Home > KDE, Linux, Random Toughts > 5 y.o KDE user tips & tricks

5 y.o KDE user tips & tricks

Kids never stop surprising me, really. And the other day I was simply amazed of how clever they are and how fast they learn.

I’ll introduce the story a bit. About 4 to 5 years ago I really got bored of dealing with Windows so I looked for alternatives. I found Linux and I happily migrated. As I’m the only computer geek at home, out of 8 people!, I progressively moved every computer at home to Linux with KDE. The rest of my family just moved with me and eventually loved the change. This is not to say that they haven’t had issues from time to time but they can always get help from me. With Windows it was just the same, so no change here. They felt the change was for good, they found KDE easier, prettier and less intrusive. Seriously. In fact right now the only Windows installation at home it’s my sister’s dual boot that has a Vista… and it’s there because I told my sister not to deleted it, just in case she might needed it. She really hates Vista (something I don’t). She wanted to have it deleted but I insisted (I completely deleted Vista 15 days after having bought the laptop, by the way).

So, the story is that my nephew, who’s 5 y.o right now, has been using Linux and Windows since always and can explain you what’s the difference between them and how to select one or the other in GRUB’s menu…. The first day he had computer classes at school teachers simply got amazed of his computer abilities. The kid asked – Teacher, don’t you use Linux here? – as he saw XP on the screens. I don’t even think the poor teacher knew what Linux was. As you can imagine, he can’t read yet. He knows the numbers and letters and he’s just started learning how to pronounce groups of letters (Galician and Spanish have regular orthographies so one grapheme nearly always equates to one phoneme). To brief up, very basic reading skills. While still a baby we’d let him play with mouse, then with two y.o we opened a web browser and have him playing simple games at BBC kids web page and so on. Progressively I taught him to switch on and off the PC and to select the OS in the GRUB menu (he couldn’t read but knew that windows was third), I taught him how to select a user and write the password in KDM (yes, his mother has passworded login 😉 ) and how to open firefox (the fox ball, he calls it) and use bookmarks (which I set up for him). I think you get ti, he knows that kind if things. Some times he even tells me – hey, look what trick I know! – and changes the virtual desktop or something alike.

But the other day I just perceive how much his “computing” skills had advanced and how pathetic some people, that has been using computers since they had been invented, seem in comparison. He switch on the laptop as always, typed in the password, and went on to launch a web browser. He basically uses the laptop for playing flash games. He launched kickoff (yes, kickoff); for some mysterious reason he ignored Firefox, which is bookmarked as a favorite, move to the ‘recently used’ tab, looked for Opera and launched it. Then, he moved to the direction bar, or whatever you call it, pressed the button that shows the recently typed web pages (that small triangle) and scrolled through the list until the found the one he likes. I’ve no clue how he recognized the domain, by the way. (Shape recognition?). The page loaded and then he clicked in a game which triggered the opening of a background tab, to where he immediately moved to happily start playing. It is not that he knows how to do all that things individually, it’s that he has discovered them through use and now uses all them routinely without doubting about what he has to do next. Oh, he said Opera was better than Firefox for games 🙂 . Don’t ask me why.

Besides that my nephew might be brighter than the average, to my head came all that futile debated about kickoff, how bad it was, people counting clicks and so on. It suites the need of my nephew and It’s just right for most of people. My experience is that average users don’t care about learning applications names and don’t even know or care about what applications are installed. It isn’t different if the user has gone to the university or not. Most user simply don’t care about anything computer related. The question type I’ve been made the most is ‘what do I use for …?’ and ‘where do I find my….?’. Kickoff does well at helping people finding applications and folders. I might not be a perfect tool but does the job well. I have the impression that users most opposed to changes are long term users that simply don’t want things to change because if they change they have to learn a new series of habits. But new users easily adapt, especially 5 y.o KDE users 🙂 .

Categories: KDE, Linux, Random Toughts
  1. jospoortvliet
    August, 4 2009 at 10:57 am

    Wow that’s cool 😀
    If all users were just half as smart as this 5yo, there would be no place for dumbing down anything anywere…

    • Keiichi
      August, 5 2009 at 11:12 pm

      I agree.

    • Mark
      August, 6 2009 at 11:19 am

      Unfortunately, dumbing down seems to be an inherent part of Microsoft’s strategy.

      I’m sort of, well, not worried, but I do wonder, if the USA fails to get beyond Microsoft (ie. it becomes the last and only stronghold) then will it sleepwalk into being a nation of people who can’t eat the right amount of food nor use a computer?

  2. d2kx
    August, 4 2009 at 12:56 pm

    Great story 🙂

  3. Mike Lothian
    August, 4 2009 at 3:06 pm

    That’s so sweet

    I wonder if he prefers Opera because it’s a Qt app or it it’s because it really does render faster than Geko

    Try get him programming once he starts reading – KDE’s youngest ‘hacker’ 😀

  4. August, 4 2009 at 8:09 pm

    If for the games, he might like some of the games in the KDE games module, there are pearls in there, that I really enjoy playing. He might as well. KDiamond for example is a lot of fun. That might be even better than Opera 🙂

    Nice story, by the way. I really enjoyed reading it.

  5. Alex
    August, 5 2009 at 9:50 am

    How come he can’t read at 5 y.o?

  6. mglbranco
    August, 5 2009 at 2:20 pm

    @MIke, I think he prefers Opera because the look and because of trying something new but I”m not sure. As I don’t play flash games I ignore if there’s some issue with any of the browsers LoL. What I’m sure is that he can perfectly use whatever web browser you through at him, whether on Windows or Linux. He probably is gonna ask you somtheing but he does fine. I’ll try with the programming soon 😀 Kturtle is a grood tool 😉

    @Sebas, I know, I love knetwalk 🙂 Kids get bored of the same game very fast so he prefers surfing that web pages. Anyway, from time to time he opens some installed games by himself (and Kickoff helps him a lot to find where games are, btw) .

    @Alex, he’s got basic reading skills. This is Spain: From 3-5 y.o kids are taught numbers and letters, basic mathematic operations and so on, aside of other things. From 4-7 y.o they start writing and reading: they first go associating groups of letters to phonemes, then reading basic sentences and progress into writing and reading longer texts. My nephew can copy text and write anything if is being helped and is able to read very basic sentences. What I meant is that he has not the knowledge to read and understand menu’s text by himself just yet, independently of that he might understand some word. Take into account too that he eventually may find text in three different languages: Galician, his primary language (KDE and Windows Vista are set to that locale), Spanish and English (which are found surfing the web).

  7. August, 5 2009 at 10:27 pm

    Thank you for the great story. By the time I have kids it wont be nothing else but Linux, since I run this as my prime thing.

    I loved the thing that he asked if there was any Linux on the computer on school and his teacher didn’t know what it even was.

    I think it depends on what you feed them digitally, it has nothing to do with brightness or whatever. Linux has many more ways to approach it than Windows.

    Thanks again,

  8. Michael
    August, 6 2009 at 1:32 am

    I find that flash games and videos perform MUCH better in Opera. I’d use it all the time if not for font rendering issues.

  9. August, 6 2009 at 5:08 am

    Yeah my five year old boy’s the same way. One thing we had bookmarked was Thomas the Tank Engine videos on youtube, but eventually he was watching it too much so I removed the bookmark in the hopes that he would go back to more educational flash games. But sure enough, he quickly found the browser history section to recall previously visited websites and was right back where he started. Now there’s no stopping him because he knows how to type in keywords in google. He loves typing in stuff at amazon too (like lego, transformers…) to see all the toys.

    Now too if they mention a website or toy on pbs or some kids’ show or commercial, he’ll find a way to find it. He’s got a little netbook now with Ubuntu Netbook Remix on it in advance of his 6th birthday.

  10. Paul Hardy
    August, 7 2009 at 1:15 pm

    Good story — may I take this opportunity to add one of my own?

    I can remember when my daughter was 7-8 years old & I found her successfully navigating the computer with fluxbox as the interface. When I said she could have a prettier look with the other WM she said she hadn’t realised she could do that. A few months later I offered to help her switch between OSs to complete some task & she said “it’s OK dad – I know how to change from linux to windows”.

  1. August, 5 2009 at 1:57 pm
  2. August, 5 2009 at 10:46 pm

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