It's an older generation game, too

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Indy Lifestyle Online
The Black Prince is the local hero of Byfleet. Not many people know that, but they will when Doug Bright starts telling the world by e-mail.

Doug and his wife, Kathleen, seventysomethings from Surrey, were the winners of Compaq's competition (Network, 27 May) to find grandparents who would adopt a multimedia computer.

He has been gathering information about the 14th century hero for years and establishing a heritage centre. But with the help of his new Presario 1510, he plans to extend the message to a wider audience.

When the machine arrived last week, the two novices amazed themselves by bringing it to life in under an hour. Doug, a retired draughtsman, admits he was apprehensive, even though he reads the kind of technology magazines that are almost as big as computers.

After a setback with the mouse - "You need to know which button to press right at the start, but the Microsoft Windows 95 book doesn't tell you until page 71" - they wrote and researched into the small hours. "We were amazed at what it could do," says Kathleen, who plans to use the Internet to find gardening and cooking tips.

The Brights have been considering buying a machine for some time, but, says Doug were worried about meeting the cost: "We would have needed to use savings, and we couldn't justify spending the money - we have to think about nursing and going into care.

"We were also afraid of machines going out of date. Older people need to know that computers can be upgraded, and that spares will be available for 10 years. There's also fear of ridicule - the old boy has a new toy."

The new toy will be used to ease the mountain of work which Doug faces as a parish councillor. His Compaq keyboard-scanner will scan important papers into the machine, and thanks to optical character recognition (OCR) software, he will be able to keep a personal database of parish facts and figures.

The couple have not yet planned their software budget, although they won't be buying the fabulous British Library CD-Rom on Medieval History that Doug recently spotted at pounds 150.

DOROTHY WALKER

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