What's the real problem?
by westendal - 4/22/12 10:51 PM
Unfortunately, Kevin didn't mention what sort of trouble his dad was having, so let's think of the problem in a general way. Assuming that the computer setup itself is working properly, there are basically three categories of operator problem to consider: physio/mechanical, sensory, and cognitive.
The first would cover things like arthritic hands having trouble negotiating a keyboard; diminished hand-eye coordination (does dad still drive?). Kevin mentions considering a light and mobile arrangement, so perhaps there are mobility issues (dad has a hard time making it to the computer desk). The second would include things like diminished eye sight (remember that as sparkling as the latest tablet displays are, they're smaller than desktop displays). The third, and broadest category, would include things like forgetting passwords or program launch procedures.
In the case of the first two categories there may well be specific solutions, such as finding a keyboard with the largest keys, rearranging a room so that the computer is easier to get to, resetting the display to produce larger images, or getting a monitor with a larger screen. None of these involve getting an entirely new system, which is good news on two counts: 1) it's cheaper 2) does not require learning a lot of new procedures, which can be challenging even for folks much younger than Kevin's dad.
If the problem is in the cognition area, getting a new setup may actually make the problem worse, not better. Some of us know why we follow certain procedures on the computer, but many just follow the steps they've become used to. If those steps change - either because the hardware's changed or the OS is different, or both - we either have to figure out what the new procedures are or learn them from someone else and remember them. And heaven help us if we make a mistake, such as deleting a familiar desktop icon or adding an unwanted extra tool bar.
So, the first course of action I would suggest is analyze the specific problem and look for a direct "fix."
If that's not an option - again, we're not told what the problem is - then there's no real harm in trying an alternate setup - tablet, lap top, or whatever. But my guess is that Kevin is serving as his dad's primary help desk, so Kevin would have to learn how to operate, explain, and trouble shoot the new system, unless, of course, there are 12-year-old grandchildren in family, in which case, that problem may be solved!