Monday, April 17, 2006

Parent-proofing a PC. An appeal for help.

My parents kill PCs. If PCs were aliens from another planet, my mother’s house would be area 51 or 58, depending on your sci-fi geekiness.

See, my mother has a desire to surround herself with electrical things but the electrical things always short out. I’m not sure why or how but if you’re an electrical appliance, 7 out 10 times you will have a shortened life in my mother’s house.

I know some people just don’t have a knack for gizmos but my mother has gone through so many phones, Bell South reached it’s profit mark last quarter because of her.

Back to the PC. My mother says she needs the internet for her ‘research’. Honestly, I’m not sure what she’s researching and if she knows how to research it but I don’t question anymore. As long as it keeps her busy. Well, it’s been months since her PC has been working. Why? I have no idea. She called me two Fridays ago sobbing about how she’s helpless and needs the internet. Why? I have no idea. So after about an hour of hearing self-deprecating remarks, I apologized for her children’s insolence and intolerance and assured her that she would have the internet by the following week.

Now, here’s the problem. The internet is just the start of the snowball. See, my mom will then say she needs some new electrical equipment to go with the PC. Then something will happen where she doesn’t know how to find something or do something within the PC. Then something weird will happen where the PC won’t boot. Honestly, I think the PC just can’t take the craziness that is my mother and shuts down.

My brother bought her a new network card and set up the connection. Everything was running peachy keen. Then my mom called me and told me she needs a new fax/printer.

pg: Why do you need a fax printer? What’s wrong with your old one? And why do you need a fax? Who faxes nowadays?

M: I do. My friends do.

pg: What are your friends faxing to you? Never mind, I don’t think I want to know.

Then, this morning, I get this text from my brother:

Muthafunga: oh, mom’s computer won’t boot i need you to look at it

What did I tell you about the snowball effect?

I honestly understand that there will be questions and inquiries from my parents. That's a given but how do you go from a fully functioning PC one week to the blue screen of death the next week?

What drives the logical side of me bonkers is, I have no idea how and what happened to the PC from the time my brother fixed it and had it working last week ‘til now.

So I’m appealing to you geeks out there. Is there a way to parent-proof my parent’s PC? My brother and I really don’t want to go through this angst every two weeks. Our wallets and our sanity can’t take much more. I’m about to post a website directly appealing to my parents to “Get off the ‘net. You’re killing us.”

I suppose the first step is to setup a profile to prevent them from installing and downloading.
I’m also going to have to shell out for some heavy duty anti-virus because obviously the anti-virus we have set up for them is doing squat.
I’m also going to need to block the pop-ups, pop-unders and embedded ads because I can’t guarantee my mom or my step dad won’t try to ‘Catch the Monkey’.
What else can I do besides buying them that WebTV doodad?

I’d be less aggravated and more understanding if I knew why they kept having PC problems. If it’s because of viruses they get from surfing or email attachments, I’d feel better but I honestly don’t know.

So, all you techno geeks, how the heck do I parent proof my parent’s pc?
Inquiring minds want to know?

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