My mom has recently made the leap to broadband and I’ve gotten her into Skype.  I love Skype for the ability to not only connect via audio and video, but to share files and links while chatting.
Dammit - where IS that program setting?

Dammit - where IS that program setting?

But mom hasn’t been able to GET to any of the links I send via Skype because the MSN explorer wizard pops up instead.  I went through all her settings via Outlook Express and Internet Explorer and IE is her default browser and her home page is iGoogle.  She doesn’t have this problem with email links — just through Skype.  Weird. So I took myself over to the Skype forums and found that mom isn’t alone and there is a solution. Apparently MSN Explorer is installed via Windows Components — not via Add/Remove programs.  So you have to remove it from there — then double check Program Access and Defaults from your Start up menu and make sure your browser of choice is selected as the default. Sheesh! Not an easy set of tasks for technophobes. This sort of thing irritates me on behalf of mom and everyone who is trying to get up to speed on technology.  Having to go into Windows components to uninstall things is fraught with danger if you’re new and think you must have to uncheck everything except the thing you want to change. So having a program turned on by default that can cause confusion and force a new person to take risks is just plain wrong. Vista recently wasted several hours of my life when I tried to update a video card driver and it instead stripped it back to some clapped out windows driver.  Fortunately, I have a husband who is more confident about these issues than me.  But not everyone can have a resident tech geek on standby. Shouldn’t technology be getting MORE intuitive? I realise we’ve come a long way baby since the days of punch cards and black screens with green text, but it’s just not good enough to sell people on broadband and technology only for them to be frightened of using it to full advantage. Mom is starting to develop a network of support — she has joined a computer society for beginners and has me and Paul and her sister and brother-in-law who is reasonably tech savvy. But I feel sorry for those people who want to get started but don’t have a trusted network readily available to them. Perhaps instead of just doing public information campaigns about how NOT to get duped online, governments should ALSO conduct public information campaigns and provide resources on where to get help and how to build trusted networks online.  That way, when kids who are lucky enough to have involved parents come home and want to go online — the parents can contribute to and take part in learning how to use the internet.  And that’s got to be better for society as a whole.

1 Comment

  1. Correction…. “Neoten-u-ous” meaning new and still with some trepidation…. right 😉

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