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This month on Which? Conversation: November 2021

Here’s out latest open thread covering everything happening on Which? Conversation and across which.co.uk throughout November. Last updated 19 November.

Welcome to November on Which? Conversation – get involved in the discussion and catch up on the latest news.

26 November: What’s your Black Friday regret?

Well, here we are at what is arguably the biggest shopping day of the retail world?  How do you plan on spending it? 

Are you planning to buy something in the Black Friday sales this year?
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So why does Which? cover Black Friday anyway?  Why all the research into each retailer’s offers to see if they’re truly worth it, looking into the security risks of the cheaper tech you might find in a bargain bin, or how to shop greener and more locally

We’ve been putting your comments to Ele Clark, our senior editor for shopping and money.  In her words: 

we don’t actually believe shopping on Black Friday is a bad thing – you just need to go into it with eyes wide open and a bit of research up your sleeve.

With this on your side, you’re able to make the choices that are best for you – be it bagging the bargains and bonus offers, or avoiding the shops altogether. Check out Ele’s discussion later today on the site.

What’s your Black Friday regret?

One story which stood out this week was Ian Aikman‘s look into the downsides of Black Friday – people making purchases they regret, buying items they don’t have the funds to pay for them, and feeling the pressure to make a purchase.

If your regret is in the area of debt and payments, it may be useful to get in touch with one of the many free debt advice services available to you in the UK. These offer free, impartial advice to help get you back on your feet, financially speaking. Worth checking out the rest of Which?’s debt advice too, this covers everything from negative equity to universal credit and is free to all.

If, like me, your regret takes the form of a purchase you didn’t need and question why you bought in the first place (looking at you here, green screen backdrop), let’s talk about it! What was it? What do you plan to do with it?

One regret though we wish for no one to have is to be the victim of a scam. Chiara Cavaglieri has rounded up some of the common scams that we’ve seen on Black Fridays past, alongside tips to keep you safe while you shop.

How to shop safely on Black Friday

Is your smart speaker listening to you?

The next episode of Which? Invesitgates is out now. This episode looks into whether your smart speaker is recording you, and the broader security implications of owning a device that may or may not keep a record of everything it hears.

19 November: Is it beginning to look a lot like Christmas?

It’s starting to happen now. Walking into a restaurant and being greeted by a giant light up snowman. Shopping along to a seasonal soundtrack. Being momentarily dazzled by the flashing lights from @chiragkhetiya’s Christmas tree in the back of a video call.

We’ve just passed the halfway mark of November. I know it’s nice to have something to look forward to, but isn’t it just a bit early for decorating?

When we asked this question back in 2018 the general consensus in the comments seemed to be December. Has spending more time at home during the pandemic caused you to decorate earlier, or later (or even not decorate at all)?

When do you put up your Christmas tree and/or decorations?

Early December (25%, 216 Votes)

The week before Christmas (25%, 216 Votes)

Mid December (24%, 214 Votes)

N/A - I do not put up a Christmas tree or other decorations (15%, 135 Votes)

Late November (5%, 44 Votes)

Christmas Eve (4%, 34 Votes)

Beginning of November (1%, 10 Votes)

Mid November (1%, 10 Votes)

Total Voters: 879

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It’s never too early for food. You may have seen already that the results for this year’s Best Mince Pies have been announced, with others like Best Champagne soon to follow. All this and more is in December’s Which? Magazine. NB you’ll need to be signed in with your Which? Member login to see the testing results.

Buy Now, Pay Later: have you had a bad experience?

As you know, Which? has been actively calling for Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) to have the power to regulate Buy Now, Pay Later (BNPL) providers.

Some of you have shared your experiences already (thank you!). We’re keen to hear from more people, particularly if you’ve had a bad experience using a BNPL provider:

  • Has using a BNPL provider caused you go into (or further into) debt?
  • Have you been a victim of a scam or fraud due to using a BNPL provider?
  • Has using BNPL impacted your financial reputation? (For example, having an adverse impact on your credit score, affected your ability to get a mortgage, etc.)?

If so, we’d like to hear from you. You can share your experience in our BNPL regulation discussion or, if you’d rather not comment publicly, get in touch via our email form.

11 November: How do you persuade someone to be more green?

As you may have seen, Which?’s sustainability team has put together 12 days of Sustainability, covering everything from how you can eat a more eco-friendly diet to how you can spot when a company is greenwashing.

Check out Which?’s Sustainable living advice

These guides focus on how we can empower ourselves as individuals to take action, and obviously the more people who do them the greater effect it has. Have you ever tried to persuade someone to try to live more sustainably? If so, how did it go?

Let us know your experiences in the comments below, or in our ongoing conversation about what it means to live sustainably.

Black Friday already?

It seems very much at odds to talk about Black Friday and COP26 at the same time, given how one is very much an encouragement to consume more, the other about consuming less. Nonetheless, the usual wave of deals and promotions from retailers started earlier this month, and Which? has been busy looking at where the good deals are (and aren’t), and your consumer rights if something goes wrong.

If you are braving the sales, you can find all the latest in Which?’s Black Friday insider’s guide.

1 November: Can climate talks save the planet?

We start November with the COP26 Climate Summit in Glasgow, where the future of the world hangs in the balance.  We’ll be covering this extensively across Which?, so look for updates in this space, and please do leave your thoughts and reactions in our ongoing discussion.

If you’re looking for tips on how to live more sustainably, you might consider subscribing to Which?’s new Sustainability Newsletter.

Any questions about technology and security?

As you may have heard, the new season of the Which? Investigates podcast is all about technology and security.  

Do you have any questions you’d like the expert panel to cover? It could be anything from the hackability of smart homes (or cars), to whether your tech is listening to you without your consent, or even general questions you may have on technology or keeping your digital life safe. 

We’ll be publishing a discussion this Friday 5 November about how you can take part, but if you want to ask your questions now, feel free to put them in the comments below.

In the meantime, tune in to the latest episode on whether someone can take control of your car while you’re driving it:

The Autumn Budget: reasons for optimism?

The Which? Money podcast also goes into more detail on last week’s Autumn Budget:

For this week’s poll we’re curious to know how the Budget has impacted you, not least as the Chancellor said his budget “would pave the way for a post-Covid ‘age of optimism.‘” Has the Budget made you feel more optimistic or pessimistic about the future? Or did it not change how you feel at all? We’d welcome your thoughts in the comments.

How has the Autumn Budget announcement made you feel?

More pessimistic (58%, 11 Votes)

Indifferent (42%, 8 Votes)

More optimistic (0%, 0 Votes)

I didn't pay attention to the Autumn Budget announcement (0%, 0 Votes)

Total Voters: 19

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What else is coming up in November?

With both Sugar Awareness week and National Diabetes Day coming up between 8-14 November, we’ll be welcoming a guest to start a conversation about how we can be more aware of how sweet our diets actually may be.

We’re keen to hear your ideas and topics as always: what’s happening where you are? Let’s chat in the comments.



I am not sure how long the UK has celebrated this annual festival of consumerism. I don’t watch commercial TV so miss the adverts but I’m having leaflets through the door. A few years ago I went to buy a hand mixer, which I wanted to examine. The price had been raised for Black Friday. I went back a few weeks later and the price was back to normal. No doubt there are bargains to be had, but I wonder how many of us pay more.

Climate change is largely related to consumerism. Is it time for the UK and other countries to turn their back on buying goods and services we can manage happily without?

Black Friday has crept up on the UK. It is another American export, where the day after the Thanksgiving break became a day for spending on clothes and consumer durables, in much the same way as Boxing Day is (or was) “celebrated” here. The early UK instigators were Asda, owned by US Walmart, and of course Amazon. Around 2015, the first Brick Friday shopping riots were picked up and reported in the press, providing more free publicity for yet another consumer fest.

As to what to spend surplus money on, it doesn’t always have to be consumer items that create waste and pollution. I have spent significant amounts trying to decarbonize my household – using heatpumps and LED lighting, even if there is little “business case” for doing so. I will be changing my diesel car and tumble dryer for more expensive, but less damaging replacements when the time comes. I also spend more than strictly necessary on good quality food, in the hope and expectation that this helps with more sustainable UK-based production.

Rather than just give money away, or invest it and lose control of how it is spent, why not provide employment for local trades, such as gardeners who provide myself and possibly others with a more pleasant environment, and better habitats for wild animals.

As I asked elsewhere, what should those who have disposable income do with surplus money? Either you give it away, buy stuff or invest it. I would like to see more persuaded to invest in worthwhile schemes, such as green energy generation, manufacture of necessary products in the UK, food production, and other enterprises essential to our future with less reliance on imports. Hopefully the capital tied up would restrain unnecessary spending but produce an income.

I used to listen to the Which? Tech podcasts as they were released each week and then listened again when driving long distances. They featured familiar Which? staff who wrote Conversations and articles in the magazines. I still have some of them. One mentions the iPhone as a forthcoming product, so we are going back a few years ago.

Which? podcasts were reintroduced with the Which? Money podcast and then the Which? Investigates podcast. I find the latter more interesting.

I believe that podcasts were introduced to allow users to download them to a music player, such as an iPod, or a phone away from an internet connection. Many are free, such as the Which? ones, and can be saved for as long as you wish, unlike programmes on BBC Sounds and iPlayer.

William Old says:
10 November 2021

“Black Friday” is as alien to Britain as pumpkins and youngsters participating in “trick or treat” concepts of voting for Donald Trump and at Halloween. I don’t know if “guising” with turnip lanterns still takes place in Scotland, where I grew up, but I suspect that it no longer does.

I’ve nothing against the United States, apart from the peculiar concepts of voting for Donald Trump and climate denial, but I’ve no wish for the UK to become the 51st state!

I’ve just been discussing this with my work colleagues. I have decided after the last couple of stressful Christmases that I am just going to go for it this year and make it last as long as possible. Decorations up on the 1st for us this year!

UK government sets aside £1.7bn to support Bulb customers https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-59409595

Perhaps we should all pay the same price per unit of electricity. The country cannot afford the price of the business games played by suppliers.

I don’t know what “ business games” are referred to. The companies will have differing costs, numbers of customers, buy or produce energy in different ways, use different primary sources, establish different purchasing contracts particularly forward buying, for example. Therefore their unit costs will be different. If we force them all to charge the same then those with the highest costs, particularly in the renewable sector, will eventually go out of business and we will likely end up with little choice.

We are seeing the effects of that sort of policy with the price cap.
” As a result of a cap limiting what companies can charge their customers, some businesses have been forced to sell energy for less than they bought it for.
Bigger companies tend to buy their gas further in advance, helping them avoid large hits from the price spike. However smaller firms that are less able to do that have come under pressure.
Since the beginning of September, 22 energy suppliers have failed following a spike in gas prices.

The current situation is largely down to he post Covid recovery and I suspect the games being played are those by the gas suppliers. It should settle down eventually.

Setting up more generation, essential to our future, will require huge capital investment, particularly nuclear and tidal. The unit cost from those sources may well be substantially higher depending upon how the capital cost is amortised.

The same argument “single price” argument could be applied to other essentials, like petrol, diesel, gas, and basic foods. Oh, and perhaps housing. I doubt it would do more than minimise competition.

At present we have to shop around every year or so to choose an energy supplier for the next year or two or we are likely to be transferred to a standard variable tariff, which has generally been significantly more expensive. Switching costs money, but the costs are shared between all customers, even those who have stayed with the same supplier. Government price caps have been introduced to protect consumers who are on an SVT.  Some are there for very good reasons. They might be elderly and not up to switching, they may be depressed, ill or looking after someone with cancer. The price cap – introduced to protect customers – has clearly contributed to the failure of some energy suppliers, but it is there for a reason.

Yesterday I was speaking to a friend who has managed to be rescued three times when his energy company failed. There are considerable costs when energy suppliers fail, and these passed onto other customers or met by the government.

” At present we have to shop around every year or so to choose an energy supplier………”. You don’t have to unless you want to chase the cheapest provider, just as you can with insurances and broadband for example. You can stay with one supplier on a Standard Variable Tariff.

What I want to be assured of, though, is that the SVTs are not subsidising the fixed-price fixed-term deals, as I suspect they are. This is something I believe Ofgem should tackle, to ensure customers are being dealt with fairly.

If the Government sets a price cap, with the best of intentions, that is below the cost of production where will that eventually leave the industry? Many consumers may need help with their energy bills but many can afford the higher prices the market may require. Should all have subsidised energy – poor, rich or in between – or would financial help be put to better use if it was targeted at just those who need it? A price cap is not targeted and, therefore, unnecessarily expensive to whoever subsidises it.

Charging customers more when they are on an SVT is one of the longstanding business games that has been allowed for years. Ofgem has not done anything to tackle that. I wonder how much could be saved by having us all pay the same unit cost.

Not really. Prices can go down as well as up, as may well happen when the current spike is resolved, and an SVT, properly used, should reflect this. Customers committing to a fixed price contract might find themselves paying more than the market rate. I would simply like to see these methods of dealing with suppliers properly supervised.

I see no reason why, in a competitive industry, the unit cost should be fixed at one value. Who would set the price and on what basis – the market fluctuates all the time. The more efficient companies would simply make bigger profits out of consumers – who would like that? – while the less efficient companies might simply fall by the wayside. How will that help?

The price cap has been in place for several years and the reasons why it was necessary were explained by the government and Ofgem. We do not yet know how the government will deal with the current problems. We might as well wait and see what happens.

I’ve mentioned before my concerns that by letting other countries gain hold of our energy supply the UK will have less control. It is worth having a look at how this affects renewable energy.

This whole debate is missing the big problem for Which?, as a consumer based organisation the core power source for most of the products reviewed is supplied by the power companies, so encouraging a competitive market by reviewing and rating said companies is their goal, but then in the future those reviews might prove to have been incorrect because unlike a washing machine which once purchased does not change, a deal offered one week by a power company can change completely the next week so consequently we have all got used to changing and try to avoid getting locked into a deal for too long because things change so rapidly. The bottom line is as consumers we are driving demand ever upwards and with an ever widening focus on ecological damage caused by power generation this increasing volatility in the power markets is here to stay…unless we all stop consuming, something that puts Which? into a bit of a quandary.


I sat down with a coffee and phoned a friend. The best of the day was over and I heard him say something like: Alexa – Turn on the light. Not even a please or thank you. It seems that now he is in his 70s he finds it easier to use the services of a digital assistant. I know other older people who do the same. For the time being my digital lighting control will be to operate a switch with my forefinger or other digits, but I have seen enough to convince me that smart technology does not just appeal to the young.

Many “older” people are just as savvy as many younger people (and equally, many younger people are not savvy). The inability of the more elderly to keep pace with the modern world is sometimes related in Convos, in my opinion incorrectly.

Why do we have Alexa and not an Alex. Is it not rather sexist, treating the female sex – even an electronic version – as better suited to being instructed to doing menial tasks like switching on the lights? I am not sexist – I tell my butler when to switch them on.

I have not commented on whether older people are capable of using technology, Malcolm. My comment is specifically about technology appealing to older people, possibly for other reasons. The person I mentioned now carries and sometimes uses a stick and may be finding it more difficult to stand up or sit down.

Apparently you can change the name of Alexa. I won’t change the name of Siri because we don’t have much to say to each other.

My post was intended as a serious question.

My comment was general, wavechange, sparked by your reference to an older person using smart technology. Serious too. ( or should that be Sirious?). What question were you asking?

I purchased a JL tower fan heater for the conservatory complete with remote control. It has Hi – Lo setting. In order to set a low temperature you need to press Lo button and stop it at the required temperature and the same procedure for Hi setting.

A recent visit from my 56 year old daughter proved extremely perplexing, as before leaving, all attempts to return the temperature down to 5%C failed, After several attempts, and repeated Hi’s my daughter announces, “Is it trying to say Hi Mum”.

How Lo can you go?

That does not seem like very good design, Beryl. Recall the joke from the 1970s about needing a child of 14 year old child to use a video cassette recorder.

I don’t have much experience of modern smart products but users often say they are easy to use. I hope so.

I’m still trying to come to terms with MP3’s Wavechange. I thought it related to Boris, Sir Kier and Ian.

Alexandra is the female version of Alexander, so abbreviated Alexa or Alex are unisex – either is applicable.

MP3 were a bit compressed, unlike Boris.

I have one of each in my family, Beryl, although they are second christian names. One has a high voice – like Alexa – the other a low voice.

There is plenty of information about how technology can help the elderly, for example: https://www.ageuk.org.uk/globalassets/age-uk/documents/policy-positions/care-and-support/ppp_telehealth_and_telecare_uk.pdf

I have a friend who is 96 and can no longer drive. He is an avid reader and book collector, but says that reading is becoming harder. I was surprised that no-one had suggested any of the aids that are available for those with poor sight. Some companies offer loans of equipment for evaluation.

There’s a difference between being tech savvy and tech interested. If the latest gadget doesn’t perform any useful task in my house I ignore it. If I actually bought it, I’d know how to use it. Youngsters never seem to be apart from their phones. I use mine a couple of times a day, if that. Their social media doesn’t interest me, so I don’t subscribe. That may make me old fashioned and behind the times, but it doesn’t make me ignorant of what is going on. Extrapolate that to our generation and, apart from the stereotypical little old lady, most of us simply have different priorities when it comes to tech. It is true that children seem to be able to intuitively make things work out of the box, but they have little clue about safety, pushing boundaries and care and maintenance. What can it do? What can I make it do? Oh dear, it’s broken! Never mind there’s a new one out next month.

Apparently: Alexa is a female form of Alex. It is variously a given name in its own right or a short form of Alexandra, both of which come from the Greek name Alexandros.
Amazon developers chose the name Alexa because it has a hard consonant with the X, which helps it be recognized with higher precision.

Vynor – I’m not suggesting that anyone should adopt smart technology and at present I am tying to avoid it. Nevertheless I know plenty of older people who now have Alexa devices, smart thermostats, Ring doorbells, clever security camera systems and so on. Although I’m not interested at present I might be in future.

I think the offspring and grand-children of the older generation are responsible for getting many of them interested in wireless gadgetry and smart apparatus. We have not succumbed to various such recommendations. We somehow believe that it is better to do as much as we can mentally and physically to keep the faculties functioning. It seems to be working so far.

Many years ago I started a new job and my PA was a young woman named Alexa. Far more efficient than some fancy loudspeaker because she could actually answer the phone, organise my papers, make the photocopies, book meetings, and anticipate events. Made super coffee too and visitors were always given a friendly welcome. I wonder what she thinks now about having her name bandied about in a million households and asked about the weather or to turn on the dishwasher.

Having seen two people able to read again because of assistive technology I don’t doubt that it has its uses and the Professor Stephen Hawking provided an example of what can be achieved with technology.

I am fed-up with smart technology being forced on us all. I have not bought a smart TV because whatever make I buy, it would only be a matter of time before it started to lose its functionality. When I bought a dishwasher a few months ago I did not want a smart machine and the solution was to buy one that was still in the shops but had been discontinued by the manufacturer.

Nevertheless, I don’t see why we should automatically reject technology. The sat nav has changed my life, reduced frustration and saved me many miles of driving. I still cary a map because technology has let me down. Did people automatically reject new-fangled gadgets such as spectacles and hearing aids when they were introduced?

Penguin also do a wide range of audio books, very popular with mental health sufferers whose ability to concentrate is restricted.

This sub-topic was headed “IS SMART TECHNOLOGY A SMART IDEA FOR OLDER PEOPLE?”. I’d suggest that does not include talking books, satnavs, and general technology. Perhaps a new thread should be started?

One problem with smart technology is security. I wonder how many of us, young and old alike, can understand and deal with that?

That is encouraging. A huge amount of effort has been put into helping physically disabled people, from kitchen gadgets, mobility aids and assistive technology.

Why shouldn’t smart technology be a smart idea for older people IF they want to use it? The implication here is that because they are old they can’t use it. That’s quite insulting.

My topic was not meant as an insult. I know some who choose to use technology and others that choose not to. I have not tried to influence anyone other than to help them with products they already own.

Quite. Too many times have I seen the “elderly” presumed to be unable, as a class, to use “technology”. Many were in at the birth of, for example, the personal and business computing age, saw it develop and embraced it, and are more capable than perhaps other generations of understanding it, rather than just being “users”.

They could also service and repair their own cars.

Hopefully they are in a good position, from maturity and experience, to decide whether a “smart” product is actually going to be useful to them or just a gimmick.

I’ve mentioned a former colleague who is 96 and still lives on his own, thanks to support from his sons, one living a couple of hundred miles away and the other in the US. During the first lockdown I phoned him to find out if he was coping. He said that he Skyped his sons daily, as he had done before the pandemic.

In the early days, when I first used Skype, some branded it as a gimmick but along with Zoom and the rest it has become useful for many people of all ages and the ongoing pandemic has widened the appeal.

Not you, Wavechange, Which? I would never consider you to be insulting. You quote a Which? headline, I am responding to that.

Thanks very much Vynor, but it was me and not Which? that produced the title: IS SMART TECHNOLOGY A SMART IDEA FOR OLDER PEOPLE?

I do not like technology for technology’s sake but I thought it would be worth exploring how it can be useful. I was delighted when you said that you were using your mobile as a wireless hotspot to put your laptop online. Being able to do this was the main reason I bought a smartphone.

After my father died I bought my elderly mother a (landline) phone with a linked pendant that would call three numbers in succession and play a pre-recorded message if the remote button was pressed. I was also able to put in an order from Tesco and have groceries delivered to her home to save her driving to the supermarket.

Depending on what it’s use, it can be great. My mum is 67 and she has embraced it well. She’s recently been suffering from lower back problems and the NHS have enrolled her in an online yoga class via zoom twice a week. I didn’t think she would like it but she really has taken to it. She has it on her phone, she’s made some new friends and yesterday ordered a smart watch to track her fitness plan. Can’t complain with that haha

@chiragkhetiya, Chirag, I’m not sure your Mum would appreciate, at 67, being used as an example in a discussion about “old people” 🙂

Malcolm – I was careful to refer to older people and not old people. Chirag’s mum is older than him and you are older than me. Mind you, I felt my age when I tried to kneel down like the Japanese ladies in the Tea Ceremony video, recently posted by Beryl.

I was prompted by Chirag’s post to phone a friend who has recently had a knee replacement. She is using a Peddler which has a screen that shows the route travelled to provide an incentive, and she now has a smart watch too. I don’t usually ask friends their age but she said she was 74 and three quarters and hopes to be fully fit when she celebrates her 75th birthday.

I have another friend in her 70s who had been prescribed yoga, but I cannot remember which one. 🙁

Maybe ‘elderly’ would be more appropriate at 67. Any technology that helps one to keep their independence is welcome. You may struggle with it at first, as I do, but it’s really just a question of getting to know it.

My sons work involves high technological equipment which is constantly changing and being updated, but he does have an inborn natural talent for it. A number of attempts to help me were often futile, as verbal instructions were conveyed far too quickly, and I had forgotten most of it by the time he had finished. I resorted to taking notes, but that was little help, because I was effectively learning a foreign language, unable to differentiate between a USB and a CPU 🙁

I eventually gave up and bought a little illustrated book which explained it all in great clarity. I still struggle a little because I regard computers, at this point in time, as a necessary evil, and fundamentally quite stupid, preferring to interact with the computer in my own and others head.

”Chirag’s mum is older than him”. It would be remarkable if she was not 🙂

The point I was making was simply that age does not, of itself, determine the ability to make use of technology, smart or otherwise. Although I accept that the older we get the more likely we are to see our faculties possibly diminish, but that is a separate issue.

I am only a little older than you, wavechange 🙂
( edited as this comment got out of sequence 🙂 )

And I am only a little older than you with all faculties intact 🙂

@wavechange, the NHS say ”How old is an older person?

Generally, someone over the age of 65 might be considered an older person. However, it is not easy to apply a strict definition because people can biologically age at different rates so, for example, someone aged 75 may be healthier than someone aged 60. Instead of simply age, ‘frailty’ has a bigger impact on their likelihood to require care and support.

@beryl, the Australians have a perspective in this:
” Dr. Robinson explained, “’Elderly’ is a trigger word. ‘Seniors’ they don’t mind so much. We have senior pensions and they see it as a category of life and a systematic term. Elderly is problematic because many of these people still feel young and fruitful … ‘elderly’ indicates a level of definition about who they are as a person.”

She noted, “Everyone has an opinion and their own experience, and as you would know, when you see older people who are being excluded and have been labelled, a lot of these people can feel isolated.”

Some people have an affinity for technology, Beryl. It used to be common for children to pass on their old desktop computer to their elderly parents, but a better approach is to given them an iPad, which is effectively a simplified and portable computer that lends itself to being picked up and used for a short period until they gain familiarity.

What helped me most with using a computer was to learn to touch-type on a typewriter. It’s more of a struggle to use a computer if you are spending much of your time looking at the keyboard. I had a little book that helped me and the secret is to focus on the screen and learn to always use the same finger when typing a character. For most of us, computers and other technology are just tools.

Malcolm – I guess that we all know that age has little bearing on our ability to use technology. A great deal of thought has gone into design of products (many, not all) these days to help us use them without the need to consult manuals.

The Aussie etiquette, as I discovered when visiting there, is inclined to be a tad more ‘down to earth’ than here.

The following is a really good explanation of a more typically English approach, and one I can relate to.

Youtube.com – What’s the difference between OLD and ELDERLY – Let them talk TV

I also learned to touch type on a typewriter Wavechange when you needed to press the keys down, as opposed to the light tapping motion used on computers that is inclined to speed up the touch typing action too much, causing the wrong keys to be touched.

I do prefer to use the iPad, for Convo, as the finger brain process is a little slower, allowing more time to think before typing. One needs to focus more on the P and Qs when engaging in conversation on Convo 🙂

Beryl – That’s a good point. Knowing that home computers were coming I chose an electric portable typewriter which required very little pressure on the keys, so that it was fairly similar to a computer keyboard but obviously noisier. I don’t know how secretaries coped with office manual typewriters where the keys had a long travel and required reasonable consistency in the force applied.

Although I’m very comfortable using a computer and much prefer the convenience of a laptop, I struggle with typing on a phone or an iPad, and marvel how quickly people (of all ages, of course) can produce text messages. I’m aware that I can dictate to my phone but have yet to try.

Malcolm wrote: “@wavechange, the NHS say ”How old is an older person?”

As I tried to explain in my subsequent comments, what I’m trying to discuss is not age but whether smart products can help older people. I suspect that none of us already in this discussion makes much use of them, so let’s broaden it to technology. I’ve met people who have found modern computer hearing aids much better than old models. A friend who is a little younger than me loves his electric bike which gives him some exercise as well as the need to drive locally when he does not have much to carry. Mobility scooters help many people retain their independence. Here is a Which? article about assistive technology.

Maybe it’s never been a better time to get older.

Isn’t the current “Alexa” based on the woman in that TV ad for a well known appliance retailer, I forget who it was now, either currys or comet, who kept swinging back and forth in a swivel chair and repeating her catchphrase “if it isn’t low, I don’t want to know”. I know the current image of Alexa certainly looks like the one in the ad.