May 18, 2011
I’m lucky enough to be helping to teach a course about blogging through Newcastle University at the moment working with a bunch of bright, reasonably IT literate ladies all using reasonably new laptops. It’s been a lot of fun so far, but one of the things that’s become apparent is that the technology they are using is really hampering their progress, not because it can’t do what they need (web browsing basically) but because it makes it ridiculously hard and is so intimidating their confidence is knocked at every tern.
Mostly they are using laptops with Windows 7 or Vista, with a scattering of iPads. Ignoring the iPads (which seem to result in far smoother operations), they’re all using OEM installs, and their machines are virtually unusable.
Lets start with their default browsers. Given that they nearly all equate the Internet Explorer icon with “the Internet” is gives a good idea of the penetration of Firefox and Chrome outside of the geek community. Because they don’t come installed already, nobody had known they could install another browser.
The newest version of IE seems less hateful than the proceeding versions, but the massively debilitating thing is that they come covered in crapware. From vendor specific toolbars, through Bing, and finally finishing with some invasive malware (which they nearly all have picked up), their browsers are a mess. URLs are getting typed into search boxes (one of the 3 or 4 address bar like objects on the screen), search terms are going into the address bar, and popups of the local rather than web variety are rife.
So, webbrowsing becomes hard, and worse, scary. Just about every action seems to trigger a vastly over-dire warning box to pop up along the lines of “You will contract a virus in the next 3 minutes unless you update Power Ultra Virus Scanner Pro from XXXXX” (where XXXXX is the vendor of the laptop/crapware/super market where they bought it. These guys are terrified at every step, because even actions such as posting a form are causing the triggering of these pressure sales pop ups.
I just bought a new laptop to replace my trusted workhorse. It’s an Acer 5742Z and I love it. or rather, I love it now it’s not running Windows. I booted up the OEM install of Windows 7 to see what it was like when I bought it. I lasted 2 hours.
Firstly even finishing the OEM install process was hard. It required an internet connection as far as I could tell. Imagine trying to get that sorted if you’ve just got broadband for the first time, a nightmare.
Once I’d got it fired up IE (to install Chrome) and I couldn’t even enter the address. Once I hit enter, Bing Toolbar popped up trying to help me. It forced me to choose between Bing handing search and not, and then hung. Eventually I used task manager to kill it, and tried again with more success, but after 2 hours I gave up and booted up with a Ubuntu CD in the drive.
It’s no wonder people are scared of IT and convinced they’re going to break things, after 3 years away I’d forgotten how unpleasant an experience it was.comments powered by Disqus