Monday, August 25, 2003

Computer viruses

Dick picks up on my point that I feel the media is somewhat responsible for the type of virus problems that home PC users suffered. He relates how he used to always warn the home user (his audience) to back up, install patches and updating anti-virus software.

In general, I would read the columns in a newspaper with such advice. I have always updated my virus protection software regularly. However, I never knew that there were viruses that were transmitted other than through e-mail. I hadn't known that this "open port" virus was a possibility, and my virus protection software was no use for such a virus. You need a firewall to prevent such an occurence (I have one now AND I agree with Dick, the more time you're online the more necessary a firewall is).

The problem with this approach is that most home PC owners don't read these columns. Why should they have to? I don't read columns about cars other than when I have to buy a car. Most of the time, I couldn't care less about developments in car technology, etc.

My point with regards to the media is that the average tech writer has so much knowledge that they have almost no feel for the level of ignorance among the general home PC owner. Most of the home users don't want to read the technology pages. They don't want to read about new developments. They're often unable to understand the language in which these articles are written.

I have a camcorder and a VCR. I know that there are a lot of functions that I have never even imagined using. I don't care. I don't have the interest in it. I can do the few things I want to do with those bits of equipment and I'm happy enough with that.

When I bought the camcorder and VCR there was an instruction booklet that helped me do the basics and warn me of any real dangers (such as shorting my equipment, etc.). Considering the potential for causing trouble for yourself, the manufacturers and retailers of both hardware and software are totally deficient when it comes to this sort of customer service.

Dell sold me a PC with a version of Windows that had essentially been recalled. I'm sure Dell would argue differently, but when I go to a car dealer, I presume that all the faults that the manufacturer has identified have been corrected by the dealer before he sells me the car. So, why can't Dell install the latest service packs (at least 2 of which had been out for over a year before I bought my PC) before they ship a Windows 2000 machine?

When the problem is serious enough, all those who bought the car with the problem are asked to come back to the dealer to have the problem remedied. Why can't this happen when you buy a computer? The customer doesn't even have to come back to the shop to have the problem repaired.

When I bought my PC Microsoft made me register with them. There was some waffle about the benefits I would get for registering. Well, the most important benefit would have been Microsoft informing me that its software was continuously reviewed for problems and that I would be notified of all fixes and service packs that I would have to download (should not be presented as an option). This didn't happen.

Instead, Microsoft announces these fixes through press releases that are then rehashed in the technology pages that most of Microsoft's home customers do not read.

As far as I'm concerned, these are shoddy business practices and the media has done a poor job of highlighting this.