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A Christmas Windows-Virus Story With A Happy Ending!

Published December 24th, 2005

Imacxmas-1It was another very sad, almost heartbreaking story about all the lost technophobes out there who made the mistake of buying Windows computers for their homes. In today’s Washington Post, a story called The Computer Geeks Who Saved Christmas chronicles how the geeky or even slightly geeky family member nowadays gets waylaid by his relatives every time he (or she) visits at Christmastime, dragged to their sick Windows computer and made to try to clean up the virus and adware mess that has built up since his last visit.

Now, I’m sure that some guys really dig this, but the people I feel really sad for are the computer owners. Imagine, you spend $500 or more on a computer appliance and bring it home, all fired up to begin partaking of technological wonders like the Internet, digital photography, email, self-produced greeting cards, online porn pictures, instant messaging, and more! Your geeky relative, visiting for Christmas, helps you set it up, and off you go!

Everything is fine for a few weeks, but then the computer starts acting “funny”? Odd things start happening, like text appearing as you’re typing an email, or text disappearing when you’re typing an email. Programs stop functioning. That file you know you saved in that folder last week is suddenly AWOL! And every time you browse the World Wide Web, you keep losing your place because of the many small windows that keep popping up and flashing gaudy advertising in front of your face. (This is why they call them “Windows”? computers, you know.)

So, it isn’t long before the shine wears off, and the computer starts to sit unused, and is finally ignored entirely… Until that geeky relative comes to visit again! Oh joy! Rapture! Salvation at last!

Apparently, this is now a well recognized cycle in the lives of American families. And part of my sadness comes from knowing that it doesn’t have to be this way.

Fortunately, the story’s author recognizes this awful truth as well, and ends the story with an excellent anecdote of how modern life with computers could be… and hopefully one day soon, will be, for many more stricken families:

Sometimes, though, you just have to draw a line. When Timothy Shey, an executive at a local Web applications company, found out that his parents were deciding on a new computer a couple of years ago, he offered to give them free and unlimited tech support, on one condition– they had to buy an Apple MacIntosh.

For Mac fans such as Shey, having to do maintenance on a rival Windows computer is a galling experience. Shey said he knows one guy who took his parents’ Windows system when they were out of the house and replaced it with a Mac: Tech-support problem solved.

But the Sheys ignored their son’s advice and bought a Windows-based computer. So a year later when the machine started acting up, he kept his word.

“I cut them off,”? he said with a laugh.

Maybe after reading this lovely holiday story, more people who are considering a new computer purchase will do the smart thing for a change… and buy a Mac.

CsquickpicksMy own story is like the one in the Post’s article… except I’m the guy who threw out his parents’ Windows computer and gave them a Mac. I firmly believe that home computers should not need help-desk support, and something is very wrong if they do. After all, a home appliance is not like a business appliance–you are responsible for maintenance, not the company. Your decision tree for buying a computer should be similar to the one you use for buying a television set, or a car: Find the machine with the best repair history and the easiest maintenance routine. (Hint: It’s a Macintosh computer… See their latest “Quick Picks”? for desktop computers in the accompanying screenshot.)

The only exceptions are geeks who like to tinker inside a computer, either on the hardware or the software. These guys want a computer that has them working on the computer more often than actually using the computer for work. You know the type… they’re the same ones who actually enjoy putting a computer together. They probably have the same gene that in other guys stimulates their pleasure center when they spend a Saturday afternoon completely disassembling a car engine and arraying all its parts on the garage floor… and then putting the engine back together again.

You guys know who you are… and there aren’t really very many of you nowadays. Windows computers are made for guys like you, and may you live long and prosper together. :-)

This article gives me hope that if more people buy a sensible home computer like a Macintosh, several happy things will result:

  1. More people will start to actually enjoy their computers, which will cease to be a source of stress.
  2. Computers will remain productive tools for family life the entire year.
  3. Weary geeks home for the holidays can leave their spyware tools at home and enjoy the eggnog with the rest of the clan, instead of being sequestered away with the sick computer for hours.
  4. Holiday gatherings will feature outings to the computer room so everyone can see the latest cool thing it can do.

Happy Holidays!

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