Great post over on Ross Mayfield's Weblog about being tech support for your family. There's a whole list of suggestions that you can check out, but I really like this first one:
If at all possible, switch them to a Mac -- You know that experience of visiting family only to find their PC infested with spyware and viruses. Call it the crud of mainstream adoption. They complain about things simply crashing, you have a solution, move them to a Mac with at least OS X. This is the greatest gift you can give them, simplicity that simply works. If not, reinstall and update everything.
I totally agree with some of the others like getting everyone to have broadband and switching people off of IE and on to Firefox. Ross Mayfield suggests getting everyone on web-based e-mail and I totally agree with that as well and heartily reccommend getting everyone on to Gmail because it is so straightforward.
A few other tips that didn't make Ross Mayfield's list:
- If you are doing the digital music player thing, get everyone to use iPods. I bought my dad an iPod mini and had taught him how to use iTunes and rip all of his CDs in lass than 30 minutes. Also, no matter if you teach someone how to use iTunes on a Mac or PC, the software is the same on both platforms (although if you follow rule #1 above, the user experience is much better on a Mac and the firewire connection is much faster).
- For digital cameras, I endorse Cannons. Macs as seamlessly with them as PCs, the pictures are great, and the user interface across the various models is very similar until you get into the pro cameras.