Peter M Howard ::

Computing isn’t meant to be Easy

15October2005 [myth]
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Starting to realise that computers shouldn’t be easy… _All_ computers should have an admin - someone who knows how to make them work, and how to adapt them to the appropriate end-users. Admittedly, this isn’t particularly straightforward, which is why the bigco’s build their computers/software for the lowest-common-denominator; but we know (from, eg, WinME, a failed experiment in dumbing-down) that aiming for the LCD doesn’t really work… Until computers have the intelligence to recognise and target their user’s abilities, we’ll have to keep guessing…

Many people get around this with the aid of a Trained Geek (TG) — either friend or family on call to fix the latest petit problem. But the technology is getting to a stage where that doesn’t have to be so disruptive - sensible TGs install software that enables them to control the PC remotely - as long as the computer can get online. I suspect that the Dells will get better at fulfilling this role (there are hints at this in WinXP and some of the Dell-native software already), meaning Average Joe can at least have a TG on call as part of his subscription with Dell (who probably upgrade his computer every couple years too). Further, it won’t take long to learn what each individual user is using their computer for, meaning tailoring to the individual and their abilities will become relatively straightforward — and from there, a small step to intelligent machines that act as their own Trained Geek.

But now I’m getting ahead of myself:

  1. As a TG myself, I don’t want to put my family in the hands of Dell or any other bigco (though I’d have no qualms about an AI!); though:
  2. At least I can setup some remote desktop to help out from wherever I happen to be
  3. I plan on surreptitiously switching my family to Linux (and Mac as a concession); though it’s not as easy for any old end-user to setup, it’s far easier to customise and control for said end-user

And that there is Linux’ (grammar-people: an ‘x’ is an ‘s’ in a different form, so no need for ‘apostrophe-S’) strength: Yes, it’s difficult to setup, But once it’s working, it stays working. And if everyone had their Trained Geek to handle the setup and maintenance, they’d hardly notice the difference.

So, the “starting to realise” bit: I’ll happily be your Trained Geek if you’ll let me install Linux on your computer…

Trust me.

And Linux: don’t change. Don’t try to be something you’re not. The LCD-targeted model isn’t going to last much longer; it’s not worth emulating

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