View Full Version : My story: Holidays mean fixing family PCs

January 5th, 2009, 04:00 AM
Two years ago I made the move to stop supporting my family's habits with bootlegged software. They'd buy a new PC and expect that WindowsXP came with OfficeXP, Vista came with "Office Vista". The result was great: I installed ms office trial and open office. If they liked MS office better, they could buy it and activate it. About 2/3rds made a seamless transition to OpenOffice. Similarly, most made the switch to Pidgin from the hodgepodge of IM apps.

This year will be the last year that I reinstall Windows for anyone. I had forgotten how much Ubuntu had improved nmy computing experience. After hours removing virii, having legit cd keys rejected, "restore partitions" that didn't exist, endless rebooting (updates, service packs, more updates), searching for drivers (Oh how did I miss a simple lspci to find out who made this one OEM wireless card!) -- I've learned my lesson: Next year, I'm going to install ubuntu on the computer of anyone who asks me to help fix there computer.

I'm going to have a VirtualBox Image waiting for their CD keys, for anything that must use windows. When they must use windows. I will keep a nice snapshot, of the initial working install, and simply revert to the snapshot of anything happens. But I will instruct them to use OpenOffice and Firefox in ubuntu, just as they have done so far. Eventually, I'm going to wean them off of windows too. I think all that's left, is a real iTunes replacement. Rhythmbox, Banshee, Amarok, ain't it. (Sorry if you're a fan, its NOT as easy as iTunes.) Songbird still has a ways to go too. If it does, maybe by then, they won't even need a windows virtual machine.

January 5th, 2009, 09:41 PM
I tried to do that this year with my family, but they all got upset when the online netflix player didn't work. Maybe next year...:(

I ended up having to reinstall bootleg xp on more than one computer after netflix foiled my plans to fix all their virus ridden computers with Ubuntu.

January 5th, 2009, 09:45 PM
I tried to do that this year with my family, but they all got upset when the online netflix player didn't work. Maybe next year...:(

Yeah, I know it works fine in Vbox though. Haven't tried IE with Wine yet though, I will try that tonight maybe. But I just got software set up to stream it to my PS3, so all is good for now.:popcorn:

January 5th, 2009, 09:54 PM
After hours removing virii...

I thought you might right about that, but I checked it and the plural is in fact "viruses".


Otherwise, good luck migrating them to open-source and linux

January 6th, 2009, 12:18 AM
I had to set up my sister's new laptop. Granted, I didn't have to install Windows itself, but I did have to remove all of the crapware that came with it (Norton 30 day trial! WOOHOOOOOOOO _ ) and get some decent stuff on there.

I hate 'fixing' Windows :(

January 6th, 2009, 01:38 AM
I got out of the extended family PC repair business last year. I will still repair my wife's and children's PC. However, the rest of my wife's family is on their own. My sister is the only one of my family that uses a computer, and still alive. She doesn't need help; because, before she retired many years ago, she help develop operating systems.

I had a perfect excuse that most of you would not be able to use.

I had cataracts in both eyes. The week before the Holidays at the end of 2007, I had cataract surgery on my best eye. I couldn't see during the holiday to fix computers, or at lest that is what I told everyone. The week after the New Year, I had the other eye done.

The extended family found some other suckers to keep the borked computers running.

A year later I have 20/20 vision for the first time in 50 years. And, I'm not repairing computers. hahahaha :P:D:)

Sorry for being so full of glee. I can sympathize with all of you.

January 6th, 2009, 01:59 AM
It is your vacation, you did not come there to repair computers; refuse.

Erik Trybom
January 6th, 2009, 01:59 AM
I just came home from installing my parent's new computer. It took a while because I built it from parts and I've never done that before. However, it was the software that took the most time. I installed Vista 64-bit on it because, basically, I didn't know better.

Manually inserting one CD at a time is a lousy way of installing many programs. It takes a lot of time and requires user input. Furthermore, it turned out my mom had some legacy software that wouldn't run under 64-bit Windows. I fiddled around with virtualization solutions for hours before I gave up. We'll see if I can finally solve it.

I have one good thing to say about it though: it's nice installing vanilla software instead of having to put up with pre-installed crapware. Windows isn't a bad OS, it's just that once you're used to doing things the Unix way, you don't want to go back.

January 6th, 2009, 02:08 AM
I spent a day of vacation hooking up everyones wi-fi.
Ho ho ho.

January 6th, 2009, 02:12 AM
A couple of years ago I got one of these (http://www.thinkgeek.com/tshirts-apparel/unisex/frustrations/388b/) t-shirts and stopped fixing computers running Windows altogether (mainly because people were abusing my services). There are a few exceptions to this rule though:

1. I get paid cash for my time.
2. I'm trading it for something.
3. The computer is part of my own network (i.e. my wife's computer).
4. The computer is already running Linux.

January 6th, 2009, 03:12 AM
Every time I visit my parents, I end up fixing their computers (both with Win XP). There are usually some phone calls between visits too.

I've finally weaned them off some of the MS products and moved them to Firefox and Thunderbird, but getting them to leave Windows will be tough. They are in their 60's so I'm glad they figured out how to email, IM, webcam, etc.; no need to try to teach them new apps.

Since they have XP, they have to have good antivirus apps. I had them both set up and everything cleaned up at Thanksgiving this year. When I got home at Christmas, I found out my sister and her husband had "decided" that the antivirus made their computers unable to connect to their wi-fi router, so they decided mom and dad didn't need the AV either and removed it! It was a paid app at that! I had to re-install and then tell my sister's family not to touch my parents' computers again or risk swift and certain death.