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Re: A long row to hoe
On Tue, 11 Nov 1997 13:28:54 -0500 (EST), Mark Hinds wrote:
>My wife is taking some computer classes at the local community college.
>Of course they are using Win95. She has come home and asked me several
>times "What am I doing wrong? I keep getting this blue screen thing." I
>have tried to explain that it is not her, but the crazy MS stuff that is
>at fault. Finally, one day she is taking an in class test using office97 to
>make a pie chart gizmo with excel. She gets done and tries to save.
>Bingo! Blue Screen. She goes to the instructor, she is almost in tears,
>and tells him what happened. "No problem, a couple other people had the
>same thing happen. Just do it again, I'll give you extra time." Now
>this is not merely some 3rd hand anecdote. This is what happened. And
>though it is so classic as to be almost humorous, it is not.
The sad thing about this is that those taking the class (along
with most M$ lemmings) have developed the notion that having to reboot
your computer several times a day is to be considered completely
normal. What the current proliferation of M$ products has done is
lower the user's expectations of what's considered 'normal operation'.
For many M$ users the first thing they learn about system maintenance
is "Ctrl-Alt-Del". It's all part of the 'dumbing-down' of the
computing public, and this in turn shows M$ products in a much more
>This is what beginners think. It's their fault when MS products
>break. Once they learn that it's not their fault they are so
>relieved to find that they aren't just stupid that they really
>don't care (or know why they should) that the computer
>misbehaved. Note also that computer misbehaved, not the MS app.
>It's all one thing to most people.
That's what 'Dollar Bill' will tell them too. As far as he's
concerned practically all the problems everyone has with his products
are the fault of the user, therefore it's not M$'s responsibility to
fix these problems.
>Now, fortunately (and some people may disagree) the FDA regulates
>medical products. Medical products must show reasonable
>currative value with acceptable and well understood side effects.
>Not just in ordinary people opinion, but with clinical trials.
>This is of course only the ideal and the system maybe somewhat
>flawed, but as a whole has worked reasonably well.
>I do not suggest that the SW industry be monitored as closely
>as the drug indistry, but some performance standards should
>be at least mandated. And ordinary users are simply not capable
>of understanding what is acceptable. Throw into this the
>inordinate marketing influence of MS and you have a technological
>cam we are facing today.
I wouldn't be too quick to dismiss the notion that software used
in 'mission critical' environments shouldn't be held to a higher
standard. Personally I find it scary as hell when I hear about NT
making inroads into the medical field...it gives new meaning to the
'blue screen of death'.
>So what do we do? I'm trying to teach my wife how to use the Linux tools
>and I'm trying to get the community college to get interested in Linux.
>I have some success in both areas, but it seems hardly enough to counter
>the efforts of MS.
Part of the problem is that many institutions don't like to admit
they've made a BIG mistake, especially an expensive one. Although
everyone involved may know that their current M$ based system isn't
cutting it they're not likely to admit it publicly. So instead of
similar institutions hearing the truth about these products BEFORE they
make the same mistake.
A perfect example of this is NT. Anyone who still believes NT is
capable of handling the medium to large 'enterprise' is fooling
themselves, yet M$ is still selling it like hot cakes to suckers who'll
try to use it for just that (well M$ told them it would work, they
wouldn't lie about that would they??) only to soon discover that they
made a HUGE mistake. The high up 'decision makers' aren't about to
admit they fell for a load of M$ bull and made the wrong decision,
they'll publicly state it's not a problem while the company's IT budget
keeps growing while their system's stability and functionality keeps
getting worse. So it seems that M$ discovered long ago that you
actually don't need to develop a good product, all you really need is a
huge marketing department to convince your customers that their
products perform as well as needed...like I've been saying for years,
'Dollar Bill' and P.T. Barnum must have the same DNA.
The best thing you can do to combat this 'dumbing-down' is to show
people that they don't have to put up with marginal software. We can
only hope that when you keeping proving that there's better products
that eventually they'll listen...albeit that might be after they've all
but destroyed their company's system.