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Anyone Else an ELSA Guinea-pig?

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Nigel Graham 208/12/2021 11:48:33
2137 forum posts
29 photos

ELSA stands for "English National Study of Ageing" - not your physcial condition but to asses how we of the wiser years cope with money, transport, housing etc. The results are used to help guide planning the public services. It is a voluntary survey and I've been a guinea-pig for quite a while now.

It has just announced the next round, but unfortunately seems to have become taken over by the highly-assumptive Great Family We-all, as my enquiry to it, copied below, shows....

+++

Good Morning, ELSA team.

I have been an ESLA guinea-pig for a long time now, happily so, but cannot see how this will continue.

Re the announcement for the latest session. I can understand the problems of home visits during pestilences, but you offer only an alternative impossible for me, and I daresay a good many others.

Why? You assume we can all use Microsoft 'Team'.

Please do not assume that because civil-service and educational organisations use something professionally, everyone can and does domestically.

Video calls already require a microphone and camera and their software, none of which I have. Nor do I own a "tablet" your circular implies has those built in.

Any of those sold now are likely to need at least Windows 10, and much more powerful computer than my still fairly young one with WIN-7 Pro.

In fact MS has made 'Team' prefer WIN-11, needing a still more powerful hence costlier computer.

Plus the change entails transferring hundreds of files and several programmes with no guarantee of acceptance by W10 and above.

The irony is two-fold:

1) The "A" in ELSA stands for "Ageing". As we age fewer of us are likely to be able to afford replacing existing, serviceable equipment with much higher-grade, costlier versions; and to learn new, increasingly costly and difficult, professional-grade programmes.

2) ELSA has a sizeable personal finance section. If you can afford the latest computers and software you are among those fewer elderly with no money worries anyway.

I appreciate this wretched pandemic makes home-visits difficult, but they are not impossible. I fear NatCen is making a big mistake here, heavily biasing its study by potentially surveying only the "Great Family We-all" Haves and ignoring the Have-nots.

So...

.....I have no means for televisual interviewing without a huge technical gamble plus a very heavy financial outlay, when I may have to re-roof my house lest I ever need sell it to protect care-company owners from penury ....

but....

...... I would like to contine as an ELSA guinea-pig...

How, please?

Kind Regards,

[name plus this:]

guinea pig.jpg

Ady108/12/2021 15:05:35
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5092 forum posts
736 photos

I have a private park sub for the dog and when a corporate dude took it over he was sending everything out in some sort of microsoft office format, .docx or something useless like that

So we had to have a word with him about the reality of the real world with real people in it

The future looks like an increasingly large divide is growing between the avid users of technology in government and corporate circles and the rest of the world population who only use the general system for convenience purposes

Edited By Ady1 on 08/12/2021 15:13:10

Oldiron08/12/2021 15:14:45
976 forum posts
40 photos

It is amazing how most companies, charities & government etc etc assume that everyone has unlimited resources to throw at technology. Government put up websites that many cannot navigate but are still expected to renew driving licences, road tax, passports etc via them. Many of us pensioners probably have the resources to buy these expensive items but are slowly loosing the faculties to use them.

I used the NHS website to order my prescriptions for the first time this week but can find no way to check if the order actually went through. So by this time next week I could be at the infernal doctors surgery trying to pusuade an 18 year old that I actually will die if I do not get the meds I need.

I hope that is not a picture of you after all the experiments Nigel. wink

regards

Nigel Graham 208/12/2021 17:36:12
2137 forum posts
29 photos

Ady -

Yes, I've had problems with that wreteched .doc and .xlsx nonsense too. I have no idea what it is supposed to achieve but what it does achieve is lock the files into some sort of non-editable image or something, and in some cases make them unreadable.

That's just Microsoft messing about. God help us if they diversify into designing cars and kitchen equipment!

'

Oldiron -

I think what's happened is that the people now designing the systems and web-sites have been spoon-fed computers and so-called "smart"-phones since Infant's School, and are so innured in the latest must-haves they are incapable of thinking in any other way.

Whatever they are taught about Javascript and all the rest of the whizzo stuff; the one thing that seems sadly lacking is any attempt to train them to think about their products' users, and to consider how a logical, reasonably intelligent person who only uses computers, thinks - which is not in Boolean logic and binary digits.

Taught web-site design for purpose, beyond merely how to write in C++ and concatenate pretty pictures, they might for example tell you clearly at the start of a questionnaire all the information (e.g. NI numbers, policy references) it will ask for as you wade through it.

They might also give after that, the criteria that would reject your enquiry or application to save fruitless attempts.

They might realise that random "Frequently Asked Questions" rarely if ever include your question, and anyway indicate poor or no instructions.

'

This on top of the social rather than technical matter of what I call "The Great Family We-all" , which I coined after yet another surplus, metrocentric "lifestyle" or "consumer affairs" hack waffling about what "now we all" do or must not do/ drive/ own/ read/ listen to/ shop in/ eat/ drink/ enjoy as a hobby/ communicate by /....

'

Oh... and no the guinea-pig was not me after the "experiments" .   

ELSA is a survey (English Longitudinal Study of Aging), not experiments as such; but besides him in the photo has much more hair on his head than I have!

Edited By Nigel Graham 2 on 08/12/2021 17:40:08

Ady108/12/2021 17:50:45
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5092 forum posts
736 photos

They bang about "inclusive policies" but the reality is they need to be brought to heel and there needs to be legal safeguards stating any official communication is deemed void and invalid if it cannot be read or received by an unrestricted free and freely available open source program which can be downloaded from the internet

PDF for example

Norfolk Boy08/12/2021 18:03:27
67 forum posts
18 photos

I realise and accept your position and yes it's frustrating. MS Office has moved on to use the DOCX and XLSX file types as the more common version these days but the user could save them in .doc or .xls to send out, or as you say pdf as a commonly readable version.

There are simple routes you could try as the path of least resistance, like downloading OpenOffice for free which will read these types of file or upload the file to an online converter like docx converter depending of course on how you feel about security of your data.

Alan

DiogenesII08/12/2021 18:53:00
563 forum posts
221 photos

..I thought this was going to be about extracting oneself from the hold of a burning 'ship'..

Oven Man08/12/2021 20:38:46
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182 forum posts
33 photos
Posted by Norfolk Boy on 08/12/2021 18:03:27:

I realise and accept your position and yes it's frustrating. MS Office has moved on to use the DOCX and XLSX file types as the more common version these days but the user could save them in .doc or .xls to send out, or as you say pdf as a commonly readable version.

Alan

Libre Office is another free office suite that will handle the latest Microsoft Office formats Docx and Xlsx without any problem. You can open documents in these formats and even create documents.

For me this suite of programs does everything I want without needing to spend money on Micrsoft products.

Peter

Emgee08/12/2021 22:43:12
2426 forum posts
290 photos
Posted by Oldiron on 08/12/2021 15:14:45:

I used the NHS website to order my prescriptions for the first time this week but can find no way to check if the order actually went through. So by this time next week I could be at the infernal doctors surgery trying to pusuade an 18 year old that I actually will die if I do not get the meds I need.

Nigel. wink

regards

Yes there doesn't seem to be any on-line confirmation the prescription has been sent to your chosen pharmacy, however you can see on the site drugs that have been recently ordered.

I usually ring my pharmacy the day after sending in the request to the surgery, they confirm if the prescription has been received, 100% success with the system so far.

Emgee

John Paton 108/12/2021 23:34:32
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324 forum posts
20 photos

I empathise entirely with you on this having spent best part of a week trying to arrange Covid booster for my 96 year old mother.

I am having similar problems with energy companies where they want you to do everything online but you cannot if you are trying to deal with more than one property or account from a given email address. It is mad and their call centres appear totally incapable of directing your call to someone competent to resolve the problem.

I have three such problems currently in train involving two different supply companies.

We are all being forced to use systems that quite simply do not work and regulatory systems are similarly ineffective.

Windy09/12/2021 01:00:02
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890 forum posts
190 photos

An annoying thing for me is so many web related sights think you have a mobile phone and no provision for a land line number for contact.

I have an ancient Nokia that I only got when the old AA breakdown boxes were removed..

What will happen if for some reason (major solar flares or war) electronics fail.

Nigel Graham 209/12/2021 10:13:37
2137 forum posts
29 photos

I suspect at heart is that all these systems are now being designed by people who have been brought up so digitally-minded that they cannot comprehend any other way of doing anything.

They appears trained in all the whizzo stuff like C++, image-manipulating and website deign, not not how to design anyhting for purpose or user. They are the administrative equivalents of the engineering students who can use CAD to the nth degree, but not to use it to design components that can be made or assemblies that can be repaired.

On top of this is the Great Family We-all, which i defined after reading yet another piece of idiocy from yet another metrocentric "lifestyle" hack assuming "now we all" live rather as database drop-down menu choices. An "approved" life revolving around so-called "smart 'phones" , "everyone" working in offices (aka the kitchen table), "all" having the same arts, entertainments and clothes tastes, home and furniture styles, choices of supermarket, food and wine, of holidays, hobbies, etc.

To these people there can only ever be one way of living: and it needs the very latest and most powerful portable-telephone, eavesdropping 'speaker and laptop loaded with the latest MS "bloatware". If you don'ty have these you don't exist , or at best do but are insignificant and second-rate, by your own fault. Some of the Victorians used to think poverty self-inflicted. I wonder if this attitude is rising again but based on the transistor not the farthing.

'

Windy -

You raise a looming future problem. BT wants to replace in the next few years, all copper landline connections to premises with optical-fibre, meaning any computer and landline telephone will need a permanently-on mains electricity supply. Landline telephones so far have always relied on a supply from the exchange, so are usually immune from power-cuts. If your future home 'phone is unuseable and your portable 'phone battery goes flat in a lengthy power-cut, you are out of contact. Oh, and your home heating is off too, of course, even if you still have gas-fired central-heating. (Don't tell Miss Thunderbox.)

John -

Most such systems probably work very well within very narrow limits, but as I hint at above, cannot cope with anything outside them. If the system gives any telephone alternative at all, and assuming you can actually reach anyone within an hour or so, the staff cannot stray outside those limits either because the designers have not considered that possibility. The Enquiry staff are just a human "Frequently Asked Questions" list given no initiative. Naturally too, we all know that "I'll ring back" is almost always a blatant lie.

Many organisations refuse to publish any contact details: use their limited web-site and/or phone number, or nothing. Stops you writing to their Directors, stating your problem, requesting help and asking why their staff cannot help.

Norfolk Boy, Oven Man -

With respect you are missing the point. Microsoft designed 'Word' and 'Excel' and their .doc and .xls files and made them transmissable; and Microsoft has a near monopoly. It was always possible to exchange readable and indeed edit files (unless locked by the author) provided both parties have the same MS Office programmes, even if slightly different editions.

If MS thinks .docx and .xlsx files the more common now it is because MS itself has designed and enforced those new file-types.

It was never, and should not now be, necessary to have to obtain any third-part translator to be able to exchange files in useable forms between two computers using the files' own creation-programme in the same operating-system, even if the OS and programme editions differ a bit.

'

Diogenes -

Burning ships? I'll have you know we guinea-pigs are not rats and do not infest ships. We even have wider vocabularies than rats, andd when really excited, can chirrup like injectors with air-leaks!

Peter G. Shaw09/12/2021 10:27:28
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1421 forum posts
44 photos

Couldn't agree more with the sentiments expressed above.

I have given up on Patient Access in favour of the "leave a message for repeat prescriptions" version. Why? Because 12 months ago yet another change was inflicted upon the users which I managed to mess up and then required a mobile 'phone for correction purposes. I do have one, but I then found no way of entering the number. So, sod 'em, back to good old fashioned speech and leave a message.

I note as well that with Covid, we are expected to download "stuff", apps - whatever they are - onto our smart phone. What smart phone? I neither have, nor want one - unless you are paying (!). But I have no need for one. So again, sod off!

I've lost count of the programmes I have tried to use which simply has failings in it - poor programming, versions meant for the USA, etc etc.

And, I'm not a well man. My wife is 8 years younger than me, and does not want to use internet/email/laptops etc. And it is now dawning on her just what a bind she is going to be in when I depart this mortal coil. Just think - telephone, electric, car insurance, house insurance, caravan insurance, coal payments, council tax payments, water bill payments, tv licence, road tax, car servicing payments - all paid via 't'internet. Now ok, some of this is my wife's fault because she doesn't want to use electronic means, and I can understand why when I think about all the problems I have had So why should she be forced into 2nd citizen status for it?

Finally, I refuse point blank to be subjected to the Microsoft monopoly, using instead Linux. It works and I can achieve most, if not all, things that I wish to do using Linux. But yet, certain people appear unable to accept that there is indeed a world away from Microsoft. I'm just looking forward to the day when I send something off and the recipient is unable to read it. Then, won't I have fun telling them what to do!

Cheers people,

Peter G. Shaw

Steve Garry09/12/2021 14:54:28
17 forum posts

Latest total pain is the proliferation of 2 factor authentication, which has spread beyond banking, and is now seen as the greatest thing since sliced bread for preventing fraud on insecure bank card technology and the like. Google are rolling it out on their systems, it won't be long before there's outrage on many sites as users find all manner of strife making it work.

It's total and utter pain to use something like a desktop on line banking application, as if you don't have your phone pretty much in your hand, with no other applications open or running, the chances are that your transaction on the desktop won't get through, as the mobile phone will have timed out before you get to the one microscopic spot on the screen that you have to hit in order to swipe to approve, or similar.

It's wonderful if you live in the middle of a massive conurbation with 5G mobile, and have a brand new state of the art smart phone, and perfect eyesight, and no hassles with anything like dementia, or arthritis, or any of the other myriad issues that can affect older generations, and you can rest assured that the older generations are not part of the team that supposedly perform quality assurance on the product, the modern standard for these things seems to be very much along the lines of "is it working? Yes, ship it", and I speak as someone that spent 50 years working with computer technology.

As for where it's going over the next while, I really have to wonder, and doubt how well some of the older generations will cope with it. I know my wife will struggle with some of it if I am not here to help, and there are plenty more like her, much younger, who will be struggling to cope with this brave new world of modern systems, and don't even get me started on things like Microsoft WIndows 11 and similar technology, I have a computer here that's less than 2 years old, and it can't run WIn 11, and a 3 year old Laptop that has been killed for future graphics and driver updates for Win 10, because AMD don't want to deal with sorting out their mess from the last few years.

Brave new world? Not in my book, and the sooner that some of the monopolies that are in control get taken down, the better for all of us, I was interested to see that Amazon have just been fined over a billion Euro by Italy for breaching some of the monopoly regulations there, but don't hold your breath, as much of the second factor authentication nonsense was driven by EU regulations, and yes, I know that in theory Brexit means that the UK can stick 2 fingers in the air to the EU, but just be careful where those 2 fingers end up going, Boris has managed at last to make it very clear that he respects no one and nothing where rules are concerned.

Time to put up the last of the decs before I get really wound up wink

Norfolk Boy09/12/2021 22:11:39
67 forum posts
18 photos

Norfolk Boy, Oven Man -

With respect you are missing the point. Microsoft designed 'Word' and 'Excel' and their .doc and .xls files and made them transmissable; and Microsoft has a near monopoly. It was always possible to exchange readable and indeed edit files (unless locked by the author) provided both parties have the same MS Office programmes, even if slightly different editions.

With equal respect to you, I feel I haven't missed the point at all, I am very aware of what you are saying and was simply trying to be helpful. As a user of MS office in the current versions I could go on to challenge each of your points including the one above but it would just appear argumentative and there is enough of that around already and I have no desire to be another keyboard warrior so hopefully you wil find a way around your problems without raising your stress levels too much. I hope you find a solution that works for you.

Alan

Nigel Graham 209/12/2021 23:59:43
2137 forum posts
29 photos

Thank you Norfolk Boy.

Please, I realise you were trying to help me by suggesting solutions. I thank you for that and I am sure they work.

My point was they should not be necessary because they are solutions to problems created by Microsoft needlessly messing around with its own inventions that had generally always worked well.

As I said earlier, I have seen no convincing, genuine reason for MS making damaging changes to its own software; leading me to assume merely some hidden commercial gain.

.

Peter, Steve -

I can underdtand and appreciate those potential problems of living without the Internet and "smart" 'phone entirely. The system are pushing me further and further away, my mother who died some 12 years ago would have been totally abandoned. She struggled enough after our Dad died 10 years previously because he'd managed all the bills and she only ever used cash and the occasional cheque, not even a debit card. Luckily, as well as help from the family, their bank had a sympathetic local manager who discreetly gave her his office number to bypass the call-centre blockades. She had no portable 'phone, had never used a computer. I fear nowadays a lot of these Internet-bound organisations would be inaccessible to her, or would ignore her except to demand money "with menaces" .

I signed for Internet banking. It worked the first time, when I registered then moved some money in the same session; but failed the next. To Hell with it then. Luckily my bank still has a town-centre branch.

I have no " smart" telephone either. Tried one: neither use nor ornament. Replaced it with a basic instrument that is a voice-telephone first and foremost. (Not as an auxiliary function, as on that LG2017.)

Sometimes I am asked for my portable 'phone's number. I can never remember it. Usually admitting truthfully that I would have to look it up (and often, do not have the 'phone with me) is enough for it to be not needed anyway!

My PC runs on MS WIN-7 Pro and does everything I need - as did WIN XP; although that, on what is now a spare PC, might not take my edition of TurboCAD.

I had a quick look to see what is about, should I have to spend £*hundreds better spent on tools and steel - or repairing my house roof.

My rough guide, a major chain's catalogue, is an utter mess: pretty pictures, advertising hyperbole, confusing prices; but scanty information. It sells computers all with WIN-10 but no useful programmes, and implies the more powerful ones can be "up-graded" (i.e. "up-dated" ) to WIN-11. The programmes themselves, under the MS "Office" label, seem sold by annual subscriptions but this being unclear, and the prices being 1-year only, suggest hiding something. 'Access' has disappeared, the so-called 'Cloud' seems a default. Would the older forms of Office work on these W10+ PCs?

In fact, as when I bought my present PC, I would go to an independant retailer carrying perhaps a smaller range but far more likely to help me choose the best for me.

I wonder when Greta's Little Helpers are going to twig the appalling, rapidly growing waste of materials and fuel the entire IT industry is enforcing?

'

I doubt the UK Government would decide that that authentication method can be ignored, because its use is likely to be far more under the control of the "international" (i.e. mainly American) IT and money trades, than by the EU. If anything, any such EU ruling would have been at the conglomerates' bidding.

'

I think you sum up what I see as very worrying developments whose eventual end will be a deeply divided society.

Divided not by any of the traditional barriers like "class" , sex, race, religion, political allegiance - nor by money directly, although that is contributory.

Divided instead by ownership of a very narrow, very limited set of equipment and software; dictating one's ability to meet an ever-diminishing choice in how to perform simple, everyday tasks like communicating with other people, paying bills, travelling, or even shopping.

DiogenesII10/12/2021 08:04:32
563 forum posts
221 photos
Posted by Nigel Graham 2 on 09/12/2021 10:13:37:

... ...Diogenes -

Burning ships? I'll have you know we guinea-pigs are not rats and do not infest ships. We even have wider vocabularies than rats, andd when really excited, can chirrup like injectors with air-leaks... ...

..I used to occasionally have to do work that required training in the use of Emergency Life Saving Apparatus, a portable breathing set with a clammy rubber hood fed by an air bottle..

We used to have to go to a Firestation in a naval port, where they had various mock-ups of ship superstructures, to be lowered into the blackened depths in order to have to 'rescue' oursleves and colleagues..

I think for the poor buggers training for fire-fighting duties in the navy they actually fired them with diesel and flooded them with water for an extra taste of the horrors to come..

It was always a sobering experience..

Edited By DiogenesII on 10/12/2021 08:05:10

Ady110/12/2021 08:35:16
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5092 forum posts
736 photos

I think for the poor buggers training for fire-fighting duties in the navy they actually fired them with diesel and flooded them with water for an extra taste of the horrors to come..

It was always a sobering experience..

I was one of those lucky souls, in the Scottish one in MacDonald road

As a kid you could see the ships accommodation behind the fire station with its smoke blackened doors and blistered paint and you would think "I wonder what that's doing there??"

Never imagined I'd get chucked into the top of it with a massive bonfire raging at the bottom for heat barrier training purposes. When it got too hot your ears started to melt and everybody had to bale out

We were in the pub in Leith Walk after the 5 days training was over and the other patrons were all staring at us in a funny way. We realised that it was because even after a shower and new clothes you still stank of singed hair and flesh

Oven Man10/12/2021 10:06:29
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182 forum posts
33 photos
Posted by Norfolk Boy on 09/12/2021 22:11:39:

Norfolk Boy, Oven Man -

With respect you are missing the point. Microsoft designed 'Word' and 'Excel' and their .doc and .xls files and made them transmissable; and Microsoft has a near monopoly. It was always possible to exchange readable and indeed edit files (unless locked by the author) provided both parties have the same MS Office programmes, even if slightly different editions.

With equal respect to you, I feel I haven't missed the point at all, I am very aware of what you are saying and was simply trying to be helpful. As a user of MS office in the current versions I could go on to challenge each of your points including the one above but it would just appear argumentative and there is enough of that around already and I have no desire to be another keyboard warrior so hopefully you wil find a way around your problems without raising your stress levels too much. I hope you find a solution that works for you.

Alan

The point I was trying to get across was that you don't have to spend money buying Microsoft Office to enable these file formats to be used.

Peter

Samsaranda10/12/2021 11:05:27
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1430 forum posts
5 photos

After reading the moans above about Microsoft I am glad I ditched it 10 years and went Apple with an IMac, fingers crossed not had any problems since, I know that 90% of the world use Microsoft systems, even bank cash point systems run on Microsoft Windows, but I am happy to live in the Apple world, it’s much calmer than Microsoft with all its glitches and problems. Dave W

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