the Web

Computer Training

January 20, 2010

You need training to use a computer. If you’re not trained, you’re wrecking it for the rest of us.

So maybe we’re not trained. Or rather, we’re self-trained. We take a natural interest in computers: how to make them faster, more useful, more powerful, more fun to use. Most people don’t, and that in itself is fine, although it means we must endure the occasional ribbing from friends and neighbours.

But computers are not like Hi-Fis. Hi-Fis have their enthusiasts, squeezing every last octave, tweet and whistle out of their equipment. They spend thousands on more, bigger, better, more refined. They are the hi-fi geeks, and that’s all right too. The rest of us can get by to varying degrees with tinny speakers, crackly mp3s, portable radios, iPod docks. Micro hi-fis. Even us computer geeks may sneer at the enthusiasts keen ear, if we allow ourselves.

The hi-fi geeks may look down on us, and pity our cloth ears, but they can retreat to their leather armchairs, open fires, and gold-plated pair-twisted 250amp microthread… well, I’m making this all up, but they have a place to go to get away from the mobile phone speakers.

Geeks are not so lucky.

We’re all on the same Internet. We’re connected to the same global network as those who think it’s fine not to care what browser they’re using, to click Cancel when their anti-virus flashes ‘another bloody reminder’, to save time and bandwidth.

These are the people who’s ISPs lumber with ‘BT Yahoo Internet Explorer 6’, and ball-achingly slow trials (and tribulations) of colossal security software. No wonder they’re put off.

And it’s these people who don’t patch, don’t use an ‘alternative’ browser.

Because of them the rest of us endure tidal waves of spam, botnets of viruses, and it is these browsers who are holding back the Internet itself, through always choosing the default.

I hope I’ve made myself annoying enough at work to warn people that having a computer which crawls to open an email is neither necessary nor healthy. God knows what your PC is doing in the background. You certainly don’t, but it’s not OK to ignore it! I’m at the sharp end!

Microsoft may have built the shoddy edifice that is Internet Explorer 6. But they also constructed the behemoth which is the Windows XP dominated world of modern IT. So we’re now stuck with a mass of people who are still using IE6, forcing talented web designers into supporting its aching bones and quirky behaviour. And as MS are still playing catchup in the browser game, who knows when HTML 5 will become a viable programming language?

What can you do?

Well, you can be the annoying geek in the office and home and get all your friends to download Firefox, Chrome, Opera. Help push the Internet forward!

Get your closest acquaintances to update their anti-virus regularly, and their OS. Get them to use webmail or Thunderbird, and not Outlook goddamn Express!

If you’re a right bastard, get them to try Linux, or at least a Mac.