Lessons Learned

To wrap up my week of upgrading my mother's iMac, I thought I'd mention a few things I'll keep in mind when I next set up a Macintosh for a less-than-computer-savvy user.

1. Downloading email

My mother is accustomed to AOL hollering that she has new email the moment she connects to the service. Mom was confused by the idea that she had to command Entourage to download her email. To make Entourage more AOL-like, I created a new schedule that retrieved her email when she launched the program.

2. IMAP and deleted messages

As I mentioned in an entry last week, I configured Entourage to download my mother's AOL mail using AOL's new Open Mail Access plan. Mom is accustomed to seeing her email messages vanish when she deletes them and was disconcerted when she found that deleted IMAP messages within Entourage don't disappear but instead appear with a strike-thru line. To enforce the notion that the messages were really gone, I selected Entourage's Mail & News Preferences and, in the Read tab, enabled the Hide IMAP Messages Marked For Deletion option.

3. Identifiable icons

Because my mother isn't clear on the whole disk/volume/folder hierarchy thing, under Mac OS 9 I created a pop-up folder on her iMac's Desktop that contained all the stuff she normally used -- aliases to AOL, AppleWorks, Eric's Ultimate Solitaire, and Burning Monkey Solitaire (mom's highly competitive and not someone you lightly challenge to a game of gin rummy or dominoes) and templates for her word processing documents.

I wanted to do the same kind of thing in Mac OS X so I created a folder on her Desktop and placed an alias to that folder in the Dock. The problem is that it looked like a generic folder and I was sure she'd lose it unless it was specially marked. Devoted son that I am, I replaced the folder icon with a picture of her face, figuring that this would be a pretty obvious clue about where she should go when she needed her stuff.



She was completely baffled when she found that double-clicking on her face on the Desktop opened a folder.

"Why does that picture have a lot of things in it?"

"It's a folder, mom."

"It doesn't look like a folder. It looks like my face."

"No, it's just a folder that I.... never mind. Hang on a sec."

And rather than explain further, I simply traveled to IconFactory and downloaded a couple of foldedr icons that served the dual purpose of looking like folders as well as sporting an appearance unique enough to stand out on the Dock.

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