Rick Singerman doesn't much care about how his computer works. He simply wants it to work every time he turns it on. We've discussed this here as it has been discussed over and over in the Linux Community.
A computer is NOT an appliance. It is a maintainable machine that needs attention from time to time. Even Microsoft, with their tens of thousands of viruses and countless malware threats cannot get The Human Nature to understand:
A computer is NOT an appliance. It is a maintainable machine that needs attention from time to time.
Do we have that phrase obnoxiously burned into memory yet?
So Rick Singerman, being what he would refer to as a "typical home user", lived the typical Windows Experience. He resigned himself to doing steady backups and wiping his computer clean every six months to restore the speed and snappiness experienced by a new install. He got the maintenance religion after having to do these installs every 6 months. Since he downloaded programs constantly and installed/uninstalled applications daily, his system was subject to becoming unstable much sooner than the normal Windows install. Rick provides us with advice given to him by the local shop that did his computer repair for him:
"...Make sure you defrag the hard drive monthly, scan for viruses/spyware on a tri-weekly basis (if not more), run a registry cleaner at the very least monthly and do a disk cleanup at least once a week. We recommend you stay away from the free virus tools and use the ones that we recommend on our website. (I would guess a reseller fee here - h) Also be aware that there are programs we recommend that can automate many of these tasks for you and you can find them on our website as well. If you do not have the time we will be happy to set up a maintenance plan on a quarterly basis to do this for you."
I bet you would.
Rick came to us on the recommendation of someone we did a HeliOS Project install for. Visiting the home for his church outreach program, Rick noted the kids playing on the computer and mentioned how clear and attractive the presentation was. It was then he learned that there was an alternative way to run a computer.
When I came out to see him, he showed me the email from his repair shop, the one that sent him the email partially quoted above. I asked him to mentally add up the accumulated time all of this would take. When he did, he was visably surprised.
"Who has time to do all of that? It doesn't account for the hours I do spend when I have to reinstall."
Indeed, your world does from time to time sucketh.
Once we demonstrated a GNU/Linux live cd for him and showed him how he could run his "necessary" programs via Wine and VirtualBox, he was sold...and I mean on the spot. We used two 8 gig thumb drives to copy his music, pictures and documents then did a partition session and replaced his Windows Vista sytem with Mint Linux.
After 29 minutes, I announced that his install was done and that we would now boot into his new Linux Operating System.
His jaw dropped.
"That's it, we're done? How about the actual install? How long will it take to get all the drivers and codecs loaded?"
I just smiled and told him that the install was done, complete with all but a few codecs he might want such as flash. I told him that would take a grand total of about 5 minutes, maybe less. He was skeptical to say the least.
It only took about 20 minutes inside the system to remove any skepticism he had. I watched him as he "drove" his new system. He didn't say much, just made sounds of affirmation to himself as he explored and found things to his liking. I showed him how to use k3b, streamtuner, his file system and most importantly to him, his office suite. Rich writes technical bullitens for his company and spends vast amounts of time in either a rich text editor or a word processor. When those thing met his approval, our business was finished.
Rick saw our TV presentation before the Austin City Council Technology Commission and called to say that he had some computer equipment that I might want for The HeliOS Project. When I returned to his home to pick it up, he also had another surprise for me.
Sitting in his newly re-arranged den were 9 kids, ages ranging from 8 to 11. They were gathered around 5 different computers set up on a long banquet table against the far end of the room. Each one was arranged in neat work areas and the children were busy swapping "hey look-it here's" and "oh yeah, beat this score's" Rick fairly beamed as he watched me watch the kids.
"After we talked the last time, I decided that I could do what you do on a smaller scale. I got with the folks at my Church and some of them donated these machines to me. They come twice a week and just play games and learn how to use the system. What do you think?"
Well, all I could think of is how good a thing this was. It goes to show that anyone with a bit of caring and energy can do this just about anywhere. I spent the next three hours with Rick and different kids that wandered in and out. The doorbell rang often during that three hours. Many of the kids had parents in tow...which is good. Parents need to see where there kids are and who they are with. At peak, we had 17 kids total in this little den.
I spoke with Rick this morning and asked him how it was going and that I was going to mention his "project". He just laughed.
"I haven't done anything that most anyone would have done once they know the tools are available to him. I do have a question though. Who do I yell at?"
My silence was enough to let him know I had no clue what he was talking bout.
"Who do I go to to complain about all the time I've wasted with "that other system". Don't we have any legal recourse here? Ken, the hours we've collectively wasted maintaining something that should have never needed it..."
I explained to him about the EULA and advised him to read it...things would become clear as a bell then. I told him to just take his blood pressure medication prior to doing it. When I briefly outlined the way Microsoft and other proprietary software vendors had protected themselves he just shook his head.
Rick told me that I was not to make a big deal out of his efforts...that anyone with any compassion and a bit of spare time would do the same thing he did...it really wasn't a big deal.
I spoke with him a few minutes longer and then hung up the phone. I still searched for a kind way to tell him just how wrong his "anybody would do this" assessment was, but then again...why throw cold water on rolling success? Let a good person do what comes natural.
Wednesday, April 08, 2009
blather and mumbling provided by Ken Starks at 8:16 AM