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Being ‘techno-in-touch’

OK, you know and I know there are people who did not grow up digital. They were tech-deprived. Their messages were not instant, their friends lived next door, not on Facebook, and when they were young, a lap top was something you sat on if you were a little kid in need of comfort.

Those people today are known as grandparents and some of them – I won’t name names – are resisting the best part of the modern world – computers, family email and getting the latest pics of the grandkids playing soccer. I know these resisters and here’s how they think:

If I get involved with computers, the computer will explode when I push the wrong button and maybe I too will explode with frustration because I don’t understand what it’s all about and maybe I am too old and dumb to learn. So I’ll stay out of the fray.



But these grandparents are leaving themselves out of the main family communication loop. And though older people may prefer to communicate by snail mail and the phone – it’s what they know – the grandkids they want to hear from don’t. Let’s see a show of hands here from those grandparents who get letters and regular phone calls from their grandchildren.

I thought so. Today’s kids speak email and if grandparents want to stay in close touch, they have to put a toe in the tech water. Luckily, there’s a pleasant, easy compromise solution and it is called Presto. Remember that name because it’s how people can get emails and photos from the family without owning a computer or knowing how to do anything but pick up their printed-out email at home.




So What Is Presto?

Think of it as nana technology, just made for grandparents. The device looks somewhat like a little fax machine and, like a fax, it plugs into a phone line. Made by HP, the device is called a printing mailbox and that’s just what it is. Family and friends can send emails and photos and presto, the little printing mailbox goes to work and prints them out.

There’s no spam and no way to get in trouble on the net with criminals and porn salespeople. If gramps wants porn, he’s going to have to get a computer. And if he wants to send email back to his family, he’ll also have to get a computer as Presto provides incoming emails and photos only.

All of which is surely better than nothing. I think of Presto printouts as a family news report – who is doing what, what the new baby or the new house looks like, how little Madison’s smile has changed now that she’s lost her front teeth.

The Presto machine is on sale as I write this for 99 bucks, though it usually retails online at places like Amazon for $150. To run it, you need the $9.99 monthly services of the Presto people. Practically, someone in the family who is comfortable with computers will set the device up, though the Presto people say the process is a breeze.

Learn much more at http://www.presto.com. They even have a section of testimonials from older people who did not want to be Presto-ized, but who changed their minds as soon as the emails and the family pictures began appearing in their living rooms without their doing a thing. No typing. No sitting in front of screens. You can reassure grandma by telling her Martha Stewart was so impressed by Presto she did a TV segment on it.

Now, if you are looking for a Father’s Day present for a computerless older dad, think Presto. Maybe several kids can go in on it. The son or daughter physically closest to the parent would be the one who sets it up. And also, it’s not just a device for older folks. The Presto people gave out their printing mailboxes to mothers of soldiers in Iraq.

So thank you, Presto. And maybe your service will gently pull some grandparents into the 21st century.

Come on in, the century is fine.

Mel Walsh is a gerontologist and certifiable geezer. Her book of advice for older women, Hot Granny, is available at The Book Seller in Grass Valley and online at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.


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