Monday, July 5, 2010

A Look at the Computing Guide for Boomers from Microsoft

Thanks to Lori Orlov for noting that Microsoft has updated its Computing Guide, changing the name from Guide for Aging Computer Users to Computing Guide for Boomers.

This definitely sounds less condescending, and I'm thinking that maybe this isn't just a cosmetic change, but perhaps its a change in attitude by Microsoft.  While many of us Boomers are hooked on Apple products, many of us choose PCs too. After all, if you compare Apple to PC, PC always wins out on price.

Anyway, the first article in the Computing Guide addresses a problem that many Boomers don't want to discuss. "By the time we reach our fifties, two-thirds of us have vision, hearing or dexterity impariments that will impact our computer use." I know you don't want to be told this, but it's true, and someone has to address it.

Go to the link associated with that statement, however, and you get a long, involved article. Heck, Microsoft, if I'm having problems, get me to the right article, right away. So without more ado:  Here is the direct link for the the article about making the items on  your PC easier to see:

Keep in mind that many of these tips work for Microsoft Vista and Windows 7 operating systems. Unfortunately those of us with older operating systems will have to make do. I tried changing the resolution on my Windows ME-based machine, and, while not difficult to do, frankly, it looked terrible. There was only one option. The newer operating systems have many more options from which to choose.

Microsoft points out that you can make the text and other items such as your icons, folders and mouse pointer larger. If you do this, however, some things won't fit on the screen.  They say you can decrease the size of the text and use the built in Magnifyer to see the text as you type. A video here demonstrates how you can do this.

If you just want to make the desktop icons larger and easier to see, right click the desktop, point to View, and then click Large Icons, Medium Icons, or Classic Icons. (Classic icons are the smallest size.) .Did you know that you can also use your mouse to increase the size of your icons? Just keep holding down the Ctrl key while you scroll over the icons with your mouse.

You can also increase your screen resolution to see sharper images. A video that shows you how to do this can be found here.  Microsoft says these are the steps you should follow to do this, but remember, you may find that some items "fall off" your screen when you implement this change. You can always change it back if this doesn't work for you.
  •  Open Screen Resolution by clicking the Start button Picture of the Start button, clicking Control Panel, and then, under Appearance and Personalization,  clicking Adjust screen resolution.
  • Click the drop-down list next to Resolution, move the slider to the resolution you want, and then click Apply
  • Click Keep to use the new resolution, or click Revert to go back to the previous resolution. 
I'll take a look at some of the other areas in the Computing Guide for Boomers in upcoming blog posts. In the meantime, I'm looking into iPad apps and am finding myself overwhelmed. If I can't figure out which ones are good for Boomers, how can I tell you about them? More on this next time.

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