Why Is This Even a Question?

What is a Browser?

I have the utmost respect for LibrarianbyDay but I’m going to have to disagree (again) with her latest blog post.   She commented on this video too and feels that the average Joe doesn’t necessarily need to know what a browser is.  Personally I think that is root of most computer problems – people (average Joe or not) don’t know ENOUGH about the machines they use.

Computers are pretty much a part of all of our lives.  We use them at work, at home and they are in almost everything from our cars to our electronic equipment.  I feel that people DO need to know not only what things are called but how to use them properly.  I’m not saying we all need to be programmer and start writing code but it certainly wouldn’t hurt to have some computer competencies.

It is important to call things by the right name.  If I call it a whatizt but it is actually a howzer you won’t understand what I’m talking about, you won’t be able to help me and I’ll just get frustrated.   As someone who has to troubleshoot computer problems (which can often be user problems) nothing is more frustrating to both the user and me then when we can’t communicate.  Some might say “but you are speaking techie” – no, I am not.  I am known for using plain English but I will call things what they are (often followed by a short description or analogy so non-techies get it).

So let’s not perpuate this culture of not knowing what a browser or an operating system or anything else to do with these machines that are such a part of our lives.  Let’s educate people in at least the basics of computer literacy.  As a trainer I try to pass along nuggets every time I teach a class regardless of the main content.  If they are using computers in the class I’m going to be sure they know the browser we use is Firefox, that tab browsing is fantastic way to make your life easier (CtrlT), keyboard commands, etc.  I don’t think it is expecting too much of people that work with computers daily to know not only the correct words but some basic literacy when it comes to computers.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]
Advertisements

Ignorance Is Anything But Bliss

My iGoogle home page greeted me with an article on Slashdot that couldn’t be ignored.   When Teachers Are Obstacles to Linux in Education article is based on the Blog of helios.   As I read the blog and comments I just sit there with my jaw open.  But then I got to thinking about it.  This is a sad but true reality.  Most people who use computers for personal use don’t know the first thing about them.   Odd thing is most people have come to expect things like Blue Screen of Death, having to reboot after every update (which come more and more frequently), slow to operate, expensive software options, a native browser that doesn’t properly handle poorly coded web sites, viruses and malware directly written for a specific operating system to exploit it’s weaknesses – why oh, why should this be acceptable?

People just want it to work.  They don’t want to be “burdened” (I prefer to say enlightened) with learning a bit about the machine they so naively trust to be secure.  Problem is accepting the aforementioned “issues” as the norm is reminds me of the quote from “The Matrix”  It is the world that has been pulled over your eyes to blind you from the truth. I hope that Mr. Starks is able to educate not only this teacher but many others as well.   Linux is the definitely the blue pill – take it and free not only your mind but your operating system.


Digg!

Windows? I Ain’t Got No Windows!

I don’t need no windows! I don’t have to show you any stinkin’ windows!” to continue to parody what I learned is the one of the most misquoted movie lines from the movie The Treasure of the Sierra Madre

Over the last 3 months or so I’ve been a dual operating system kind of gal.  Not a dual boot but 2 CPU’s with 2 different OS on them.  Considering that we are an open source shop you’d be surprised to learn that I used Windows OS at all.  Because I had to use a client based ILS that only ran on Windows I was stuck.  But with our upcoming migration to Koha, an open source web-based ILS, I’ve been able to switch over to using Ubuntu (like the rest of my co-workers).

At first I found myself swiveling my chair between the Windows PC on my right and the Ubuntu machine in front of me.  Then I realized more and more I wasn’t moving from the machine in front of me.  Other than the times I need to look something up in the ILS client (e.g. customer account) or if I have to use PhotoShop (sorry, haven’t taken time to learn GIMP yet) most of the day my Windows machine stays unused.

I have my beloved Firefox, Thunderbird, Flock, and OpenOffice on the Ubuntu machine.  I have Meebo, Staff Intranet (using Joomla), DeskNow (collaborative email/file sharing/calendar software), FriendFeed, Facebook, Flickr, other Web 2.0 sites and our soon to be new ILS all in the browser of my choice.  I have TwitterFox, web developer toolbar, Stumbleupon toolbar and colorful tabs as some of my Firefox addons.  I’m in heaven on my Ubuntu machine.  Only thing I miss about my Windows machine is I had dual monitors hooked up to it.  Just need to find another monitor and I’ll be set.

What is really amazing is how quickly one can adapt if one has to or wants to.  I honestly could not help someone with an Word/PowerPoint/Excel question if I tried.  I can’t remember the last time I used them.  Ask me how to do it OpenOffice and I can pretty much answer them or at least find out how by going to Solveig Haugland’s great blog, OpenOffice.org Training, Tips and Ideas.  I had a staff member ask me about her home pc which is running on Windows XP and she uses Internet Explorer as her browser.  I haven’t used IE in years!  I was struggling to remember just where something was located on the menu bar.  I could easily tell her how to do it on Firefox.  It is amazing – you get used to what you use.  If I had remained on Windows I would have seen Linux as being a hard thing to convert to – now that I’ve been converted it wasn’t that hard at all to switch.

Do I miss Windows?  No, because the operating system shouldn’t be what’s important.  With more and more being about web-based solutions to issues the concern should be with the browser.  Do I miss Internet Explorer?  Heck No!  Matter of fact I think you do yourself and your customers/users a huge disservice to tie yourself with one operarting system, one browser.  People love choice.  If you are writing for the web you need to adhere to web standards so that your site can work in the browser of my choice (or anyone’s choice).

I can’t wait for the day that I can cut the cord to my Windows machine completely.

Touch me in the morning, in the evening, ain’t we got fun?

BBC reports that Microsoft’s new operating system “Windows 7” (oh, please how original is that?!) will include such features as fingertip interface. Ummm, isn’t that already known as the keyboard? Yeah, I know it’s suppose to be touch screen interaction which reminds me of this video…

Come on Microsoft don’t you get it? Give us a reliable, stable, operating system where we can change the code to suit our needs….oh wait, that’s what open source operating systems already do!