So I just built my in-laws a HTPC... - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 36 Old 01-14-2012, 03:51 PM - Thread Starter
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Background: My in-laws live on a small farm and are the most non-tech people you could imagine. Sometimes they can't even log on to their wireless network as they forget their password.

Needless to say I am completely insane and decided to agree to their request to build them a HTPC. They have 5 grandchildren and wanted it mainly as a hub for the kids' movies and shows.

So I spent the last week or so building this thing and getting it absolutely as "bare bones" as you can get for HTPC to make it as easy to use as possible. Obviously I will be the tech support for this machine which to be honest scares me a little.

So after I spent 20 minutes showing them everything this thing could do today do you know what they like the best about this piece of cutting edge technology and supreme gadgetry?

The revolving Windows 7 desktop background which I loaded 2000+ pictures of their grandkids.

Go figure.

Ugh.
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post #2 of 36 Old 01-14-2012, 03:56 PM
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Originally Posted by assassin View Post

So I just built my in-laws a HTPC...

Yeah, uhh. This is where you went wrong.
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post #3 of 36 Old 01-14-2012, 03:58 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by NewOrlnsDukie View Post

Yeah, uhh. This is where you went wrong.

I've built lots of friends HTPCs (probably 15+ now at least). These are by far the most tech UN-savvy of anyone of those though.

Should be an interesting experiment and the ultimate testament if they can figure it out on their own.
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post #4 of 36 Old 01-14-2012, 04:00 PM
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Originally Posted by assassin View Post

I've built lots of friends HTPCs (probably 15+ now at least). These are by far the most tech UN-savvy of anyone of those though.

Should be an interesting experiment and the ultimate testament if they can figure it out on their own.

The most I was willing to do for my in-laws was to tell them what components to buy for their HT, and what cords to connect where.

That was enough.
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post #5 of 36 Old 01-14-2012, 04:08 PM
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I just built a PC for my gf's mom, she uses it for everything and is also not computer savy at all. I was showing her Unity desktop, she used Linux mint before. No viruses, no updates, no worries...in case an issue comes up teamviewer is there to help.
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post #6 of 36 Old 01-14-2012, 04:12 PM
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I use the Win7 slideshow for wallpaper too. 750+ pictures of cats...Did that for WAF in the living room.
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post #7 of 36 Old 01-14-2012, 05:35 PM
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Congrats, you did install vnc or enable remote assistance or something, correct?

I have been wanting to build one for my father, but each time I turn the toolbar back on in word for him I snap back to reality. Hopefully you will post back with something like 6 months and no tech support issues, come on in the water is fine
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post #8 of 36 Old 01-14-2012, 05:41 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by winterescape View Post

Congrats, you did install vnc or enable remote assistance or something, correct?

I have been wanting to build one for my father, but each time I turn the toolbar back on in word for him I snap back to reality. Hopefully you will post back with something like 6 months and no tech support issues, come on in the water is fine

We see them regularly enough in person that I am going to do tech support in person in the short term. If it becomes an issue I will install other means to tinker with it from home.
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post #9 of 36 Old 01-14-2012, 05:48 PM
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You are so right. C+V
Needless to say I am completely insane and decided to agree to their request to build them a HTPC
I got the same problem

"The purpose of diplomacy is to prolong a crisis." Spock, Mark of Gideon, TOS
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post #10 of 36 Old 01-14-2012, 06:21 PM
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I made the mistake of building an HTPC for my own parents years ago. It was a disaster.

My mistake was that is was not a dedicated device, it did double duty as their main PC as well.

My mother has zero common sense and would open any spam e-mail sent her way. This created a living hell for me. I had team veiwer installed luckily, but it was still a huge PITA. After a while I just gave up, I pulled the plug on it years ago. Now she just has an Ipad, which is fairly fool proof for what she uses it for.
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post #11 of 36 Old 01-14-2012, 06:48 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by cshaw88 View Post

I made the mistake of building an HTPC for my own parents years ago. It was a disaster.

My mistake was that is was not a dedicated device, it did double duty as their main PC as well.

My mother has zero common sense and would open any spam e-mail sent her way. This created a living hell for me. I had team veiwer installed luckily, but it was still a huge PITA. After a while I just gave up, I pulled the plug on it years ago. Now she just has an Ipad, which is fairly fool proof for what she uses it for.

I think choosing a purposely limiting HTPC remote control or keyboard is the key to decrease this.
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post #12 of 36 Old 01-14-2012, 09:02 PM
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This is probably where built in Google TV like talked about at CES will be useful. Let's face it for lots of people it can't be any more complicated then the directv box.
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post #13 of 36 Old 01-14-2012, 10:06 PM
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You are very brave! LOL. I have learned to just not even talk about HTPC with people - it seems to just fry their brains - even many normally smart people. I wouldn't be surprised if you just built them a very hi tech picture viewer - if they ever even turn it on again.

It seems to be ingrained in people that tv is something with a remote control to pick a channel and watch a show when it is on. "Computers" are scary and confusing to many people.

It was nice of you to build it for them - I really do hope they take the time to get to know all that it can do. It is great to see new people get converted - then I don't feel as crazy.
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post #14 of 36 Old 01-14-2012, 10:49 PM
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Most people of the older generation are old-school...didn't grow up in the computer age so alot of today's technology often confuses them. Some even are very reluctant, unwilling to change from what they know best.

Up until this past Christmas, my youngest brother had no idea what an HTPC was. Now that I gave him an intro into it, he loves it now. I gave him my i3 Clarkdale HTPC to get him started.
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post #15 of 36 Old 01-15-2012, 05:04 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by assassin View Post

I've built lots of friends HTPCs (probably 15+ now at least). These are by far the most tech UN-savvy of anyone of those though.

Should be an interesting experiment and the ultimate testament if they can figure it out on their own.

Make sure you create a mirror/backup of the setup so when they call you with problems you can instruct them how to restore back to your original settings.
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post #16 of 36 Old 01-15-2012, 05:57 AM
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Originally Posted by AVTechMan View Post

Most people of the older generation are old-school...didn't grow up in the computer age so alot of today's technology often confuses them. Some even are very reluctant, unwilling to change from what they know best.

Up until this past Christmas, my youngest brother had no idea what an HTPC was. Now that I gave him an intro into it, he loves it now. I gave him my i3 Clarkdale HTPC to get him started.

Yup young people pick up quick, older people's thinking gets locked in.
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post #17 of 36 Old 01-15-2012, 06:07 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by jeffkro View Post

Yup young people pick up quick, older people's thinking gets locked in.

The Desktop has the recycling bin and a shortcut to launch their HTPC interface. That's it. No other crap to get them distracted.

Like I said I really made this one lean and mean. No bells and whistles.

Set Win7 to automatically download and install all updates. Also set it up so that nothing ever goes to sleep (like the wireless internet adapter).

Haven't been called yet. Don't know if they have used it yet though.
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post #18 of 36 Old 01-15-2012, 06:53 AM
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Thats probably the best idea for non tech people, hide almost all windows features and just put the programs they will use on the desktop. Once you are actually in media center it acts a lot like a normal DVR/player. In fact if MS wants to do a set top, this is probably what they should do, strip out almost all non media functions, but of course us techy people would hate that. I don't hold out much hope for MS being able to compete with google and apple in this coming market, they had the lead but they have become to slow and cumbersome like GM in the 90's.
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post #19 of 36 Old 01-15-2012, 11:23 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jeffkro View Post

Yup young people pick up quick, older people's thinking gets locked in.

Hey now... my grandmother got an internet connection in the early 90's... she was the first person I knew that had one outside of my college. She was on Compuserve well before that.
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post #20 of 36 Old 01-21-2012, 09:41 AM
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Any update or feedback yet? Have they used it very much, I was looking today at just getting this for my Dad but the reviews so far look scary.

For the cost I could build a nice HTPC, Sigh...

Sooo anyone have a good recommendation for remote administration? the built in win 7 remote assistance or logmein? just use VNC?
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post #21 of 36 Old 01-21-2012, 10:00 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by winterescape View Post

Any update or feedback yet? Have they used it very much, I was looking today at just getting this for my Dad but the reviews so far look scary.

For the cost I could build a nice HTPC, Sigh...

Sooo anyone have a good recommendation for remote administration? the built in win 7 remote assistance or logmein? just use VNC?

My in-laws don't use it for live tv. They have Directv.

So far I haven't been called that they have broken something. They have watched a few movies and everything seems to be stable and good so far!
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post #22 of 36 Old 01-21-2012, 03:03 PM
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I am trying to get my parents up and running. I know your pain Assassin.

lol.

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"Too much is almost enough. Anything in life worth doing is worth overdoing. Moderation is for cowards."
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post #23 of 36 Old 01-22-2012, 09:06 AM
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My own rule is never to help with anything computer related unless it is under my roof. Mostly because my personal experience says that nothing good will ever come out of it.

I could go into a long rant why this is the way it is but this is really psychology-related and not HT stuff.

In the old days they had this Dell dude commercial - loved it, whenever someone would ask me for computer advice, I would always imitate the Dell dude and say something along the lines "Dude, get a Dell, if you have a problem call their tech support, they'll work magic."

These days I say "Dude get a Mac."
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post #24 of 36 Old 01-22-2012, 10:21 AM
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Originally Posted by durack View Post

My own rule is never to help with anything computer related unless it is under my roof. Mostly because my personal experience says that nothing good will ever come out of it.



Pretty much. Throwing together a machine or even showing them how to use it is no big deal....but in doing so you just signed up for dealing with every little BS computer related issue they have from there on out.
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post #25 of 36 Old 01-22-2012, 01:18 PM
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Pretty much. Throwing together a machine or even showing them how to use it is no big deal....but in doing so you just signed up for dealing with every little BS computer related issue they have from there on out.

Exactly. This is why I never build computers for other people unless they know how to do their own tech support. Come to think of it, the people I have given computers to are all overseas so I don't have to play tech support at all.
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post #26 of 36 Old 01-22-2012, 01:19 PM
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I built my parents a system using SageTV and extenders. That way they can't really mess anything up since they are never using the server directly, only the extenders. This is why I've been watching the thread on the Ceton Echo extender. If this thing does half of what we want I think it would be perfect for parents and the less technically proficient. We do the heavy lifting setting up the back end. They use an appliance on the front end.

I'll tell you what feature comes in handy for parents, DTS decoding. The older Sage extenders couldn't decode DTS so I had to use receivers instead of directly hooking them up to the TV. Having one more step in the chain just seems to be one more thing to cause problems. I want it to be as simple as possible.
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post #27 of 36 Old 01-22-2012, 01:21 PM
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I'll tell you what feature comes in handy for parents, DTS decoding. The older Sage extenders couldn't decode DTS so I had to use receivers instead of directly hooking them up to the TV. Having one more step in the chain just seems to be one more thing to cause problems. I want it to be as simple as possible.

Alas, that's true. For my mom, it doesn't matter if she doesn't have surround sound or if the speakers suck, etc. All that matters is keeping things as simple as possible. The dad, however, is an audiophile and doesn't mind the extra complication of the AVR. They dislike the layout of the Harmony remote so it's separate remotes for each component. Thankfully, it's just TV+HTPC (and AVR for my dad).
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post #28 of 36 Old 01-22-2012, 02:27 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AVTechMan View Post

Most people of the older generation are old-school...didn't grow up in the computer age so alot of today's technology often confuses them. Some even are very reluctant, unwilling to change from what they know best.

My own personal thoughts on that is that a lot of people in general just hate LEARNING anything new. Heck, remember your school days - plenty of your classmates would not be interested in studying _anything_.

In the old days there were plenty of people that couldn't figure out how to program a VCR...or, more accurately, did not want to figure it out.
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post #29 of 36 Old 01-22-2012, 07:16 PM
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What I think is sad is that my parents were a lot like me when they were my age. They were early adopters, we had one of the first video game systems (with pong), one of the first VCR's, and we got our first computer in 1983. My parents taught the people at the my school how to use it, and I taught the people in my class. For a long time they were quite technically proficient.

There just came a time when these things started getting harder for them. My father can still do most things since he has to use a computer for work. I help him out with certain things, but he can do do most of what he needs to do. My mother has issues. They're running lots of tests and trying to figure out exactly what is going on with her. She is having problems with her memory, so she has difficulty remembering how to use the equipment I've set up for them. The only good thing about this is that it's forced my father to better understand everything so he can help her. So she calls him now, instead of me getting a call.
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post #30 of 36 Old 01-23-2012, 06:07 AM
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I did the same for my father & mother-in-law. I got one tech support phone call (they couldn't figure out why it kept turning itself off forgetting I'd told them it'll go to sleep when it's not being used and they just have to press the big red button on the remote to wake it up). I haven't heard any since. So, I strongly suspect they aren't using it .

 

 

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