Mother had a new computer around Christmas, and she asked me if I could give her a support day to bring her up to speed with it. Her old machine is a desktop running Windows XP and Office 2003, and this new machine is a laptop running Windows 7 and Office 2010. Her support day was on Tuesday of this week.
It turns out that Mother is quite adaptable, and she was up-to-speed on the new version of Windows very easily, and only slightly behind the curve getting used to the new version of Office. There's a couple of new features of Word that she likes very much (the ease with which she can zoom-in on a document was very pleasing to her) and I also introduced her to some techniques that she really ought to have been using on the earlier version (manipulating the tab stops on the ruler; understanding, and making good use of, the difference between paragraph breaks and line breaks).
The thing she's found most wearing is the move from a mouse to a trackpad. I've encouraged her to work towards familiarity with it, because we anticipate she'll want to use the laptop in circumstances where there's nowhere easy to put a mouse, and she doesn't want to have to carry a mouse around with her when she's travelling with the laptop. She keeps reaching across for a mouse that isn't there (this might happen less often if the power-supply brick isn't on the table in that part of her field of view).
There's a VNC client so she can remote-control her old machine from the laptop, and there's a desktop shortcut to the home folders on the old machine. She was very swiftly familiar with both.
I was expecting to put in a full day's work with her, but after a couple of hours we paused for tea and a couple of games of Scrabble, and then my brother round the corner wanted some help setting up backups to his new external disk. Lunch followed, with more haggis than we could possibly eat, and then Mother's new washing machine arrived and I plumbed that in. At around 3pm, she looked back at her laptop and said that she thought we'd covered enough ground, and that what she really needed was a few weeks playing with it and assembling a handful of new questions she could approach me with. So her support day turned into a couple of hours of training and then a whole bunch of miscellaneous non-laptop stuff. Oh, and another game of Scrabble before teatime, if I didn't mind.
I'll be pleased if I'm as quick getting to grips with new and unfamiliar technology when I'm 73.