I'm a big fan of irony.
Until it chooses me as its subject.
Then I get uncomfortable and try to dillute it with logic and semantics.
So far, in this case, it hasn't worked.
It was the kind of referral we love. A satisfied customer tells someone about HeliOS Solutions and based on that recommendation, they call us. Her name is Joan and she dwells comfortably in the senior citizen range. Sharp of wit and oh so very British. Even in Texas, or should I say especially in Texas, her accent stood out.
Common problems it seemed. Joan complained about popups annoying her, warning that she was not protected and that she needed to do this and that to protect herself.
Ah...didn't we just go there recently?
I had calculated a plan before we hung up. She wanted me to come over and "fix the damned thing" as soon as possible. Thirty minutes was as soon as possible as I could get so that's what it took me to be standing on Joan's porch, knocking on the door.
It would be a mistake to assume weakness from Joan's appearance. She immediately reminded me of a close friend...Alice is her name. As salty and contrary as a Basque sailor and with a heart as big as the sea she sailed. It was right down to business with Joan...she had things to do.
I sat down at the computer. A brand new Dell with Vista Home Basic on it. In the first place, Microsoft ought to be ashamed for putting out so many crappy versions of their newest crappy operating system. Home Basic is not only, well...Vista. It's a watered-down version of Vista. I said they should be ashamed...not that they would be. There is no shame within that castle. It is sincerely a pleasure to watch it crumble.
It only took me a moment to find the "problem". Joan wasn't "infected" with the stuff we talked about in the afore-mentioned blog...in fact, she wasn't infected at all. The "pop-ups" and warnings she was receiving was simply the admin warning ripoff Microsoft uh, borrowed from Linux. For those that don't know about Vista or haven't played with it, Vista will pop up warnings and tell you that what you are about to do resides within the realm of "administrator" and that you need to make sure you want to do what you are starting to do before you do it. Something like that anyway.
Coming from an XP experience, Joan wasn't used to being bothered with such nonesense. She thought, as many do, that these were spyware popups trying to get her to click on things she shouldn't click on. Once I set her permissions to pretty much leave her alone, she was happy.
Joan isn't a shut-in by any measure. She takes cruises, travels to the Yucatan regularly and is a practicing fan of Margaret Meade. She does however, spend much of her time chatting with friends world-wide and reading about the things that interest her. Joan is a "low risk" computer user. What she has works well for her.
I knocked on that door with a full battle plan in mind. I had the perfect Linux distribution picked out, I even printed out the entire wiki for her so she would have a quick reference in the case she needed it.
She didn't, she doesn't and probably will never need it.
On my way out the door, I laughed to myself over the way things work out sometimes. Mostly, I was laughing at myself.
Sometimes people don't need saving.
Sometimes Linux isn't the answer.
Sometimes you might do more harm than good making someone learn a foreign system when all they really needed was a couple of obscure boxes checked.
She had her computer working the way she wanted it, we had fifty more dollars to build our computers with and Linux didn't have a thing to do with any of it.
And sometimes, even a Zealot For The Cause can be taught an important lesson.
I left her a live CD just in case...
Sunday, August 17, 2008
blather and mumbling provided by Ken Starks at 3:23 PM