Computers Simplified

Children: The Challenge
Gender Specific Survival!

Computers Simplified - coverComputers Simplified
6th Edition

Submitter: My local library district is two little hole-in-the-wall libraries a couple blocks apart. Even so, their smaller branch had room for four copies of this book: Two of this edition and two of the only slightly more recent 2007 edition.

It mentions PDAs, but not smartphones, floppy and Zip disks, but not Blu-Ray, and has an entire section on socializing online that doesn’t say anything about social media. It’s full of specific numerical advice (like how much memory a computer needs) that is out of date and URLs that are subject to link rot. Libraries must be extra cautious with technology books for beginners, because not only do they quickly become obsolete, but the target audience won’t be able to sort the good information from the bad.

The clincher? The pages are falling out.

Holly:I love this series, but I agree with Submitter. Computer newbies don’t know what’s accurate and what’s not. It’s one thing to have a couple of books on the previous version of software or operating systems, since people might still have it on their machines, but these very-beginner books really need to be the latest and greatest. If someone is learning about computer basics on an old computer, at least they won’t *think* they’ve got something up-to-date. (They’ll realize what a piece of crap their kid gave them and think “thanks a lot, brat!”)


Computer Basics

Configuring dial-up

Data output devices

Socialize on the web

Disconnect from the internet


  1. Oh look, Windows XP, floppy disks, and dial-up internet. State of the art!

    a) Can you even buy a computer with a floppy drive anymore? I’m guessing that, unless you have a fairly old computer, you’d have to buy an external floppy drive to use a floppy disk these days, which might be beyond the skill level of the target audience of these books.

    b) Dial-up is making me think of that Time Warner internet commercial where the bride and her bridal party is all, “Ohmigawd I need something old. Let’s rip this DSL modem from the computer because WHAT’S OLDER THAN DSL LAWL?” Google’s telling me that some people (one article says 3% of Americans) still have dial-up. But still, most people, even beginner computer users, wouldn’t encounter dial-up these days and dial-up was definitely on the way out in 2005.

    1. It’s often people in rural areas who have dial-up service. Sometimes, their only choices are dial up or very expensive satellite plans because the phone lines that run to their houses can’t do high speed Internet. Depending on where they are located, the phone company doesn’t see it as worthwhile to change the phone lines so they are really stuck. High speed Internet access is something that should be a high priority for rural public libraries.

      Perhaps this is a more common issue in Canada than the US because we have a lower population but a bigger geographical area?

  2. Our library has two computers that are Windows XP and have a floppy disk drive and a CD reader, not burner. The others that were XP have been “updated” to use Linux as the operating system – which is confusing to both staff and patrons. But “It’s not as much trouble” for the IT guys… The outdated things are easier for an increasingly elderly population in our area to understand. It’s been hard enough to get them to be able to use the “public” computers to find information themselves, and the IT department of our town is making it increasingly difficult by penny -pinching the public’s information system. Sorry to grouse, but the things in the book would be much easier to use than what we have…

    1. It may be annoying, but if those computers are connected to the Internet, your IT staff are doing the right thing. Windows XP has two more months to go before Microsoft pulls the support plug. After that, no further bugs in XP will be patched. The result won’t be *quite* as bad as inviting every virus on the ‘Net in for a party, but serious security problems are likely to develop pretty quickly.

      (It does sound to me, though, like your IT people may have chosen the wrong Linux to install—probably Ubuntu with Unity or a distro that ships Gnome3 with the default shell rather than something that comes with a desktop environment that can be made to look similar to XP. You and your patrons might be less lost on a system with XFCE4, Maté, or Trinity, especially if the icons and menu entry names were carefully set up to mirror those from Windows.)

      1. Wow, if I make you the sandwich of your choice, will you come to my house and set me up for whatever I need to do when XP-mageddon arrives? I would even throw in a beer…afterwards, anyway.

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