Geek Speak: Louise Latremouille, author of My Parents Get Windows 7
Louise Latremouille says computer literacy is a problem for many people—not just seniors. The 48-year-old Delta author knows this well. She’s helped thousands of people improve their skills through her My Parents Computer book series.
Born in North Vancouver, Latremouille has self-published four titles in the series through her company, KLMK Enterprises. The series began in 2004 with My Parents First Computer and Internet Guide, which started out as notes she had written for her own parents. That first book was followed by My Parents Computer Guide: Beyond the Basics and My Parents Went Mac!
In January, Latremouille released her latest book, My Parents Get Windows 7. She hopes to publish her fifth title, a guide to Microsoft Word 2010, in September.
The Georgia Straight reached Latremouille by phone at her home office in Tsawwassen.
How did you end up writing the My Parents Computer book series?
It literally started from notes to my parents. They inherited a computer from my brother when my dad was dealing with cancer, and we were doing a lot of research for different medicines and stuff for them. So, when my brother gave them a computer, they went, “Oh, gee, thanks. Now what?” But they took it, because they thought they’d like to do some research themselves. So, I started writing them notes.
When their friends started asking for notes, my dad suggested, “Maybe you could put it together, Louise, organize them into a bit of a book?” So, I did that and printed up 20 copies and thought, “That should do it.” And I’ve been going at it strong ever since. I’ve sold over 50,000 copies of the books all together. It changed my career path.
What’s sort of the unifying message of the books?
Quick and simple. It’s all about just doing it, and making computer literacy as easy as it can go, so anybody can just do it.
What’s one tip that you have for parents about using Windows 7?
Set it up right from the beginning. Windows 7 is more Mac-like, where you can set your preferences up. So, from there, Windows 7 is pretty smart, and it will work more the way you want it to work in how it looks and how it responds.
What makes your computer guides for parents different from other guides to computers and computer programs?
How basic they are, how quick you can catch on and just start using it, and the everyday language they’re written in. They’re very plainly spoke—more like a conversation.
What did your two sons teach you about computers?
Other way around in our house. Though, with their games, they certainly teach us how to use their games.
Any advice to parents who are teaching young kids how to use computers for the first time?
Start young. Be there with them. Don’t let a computer with a webcam go into the bedroom. It should be out in the living room. Everything should be public. It’s so important to teach them online etiquette.
Teach them young as well how they can use the computer and not have the computer use them. That includes games time. I think it’s pretty wrong to deny kids computer time, because they’re going to get it anywhere. You’ve just got to teach them, just like teaching them how to cross a street.
What’s been a challenge you’ve encountered self-publishing your books and promoting them online?
The biggest challenge has been letting the media know what a desperate need there is for computer literacy, and to explain to them that it’s just not seniors that are 70-plus. These are people of all ages.
If you’re not working in an industry that has you on a computer all day, there’s a good chance you don’t know how to use a computer. You need to know how to use a computer to function in our society and get everything there is to get out of today’s society, including going to the library. You can’t check out a book online if you’re not on a computer.
Every Friday, Geek Speak catches up with someone in Vancouver’s technology sector, video-game industry, or social-media scene. Who should we interview next? Tell Stephen Hui on Twitter at twitter.com/stephenhui.