Computers are unusable

During the past two days, I’ve had two opportunities to experience the pain that normal people experience when using normal computers. A couple of friends, both with higher degrees of education, had had a virus attack on their PC. The reason they found out was that they’d accidentally installed a virus program by clicking on some banner, and now it’d pop up once a day and tell them they had a virus. Now what? It didn’t offer to remove the virus. And they weren’t sure what was going on in the first place, or what to do about it. Not surprisingly. I tried installing another anti-virus program, but then it complained that it wouldn’t install until you uninstalled a third anti-virus program. Sigh. “Take it to the doctor!” How are normal people to figure out this mess?

The other story was my Mom, who’s using Fastmail over IMAP. She was over quota, which fastmail kindly told her about. So she deleted some mail in Outlook, she even archived some of her email when Outlook asked her. But it didn’t help. Outlook’s archive feature only touches the hard disk, not the mails stored on Fastmail’s servers. It’s not easy to figure out what to do, unless you have a computer scientist son to ask. Even though my Mom’s been a programmer herself for 35 years, and she’s had her own 50-person software company. Still can’t use those damn computers.

When is this industry going to grow up? And do you really trust Microsoft to make computers more usable?


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