The HeliOS Project is now.....

The HeliOS Project is now.....
Same mission, same folks...just a different name

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Sunday, August 17, 2008

What's That They Say About Assumptions...?

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 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...

All-Righty Then.


Anonymous said...

Nothing shows a man's character more than what he laughs at. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

A 2 year Ubuntu user

Anonymous said...

Aha! So the Great Warrior does have a soft side. True, the depth of a man's soul can be measured by the degree which he casts aside his own self-importance.

Of course, we should know that by your charitable causes helios. God Speed man. I hope you are getting through your personal struggle ok. Been there's a new beginning my friend, not and end.


Larry the Open Source Guy said...

[Goethe is a two-year Ubuntu user?]

H -

Yep, it's that choice thing again, and sometimes we don't get them on our side. You just have to do what you did: Shrug, say "vaya con dios" and let them go on their way.


Anonymous said...

Well, we're not fighting for total Linux domination, that would be as bad from a security standpoint as MS domination...a monoculture is too easy a target. We're after a diverse landscape that makes a targeted attack harder, and where we can live Free and compute Free, and where we're not punished for eschewing the status quo. It's nice to see that you had the sense to walk away without completely changing her computing experience against her needs and wishes...and that you left a live CD. ;0)


Anonymous said...

> Sometimes Linux isn't the answer.

Sometimes. :)

You did good, Ken.

And being able to laugh at yourself is always a good thing.

Amenditman said...

Glad to hear you'r sense of humour/irony is weathering the storm so well.

If you're not laughing, you're not taking life seriously enough.

Windows is not for everyone, but neither is Linux, coffee, blogging, or anything else. Great job on that one.


Anonymous said...

Hi Ken, it's funny you should have this experience recently, as I had a similar one yesterday. I was recommended to a couple who have a small business, by one of my clients (a happy Mandriva Linux business user), who had recently had their XP based computer worked over by a cowboy who operates from a nearby town.

This person had been charged with making their computer not go so slow, and in the process installed several illegal copies of proprietary software, and a whole slew of software that made the computer run slower.

I too thought I had a candidate for upgrading to Mandriva Linux, but as chance would have it, it made no sense to upgrade them as they depend on a proprietary bookkeeping application (I won't mention it's name, as it won't run on Linux) and moving them to Linux would have ended up costing them much more in time and money learning yet another bookkeeping application, GnuCash, and a new operating system, as they were already at the end of a learning curve having moved from one proprietary bookkeeping application to their current one. So in the end I spent about 5 hours cleaning up their computer, a 4 year old LG, and agreed to help them find a new computer with XP on on it.


jhansonxi said...

I agree with your decision Helios. Forcing a platform on them would make you no better than M$. I find the best approach is to listen to a client's complaints and then find a F/OSS solution for them. If they require a M$ platform for a specific application that isn't compatible with Wine and is not feasible to run in a VM then I stay with Windows and replace everything I can with cross-platform F/OSS apps.

kozmcrae said...

I'm losing my XP knowledge at a tremendous clip. You see, my brain has released those cells that contained old Windows knowledge for use with the incoming Linux knowledge. Sort of like sectors on a hard drive that have been marked as "free to use".

I would not be able to help people with their XP installations let alone Vista.