back to article User stepped on mouse, complained pedal wasn’t making PC go faster

Welcome again to On-Call, The Register’s weekly column in which we provide a little therapy by letting readers share their stories of horror tech support entanglements. This week, met “Vince”, who “during 2002, unwittingly took on a contract with my local council to setup and operate a community cyber cafés.” Vince told us he …

  1. Andraž 'ruskie' Levstik

    Reminds me of a story

    Hahahaha. That mouse thing reminds me of the story my aunt told me.

    She joined one such class.

    When she was told to click with the mouse on screen - she took the mouse and physically tried to click on the screen.

    It was funny but she did learn stuff there.

    1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

      Re: Reminds me of a story

      No "Any" key on keyboard.

      1. Trygve Henriksen

        Re: Reminds me of a story

        But the old HP Agilent Logic analyzers have a 'Don't Care' button...

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Reminds me of a story

          working in a lab we have numerous bits of Agilent kit. The only interesting thing about them is Agilent is an anagram of Genital

          1. Frank Marsh

            Re: Reminds me of a story

            Oh. My. Goodness. I used to work for Agilent/Genital and never heard or realized that. Thank you! I will never think of that time in the same way again.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Reminds me of a story

              >>"Oh. My. Goodness. I used to work for Agilent/Genital and never heard or realized that. Thank you! I will never think of that time in the same way again."

              I understand their new touch sensitive products are quite exciting.

      2. 2Nick3 Bronze badge

        Re: Reminds me of a story

        "No "Any" key on keyboard."

        Sure there is, and I had a canned reply for just that situation:

        it's also known as the space bar. They* used to have the word "Any" printed on there, but as it is used so often the print would wear off, resulting in warranty service calls for the keyboard. Which cost money, so they just stopped printing it on there.

        * The elusive 'they' - you can blame anything on them and get away with it as long as you move on immediately.

        Some users would "get it" and laugh, but most just went happily on their way, probably sharing their new-found knowledge with everyone around them.

        By directing users to use the space bar you avoid the ones who will hit Shift, Alt, Ctrl, Fn, NumLock or CapsLock key and then tell you nothing happened.

    2. Zog_but_not_the_first Silver badge
      Happy

      Re: Reminds me of a story

      Scotty!

    3. fords42

      Re: Reminds me of a story

      I wonder if that was the same class my mum was in? She told me an identical story about one of her colleagues. Mind you, it's probably a common occurrence.

    4. boltar Silver badge

      Re: Reminds me of a story

      "When she was told to click with the mouse on screen - she took the mouse and physically tried to click on the screen."

      Like any group of people the elderly vary in IQ. My elderly aunt and uncle (late 70s) would put plenty of kids to shame with their surfing abilities, not just on a PC but on their tablets and phones too.

      Honestly - it doesn't matter who you are or how old you are, if you can't understand how to use a computer mouse (which was designed for the non technical) after an hour and be able to click on a simple icon then frankly you're just thick. Most elderly don't have a problem using a TV remote control and a computer isn't that much harder.

      1. phuzz Silver badge

        Re: Reminds me of a story

        "Most elderly don't have a problem using a TV remote control"

        Really? Every time I go back to my folks I have to show one of them where the button for X is on the remote. In fact, most of my family tech support these days is teaching (or reminding) them how to do various tasks with technology, rather than fixing or setting things up.

        1. boltar Silver badge

          Re: Reminds me of a story

          "Really? Every time I go back to my folks I have to show one of them where the button for X is on the remote"

          Then no offence , but your parents are either senile or dumb.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Reminds me of a story

            Boltar,

            I have had Office workers ask similar questions when using computers.

            Some people are Techo-phobes or simply afraid to be seen to 'not know' so do nothing rather than demonstrate their lack of Knowledge.

            A little bit of 'Hand holding' and boost of their confidence can do wonders.

            Your response will ensure they never try again !!!

            I know we all laugh at the 'Lusers' but give them a chance first before condeming them !!!

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Reminds me of a story

              What. Never try to use a remote control again?

          2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

            Re: Reminds me of a story

            "Really? Every time I go back to my folks I have to show one of them where the button for X is on the remote"

            My problem is usually finding the right remote for X. There's the TV itself, the Mythbox and the Kodi (what a crap user interface that has - every single one of them) on the Pi.

            1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

              Re: Reminds me of a story

              "Really? Every time I go back to my folks I have to show one of them where the button for X is on the remote"

              Your remote has a short-cut key for pron?

              1. Lilolefrostback

                Re: Reminds me of a story

                Doesn't yours? Poor bugger.

          3. Paul

            Re: Reminds me of a story

            Then no offence , but your parents are either senile or dumb.

            no offense, but you're rude and thoughtless.

            1. Goobertee

              Re: Reminds me of a story

              Then no offence , but your parents are either senile or dumb.

              no offense, but you're rude and thoughtless.

              -------------------------------

              I vote for rude and thoughtless trolling by someone about 17 years old between the ear buds.

          4. Tom 7 Silver badge

            Re: Reminds me of a story

            @boltar

            Careful there. I had an interesting experience with my next door neighbour. A lady with an IQ of 172 at one time. Programmer for most of her life - indeed I think she started before men decided it was a cool thing to stop women doing it. She was so bright that when the altzheimers got to the point she was shitting on her own back doorstep because she couldn't remember where her loo was she could still hold what seemed like a coherent conversation to most. She defied diagnosis until she was really bad.

            And even if its not something as serious as that peoples eyesight can fail to the point you cant read the buttons on a remote (assuming the bloody lettering hasn't worn off) and the spacial memory for that sort of thing is not part of most peoples early conditioning.

        2. Black Betty

          Re: Reminds me of a story

          The ones that really get my goat are those who flat refuse to learn the simplest things, because "I've got you, haven't I."

      2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Reminds me of a story

        "Honestly - it doesn't matter who you are or how old you are, if you can't understand how to use a computer mouse (which was designed for the non technical) after an hour and be able to click on a simple icon then frankly you're just thick."

        On similar lines, lots of software interface people talk a lot about "intuitive use patterns", which, if you you have no similar past experience to draw on, are anything but intuitive. Pensioners back in 2002 were quite unlikely to have any experience whatsoever with anything even vaguely resembling moving an object around on a surface and relating that to something moving around on a screen.

        Dealing with that age group myself to some extent 20 years ago, I found it worked best to use the sort of education methods used in schools in the 1950's. ie repetitive rote learning rather than flashy, exciting, interactive, attention grabbing and engaging learning that people are more used to today. It worked really well to get over the basic of what a mouse is and how to use it. Once that was done, moving on was much, much easier when liberally sprinkled with relevant analogies that the older generation could properly relate to.

        It's a less of an issue now, but back then I found many younger instructors assumed levels of knowledge and experience based on that young persons entire (but short life), experience the older (long lived) students simply didn't have. They got treated as idiots, to some extent, despite often having wide ranging experience of life, systems, processes etc that the instructor probably couldn't comprehend.

        Reminds of the one 85 year old guy that a colleague referred to as "a bit dim" but was actually a retired senior engineering designer who could still tell you anything you need to know about mechanical engineering. Once I took him asside and showed him the relevant basics that he'd not yet been shown, he was away and sailing on the PC ant within weeks was showing the other instructor (the one claimed this guy was "dim"), was showing him so very advanced engineering related uses for the PC that the instructor obviously was not understanding. It made me smile.

        Oh yes, I should add that explaining the mechanical design of the mouse to the 85 yo engineers helped a great deal in his almost instant and thorough grasping of what it did and how to use it. Back then pretty much all mice were the mechanical ball and roller types.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Reminds me of a story

          John Brown (no body),

          So glad you replied as I have had similar experience and can totally concur with the methods used.

          Too many people (usually quite young) forget that their life experience is not the norm for 'Older' people and that what is obvious to them is not to many others.

          All the time the issue is 'lack of empathy' and if you approached the situation with a bit of understanding from another persons 'point of view' would find many of the 'problems' go away.

          You have also highlighted what is known by modern Teachers that there are diffent ways of teaching that appeal to different people, so 1 flashy powerpoint presentaion can miss your audience if you are unlucky. [As we all know :) from PP hell ]

          If I had more 'Upvotes' you would get them :)

          1. ibmalone Silver badge

            Re: Reminds me of a story

            It's a bit like languages, if you're in your 20s you speak one generation of technology and like all first language speakers you picked it up because it was all around you and you didn't know anything else. People in their 60s are maybe on their fourth, but unlike languages you don't really get a choice in whether you are going to move country or not.

            I can certainly explain to someone how, for example, moving a mouse corresponds to moving the pointer on a screen, that many of the little pictures are icons (provided they are in a certain location and have certain context), and that to click "on" an icon in fact means to position the pointer over the icon and press the left mouse button. But there are actually quite a few concepts bundled up in there, and if they've already got a stack of conflicting concepts on board it's not surprising if their intuition keeps leading them in the wrong direction and it takes time to re-integrate.

            Tablets and phones are more direct in their interface, and my grandmother is quite happy using a tablet, while she still gets my dad to write down instructions for their array of remote controls. Assistive technologies are very important for older people, and while they carry privacy concerns people here are well aware of, things like the Echo have the potential to greatly improve people's quality of life http://www.ucl.ac.uk/research/domains/collaborative-social-science/social-science-plus/echoes-around-home (disclaimer, I'm not involved with amazon or the study, not sure if they've finished, by apparently feedback from the participants is quite good so far).

            Edit: I still don't know how to use my mum's sewing machine.

            1. Vector

              Re: Reminds me of a story

              " I still don't know how to use my mum's sewing machine."

              Speaking of sewing machines, that's why many older women put the mouse on the floor and tried to step on it. Mice, particularly from the early days, looked very much like the speed treadles from sewing machines at the time.

          2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

            Re: Reminds me of a story

            1 flashy powerpoint presentaion can miss your audience if you are unlucky

            FTFY

        2. a_yank_lurker Silver badge

          Re: Reminds me of a story

          @John Brown (no body)-Another item that shows an age gap is attitude towards smartphones. Those of us who are 60+ can remember when there were only landlines with caller id. Often a family had maybe to 2 phones on the line in the house. Wanted to make a call, you shared the phone. Couldn't reach someone (a common occurrence), no message so call back. Away from home, no one could easily reach you. Older people often are not as worried about not answering the phone just because someone called if it interrupts something they are doing. The youngsters often feel they must answer every call even when it disruptive.

          1. Steve the Cynic Silver badge

            Re: Reminds me of a story

            Those of us who are 60+ can remember when there were only landlines with caller id.

            I'm 52 in a couple of months, and I can remember when there were only landlines *without* caller ID.

            And when pulse dialling was the norm.

            And when the GPO owned the telephone (singular) in your house.

            1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

              Re: Reminds me of a story

              "And when the GPO owned the telephone (singular) in your house."

              And, if you were unlucky, you had a party line. (Younglings, Google is your friend.)

              1. John Arthur

                Re: Reminds me of a story

                Re: Doctor Synatx. "And, if you were unlucky, you had a party line." Or even, as I remember as a child, you were on a rural party line with 5 other customers! When the manual exchange (central) rang all the 6 phones rang. Everybody picked up their phone and were supposed to replace theirs when they found the call was not for them. The conversations were often very faint!

                1. Alan Brown Silver badge

                  Re: Reminds me of a story

                  "When the manual exchange (central) rang all the 6 phones rang. Everybody picked up their phone "

                  No, when the manual exchange rang, you listened to the morse code to know if it was yours or not and if it wasn't for you you left it alone.

                  If the calls were faint it was because someone was listening in.

            2. ThaumaTechnician

              Re: Reminds me of a story

              "And when pulse dialling was the norm."

              And carefully placing a piece of cellophane tape on the pulse speed governor so as to get near-touch-tone speeds when dialing.

              1. Marcelo Rodrigues
                Devil

                Re: Reminds me of a story

                "

                "And when pulse dialling was the norm."

                And carefully placing a piece of cellophane tape on the pulse speed governor so as to get near-touch-tone speeds when dialing.

                "

                Don't forget the classic: dial from a locked phone, by tapping the hook in rapid succession. Quite boring way to dial, but so effective against locked dials...

            3. Updraft102 Silver badge

              Re: Reminds me of a story

              "I'm 52 in a couple of months, and I can remember when there were only landlines *without* caller ID..."

              I'm in my mid 40s and I remember all that stuff too. As far as the post that brought that up wrt attitudes toward smart phones... well, I'm so unconcerned in my smart phone attitude that I've never had one, and don't have any plans to change that.

            4. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Reminds me of a story

              I'm a few years behind you and easily remember when the GPO owned/rented you the telephone. Not only that but you had to ask your parents permission to use it, and if you were just going to phone a school friend you had to explain why the conversation couldn't wait until next day at school!

            5. Alan Brown Silver badge

              Re: Reminds me of a story

              "And when pulse dialling was the norm."

              I'm younger than that and spent a few years living in a place where the phones had crank handles, not pulse dials - and 4-9 households shared the same line.

            6. Daytona955

              Re: Reminds me of a story

              I'm 61 and I can remember when the house phone didn't have a dial at all...

            7. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Reminds me of a story

              Hear hear... I'm 42 and remember landlines w/o caller ID, no call waiting, pulse dialing (still have the old dial phone somewhere, I think it even has a property of Ma Bell label on it). Local calls were 5 digits...

            8. swm Bronze badge

              Re: Reminds me of a story

              It used to be that you picked up a telephone and a voice would say, "Number Please". You didn't have to deal with any technology. I remember a full professor dealing with his first encounter with a dial telephone with lots of swearing but, in the end, he was unsuccessful.

            9. emess

              Re: Reminds me of a story

              "And when the GPO owned the telephone (singular) in your house."

              And when telephone numbers meant something. Our first telephone number was Lofthouse Gate 3120 (back in 1963)

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Reminds me of a story

            @a_yank_lurker

            I'm old enough to remember landlines without caller id.

          3. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Reminds me of a story

            As a child of a doctor from back before answering machines or call forwarding, it was always necessary for someone to be at home, "minding the phone", possibly taking messages about life threatening emergencies or just dealing with sick or injured people.

            To this day I feel my dislike/phobia of answering phonecalls is entirely rational and beneficial.

          4. Alan Brown Silver badge

            Re: Reminds me of a story

            "Older people often are not as worried about not answering the phone just because someone called if it interrupts something they are doing. The youngsters often feel they must answer every call even when it "

            A ringing telephone is a _demand_ for attention. That's why people hate leaving voicemail.

            My grandfather used to routinely pick up the phone, say "we're busy" and then hang up. When calling, you spoke to him on _his_ terms, not yours.

          5. Charles 9 Silver badge

            Re: Reminds me of a story

            "The youngsters often feel they must answer every call even when it disruptive."

            Because the young live every moment like it's their last, or at least someone else's. So they treat every call like it's "A chance to move up if you act before everyone else." Or "Your mother just had a heart attack and is dying."

          6. Duncanmhor

            Re: Reminds me of a story

            I'm 42 and I remember only having a land line. It wasn't that long ago!

        3. boltar Silver badge

          Re: Reminds me of a story

          "Pensioners back in 2002 were quite unlikely to have any experience whatsoever with anything even vaguely resembling moving an object around on a surface and relating that to something moving around on a screen."

          You mean moving your arm and hand to move one object which in turn moves another in lock-step?

          Hmm, what, like a car steering wheel for example?

          Honestly, however you want to point it, using a mouse is not hard. The concept takes seconds to learn and the co-ordination little longer. I don't buy this whole pensioners don't have the experience line. Its basic hand-eye co-ordination.

          1. joea

            Re: Reminds me of a story

            "Honestly, however you want to point it, using a mouse is not hard. The concept takes seconds to learn and the co-ordination little longer. I don't buy this whole pensioners don't have the experience line. Its basic hand-eye co-ordination."

            In the words of Bugs Bunny, "what a maroon". Poor analogy, no empathy. Nothing to do with hand eye co-ordination and everything to do with "prior experience".

            Even using your analogy, poor as it is, at some point, "driver trainee" had been shown the basics of steering wheel usage, had been a passenger in some vehicle with a steering wheel or, at least, seen a movie or TV show depicting such usage and so gained basic knowledge of steering wheel usage.

            Get your head out man.

            1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

              Re: Reminds me of a story

              Poor analogy, no empathy. Nothing to do with hand eye co-ordination and everything to do with "prior experience".

              One of my engineers has a fancy rollerball mouse - I can't work it !

              To the extent that she has to have a 2nd regular mouse for when I need to review any work.

            2. boltar Silver badge

              Re: Reminds me of a story

              "In the words of Bugs Bunny, "what a maroon". Poor analogy, no empathy. "

              Wow, quoting bugs bunny. Rather sets the level of debate for the rest of your argument really. And wtf has empathy got to do with this? This is a technical debate, not Oprah.

              " and so gained basic knowledge of steering wheel usage."

              Oh please, You can get basic knowledge of steering wheel usage in seconds. Ditto a mouse.

              "Get your head out man."

              I suggest you take your own advice.

              1. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

                Re: Reminds me of a story

                "And wtf has empathy got to do with this?"

                Empathy is the protocol you need to connect to the wetware.

            3. MrBanana

              Re: Reminds me of a story

              When I first started learning to drive I was sure that it was going to be easy as I had watched my dad drive for years and was very keen to apply what I had seen to my initial lesson. But I had a big problem at the first corner, although I was fully aware of the steering wheel motion causing a change in direction of the car, which seemed so easy and obvious, my real life road experience was on a bicycle. Holding the wheel at the classic quarter to three position and steering by only moving it a few degrees, just as I would with a pair of handle bars, required immediate intervention by my instructor. What had seemed so obvious, was incorrect because I my perceived understanding was missing some vital information, and my application of prior experience was plain wrong. Easily corrected by the instructor but probably something that should have been covered before I got in the car. [ Note this was a long time ago, before such things as driving video games where I might have picked up some more obvious clues. ]

          2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

            Re: Reminds me of a story

            "The concept takes seconds to learn and the co-ordination little longer. I don't buy this whole pensioners don't have the experience line. Its basic hand-eye co-ordination."

            Agreed. It's simply assuming that the person knows what's the actual link between what the hand does and the eye sees.

            As with all jargon it's a necessary short cut to say "click on icon". Even "click the mouse on the icon" is too long-winded. But if someone doesn't know it's necessary to explain that "when I say 'click on the icon' move the mouse like this so that this pointer on the screen moved over that thing there which is the icon and then press that button which makes a clicking sound". Not difficult to have to say once, easily understood thereafter but there does, in the article appear to a big cognitive gap. The gap is in the instructor and it relates to the need to explain that.

          3. Mark 85 Silver badge

            @boltar -- Re: Reminds me of a story

            I don't buy this whole pensioners don't have the experience line. Its basic hand-eye co-ordination.

            Your choice to believe or not. The problem is "it's technology" that they don't understand. A car, they're used to. A computer, not so much? My late FIL was scared to death at first of breaking it or messing it up beyond all repair. My mother embraced the computer after some lessons and learning some new eye/hand coordination and was soon scouring the net for things she was interested in. My father.... won't touch the thing.

          4. gnasher729 Silver badge

            Re: Reminds me of a story

            "Pensioners back in 2002 were quite unlikely to have any experience whatsoever with anything even vaguely resembling moving an object around on a surface and relating that to something moving around on a screen."

            I bet in 2002 there were a few pensioners who had been inventing the whole damned thing a bit earlier in their life, and made enough money to retire.

          5. peter_dtm

            Re: Reminds me of a story

            @boltar

            So, explain the utube video(s) showing a clueless youngster totally failing to use a rotary dial phone.

            By your apparent judgemental standards, it just proves how thick youngsters are, totally incapable of using the most basic tech in existence

            Wonder how you’d manage a Waldo for instance ?

        4. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: Reminds me of a story

          "Pensioners back in 2002 were quite unlikely to have any experience whatsoever with anything even vaguely resembling moving an object around on a surface and relating that to something moving around on a screen."

          Apart from playing Pong & its derivatives in the pub about quarter of a century earlier?

          1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

            Re: Reminds me of a story

            Pensioners ... "playing Pong & its derivatives in the pub about quarter of a century earlier?"

            I doubt whether 40-somethings were really into Pong. They probably reckoned that was the machine surrounded by the younger generation and therefore best avoided.

            1. herman Silver badge

              Re: Reminds me of a story

              Pong is very old. It goes back to about 1975, so more like 40 years.

              1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

                Re: Reminds me of a story

                "Pong is very old. It goes back to about 1975, so more like 40 years."

                Remember that the original post said pensioners in 2002.

            2. gnasher729 Silver badge

              Re: Reminds me of a story

              Pong was in the mid 70's. That's 40 years ago. Many pensioners were in their 20's back then.

              I had the pleasure to have some discussions on the internet with George Marsaglia. He unfortunately died quite recently at the age of 86. I have serious doubts that you would have kept up with him mentally. I never had the pleasure of meeting or having any conversations with Donald Knuth. He is 80 now. He knows ten times more about computers than you do, and a lot more than I do.

              If you don't know who Marsaglia was, use Google. If you don't know who Donald Knuth is, go away.

            3. not.known@this.address Bronze badge
              Holmes

              Re: Reminds me of a story

              Ken Hagan said: "I doubt whether 40-somethings were really into Pong. They probably reckoned that was the machine surrounded by the younger generation and therefore best avoided."

              Ken, I'm pushing - rather forcibly - on the upper end of that group and I certainly wasn't playing (or avoiding) Pong; even in the $Deity-forsaken armpit of a town I lived in had *much* more advanced games than that... in addition to such new-fangled amusements as Space Harrier and Outrun, one of the local watering holes had the proper sit-down Afterburner cabinet!

              (And despite their best efforts, it wasn't the younger generation on top of the high score tables either...)

          2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
            Pint

            Re: Reminds me of a story

            "Apart from playing Pong & its derivatives in the pub about quarter of a century earlier?"

            That's a reasonable point, but in my experience, few people over 25 or so ever seemed to play the arcade games in pubs. Bandits (fruit machines), yes, but not video games. I have extensive experience in this research and intend to continue on for many more years :-)

        5. Muscleguy Silver badge

          Re: Reminds me of a story

          In terms of relevant anecdotes. I was once paid by the NZ dept of foreign affairs to tutor some Malaysian students of physiology who were having trouble. It turned out their trouble was that they did not understand the analogies used in the lectures. So my job turned out to be to come up with experience and culturally relevant analogies and anecdotes. I found I was good at it.

          The students made good progress after I was finished. There was lots of pleased nodding of heads.

        6. Mark 85 Silver badge

          @John Brown (no body) -- Re: Reminds me of a story

          Where I worked also found that if the "new hire" user wasn't proficient in the basics, they put them in a "beginner" class for one day. It went over the basics in simple terms and had lots of hands on and humor. The humor did seem to take the pressure off. The one thing they found really worked was some games.. like "tic-tac-toe" and minesweeper. Yes, repetitive training of muscles and eye-hand. By the end of the day, almost all (there's always the one or two though) they were pretty much ready to begin training on the PC's and systems we used.

        7. elDog Silver badge

          Re: Reminds me of a story

          @John_Brown_Nobody -

          Sorry for my mistranscription - I'm an old fart also.

          John's body is actually buried not far from me - near the Olympic ski jump outside of Lake Placid, NY.

          Oh, and I agree. Explaining the actual mechanics to some of us older folks makes tremendous sense. We'll also actually understand laser mice, Bluetooth, RF, multi-cores/processors and threading if given a decent presentation.

        8. keithpeter
          Coat

          Re: Reminds me of a story

          "On similar lines, lots of software interface people talk a lot about "intuitive use patterns", which, if you you have no similar past experience to draw on, are anything but intuitive."

          Yup - computer training a couple of decades ago as well and I became aware that some of the participants did not have a clear idea of a window on the screen - the rectangle did not strike them as an entity that could be moved and that was a different region to the underlying desktop. A couple of minutes demonstrating sorted it fine.

        9. Shooter

          Re: Reminds me of a story

          @John Brown (no body),

          You are correct, sir.

          It's also helpful to bear in mind that many oldsters will have a completely different, but still valid, body of knowledge and experience to draw from. In this particular story, it's very possible that the granny in question was quite used to sewing machines, which use a food pedal to control the speed of the machine. This foot pedal was attached to the sewing machine with an electrical cable, and very much resembled an oversized mouse, so it's not hard to imagine that a neophyte computer user who had decades of sewing experience could get confused.

          Still, Vince's story strikes me apocryphal, as I've heard versions of it for decades. But I'm sure the story had to start somewhere!

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Reminds me of a story

        "My elderly aunt and uncle (late 70s) would put plenty of kids to shame with their surfing abilities"

        Hear, hear. The best Linux guy I know is a balding, stooped old man missing a couple teeth with a penchant for suspenders and walks with a cane. Do NOT judge by age or appearance!

        (AC in case he's a reader...)

        1. wheelbearing

          Re: Reminds me of a story

          Were they sock suspenders? Don't see those much these days - nor the leg ones (stockings - not sock stockings) mores the pity. Or trouser (pants) braces (suspenders) - very handy, as is often the case with AOM (any old men) the paunch expands but not proportionately with trouser waist line.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Reminds me of a story

            (I'm the original AC)

            Suspenders (braces) for pants. What I mean is, he looks like a dictionary example of "crotchety old man". Somebody you really wouldn't expect to be an expert on current tech. (And he does get crotchety if you mess with his tech!)

            1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

              Re: Reminds me of a story

              "Somebody you really wouldn't expect to be an expert on current tech."

              But you said Linux. Which is only a Unix look-alike so it's quite conceivable that he's been using the underlying tech for well over 30 years. What does he think about systemd?

              1. Ima Ballsy

                Re: Reminds me of a story

                Systemd - Redhats' HellSpawn bastard Child ...

        2. macjules Silver badge

          Re: Reminds me of a story

          My father is 87, uses Centos 7 since he hates Macs and Windows and doesn't like Ubuntu or Mint, and spends his time teaching other, much younger, troisieme viers how to use their computers in the local library.

          Age should never be a factor, unless you are in the SAS or Royal Ballet of course.

      4. Arthur the cat Silver badge

        Re: Reminds me of a story

        Most elderly don't have a problem using a TV remote control

        They do if they have presbyopia like my wife's late aunt. She understood perfectly what was going on, but had to put on her reading glasses to see the button labels on the remote, then switch to her long distance glasses(*) to see the on-screen menu, and back again to press the next button. Total faff for her. If she was still alive she'd have loved the voice control systems we have now.

        (*) she hated varifocals.

        1. Alan Brown Silver badge

          Re: Reminds me of a story

          (*) she hated varifocals.

          So do I. But my vision isn't that bad yet.

          The fact that they force you to look through a particular zone of the lens for a particular distance assumes you're sitting bolt upright and not doing anything mechanically fiddly.

          I have similar problems with contact lenses incorporating high astigmatism correction. They're barely OK for walking around/driving but the moment you tilt your head or have to work on something above you, thy're a liability.

          1. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

            Re: varifocals

            "The fact that they force you to look through a particular zone of the lens for a particular distance assumes you're sitting bolt upright and not doing anything mechanically fiddly."

            A bit, but not that much as to be inconvenient. Overall an improvement.

            Okay, just the one data point here, anyone elses's MMV. I put off getting varifocals for quite a while and eventually got my first pair about 8 months ago. What can I say, they just work. No perceived transition period to get used to them whatsoever.

            Sounds like we have similar issues eye-wise. Pronounced astigmatism, finding contact lenses that fit takes ages, and, I assume, proper myopia.

            There are several types of varifocal lenses that vary vastly in optical quality/performance and, surprise, surprise, cost. As with any tool that you'll use every day and/or need to make your living: get the best you can lay your hands on.

        2. GrizzlyCoder

          Re: Reminds me of a story

          I have exactly the same problem having had plastic lenses fitted for cataract problems. I need 3 prescriptions: one for reading, one for computer work and one for distance (driving/TV). I tried varifocals for the reading/computer ones but had to ditch them because the bottom of my 24" monitor went out of focus if I didn't tilt my head down so I wasn't looking through the 'reading' bit at the bottom.

      5. Syn3rg

        At the other end of the spectrum

        ... is my 77 year old Dad, who can write in C, C++, COBOL, FORTRAN, and Assembly.

        1. elDog Silver badge

          Re: At the other end of the spectrum

          And my 4 daughters' dad who has been programming since 1963, Started with BAL and is now doing Python, Javascript, Erlang, whatever is right for the application.

          50+ years of making mistakes is worth a whole lot!

          If you don't believe that, ask me after you've done yours.

        2. herman Silver badge

          Re: At the other end of the spectrum

          Ayup - it is all Algol to me...

          Bear in mind that it is today’s senior crowd who invented TVs, computers and space ships and actually went to the moon also.

      6. Adam 1 Silver badge

        Re: Reminds me of a story

        > if you can't understand how to use a computer mouse (which was designed for the non technical) after an hour and be able to click on a simple icon then frankly you're just thick

        By all means have a chuckle at the slow speed that many technically illiterate people learn at. Just remember that unlike you, they can probably hem their own trousers/build that retaining wall/change that spark plug/bake a cake without a packet and probably hundreds of other things that we need to pay a guy to do these days. They can probably figure out how much change is due without using a calculator.

      7. unwarranted triumphalism

        Re: Reminds me of a story

        I wonder if you'll be so intolerant and judgemental when you're old. Oh, but you're 'special', aren't you?

    5. Evil Auditor Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: Reminds me of a story

      I've heard of such incidents as well - "move your mouse to the top right corner..." And there he was, holding the mouse to the top right corner of the screen. I wouldn't blame the user. I'd rather say it's the user interface that is under-developed.

      But there are other things... Two people, one of which is the misses of an ex-colleague, attended a computer class to learn stuff about an office suite of the Microsoft flavour. Both of them were perfectly able to use e-mail. One day they wanted to exchange some homework, something done in Excel. Solution: 1) do the work in a spreadsheet; 2) print the spreadsheet on paper; 3) fax* the paper to classmate; 4) type the stuff in spreadsheet... 5) Face meets palm quicker than you can say d'oh.

      *Fax, for millenials, is instant messaging on paper.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Reminds me of a story

        "I wouldn't blame the user. I'd rather say it's the user interface that is under-developed."

        It's not even the user interface to blame. Just whoever should have but didn't explain the relationship between mouse and screen.

        Back in the day if you bought a Windows computer there'd have been a big manual explaining this stuff. Nowadays it's just assumed the user will have used something similar before or will have seen it being used. When that assumption fails - and it's the assumption, not the user - then someone needs to fill the gap.

        1. Mark 85 Silver badge

          Re: Reminds me of a story

          Back in the day if you bought a Windows computer there'd have been a big manual explaining this stuff. Nowadays it's just assumed the user will have used something similar before or will have seen it being used.

          Now, if you get anything at all, it's a CD and I've heard of new users putting it in the DVD player.....

      2. dmacleo

        Re: Reminds me of a story

        perhaps better instruction would have been "using your mouse to move the cursor place the cursor on top right."

        deal with elderly parents (who are pretty decent about this stuff) as well as lot of older people at some churches that sometimes follow directions TO THE LETTER and showing me its my verbiage that caused issues.

        1. fallingman

          Re: Reminds me of a story

          My late father, who served in the Royal Navy for 39 years working in telegraphy (the early "Internet") and was decorated for his work in helping set up the RN communications training college, HMS Mercury, in Hampshire, didn't get into PCs till his twilight years: I set him up with a PC running Windows XP (this was 2002 similarly), and showed him the basics of using it for what he needed it for, mostly typing up minutes from Royal Naval Association & Korean War Veterans meetings, and, more importantly, playing Solitaire!

          He picked up how to use Windows fairly quickly, but as he'd been used to a typewriter, didn't see the need to save anything after proof-reading things before printing them out and filing them away in a ring binder. Most of all, as clever and wise as he was, he found it difficult to deal with any occurrence on the PC that wasn't detailed in his extensive instruction lists, something I put down to his many years of simply following orders and not having to think too far beyond them for himself.

          When he passed on a couple of years later at 82, I found all his "instruction lists": I still smile to myself at the memory of how detailed they were, to the letter indeed, and the fact that what he didn't know about using a PC, he didn't need to know!

          1. Robert Moore
            Thumb Up

            Re: Reminds me of a story

            and, more importantly, playing Solitaire!

            In the early days of the internet I spent many a day helping people who had just got their first computer so they could get on the "Information superhighway". Most of these people had little or no experience with computers. The first thing I would do is get them into Solitaire for a a game or two. I used to think of Solitaire as the mouse use trainer.

            This was always time well spent. I have never found a more effective method of teaching the basics of mouse use.

            1. Parash2

              Re: Reminds me of a story

              "The first thing I would do is get them into Solitaire for a a game or two. I used to think of Solitaire as the mouse use trainer.

              This was always time well spent. I have never found a more effective method of teaching the basics of mouse use."

              I could not agree more, any person not used to computers will rapidly learn the basic movements, not forgetting Drag and Drop, when playing Solitaire. Bill Gates hit the nail on the head with that app.

            2. Alan Brown Silver badge

              Re: Reminds me of a story

              "I used to think of Solitaire as the mouse use trainer."

              That's exactly why it was included in MS windows.

            3. G.Y.

              Solitaire Re: Reminds me of a story

              I believe this is what Solitaire was invented for

            4. ricardian

              Re: Reminds me of a story

              My late wife took a course "I.T. for the terrified" which ran for six two-hour Saturday morning sessions. The first session was purely about games (including Solitaire) which gave everyone a basic grounding (and confidence) in the use of a mouse. The final session was an introduction to The Internet with dire warnings of what could appear on the computer screen if you made just a simple spelling mistake in your search - using "Ask Jeeves" or similar.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Reminds me of a story

        I'd say it's the "post-millenials" (however you want to define these things) that might not actually be aware of fax machines; folks who grew up in the 80s/90s/very early 2000s are very likely to be aware of their function/existence. Unless you're already over the hill, there's likely some study group out there that considers you a millenial as well. I know as well as the next person that every generation loathes the next, but the condescension and (often derisive) labeling is a scourge on humanity.

      4. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: Reminds me of a story

        1) do the work in a spreadsheet; 2) print the spreadsheet on paper; 3) fax* the paper to classmate; 4) type the stuff in spreadsheet... 5) Face meets palm quicker than you can say d'oh.

        This is roughly what you have to do with medical data if you don't want to spend $MM proving that every system on the internet is secure and HIPAA compliant

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: Reminds me of a story

          "secure and HIPAA compliant"

          HIPAA doesn't worry about the errors creeping in from retyping?

      5. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: Reminds me of a story

        "I wouldn't blame the user"

        Having had to explain how to close a window 5 times in less than 6 minutes, I would.

    6. katrinab Silver badge

      Re: Reminds me of a story

      "That mouse thing reminds me of the story my aunt told me."

      I didn't know you were my cousin, because that's what my mum did.

    7. The Real Tony Smith

      Re: Reminds me of a story

      "When she was told to click with the mouse on screen - she took the mouse and physically tried to click on the screen."

      She did that because that was exactly what she was told to do.

      If she had been told to 'Use the mouse to move the cursor to a part of the screen and click...' then the result would have been different.

      Bad teaching!

      1. David Nash Silver badge

        Re: Reminds me of a story

        And to make it worse, on modern tablets and smartphones, you DO click" the actual screen.

        Ample scope for misunderstanding.

        1. d3vy Silver badge

          Re: Reminds me of a story

          "And to make it worse, on modern tablets and smartphones, you DO click" the actual screen."

          Ive noticed something with my kids and their friends.. they dont "click". They "tap".

          Even when using a mouse on a desktop PC they "tap" the icons... our lexicon is changing and I for one plan to resist.

          1. Mark 85 Silver badge

            Re: Reminds me of a story

            Ive noticed something with my kids and their friends.. they dont "click". They "tap".

            My late FIL, said it was "poke" as in "should I poke that icon?".

            1. Marcelo Rodrigues
              Trollface

              Re: Reminds me of a story

              "My late FIL, said it was "poke" as in "should I poke that icon?". "

              Never, EVER, poke an icon. It might slap You back! :D

            2. Bernard M. Orwell Silver badge

              Re: Reminds me of a story

              "My late FIL, said it was "poke" as in "should I poke that icon?".

              Did he "peek" afterwards?

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Reminds me of a story

            Started looking for quality lawn ornaments?

        2. peter_dtm

          Re: Reminds me of a story

          @David Nash

          actually you "tap'' of “Press” or “Long Press” or maybe “Force Touch” - another incorrect instruction to the user

      2. cosmogoblin

        Re: Reminds me of a story

        Exactly. The cursor and mouse are separate, and a teacher shouldn't assume that they can use the shorthand of pretending they're the same with brand new students.

        After reading this story, it took me only a few seconds to come up with a game I think would help - a variation on the "wire loop" game (where you hold a metal loop and move it along a winding wire, avoiding letting them touch). Use the mouse to move a sprite around a maze without it touching the sides, and click when you reach the end. 5 levels, increasing in difficulty, should give almost anybody the basics - and help to embed the concept of physical objects equating to virtual ones.

    8. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      It was funny but she did learn stuff there.

      There is a very steep learning curve with anything completely new - and using a computer really has no analogue in the real world for people born before the computer age.

      More power to them all.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: It was funny but she did learn stuff there.

        "people born before the computer age."

        There aren't that many left alive. The computer age is older than you think.

        1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

          Re: It was funny but she did learn stuff there.

          "There aren't that many left alive. The computer age is older than you think."

          The computer age for nerds dates from WW2. The computer age for normal people started around about 1990. Most people over 50, of which there are quite a few left, probably had their first serious encounters with a computer in adulthood. Those over 75, and there's a few of those left too, may have decided at the time that this was a young person's thing and they'd give it a miss. Only now, with the government full of spotty teenagers who can't believe anyone could not want to do everything on the web with their smartphone, do that generation realise that this might have been a bad call.

          1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

            Re: It was funny but she did learn stuff there.

            "The computer age for normal people started around about 1990."

            As a domestic, single user device, maybe. But many normal people were sitting at green screens (or orange ones if you wanted to be ergonomic) in offices well before then. Before that they'd maybe have been filling in sheets for data entry clerks to enter into punch cards and getting computer-printed pay slips.

            "Those over 75, and there's a few of those left too, may have decided at the time that this was a young person's thing and they'd give it a miss."

            I'm not quite 75 yet but by the time the first practical micro-driven devices came out, say late '70s. I was in my 40s. Well before the teenagers were playing with their Spectra of C64s I could see just what this could do for lab instrumentation when there wasn't a budget for PDPs or Novas and setting them to work.

            The computer age began well before you think.

          2. ricardian

            Re: It was funny but she did learn stuff there.

            I was born in 1943 and first encountered a computer in 1985 when working for a large Government department with HQ in Cheltenham. The computer was a Commodore Pet which, together with Raeto West's invaluable handbook, enabled 2 or 3 of us to produce some useful programs in 6502 assembler - despite all the Scientific Officers looking down their noses as they produced similar programs in high level language on their PDP machines. A year or so later we got the first IBM PC and an Aztec "C" compiler and never looked back!

          3. kiwimuso
            WTF?

            Re: It was funny but she did learn stuff there.

            @ Ken Hagan

            "The computer age for nerds dates from WW2. The computer age for normal people started around about 1990....."

            Good God! How old are you! The computer age started to go mainstream at the very least, by the early 60s. I was writing RPG (ugghh!), Assembler, and later PL/I since 1966 for a bank first of all, then later after skiving off to the UK, more Assembler, COBOL, then later again 8086 assembler.

            I agree that it started way earlier than that, but that's when it became mainstream - even here in New Zealand. My first job at the (savings) bank was for an online banking system, which incidentally was waaayyy before the Poms, judging by the banking system there in the early 70s.

            I might add, that if the oldies didn't get it, I would suggest that was more the fault of the instructor rather than the pupils. If you have never struck a concept before, then saying "click on an icon" is totally meaningless, as is expecting anyone to know instinctively what a mouse was and how to use it. I knew a bloke once (a lawyer, so entirely thick) who was never shown how to use one, but managed to eventually work it out for himself. The only thing was, he held the mouse back to front, with the "tail" trailing over the front of the desk. Consequently any instruction to "right" or "left" click was totally arse about face for him.

            Happily retired now and nearly 75, there are some modern concepts that people take for granted that I sometimes have a struggle with. Being used to a Samsung tablet and an Android phone, both with home and back buttons, I recently purchased an iPad which of course only has a single button, and of course these days no user manual to get you going. I am still learning new stuff on it because it operates quite differently to Android. Swipe up from the bottom of the screen to switch to another open app (amongst other things). Oh yeah, totally intuitive. I figured it out because I worked out that there had to be an easy way, so tried all sorts of gestures, swipes etc, until stumbling upon it.

            Incidentally an "intuitive" interface is all in the eye of the beholder. If you've written the interface then of course it's intuitive. Not so much for other people. I still have problems with a lot of website interfaces which in my humble opinion are a pile of garbage. It is also NOT clever to put yellow writing on a light brown background or vice versa. And there are several other colour combinations that do not work all that well either.

            But then what would I know. I've only had over 40 years experience or writing software, designing interfaces, and learning how people handle such things. First rule, do not assume that you know what works for people, just because you understand it.

            BTW why is El Reg using an American dictionary in a UK publication? It just flagged up "colour" which everyone knows is the correct spelling despite the efforts of some to "simplify" English.

            1. kiwimuso

              Re: It was funny but she did learn stuff there.

              "I knew a bloke once (a lawyer, so entirely thick)"

              That should have been, of course, NOT entirely thick, but on reflection maybe my original mis-comment was correct.

        2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: It was funny but she did learn stuff there.

          "There aren't that many left alive."

          That reminds me, The Times last weekend carried an obit. of Tim Berners-Lee's mother who seems to have had in interesting computing career of her own back in the earlyish days. It's a pity el Reg didn't pick up on that.

      2. Updraft102 Silver badge

        Re: It was funny but she did learn stuff there.

        "There is a very steep learning curve with anything completely new "

        That means that at first, a tiny bit of effort and learning results in a huge gain in proficiency, and that it happens very fast.

    9. Faceless Man

      Re: Reminds me of a story

      It reminds me of one of our "top" programmers back in the day, when I did desktop support, he'd decided that to avoid Occupational Overuse in his arm from his mouse, he'd put it on the floor and use his foot. He attached little foam pads to make it easier to tell where the buttons were, and everything.

      Of course, it made it difficult for anyone else to work on his computer, made the mouse gunge up even faster than normal, and he eventually got told off by our Workplace Health and Safety people for basically being an idiot.

  2. frank ly Silver badge

    Pressing the foot pedal

    Hindsight is wonderful, if you can have it. Perhaps he could have made an introductory video, showing himself or a friend using a computer and pointing out the 'important bits' and how they are used.

    You only realise that certain problems can even exist after you encounter them.

    1. BoldMan

      Re: Pressing the foot pedal

      ... and how would you get them to watch the video... "click on the video button"...

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Pressing the foot pedal

        and how would you get them to watch the video... "click on the video button"

        Perhaps, like the grannies who've never seen a computer mouse, you've never encountered this thing called a"projector".

    2. dave 81
      Facepalm

      Re: Pressing the foot pedal

      > Perhaps he could have made an introductory video, showing himself or a friend using a computer and pointing out the 'important bits' and how they are used.

      Nice idea in principle Frank Ly, but in practice, I have tried to train people who could watch someone perform the most simplistic task, (move the mouse and push the button) and be utterly unable to replicate the task without massive amounts of instructions and reassurance. Then once they have finally mastered the task, and need to repeat it the next day to actually open an application, the mouse is yet again scraping across the screen. I kid you not.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Pressing the foot pedal

        No offence... but both lack of experience applies to us all at times and I would assume a ton on early onset dementia is much more likely than we realise!

  3. chivo243 Silver badge
    Boffin

    Hey Gran!

    It's not a sewing machine!

    1. DuchessofDukeStreet

      Re: Hey Gran!

      Nor is it a dictation foot pedal she may have used as a typist to control playback of audio tapes - although it's quite similar in shape and appearance.

      1. 's water music Silver badge
        Happy

        Re: Hey Gran!

        Nor is it a dictation foot pedal she may have used as a typist to control playback of audio tapes

        or playback of digital audio files on a PC for audio typists. I dream of one day seeing a deskside support person attempt to use such a device as a mouse.

        1. Peter2 Silver badge

          Re: Hey Gran!

          Some years ago I taught a ninety something year old to use a computer. She wanted to have a computer to communicate with her great, great grandchildren who are obviously more used to emails etc for sending messages and pictures than using snailmail.

          Frankly, it wasn't particually difficult. In fact, i've had more problems teaching pointy haired bosses, because she accepted full well that she didn't know and just listened to what she was told. Getting her used to the mouse was perhaps the most difficult task, but acheived by shoving the sensitivity to the lowest possible and then introducing her to a "whack a mole" type flash game.

          A week later she'd gotten pretty good at that flash game and I was boosing the sensitivity on the mouse somewhat and showing her how to do that as she got more used to it. The only problem she ran into was that she'd been saving documents over the top of each other, but grasped the concept of a file system pretty quickly when it was explained.

          Ultimately the oldest people alive now grew up in a country where transport was done with horse and cart, with the odd rich guy with one of those newfangled cars and really well off businesses with a van. Steam engines were still being used in fields for the harvest. Gas lighting was the new thing, and the toilets were at the end of the garden somewhere near the outdoor pump for getting water. She'd lived through two world wars and seen the development and deployment of interior running water, electricity, television, computers and the internet. Now, bearing this in mind, why do you think older generations have trouble grasping new concepts?

          As so long as things are put sensibly to them in my experiance they don't have any significant trouble grasping new things.

          1. phuzz Silver badge

            Re: Hey Gran!

            "the toilets were at the end of the garden somewhere near the outdoor pump for getting water"

            Hopefully not too near...

          2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

            Re: Hey Gran!

            "Gas lighting was the new thing"

            Errr. How old do you think the oldest people still alive are? Pushing towards the second century?

            Gas lighting still having been a thing, however, is quite realistic. We had gas lighting in the house I grew up in until we moved just before I was 14.

            1. H in The Hague Silver badge

              Re: Hey Gran!

              "Gas lighting still having been a thing, however, is quite realistic."

              There are still areas in London with gas street lights (with gas mantles), spotted them earlier this week. And the Theatre Royal Bristol still had gas emergency lighting (fishtail burners) into the 1990s I think.

              1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

                Re: Hey Gran!

                Theatre Royal Bristol still had gas emergency lighting

                "In case of" or "the cause of" ?

              2. J P

                Re: Hey Gran!

                There are something like 1,500 gas lamps still running in central London (mostly round Covent Garden & the Mall, I suspect primarily for aesthetic reasons) and also one still running on sewer gas - ironically, just out the back of the Savoy Theatre which of course was the first electrically lit public building in the world.

    2. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: Hey Gran!

      And yet sewing machine foot pedals made in the 1980s do look like big beige mice! And a beige PC case is roughly the same size as a beige sewing machine.

      There's possibly a deeper lesson about user experience here, specifically Information Ergonomics, muscle memory and Alzheimer's.

      Why would the foot pedal be in the desk at the start of the session? Some mothers would pick up the pedal to stop toddlers sitting on it.

      The other possibility was that the old lady knew exactly what she was doing and just reckoned that winding up the computer guy was a splendid bit of sport!

      1. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

        Re: Hey Gran!

        Yup.

        (squints ) "Not sure if senior moment or expert trolling."

        1. Peter2 Silver badge

          Re: Hey Gran!

          WIth regards to gas lighting being new to her, she said they were using (fuel burning?) lamps in the early part of her life and as she lived it then she's a primary source, rather than a secondary source like a textbook. (or me, passing on my recollections of what she said)

          Presumably like high speed broadband high population and affluant areas got gas lighting first and lower population areas in the rest of the country didn't get it installed until much later, or the alternatives were cheaper.

          I don't really know, and frankly don't really care too much. My point was simply that older generations are provably quite used to dealing with major change, and can easily accept a few more changes if taught decently and respectfully. You can learn new things from them, as well.

          I also hope that if i'm reasonable with the older generations today then when i'm ninety something then somebody born in a few decades time might be as patient with me.

  4. Potemkine! Silver badge

    If somebody does not understand...

    then the one who explains does not his/her job correctly.

    It's up the teacher to find the way to be understood, whatever his/her audience. A teacher unable to do that should think about a quick carrier change, it would be the best for his/her poor students.

    1. Justin Case

      Re: If somebody does not understand...

      >>....should think about a quick carrier change

      Like from FedEx to DPD?

      Just askin'

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: If somebody does not understand...

        It could be referring to a pigeon?

    2. Elmer Phud Silver badge

      Re: If somebody does not understand...

      Thus speaks someone who has NEVER experience the joys of training non-tech people (and managers in tech companies).

      Ah, if only life was so easy.

      1. sandman

        Re: If somebody does not understand...

        Oh God yes, I've been training/supporting people for more years than I care to remember and some of them seem to be utterly incapable of learning - well, anything new. At one company, I used to hold the chief executives hand and move and click the mouse for them when they were video-conferencing. Because they only did it once a month, they would forget how between sessions (no, the printed (large font and pictures) user guide on the desk next to them didn't help). Possibly they just liked me holding their hand of course. ;-)

        1. Dave 126 Silver badge

          Re: If somebody does not understand...

          Urgh! Transferring photos from a camera to a PC often involves so many unnecessary steps! Even 'Make device safe to remove' involves one more click than it should, and half the time, after a pause, decides not to work because a window is still open. I hate it.

          For many people, looking after photos is a primary reason for using a PC. Thank heavens many find phones are adequate for family snaps (and many phones are far better that the digital cameras many people were using a dozen years ago).

    3. joeldillon

      Re: If somebody does not understand...

      Alright, go teach a classroom of 5 year olds the general theory of relativity.

      Sometimes the subject/audience disconnect is too wide to be bridged. That's not the teacher's fault.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: If somebody does not understand...

        "Alright, go teach a classroom of 5 year olds the general theory of relativity."

        A professorial friend maintains that his sons grasped the Theory of Relativity at the age of 8 - far better than did his new undergraduate students.

        There was a story - possibly by Charles Dodgson (Lewis Carroll) - about an alien device suddenly appearing in a household (think wormhole). It looked like beads on wires - but if you moved a bead it would often go to an unexpected position. The learned father could not work it out - but the children happily played with it. Eventually the youngest child appeared to have mastered the predictions - and then he and the device suddenly disappeared.

        1. MarkB

          Re: If somebody does not understand... Children and relativity

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mimsy_Were_the_Borogoves

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: If somebody does not understand... Children and relativity

            "https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mimsy_Were_the_Borogoves"

            Thanks for that link. The Lewis Padgett story has the right plot line - and the right cues for my possible memory key of "Lewis Carroll". Unfortunately many of the details do not ring any bells - as if I originally read a much shorter form of the story 40 years ago. The sci-fi section of my bookcases was down-sized many years ago - so it is unlikely that I still have the appropriate anthology.

          2. BostonEddie

            Re: If somebody does not understand... Children and relativity

            Mimsy were the borogoves--a similar story but not that one. I'd bet it was by the same author who's name I'll remember as soon as I close.

        2. cynic 2
          Thumb Up

          Re: If somebody does not understand...

          Lewis Padgett : "Mimsy Were the Borogoves"

        3. KLane

          Re: If somebody does not understand...

          The story was "Mimsy were the Borogroves" by Lewis Padgett.

          From Wikipedia:

          Mimsy Were the Borogoves" is a science fiction short story by Lewis Padgett originally published in the February 1943 issue of Astounding Science Fiction Magazine.

          1. BostonEddie

            Re: If somebody does not understand...

            "Mimsy" isn't quite the same story, but it's close. Mimsy (and the Momsy raiths upgab) was about a baby upgraded by transdimentional aliens to an superntelligent baby who, being a baby and never disciplined, was a pain in the butt. Eventually Baby fools with a gizmo and is...I forget...either reduced to a true baby or vanishes completely. I remember it from Tales of Time and Space, my constant companion for the past 55 years.

      2. TechnicalBen Silver badge
        Headmaster

        Re: "Teach a class of 5 year olds general relativity"

        Easy! Trampoline and some tennis balls/foot balls etc.

        Next challenge?

      3. David Nash Silver badge

        Re: If somebody does not understand...

        "Sometimes the subject/audience disconnect is too wide to be bridged. That's not the teacher's fault."

        But not in this case. Teaching an adult human how to use certain technology they are unfamiliar with is not comparable to teaching a 5-year old relativity.

    4. wiggers

      Re: If somebody does not understand...

      I've taught and helped maybe a dozen 'silver surfers', but one lady defeated me. All she wanted to do was transfer photos from her camera to her computer and organise them. During the first session she seemed to be doing well, taking notes to remind herself. Got a call a couple of weeks later and she was struggling to find and open Windows Explorer. After two more teaching sessions I had to admit defeat. Her recall after only a few minutes was gone, even with her notes.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: If somebody does not understand...

        "All she wanted to do was transfer photos from her camera to her computer and organise them."

        SiL (B.Sc. physics from a good university although it was some time ago) rung up because the computer wasn't opening the mini-disc. I assumed it was one of those small CDs although I haven't seen one for years; I didn't think it was one of those Sony jobs. Went over there and discovered - the mini-disk was the SD card from the camera. (Explanation of problem - some application installed by BiL - allegedly - had taken control of the card reader but wasn't popping anything up when the card was inserted.)

      2. Tim Seventh

        Re: If somebody does not understand...

        "After two more teaching sessions I had to admit defeat."

        I've done something similar, teaching someone how to share a message. The person would be able to do it for the moment with no problem. Then the next week, the same person would ask the same question. And then again, and again. Until around the fifty or Sixth times, I gave up saying don't ask me again.

        It was a real life while loop. I had to break it before I become insane.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: If somebody does not understand...

        It's all funny until you remember that these old farts are still allowed to VOTE, however senile they become.

        1. olderfart

          Re: If somebody does not understand...

          The big problems are intolerance and lack of imagination on the part of the instructor. Since I first used a computer (1958 - I think; it was an English Electric Deuce - derived from a design by Alan Turing) - I have on occasion had to try to teach younger people how to use a slide rule in case their electronics stuff failed to operate. Great problems - until I realised that they had no idea what logarithms were!.

          Apart from my family, I associate mainly with farts - some even older than me. Very few of them could not be trusted to vote wisely. A lot of them a very computer literate.

          1. Muscleguy Silver badge

            Re: If somebody does not understand...

            Ah slide rules. I have my father's slide rules, with instruction book. He could use an electric calculator, kept one in his home desk but as a working mechanical engineer what was in his breast pocket was a slide rule, not a calculator. For one thing back then calculators didn't do logs.

            Back at school in NZ we had little orange bound books of log tables, essential things and we had them for exams too, which could be useful as they contained a table of the elements with numbers on it and a number of the basic physics equations.

            I have not used same for some years, being in fairly long use of electronic calculators with log and natural log functions. But I do not doubt my ability to remember. The labels of bags of donated bloods are still hand written. Even if they also have barcodes. In a disaster situation there may be no electricity for the barcode reader and the label may have to be readable by candle light.

            The day we forget such things were are in trouble. If the electrickery ever died we would need to break the slide rules out of the museums and people's attics and use them again.

            I was reminded of the problem with the gum tree blew over in the front garden and broke the cable feed. This took out the phones as well as the internet and tv. We had gone paperless so finding a telephone number for Virgin proved temporarily problematic. Obviously this was before smartphones with mobile data.

            1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

              Re: If somebody does not understand...

              "Back at school in NZ we had little orange bound books of log tables"

              That takes us back full circles (and to old jokes about snake breeding). Babbage's inspiration was the need to improve the calculation of tables because there were too many errors in those of his day.

              "The labels of bags of donated bloods are still hand written... the label may have to be readable by candle light."

              It depends on the hand. Mine might not be safe in any light. I'd have thought a printed label would have been better.

              1. Alan Brown Silver badge

                Re: If somebody does not understand...

                "Babbage's inspiration was the need to improve the calculation of tables because there were too many errors in those of his day."

                The orange ones of the 1980s had a significant number of errors too - but they were canonical for exam purposes.

  5. David Gosnell

    Old as the hills

    Isn't the mouse thing as old as the hills? I guess it's time for a new generation to appreciate.

    1. DuchessofDukeStreet

      Re: Old as the hills

      But as so many modern devices now don't use a mouse, but have touchscreen controls instead, it might well be the next generation are laughing at us trying to roll some new physical device around the desk/table.

      Or maybe granny was just so far ahead of the technological curve she thought it was a touchscreen already...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Old as the hills

        "[...] the next generation are laughing at us trying to roll some new physical device around the desk/table."

        Apparently toddlers who have learned to use a touch-screen tablet then wonder why pictures in paper books and magazines don't respond in the same way.

        1. Cursorkeys

          Re: Old as the hills

          "Apparently toddlers who have learned to use a touch-screen tablet then wonder why pictures in paper books and magazines don't respond in the same way."

          I've tried to pinch-zoom a book before, been confused for a split-second, and then had to sheepishly go and find my glasses.

          1. SonofRojBlake

            Re: Old as the hills

            Thank Bod I'm not the only one...

        2. wolfetone Silver badge

          Re: Old as the hills

          "Apparently toddlers who have learned to use a touch-screen tablet then wonder why pictures in paper books and magazines don't respond in the same way."

          Isn't that a bit sad? Toddlers are being introduced to Peppa Pia via a tablet first rather than Spot the Dog in a book?

          1. Dave 126 Silver badge

            Re: Old as the hills

            > I've tried to pinch-zoom a book before, been confused for a split-second, and then had to sheepishly go and find my glasses.

            I once approached a busy road on foot, and had a sensation of wanting to press Pause on a remote controller, as one would to pause a video. Weird. Haven't had it before or since, but feel that creativity comes from messing around and trying things in new contexts.

            1. MJI Silver badge

              Re: Old as the hills

              Playing video games can have same effect.

              I once thought I saw some game enemies and took a couple of seconds to realise they were an optical illusion.

              No it was not cosplayers.

            2. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

              Re: Old as the hills

              > I've tried to pinch-zoom a book before, been confused for a split-second, and then had to sheepishly go and find my glasses.

              I was trying to click and drag in a youtube video to rotate the object being shown - I couldn't understand why the movement was stopping and starting but moving the wrong way.

            3. Muscleguy Silver badge

              Re: Old as the hills

              We have traffic pause buttons but you have to be at a light controlled crossing to be able to activate one.

          2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

            Re: Old as the hills

            "Isn't that a bit sad?"

            Can't upvote you enough for that one. It makes you wonder how many books the entire household owns.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Old as the hills

              "It makes you wonder how many books the entire household owns."

              In the 1950s many UK households had very few books. What we had were public libraries with a stock that wasn't just the latest popular novels. The web is just a big library - even though my senses prefer a paper book version for some subjects.

              At age 10 many of my pals would spend a year not finishing the class set book - I knocked it off in a couple of days.

              A decade ago a neighbour complained that her son wasn't doing very well at school - scoring straight fails in every subject at 16. His spelling was atrocious - mixed upper and lower case letters. I could never get him to understand how to spell "tomorrow" in text messages - every time it was different. Even explaining it as a short form of "to the morrow (morning)" didn't help him.

              It was a surprise to me when we surfed the web - to find that he could often spot what we were looking for in the text on a page before I did.

              In the 1970s South Africa didn't have a TV service. A colleague took his family to Europe for a three month holiday. The kids soaked up the UK children's TV programmes - and the parents were astonished at how their educational level moved forward in leaps and bounds.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Old as the hills

                His spelling was atrocious - mixed upper and lower case letters ..It was a surprise to me when we surfed the web - to find that he could often spot what we were looking for in the text on a page before I did.

                Isn't that a fairly classic symptom of dyslexia?

                1. kain preacher Silver badge

                  Re: Old as the hills

                  That's the first thing I thought .It's never to late to get treatment .

              2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

                Re: Old as the hills

                "In the 1950s many UK households had very few books. What we had were public libraries with a stock that wasn't just the latest popular novels."

                I know, I was there. And now that local library is shut part of the time and depends on volunteers to keep it running.

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Old as the hills

              It makes you wonder how many books the entire household owns.

              My mum-in-law was a primary/infants school teacher (now retired). One day she brought a book in to show the class something and was rather saddened to hear one small girl excitedly say "Mrs ..., we have a book at home too".

        3. LeedsMonkey

          Re: Old as the hills

          Most parents with toddlers these days also have lots of marks on the TV as their kids just think it's a big iPad.

          1. 's water music Silver badge

            Re: Old as the hills

            Most parents with toddlers these days also have lots of marks on the TV as their kids just think it's a big iPad.

            Correlation /= causation, my kids are just old enough to have missed out on ubiquitous touchscreen. Toddlers are tactile and sticky

          2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge
            Coat

            Re: Old as the hills

            "Most parents with toddlers these days also have lots of marks on the TV as their kids just think it's a big iPad."

            Makes a change from Tippex.

            OK, just going.

        4. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Old as the hills

          "Apparently toddlers who have learned to use a touch-screen tablet..."

          My 3-year-old frequently sees a picture on Mommy's computer screen and asks her to "play" it. He thinks all computer images are paused videos.

          He'll learn. I fully expect him to be programming by middle school. (I was. BASIC and TI calculators, but still.)

        5. Updraft102 Silver badge

          Re: Old as the hills

          Then there was the anecdote about the person asking why the animated GIF they had printed on their lovely inkjet printer wasn't moving...

        6. Alan Brown Silver badge

          Re: Old as the hills

          "Apparently toddlers who have learned to use a touch-screen tablet then wonder why pictures in paper books and magazines don't respond in the same way."

          Not just toddlers. I taught my cat a number of games on a tablet (mostly catching mice, surprise surprise) and now she clearly believes that images on paper should react the same way when tapped.

    2. Elmer Phud Silver badge

      Re: Old as the hills

      Mouse?

      They used to be free with devices.

  6. Herby Silver badge
    Happy

    You forgot...

    The cup holder on the big box.

  7. GlenP Silver badge
    Facepalm

    First one this morning, "My laptop isn't coming on!" User has laptop plugged into external monitor.

    My reply, "The laptop is on, try turning the monitor on as well!"

    It's gonna be one of those days.

    1. Blotto Bronze badge

      Re first thing this morning

      My Misses,

      Her: it doesn’t work

      Me: what doesn’t work

      Her: It won’t send

      Me: what won’t send

      Her: this, this won’t send

      Me ramming corn flakes down my throat as I’m already late.: what is it your trying to do?

      Her: submit a review

      Me: ok what is you want me to do about it?

      Her: make it work

      Me copied review into clipboard: com3 out of the review, go back in and paste the text in again, submit should work then,

      Her:................. ( I’m still awaiting a response over half hour later)

      The sad thing is that’s probably the most sense I’ll get from a support call all day.

  8. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge

    My mother once called me up to ask how to format a CD-R.

    The logic was there. If you've just transitioned from floppy discs, how would you know?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "My mother once called me up to ask how to format a CD-R"

      When creating a Windows back up "System Image" on a write-once DVD you are prompted to confirm that the media will be formatted first.

      IIRC UDF format on CD-R media for incremental "rewrite" updates required a formatting phase the first time the CD was used.

    2. BlueTemplar

      Actually, CD-R's *can* be used as floppies :

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Packet_writing

      (And IIRC you need to set up ("format") the Universal Disk Format's Virtual Allocation Table before you can use the CD/DVD-R as a virtual disk.)

      EDIT : Damn, ninjaed !

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        More subtly, my dad was constantly asking me how to close programs on his Android phone - twenty years of using PCs had taught him that not actively closing things would result in pig slow performance.

        Similarly, in Spotify he would keep asking "It's now paused, yeah, but how do I *stop* it?"

        Both of his learnt habits stemmed from when users were expected to compensate for imperfect technology. When the technology improved - OS memory management, app state saved to non-volatile fast storage, whatever - it confused him.

        1. TechnicalBen Silver badge
          Terminator

          In defence of your Dad...

          I hat ambiguous programming (GUI?) and often removal of features. Such as "suspend" and not really *ever* shutting down. No, sometime me as a user wish to *shut it down*! ;)

        2. tiggity Silver badge

          Given how much battery grief some badly behaved background android processes cause I think wanting to guarantee stopped, not just suspended.is a perfectly sensible approach.

        3. David Nash Silver badge

          Pause

          I occasionally get the same feeling re. Pausing as opposed to Stopping. Comes from an imperfect analogy with mechanical technology!

        4. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          "More subtly, my dad was constantly asking me how to close programs on his Android phone"

          It's called dumbing down. Not your dad; programming.

        5. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

          More subtly, my dad was constantly asking me how to close programs on his Android phone

          We are moving into the regime of asking why we are loading and saving data when the server has Gb of ram and is always on.

  9. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge

    Oh, well, my wife once came home upset that the sysadmin at work wouldn't let her write her password on a post-it and stick it on the screen. She got quite peeved with me for wholeheartedly agreeing with the sysadmin.

    1. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge
      Trollface

      So... no rumpypumpy for you then?

    2. Elmer Phud Silver badge

      Password standards

      Then you need to need to teach her that passwords are, indeed, kept on a Post-It BUT underneath the keyboard!

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Password standards

        Where I work, they have an official "password reminder form". it's a small pink slip on which you write your username and password, so you can keep it in an unlocked drawer next to your PC. You're not allowed to leave it on your desk, however, as that's a security risk!

        I work in a political establishment.

        No questions, please.

      2. Aladdin Sane Silver badge

        Re: underneath the keyboard

        Thanks for giving away my password hiding spot you utter git.

        1. Stoneshop Silver badge
          Facepalm

          Re: underneath the keyboard

          Swap the password Post-It with your neighbour's.

          1. Dave 126 Silver badge

            Re: underneath the keyboard

            Set up the system to sound an alarm when the password written on the Post It is entered - a clear sign an unauthorised person is trying to gain access. Your real password will of course be Post It. Next month your password is Post It On Monitor, then Post It In Drawer, then Post It On Colleague's Back With Kick Me Written On It

            1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

              Re: underneath the keyboard

              Set up the system to sound an alarm when the password written on the Post It is entered

              Moscow Rules

    3. meadowlark

      I remember a friend years ago who wouldn't get around to using the computer that had been installed on his desk like everyone else's. Despite his manager ranting at him to take the company's in house training programme, he just ignored him and quite a thick layer of dust built up on it over the months.

      Eventually, colleagues got used to telling him that "there was a message on his screen for him." If he had been out of the office on business for a couple of days, his computer would be plastered with yellow notelets where people had stuck them on !

      Trevor.

  10. FlamingDeath Bronze badge

    You know you're dealing with a special kind of person who raises a support ticket with you about one issue, and when they attempt to throw all of their other issues that aren't even related to the initial issue, into the ticket, and you tell them to create a new ticket about the separate issue, and they say "How do I create another ticket?"

    Or the person who just gives such detailed descriptions, such as "it doesn't work" and "I got an error"

    This is the calibre of communicators this world has to offer, no wonder we get trump

    FUCK!!!

    1. Elmer Phud Silver badge

      And people wonder why GP's want to top themselves when they hear:

      "yes, but what I really came for was . . "

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        I don't have housemaid's knee!

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      " "I got an error""

      Reminds me of the early days of PCs. The program knew what it had found wrong - but left you to try and guess.

      Mind you - some Windows Help on errors merely repeats the failure message with the words in a different order.

      "B.C." Dictionary:

      "Recursion" - see "recursion"

      1. Rabbit80

        @AC

        Modern PC's do that pretty often as well.. my favourite being an upgrade from W8.1 to W10.. the error message was simply "An error occurred" with no way of diagnosing what went wrong, why it went wrong, how to fix it and with nothing useful recorded in logs or eventviewer. I gave up in the end and formatted the machine.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          I'm currently "using" (for a variant of using that requires swearing & excess caffeine) some code analysis software that is failing an upload with "Un unexpected error occurred" (they have expected ones?) and whose logfile contains vast quanities of java stacktrace headed by "Error parsing analysis file". Well, d'oh...

        2. Ivan Headache

          I (almost) remember an error message I used to get on a mac some 10-15 years or so back. It went something like "The applicaton has stopped because something deep and unexplained has occurred."

          1. Duffy Moon

            "I (almost) remember an error message I used to get on a mac some 10-15 years or so back. It went something like "The applicaton has stopped because something deep and unexplained has occurred.""

            Perhaps the guru needed more time to meditate on it.

            1. Spanners Silver badge
              Go

              @Duffy Moon

              That reminds me of an error I saw long ago

              "If you see this message, it is really, REALLY bad!!

          2. 's water music Silver badge

            something deep and unexplained has occurred

            I like coding slightly jokey or whimsical error messages. I think of it as a form of empathy (hey I work in IT) with the troubles of the end user.

            One time in a script driven domain migration I used vegetable names instead of error codes. As usual, users wouldn't recall any detail of the errors when calling the helpdesk but they would quite often recall the veg name and it was easy for the helldesk ops to do a keyword search in the knowledgebase so double win for me on third-line. Can't recall what the cause of the most common error was but I do recall it was Brocolli

      2. albegadeep

        From the glossary in the book Science Made Stupid:

        Circular logic: See logic, circular.

        Logic, circular: See circular logic.

        As for cryptic error messages, try HP Laserjet's "PC LOAD LETTER" (it's out of letter-size paper) or SAP's "Local error from FTP subsystem" (local directory to copy file to, set by default in the program, doesn't exist).

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          "PC LOAD LETTER" (it's out of letterA4-size paper)

          That's when it gets really annoying.

          1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

            PC LOAD LETTER

            The "LOAD LETTER" bit I understand, you sent a US formatted document and the printer only has A4

            But why the PC? Shouldn't it say please or at least "PLS" ?

            1. albegadeep

              Re: PC LOAD LETTER

              "PC" = paper cassette, in this case. Being in the US, we don't use A4 paper, only letter and legal. (Usually.) It'd say PC LOAD then the paper size required - LETTER, LEGAL, A4, etc. Apparently got users confused - "I wasn't printing a letter from my PC, I was printing a spreadsheet!"

              1. tfewster Silver badge
                Joke

                Re: PC LOAD LETTER

                PC LOAD LETTER

                "I understand 'Load Letter', but I'm using a Mac!"

              2. Alan Brown Silver badge

                Re: PC LOAD LETTER

                " Being in the US, we don't use A4 paper, only letter and legal."

                However because postscript and PDF standards were written in the USA, the default assumption is that "If Language = english, paper size = US Letter, else paper size = A4"

                It's not just an assumption, it's hard coded into every single document created, despite 3/4 of the english-speaking world not using US Letter

    3. Alan Brown Silver badge

      > when they attempt to throw all of their other issues that aren't even related to the initial issue, into the ticket, and you tell them to create a new ticket about the separate issue, and they say "How do I create another ticket?"

      Worse, if you split off additional tickets for the unrelated issues, they refuse to use them.

    4. JPeasmould

      unhelpful descriptions

      Reminds me of checking the studio fault book in the morning to find "sounds funny on the right hand side" with the desk in mid 72ch mix connected to two 24tr analogue machines and one 32 digital (tape) machine and every patchcord in use on the audio patchbay and two additional racks of outboard plugged in.

      I'm just glad the buggers weren't mixing in quad. (They were also using the Cadac in studio 2 to submix the drums and feeding back a stero pair to the SSL).

      It was a little frustrating. It turned out to be a duff patchcord on a plate return.

      And all for a Slade album. (Thank you Roy Thomas Baker)

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "A panorama of frustrated grannies were each vying for my exclusive help and attention, all claiming that their computer must have a problem."

    That is normal behaviour in areas where there is a high ratio of old women to men of a similar age. They want younger male attention - if possible. I saw this phenomenon when visiting an elderly neighbour in an old people's home twenty years ago. In the communal areas there was always a competitive atmosphere for the attention of any visiting adult male.

    A friend categorised the ways such attention seeking tactics were apparently innocently deployed. He called it "senile cunning".

  12. Anonymous Coward Silver badge
    Facepalm

    Welcome to the day-to-day world of the IT helldesk.

    We all have to deal with users like this.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The best calls are when users log an emergency ticket asking to be called back immediately and when you do, they are either too busy to talk to you or have finished their shift and left...

    1. Alan Brown Silver badge

      I've done that (the emergency ticket) - and found that for something filed at 8am, the callback happened at 6pm.

  14. Tigra 07 Silver badge
    Facepalm

    My Dad still thinks you speak into a computer mouse to use them..."Computer on"..."Computer On!"..."COMPUTER ON!"..."This thing is broken"...

    Even his 60+ year old mother is able to use smartphones, tablets, whatsapp, etc...

    1. WonkoTheSane
      Joke

      Your father is the late James "Scotty" Doohan?

      1. Tigra 07 Silver badge

        No, he's just technologically inept. Trying to teach him to use the new toaster was a fun experience. Turns out after shouting at it for a few minutes it wasn't even plugged in. The plug had fell down the back of the cupboard and he assumed the blender's plug was the toaster's/

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          "The plug had fell down the back of the cupboard and he assumed the blender's plug was the toaster's"

          We get through life with our brain applying continual learned assumptions for what appears to be a similar context.

          It is only when the conscious part of the brain takes over that we analyse exactly what we are seeing/hearing. Even then it often wrong because it is what we "think" we are seeing/hearing - rather than what is actually there.

          The golden rule of trouble-shooting.

          "Don't believe what anyone else says they have seen. Only believe half of what you think you have seen yourself"

          1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

            "Only believe half of what you think you have seen yourself"

            It's working out which half that makes it hard.

        2. Alan Brown Silver badge

          "The plug had fell down the back of the cupboard and he assumed the blender's plug was the toaster's/"

          My wife was so bad for this that I labelled the plugs.

          1. albegadeep

            "My wife was so bad for this that I labelled the plugs."

            I routinely do this, just for me, so I don't have to trace down what plug is what. Especially for the computer desk - desktop, screen, speakers, router, server, printer... you think you unplugged the printer but it was the server instead... Masking tape and a sharpie makes quick work of that problem.

            My band saw has an attached light - the light's plug is labeled. Every outlet in the garage is labeled with what circuit it's on. Kitchen outlets, which are on 2 different GFCIs, are labeled with which GFCI they're on.

  15. Paul Woodhouse

    Story from a friend who was teaching the blue rinse brigade at evening classes at a local college, he was teaching them how to have a free email account, and one of them typed

    www.hotmale.com into the address bar... hilarity ensued..

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "www.hotmale.com into the address bar... hilarity ensued.."

      There used to be a search engine called "hotbot". The firewall team were used to people excusing themselves for an adjacent key mistype of the "hotboy" url.

      1. MJI Silver badge

        Rude domains

        Similar happened with Alta Vista.

        One was altvista other was alta-vista

        One was search engine, other was porn site.

        Which was which?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Rude domains

          Was it not the case that it was

          altavista.com that was the smut

          altavista.digital.com was the search engine (which at the time was a good search engine)

          Of course by the late 90s everyone was expecting brandname.com to be the URL, eventually they bought the URL.

        2. Uncle Slacky Silver badge
          Paris Hilton

          Re: Rude domains

          There was also whitehouse.com (porn) catching the unwary looking for whitehouse.gov.

          Of course nowadays I'd be wary of the content of the .gov site, given the reputation of its current occupant.

  16. OwenMc64

    Mouse-related + parent.

    My sister bought my 92 (at the time) Mum a new notebook + wireless mouse. My Mum gets the tech - she just uses it to play patience - but not always the differences from when she did this on a desktop + wired mouse.

    "My mouse is doing funny things....".

    Looking at the screen, it was indeed behaving oddly, so asked for the mouse, which felt funny in my hand - big clue: as she was holding it upside down. Years of using a wired mouse had gotten her used to using the 'tail' to orient it - now she had lost the reference point....

    I was sitting beside her when this happened - not sure how I'd've helped with this one over the phone!

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      A short bit of string and a dab of glue could help here!

      Actually, the most useful thing I've ever added to my phone isn't an app but a short length of bright orange ribbon. Why? Well, phones being black and slim could not be design better to hide in the gaps between sofa cushions, down the side of car seats. Heck, I once spent half an hour looking through the cab of my van before finding the phone in front of the instrument cluster.

      The orange ribbon makes the damned thing so much easier to spot.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "The orange ribbon makes the damned thing so much easier to spot."

        Small screwdrivers with a "mains indication" function tend to have a transparent body so you can see the neon bulb. This is prefect camouflage against any background - so I now wrap yellow insulation tape round most of the handle.

        Gardening knives are usually appropriated kitchen knives with black handles. As early TV makers discovered*** - the human eye tends to ignore small black areas. Again a liberal application of yellow tape makes them visible on the ground.

        ***AM video signals started off with peak amplitude as "white". This meant that interference from things like car ignition systems resulted in white noise dots. Changing to peak amplitude as "black" meant that the eye tended to ignore the dots.

      2. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        A short bit of string and a dab of glue could help here!

        We have a scanner that needs you to hold down a button on a remote handset while it's operating

        The 'improved model' has a wireless handset which was always getting lost

        The engineering solution was to attach it to the machine with a length of wire

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Back in the "good 'ol days"

    which were neither that good, nor that old...

    I do recall as a keen piece of advice "know your audience" when doing a presentation at the end of a course we had to do back to our boss.

    This was interesting, useful, and rather conflicting advice, as had I had this thought in advance the detail learned in the course would have been simplified into "boss language" and would not have actually covered any of the material we had spent a week learning about that the tutor wanted us to show off.

    In this case, based on the audience, a fair bit of "theory" may have been a better starting point.

  18. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    Maybe teacher training has improved since the days I endured its products but I've long believed that subjects are taught by people with an aptitude for the subject (OK, not when ICT gets foisted on them) and as a consequence they're unable to understand and compensate for the difficulties experienced by most of their pupils or even the basic lack of knowledge.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "[...] consequence they're unable to understand and compensate for the difficulties experienced by most of their pupils or even the basic lack of knowledge."

      The old saying: "An expert is someone who has made all the mistakes."

      There's a lot to be said for letting people learn through their mistakes.

      1. Anonymous Custard Silver badge
        Headmaster

        There's a lot to be said for letting people learn through their mistakes.

        Very true, but there's even more to be said for teaching them to learn from other people's as well...

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          "Very true, but there's even more to be said for teaching them to learn from other people's as well."

          It's a lot cheaper.

      2. Mark 85 Silver badge
        Mushroom

        There's a lot to be said for letting people learn through their mistakes.

        The exception to that is if you work in ordnance disposal.

  19. LeedsMonkey

    You see coampared to some of the numpties I've worked with, who are supposed to know what they are doing and are very quick to point out how good they are in meetings, I'd quite happily take a gig training a load of OAP's how to use the internet. I think it would be a breath of fresh air compared to a corporate gig. Yes it would be frustrating at times, but to see the look of joy on someones face when they discover something or finally are able to do something right, not to mention the banter that old people seem to have between themselves, would be much more satisfying than watching you boss get brownie points for your hard work.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      "the look of joy on someones face when they discover something"

      Back in the early days of the OU I was a tutor/counsellor for the Science Foundation course covering most points west of the Bann. One part of the chemistry section had a computer assisted learning element which involved me dragging a portable (so much for relativity) teletype and an acoustically coupled modem out to the tutorial centre.

      One of my students was a nurse tutor (much younger then than I am now but the OU in thise days worked on the basis that the students were a good bit older than the tutors). She was so nervous that she brought her teenage son along for moral support. In the course of the morning it just dawned on her that this was really straightforward and nothing to worry about at all. Yup, that was what it was all about.

  20. MJI Silver badge

    Bad enough for techies

    When you have trouble learning new things, or as I put it.

    "Why do I have to learn a new way of doing something, when the old way worked for 20 years?"

    I am trying to work out why latest work Android phone is so different to my previous work Android phone.

    Or that I gave up with Windows 7 mail client and stuck Thunderbird on for news group access as it was similiar to use to Outlook Express.

    My boss is thinking of getting us some advanced Excell training (the MS version of Lotus123) but I said I want basic training.

    He asked why?

    I said I just cannot get on with them, they confuse me and annoy me, they are just a pain.

    I have been in IT over 3 decades and cannot drive a spreadsheet. Everytime I had to deal with data I just wrote a program to do it.

    1. David Nash Silver badge

      Re: Bad enough for techies

      There does seem to be an inherent assumption that since Excel and co have been around for so long, everyone knows how to use them.

      Nope, basic training would still be a good idea, or a user manual (some chance!).

      1. Antron Argaiv Silver badge
        Flame

        Re: Bad enough for techies

        Life would be so much easier for all of us "experienced" users, if Microsoft would quit changing the UI with every new release.

        Take me back to the days of Excel with a simple menu, instead of the damned "ribbon"

        Apparently, UI design is not a required course for the millennial code jockeys.

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge
          Unhappy

          Re: Bad enough for techies

          "Apparently, UI design is not a required course for the millennial code jockeys."

          And UI redesign is.

  21. aliceklaar?
    Unhappy

    Old age + Experience != transferable skills

    One of my neighbors is an old dear in mid 60s. She said the Airmail from her new laptop would not work. Email to UK addresses was fine

    Airmail?

    You see, when she wrote a letter to people overseas she always attached those blue " ->- Airmail / par avion" stickers, so naturally when wanting to email overseas she would turn on the Airmail to make sure it got there faster.

    Airmail???

    Yes. That blue button with the big white airplane on it.

    oh.

    1. TechnicalBen Silver badge
      IT Angle

      Re: How do we survive?

      I am no expert at cooking, but I know not to put that "cooking oil" I found in Halfords with the nice picture of a Van on the packet into my cakes...

      How do some of us know how to read and experiment "safely*" and others completely fall apart? How can I figure out that not everything with the words/pictures of "oil" are the same, yet when someone sits in front of a computer, they expect it all to be the same?

      *Ok, I may have broken a ton of gadgets this way. But most of them were on the scrap heap before I took them apart! ;)

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: How do we survive?

        I am no expert at cooking, but I know not to put that "cooking oil" I found in Halfords with the nice picture of a Van on the packet into my cakes...

        I remember a Heinz employee telling me a story many years ago about selling baby food in some African countries. Puzzled why best-selling products just didn't sell in some places they started a more in-depth local investigation. It turned out that the women in those areas were illiterate, and went by the labels. Jars with pineapples on the label contained pineapple, likewise for beans. They weren't going to touch jars with pictures of babies on them...

        1. herman Silver badge

          Re: How do we survive?

          Baby pictures on cans... I take it that you haven’t seen an African Muti shop.

        2. small and stupid

          Re: How do we survive?

          Bullshit. Illiterate people cant afford tinned baby food.

    2. Roger Varley

      Re: Old age + Experience != transferable skills

      "an old dear in mid 60s"

      I have this overpowering urge to meet you, in order to explain a few things with a clue bat

      1. aliceklaar?
        Happy

        Re: Old age + Experience != transferable skills

        That's the kind of response that makes me wonder if them "Assisted Living Gated Communities" are to keeps the residents IN or keep the rest of us OUT.

        I'm based in the Netherlands at the moment so pack some lunch and FYI don't bring a bat to a CCW :)

      2. Antron Argaiv Silver badge
        Happy

        Re: Old age + Experience != transferable skills

        As an "old codger" in his mid sixties, I salute you, sir or madam, and would you mind passing that bat to me, when you are finished with it?

      3. kain preacher Silver badge

        Re: Old age + Experience != transferable skills

        60 is not old it's ancient .

        1. Ken Mitchell

          Re: Old age + Experience != transferable skills

          At age 67 here, I take some offense to that. And my father, at 90, is quite proficient using his computer.

    3. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Old age + Experience != transferable skills

      so naturally when wanting to email overseas she would turn on the Airmail

      And yet a multi $Bn global computerized telephone system still requires me to dial a '1' to tell it I'm calling the next city where the first 3 digits are different. It even plays me a recorded message telling me I have to dial a '1'

      1. albegadeep

        Re: Old age + Experience != transferable skills

        " telephone system still requires me to dial a '1' to tell it I'm calling the next city"

        Even more confusing - where I live, some numbers in my area code are "local" and some are "long distance". "Long distance" numbers require 1+[area code], while "local" ones won't allow it - same area code!.

      2. Charles 9 Silver badge

        Re: Old age + Experience != transferable skills

        "And yet a multi $Bn global computerized telephone system still requires me to dial a '1' to tell it I'm calling the next city where the first 3 digits are different. It even plays me a recorded message telling me I have to dial a '1'"

        Because there still needs to be a way for the telephone system to know when to take it or to pass it upstream. That's why the "1", and that's why the confusion when a local exchange like New York City is forced into 10-digit local dialing on account of excessive subscribers. They won't let you dial a 1 because doing that triggers the exchange passing, which in turn triggers long-distance rates (which depending on your phone plan are by-the-minute).

        We've been trying to expand the phone system bit by bit, but we're running out of room. If you want to simplify the phone system, you're going to need a top-down restructuring of the whole works, and that's bad for people who have enough trouble maintaining their phone memories and contacts. I wouldn't mind at least some reworking to better establish telephone identities and deal with the growing problem of scam callers with fake IDs.

        PS. The reason cell phone companies don't require this is because their exchanges are 10-digit by default and are basically always at least one level above local exchanges, so they're always going down into local exchanges when calling landlines.

  22. DJO Silver badge

    Not always the student

    Last time I was "between jobs" I was sent on a compulsory computer course and spent the whole time correcting the coursework.

  23. ThaumaTechnician

    “...to setup and operate a community cyber cafés.”

    Aside from the missing "of" - as in "a community of cyber cafés", "setup" is not a verb.

    Think it is? Conjugate it in the past tense, eh.

    1. David Nash Silver badge

      Re: “...to setup and operate a community cyber cafés.”

      "setup" is already past tense!

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: “...to setup and operate a community cyber cafés.”

      "setup" is not a verb.

      Think it is? Conjugate it in the past tense, eh.

      Can we agree that at least one of the numerous definitions of "set" is a verb? Good. Now conjugate it in the past tense.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: “...to setup and operate a community cyber cafés.”

        Oh, really!

        'To set' is a verb.

        'To set up" (or down, aside) uses a verb (verbal expression).

        One would not write 'to setaside' or 'to setdown'

        A 'set-up' is a noun (these days 'setup' appears acceptable, but not here! Good advice is to NEVER write setup, only set up or set-up, reducing chances of erroneous use.)

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: “...to setup and operate a community cyber cafés.”

          "Oh, really!"

          Are you new here?

    3. Updraft102 Silver badge

      Re: “...to setup and operate a community cyber cafés.”

      "Aside from the missing "of" - as in "a community of cyber cafés", "setup" is not a verb"

      That's one of my pet peeves. You set up your setup. I back up my data, and the result is that I have a backup. You round up cattle during a roundup.

  24. ColinGrey2

    Aged Parent

    Working with an aged parent on the end of a phone was sometimes a challenge.

    (This was 10 years ago)

    "Double Click" was Click - (silent count to 3) Click

    He used to keep a book of his video tapes - so tape 3 was "gone with the wind". This worked well. Why change a winning system?

    When he used a spread sheet, he filed the data under Spreadsheet1, then wrote in his little book Spreadsheet1 was Golf Society accounts.

    It took him several months to get him trained to save files with a relevant name.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Aged Parent

      That sounds strangely like most of the programming methods I've heard of! ;)

    2. Rattus Rattus

      Re: Aged Parent

      So he already understands lookup tables!

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    There's a certain amount of truth on both sides of the comments.

    My Grandmother, who died several years ago, has an older sister, who is still alive today at the age of 97. She loves to use Facebook to keep in contact with all her grandchildren and likes to produce art on her tablet pc.

    Gran, however was a completely different person. She could not grasp the simplest of things, operating a TV remote was a nightmare and teaching her to use a VCR took years (not kidding). She is the only person I ever knew who could set fire to a microwave with a piece of cake. I would never have dreamt of attempting to teach her to use even a mobile phone let alone a computer. She could never figure out the rear window demister on her car. "That things useless, it just makes stripes on the window". When Grandad died she had no idea how to polish her own shoes.

    Grandad I taught to use a PC in his 70's when he retired. This was pre-internet but he took to it really easily.

    Some people can grasp things, some can't. It's more a case in wanting to learn than intelligence. Age has nothing to do with it.

  26. Cynic_999 Silver badge

    Stupid ignorant people ...

    I agree that it is incredibly stupid to actually put the MOUSE on the SCREEN in order to move to the top left corner. Ridiculous. Who would do something so stupid?

    I recently bought a tablet computer. Looks great but the stylus is broken. No matter where I move the stylus on my desk, nothing happens ...

  27. Daz555

    Interestingly the millenials we have just hired into my area don't use a mouse at all - preferring instead to use the trackpad on the laptop because of all the multitouch features they have these days - grown up with smartphones so it makes sense I suppose.

    1. Updraft102 Silver badge

      "Interestingly the millenials we have just hired into my area don't use a mouse at all - preferring instead to use the trackpad on the laptop because of all the multitouch features they have these days "

      Ew. An old-style touchpad (like the one this laptop I am using now has; Vista-era) is usable enough in a pinch, but a real mouse is just an order of magnitude better. Those new clickpads, though... man, those are just garbage. I just bought a new laptop a month or so ago, and it's my first prolonged exposure to one of these things.

      Even though every touchpad I have ever used (all of them Synaptics, as is the clickpad in my new laptop) has tap to click enabled by default, it drives me nuts. It's one of the first things I do whenever I set up a new OS... turn off that infernal tap to click. I end up accidentally throwing click events around to random onscreen elements with frustrating regularity.

      Fortunately, all my older laptops have had actual discrete buttons that work quite nicely, but this new thing... the actual bit that's supposed to be a button is active as part of the touchpad. When I try to rest my thumb on the left button for easy clicking as I've always done on touchpads, it wants to register that as the first touch in a multitouch gesture. Even if I leave my thumb slightly over the touchpad and only make contact with it when I want to click, it ends up moving the pointer if the thumb does not land solidly and without any lateral movement on the click zone.

      I end up turning off multitouch completely and reverting to old touchpad functions, like edge scrolling. I like things like the two finger to zoom and such, but it gets in the way of just using the thing. It's a lot more work than it ought to be.

      I can understand wanting to keep using the kinds of things one is used to, but ergonomically, the mouse is faster than and superior to the touchpad or the abomination called the clickpad. It would only take a short time for a habitual touch user to become acclimated and recognize that there's still reasons for a mouse to exist even now. Touchpads, like touchscreens, are kludges designed to make pointing more portable, and they work well in that capacity. The mouse is the only compromise-free pointing device. If you have a desk, by all means, don't limit yourself to necessary evils that aren't necessary.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        "The mouse is the only compromise-free pointing device."

        There's also the accuracy argument. Touch screens and touch pads sometimes have to use software to "guess" what you are touching or tapping when items are close together. They don't always guess right, especially in these days of "flat" GUIs where clickable objects are not necessarily obvious to the user.

        1. J.G.Harston Silver badge

          Plus, your finger is not transparent, so you can't actually see what you've told the tablet to point to until the wrong thing activates. When I got a tablet I immediately tried using it with a stylus, as that was the complete natural thing to do - tiny point that only obscures a couple of pixels so you can see what you;re doing. I assumed the bloody thing was broken until somebody told me that this modern crap only responds to fingers, not stylii. Look, I gave up finger painting when I was eight years old.

  28. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    Can I just leave this thought with you?

    Many pensioners will have spent part of their working lives using various terminal-based applications during their working lives*. They would be able to run rings round mouse jockeys doing such work because not taking a hand off the keyboard to wiggle a mouse is a big productivity gain**. They had various key operations to control the terminal instead of the mouse.

    They can't bring that experience to bear on working on a GUI because although there may be keyboard shortcuts the computer can't adapt to using the key control sets they're used to.

    Who's being dumb here?

    * For my part, I spent part of my working life writing some of those applications.

    ** It might gain them RSI but that's a different issue.

    1. Andy A
      Boffin

      Re: Can I just leave this thought with you?

      I recently introduced a few groups of long-term Windows users to the concepts of Control-X, Control-C and Control-V. Pointing out the handy adjacent positions on the keyboard helped get the message across.

      All grasped the concepts with what can only be described as glee as they saw how many of their tasks would be quicker and easier.

      Now all I have to do is get them using Tab to move from one field to the next in dialog boxes. I reckon that getting them to log in without touching the mouse should be deemed a success.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Can I just leave this thought with you?

        That continually amazes me. So few users have even the slightest clue of keyboard commands, even those who have been using computers from birth, right through school and into the world of work. What are the teachers doing? I can only see it getting worse as touch becomes more ubiquitous.

        Was it Clarke or Asimov who said the word "ship" would likely mean a spaceship by default for most of human history apart from the early stages when it means a ship on water? I wonder if the mouse and keyboard will end up the the same way, ie an ancient and short lived early history anomaly when are computers are all voice controlled for the rest of time, at least from a users point of view.

      2. keithpeter
        Windows

        Re: Can I just leave this thought with you?

        @Andy A

        Ctrl-Z and Ctrl-Y next, then Ctrl-F [keyword] in a window displaying a long document?

      3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Can I just leave this thought with you?

        "I recently introduced a few groups of long-term Windows users to the concepts of Control-X, Control-C and Control-V."

        The thing is, that's just one set of controls. Users from other applications, particularly terminal based ones, will have had entirely different sets hardwired to their fingers. Where are the capabilities for loading these as alternatives so as to assist these users?

        It's a matter of what you're used to. Having a Linux box here I have to flip between using that command character set on GUIs and a completely different set if I flip up a terminal session and use vi. Users who spent their working lives on some other terminal based application will have a different set of "instinctive" responses. It's not that any of these are wrong, it's just that they're different, and very likely older, than what Windows uses.

      4. peter_dtm

        Re: Can I just leave this thought with you?

        @ Andy A

        But the modern incompetent web page slingers-together (who claim to be web page designers) have never bothered themselves to set up tabs in the page, so when you tab you go to some pseudo random field, NEVER the next logical field.

        Of course, this is just one of the many indicators of their total inability to design anything, or their testers to comprehend any one else’s expectations

  29. Paul

    I've heard this before, alongside coffee cup holders and tippex on the screen.

  30. Oh Homer
    Trollface

    Grannies will be grannies

    Disclaimer: I have a background in elderly care.

    I suspect that the "mouse pedal" incident was mostly a wind-up. Roving gangs of grannies can smell fear, and will exploit it for their own amusement. That's not to say they actually had a clue what they were doing with the computers, but I'm sure they were hamming it up more than a little.

    Having said that, I still remember the incident where I tried to talk my own mother, over the phone, through the process of booting up my PC and getting some information I needed off it. Long story short, after much hair-pulling it turned out that she was waving the mouse in the air, which accounted for why the pointer wasn't actually moving. Ultimately I was more annoyed that it took me so long to figure that out.

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Grannies will be grannies

      "...she was waving the mouse in the air, which accounted for why the pointer wasn't actually moving. Ultimately I was more annoyed that it took me so long to figure that out."

      I had similar on the phone with an older relative. She'd managed to minimise the XP taskbar to only a pixel or two in height along the bottom of the screen. I'd been through all the ways to find out if she'd set it to auto-hide or moved to the top or sides before finally, after much hair pulling, she mentioned that the pointer changed to a double-headed arrow when right at the bottom of the screen and the light bulb flashed!

    2. small and stupid

      Re: Grannies will be grannies

      Roving gangs of grannies can smell fear, and will exploit it for their own amusement.

      Early contender for comment of the year. Jolly well done.

  31. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    It isn't just age and it isn't just computers which puzzle neophytes.

    Every year the botany course had a few weeks on palaeoecology. Strictly speaking I shouldn't have been helping on an undergrad course but it was so specialised that only SWMBO from the regular demonstrating team had the relevant background.

    It must have been the first time the students had needed to use high resolution microscopy so they were shown how to set up the Kohler illumination to maximise resolution. But every time we were called over to a student's microscope to help identify a pollen grain we had to set it up properly before talking them through the identification and yet the students couldn't see how bad it was.

    Of course that generation of students is now in the age group in the article.or thereabouts.

  32. anthonyhegedus Silver badge

    I once had a customer who had had a Mac for years, and th time came for him to upgrade. He got a brand new Mac mini, and I got him a decent cordless mouse to go with it. I helped set it all up for him, copy over his old files etc and I noticed he was having trouble moving the mouse. I just put it down to it being slightly different.

    Anyway I went back to see him a week or so later, and he told me he loves his new system, and he’s finally got used to the mouse. I asked him what he meant by getting used to the mouse. He showed me. What had happened was that he used to use his old mouse upside down, with the lead pointing towards him rather than away from him. He’d been using it this way for so long that it had seemed perfectly normal to him to push the mouse to the left to move right, down to move up and so on. So when he had started to use the new mouse the right way round, it seemed backwards to him, and it took him a week to learn how to use it all over again!

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Life is full of tards

    Its not because they are old - computers have been around for decades - its because they are tards. My step-father is 84yo and has zero issues with using a Mac to write music and organise his life.

  34. BostonEddie

    Once upon a long ago time, about 1990 or so, the lab bought a new piece of test equipment, an ESD tester. This had a GUI that could vary an electrostatic discharge (voltage, number of spikes, duration of spikes, etc) at a pin of an IC. The GUI had a number of parameters that could be varied by moving a mouse onto the proper field. Remember that this was so long ago that probably none of us had ever tried to target a mouse with any precision; none of the techs/engineers could hit the correct button without at least five minutes of tries to refine coordination.

    Now, imagine you're a 70 year old with poor eyesight and coordination who's not quite sure what to do in the first place.

  35. Paul Hovnanian Silver badge

    Stepped on the mouse?

    Doesn't sound right. The throttle is the lever on the right side of the steering column. The spark advance is on the left.

  36. Marshalltown

    The old "sewing machine" control

    Working in one of the first ISPs in the San Joaquin valley in the California in the early '90s I took precisely the same kind of call. The lady had her mouse on the floor as a result of analogical reasoning. It looked vaguely like a cheap foot control for a sewing machine so she put it on the floor. It required a little questioning to determine precisely what the problem really was, but she hung up a happy customer. It was a surprise for me to find similar stories disposed of as "urban myth" within five years.

  37. cheb

    A little challenge to all those who are scoffing

    Go and find your mother's sewing machine. Set it up without with no outside assistance. Now sew two pieces of fabric together.

    Can't do it? Lusers.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: A little challenge to all those who are scoffing

      Can do. Have been using a Singer (and old one, mind you) unassisted since I was 9 or so, sewing up small projects as I needed. I'm at least passing familiar with different thread types and needles, I still possess enough ocular clarity to hand-thread the needle, and I DO know how to set up the bobbin.

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: A little challenge to all those who are scoffing

      "Go and find your mother's sewing machine."

      In my case that would have to be SWMBO's machine. More than my life's worth.

  38. Stuart Castle

    Around the beginning of 2000, we moved into a new building at work. To celebrate (and generate a little publicity in the local paper), my boss decided to operate a free Internet cafe for a few days. Well, I say "cafe" but we didn't have any catering facilities, so couldn't offer drinks or food.

    We invited kids from several local schools, and as the two technicians working in the building we had moved to, myself and a colleague ended up running the Internet cafe sessions. We basically spent our entire time trying to prevent the school kids from searching for porn.

  39. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It's all about motivation

    Obviously n=1 and all that, but I've found that getting older people to effectively use technology is mostly a matter of motivation. It is *amazing* the lengths my grandmother will go to to use technology if it allows her to 1) view and share photos of grandkids (hers, or anyone's really), or 2) snoop on the grandkids' personal lives. She managed to figure out how to download and sign up for Instagram on her iPad when my cousin stopped posting things to Facebook (because grandma was on there). She has no idea how to set the clock on her microwave, because she couldn't care less - it's all about priorities and motivation.

  40. J.G.Harston Silver badge

    But this is exactly the same as starting a driving lesson with: "Ok, set off and get up to 40" and omitting all the "this is the steering wheel, this is what it does, these are the pedals, this is what they do, the process of doing A+B+C+D is called "E",",etc.

  41. Ken Mitchell

    Mousy Foot Pedal

    I knew a woman who swapped out her mouse for a trackball, and then put it on the floor. She had fairly severe carpal tunnel syndrome, and it was easier for her to keep her hands on the keyboard, and use her foot to control the mouse/trackball.

    But since sewing machines have pedals to control the speed, it's sort of a natural mistake to make, to think that a computer's mouse might work the same way.

    1. H in The Hague Silver badge

      Re: Mousy Foot Pedal

      "I knew a woman who swapped out her mouse for a trackball, and then put it on the floor. She had fairly severe carpal tunnel syndrome"

      When I had something like that I figured it was the clicking rather than the pointing which was causing the pain. For years I used the normal mouse on my desk for pointing and two foot pedals for clicking. (Got two foot switches from the music shop and soldered them to the innards of a mouse.) Now using a RollerMouse and that's great.

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