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November 25: Update Your Parents' Browser Day
November 24, 2011 11:42 PM   Subscribe


 
While you're at it, install LogMeIn Free so you can do tech support remotely. Saved me so much hassle in the long run.
posted by DoctorFedora at 11:57 PM on November 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


> While you're at it, install LogMeIn Free so you can do tech support remotely.

Or do it directly through their browser (if it's Chrome) with the remote desktop plugin.
posted by brenton at 12:02 AM on November 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


It's kind of disturbing that a Chrome plugin has the permissions to act as a remote desktop...
posted by wayland at 12:07 AM on November 25, 2011 [6 favorites]


Is this where I can complain about iGoogle which installed itself in my husband's computer and won;t go away?
Or Calibri - the default font in W7/Office 2010 that also won't go away?
This isn't the place? Ok, sorry. It does not good to complain to Google or MS either.
posted by Cranberry at 12:08 AM on November 25, 2011


Cranberry, if you want to get rid of iGoogle, click on the "gear" drop-down menu on the far right and pick "Classic Home".
posted by octothorpe at 12:18 AM on November 25, 2011 [5 favorites]


Thanks, octothorpe.♥ Now what about my computer locking after viewing any YouTube, or the crash of Adobe almost every time? :-)
Tech who can't fix it charges $75.00 an hour.
posted by Cranberry at 12:28 AM on November 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


I have no information about your computer but I am assuming it's a name brand system running Windows 7. The first thing to do, always, with that type of computer is to format and reinstall Windows without any of the hardware vendor's crap software.

Windows + hardware drivers. Then install only the software you want, which does not include ANY of the crap it came with.

And "I uninstalled all that stuff first thing." doesn't count.

Removed =/= Never Was
posted by LoudMusic at 12:40 AM on November 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


[hey, you guys, probably best to take this specific tech support side issue to email or Ask Metafilter]
posted by taz at 12:50 AM on November 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


For email purposes you will get AOL from my fathers cold dead hands only I'm afraid.

No, seriously, he total threw a toddler tantrum when deinstalled it.

Hilarious when a 73 year old does it. And a bit scary.

At least he uses Firefox now, sometimes.

Old people discovering internet porn (but not bookmarks). The horror.
posted by ZeroAmbition at 12:58 AM on November 25, 2011


A little advice on the browser change. Don't switch brands on them. No putting Chrome instead of Firefox or Internet Explorer. Keep it simple.

I disagree. Instead, you should hide Internet Explorer (kill all the shortcuts), install Firefox, and follow any of the guides for how to make it look just like IE. What they don't know won't hurt them.
posted by twoleftfeet at 1:57 AM on November 25, 2011 [6 favorites]


Now what about my computer locking after viewing any YouTube, or the crash of Adobe almost every time? :-)
Tech who can't fix it charges $75.00 an hour.


That tech you're using is a charlatan. Me, on the other hand, I'm an honest man with an honest desire to help the world at bargain basement prices. If your YouTubes are crashing, then what you need is YouTube Plus™ - it's all of the YouTube Cat Tubes that you love, but without all of the post-kitten crashing you hate.

All of your problems can be solved for the reasonable price of $49.99 + S&H: just call the friendly representatives at CMonkey's Palace of Technological Puzzlecraft, exclusive distributor of YouTube Plus™, Intertube Explorer 11™, Adobe Repair Centre™, and other premium softwares.
posted by cmonkey at 2:16 AM on November 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


I wonder still people are using IE6 :(
posted by techmen at 3:20 AM on November 25, 2011


I feel blessed, I got my parents to switch to Chrome with nary a complaint. The switch to Gmail from AOL however, that was legendary.
posted by arcticseal at 3:40 AM on November 25, 2011


Browser ignorance isn't just for your parents anymore. Previously: What is a browser? Nobody seems to be sure.
posted by twoleftfeet at 4:00 AM on November 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


please cancel google. thank you
posted by oliverburkeman at 4:00 AM on November 25, 2011 [6 favorites]


When you make a server operating system that doesn't randomly disconnect Windows XP clients, let me know... until then I'm sticking with Windows 2000 Server, and thus IE6.

Chrome doesn't work on Windows 2000.

IE6 would have died a long time ago if Microsoft wasn't trying to use it to force people off old operating systems.
posted by MikeWarot at 4:20 AM on November 25, 2011


I updated my parents' browser last night and fixed a 'no sound' issue (sound card was disabled - how they managed to mess that up is another holiday mystery).
posted by bCat at 4:37 AM on November 25, 2011


I fixed my parents' browser and they were so pleased that they asked me to fix their world view. Now they're living in a tent at the Occupy movement.
posted by twoleftfeet at 4:39 AM on November 25, 2011 [23 favorites]


That big bedroom your little sister got for some reason?

She got the bedroom because she already updated your parent's browser last year.
posted by francesca too at 4:53 AM on November 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Last year my parents reported the the computer I'd built for them about three years prior was "almost useless." Found out that they'd never updated virus definitions - "I just closed those windows. Didn't have time." They also had three years of Windows updates waiting in the sys tray: "Didn't have time." It took an entire afternoon to scan the system, clean the malware, and install the updates. That's when I made some ground rules: If I come back to computer problems and find that these things haven't been updated, you will pay me for the tech support. Hasn't happened since.
posted by TrialByMedia at 5:33 AM on November 25, 2011 [5 favorites]


Old people discovering internet porn (but not bookmarks). The horror.

I learned pretty quickly never to look at anyone's browsing history after learning that a coworker had an enema fetish.
posted by desjardins at 5:44 AM on November 25, 2011 [3 favorites]


I switched my grandparents to Chrome last month. Changed the desktop icon to look like IE. The only hangup was bookmarks vs. favorites, but I just told them I upgraded. Haven't had a single phone call since.
posted by desjardins at 5:49 AM on November 25, 2011


Could somebody please visit my workplace and upgrade them from IE7? Right now I get around it by running portable firefox on a flash drive but I'm probably breaking all kinds of policies by doing so.
posted by sevenyearlurk at 5:54 AM on November 25, 2011


Old people discovering internet porn (but not bookmarks). The horror.

I feel the same way about young people. That's why I told my kids the stork brought 'em.
posted by Obscure Reference at 6:20 AM on November 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


My nephew has my dad's old computer, purchased in 1999. It runs on '98, meaning the latest IE version is very, very slow on there. Maybe this is why older people, who are hanging onto the computers that were enormously expensive in the '90s, aren't upgrading? (I did a virus scan on there before I checked my bank balance online. Oh lordy. This is what happens when you're visiting BBW sites and Fiesta fora.)
posted by mippy at 6:34 AM on November 25, 2011


But who is going to uninstall the malware that pops up an ad for online poker in the middle of their desktop, and has the stay-on-top flag set so that they have to keep moving windows around it?
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 6:43 AM on November 25, 2011


oh god, as i sit here i have my dads laptop laying right next to me, as it doesn't even boot. he downloaded and ran 'systemfix.exe' like an idiot, even though everyone in our family tells him 'DON'T DOWNLOAD ANYTHING, EVER'. maybe I'll install ubuntu and see if he even notices.
posted by Mach5 at 6:53 AM on November 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


My father has been using Firefox for years. It does this thing where it upgrades automagically. He's wondering why he can't get it on his iPhone and iPad though.
posted by juiceCake at 7:32 AM on November 25, 2011


For fixing stuff remotely I use join.me - nothing needs to be preinstalled, and talking your target idiot through getting it running is relatively painless.
posted by fleetmouse at 7:43 AM on November 25, 2011


I learned pretty quickly never to look at anyone's browsing history after learning that a coworker had an enema fetish.

Sometimes you don't have a choice if they don't clear the history, and you're using their laptop and you type something into the browser bar and all of a sudden you're presented with a list of urls like wivesfuckinguglydudeswithbadfacialhair.xyz and you're like oh sweet baby jesus when will someone invent a privacy mode for browsers and magically someone on the Firefox dev team hears your plea from who knows how far away and adds it a year or two later.

True story.
posted by cmonkey at 8:11 AM on November 25, 2011 [4 favorites]


While you are at it, install AdBlockPlus, FlashBlock, and Ghostery. Help your parents cut the corporate fuckers off at the knees where it hurts.
posted by spitbull at 8:12 AM on November 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


While you are at it, install AdBlockPlus, FlashBlock, and Ghostery. Help your parents cut the corporate fuckers off at the knees where it hurts.

Yeah, don't do this. Not unless you want to have to painfully teach them the step-by-steps on how to turn that stuff off so that they can play Yahoo Pool or browse the Kohl's website.
posted by dubusadus at 8:39 AM on November 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


The best part of installing ubuntu (11.04 or Linux Mint, not the Gnome 3.0/Unity interface) is going back several months later and finding the Downloads folder full of SUPERONLINECASINO.EXE and VIRUSSCANNER2012.EXE, followed by several files with later dates and filenames of SUPERONLINECASINO(1).EXE and VIRUSSCANNER2012(1).EXE.

tip: sudo apt-get install ubuntu-restricted-extras

Or just install Mint...
posted by thewalrus at 9:09 AM on November 25, 2011


Yeah, don't do this. Not unless you want to have to painfully teach them the step-by-steps on how to turn that stuff off so that they can play Yahoo Pool or browse the Kohl's website.

Eh. ABP at a minimum won't cause undue pain, in my experience. Flashblock, yes, don't enable that feature. Ghostery sounds effective -- have yet to try it, but not sure if it'd indiscriminately stomp on some okay parental-unit habits.

At least install Chrome, screw everything else... that browser rips. Firefox's okay but much slower.
posted by Jubal Kessler at 9:30 AM on November 25, 2011


ABP is something I installed for my mom, along with NoScript. Because I am dumb, and like getting phone calls which are putatively about EMERGENCIES that turn out to be someone can't get to Farmville.

I had to lecture my mother about not putting things online she didn't want everyone to see. She pouted and said 'But your aunt Rita does it!' I confess I was extremely thrilled to be able to retort 'If aunt Rita jumped off a bridge, would you do it, too?'
posted by winna at 9:40 AM on November 25, 2011 [10 favorites]


Ghostery sounds effective -- have yet to try it, but not sure if it'd indiscriminately stomp on some okay parental-unit habits.

Ghostery should be fine with carefully-tuned settings. The tracker database contains some things that you probably don't want to block: Disqus comments & Facebook Connect, for example.
posted by skymt at 9:40 AM on November 25, 2011


Not to derail, but is there anything like consensus as to whether longtime tech semi-literate Firefox users should be switching to Chrome? Because Firefox has been crash-happy as all hell on my MacBook lately. Twitter appears to be its kryptonite.
posted by gompa at 10:14 AM on November 25, 2011


I'm probably closer to the age of the "parents" here. In my case, since I've worked in the field for decades, it's the kids that come to me. We have the one who comes rarely, with only esoteric issues because she doesn't do foolish things and she switched to a Mac a couple of years ago anyway. Then we we have the one who comes rarely, because I got so tired of my advice being ignored that I refuse to help with anything except a "nuke from orbit" fix.

But still I grimace when I see the casual acceptance of idea that "older" = "stupid." C'mon, guys: it's just that some people get it and some people don't. True enough, the odds are that older people don't get it at a higher percentage. But it's not OK to treat that as a universal. Think of the things you may have heard your parents say about "people your age," and decide if that's the model you want to follow.


And also? This:

Instead, you should hide Internet Explorer (kill all the shortcuts), install Firefox, and follow any of the guides for how to make it look just like IE. What they don't know won't hurt them.


Fine, so long as you, and only you, are their tech support. Because when they have to call someone else, it's hell. The guy who has to (1) take the call transfer when the help desk couldn't figure it out, and then (2) spend 20 minutes figuring out what you did, and then (3) waste half an hour fixing the chaos the help desk caused because they also believed it was IE, and finally (4) only then can even start on the real problem that Mom called about in the first place, is not going to love you. You won't have done Mom (who's been on the phone for 4 hours at this point) any favors either.
posted by tyllwin at 10:30 AM on November 25, 2011 [6 favorites]


Firefox Aurora (10.x) is quite stable for me, though incompatible with almost all plugins. You can have the latest beta (9.x) installed at the same time as Aurora and use them with the same profile, though both can't be running at the same time.
posted by thewalrus at 10:31 AM on November 25, 2011


But still I grimace when I see the casual acceptance of idea that "older" = "stupid." C'mon, guys: it's just that some people get it and some people don't. True enough, the odds are that older people don't get it at a higher percentage.

The thing that frustrates me is when people (of all ages) don't want to bother to learn even little things, because either they a) have some flunky (whether a coworker or a daughter or a parent) who they expect will always be there to do it for them or b) just refuse because they don't WANNA learn anything. Honestly, I am far more sympathetic to older people who have that attitude, because they are basically confronted with an enormously complex ecosystem of technology that is much easier to understand if you've been tinkering with it all along. It's like expecting someone to understand the plot of a movie when you only let them start watching in the middle - they might pick some things up, but they're not going to get the whole picture.

That does not excuse being rude or impatient or having tantrums about it, though. I am not the only person who has gotten major toddler meltdowns from people for whom I'm doing free tech support.

But I get the toddler meltdowns from people of all ages, and even those tantrums are less corrosive to my soul than the people who blow off learning anything about it with the attitude that 'well, winna, you can just always fix it for us.' That is why I dread when people think I am good at technical things - it inevitably morphs into an attitude of entitlement toward my expertise and instant blame if something goes wrong. Because if you can fix it, the second you touch it all future breakage somehow becomes your fault.
posted by winna at 10:40 AM on November 25, 2011


it inevitably morphs into an attitude of entitlement toward my expertise

Funny, how the people who want you to "just fix my computer" are usually not offering, in turn, to re-plumb your house, or fix your roof, or what have you. I never have quite understood why your hours are supposed to be free, but they'd have to charge you something for theirs.
posted by tyllwin at 10:52 AM on November 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


With the exception of your parents, I don't think it's a good idea to offer multiple hours of free computer service. Plumbers, electricians, roofers, carpenters and so forth with 10+ years of experience all command relatively high hourly call-out rates. If you really know what you're doing - your time is no less valuable.
posted by thewalrus at 11:02 AM on November 25, 2011


I'd like to add that offering free service inevitably ties you to being responsible for the whole mess, even if all you did was spend 15 minutes doing some basic updates and software fixes. Everything that happens to the system after you touched it becomes your fault in perpetuity.
posted by thewalrus at 11:03 AM on November 25, 2011


>Because if you can fix it, the second you touch it all future breakage somehow becomes your fault.<

Amen. I often refuse to even look at some people’s computers because of this. I would be glad to help, and know I could fix the problem easily, but I know their personality and am not going to set myself up for "it worked fine until you fixed it". Of course what they mean is 3 weeks later, after indiscriminately downloading crap and randomly moving system files, it had a problem.

The perception that younger people understand computers is very exaggerated. Young people know what computers are. I’ve fixed computers for many teens and none of them could tell me anything about the system, what they did, where things were. It’s just "I click here and music comes out, and here to use Facebook". And if I hear one more person say their small child "totally understands computers" because he’s banging on the mouse with his hand I’m going to spit on them.
posted by bongo_x at 11:11 AM on November 25, 2011 [4 favorites]


The solution to perpetual familial requests for tech support is to marry someone who knows more than you.

Worked for me - they call him even for very simple things that I could do.
posted by desjardins at 1:13 PM on November 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


I had to lecture my mother about not putting things online she didn't want everyone to see. She pouted and said 'But your aunt Rita does it!' I confess I was extremely thrilled to be able to retort 'If aunt Rita jumped off a bridge, would you do it, too?'

This is because most grown-ups don't actually grow up. They just gain situational maturity.
posted by JHarris at 3:09 PM on November 25, 2011


Sweet irony: I'm currently on the ancient computers at work and the "this browser is not supported" bar appears at the top of the linked article.
posted by birch effect at 4:26 PM on November 25, 2011


The tracker database contains some things that you probably don't want to block: Disqus comments & Facebook Connect, for example.

Are you serious? Blocking Facebook Connect was one of the reasons I installed Ghostery. That shit is insidious.

Install any tracker blocker you like (Taco, Ghostery), ABP, and Flashblock, then surf a little with your parent to tune them up and show them that yes, you actually have to click on the flash you want to see (like a YouTube video) in exchange for which you will see no more flash ads, cut your bandwidth and speed up your load times.

Most people who are too clueless to install a new browser version only visit the same few websites, except when they click on the link in the strange email from Uncle Louis saying he's trapped in London and thieves stole his wallet and thereby turn their computer into a zombie spambot.
posted by spitbull at 4:46 PM on November 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Not everyone is unreasonable about free tech support. I've traded "free" tech support for similarly "free" automobile maintenance, yardwork, and help moving furniture.
posted by Karmakaze at 6:19 PM on November 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Update my browser? You mean there's something better than Netscape Navigator?
posted by mardybum at 8:41 PM on November 25, 2011


At least browsers can be switched somewhat invisibly. I wish I could switch my parents' email to Gmail or something without their knowledge. But they insist on the POP3 email from our web provider and load it from (an old version of) Outlook and save everything locally so that every time a computer gets borked or they get a new one I have to reinstall and re-set up EVERYTHING.

For those of you with more perspective than I: what makes some (not all!) of the older generation so adverse to the web? I don't expect my parents to know what the registry is in Windows, or what Flash is, or the difference between CSS and Java. I promised them I will clean up their computer if they ask AS LONG AS they don't install ANYTHING without telling me first. But switching emails, where everything is STILL the same "Compose", "Save", "Send" as it is everywhere, they throw a fit. I can understand if they don't WANT to learn this Scary New Thing, but...it's email. Send, save, compose, address book. Just the link is in a slightly different spot. But they freak out.
posted by Hakaisha at 3:42 PM on November 26, 2011


Instead of trying to get them to replace their current email, try adding a Gmail address as a second email. Tell them it's for them to use when registering on websites and anything that is non-family and friend related. Say that it is to keep down spam on their regular account. Maybe they will eventually realize how much easier their second account is and end up switching over to it entirely.

A few weeks or so after you create the gmail account, casually mention how it will let you share calendars or tell them how they can use some other Google product that you think might appeal to them.

Right now there is no reason (from their point of view) to change so you have to find one.
posted by mardybum at 4:39 PM on November 26, 2011


>what makes some (not all!) of the older generation so adverse to the web?<

Because it sucks, and giving faceless companies responsibility for keeping all your documents and thinking they won’t screw you is silly. I hate to say never, but I can’t imagine any circumstances in which I will ever use Gmail. I also won’t be loading my movies, music, or whatever into "the cloud", using Facebook, or Spotify, or blahblahblah… I’m not afraid of them, they just don’t offer me anything I need, but they ask a lot.
posted by bongo_x at 9:05 PM on November 26, 2011


If only it was ever just a browser! Seems like every time I'm at my mother's I have to unbreak windows. This time the wifi wasnt working even after the ATT uverse tech replaced the router (and scolded me for changing the wifi cryptography settings). I get in this Wednesday and system restore Windows so that she doesn't need to use some old Ubuntu 9.10 Live CD I left around to connect to the internet. Wifi works, everything is at peace.

Except, Java wants to update, as does the antivirus etc. In what is a recurring theme in my life, I decide to install all the patches and Windows service packs. Which promptly renders the drive unbootable. Fuck. So I spent last night and today backing up data via LiveCD, installing Windows 7 over the now broken Vista install, and setting up the various myriad apps (hat tip to brenton re: chrome remote desktop). The depressing part is that there's a backup data folder on her desktop from the last time this happened, which has a folder on it's desktop from the time before that, which has an even older backup folder inside it.

I decided to stop looking down the rabbit hole, but I figure this sort of shit explains half the uptick in suicides over the holiday, and why most people are afraid to update things.
posted by pwnguin at 10:11 PM on November 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


If only it was ever just a browser!

Indeed. My father's iPad stopped making key alert sounds after the iOS upgrade. My sister's Mac laptop's keyboard only works in games but not in browsers, word processors, etc. Why am I supposed to know how to fix these things?
posted by juiceCake at 11:03 AM on November 29, 2011


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