Re: Protecting an eight-year-old computer?
Yet another update.
FIL went into the store with the Compaq ad in his hand but actually bought one of the HP Pavilion Slimlines.
I didn't get a chance to dig into the hardware but the case immediately evoked a "Awww, it's so cute!" reaction from my spouse. It has some interesting design economics: The front of the mini-case has a slot for every type of photo card known to man but there's no diskette drive. The special sale deal added a "free" printer but the package did not include the USB cable. There are no manuals or pamphlets or WinXP CDs and you have to make your own recovery DVDs. However Ethernet NICs are now included along with the 56K modem. (Remember when you had to pay $100 for that NIC to get broadband service?) He was debating returning a second USB cable because it was the "wrong kind" but luckily he showed it to me-- it's the USB cable to his camera. Thank goodness he has no interest in the wireless antenna included with their purchase.
The reason I didn't dig into the hardware was because Norton had taken over the computer and was slapping my FIL's hands away from the keyboard every time he tried to do anything, especially if it involved the Internet. Symantec has apparently adopted a "less is secure and nothing is better" access policy that was terrorizing their attempts to read the Washington Post. I fought the configuration battle for a while and had all the red windows screaming at me (which would cause him to worry) so I finally gave up and removed the whole package. I set the Windows default firewall and restored Norton Antivirus.
Since my NAV CD is a couple of years old it needed a big update. Downloading 12 MB of virus def files over a 56K modem is an experience I do not wish to repeat. After two hours of transfer glitches & disconnects I unhooked the box, drove it home, plugged into our DSL modem, and completed the process. Hooking up the box took longer than the download and the entire process (including the round trip and the connections) took less than 45 minutes. But hey, they only pay $9/month for Internet access!
I guess the next time we're over there I'll print out a Belarc summary to give him a basis for comparing their $500 purchase to other systems. (In a month we'll be hearing how much cheaper the new machines are and how much the bas****s took him for.) But for rock-bottom dirt-cheap users who want to remain computer illiterate, this system is better than a Mac.
My MIL is contentedly griping that the 17" LCD monitor is "too bright" compared to their old 15" CRT. (Since they've been married for 48 years, I think my FIL is deliberately claiming that he's dimming the monitor while leaving it on full power.) I had to crank the monitor resolution back to 1024x768 (it was set on 1280x1024 by default) so that they can read without magnifying glasses. My FIL is happily scheduling his Windows updates and his virus scans while fretting that attracting attention to themselves with a new computer means that he's susceptible to spyware and keystroke loggers.
I'm mildly concerned by his comment that he'll be downloading "that free Internet software off the Microsoft website." But hey, at least I can troubleshoot this machine without having to try to remember Win98 features or worrying about brittle-fracturing the motherboard...
So if you're a hacker looking for an easy zombie running Netscape at less than 50Kbps, send me a PM...
The book written on E-R.org, "The Military Guide to Financial Independence and Retirement", on sale now! For more info see "About Me" in my profile.
I don't spend much time here anymore, so please send me a PM. Thanks.