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February 8, 2009

Senescent UI

I’m on a mailing list for former employees of a company, and we’ve been on a track for a day talking about what computer is best for aging parents or grandparents who want to do email and some basic Web browsing. This is from the point of view of the people who are going to be doing support and sysadmin for their relatives.

For years I’ve casually tried to get various folks interested in creating an OS shell or skin specifically designed for the elderly who are unfamiliar with computers. The existing OSes do things like put icons on desktops that are then covered by windows. Yes, the Mac’s Dock helps. And obviously the elderly can learn how to use computers, just as we all have. But the hurdle is unnecessarily high for people who have never held a mouse before.

So, my questions:

1. Is there such an operating system shell or skin?

2. Is there a wiki so we can at least share our experiences providing computers and support to our elderly relatives?

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April 14, 2008

The Two-Thirds Life Crisis

I am coming to grips with the sticker shock of hitting my 40th birthday. Unfortunately, I’m 57.

This inconvenient truth is born home by Doc Searls‘ recent “incident.” [More from Doc here, here, here, and here.) I am one of the absurd number of people who count Doc as a close friend. I happened to be in the conference room when the pain in his chest got too strong to ignore. He called the Harvard health folks who said it might be a good time to stagger on over. So, I walked him there. It’s the least the second oldest person in the room could do. Not to mention, that way I found out as soon as possible what was going on with him, which turned out to be a pulmonary embolism (a blood clot that had traveled to his lungs), which was treated quickly and well.

Boston is a good city to get sick in.

Doc’s doing well, thank heavens. He blogged a couple of days after the incident that he’s resolved to start taking better care of himself. Good. We want Doc around for many decades, purely for selfish reasons.

Doc is in the midst of what I guess we should called a Two-Thirds Life Crisis because it comes some time after the Midlife Crisis. I’ve been through my own, having eaten my way into Type 2 diabetes a couple of years ago. I resolved to start taking better care of myself, and, fortunately, you can no longer use my blood to top off your pancakes in the morning. I’m actually in better shape than before. (Irony alert: I’ll probably drop dead this afternoon, just to give y’all something to blog about.)

Anyway, here, is a handy comparison chart:

 

The Male Midlife Crisis

The Male Two-Thirds Life Crisis

Occurs in your 40’s

Occurs in your late 50’s or early 60’s

Brought on by hearing your songs played on the oldies station

Brought on by hearing your cardiologist going “tut tut,” and then realizing that your cardiologist is 15 years younger than you.

Can’t believe you’re not twenty years younger

Can’t believe you’ve only got twenty years left

Purchase sports car in desperate attempt to appear young

After catching yourself in a mirror, you give away your baseball cap and shorts because you realize you’re too old for camp

Work on abs

Work on cholesterol

Ready to prove to the ladies that you’re still in your sexual prime

Continue lifelong redefinition of “sexual prime.”

Learn (= pretend) to like hip hop

Learn your parents were right about Duke Ellington

50 seems really old.

50 seems really old.

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