even though he may have only been talking about PawPawMail in the abstract, we love that he so closely described our system.
We just finished an overview of how to turn PawPawMail into the perfect e-mail appliance for seniors (or “email machine” as people like to call it). It’s simpler than you’d think. You create a shortcut to PawPawMail in Full-Screen (kiosk) mode, then toss that shortcut into your Startup folder. Go read our explanation!
Though it’s not widely regarded as a best practice just to turn a computer off and on, as long as a more experienced user makes sure updates are installed every once in a while, we’ve had really good experience with this.
And best of all, the seniors we’ve talked to about this setup love, L-O-V-E, LOVE it. The main benefit is that it cuts the learning curve down to nearly nothing. You don’t even have to figure out the difference between the filesystem and the internet!
And we think that this is the ideal system for seniors to use for staying in touch via e-mail. Just grab an old junker computer from the attic or from your nephew’s basement, hook it up to the internet, and it takes on a new life as a simple e-mail appliance with a whole lot going on behind the scenes but a clean, simple interface. And all you have to do is turn it on.
Just to be complete, though, we’ve also taken a brief walk through the alternatives. PawPawMail can’t be perfect for everyone. Some people want e-mail-specific hardware, and some people are just superstitious about computers from the get-go. So for them, we’ve toured the various e-mail devices that we’ve seen seniors using. Let us know if there are any e-mail machines that we’re missing!
Go check out our instruction guide on creating an e-mail-only device now!
Check out this article on communications technology for seniors (including phone, fax, and e-mail) in the New York Times last week!
It gives a great overview of technologies for helping seniors communicate — from the Jitterbug (the extraordinarily simply cell phone) to fax-based solutions for e-mail… to PawPawMail!
We’re thrilled to be written up (again! see an original profile of our story about senior e-mail in “Easier E-mail for the Older Generation”). But more importantly, we’re excited that the writer captured what we’re doing so well. It’s a better quick summary of PawPawMail than we’ve come up with ourselves:
“…For those who mainly use a computer for e-mail, PawPawMail (pawpawmail.com) takes the complexity out of the process. For $5 a month, users transmit and receive mail through PawPawMail’s Web site, which features simple graphics, large type and real names rather than potentially confusing e-mail addresses. The account manager, typically a younger family member, sets up the account, creating a list of approved e-mail senders; spammers and phishers cannot get through….”
So, check out one of the best senior technology overviews we’ve seen, and let us know what you think!
We’re going to the Ohio State Pawpaw Festival. What’s a pawpaw, you ask? See the pawpaw pictures at the pawpaw page at the pawpawfest website! Pawpaws are a wonderful, tropical-tasting, banana-custard-like fruit that looks a little bit like a papaya.
PawPawMail will be there, shamelessly exploiting its convenient name. We didn’t have the time this week to get together our perfect Pawpaw Recipe for that contest, but at least one member of the PawPawMail team will be participating in the Pawpaw Eating Competition (beware; he placed fourth out of six in one of hundreds of initial trial heats for the Krystal Square Off).
So if you’re within a couple hundred miles of Albany, OH this Saturday and Sunday, stop by our booth, check our how we provide the perfect e-mail to get your (grand)parents in touch with the family without too much fuss, and console our co-founder on his crushing defeat.
When we started PawPawMail (for those who are new to us, it’s a simple e-mail system designed for seniors and their caregivers), we knew that technical support would be significant — after all, it’s a new system, and both users and their managers would have some adjustment.
We didn’t realize, though, how many questions we would get on computer configuration in general. Both in setting up computers ourselves for seniors and in helping others to do so, we’ve become very familiar with the ways that a computer can be made much simpler to use.
Because of this, we thought it would be useful to put together a guide on how a regular computer user might set up a computer for an older relative, or for a large number of seniors at an assisted living facility. Many computers that we’ve seen in regular use by older adults haven’t been altered in the slightest way beyond the default configuration. We hope that by creating a single reference document, we’ll persuade the average computer manager to make some of the easiest changes, and that we’ll persuade experienced computer users to tweak the user interface even more for their parents or grandparents.
The guide is in its infancy — it currently only covers Windows XP (though it will very soon cover Vista and Macintosh) — but we wanted to get it out there for some feedback from the senior care community at large. We hope it is already helpful, but we want to get input from anyone who has worked with seniors and computers. We want this to grow into a more detailed reference for anyone who is configuring a computer for an older user for the first time.
So please send us your thoughts, corrections, wish-lists, and questions to firstname.lastname@example.org, and check out PawPawMail’s Quick and Dirty Guide to Configuring Computers for Seniors.
We’ve been gone a while from this blog, but we’ve been hard at work. There should be many more updates on PawPawMail, and maybe even some time to share them, in the coming weeks.
To keep it simple, we’ve been listening to a lot of requests for new features. We’re rolling them out very slowly to make sure that we don’t sacrifice simplicity in any way. We’ve been adding languages, streamlining workflow a bit, and making the setup process even easier.
We’ve also been getting a lot of requests for more general information about computer configuration for seniors. So we’ve gotten together most of the advice we have and created a few documents, which we’ll be releasing soon. Some are PawPawMail guides — quick references for using our e-mail service for seniors, both for the seniors themselves and for the managers. But our next post will talk about the guide we created to help caregivers of any sort set up the computer hardware and software to make the whole system easier to use for seniors (more “accessible”), regardless of whether they’re using our system.
So ask us your questions about seniors, computers, accessibility, and the internet, and give us your advice. We’ll be sure to aggregate it all in what we hope will be some useful and ever-growing reference materials.