My rant

Discussion in 'Community' started by Mudbug, Oct 10, 2004.

  1. Mudbug Administrator emeritus


    Jun 28, 2002
    North Central Colorado
    I don't have a blog - read at your own risk.

    I've now spent the better part of 4 days trying to fix a dying HP pavilion zt1175 laptop from the throngs of viruses, spyware, malware, keyloggers, and various bits of crap. This poor little machine has spent the last 2 years in the company of my sister-in-law, a college student who has no knowledge of computer upkeep other than to keep the laptop plugged in when the battery gets low. She was smart enough to install Norton AntiVirus 2002 when she bought the machine, but then decided that she didn't really understand what it was doing most of the time, and since it just slowed things down, she never updated it.

    Let me repeat that - she NEVER updated it.

    There's part of me that's irritated with her for not taking better care of her stuff, but then there's a much larger part of me that knows far too well that she's the rule, not the exception to it. Too many times I get calls from family, friends, neighbors, friends of family, friends of neighbors, etc. saying their Windows boxes have serious issues that can't be resolved and if I can help. Most of the time I say "sure" because I know full well that a good virus scanner/remover and spyware remover will fix 90% of what's wrong.

    My most recent 'thing to fix™' was my boss' wife's desktop machine. Instead of trying to get the thing working better, she just stopped by Sam's Club and bought the cheapest Compaq they had on display. In her words, it was just easier. But then I got the call asking if I could retrieve all the data from her old machine and put it on the new one. I said "no problem."

    Quick fix - I took the hard drive out of the machine, mounted it in my PowerMac G4 Sawtooth as a slave drive, and copied all the info off of the old HD onto my Mac's HD, cleaned all the virus code out of everything (and there was tons of it), organized everything the way I could find it later, and returned a set of burned DVDs to her with everything she could think of plus. The thing is, if I hadn't had a Mac to put it in, the old drive would have probably copied a chunk of its viruses into the next unsuspecting PC and the problems would have magnified.

    We now return you to the scheduled program - the HP laptop. Most of the programs installed were either limping, or completely broken from all of the infections. Kaput. Done. Windows would startup, but then directly after boot would freeze completely. So I started in safe mode, and cleaned out as much crap as I could. Great. That got it alive, at least. But will major system pieces being part of the infected set, important things like the network card drivers and the CD burner controls were toast. And with no floppy drive, there was no really good way that I could (immediately) think of to get new drivers installed, or to move all her files off and reformat the machine.

    Enter the USB keychain drive. I have one. It's only 64 MB. Great for the random file, but crap when needing to move gigs of data.

    Long story short (too late, I know) - I ended up using the keychain drive to copy over an install of iTunes for Windows to burn sets of her music to CD (she never backed that up either), and used the keychain drive to move all the rest of her files off. Yeah, I know what you're thinking - that must have taken a while. See the "4 days" comment at the beginning of this? 'Nuff said.

    Now - I know there are faster ways to accomplish what I've done, but every other way I can think of involved a monitary cost of some sort. This was the free method that I had available. Combine that with my decent knowledge of PC/Mac repair, and I had a winner, albeit a tedious one. That's where my rant begins... (in second post - I know I'm gonna run out of space for one soon)
  2. Mudbug thread starter Administrator emeritus


    Jun 28, 2002
    North Central Colorado
    What's getting my goat most of all is that the proliferation of Windows as an operating system, and the sheer numbers of computer-ignorant people buying them is starting to really get to me. These are powerful tools in the right hands, but I'd say 90% of the time, they aren't in the right hands. Time after time the brother-in-law fixit squad has to come to the rescue to bail out WAY too many people from their uninformed decisions. I read countless articles per day from submissions to our sites, and time and again the topic of Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) comes up, and how many uninformed journalists tell people that windows is cheaper to run than OS X. But the fact of the matter is, at least in my relatively wide group of people I deal with, they've spent several hundred dollars on a POS PC system from Sams/WalMart/BestBuy/CircuitCity/CompUSA/FillInTheBlank, then spend another few hundred dollars every few months getting it fixed. And the cause of that 99.9% of the time for home users? Viruses, spyware, malware and adware. It's rampant (I know I'm preaching to the choir) and a real problem. What I don't get is that when they ask me how to avoid getting all this crap, my token response is to buy a Mac. They're usually at the point of buying a new PC anyway, but they're too darn stubborn to listen to the real reasons why it would be better. They 'know' the PC already (obviously not, but that's beside the point - or is it the point?) and don't want to have to learn to use a Mac. Then they think a Mac is too expensive, even after I show them that a comparable Mac to the PC they're replacing is beans-to-beans the same money, or even less.

    The fact of the matter to me is that Windows will NEVER be a good option for a home user that isn't willing to stay completely on top of the security and updating that needs to happen. Most users are NOT IT professionals. Sure, the network guy running the IT infrastructure at the office keeps all that stuff out - so why learn it for the home computer?

    AAAAAAAARRRRGGGGHHHH! It's so frustrating I could pull my hair out (what little is left). For the last several years I've fixed these problems for all these other people, and most of the time I've charged nothing for my time. I guess it's my nice guy™ coming out trying to cut them a break, but it takes up a lot of time and energy.

    That explains why I'm planning on starting this consulting/tech support company, but doesn't remove the problem. I know you all feel my pain, and commiserate completely - but I had to get it out there.

    No need to put replies unless you have a great idea of how to fix the great problem, but feel free if you want to. This was my outlet. My wife's tired of hearing it out loud. :)
  3. MoparShaha macrumors 68000


    May 15, 2003
    San Francisco
    Every point you made I agree with completely. I work at several churches as an IT/tech person. Suffice it to say, they are all locked into Microsoft. I've made so much money fixing virus problems and network failures all due to Windows' inherint security vulnerabilites. Team that with little old church ladies who click on anything that pops up in IE, and you've massive problems. So many times I have told them that if they switched to Macs, they would have far less problems. I know Macs aren't perfect, but hey, at least you don't have to reformat everything on the network every few months. But, as eloquently as Mudbug stated, they're afraid and totally blank out when I mention the word "Mac". Shame really, but hey, I just bought a new mountain bike and iPod on two months salary fixing their ignorance.

    Going along with Mudbug's point, I'm regarded as a "computer genius", but when compared to the standard computer user, aren't we all "geniuses"? Anyways, when I'm running around fixing computers or network problems, various people at the parishes always ask me how I avoid such problems at home. My smug response is always: "Oh, I don't deal with these problems at home because I use a Mac". This always stops them cold. These same people, when contemplating purchasing a new computer always consult me. Now, given that I'm (in their point of view), someone who knows a thing or two about computers, and given I use a Mac, wouldn't you think they should possibly consider following what I'm doing? That would be logical, right? Of course not, because they can go down to BestBuy and pick up a $600 Windows XP dream machine. It angers me to no extent. I view it as literally throwing money away. Now, if you know what you're doing, and you want to use Windows, great. I'm all for that. I have a Windows box myself. I'm talking about people who don't know what's going on. And, again as Mudbug said, I'm the one getting the call in a few months about a non-functioning computer, I'm the one who gives up a whole Saturday afternoon fixing their ignorance and stubborness. At this point I feel like I'm rambling, so I'll stop. But let me just say, I'm glad I'm not alone in feeling increasingly hostile to this new breed of "consumer" computer users. I liked it better when it was just us geeks.
  4. Counterfit macrumors G3


    Aug 20, 2003
    sitting on your shoulder
    Here's a suggestion. Win the lottery, buy them Macs. :D
  5. Nermal Moderator


    Staff Member

    Dec 7, 2002
    New Zealand
    Wow, an editorial! :D

    I agree with all the points, and it never ceases to amaze me that people have problem after problem, yet still believe that Windows is brilliant :confused:
  6. cb911 macrumors 601


    Mar 12, 2002
    BrisVegas, Australia
    wow, people do believe that Windows is brilliant? :confused: i thought that even they recognized that their OS or choice is a piece of rubbish.

    well, Mudbug, sounds like you're being too much of a nice guy, helping out lots of people and all. maybe you should start charging for it. or even just make a CD full of instructions and PC apps that you can just give to people and let them see if they can fix it up.
  7. OnceUGoMac macrumors 6502a


    Mar 3, 2004
    My Mini-Rant

    Perhaps, your sister is like most people and their priorities are focused on ther things besides computers. Is your sister in tears because she didn't spend the last 2 years coddling her computer? I doubt it. I'm sorry, Mudbug, but life is too short to be worried about Mac vs. PC BS.
  8. Blue Velvet Moderator emeritus

    Jul 4, 2004

    Sums it up for a lot of people around here, I guess.

    How many times have you or I been asked to fix someones PC because 'you're so good with computers'?

    When asked whether I have the same problems with mine, I always say...
    'No, I have a Mac.'

    Which is usually followed by a thoughtful/ignorant silence...

    To paraphrase: you get the computer you deserve.

    'Where do you want to go today?'
    Up s**t creek, that's where.
  9. pseudobrit macrumors 68040


    Jul 23, 2002
    Jobs' Spare Liver Jar
    No, but she wasted a good chunk of her brother's life asking him to fix the problems that were created by her decision to purchase a machine with inferior software that doesn't do what it should. Obviously her priorities are focused on computers enough that she needs hers, and perhaps she should be in tears over the bother she's caused her own brother.

    And he wouldn't have anything to worry about if Windows didn't suck so bad. Macs don't even need to be included in his rant for it to ring true.
  10. SilentPanda Moderator emeritus


    Oct 8, 2002
    The Bamboo Forest
    Been there... done that... would buy the t-shirt if I found it... :)

    I'm not familiar with HP laptops (or pretty much any computer that doesn't start with "i", "e", or "Power"... :)) but you might have been able to hook the laptop up to your machine via ethernet (or firewire but that's doubtful).

    I loathe fixing computers for people at this point. I bought a Mac so I wouldn't have to do that anymore. I also encourage others to buy Macs. I've gotten a few to buy Macs and well... they never call me anymore (maybe I'm losing friends this way!). What I dislike a great deal is when people say, "Can you recommend a computer for me?". My first question is to ask them what they want to do on the computer. For anybody that doesn't know what kind of computer they want, unless they say the latest 3d games I tell them to get a Mac. Of course the laugh and say, "No really. What should I get?". I then remind them who out of both of us knows more about computers.... that at least makes them think usually. However it rarely helps.

    Typically if I have to recommend a new PC I try to encourage them to get the super long phone support and warranty... :) Buying locally at Best Buy is a plus... :)

    Ah well... it's the lot we're given. Although it is fun to fix their computer if I can somehow work my iBook into it (harboring their files on my iBook until the machine gets fixed). Somehow I'll have to start working my Newton into the fixing process... :)
  11. winwintoo macrumors 6502

    Nov 26, 2003
    I'm old. I'm retired. I volunteer in the computer lab at the local seniors' center where we try to teach other old people to use computers - are you getting a picture here?

    Most of these folks have been given cast-off computers by their kids or grandchildren or nephews and most of the computers are years out of date but what the heck, grandma only wants to send email right??

    Even the ones who've bought new computers are in a fog and can't grasp the simple things let alone all the security crap that's necessary as per Mudbug's post.

    To protect myself, I make sure they all know that I use a Mac at home and know nothing about Windows and I'm even thinking of getting an unlisted phone number :D :D

    I'm just grateful that when it came time for my family to start using computers, I had some left-over Macs sitting around to get them hooked on ;)

  12. Mr. Anderson Moderator emeritus

    Mr. Anderson

    Nov 1, 2001
    Ouch....I used to get involved with all that and still get questions from time to time...but I really stopped dealing with M$ after Windows 98 :D

    Now I just say "I use a Mac" and people have to go ask someone else....although my wife still has an old Compaq laptop that's going to be replaced by a G5 I'll have to deal with some of the stuff.

  13. Roger1 macrumors 65816


    Jun 3, 2002
    I sometimes give advice to people who ask. I also work on their machines for them on occasion. Generally the problem is virus or spyware related. If that's the case, I download adware and some free antivirus program for them. I'll also vacuum out all the dust, etc., from their case. :rolleyes:
  14. Thomas Veil macrumors 68020

    Thomas Veil

    Feb 14, 2004
    I should show this thread to my daughter, who's on the edge of getting herself a Dell laptop for college.

    After using our Mac for several years, she's decided she wants "the same kind of computer as everybody else". I have been totally unable to impress upon her what a dumb reason that is.

    I've already warned her that if she gets anything PC, she's on her own as far as fixing all the problems, viruses, conflicts and other breakdowns that will happen. I know she's not going to keep up on her utilities; she doesn't even like keeping her iTunes music organized.

    It's not that I don't love her and want to help her, but I've been down that road with a few neighbors who think I'm some kind of computer "expert" (believe me, I'm not), and I am not about to spend the rest of my natural life trying to un-**** up a Windows PC.
  15. pseudobrit macrumors 68040


    Jul 23, 2002
    Jobs' Spare Liver Jar
    That's because as a longtime Mac user, she probably can't imagine what problems lie in store for a Windows user. I know Windows enough to use it as well as I need to when I need to, and that's exactly why I wouldn't (and never have) use a Windows PC at home.

    I couldn't fathom purchasing one because I know what it would be like to own one.
  16. EminenceGrise macrumors member

    Jun 23, 2004
    I am sorry that Windows both sucks and blows. Unfortunately, I don't have a solution to the larger problem, that "cheaper is always better" (which of course it is not). I can only empathize with your situation. :(

    However, for those of you looking for the "T-shirt", I believe this one fits the bill nicely. Buy it. Wear it. Hope people notice. :)
  17. rainman::|:| macrumors 603


    Feb 2, 2002
    OK, I know there was a thread where everyone made fun of Digital Distress Syndrome, but i'm going to bring it up again. For those that don't know, this term was coined pretty recently, and is used to describe people who simply do not know how to use the growing technology in their lives. Having worked in IT for a while, I can attest to this very thing. Most people, and by this I certainly don't describe the crowd here, don't have anywhere near the grasp of computers that they should have. I see it every day at work. My biggest gripe right now-- They refer to shared drives (and we have a whole cluster**** of them) by the system drive letter they're assigned... "It's on the O drive", or the Z drive, or whatever. Funny thing is, no one bothers to standardize this, so the letters can be different on each machine... I've written memos, talked to people, brought up in meetings, and people continue to be confused by the simple idea that the letter does NOT necessarily correspond to the same drive.

    Case number two, since I'm thinking of it. Next weekend I have to go to the inlaws, they have a Gateway. This couple is in their 60s, but the wife is determined to stay in touch with her friends, and she makes impressive strides onto the internet. She could almost be a success story... Except the computer is plagued with constant problems that she doesn't understand. She's tried calling tech support, but they *accidentally* guided her through a reinstall without asking her to back up files first... that was bad. So now she just lives with problems. Last christmas, I wiped the 32 pieces of adware and malware I found on her machine, some installed by her daughter (who was also visiting for christmas) with Kazaa. I showed MIL how much faster her computer ran, and how there weren't ads displayed every 15 seconds, and she was very happy. But her daughter insisted on installing Kazaa again, and everything went to hell. Neither of them understand the cause-and-effect of getting spyware (not sure I do either, considering how much I pick up at work). I'm going to spend a few hours grooming the system when we go, but anything I do will be disabled/reinstalled within a month.

    My 40-something parents can't operate my cable box. Took them a month to figure out the DVD player I gave them. And these are not stupid people, they just don't mesh with the technology here.

    Anyway. Technology, namely PCs, are too hard to use. Do you blame the consumer for being uneducated? In part, yes. Just as one wouldn't expect to fly a plane with no education, one shouldn't expect to be able to master a computer the same way. Yet certainly the manufacturers of such products bear some blame as well; I'd be preaching to the choir if I ranted about ease-of-use on a Mac site. I think most of the country is suffering from DDS, forced to use technology they don't understand. It's honestly a crapshoot for them if they'll be able to get the right results. And until more companies get it right, IT people have to bridge the gap between worlds. That, my friends, is why I got out of the IT industry.

  18. Mudbug thread starter Administrator emeritus


    Jun 28, 2002
    North Central Colorado
    the update

    So the laptop fix has come to an end. After reformatting the drive once the backups were burned, I've installed a nice, new, clean copy of WinXP Professional (from the original system disks), reinstalled her OfficeXP Student Edition which she also had originals for, installed Norton AntiVirus 2005, Ad-Aware 6 from LavaSoft, and iTunes from Apple. Then I put back all of her stuff that was on the drive that I'd backed up, but only a chunk at a time, running virus scans on each chunk as it came in. She's on her own with the rest.

    The most interesting thing about this is that simply by installing windows and running ad-aware, it found two adware files. Coincidence? I think not...
  19. evil_santa macrumors 6502a


    Sep 23, 2003
    London, England
    This is exactly the same situation as my mother Win95 machine :eek: . Except that I don't have the time or experience to sort it out. I am thinking I will get her an old imac or g4 to do all her internet / office type work & just keep the PC for running sage & not connected to the internet.
  20. PlaceofDis macrumors Core

    Jan 6, 2004
    this reminds me of what i heard yesterday from my ex-gf's lil sis, she was talking about DVDs, and shes like yeah i can burn them no problem, i have the drive, and her bf was like, but do you have the right software?, shes like yeah, the guy at best buy said i did, and he replied by saying are you sure, and she said "Its a NEW SONLY VIAO i think it has to have everything on it, duh" and shut up, but really i know she has no idea how to copy a DVD, after all it isnt as easy as a CD, but its sad, how someone, even of my age, 20, has no clue what is going on. and my gf, i bet for her next computer, since we will not be together, she will probably get a Windows machine instead of another Mac.

    MudBug: the best solution to your problem, STOP being the nice guy and just tell them thats what they get for not listening to your advice, thats what my parents get for not getting a Mac, now they have problems and expect me to fix them, but they are out of luck now
  21. Wyvernspirit macrumors 6502a


    Jul 23, 2002
    I have to fix the problems people at my work cause their computers by not properly maintaining them. When I get them running again, they usually ask what I do at home, and, of course, I say I have a Mac. I don't have virus isssues, don't have spyware/adware issues, and the two main problems I have had were hardware (Hard Drive Failures, both Maxtor drives, both replaces at no charge and work great after replacement, with only a mimimum of hassle) related.

    If, for what ever reason, they don't want to/can't go the Mac route, I tell them they need to properly maintain their computers. Run System updates. Install Antivirus (If they don't have one, and money may be an Issue, I recommend at least installing AVG) and anti-spyware apps (I usually end up downloading two for them, Sbybot S&D, and Ad-aware, using both has saved my work computer on several occasions). And last but not least, KEEP THEM UPDATED AND RUN THEM AT LEAST ONCE A WEEK!

    I wish I actually got paid for this stuff.
  22. jefhatfield Retired


    Jul 9, 2000
    when i finished college ten years ago, i knew nothing of how to work a pee cee so i was so desperate to design a decent resume, i called a techie to make one for me...i offered him 200 dollars ;)

    he wouldn't do it since he was, like most techies around here, totally burnt on i had to do the dirty deed...that is, to learn how to work with computers and with ms windows/office...i had some rudimentary knowledge with macs... and windows seemed so stupidly designed, even from the standpoint of a newbie like me

    eventually, my wife got certified to work with the software and hardware in and around the windows world (she works in the IT dept of a media company) and i shortly followed suit (i fix computers on the side, pt)...then it all became clear to to work with microsoft windows...but by that time, i had become a certified i am a graduate student in the darn took me dedicating a career to figure it out...and it pays so no complaints...sometimes well, but the whole point of getting into computers so much was just so i could figure out the darned software made by microsoft

    now look at the average they have to go to techie school or college to understand windows/office? he he...almost, and that's why ms office and windows is not a great option for the public...i have known people who have become psychologists and psychiatrists just so they could understand themselves better...but that's the complexity of the human mind and that's understandable...but one should not have to spend years trying to figure out microsoft products ;)

    rant over...but i totally understand your plight and by the time a person figures it out, they often become a techie working part time like me or even full time...some even become rich from the endeavor and one local computer phd professor broke off into fixing PCs full time and made much more money than simply teaching computer theory at some he has a store with a staff of comptia A+ techies and microsoft certified technicians...if you can't fix/change microsoft, then get rich fixing its products and use the money to buy cool mac gear
  23. ravenvii macrumors 604


    Mar 17, 2004
    Melenkurion Skyweir
    * not necessarily :) I know alot about computers, particularly hardware. And am interested in learning some programming. But this is all strictly my hobby. I want nothing to do with the tech industry career-wise. In fact, my major is philosophy, and I plan to become a lawyer.
  24. tdhurst macrumors 68040


    Dec 27, 2003
    Portland, OR
    You missed the point...

    You completely missed the idea here.
    Quick question, how often do you get your oil changed in your car? Or get it tuned up? Or make appointments to get your eyes/teeth/whatever checked up on?
    For most of us, the answer is regularly. Why? PREVENTATIVE maintenance. I know that my car is running fine every 3,000 miles, but taking it in helps prevent problems down the road. We don't all wait to go to the dentist until AFTER we have cavities, nor do I wait to go to the eye doctor (sadly, the proper name escapes me presently) until I'm blind.
    His point is simply that Macs require LESS preventative maintenance than PCs do and don't try to debate that fact.
    I understand his frustration and really don't think that taking care of a computer requires you to "coddle" it, or even take away from whatever college activities a student may enjoy.
  25. jxyama macrumors 68040


    Apr 3, 2003
    it's funny because "cheaper is better" but with a PC, you pretty much must factor in anti-virus and anti-spyware software as additional cost. i don't see how a cheapo dell would beat the low-end eMac after adding all those factors, not to mention the fact eMac comes with an optical mouse and iApps and without annoying AOL intro offer, etc. that persists on the desktop.

    anti-virus is especially a money pit. subscription to update virus list? geez, why do i need to keep on shelling out money after i've bought the computer? yes, there are free alternatives, many very capable, but let's talk real here. people who actually buy cheap computers don't bother investigating different anti-virus software. they want things easy - so they go without anti-virus for a while, and realize that their computer is nearly dead and buy a copy of norton for $50, blah, blah...

    so sad... fortunately, i got my parents an eMac. no hassle for me.

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