I'm trying to set up a laptop that my mom can use to check e-mail and surf the web. I want it transparent so she can turn it on and select "Internet" or "E-Mail." But, of course, I put an anti-virus thingy on it. Well, between the anti-virus wanting to search for updates every time you turn it on and Windows wanting to search for updates every time you turn it on (and do I dare not let it?) it gets complicated and time consuming. I thought dial-up service would be fine for now, and it would be except for the damn updates. They can take a day and a half at 56KBaud. And when they are going that slow, it makes it hard to tell if they are done or just dead.
Hmmmm . . .
So I brought it home to get it all updated and temporarily happy over a broadband connection. This was a particularly hideous update. The Windows XP on it was purchased over a year ago and not used. One can imagine how many thousands of indispensable "security" updates have been added in that span of time. And a service pack to boot.
I'm beginning to think dial-up ain't gonna cut it. She can add broadband internet to her cable subscription for $19/mo plus a $50 hookup charge. It's looking better all the time. Hell, if I had to pay for it it looking better all the time.
Good. The fourth time through the update process it finally found nothing left to update.
Should I buy her a Mac? They're supposed to be user friendly. Do they need to be updated daily? The virus scanner has scanned over half a million "items" in about nine minutes on a machine that has pretty much nothing on it except Windows, AVG, Thunderbird and Firefox. Dear. Lord.
Oops. I forgot. I put Open Office on it, too. That probably added a quarter of a million files right there (or maybe 100,000 files and 150,000 registry entries). Oh, and don't forget the thirty or forty thousand "items" required to run Acrobat Reader 7.0.
This is the kind of shit I'm talking about: It's now scanning a bunch of files labeled "McAfee this and that." I used the "uninstaller" to remove McAfee, but there's still all kinds of McAfee crap on there (in the Toshiba directories--this particular one is probably not Microsoft's fault) that no one will ever be able to remove short of reformatting the hard disk and installing a non-Toshiba copy of XP or Ubuntu or whatever.
I took the fingerprint reader off. I took all of the game stubs off. Except for solitaire (I thought she might like that). I took everything off I could recognize as fluff. And that's the problem. If you're not an IT wiz (and I'm not) how can you tell how much of this Toshiba crap is fluff and how much of it will disable the machine if you remove it?
Yes, folks, we are out of control. 700,000 items scanned on a minimalist installation and we're not done yet. Now we're scanning tens of thousands of Office and Microsoft Works files. Office was supposedly never on this machine. Works was supposedly removed--legally, with their damn uninstaller. Yeah, right. Finally, the 740,000 "items" required by our bare-bones installation have been scanned. Geez. Here's another grim statistic: There were 8GB used on the disk before the updates. There are now 11GB used.
We need the Son of Linus Torvalds to write us an operating system that does a few simple things and is purposefully not universally extensible enough to run an entire government. It would probably have to be tied to particular hardware, too, lest our moms have to spend their evenings searching for modem drivers over the internet on the neighbor's computer. Kinda sounds like a Mac, don't it?
Hmmmm . . .