Every weekend I return home from traveling the country working at the 10,000 foot level of enterprise architecture for Fortune 500 customers, there is at least a fifty percent chance that I may be called upon to do some in the trenches desktop support work.
Such drudgery is occasionally required, especially if you are to maintain your status as a Good Son-In-Law. I now find myself having to do this increasingly often, since I set my 70-year-old semi-retired mother-in-law up with a new laptop so she can continue her real estate work at home.
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"Jason, I'm having problems with AOL Instant Messenger, its doing that weird thing again. And now I can't print anything right from the Multiple Listing Service, it just prints out garbage."
"Uh, okay, I'll come look at it".
The dreaded AOL Instant Messenger problem seems to be unique to Vista. Apparently, there is some random error that occurs on certain machines where you sign into AIM, and all the messages it sends across is total XML gobbledygook. It has to do with losing file type associations or something, I forgot exactly what the exact diagnosis was. I was able to fix it a few weeks ago, but every time AIM updates on her machine, it keeps coming back. So I finally decided to toss AOL IM and gave her the Windows version of Pidgin, an Open Source multi-protocol IM client. Windows saved by Open Source -- not the first time this has happened. Mom also runs OpenOffice.org and a few other programs that she needs to do her work.
Now printing -- that's another problem entirely. I thoroughly tested printing out documents and pages from other web sites -- no problems. Then using Internet Explorer 7 I logged into her MLS, did a sample house query, found a record, and printed. Sure enough, it came out as HTML gobbledygook.
"What the hell is wrong with this computer? I thought you said a Lenovo ThinkPad was a nice machine when you had me buy it only a few months ago."
"It is a nice machine, Mom, it's the same kind I have. It's just that you happen to be using Windows Vista, which is a piece of crap."
"It was able to print until a few days ago when they upgraded the web site."
"Well then its a problem with the MLS. Did you call them up?"
"Yes, and they said it must be something wrong with my computer. You told me to do that Service Pack thing and let the computer update."
"Yes, you needed that. Your computer is functioning fine. Its just that Vista has a number of issues that they are still trying to resolve."
"Well then why I am I running this horrible software instead of the old version?"
"Because I couldn't configure it with something else when I ordered it from the web site. Microsoft won't allow companies like Lenovo to buy copies of it anymore."
"Well XP with Internet Explorer 7 in the realtor office works fine. Why the hell would they stop supporting it?"
<GROAN> "I have no idea, mom. I guess because they want to make people upgrade so they can make more money?"
"It sounds like the basis for a class-action suit!"
"I'm pretty sure they are doing one already."
"Is this all happening because Bill Gates stopped working at Microsoft?"
"Are you gonna put that Ubuntu thing on my computer like you did with dad?"
"Maybe, maybe not. I might have to give you one of my XP entitlements from MSDN and downgrade your system."
Is Vista causing grief for your loved ones? Talk back and let me know.
The postings and opinions on this blog are my own and don’t necessarily represent IBM’s positions, strategies or opinions.