Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Seniors, Computer Clubs and to Photoshop or not to Photoshop

Most of the seniors in my condo know that I am good at computers. Sometimes one will stop me as I'm walking to the pool and ask me a question about them.  One comment I've learned to brace myself to answer is, "I want to learn Photoshop." (shown to the left) The next question I ask is delicate, "What's your skill level with using computers generally?" After some blustering and more questioning on my part we eventually get to the point: they barely have any computer skills. They can use email, play games online, go to ebay and amazon, and the like but ask them to download and install software or set their preferences for both the system and each program and they are lost. This person would have to spend an enormous amount of time building his or her computer skills before even beginning to tackle Photoshop.

If you are one of these seniors I've just described, you need to ask yourself how much time you'd like to spend in learning more about computers.  The honest answer I get 99% of the time is "almost none." I can sympathize with this answer. It requires tremendous motivation at 65+ to want to tackle this big a learning curve. What you need to do is realistically ask yourself what you want to do on computers.  Then you pick your devices to buy based upon those end goals.

For many of you, your goals are easily reachable by buying an iPad and an iPhone and skipping everything else. Jim would put up a fight, telling you you need a Samsung phablet instead.  However, the two us are arguing over which brand you buy at that point, not what kind of device you need to be on. Tablets and phones were built with the idea that you want to just touch them and be able to accomplish your end goal quickly.  Laptops and desktop computers were not built with this goal in mind. So my very best advice to you is buy a fully loaded iPad and iPhone, get some in person lessons over at the Apple store (usually free) and call it a day.

But let's assume you are the one percent willing to put in the time, that computers in all forms have become your projected senior hobby. What is your next step? I would still advise you to go the Apple route because you will need all of Apple's support system to achieve this goal, especially if there is an Apple store not too far away from you. Also, Apple users have a community.  They have clubs in every city with monthly meetings.

They take cruises together.  They have conventions.  Some people call this the Cult of Mac but if you want to jump into a pool of people willing to help you, this is your best bet. Before you start buying, show up at the Apple store and have them fully show you everything you'd like to consider as your machine or device.

Also go to an Apple Club meeting near you and steep yourself in the community pool of knowledge. Read about such a club by looking at the one near me here and shown at left. From there, check out your community college and you will generally find out that as a senior you can audit any of their classes for free.  This includes their graphic programs which use Macs for teaching students how to use Photoshop. The college where I took my Photoshop course is shown below with its free program.

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