Kids Ate My Mom’s Computer
Yeah, okay, it’s election night and I should be watching all the cliffhanger results coming in.
Or, keeping in mind the words of Frank Zappa, “Politics is the entertainment division of the Military Industrial Complex”, (yes, I voted though, dammit) I’m going to switch to a subject somewhat closer to my heart:
That would be Kids and Computers. The next time I go up to visit my 80 year old Mom, I’m bringing along a copy of Red Hat linux 7.3. I’m going to take Windows 98 off her computer, and set up Red Hat to run X, either Gnome or KDE and let her run with that. The only thing she uses her computer for is a word processor, Web surfing, email and printing things. She could care less if another piece of software ever gets installed on her computer. In fact, she would prefer that one didn’t.
Last week she called me in a panic because “something had taken over her computer screen” and everything had been “running very slow all last week”. I asked her to click on the Start button and she said there no longer was a start button. Instead, when she booted up, some other strange interface, a giant “click-bar” of some sort, launched itself and obliterated the rest of her screen.
“What did you do differently that might have caused this abomination?” I asked over the phone.
“Nothing! I didn’t do anything! Help me!!!!!!!
……..oh, Erin was over here yesterday….” (her 8 year old granddaughter)
“Oh? And was Erin playing on the computer per chance?”
“Oh yessss. She was putting some game on it or something…..”
About an hour and a half later, I had most of the games cleared off it, and over a hundred pieces of spyware residual. The monstrosity that had taken over her desktop was history…..I’ve got to hand it to my mother. 80 years old and barely able to point & click, and she got all that stuff off by herself, with only me on the phone long distance. We also found that for god-knows-how-long, Kazaa had been using her computer as a file sharing server, in violation of her ISP’s AUP. But Mom didn’t get caught or disconnected, so she lucked out. No, she’s not a music fiend; little Erin is.
This has been going on for the past 3 years. It’s always “Help, there’s something wrong with my computer!!” and it’s always all kinds of crap the grandkids put on there. I’m sitting here typing on an AMD K6-III 400 mz, 512 megs of ram. It’s old and yeah, I’d like a new one, but I don’t have the bucks and it works okay, so….
The grandkids had some kind of Pentium III or IV, 800 mz or so that they “filled up” according to my sister. So she bought them a 1.6 ghz Pentium IV, but that’s almost “filled up” too. When that one is in use, one of them races over to my Mom’s house to use hers. When it gets “filled up”, she calls me in a panic.
Sooooo……when I stick Red Hat Linux on my Mom’s computer, she and the kids will be able to surf the web, send email, use a word processor and print things. It will be easy for them to use, but they will have a very hard time figuring out how to compile linux versions of Kazaa and Morpheus on it. These kids have been raised by Microsoft, and I’m counting on that to keep Mom’s soon-to-be-new OS safe and functional.
Yes, I already know that I’m a mean old bastard. Thank you.