As I noted the other day, I’m helping get Mom up to speed on her new Powerbook, over the phone and, sadly, screenblind for the nonce. It’s quite exhausting, something like playing chess while blindfolded with a novice chess player who may or may not understand the verbal conventions used to describe the chessboard but who probably knows the basic rules of the game.

It’s fun, though, to spend so much time on such a minute series of tasks with someone you love. We’re spending two to three hours on the phone or voice-and-video chatting every night. The most challenging part (aside from the blindfolded chess aspect) is unpacking my own assumptions about what a given verbal description of a user-interface gesture means.

Commenters on the previous entry noted a resistance to the idea of employing a conventionalized, consistent vocabulary to describe computer user-interface elements among older new users they’d worked with. Thankfully, that does not appear to be the case with my mom. Every day, she gets a bit more oriented, and is able to both recognize and use the new vocabulary.

One commenter, jbelkin, on the earlier entry noted that .Mac membership grants access to some Apple-produced training movies, which are described as the “How to Use Panther” movies.

If you have the inclination, signing up for .Mac lets you access the How to use Panther QT movies – they start from the beginning and they are as clear as day – there are about 80 movies and they start with MOUSING to ATTACHING A DIGITAL CAMERA and using iphoto. All the basics and some not-so-basics are covered.

I looked and looked, but could not find these. I did find the .Mac Learning Center, though: could these be the films referred to?

I gave my mom the assignment of working through the “Mac OS X Basics” presentations and will check in on her tomorrow to see how effective they are. Then, tomorrow night, I will take my dad through patching iChat to enable USB video sources.

Tonight, we used iChat video and voice quite painlessly for about two hours. For some reason, Mom’s audio connection was unusually good, and I found myself continually glancing to the shelf where my speakers are located, involuntarily expecting to see her.