I Attended A Meeting Yesterday…

I attended a meeting yesterday where data and presenting it were discussed. I mentioned that one could do a better job with a spreadsheet application than paper and pencil… A question arose about which application to use and M$’s office suite was mentioned. I mentioned GNUmeric, which does a fine job and is Free and $Free.

As the meeting was winding up a lady sitting across the table asked for some advice about what to do with her PC that came with Vista. She said she didn’t like it (slowing down and gathering malware mostly) and had learned that other versions of that other OS that were available had similar handicaps. 😉 She is a completely non-geek who mostly used her machine for browsing the web. I suggested she visit http://www.debian.org/ and http://goodbye-microsoft.com after backing up any files she wished to save. She does not have a teenager around who can help her through the crunchy steps but she can bring her notebook to our next meeting… Stay tuned… I will attempt to bring a distro of Debian GNU/Linux on a thumb drive.

I think this demonstrates a real shift in mindshare in the public, that acceptance of M$’s offering is now questioned rather than accepted as the default. It can’t be long before GNU/Linux is offered on retail shelves everywhere. I think Vista opened many minds to bigger thoughts.

About Robert Pogson

I am a retired teacher in Canada. I taught in the subject areas where I have worked for almost forty years: maths, physics, chemistry and computers. I love hunting, fishing, picking berries and mushrooms, too.
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18 Responses to I Attended A Meeting Yesterday…

  1. DrLoser wrote, “I’m just seriously doubting your commitment to solving the odd small problem whilst said Senior Citizen gets acclimatised to the OS you’ve foisted on her.”

    You are totally missing the points that I have met this person and she’s pretty smart and knows what she wants, anything but what M$ is offering, not “7”, not “8”, so she logically concludes that perhaps GNU/Linux is worth a shot.

    Her town is of such a size that if even 1% of PCs run GNU/Linux, there are dozens. At least one photographer who uses GNU/Linux has visited the place. The local school division is severely locked in however… They even phased out their one GNU/Linux server despite their IT manager knowing how to run GNU/Linux. Interestingly, there is a computer shop in town but they recommend that other OS and they don’t even mention GNU/Linux while running their website on it… They do see that other OS as a cash cow:

    “Computers are just like cars and require regular maintance. We recommend you bring you computer in for our $49 tune-up every 6 months. Doing this will help ensure your computer a long and happy life. It will also say running much faster.”

    My Beast gets a tune-up every few years and never slows down because it runs GNU/Linux and I don’t have carpet in the room with it.

  2. luvr says:

    DrLoser wrote:

    I don’t have any users, luvr.

    Well, then obviously, you have no idea what you’re blabbering on about, do you?
    ’Nuff said.

  3. dougman says:

    …and as if Windows would be “A” obvious solution here, eh?? That is what you are hinting towards, aren’t you Loser? I mean, why else would you troll here incessantly, day after day.

    Any system given to a senior-citizen, would be a total mind-screw, perhaps she has grand-kids, perhaps neighbors, maybe she is smart enough to just figure it out.

    Either way, Roberts dedication to Linux should not be in question, “THE” obvious question is why people put up with Win-Dohs to being with.

    I mean, with all the firmware updates on the latest Surface, M$ still has not gotten it right, and the latest UPS POS hack, was due to Windows malware.

    Its no wonder that M$ put so many exclusions and waivers of one’s rights in their EULA.

  4. DrLoser says:

    DrLoser is out to lunch. He supposes some worst-case scenario when probably things will just work.

    I happen to like lunch, Robert. I am even more keen on things that will definitely, no question, no quibbles, “work.”

    I’m less keen on the “probably” bit, as you may have gleaned from my comments below.

    How about dealing with the obverse of “probably just work?” You know, “possibly not work?”

    I’m not arguing here about whether or not your Linux solution for a Senior Citizen will work.

    I’m just seriously doubting your commitment to solving the odd small problem whilst said Senior Citizen gets acclimatised to the OS you’ve foisted on her.

  5. DrLoser is out to lunch. He supposes some worst-case scenario when probably things will just work. Why would they not? Debian Wheezy has million of satisfied users and very few bugs. I’ve made up a USB drive with the packages from 5 CDs (1, 2, 3, 7, and 18) hitting the usual stuff: utilities including wireless, XFCE, Libreoffice and FireFox. I can install from scratch or provide a huge local repository if there’s no Internet access at the next meeting.

  6. DrLoser says:

    Mind you, if your users are better off with Windows (for whichever definition of “better” that you wish to adhere to), then that’s fine with me—I’ll gladly leave them in your hands.

    I don’t have any users, luvr. That’s pretty much the point. Like it or not, 90% of people on a desktop computer use Windows and are used to it. If they need help, there’s copious help, on-line or off-line. Good lord, the guy who slices bacon down my local caff will help you with a Windows problem.

    I believe it behoves anybody who paves over one OS with another to stick around and make sure that things work and that the paved user doesn’t have any lingering problems.

    In the case of Linux, those problems might be apt-get or X config or “where’s the volume on my audio” or just about anything, really. I’m not saying this stuff is difficult. Indeed, I am confidently asserting that it is fixable.

    But only by somebody like Robert, who has 14 years of experience and who knows what he’s doing. Not by a non-technical Senior Citizen. Not by the mythical “local Gnu/Linux expert.”

    See, I wouldn’t pave over somebody’s Linux system and replace it with either XP or 8. I would fix the Linux system. Because the person using the Linux system clearly understands how to use a Linux system.

    I am not arrogant enough to completely replace one OS with another, doesn’t matter in which direction, and then walk away from my obligations.

    Most systems I set up needed no further assistance, just like the Eveready Bunny.

    I believe you mean “just like the Maytag Repair Man,” Robert. The bunny wears down eventually. All bunnies do.

    And what’s with this “most?” Care to quantify “most?” All but one? Slightly more than 50%? Naturally you keep records on these things. How many of the dozens of sites you have helped reach the Rapture of Gnu/Linux have you revisited, say two years later?

    I’m guessing none.

    You’re well-meaning, Robert, but you need to put a bit more effort into carrying these things through.

  7. luvr says:

    DrLoser wrote: “In other words, it’s all up to somebody else once you’ve paved over the disk and spent fifteen minutes on an install, isn’t it?”

    Hmmm… And how exactly would Windows help in that regard? I’m guessing it wouldn’t—quite on the contrary, in fact.

    In any case, my life has gotten a whole lot easier since I decided to stop wasting countless hours on “supporting” all of those neverending Windows disasters, and instead help people overcome their PC problems for a change.

    If people still want to stick with Windows—fine, that’s their choice. But they can no longer expect to come crying to me and get any assistance; they’ll have to try their luck elsewhere.

    Mind you, if your users are better off with Windows (for whichever definition of “better” that you wish to adhere to), then that’s fine with me—I’ll gladly leave them in your hands.

  8. DrLoser wrote about my support.

    The biggest project I did involved my giving support a couple of times by e-mail for a couple of years. They developed in-house expertise and needed no further help. That was for 6 servers and 100 thin clients and 6 thick clients. They had a hard drive fail and needed advice on apt-get dist-upgrade. The redundant servers and reliability of thin clients and the solidity of GNU/Linux made maintaining that system trivial. Most systems I set up needed no further assistance, just like the Eveready Bunny.

  9. DrLoser says:

    Or, to put it another way, Robert, precisely how long is your personal support in this case going to last?

    I don’t expect guarantees, just a reasonable estimate.

    And no faffing around with “flood, drought, weeds, winter weeds, porting a perfectly workable program to Pascal, and huntin’ and shootin’,” please.

    You didn’t mention those limitations on your time up-front, which means that the lady in question has been sold a short-term fix as a pig in a poke.

  10. DrLoser says:

    I can easily set her up a machine that will be stable and reliable for years. I’ve done that hundreds of times.

    If you’ll remember, Robert, my point was that, much as I respect your technical chops and your willingness to help fellow citizens, I doubt you’ll be around when the problem occurs in this one single instance. Your cheery belief that there is probably a friendly Green Gnu/Linux Giant out there in every populous town in the Canadian Prairies somewhat reinforces my belief that you won’t be there to help.

    In other words, it’s all up to somebody else once you’ve paved over the disk and spent fifteen minutes on an install, isn’t it?

    Well, maybe not. You might have spent, how long? a couple of hours explaining to the Senior Citizen in question how to find her way around Chrome/Firefox and Libre. That would be a bare minimum, I think.

    And you’ve done the same old same old thing “hundreds of times?”

    How many “hundreds of times” did you go back, two years later, after you’d left the premises, to make sure that everything was still tickety-boo?

    I’m guessing not a single time.

  11. DrLoser wrote, “Tiny little indicators such as not yet having published an online Pascal version of GEBC.”
    and “You, Robert, have stuffed this poor Senior Citizen with a short-term solution to her problems”

    Hey! I didn’t cause the problem. M$ did. I have offered a person choice who did not know she had a choice. She told me she didn’t like anything M$ was offering. I can easily set her up a machine that will be stable and reliable for years. I’ve done that hundreds of times.

    Further, and not particularly relevant, I’ve been fighting flood, drought, weeds and winter-kill on my land so I haven’t had much time for the programme since the spring thaw. I could have finished it last winter but didn’t find the time. Life is hectic when you’re retired. I haven’t been shooting except a couple of times this summer. That’s about to change with hunting season approaching. I may even use bow and arrow next month. So, the programming will happen when it happens. I have been playing around with the Linux kernel a lot lately, making custom kernels for systems and devices here, so I’m not completely rusted over…

  12. DrLoser says:

    What makes you think I will ever lose interest?

    Oh, I don’t know, Robert. Tiny little indicators such as not yet having published an online Pascal version of GEBC.

    There’s nothing inherently wrong in this. I promise people IT help all the time. Sometimes I even come through.

    But I don’t know of anybody who will sign up for an indefinite period to a single individual. Maybe you are such a person?

    ? I’ve been going on GNU/Linux for 14 years now and still going strong.

    Which is roughly 13 years more than this lady has managed. Furthermore, you are self-supporting and self-motivated.

    Good for you. Not so good for your neighbour, really.

    She’s also a decade older than I so I might outlast her.

    “Switch to Linux, and we guarantee that you will drop dead before needing the next LTS version!”

    That’s a winner right there, Robert!

    She lives in a town big enough to have a local GNU/Linux guru.

    Which means, what, precisely?

    You, Robert, have stuffed this poor Senior Citizen with a short-term solution to her problems, and now you’re just going to walk away and leave her to lean on a local lamp-post, all come-hither-like, rasping “Have I got a naughty Gnu/Linux proposition for you, Big Boy!”

    Just as I thought. It’s pretty much why I asked you how long your personal support was likely to last in the first place.

  13. ram wrote, ” There are still plenty of boards with UEFI were installation of Linux is near impossible.”

    If her notebook shipped with Vista, I don’t think that’s an issue. “secure boot” emerged with “8”. Even then there should be a BIOS setting to turn it off.

  14. dougman says:

    I loan out HP Chromebooks as trials for people to use and nine times out of ten, they end up buying it.

    If all someone is doing is browsing the web, then a Chromebook is the better choice as it frees my time to do other things.

  15. JD says:

    @Loser
    She is still better off because her laptop won’t be a virus magnet anymore, nor need constant care and attention like a sick patient.

    Besides, its not like Billy and crew are sitting around waiting to solve her problems if she were to run Windows. She is pretty much on her own anyway and her current predicament says as much. Time for her to take back control of her computer.

  16. ram says:

    Good luck with the install! There are still plenty of boards with UEFI were installation of Linux is near impossible.

  17. DrLoser wrote, ” when you lose interest and leave her with what I’m sure will be a fully-functioning version of Debian Wheezy, Robert?”

    What makes you think I will ever lose interest? I’ve been going on GNU/Linux for 14 years now and still going strong. She’s also a decade older than I so I might outlast her. She lives in a town big enough to have a local GNU/Linux guru. If all she does is browse and type a bit, an installation should last her indefinitely.

  18. DrLoser says:

    And what happens to this “completely non-geek” lady when you lose interest and leave her with what I’m sure will be a fully-functioning version of Debian Wheezy, Robert?

    Or are you the sort of evangelist who sticks around for the next ten years and solves “non-geek” problems?”

    If so, then good on yer!

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