Grandpa and the Computer


Seniors now want to use, more than ever, e-mail and the Internet, but most are still afraid of the computer. That is where Jim Hart, author of Grandpa and the Computer steps in. He wrote a computer how-to book at the age of 82 to help other seniors - the very first computer book, created and published through the Internet, by a senior for other seniors.

In times like these, when staying connected is of utmost importance for peace of mind, e-mail is an ideal solution for senior ...

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Seniors now want to use, more than ever, e-mail and the Internet, but most are still afraid of the computer. That is where Jim Hart, author of Grandpa and the Computer steps in. He wrote a computer how-to book at the age of 82 to help other seniors - the very first computer book, created and published through the Internet, by a senior for other seniors.

In times like these, when staying connected is of utmost importance for peace of mind, e-mail is an ideal solution for senior citizens to keep in touch with their families. It is less expensive and less intrusive than phone calls and the Internet is virtually indestructible. According to America Online, computer savvy older Americans have been using the Internet to search for medical and health information, check their investments, and keep in touch with e-mail. At the same time, about 50 million out of 65 million seniors do not have a computer yet, reports the AARP. They need help in acquiring basic skills in a really easy way.

That's what Grandpa and the Computer accomplishes and the reason we chose to publish it. Jim Hart's conversational style, combined with the "pep-talk" he gives in each chapter really removes the intimidating aspects of computers and shows how they can open a new world to anyone at any age, by:

  • Putting the reader at ease right away
  • Making it fun to learn to use email and the Internet
  • Encouraging others to become technology literate at any age
  • Explaining basic concepts in a truly understandable way
  • Providing a section for recording problems and solutions
  • Taking the fear and guesswork out of buying and owning a PC
  • Saving money on phone bills, through the use of email
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What People Are Saying

Dave Schellenberg
Dave Schellenberg, Technology Columnist of CBC Radio Canada talk show transcript
"- A good guide that I recently came across is a book called “Grandpa and the Computer.”

- The book is written by James Hart who went into a deep depression after his wife of 60 years passed away. To bring him out of it, one of his grandchildren got her dad to buy him a computer. At that point, he decided, at the age of 82, that he would learn to use this computer. The book is about his adventure.

What is in the book?

- The book is essentially three sections.
- One section is a bit of a guide on how to use the computer, another one is kind of a workbook, but the best section is when he is just writing about his feelings and how he overcame them.
- When he writes about what he went through, he talks about things like his “nosey neighbour” and how his neighbour teased him the day that the computer arrived. So, he set out to master the computer, in part, to show his nosey neighbour.
- He also writes about how he only finished the eight grade and how he figures that most of learning is common sense.
- He gives great credit in the book to his granddaughter. He talks about how the computer put tools in his hand so he would have to work his brain. And, that made a new man out of him.
- I think that message is true of most people that take the time to learn how to use a computer.

Sandy Berger
Sandy Berger, Host, AARP's Webplace Computers & Technology
"At age eighty-two, Hart had enough gumption to accept his granddaughter’s suggestion that he tackle the computer; she made it even easier by giving him one.

A true-life story, Hart realized he was wasting away in loneliness and grief over the loss of his wife of sixty years.

The key to success for this grandpa was not being afraid to mess up. The old trial and error approach did him well. Completely self-taught, he learned computing by exploration and mistakes. After eight months of learning everything by himself, he then had the idea to share his experience and introduce other grandpas and grandmas to the computing world.

With a down to earth, witty writing style, James Hart tells you where to start first (no surprise, it is turning on the computer) and continues right on through the learning process. His instructions make computing easy, fruitful, and fun rather than hard and complicated. Because it worked for him, Hart explains how to unlock the Internet and e-mail world. His loneliness vanished when he was e-mailing pen pals, family, and friends. Next, he concentrates on Search and the Web browser program, opening up a whole new world.

The book itself is a straightforward manual teaching some computer basics, some simple do’s and don’ts, and even some explanation about the innards of the machine. At the end is a workbook for the reader to record important information about his or her computer, the monitor, printer, external speakers, modem, wireless connection, and other equipment. You are encouraged to document your problems and how they were solved as a helpful reference for the future.

On the practical side, the book is printed in large type for comfortable reading by seniors and is illustrated with some humorous cartoons. Screen shots preview what you will see on your computer screen.

The author encourages every grandpa and grandma to get a computer to keep his or her mind occupied. He believes it helps you stay young. His computer turned out to be the biggest challenge of his life as he spent countless hours learning. He credits the computer with saving him from real depression. Although he calls his computer "monster" at times, he sees it as a tool in your hand that encourages your brain to work.

My favorite image of this enthusiastic and energetic eighty-two year old grandpa was upon conquering the computer after his eight-month learn-as-you-go session, he took his right hand, shook his left hand, and congratulated himself on a job well done.

Conquering the computer was a job well done. Writing this book was another job well done. Hart’s approach deserves my Compu-KISS seal of approval. My Compu-KISS philosophy of "The Computer World, Keeping It Short and Simple" goes hand in hand with Mr. Hart’s approach. His Grandpa and The Computer removes the intimidating aspects of computers and shows how computers can open a new world to anyone at any age. His invitation to join him in the computing world is warm and convincing."

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781893798182
  • Publisher: AIL Newmedia Publishing
  • Publication date: 10/28/2001
  • Pages: 84
  • Product dimensions: 8.28 (w) x 10.99 (h) x 0.34 (d)

Table of Contents

Chapter 1. The life of the author
Chapter 2. My nosy neighbor
Chapter 3. Grandpa and the Computer, Hillbilly Style
Chapter 4. Pen Pals
Chapter 5. More on exploring Search
Chapter 6. Learning from mistakes
Chapter 7. Learning the Do's and Don'ts
Chapter 8. Interlude
Chapter 9. My teaching plan
Chapter 10. Summing it up
Chapter 11. My testimonial
Useful things to know
Your workbook
Credits, copyrights and web links
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First Chapter


Here is the story of my learning experience with my computer. I sat down in my chair, in front of the computer and looked at the black screen for a few minutes. Then I fumbled around all over the computer looking for the switch. I finally found it, so I turned it on. I never heard such a commotion, inside that thing, as it was coming on. I saw all kinds of things flashing on the screen. When it finally stopped there was a screen full of what they call icons. One icon said My Computer, well I already knew that, it certainly was mine. I looked at the rest of them; My Documents, Network Neighborhood, Real Player, Net Zero, Windows Explorer, Acrobat Reader, Combo Ex, Family Tree, Internet Explorer, Outlook Express, Games, Downloads and Online Services.

Down in the left-hand corner, there was a word in bold letters that said Start. I won't go into the rest of the words on the two bars on the bottom but I will tell you that the right side of the bar had the time. I guess they wanted you to know how long you've been working. I looked the screen over and figured I better start where it says Start. Oh Yes, I had better mention the mouse. It is connected to the keyboard. Thank God for that little mouse. It could get you out of more trouble than any other rodent. I believe they called it a mouse because nothing else could go through this maze but a mouse. So I clicked on Start and up popped this line of words; Programs, Find, Run, Help, Log Off lefty and Shut Down. I didn't want to shut down, I wanted to go through this thing but I didn't know how to get back to the first screen. But you know, I accidentally clicked on Start again and I was back where I had started. I saw one icon that kind of caught my eyes. It said Internet Explorer.

Well I thought, I'm on the Internet so why not explore. I clicked on it and nothing happened, so I clicked two times and it worked. It went to the next screen where it looked like every word in the English language was on it. But what caught my eye this time was Mail. I clicked on it and that brought up other words; Read Mail, New Message, Send Page, and Read News (see how confusing it is). I clicked Read Mail. Well there was no mail but how could there be, I hadn't written anything yet. Now I did know I had an e-mail address because my daughter had taped it on a little piece of paper to my computer. So I called my son and asked him to e-mail me to see if I could answer. I gave him my e-mail address and he said he would. I waited a few minutes and sure enough my computer told me that I had mail. I looked over the screen and clicked on the button that said Answer. Sure enough I had received his message with his address on it. Under his address, where it said Subject, I wrote "testing". After I wrote my letter I saw where it said Send. So I clicked on Send and the e-mail was on its way. Since I was becoming fairly comfortable with the mail part of this technological world I figured I would play with the e-mail stuff for a while.

I thought to myself, "This isn't so bad learning this stuff." Pretty soon I started receiving email from all over the world and after eight months I became an e-mail wizard. How all these people got my address is kind of a mystery to me but what the heck, life is a mystery. But you know something, every email I received was from a woman, not a single email was from a man (see, life is a bowl of jelly).

So let's go on with my learning experience. I realized that this computer must have a brain because time and time again it tried, and usually succeeded, in leading me down roads that I couldn't get back from. It forced me to shut down, and start up countless times. It seemed that this thing was just like a woman trying to mess up my mind. I spent hundreds of hours messing up, but in the end you'll see how I conquered this thing. I was determined to whip this thing all by myself; consequently I went back to the second screen where I saw Search. Well I thought I'd try Search out with my little mouse. I clicked it and I got a screen with a blank line having no clue as to what it meant. I had never even heard of a web site so I thought I would put something in there. And this was the start of my search.

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With his inimitable style, Jim Hart says:

You know, it really bothers me that most senior citizens are still afraid of the computer or don't think it can add a lot of fun to their lives. I'll admit, when I first saw that "monster" when I was 82 years old, I had doubts about it too. But now I wouldn't want to be without it!

My Granddaughter Got Me Started

To tell you the truth, learning to use the computer saved my life when my beloved wife, of 60 years, passed away. My granddaughter Tammy saw me wasting away in my grief and said, "Grandpa, I'm going to get you a computer." I asked her, "What is a computer? I've heard of some kind of contraption, so if you want to get me one, I won't turn it down, but who's going to run it?" She said, "Grandpa, you will."

That was the beginning of my adventure of writing the book, Grandpa and the Computer. I sat down with the contraption and taught myself how to use it. Then I thought, "Why should we let all the young people take all this fun away from us grandpas and grandmas? We can do anything they can." A How-to manual for Seniors, by an 82-year-old Senior

As I learned, the world of the Internet and e-mail opened up before me and my loneliness began to go away. I started to correspond with pen pals, family, and friends. Tammy and I could stay in touch every day. Then I thought, "Let me reach out to other seniors, and anyone else scared of this monster called the computer." I decided to write a simple manual to teach some basics about using it, from a senior citizen's point of view. Grandpas and grandmas don't need to be afraid of this thing. We just need to get one, conquer it, and have a barrel of fun."

E-mail and the Internet

In Grandpa and the Computer I make it fun to learn to use email and the Internet. I encourage others to become technology literate at any age, and explain basic concepts in an understandable way. The book also has a section for recording problems and solutions.

You might say I am healing my sense of loss by opening up a world of friends through the computer. I realized that I could help others find the happiness I found through this marvelous machine, which is quite simple to use, once it is broken down in easy steps.

Don't be Afraid to Try

Just because I'm 83 years old now doesn't mean I'm ready for the rocking chair yet. I'm going to prove to the world that you don't have to be smart, just don't be afraid to try. My granddaughter gave this to me and if she wanted me to keep happy and cheerful, I wasn't about to let her down.

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