Some of the basic skills I’d like to teach for digital productivity

As I gear up to help seniors, freelancers, small business owners, and academics (an admittedly motley crew) to use their computers more productively, I’m starting to enumerate skills I think will be useful. I have substantial experience with many of these topics but I’m excited to rise to a new level of understanding as I systematically teach others these skills.

Relearning Windows. It’s been a long time since I had a Thinkpad with Windows XP! I would like to re-immerse myself in using a Windows laptop to help other Windows users. The last time I used Windows seriously was running Windows XP as Parallels virtual machine on a MacBook Pro. I’ve been wondering whether to pursue the same route of virtualization or buy myself a cheap Windows laptop — or both.

In order to become proficient in using a PC, should I buy a laptop and/or run Windows virtually? For example, what’s a decent budget Windows laptop cost these days? The Best Cheap Windows Laptop: Wirecutter Reviews points to a $600 laptop from Walmart. That price tag makes me thik that maybe running windows virtually is not a bad approach. I should try the Virtualbox + Windows 10 route: You Don’t Need a Product Key to Install and Use Windows 10. Maybe I can get a good deal this week since we’re approaching Black Friday.

I turned to my Facebook friends with the following question

If my goal is to learn Windows to help others use Windows, what would I miss out if I ran Windows virtually on a Mac — as opposed to getting myself a cheap Windows laptop?

In a future post, I’ll summarize what I learned in the ensuing exchange and what action I ended up pursuing.

iOS devices; iPhones and iPads Are iPads good devices for seniors to use? My Dad has an iPad and enjoys it a lot. My working assumption has been yes, but I need to learn more.

I may need to buy an iPad to teach myself how to use one to help others. (oh darn.) I’ve resisted buying one for a long time because I already have a lot of gadgets. But iOS is mysterious to me. I have Laura’s old iPhone running iOS 11. Maybe if I learn that well, I won’t need to acquire an iPad — though I’m guessing there are important differences between an iPhone and an iPad.

I also want to keep an eye out this week for an iPad. I might want to get a 10.5 inch Pro, but that’s probably overkill for my purposes. What’s the market for used iPads? In the meantime, I will start to learn my iPhone iOS 11 systematically.

I should also work on systematizing my knowledge of the platforms I already use: MacOS, Android, Chromebook.

Other Perennial topics

I quickly brainstormed a list of topics where developing some expertise may be of use for my various audiences.

  • email management
  • onsite, offsite, and online backups
  • photo management and photo sharing
  • practical computer security
  • hardware and software diagnosis
  • home networking
  • VPNs
  • password management
  • cloud storage

I should also consolidate the ideas that my friends have already provided me:

  • how to clean up your data from computer equipment you are passing on intact
  • how to make fullest use of accessibility features to help people at different stages of life

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