Foxvideo Productions

July 2017

Do software developers....


ever check their user base?

Around 8 years ago I was asked to setup a laptop for a person in their 70's. It was an expensive, well spec'd machine at that time costing over £500. I suppose it took me around 30 minutes to get up and running 'out of the box' and connected to the internet. The lady in question, who has poor eyesight, really only wanted it to view her photos on and keep in touch with relatives overseas via email. I spent sometime explaining how Googlemail worked, I could enlarge the text on screen (permanently), get the screen layout to suit her needs and she soon picked it up, she's been very happy since, I was out of the door in under an hour and I've only visited once a year since to take photos from her camera card and transfer them to the laptop.

Come forward 8 years and following many 'nag' screens that Vista (and Google Chrome) would no longer be updated she contacted me to ask what her options were. I said Windows 7 could be installed or she would have to consider a new laptop, after some discussion with friends she opted for a new laptop and phoned asking if I'd set it up for her.

So today I went to see her, the Lenovo laptop was still in it's unopened box, I copied her photos and bookmarks to a USB then opened the new laptop. I had to setup a new account with Microsoft for her before I could even start 'personalising' it all for her. Windows then wanted to do a 4Gb update, thankfully she had a reasonably fast connection and while it was updating I downloaded and installed Chrome then copied her photos to the new machine.

Chrome accepted her login details and her email all came back, I had to switch to "old version' to get her contacts back though. I could enlarge the email window so she could see it but each time I closed Chrome it came back reset and I had to enlarge it again, I had to demonstrate this several times before she understood how to do it herself. The same with Windows OS, yes I could enlarge the screen resolution but then then it told me it was 'not recommended' and letterboxed it, there was probably an option to sort it but I'd now been there over 3 hours!

I could have probably stayed longer and manage to sort most things out but even when just Google and Photos were running I was constantly getting pop up windows asking if wanted to use so and so App, did I want to install so and so?, did I know I could do...?

OK, I know how to close them, if any of them were important and even turn them off but for an elderly lady with limited eyesight and zero computer knowledge I know I'm either going to get lots of phone calls or she'll give up and go back to her typewriter and telephone.

With talented software engineers and developers getting ever younger I wonder how much testing they actually do with older, inexperienced users and possibly with failing or poor eyesight? Many older users have the option of calling sons, daughters or even grandchildren for help but, what if they don't have them easily available?

I understand progress happens but I do wonder if it's always for the better, with a population that's living longer and staying fitter do we take it for granted older people will pick it all up, or are the older generation to be denied access to technology....... or will every new laptop come with a free 12 year old if the buyer is over 75 with no living relatives?

A Narrowboat, a drone and the weather...Part 1

what could go wrong!

Part 1.

Some time ago a cameraman friend I’ve known for many years offered to loan me one of his DJI drones, he’d upgraded and now had a spare, I’ve flown it a few times locally at the TRAC Adventure Centre where there’s 22 acres of space but I’ve not felt fully confident using it. In a conversation recently I mentioned I love to be able to have the skills and confidence to use it to film Wye Invader Two on the river, the narrowboat I edit films for YouTube for.

James, the cameraman said he’d be only too happy to do it with his drone if we could find a weekend that he was available and Wye Invader Two was out on the water. I mentioned it to Frank, Wye Invader’s skipper who was very enthusiastic. A few weeks later James mentioned he’d be in the area for a long weekend and was Wye Invader Two on the water?

An email to Frank and he said he was taking Wye Invader Two to Upton-on-Severn for a Blues Festival and would be passing the location I wanted to use for filming, Haw Bridge at Tirley on the River Severn has a long straight, a great background and a safe location to film with a drone. We originally set it up for the Friday evening but James came back and mentioned the long range forecast for that day wasn’t looking good so we decided the following day, Saturday would probably be better.

Bearing in mind it takes some planning to get a narrowboat from Sharpness docks through Gloucester and to arrive at a location at a given time is no mean feat but Frank promptly arrived at Tirley at the time we had arranged. I’d given Frank a two way radio and he called up just before a left hand bend in the river and the point Wye Invader would come into view. The weather that day had been good, some sunshine, fluffy clouds and very little wind however, just as Frank called up the weather deteriorated rapidly, the wind got above safe flying levels and it was now raining!

I told Frank to come on and moor up, if the weather improved we’d try and film. After a coffee on board there was no improvement and the decision was made to film the following day on Wye Invader Two’s return trip.

Read more on Part 2 here.

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