Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Ubuntu for my mom


My mom does not know anything about computer. She often asks me to copy traditional songs that she liked to her very old-fashion phone. Everyday, she loves to hear news on TV and keep track any things related to health. These tools (phone and TV) are  "most hi-tech" things that she can use currently. 

I am beside her just 2-3 hours per day (not count the sleeping time). So, I know that she feels very lonely and sad when I am not there. I decide to help her know more about computer. It's a good tool for her to discover favorite things to relax at home. Anyway, helping an old person without knowledge about computer is not an easy task. 

All of my computers at home installed with Ubuntu. It's good for any tech guys liked me, but not too easy for my mom if she wants to learn.  
My mom and I


During my life, I develop software projects for many clients, many bosses - but never for my mom (the most important person of my life). This is the time I need to do that. So, I decide to setup the first IT project for my family. I call it "Ubuntu for my mom". The target is: helping my mom can use my Ubuntu computers in some days.

I will update these steps on the same post when I finish on each day. So, please comment if you have any good ideas to help me simplify/improve the "project".

Day 1: Setup a simple screen and help my mom to use the mouse for reading news

Step 1: Setting up

+ Create an account for my mom on Ubuntu. Setup for automatically login for that account. She does not get acquainted with the keyboard/mouse at the beginning. I did that to prevent confusion to her.
+ Install the Vietnamese locale for my Ubuntu. My mom does not know English. So, localization is suitable for her.
+ Changing the theme of my Ubuntu. Using big icons, theme with big contrast color. My mother's eyes are not good. This way helps her to know where to click on the screen.
+ Clean up all unnecessary icons on the screen.
+ Install Prism. Prism helps to create shortcut/application based on web URLs. I created some shortcuts for my mom for reading big magazines in VietNam (TuoiTre, ThanhNien, PhuNu, ...) on the desktop.

My screen after setting up:


Step 2: Help my mom know how to turn on/off the computer:

This step is easy for me, but not memorizable for my mom. So, I decide to put a big note on the "button to turn on the computer". Now, she knows how to turn on.

So, how to shutdown the computer? I added a single RED shortcut on the top menu. She just need to remember the "RED" color button to click. Now, it's totally easy for my mom.

Step 2: Help my mom to use the mouse

+ I guide my mom to use the mouse with very basic concepts: left button click, left button double click and scroll. She does not remember too much about when to use which actions. So, I take a big note and stick on my desk. After 1 hour, now she knows how to use the mouse for reading news with shortcuts I created for her.
+ I also guide her how to "minimize, maximize and close" windows on the screen.
+ Another important point: I guide my mom for navigate and click into link of the online magazine to see detail content for each articles, categories.

Result: day 1 is in very good progress. My mom can read news online and turn off the computer when I am not at home.