Mom's been retired for twenty years, and that's how long it's been since she used a computer. When she retired, the fastest Intel CPU was a 286. Windows had not come out yet, there were very, very few office networks and no internet. The only program she knew was Lotus 1-2-3. Twenty megabyte hard drives were a big deal. So Mom's like Rip Van Winkle when it comes to computers.
In short, she's a typical newbie, who knows nothing about computers and knows she knows nothing about computers. That doesn't stop her from forming opinions.
I went to her house a few weeks ago to try and secure her new e-machine. It was running Windows XP Home, of course. I wish I could have afforded to just build her a decent computer with Linux on it. The best time to learn Linux is when you're 100% ignorant about Windows, as there's nothing to unlearn then.
But "the computer" has XP, so I imagine she'll be in a Microsoft world from now on. Just like your mom. And that guy over there's mom.
I installed Mozilla, and Zone Alarm, and got quite a fight from her over it, too.
"But why should I care if somebody breaks into my computer? I don't shop online, there are no private or confidential documents or anything, and I've got these few Excel spreadsheets backed up on a floppy."
I explained how bad guys wanted to use her computer to send spam. I even tried to scare her and told her a hacker could store his child porn collection on her computer and she'd never know it. I explained that if it got full of viruses it might stop working altogether.
She didn't buy the spam thing, she was slightly worried about the porn thing but figured the odds were in her favor. If her computer broke, she knows where to (ahem) get it fixed for free. "I have Norton, and your sister told me Windows had a firewall."
I told her about patching and her eyes glazed over. Whatever she says about it, I'm confident that her computer will never have a single security patch applied, or a single update to Norton put in. And I'm confident that six months from now, or a year, or maybe two if I'm lucky, she'll call me and ask me to come fix her computer, and it will have seventy two viruses all spewing spam.
Fortunately for the internet, my mom's on dialup. But unfortunately for the internet, your mom has cable. And your mom is just as obstinately ignorant as my mom. You might as well try to convince them to change their own oil as to keep their computers maintained.
I talked her through getting on the internet, and how to make it quit bugging her, so I won that battle. The war's a lot more iffy.
There is a bit of good news, though- Mom also took down Doubleclick, the ad company responsible for all those popups, popunders, and blinkey shiney banners and ads. Good work, Mom.
I think I'll call Mom and tell her what she did Tuesday.