The Virtual Meeting Coach

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Archive for the ‘netbooks’ Category

The Fact That It’s January, 2010, Means We’re Really Not In Kansas Anymore

Thursday, January 7th, 2010


I don’t know about you, but when I tuned in to watch the ball drop at Times Square and I saw “2010″ show up and start flashing, I had a feeling I’ve never had before.

It was really something to see “2010″ because it’s a whole new kind of number than 1980 or 1999 or even 2000 or 2009. I don’t know how to describe the difference for me except to say that I hadn’t imagined living in a time when the date looked like that. Maybe you know what I mean…

So, we’re really not in Kansas anymore. We’ve actually entered the SECOND decade of the 21st Century. And, by the looks of things right now, it’s going to be a challenging time for all of us. We’re going to need new ideas, new strategies, new blood, and new tools to move ahead with grace in this undeniably “globalized” information economy.

As you contemplate the road ahead, it’s OK not to be a maestro of virtual meetings. It’s totally OK not to even feel very comfortable participating in them! It’s even OK not to put some attention on uncovering ways you could use virtual meetings to help your clients’, your customers’, and your suppliers’ lives easier using virtual meeting technologies.

Oh, what’s that? You’d like to? Well, go right ahead, that’s OK, too.

And, while you’re at it, if you’re local (meaning within a 50 mile radius of Ashland, Oregon), you might want to take advantage of a live, hands-on workshop I’m offering that will take you from zero to 100 using your netbook or laptop to work from anywhere with ease, confidence, and competence – even if you’ve never used a mobile computer. Yes, you, too, can be working from coffee shops (and using WIFI to meet with your clients around the globe in virtual meeting rooms) in just 4 weeks. Yes, you read that right – in 4 weeks.

In just 4 weeks, you can change your experience of computing from feeling isolated, frustrated, confused – and much more expen$ive than you would like – to using a cheap netbook or laptop to work quickly and easily, and have a lot more fun working MOBILY than you ever imagined. What’s more, making that 4 week investment, you will be equipping yourself to work independently and cheaply for many years to come.

I’ve got just 5 seats left in “Up, Up and Away,” and I would love to have you in one of them. You can read more about the workshop in the brochure below. The next session begins January 18th, here in Ashland, and runs 4 consecutive weeks from 3-5pm upstairs at the Rogue Metaphysical Library.

It’s OK not to enjoy computing and it’s also OK to take time this month to pick up the essential skills and attitudes you need to use an inexpensive netbook or laptop and FREE online software to make your way forward in this brave new world of 2010…and beyond.

If you want more information than the brochure provides – or you want to discuss a “partial cash” offer with me – feel free to phone me at 541-488-7942 this week. I mean it: there are only 5 seats left. Want me to put your name on one of them today?

Up Up and Away Trifold Brochure

Here Come the Seniors! Cloud Computing, Social Media and Virtual Meeting Technologies to the Rescue!

Sunday, November 15th, 2009
Computers Frustrate Me – Why Should I Care About Them?
View more presentations from Meri Walker.

A Report From the Field

This fall, I piloted a 4-week, face-to-face, hands-on Cloud Computing course for seniors and aging Baby Boomers who aren’t yet ready to call ourselves “Seniors” ;-)

I call the course, “Up, Up and Away,” and I promise to take people who are frustrated with their desktop computing experiences from hair-pulling to happy smiles and thicker wallets in just four weeks using a cheap mobile computer and Cloud apps. The first folks who signed up were my neighbors in the Mountain Meadows Community in Ashland, Oregon. In four weeks, participants made faster strides than even I had anticipated!

I took their performance as affirmation of three things:

1) The course design is sound and provides a useful scaffold for people who want to create a whole new relationship to computing to do so in just 4 weeks
2) Seniors can and do learn new tricks a whole lot faster than people might give them credit for
3) Mobile computers and Web 2.0 Cloud apps are going to change all of our lives – not just the lives of young people!

The photos above were made on Friday the 13th when a big crowd turned out for the Mountain Meadows‘ November “Friday Forum” to hear me talk about the way I look at new opportunities for seniors who willing to invest in cheap laptops or netbooks and learn to use free Cloud apps. New online ways to engage in lifetime learning, telehealth options, telemedicine options, meaningful online community participation, inexpensive (or free) connection to family members and other caregivers – wherever they are! And so much more… My deepest thanks to Cindy Earle and Hunter Hill for the photos!

I’m just crazy about my neighbors at Mountain Meadows! They’re all so smart! And they’ve moved into this community to manage their lives in new ways while they “Age in Place.” Coming to live among them has been a life-changing experience for me, personally. As a group, they’re deeply committed both to their own lifetime learning and to maintaining healthy, active relationships with the people they care about – here and across the globe! So, over the next 6 months or more, I’m going to be taking groups of 12 of them “up in the Cloud,” using “Up, Up and Away” as the vehicle. If the first group’s success was any indication of what’s to come for Mountain Meadows, this community will soon be setting a national standard for active, senior communities using the internet, social media, and virtual meeting technologies to optimize resources for “Aging in Place.”

I’m excited about “Up, Up and Away!”! And I’m looking for opportunities to offer it locally while I also finish a train-the-trainer program so that people who would like to can offer it in your areas.

I very much want to share my introductory talk, “Computer Frustrate Me – Why Should I Care About Them?” with churches, clubs, professional groups and at professional conferences several times a month during December, January and February and on into 2010. But I don’t know how to do this without investing lots of time or money on marketing.

Got any ideas?

Why You Might Consider Holding Out for an Asus Eee PC Touchscreen Netbook, Models T91 or T100H – And Paying More Than $500 (Part 3 of 3)

Thursday, August 27th, 2009

bigstockphoto_Watching_2259422 (Medium)

It was disappointing on this netbook shopping trip not to be able to try out either of the Asus Eee PC Touchscreen tablet-style netbooks I’ve been reading about since January, 2009 (the 8.9″ Asus Eee PC T91 and the 10″ Asus Eee PC T100H).

I’m such a fan of tablets and touchscreens, particularly for seniors and aging baby boomers. But these Asus models were simply not available for me to test. You can watch a detailed video about the features available on the model T91 here.

For the last three years, I’ve used an IBM ThinkPad Tablet for mobile computing. Not that it performs well, because it doesn’t. It’s the slowest and most frustrating laptop I’ve ever used! But, I’ve gotten really spoiled using a stylus to navigate on screen. And I like being able to make handwritten notes and draw on my photos and slides using the stylus instead of a clunky mouse.

So , from the first moment I saw the interface Asus offers on the new touchscreen netbooks, I wanted one. Even if it meant having to pay a little more and even if I have to wait a bit. Here’s a vid that shows how Asus imagines users might work with the currently available T91 and the upcoming T100H Touchscreen netbooks:

What’s not to love about that interface? Especially if you’ve gotten to a stage of life when you’d rather point than type or mouse?  If you enjoy new things that shake up your thinking – and then make things easier – this interface is downright exciting!

It’s not going to be everyone’s cup of tea. But being able to use my fingers instead of a stylus or a mouse really appeals to my increasingly cramped mousing hand and tender typing fingers. I know I’ll never be able to escape typing altogether – and I’ll probably want some kind of cordless mouse sometimes – but the idea of being able to point and press – instead of point and click with a mouse – makes my mouth water…

And it’s not because I’m beginning to drool… quite yet ;-)

It could be another 6-9 months before the bigger 10″ Asus Eee PC T100H is available in the US. So if you’re ready to launch into the cloud now, and you want a touchscreen interface, you’ll be ordering the smaller Asus T91 model with the 8.9″ screen now. It’s going to run you about $499.

4 Netbooks That Make Sense for Seniors And ABBs Seeking An Easy, Cheap Route to Cloud Computing (Part 2 of 3)

Wednesday, August 26th, 2009


Microsoft VP Steve Sinofsky Shows Windows 7 on a Netbook

For me to be comfortable recommending a netbook to seniors or other ABBS (aging Baby Boomers not yet comfortable calling themselves “seniors”) a couple of features are mandatory that might not be so important to younger people. Of course, some netbook features remain negotiable, depending on how much people want to spend. But IMHO the following five things are NOT OPTIONAL for seniors:

  1. 8″ or larger screen – the bigger the better, with high resolution capability
  2. a close to full-sized keyboard with raised keys and close to standard spacing between the keys, the spacebar and the touchpad
  3. a bright 1.3 megapixel or better webcamera with good color fidelity
  4. at least one on-board microphone that captures human voices well, so you don’t HAVE TO plug in a separate microphone
  5. on-board speakers capable of delivering strong volume, so you don’t HAVE TO plug in remote speakers

Why these things are not optional for seniors seems obvious to me. But talking to salesmen in electronics stores, I discovered that they weren’t necessarily top-of-mind to them.

More than other groups, seniors may have eyes, ears, and fingers that may not always work as well as they used to. These don’t have to be handicapping conditions to be annoying. And devices that make things harder will only prevent seniors from reaping the benefits netbooks have to offer.

To enjoy using netbooks, seniors need keys that have a solid but easy touch and are as large and well spaced as possible. Keyboards that are 92% of standard size, or larger, will work a lot better for seniors than tighter keyboards. The same goes for display screens. All the convenience of having an inexpensive, small, light-weight, mobile device will be wasted on seniors if the display screen is too small or not bright enough to see without struggling.

Webcam fidelity and brightness matter a lot for this group, too. And, since regular mobile communication will be one of the most important tasks for seniors using netbooks, the onboard microphone and speakers must be of good quality and offer ample volume. The last thing senior users need is to have to hunt for an external microphone, earphones and/or external speakers just to make a Skype call or to participate in other kinds of virtual meeting with family or online learning groups.


I spent one whole day in San Francisco, going from one electronics store to another, testing every netbook I could put my hands on. (For this trip, I skipped the cheap laptops, although there are several with great promise.)  I found three netbooks I like a lot – using my criteria above – and one I see as a marginal option. Because price is another serious issue for seniors and ABBs on fixed or dwindling incomes, I restricted my search to basic models available now for under $500.

Top 3:

1. Toshiba Atom NB 205/N311. Windows XP. Island-style keyboard. 6-cell battery (3 cell is standard). 10.1″ display. Adequate camera and sound. Comes in white, pink, blue, brown. $398. Link to full stats at Amazon: Comes standard with 1GB RAM.

2. Acer Aspire One Z250. Comes loaded with VISTA (free and easy upgrade to Windows 7 later). 11.6″ display. 2GB RAM. 6-cell battery. Nice camera, speakers, and microphone. The one I tested was royal blue. $378. Link to full stats at

3. Lenovo S10-2-G “Ideapad”. Windows XP. 10.2″ screen. Comes either with 1GB ($349) or 2GB RAM ($364). 3-cell battery. Nice camera quality and excellent speaker. Link to full stats at Amazon:


1. HP Mini 1050NR. Windows XP. 10.1″ screen. 6-cell battery. 1GM RAM. Adequate camera but onboard microphone and speakers aren’t really up to par for seniors who want to use them for free video conferencing without having to plug in peripherals. $435. Link to full stats at Amazon:

Tomorrow: Why You Might Consider Holding Out for an Asus Eee PC Touchscreen Netbook, Models T91 or T100H – And Paying More Than $500 For It

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