Too Dumb To Own A Computer – Humor

This has been making the rounds on the internet for years. I have seen this attibuted to a support technician from almost every major software vendor or ISP, so I have my doubts that this is a true story. The only element of truth in this is that at one time or another, all support technicians may think this about a new or inexperienced user.

TOO DUMB TO OWN A PC

And you thought that you had troubles…This is a true story from the
WordPerfect help line. Needless to say the help desk employee was fired;
however, he/she is currently suing the WordPerfect organization for
“Termination without Cause”.

Actual dialog of a former Word Perfect Customer Support employee:

“Ridge Hall computer assistant; may I help you?”

“Yes, well, I’m having trouble with WordPerfect.”

“What sort of trouble?”

“Well, I was just typing along, and all of a sudden the words went away.”

“Went away?”

“They disappeared.”

“Hmm. So what does your screen look like now?”

“Nothing.”

“Nothing?”

“It’s blank; it won’t accept anything when I type.”

“Are you still in WordPerfect, or did you get out?”>

“How do I tell?”

“Can you see the C: prompt on the screen?”

“What’s a sea-prompt?”

“Never mind. Can you move the cursor around on the screen?”

“There isn’t any cursor: I told you, it won’t accept anything I type.”

“Does your monitor have a power indicator?”

“What’s a monitor?”

“It’s the thing with the screen on it that looks like a TV. Does it have
a little light that tells you when it’s on?”

“I don’t know.”

“Well, then look on the back of the monitor and find where the power
cord goes into it. Can you see that?”

“Yes, I think so.”

“Great. Follow the cord to the plug, and tell me if it’s plugged into
the wall.”

“…….Yes, it is.”

“When you were behind the monitor, did you notice that there were two
cables plugged into the back of it, not just one?”

“No.”

“Well, there are. I need you to look back there again and find the other
cable.”

“…….Okay, here it is.”

“Follow it for me, and tell me if it’s plugged securely into the back of
your computer.”

“I can’t reach.”

“Uh huh. Well, can you see if it is?”

“No.”

“Even if you maybe put your knee on something and lean way over?”

“Oh, it’s not because I don’t have the right angle, it’s because it’s dark.”

“Dark?”

“Yes – the office light is off, and the only light I have is coming in
from the window.”

“Well, turn on the office light then.”

“I can’t.”

“No? Why not?”

“Because there’s a power outage.”

“A power… A power outage? Aha, Okay, we’ve got it licked now.

Do you still have the boxes and manuals and packing stuff your computer
came in?”

“Well, yes, I keep them in the closet.”

“Good. Go get them, and unplug your system and pack it up just like it
was when you got it. Then take it back to the store you bought it from.”

“Really? Is it that bad?”

“Yes, I’m afraid it is.”

“Well, all right then, I suppose. What do I tell them?”

“Tell them you’re too stupid to own a computer.”

Save on Gasoline/Save on Auto Diagnostic Fees

I saw a commercial tonight that said that in the U.S. alone, a huge amount of gasoline is wasted due to evaporation from missing or loose gas caps.

This reminded me of a situation I had. A car we use to have had the check engine light on, for quite some time. The automakers do not make it easy or cheap for the average user to find out what this means. I finaly paid the $50.00 to get it checked. The problem was a missing gas cap.

I learned that modern cars pressurize the system with air, so when there is a leak, such as from a missing gas cap, the check engine light comes on. I could have saved $50.00, if had known that a missing gas cap would make the check engine light come on.

I also think that if you want to complain about the price of gas, be sure you drive a properly tuned, fuel efficient car with a proper fitting gas cap. If you drive a suburban behemoth, I feel no sympathy for your plight. No one made you buy it. 😉

Command Line vs. GUI

Depending on your needs, the Linux GUI, which is available in many choices, such as GNOME, KDE, etc., is very much like the GUI in any other OS, like Windows. Except with Linux, you get to chose the GUI and can easily switch from one to another, until you find the one you like best. Some Linux GUIs are so powerful that you can customize them at the smallest level, if you choose to edit all the configuration files.

If you use Firefox or Thunderbird in Windows, they are almost identical on Linux, except a couple of commands are on different menus.

From my experience, if you do not want to use command lines in Linux, you do not have to. There are fewer and fewer things that force you to use the command line to work in Linux.

Personally, I use a mix of mouse/keyboard, GUI/CLI* in my computing, whether it is Linux or Windows. Even in Windows, there are some things that are easier to do with a command line, such as renaming a bunch of files in a directory. Granted, there are Windows utilities that allow a GUI to do the same thing, if that is your preference.

If all of your hardware is recognized by a given Linux distribution on first install, you can go through your time with Linux and potentially never use a command line. If you install software that is bleeding edge/beta on Linux, you will probably have to use the CLI. However, the same is true on Windows.

Learning to use Linux, is no different than learning to use Windows. I remember the days of the transition from DOS, BTOS, and other CLI based OSes to Windows 3.11 and Win9x back in the couple of years leading up to Y2K. The legacy applications were all character interfaces, and the new Y2K compliant replacements were GUI and Windows only. I have one colleague who tells the story of training a new user and having to take three hours to convince someone that moving the mouse on the desk will move the pointer on the screen. It all depends on your perspective.

I was anti-mouse because I am old enough that I started with keyboard only interfaces. Until I got a Windows 3.0 PC and saw the possibilities. Now I am a combination user. If I know the keyboard commands for the different menus, I can do a series of steps much faster than I can with a mouse. If the menu commands are conducive to it, I can fire away on the keyboard with one hand and click away on the mouse with the other.

The way one uses a computer is as varied as individual tastes in food, or other likes/dislikes. The beauty of Linux and other Unix-Like OSes is that they give you more than one way, and often three or four or more ways to process a given task. You may decide that Linux is not for you, but keep in mind that it does not force you to use the CLI like it did years ago.

*CLI = Command Line Interface

MEPIS 3.3.1 Initial Impression

I finally tried Mepis (3.3.1) yesterday. It is a live CD available in both a free and a fee version. I tried the free Simply Mepis version.

I have heard many good things about MEPIS, so I made time to try it for myself.

The philosophy of this Linux distribution is to make things easy for the user. Like the Knoppix and D**n Small Linux live CDs, it easily recognized my hardware and booted right up. It has all the familiar FOSS programs. One nice feature is a link on the desktop to install MEPIS directly to the hard drive of the PC. I plan to try this once I get a spare PC back in working order.

The one thing that frustrated me in downloading this distribution was the lack of an official Bittorrent. It is a single, yet full CD so it is over 650 MB, and took a couple hours, even with DSL. This is one thing that would help increase the adoption of this already popular distribution.

For its ease of use it does well in making it easy for a novice to make the switch from Windows to Linux. It has a very polish professional appearance. The creators of this distribution have done their homework on the usability front.

More will follow once in-depth testing has been done.

Hipster PDA

I discovered the “Hipster PDA” earlier last month. See 43 Folders for more information.

This is basically just index cards held together with binder clips. The idea is related to less is more, KISS, and books promoting the idea of “getting to done”. It is a new take on getting oneself organized.

In that spirit, I also discovered self-stick index cards. They are not quite as wide as 1.5 standard post-it notes. The adhesive is also a lot better, and re-sticks well, and also sticks better to more kinds of surfaces. The Duck brand cost about 97 cents for a pack of 100, which is far less expensive than a small pack of post-it notes.

I find these self-stick index cards to be good for keeping seldom used computer commands around my PC. I can also organize different tasks, projects, and honey-dos in my work area. I can cross-off items as they are completed, and pitch the card when it is done.

Basic Computer Security

Computer security has become more and more center stage. This is in line with the predictions that following the massive effort to tackle Y2K, security would be the next Y2K. However, the focus and determination is not at the same level.

Unfortunately, users of MS-Windows operating systems remain the most vulnerable. Newer versions of Windows that will not run, or not run well on older PCs means that millions of PCs are running older versions of Windows that no longer have security updates. These PCs and uneducated users are the ones that cause the rest of the world many headaches.

There are several keys to making a Windows PC more secure. This is very important for Windows users that do not have Windows XP with SP2. If you have WinXP upgrade to SP2 immediately. For older versions of Windows upgrade to the latest security packs and turn on automatic updates. WinXP SP2 has a limited firewall, but older versions of Windows do not. A good free firewall is available from Kerio. If you have a broadband connection, such as a DSL or cable modem, it is also a good idea to have a router with a built-in firewall. A router also has multiple connections, so more than one PC can share the broadband modem. This makes your investment in broadband access more versatile.

The next important thing is to have an anti-virus program and keep it up-to-date. A great free anti-virus program with free updates is Grisoft Anti-Virus. It is free for home use.

Spyware is the newest form of “pestware”. All users of Windows will need an anti-spyware program. Spybot Search and Destroy is good – and free, and has free updates.

Another helpful tool is WinPatrol. It has a free version that keeps track of new programs installed on your PC, and alerts you to changes.

A more secure browser than Internet Explorer, is also crucial. Internet Explorer is required for only a handful of websites, more importantly the Windows Update site. Firefox or Opera are both free, and are both much more secure than IE.

Finally, a more secure email program will help save you from the viruses that so easily infect Windows. Thunderbird is a good choice, it is free and works on many different operating systems.

If you have Windows NT/2K/XP, do NOT run with full administrator privileges. This makes it easier for the viruses and other malware to infect your system.

For a much easier to secure computer, you will want to try a Linux distribution, one of the BSDs (Max OSX is based on BSD), or a free version of Unix, such as Solaris. All of these Unix-like operating systems are very similar, so learning one makes learning another much easier.

Unix-like systems are designed to be more secure and more stable (No need to re-boot when one program has a problem.). Most of them include a firewall that is fully functional on install. Firefox, Opera, and Thunderbird all have versions for these OSes. There is anti-virus software available for Unix-like OSes, but it is usually only needed if your PC is connected to a Windows PC. These OSes are designed to discourage running as administrator (root), and if root access is needed to install something, it is easy to temporarily operate as root without logging out of the current user account.

A Unix-like Operating System easily meets all of the needs of the general home user, except for the latest whiz-bang computer games that only run on Windows. There are a couple of options: 1.) Set up a dual-boot system and boot to Windows only for those tasks, such as games, you cannot do in *nix. 2.) Linux is designed to run on older hardware than Windows. Let the kids use the new PC for their PC games, but do not hook it to the internet. That alone will make it more secure.

Change Thunderbird Welcome Screen To A Webpage

Thunderbird has an option to allow the welcome screen to be changed to a web page of the user’s choice. It can even be a web page stored locally on the hard drive. My Firefox home page is a file on my hard drive. I have links to sites I visit often, such as the sites I administer, or links to my webmail accounts.

On Windows use these steps to change the Thunderbird welcome screen:

click on Tools -> Options

On Linux:

click on Edit -> Preferences

The box labeled Location should contain something like: chrome://messenger/locale/start.html if it has not been changed previously. Click the button labeled Restore Default to undo any custom settings.