Non-techs

There's a "discussion":http://slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=04/03/09/2134215 going on on one of the forums I frequent for tech news and debate, and it's a bit interesting. It's about "protecting our parents' PCs" from the viruses, adware, and general nastiness of the net. The attitudes being espoused on there make for an interesting read.

Basically, the trend is something like this: Either A) "I don't do Windows," B) "I installed $(GEEK_OS) on their PC. Now, they can't run viruses. Or, for that matter, anthing else," or C) "I tell them to ask their friends/other children."

It's funny, because I recently gave a computer to the least tech-savvy person I know, my mother. Why is this funny? Because, while she might not be technically-inclined, she is more than able to _follow simple instructions_! When I set up the computer, I gave her the "attachment spiel" -- you know the one, the "don't open _anything_ that you were not told in advance was coming" spiel -- and, heaven forfend, she _listened_! It's like magic. She doesn't get the idea that "this one is different," she treats the computer with the same care that any complicated device deserves. I'm fairly impressed by this.

It's also worth noting that my sister just got wireless too, and she's the same way, in both respects. So it's not a lack of technical skill that leads to this, I'm pretty sure that it's just plain stupidity that leads to the virus epidemics. Because, if my mom can figure out the technology to an extent that allows her minimal use of the computer to be safe, _anyone intelligent_ can.

I guess something I see in this is a need to make these wonderful, complex, intricate machines more comprehensible, more proactive in their own defense. Let's face it: Mom shouldn't _have_ to learn how to do virus scans, nor should she have to learn all of these minefields in order to get use out of her computer. She shouldn't be scared to use it, concerned that, in doing something basic, she'll break it. Improvements in the user interfaces of the better applications out there are one of the ways of acheiving this, and I hope to do my part to accelerate that.

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