The Joy of supporting non-technical relatives

Messages
97
Location
Schaumburg, IL
My mom is so non-technical that she can't plug in a USB plug because it only goes in one direction. I have to support her computer problem even though I live at the other end of the country. To get around her various issues, I use google remote desktop to access her computers, and teamviewer to access her phone and tablet. I also never buy any hardware i can't remote to. My sister lives nearby and while she is not technical, she can get by following instructions over the phone. With Corvid-19, my sister can no longer visit, because she works in the medical field. It's just too risky. Recently, mom had a bad slew of issues. * Her external hard drive started beeping loudly like a fire alarm, which I have never heard of (why would a hard drive even have speakers!). In any case, I google it and it said that the drive is basically dead. Her computer is down too, but this happens every couple of months when Windows 10 do their update and trash the computer, I get around this by restoring from backup and then disabling update. Eventually Microsoft fixes the issue and it goes away in a later update. * I have several backups There's one sitting on her desk, My sister has a copy, and there's an extra copy online. I send her a picture of the hard drive and she said she has never seen it. I have her take a picture of her desk and it was sitting next to her keyboard. The drive is even the same brand and model but she did not recognize it because the logo was facing the other way. * Unfortunately, the hard drive isn't even useful, The computer won't response to keyboard, so it must be dead. It's 10 years old, so it has served its duty with honor. I decided to setup her tablet so she can access the web instead, but the Teamviewer is no longer connecting. Turns out an security update has blocked the app (curse you Samsung Knox). I had to reinstall it, but she doesn't understand and is bad with description.. To get around, this, I had her take pictures of the screen, and tell her or circle items she should be clicking and send the picture back. This takes 4 hours. With Teamviewer back in place, I enabled her password manager she can access her Social security, banks etc * I had install the password manager because she kept calling me for the password to her bank accounts. For some reason if the password is more than complicated than 12345 or something, she can't seemed to type it in.. * The next day she calls in a panic because there was now a cartoon dinosaur on the screen and she doesn't know what to do. She manged to put the tablet into kid mode, which I did not realize the tablet had a kid mode. It took another hour to take it out of kid mode because we had to send pictures back and forth. Paul
 
Messages
1,770
Location
CA, USA
I also provide tech support for my parents. Sometimes I get called in for some real doozies. I try to take a different perspective on it. My dad last year has done very well with a bout of liver cancer (in remission after chemo) and had things not gone as well as they have, right now I'd probably be begging God for another chance to drive over & fix a minor computer problem. They are in a financial position where they travel a lot; they have everything they need, so the one thing I can do for them is give them a bit of my time when its convenient for me. So I choose to do that.
 
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4,970
Paul I am in the same boat with my elderly asian parents. They both love internet but supporting their devices so they can stay online (and have something to do while in retirement) is exhausting.
 
Messages
3,897
Location
Canada
All the elderly I communicate with (parents as well as GF's mother) are totally computer illiterate (with the exception of my dad who still only uses it to play solitaire). All never adapted to PC's during their emergence and luckily for me have not had the need to get past communication via land line. I've asked my dad why he won't consider a smart phone. He says "personally I think they sound terrible. You won't find me using one of those, no sir. My good-ol-fashioned land line phone will do me just fine" He tells me everyone always tells him he sounds very clear on his phone. They ask him "Archie, how do you sound so crisp and clear on your phone?" and he tells them "I'm using a land line! If you want to sound clear, take your cell phone and throw it in the trash!"
 
Messages
1,327
Location
Washington for now
Originally Posted by Reddy45
Paul I am in the same boat with my elderly asian parents. They both love internet but supporting their devices so they can stay online (and have something to do while in retirement) is exhausting.
yep. teaching my mom how to use an iphone and pad took 10 years off my life. i set up the whole network for her at her house . with all that have been going on and her staying home the internet is the only thing keeping her sane .
 
Messages
4,726
Location
Ca.
Mom and dad are a delightful nightmare to work with on tech. You know its coming when they are holding a device outstretched coming at you calling your name........ In my youth I worked at a high end video place and we sold a large tube tv to the guy that played Marcus Welby -I delivered and set it up - he couldn't figure out the remote, not the set up remote, the friendly one that looked like a pen with 2 rocker switches and an on/offbutton. UD
 
Messages
1,739
Location
California
I feel your pain... Somehow I became the tech expert in our family. My sister called for help with her printer and I immediately asked her to check all the wire connectors to be sure they are secure. She got frustrated with my question and asked "are you going to help me or not." I went over there and sure enough, the power cord was not plugged in. SMH
 

Paul_Siu

Thread starter
Messages
97
Location
Schaumburg, IL
There is no magic product that will solve this issue because everyone is different. For example, my sister gave my mom an ipad, but took it back when my mom kept calling about how to do use it. I had tried to teach her how to do stuff, but most of it never sticks. I am often surprised by what she does pick up. For example, she can't figure out how to text but is a heavy user of Whatsapp. Whatsapp is just texting any way, so why can she whatsapp but can't text. I think the only difference is that all of her siblings are on whatsapps so she's motivated to learn it. In that regards, I think that is a positive because it makes her happy to stay in touch. Now if she can stop whatsapping me constantly that would help too. The big problem is a lot of things are these days requires a computer, so that's no avoiding it. A lot of stuff requires you to fill out forms online. To keep things sane, I have adapted the following: * Restricted her device to just a few to restrict what I can support. She has a phone, a tablet, and a computer and that is all. * Installed Nova launcher on her phone and tablet and lock down the icons. Basically it's an equivalent of the easy mode. The screen only has a few item that she actually use and the phone screen looks just like her tablet screen. When she replaces her phone, it is replaced with the Nova Launch so that it looks the same to her. The screens are locked down because if you don't she will somehow managed to merge all of icons into one spot. * Installed a password manager because she keeps forgetting her password or use really easy to cracked ones. Access to PC and phone is done using a fingerprint reader. She has a PIN on the tablet because it doesn't have a reader. * Her accounts are further locked using 2nd factor authentication which goes to my authenticating device if that is possible. I then enable it only if it comes from one of the 3 devices. * Setup her home page with a bunch of giant picture shortcuts that links to her services. The password manager usually auto-login to the site, which I don't like but she often doesn't get that you have to enter the user name ans password. * Set up the ability remote into her PC and phone to handle situations that require my intervention. * Everything is backed up daily. A copy exists at my sisters. A copy exists online. This was useful when windows update wiped out her PC and I had to revert. Unfortunately, you can't predict all possible scenarios. The cat would knock out the cables or she was cleaning and hit the off-switch and now she can't figure out how to turn it back on. At that point, I usually involve my sister who can physically visit her but not at the moment. I am also thinking of replacing her PC with a chromebook because I am really tire of calls due to Windows updates. Paul
 
Messages
425
Location
Daytona Beach
Quote
To get around, this, I had her take pictures of the screen, and tell her or circle items she should be clicking and send the picture back.
WOW, she can do this? She's a genius and just putting you on because she wants your attention!
 
Messages
3,463
Location
Coastal South Carolina
two sides to all stories. I may be in between, had a mom that was scared, but I see their side of it too as I have aged., caused by very poor explanations and continual change for the sake of change hey time for the annual update-- its a revolution, moving the on switch to the other side etc etc, and no issued instructions,-- on phones- push a button and 10 screens open up you need maybe 2 , more and more options, take a class at the apple store? only 2 in my state, sure, held in a noisy room with people leaning over you and talking. how many times an update caused something else not to work? and on and on-- basic issue to me is the explanations use terms I dont understand, so you are lost to begin with, thats the fault of the teacher (and even with screen share helping others is hard. latest fix was a new mac laptop last week on zoom with signal sent to a big screen via hdmi, no sound on big screen. had to mirror displays. its STILL NOT PLUG AND PLAY and dont mention printers and printer drivers. my hp envy printer always says out of paper even when its not. but apple says it was designed especially to work well with macs, home automation? better have a tech on retainer and maybe living in a spare bedroom in your house. those systems have unproven hardware, to add thrills to problem solving. lightning will take out some each summer- $0.99 wall switches replaced by $35 switches,
 
Last edited:

Paul_Siu

Thread starter
Messages
97
Location
Schaumburg, IL
Originally Posted by JohnG
Quote
To get around, this, I had her take pictures of the screen, and tell her or circle items she should be clicking and send the picture back.
WOW, she can do this? She's a genius and just putting you on because she wants your attention!
That is not hard at all, all she does is open up whatsapp, point the camera an something and press send to a person. Using this feature, she and my aunts sent pictures back and forth, filling up the phone with grandkids, senior events, etc. I just co-opted the feature because she is familiar with it. She does not know how to use the scanner, so she sometimes send document by taking a paper of each page. this is not ideal since the document could have a large number of pages and sometimes it comes up blurry. Believe me, the experience is unpleasant for both of us. She is extremely impatient and start pressing around, so I have to start over again and again. She gets frustrated and complains about it on every step and gets constantly distracted by every little thing. Paul
 

Paul_Siu

Thread starter
Messages
97
Location
Schaumburg, IL
Originally Posted by edwardh1
other talk techies use that are meaningless and maybe elitist - open the desktop client - your token has expired
Actually, it goes more like this. I: turn on the computer. Mom: How do I turn on the computer? I: Press the on button. Mom: What does it look like? I: I don't know. Then start googling her model of computer for a manual or picture. It's the circle button on the front. Mom: Is there a picture on the button? I: {Frustrated}, it's the only button on front... and so on. Paul
 

blupupher

Site Donor 2021
Messages
7,021
Location
Katy, Republic of Texas
I was so happy when my mom moved close (< 1 mile) from me. While before she was only 50 miles, I can be at her place in 2 minutes now. I did similar with her phone and tablet, they are set up identical, so no matter which she is using, it is set up the same. Remote desktop was a lifesaver when she was further away, but still at least once a month I had to go over to fix something. I actually had the simplest repair the other day for her. I was over at her place moving her modem and router (they had to replace some sheet-rock in her apartment), and when I finished I asked if there was anything else (I knew there would be). She tells me she has been using Zoom to meet with some other Church members (she got all set up on it by herself, surprised me for sure), but said nobody can see her, only hear her on her AIO desktop. I walked over to the computer and flipped the lens cover on the web cam and said "OK, done". Wish they were all that easy. What is ironic is that while I am her go to "tech person", my older brother works for HP computers in design, programming and security for the past 25 years and has a masters in computer science, another brother that works with computers all day long, yet me the nurse is the one who gets the call to fix computer problems.
 
Messages
3
Location
PNW
Originally Posted by blupupher
She tells me she has been using Zoom to meet with some other Church members (she got all set up on it by herself, surprised me for sure), but said nobody can see her, only hear her on her AIO desktop. I walked over to the computer and flipped the lens cover on the web cam and said "OK, done".
OMG, I needed to find this thread and laugh (maniacally crazy ). I'm def middle aged but "the youngest" so I've been handed the role of fixing everyone's tech problems from my older sister's, bil, to mom. It can be maddening. Sister: Wails about laptop being "slow" and does she need to buy another one Me: When did you last clear history, cookies, temp files etc? Sister: whuh? Me: Starts cleaning process, take a full shower in the time it takes to clear it all Just yesterday I was tasked with finding my mother's "lost" Amazon gift card from 2014. She'd been searching through her mailbox for hours trying to find that one email with the link (yes, she keeps them all), but she was still out of her Amazon account and needed a new password - there was that too...She spent hours going round and round accomplishing nothing and in 5 minutes I got her into her account and "found" her gift card for her. I feel bad about it. Honest. It must seem like total wizardry or something. This morning I was teaching her how to use a dvd player to watch her favorite music videos (she finally accepted their existence as a viable form of entertainment), is there a hand-wringing white knuckle emoji???? I got the thing loaded and on screen - "play all songs" "songs" and "highlights" - she didn't know what to do and sits back like the evil box is going to jump out and hurt her. I try really hard to be patient and understand there's a learning curve for us all, but sometimes it just hurts when it's late at night and it's something so so so simple and easy. I gotta remember I too will probably be like that in the future when am old, if I make it that far!
 
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