From technology to politics to video games; these are the random thoughts of a geek with too much time on his hands
... but doesn't have the patience to tell you.
Published on May 7, 2004 By Zoomba In Personal Computing
Ok, we've all see the Windows For Dummies books, the guides on how to use MS Word and Excel, and the technical among us scoff and roll our eyes at these books... but the average consumer gobbles these things up, the dummies books sell better than any technical programming manual, everyone it seems is buying these damn books. You'd think then that we'd have a more technically literate population. We don't, even the people who buy these books still have no clue. You want to know my theory as to why that is? Well probably not but I'll tell you anyway...

Those books don't teach what's actually useful.

Sure, you learn all about how to use the advanced features in windows, or get tips on where to get the latest and hottest version of solitare, but they gloss over the everyday practical issues the average person has to deal with when using a computer connected to the Internet. They also don't equip a person to understand any of the most basic technical questions a support person may ask, reducing those of us trying to help to using terms like "the TV part" or "the thing you click with" and having to explain the intricate differences between coffee cup holder and CD-ROM tray. What I think we need is a new style of computer book, one that only deals with the essentials, one that cuts out all the crap about how to change your desktop background or the windows theme... let those other books do those topics, this new book should take the core concepts and lay them out so everyone can understand them.

The book in my mind would be divided into 3 sections:

"Now, what does the TV part say?"
A quick overview of every major part of the computer, what it does and why you may or may not need to know about it. Make the clear distinction over the difference between DVD and CD, what R is versus RW, and why if you don't play games, you don't need that GeForce8 XF9485 video card with 768MB of VRAM.

"Do NOT open that attachment..."
A crash course on how to not be a moron about Internet security and viruses. It would give a quick primer on how email viruses work as of late (no, the person listed in the from address is NOT sending you that virus, don't send them angry email), an dicuss why it is ESSENTIAL that you have virus software and keep it up to date, as well as keeping windows patched AT ALL TIMES.

The Most Common Questions and Mistakes
This would be a sort of FAQ setup, where 1-2 pages would be dedicated to one specific technical question that people seem to ask a lot (Like, how do I change my network settings... ) as well as some of the more common errors people make when trying to fix their PC (i.e people with LCD monitors setting the resolution beyond the monitor's capabilities) and how to avoid/solve them.

The book would end with a glossary of all the terms discussed, as well as perhaps some more technical in-depth info on some topics for those interested.

If I had an ounce of ability when it comes to writing, I'd be all over this... maybe I can sell my idea to someone
Of course it would have sarcastic remarks peppered throughout in side notes, but it would be nicer than the choice words most tech geeks have for users when they reorganize all the DLLs on their entire computer into a folder on their desktop, or open yet another virus infected attachment (for the 8th time that month).

Comments
on May 07, 2004

 a dicuss why it is ESSENTIAL that you have virus software and keep it up to date, as well as keeping windows patched AT ALL TIMES.


OK, "computer geek", here's you time to shine.  I am by far, a noncomputer geek.  But I'm trying my hardest to keep atop this whole virus update nonsense.  Here's the deal...I run my live update, and it gives me this message:


LU1847: LiveUpdate could not determine if there is an update for this product because the update list for this product is corrupted.


So, now what do I do?  I tried, but it looks like I'm pretty much S.O.L. on this.  And of course, try calling Norton Antivirus now--you'll be on hold all freakin' day!

By the way--I liked the article.
 

on May 07, 2004
Alright, first try and get the updates manually, this may fix the corrupted list, just go here and select your product and operating system combination:
http://securityresponse.symantec.com/avcenter/defs.download.html

This will give you an exe file that should manually patch you up, this will hopefully get you going again.

If that fails, go to Add/Remove programs in your control panels (Start -> Settings -> Control Panel) and select Norton AntiVirus, hit the remove button. Once that's done and you restart, reinstall Norton from your CD or installer file, that will almost definitely fix the corrupted list.
on May 07, 2004
i'm not talented, skilled or knowledgable enough to qualify for geekdom but i've spent lots of hours over the past 7 years (after sorta successfully building my first pc from discarded parts) trying to help guide countless friends and acquaintances through myriad upgrades, installations, recoveries and everyday mishaps. for the most part, these were people who had already mastered the art of turning the damn thing on, booting up and getting themselves online. i can only imagine what its like dealing with those stuck on even lower rungs.

book 'em dano..
on May 07, 2004
If everyone knew all those things, my job would be SO boring... I still haven't told my co-worker where to find the "Any Key." Hey, you gotta find your amusement where you can these days.
on May 07, 2004

I did the manual updates and nothing.


If that fails, go to Add/Remove programs in your control panels (Start -> Settings -> Control Panel) and select Norton AntiVirus, hit the remove button. Once that's done and you restart, reinstall Norton from your CD or installer file, that will almost definitely fix the corrupted list.


It was put on by the manufacturer so we don't have the CD--guess I should bite the bullet and call them!  Blah!


Thanks for your help, though, I do appreciate it.  You're one step closer to ridding the world of computer morons! 

on May 07, 2004
Most manufacturers I've used (Dell, Gateway, Apple) include the software on an applications CD... try and dig one of those up if you can.
on May 07, 2004
Sounds like a good idea. Maybe you could make it into a comedic coffee table book for geeks with scripts of phone support convos and random side notes. Or something...

I bought a couple of dummies books once and then ran a few classes for technophobes, taught them the basics and weeded out the crap from the books as we went along. Seems to have gone well. Had many thanks since then and only one person has rung back for further basic support.
on May 07, 2004

I finally fixed it!  Yay!  It turns out that there was a corrupt file that was hidden, so after clicking on a lot of things, and searching, clicking some more, and finally deleted some other stuff (yup, that's as technical as I get)...it's fixed!


Victory is mine.  Computer:0 Me:1


Thanks for your help!

on May 07, 2004

sorry for the double post...please delete...stupid computers...make that Computer:1 Me: 1

Evil revengeful piece of metal

on May 07, 2004
I like the coffee table book idea, could be a lot of fun to try and compile all sorts of good stories for it
on Jun 17, 2004
Can we please put something in there explaining the difference between left click and right click?
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