A very, very unusual thing happened today: I received an email from my sister.
While I’m happily a geek who has been using and teaching about computers for almost 30 years, and using and teaching about the Internet for almost 20, my older sister has been a technophobe.
She doesn’t own or use a mobile phone and has only recently come to own a computer.
A couple of days ago she rang me to say Mum had a fall and had broken her hip. Today she emailed to say that Mum was about to have an operation.
The email was obviously a struggle.
When I rang back to discuss some matters about the surgery my sister mentioned her slowness and lack of accuracy in typing the email.
Can’t fix typos
It turned out that if my sister made a typo early on in an email and didn’t notice it, then she had absolutely no idea about how to go back and fix it. She didn’t know how to navigate back to the location of the problem, and quite possibly didn’t know how to use the Backspace key and replace the mistake.
This was a great reminder for me about the very real problems people have when they’re new to computers. I guess the niece and nephew hadn’t got around to that bit of instruction. Or maybe they tried and my sister resisted the learning.
Move the cursor
I explained what the cursor looked like and how to use the arrow keys to move it.
I explained that my sister needed to move the cursor until it was immediately to the right of the incorrect letter, press backspace and then type the correction. Then she needed to use the arrow keys to move the cursor back to the place where she wanted new typing to appear.
My sister sounded glad to hear this piece of information and gave the impression she would actually try it out.
No typing with Skype
Meanwhile I hear my sister has been trying out Skype to keep in contact with family members now in Brisbane, Australia. That seems like a good thing — it won’t involve typing.