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Apple Notebooks Apple's notebook computers including MacBook Pro, MacBook, MacBook Air, PowerBook, and iBook.

iBook - [UK] Need advice on buying a Mac based laptop (Disabled use)


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JayX

 
Member Since: Feb 19, 2007
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(apologies for long post, its quite a specific circumstance so thought I'd throw the detail down now, rather than not explain everything properly and waste peoples time when they're trying to help)

Hi, this is my first post here, and I am.. gulp.. very much a PC kid. I'll openly admit to saying very mean things about Apple since I was 10 (15 years ago now) as.. well... you gotta pick a side right But anyway, after those who know me laughed when I got an iPod for Xmas last year I realised deep down it was actually really rather good piece of hardware, and whilst my natural dislike for Mr Jobs probably won't die I certainly decided that its been a while since I last used Macintosh hardware, and maybe just maybe we could co-exist together. Anyway, silly politics pushed aside...

Fast forward to 2007 and currently my father is trying to rehabilitate after suffering some pretty major strokes. Things really aren't good, he cannot talk, has no use of his right hand side of the body and fairly limited use of his left hand side. Given that he's 55 and it strikes you in the brain, it's pretty traumatising to everyone involved. The hospital itself has kinda given up on things ever really improving much so its mainly a case of us living to deal with things and make him as comfortable as possible etc.

A few weeks after he was in hospital, we weren't sure what his ability to communicate was. He seemed to respond to us by moving a hand slightly or his head, but it wasn't possible to judge vision and things like that. I managed to make an A4 sheet of paper with an alphabet drawn clearly on it, and from then we established communication again as he was able to spell out words. Eventually we managed to borrow a tool called a Lightwriter ( https://www.compaid.fi/sv/images/sl35.jpg same model, but we have a version with a keyguard on it so its easier to push the right button. It's how it came, rather than a specific request from ourselves ) and he managed to learn how to use this with his one hand. Its a good tool, and he doesn't need most of the functions, its useful as the keyboard is quite small and he's able to move his hand over the entire thing. However to buy one ourselves would cost $3,000 or so which is outrageous for such a simple tool.

My dads been in hospital for 6 months now, so we're trying to take things up a level. I have a 800mhz laptop from a few years ago that I've taken in the last couple of days and trying to re-teach him how to use it. Trackpads aren't easy for anyone on the first go when they're used to mice, but he started getting to grips with it. The main issue is he doesn't move his finger that much, so I've had to raise the speed all the way up.. loses some accuracy but seems to work best for him. I've adjusted the key stroke settings so its on a delayed and very slow repeat, which again..means after a lil while he was able to write out a sentence. Its a 14" notebook and I found its a little big for him, as the edges of the keyboard were out of reach, but its certainly encouraging.

Recently, I'd considered buying a "lounge mac" to have a mess around with, do some editing in my front room and just have something that isn't "yet another pc in the house". I thought that maybe my dad would get on better with an iBook (or whatever model suits him the best) but having no real access to one right now I thought I'd run it past you guys, being as you've got the knowledge base here. Now, OSX is supposed to be dead simple to use, and my dad was running Windows fine for a couple of years, sure I'd get the odd question to help him with something but the switch to OSX I'm hoping will be friendly, given that the majority of his stuff would be web surfing (looking around ebay etc) and nothing complex at all, as he's not capable of doing that. Then on the weekends I'd visit and help he put auctions up to sell, help him with emails etc.

What kind of spec am I looking for? I know the PowerPC clock speeds really aren't comparable to Intel/AMD spec'd PCs so I'm trying not to be a number snob and think "oh, thats a piece of junk, I'm surprised it even boots up" etc, I just want something that'll run his tasks well and be easy for him to use, hence most likely want a 12" model as opposed to anything larger.

I don't think the accessibility options beyond raising the font sizes will really help much, as they haven't on the PC but any program that'd help him communicate to my mother (to be honest, I was just presuming an open equivalent to Notepad and type out sentences so she can read them off the screen, but there might be something better out there that I'm unaware of).

Anyway, if anyone has any advice, or maybe even similar circumstances or whatever I'd appreciate it.

(I chose iBook as prefix just because I had to choose something, our budget isn't exactly high due to the costs of everything else surrounding the situation and the fact that my parents are on insanely limited income due to all of this, it truly is a nightmare situation. I'm presuming a lot of people here are in the states, and I can assure you getting seriously ill over here is a lot, lot different to where you are. They basically just leave you to die here. Its horrific.)
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PowerBookG4

 
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First, I am sorry about your father, I hope he gets better soon.

I think that since your on a limited buget an ibook G4 probably will suit you just fine for what you need it for. I would say probably a 1ghz processor will suit you just fine for what you need the computer for. There are alot of features on the mac that make it easy for the physically challenged, such as zoom, voice over, and the ability to make the computer talk through the terminal simply by typing say followed by what you want to say which will make it easier for him to communicate with you with out you reading the screen every time something must be said. The mac is also really easy to use and very simple interface and should be easy for somebody who has had a stroke to use. If you have any more questions let us know and we'll try to give you more information. I'm in english now waiting for my professor to get to me to check my research but shes almost here so I'll come back to this post if you have any more questions this afternoon.

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Amen-Moses

 
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Where are you in the UK?

I only ask because if you are close I could lend you one to try out.

I live in Portsmouth btw, sunny (?) south coast and all that.

Cheers,
Chris
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JayX

 
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hey guys, thanks for the replies.

OK, i'll keep my eye out on a ~1ghz 12" G4 then, either thru local people or UK forums and the dreaded eBay. Yeah some of the options might work ok, i think its a case of experimenting. I thought the magnifier in Windows would be good for him, but he didn't like it so turned off. In the end I ran very few extra options, but I quite like the "Say" command.. would be useful if my dad just needed attention more than anything, as my mum would be with him for most of the day whilst just using the system.

Alas, I'm in Cardiff which is a fair distance from yourself, but I know the odd people who I know run Apple hardware, so I can at least go thru the OS with them and work out how the setup would go even if the actual dimensions of the hardware would be different. If I can randomly find a 12" shell somehow I could always take that down.. I'd feel a bit uncomfortable about taking someone elses working laptop with me into the hospital just in case something happened!
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Amen-Moses

 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JayX View Post
hey guys, thanks for the replies.

OK, i'll keep my eye out on a ~1ghz 12" G4 then, either thru local people or UK forums and the dreaded eBay. Yeah some of the options might work ok, i think its a case of experimenting. I thought the magnifier in Windows would be good for him, but he didn't like it so turned off. In the end I ran very few extra options, but I quite like the "Say" command.. would be useful if my dad just needed attention more than anything, as my mum would be with him for most of the day whilst just using the system.

Alas, I'm in Cardiff which is a fair distance from yourself, but I know the odd people who I know run Apple hardware, so I can at least go thru the OS with them and work out how the setup would go even if the actual dimensions of the hardware would be different. If I can randomly find a 12" shell somehow I could always take that down.. I'd feel a bit uncomfortable about taking someone elses working laptop with me into the hospital just in case something happened!

Well I thought the chances of you being close were slim but worth a shot.

You can get the Mac to speak any highlighted text so for example you could put together a document of words or phrases which can then be selected with the trackpad and then spoken by hitting the space bar or something like that, the actual ergonomics would need to be worked out though.

If your father has trouble with intricate finger movements maybe a trackerball type device would be easier to use than the track mad or mouse?

Another option would be a Wacom tablet, these work well with the Mac and the pen can be used to do anything you can do with a mouse and also gives you the ability to draw shapes to communicate. The better versions even have buttons on the pen which can modify the action, so for example he could use the pen to select the words or phrases from a page and then squeeze the pen to make the Mac speak them.

Amen-Moses
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JayX

 
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Yeah I think its mainly going to be experimentation more than anything, I'd considered a trackball, I've never got on with them personally but maybe it would be something he could adapt to. The ones I've tried all seem geared for right hand use, whereas I'd have to look for one for lefties now (he's naturally right handed, but only has left hand use). I think we'll give the trackpad the best shot possible, give him as much practise as we can and see how he gets along with it. I'm hoping its just a case of practising.

I've got a tablet myself, but I think he'd have too much difficulty gripping the pen, and also the amount of extra room. The 12" book is ideal because of its size, and if we can get him running it without anything extra on the side it'd be great.

Thanks again.
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