Digital Picture Frame
Over the holidays, I visited a 92-year-old in-law Clint who had just received a new Dell and a broadband connection. He and his wife had the admirable goal of doing more email with the extended family. He was having trouble accessing his email, so I took a little time to help him set it up. Aftering shrinking the attack surface on his new PC (the technical term for introducing him to Firefox and Thunderbird + deleting the IE/OE icons), I watched him use the computer a bit. He had trouble typing in URLs, passwords, etc. the mouse was a challenge. The filesystem was way too much. He knew the basics about surfing and read email, but not being an experienced keyboardist he made lots of typos and typed when the mouse was in the wrong place etc. I chaulked it up to standard computer novice stuff, but felt decidedly shamefaced about how difficult my industry made life for novices.
I resolved to make it easier for him to share photos with the family -- as easy as humanly possible with his setup. My goal was to come up with an approach that was as easy as using a digital picture frame. It turned out to be surprisingly easy and took just three steps.
Step 1. Google's Hello is a p2p application that let's you share photos. Period. Well, I guess there's some instant messaging nonsense, but my target audience here is more of a phone user. Hello was exactly what I needed to address three issues:
- the large-email attachments problem: not everyone in the family knows how to shrink photos -- sigh, and
- Clint wouldn't have to master attachments and what to do with them. Have you ever tried explaining a filesystem and where attachments should go to someone who doesn't know what either of those terms mean? Good luck.
- Clint can print out the photos full res, on the printer that came with his setup. Note this requires filesystem knowledge, but Step 3 below addresses that.
Step 2. The last piece on his computer was changing his XP screen-saver to Slideshow mode, and pointing it to his Hello download folder. This completes the creation of a digital picture frame -- when Clint turns the computer on it will cycle through whatever pic's his relatives have dragged and dropped onto Hello for him.
Step 3. Do it for him. Now, since I figured this out after a visit to Clint's house, I did not want to walk him through the Hello+screensaver setup. I did walk him through installing logmein, and did the rest myself, including adding myself and a couple other relatives to his Hello buddy list so the files transfers would automatically happen. Adding remote control had the side benefit that the other relatives who were helping Clint out no longer had to wait til they had a chance to drop by to assist him... they could just do it whenever.
I was pretty happy that this worked as well as it did, with all these no-cost components.