“So what, why should I care about 'web annoyances'?”

How about the fact that viruses, phishing scams, etc cost you money

If you’ve read the other pages on this site about all thisstuff on the Internet that’s supposed to be soannoying and dangerous, at this point you might be thinking something like this:

“Yeah, yeah. Security, privacy, computer problems. Who cares? I can’t see it, it doesn’t effect me. That’s just the way the world works anyway. I’ve got better things to do”.

And you’re right! You shouldn’t have to care about this stuff. Except that maybe you do have to. Maybe you havekids, who you want to keep safe on the Internet. Maybe you share a computer with others, so their actions effect you. Even if you don’t, in today’s connected world, your (in)actions effect the rest of us - more about that later.

As for thinking that it’s normal for computers to work so badly, why??Shouldn’t there be a better way? Why do you put up with it? What would you do if your new car worked this way:

Here is your brand new car, sir. Drive it off the lot. Yay yay new car. Suddenly, new car shuts off. New car barely starts again and then only goes about 6 miles per hour and it belches smoke and every warning light on the dashboard is blinking on and off and the tires are screaming and the heater is blasting your feet and something smells like burned hair. You hobble back to the dealer, who only says, gosh, sorry, we thought you knew — that’s they way they all run. Enjoy!

Would you not be, like, that is the goddamnlast timeI buy a Ford? Mark Morford, SF Chronicle, 4th Feb 2005 [http://www.sfgate.com/]

Did you know this ultimately costs you money?

Computer problems cost you money. Of course, if you fall for a bank phishing scam and end up with an empty bank account, that’s one thing. But it costs you - and the rest of us - in other ways too:

  • Lost income if you’re freelance or have a small business, and your computers go down because of malware from the Internet;
  • Increased monthly access fees from your Internet service provider (ISP). Dealing with spam and other web annoyances costs them money fixingproblems and adding infrastructure to cope with the extra data traffic. Guess who they pass on the costs to? Us! Let’s break that down:
    1. People who are operating infected computers which spread spam, phishing email messages and malware arecausing economic damage to their surroundings.
    2. Everyone, them included,have to payfor the cost of that damage.
    3. Non-damaging people are therefore subsidising those who damage
    4. Several thousand of us would like to have a word with you because OUR computers went wrong or filled up with spam, becuase YOU didn’t look after your computer properly…
  • Repair fees at a computer shop, fixing virus damage, plus your wasted time taking your PC to a shop, or waiting for an engineer to visit;
  • Money wasted needlessly upgrading your computer, or buying a new one after a few years because “my computer’s slow” or “it’s stopped working”.

On that last point: you shouldn’t need to buy a new computer every 3, or even 5 years. Unless you want to play the latest games, or you have a laptop you’re always carrying around so it wears out. Otherwise, if you buy a decent quality machine - not just the cheapest one in the shop - andset it up correctly(ESPECIALLY important if it’s a Windows PC)and look after it, it’ll last a long time - 10+ years, even, unless your needs change.

“So what? I never have any problems”

Now before any of you e-mail me saying: ”rubbish, I’ve run Windows for 10 years and never had problems, and anyway you can fix that problemin 5 minutes using…” - Yes, great I’m glad YOU can. The thing is, most people don’t know what to look for in a computer, or how to set up a computer and look after it.

Now maybe in an ideal world they wouldn’t have to. But then, would you walk into a car showroom and buy a car if you couldn’t drive and didn’t know the difference between an SUV and a sports car? Many people do exactly that with computers - they walk into a shop and say “I’ll have that one“!

Ideally we’d give everyone some basic computer training, and Internet “street smarts” lessons with their new computer. But equeally, unless and until home Windows PCs come out-of-the-box configured to protect themselves, their users and the rest of us from their users’ stupidity/lack of knowledge AND the nasty stuff out there - what I call web annoyances - we all collectively have to put up with, and indrectly pay for, all that crap.

“But my PC comes with all this security software”

Yes, all manufacturers supply bundled software with new PCs. But often the security software and update system aren’t switched on by default. Or it’s a time-limited demo, or it’s not very good and causes as many problems as it solves. There’s a word for that: crapware - all the bundled rubbish software that comes with a new PC and slows it down. This is illustrated nicely by this 2007 advert:Apple: Get a Mac: “Stuffed”

Talking of slow computers, have you ever asked yourself the rhetoric question: “Why should my new desktop computer - which has the power of a supercomputer 10 years ago - run so slowly and badly?” Answer: of course it shouldn’t:

Here, then, is my big obvious question: Why the hell do people put up with this? Why is there not some massive revolt, some huge insurrection against Microsoft? Why is there not a huge contingent of furious users stomping up to Seattle with torches and scythes and crowbars, demanding the Windows Frankenstein monster be sacrificed at the altar of decent functionality and an elegant user interface?

There is nothing else like this phenomenon in the entire consumer culture. If anything else performed as horribly as Windows, and on such a global scale, consumers would scream bloody murder and demand their money back. Mark Morford, SF Chronicle

“And? My computer works, most of the time. What’s your point??”

Your inactions are costing you - and the rest of us - wasted time and money and irritation. But you can fix that. Just as you wouldn’t drive a car without some basic training first, there are a few things you should know about before you (continue to) use a computer connected to the Internet. Good news: these basic steps are pretty easy to learn and they’ll save you trouble later.
So, go see what you can do, and
do something today!