The Ideal Netbook Owner: my wife Carol
Over the past two days I dug out my original Asus EEE PC 701 which has been languishing in the closet for a few months. I intended to give my EEE PC 900 to my wife when it returns (if it returns) from Asus repair, but I got to thinking…the simplified Linux OS on the 701 might be exactly what Carol needs and would enjoy.
Carol only uses the computer for email, visiting sites she enjoys on the web, a little web research from time to time, and keeping up with the family’s various twitters while we are traveling.
Occasionally she has to print out some sheet music her music director sends her via email, or the monthly Community Food Pantry schedule she compiles on a volunteer basis, but generally gets one of us to help with that.
She is not, really, a computer person, but she enjoys just a bit of what computers can do for her.
The original EEE PC Linux interface was, to put it boldly, simply made for Carol (and people like her).
Carol is exactly the kind of customer Asus envisioned. It is not their fault that most netbooks so far have gone to geekier types who need, or at least want, more power, and more room, to play. If all EEE PC customers were like Carol, the simple EEE PC interface, and the similar Linux based interfaces offered by most netbook vendors, would be a raging success story.
In fact, the EEE PC interface is a bit more complicated than Carol really needs. She just needs instant access to Thunderbird and Firefox, and the Shutdown button. Fortunately there is a Favorites Tab on the EEE PC that is customizable. I added the Mail and iGoogle icons to the favorites tab, along with the EEE PC’s Instant Shutdown button, and she can work pretty much exclusively on that tab.
So far she loves it. I was able, through the magic of csv files and html, to transfer all her contact info and bookmarks from the ancient version of Netscape she was using on the girls’ computers to Firefox and Thunderbird on the EEE PC. I created a GMail account for her and installed an extension in Thunderbird so that her contacts will remain in sync and she (or at least I) will be able to retrieve them should she ever switch computers again. All is well.
The EEE PC 701 does everything she needs to do. She is learning to switch back and forth between programs using the rudimentary task bar at the bottom of the screen, and she is pretty comfortable, even when she has to run Wireless Netwooks to restart wireless after sleep (I need to do a little research on that…I seem to remember there is a fix).
And, of course, just as Asus intended, the size of the thing, and its easy portability, really appeals to her. She is here in the bedroom office this morning, doing her email with the EEE PC on a lapdesk on the bed, but last night she was at the kitchen table with it browsing the web while the girls made cookies at the other end of the table. Much more pleasant, she says, than being squirreled away alone in one of the other rooms with a computer.
I should say, just to clear the air, when I use Carol as an example here you should look at her interests, not her gender or age. I do not intend to profile potential netbook users by either gender or age. It is matter only of what the user wants from his or her netbook.
So, I think Carol is going to be happy with the EEE PC. If all the Netbook vendors can successuflly market to people like Carol, which they have not done to date, then this Netbook thing could really catch on!