Never Too Old to Code: Meet the 82-Year-Old App-Maker

Never Too Old to Code: Meet the 82-Year-Old App-Maker

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Masako Wakamiya is one of the world’s oldest iPhone app developers
  • She asked software developers to come up with more for the elderly
  • Wakamiya learned the basics of coding and developed ‘Hinadan’

When 82-year-old Masako Wakamiya first began working she still used an abacus for maths – today she is one of the world’s oldest iPhone app developers, a trailblazer in making smartphones accessible for the elderly.

Frustrated by the lack of interest from the tech industry in engaging older people, she taught herself to code and set about doing it herself.

The over 60s, she insists, need to actively search out new skills to stay nimble.

“As you age, you lose many things: your husband, your job, your hair, your eyesight. The minuses are quite numerous. But when you learn something new, whether it be programming or the piano, it is a plus, it’s motivating,” she says.

“Once you’ve achieved your professional life, you should return to school. In the era of the internet, if you stop learning, it has consequences for your daily life,” Wakamiya explains during an AFP interview at her home near Tokyo.

She became interested in computers in the 1990s when she retired from her job as a bank clerk. It took her months to set up her first system, beginning with BBS messaging, a precursor to the Internet, before building her skills on a Microsoft PC, and then Apple’s Mac and iPhones.

She asked software developers to come up with more for the elderly, but a repeated lack of response led her to take matters into her own hands.

Wakamiya learned the basics of coding and developed ‘Hinadan’ one of Japan’s first dedicated app games for the over-60s – she is now in such demand that this year Apple invited her to participate at their prestigious Worldwide Developers Conference, where she was the oldest app creator to take part.

‘Source of inspiration’
‘Hinadan’ – ‘the doll staircase’ – was inspired by the Hina Matsuri, a doll festival which takes place every March, where ornamental dolls representing the emperor, his family and their guests are displayed in a specific arrangement.

In Wakamiya’s app, users have to put them in the correct positions – a task which is harder than it sounds, requiring memorisation of the complex arrangements.

The app, which is currently only available in Japanese, has been downloaded 42,000 times with hundreds of positive comments from users.

And while these figures are relatively small compared to Japan’s big-hitting apps which are downloaded in their millions, ‘Hinadan’ has proved popular enough that Wakamiya plans to release English, Chinese and possibly French versions of the app before next year’s festival.

Its success has propelled her on to the tech world stage, despite the industry’s reputation for being notoriously ageist

In Silicon Valley, workers in their 40s are considered old by some firms and according to media reports citing research firm Payscale, the median age for an employee at Facebook is 29 and at Apple is 31.

But international tech firms and start-ups are slowly waking up to the economic potential of providing for silver surfers, and Wakamiya has already met with Apple’s chief executive Tim Cook.

Wakamiya recalls: “He asked me what I had done to make sure that older people could use the app. I explained that I’d thought about this in my programming – recognising that older people lose their hearing and eyesight, and their fingers might not work so well.”

“Mr Cook complimented me,” she says proudly, adding that he had hailed her as a “source of inspiration”.

No time for sickness
Wakamiya concedes that she finds “writing lines of code is difficult” but has a voracious appetite to learn more.

“I want to really understand the fundamentals of programming, because at the moment I only learned the elements necessary for creating Hinadan,” she explains.

More than a quarter of Japan’s population is aged 65 and above, and this is projected to rise to 40 percent by 2055. The government is struggling to ensure its population remains active and healthy – and so also see the dynamic octogenarian as an inspiration.

“I would like to see all Japanese elderly people have the same motivation,” one official told AFP.

Wakamiya says her ultimate goal is to come up with “other apps that can entertain older people and help transmit to young people the culture and traditions we old people possess”.

“Most old people have abandoned the idea of learning, but the fact that some are starting (again) is not only good for them but for the country’s economy,” said Wakamiya, who took up the piano at 75.

Hinting that her good health is down to an active mind and busy life, she adds: “I am so busy everyday that I have no time to look for diseases.”

[“Source-gadgets.ndtv”]

Will never stop fight against ‘hateful and divisive agenda’ of the RSS: Rahul Gandhi on Twitter

Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi on Thursday took to Twitter to emphasise that he will never give up on his fight against the “hateful and divisive agenda” of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh. He shared a video of his election campaign in Bhiwandi city in Maharashtra’s Thane district, where he said the RSS was behind Mahatma Gandhi’s assassination, and added, “I stand by every single word I said.”

This comes a day after he seemingly backtracked on his earlier comments – made during his national campaign before the 2014 Lok Sabha elections – and said he did not mean to accuse the right-wing organisation as a whole of assassinating the freedom fighter. An RSS worker filed a defamation case against him for his statements, after which the Supreme Court told him that he “cannot make collective denunciations”.

Senior lawyer and Congress leader Kapil Sibal told the apex court on Wednesday that Gandhi “never accused the RSS as [an] institution for the crime” and that the petitioner had misinterpreted his statement. Sibal is representing the Congress vice president in the defamation case.

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Never 10 Prevents Windows 7, 8.1 PCs From Upgrading to Windows 10

Never 10 Prevents Windows 7, 8.1 PCs From Upgrading to Windows 10

Plenty of people, including us, like Windows 10. It’s a substantial upgrade over Windows 8.1, giving users a plethora of improvements and features. We aren’t, however, a big fan of how Microsoft is pushing this upgrade to some people. Ten months since Windows 10’s release, users on Windows 7, and Windows 8.1 continue to report incidents about Microsoft forcefully downloading and upgrading their computer to Windows 10. You can stop the company from doing that with a new tool.

Well known software developer Steve Gibson has released a new tool called Never 10, which according to claims, allows a user to completely disable automatic updates. “The elegance of this “Never 10′ utility is that it does not install ANY software of its own. It simply and quickly performs the required system editing for its user,” says Gibson on his page about the new utility.

“Using this utility, inexperienced users will be able to easily use Never 10 themselves, while advanced users will likely appreciate that fact that no additional software is installed and will be able to refer friends and family, whom they support, to this easy-to-use utility,” Gibson notes.

All a user is required to do is install this free application, and run it. This should come as a big relief to many Windows 7 users who’re afraid that one day they will accidentally click on a prompt and Microsoft will upgrade their computer to Windows 10.

Microsoft has made Windows 10 available as a free update to Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 users – provided they have the genuine licensed copy. Last year, the company gave users with the ability to reserve their copy of Windows 10 when it becomes available on July 29. But later, the company also began downloading the Windows 10 installation files on different systems, and many users accidentally clicked on update prompts, ending up getting Windows 10 on their system.

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Tags: Apps, Laptops, PC, Software, Steve Gibson, Windows 10, Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 8.1
[“Source-Gadgets”]