While much of Ask Leo! contains my opinions on various matters relating to computers and technology as I answer various questions, these items are less about the answer, and more about what I think. Or in some cases, how I rant.
When your favorite operating system, software program, or online service gets updated, it can take some getting used to. What was once familiar may now require learning new ways to get your tasks done.
It’s an example of yet another brouhaha: a report a few years ago that Google blatantly admitted you should have no expectation of privacy whatsoever when using their services. The internet went crazy. Many sources proclaimed, “How outrageous! We told you so! Google is evil!” Mainstream news outlets picked up stories from smaller publishers, and they all confirmed the entire sordid mess.
Except the internet was wrong. Manure, to use a polite term, was being spread far, wide, and fast.
When I entered college in 1975, I had no plan at all. I had a vague interest in electronics, and seeing that on my application, the University of Washington saw fit to put me into College of Electrical Engineering.
It was there I encountered what would become my career’s passion.
Can you advise me on the “rules” of the internet regarding free speech? I’ve had comments on some sites and posts on a discussion group deleted by the owner. Doesn’t that violate my right to free speech?
No, it doesn’t. Not even close.
Free speech is an interesting concept in general, especially in these turbulent times. Take it to the internet and things get even more “interesting”.
Yes, there are rules, and even laws, but it’s an incredibly complex issue.
Let’s start by acknowledging that there is no such entity as “The Internet”.
I’ve looked at your answers for problems that seem like they relate to mine, but everything seems to be “check this” or “it might be that”. Why can’t you just give me the specific steps I need to solve my problem? Why can’t I get a straight answer?
It’s a fair question.
I wish I could.
Honestly, I truly wish I could give everyone a simple, step-by-step, here’s-how-to-fix-your-problem answer. When possible, I try. Unfortunately, it’s rarely possible to be that specific.
There’s a reason my most common answer is “It depends.”
It’s a common frustration. You have a problem, concern, or complaint, and you want to reach out to the company or service involved. Try as you might, you can’t find a phone number. If you do, you find an endless phone-tree of automated assistance options, or worse, a scam.
As far as you can tell, there’s simply no way to locate a real person to talk to.
There probably isn’t, and the reason is simple.
People are expensive. Incredibly expensive. Even when they’re overseas, compared to automated or self-service alternatives, people are still costly and often unreliable.
Let’s look at why this is, and explore your alternatives.
The other day, I was helping someone deal with a problem on their computer. While I was diagnosing the problem at hand, I noted several other issues that could impact the computer.
As is my way, I started to poke around, looking at this and that. When I’m focused on a problem, it’s not unusual for me to mutter a bit to myself, saying things like “Well, that’s odd”, or, “I wonder if that’s the issue?” It’s part of my exploratory process… just me gathering data, wondering out loud about what I’m seeing.
The person I was helping reacted to my words in an extremely common way.
Unfortunately, it’s often a very dangerous reaction.
This is actually for a school assignment for a class called Human Relations in Organizations. I have to ask someone with a career in my technology these three questions:
1.) What skills do you use every day to deal with others at work (co-workers and clients)?
2.) How often do you use those skills (a specific number, like a percentage of a typical day, or week)
3.) Do you think a class about human relations should be required for an Associates degree in computer programming? Why or why not?
Normally, I don’t answer homework questions. You’d be surprised at how many I get that are obviously someone trying to get me to do their homework for them.
This one, besides appearing to be an honest question as part of an honest assignment, speaks to something I feel strongly about. It’s not something I would have guessed when I started my career in computer programming.
Dealing with people is much more difficult than dealing with computers …
I was going to ask you this but I posted on Yahoo Answers and got a stupid response. Brick and mortar stores and restaurants are dropping like flies. I was actually referring to Radio Shack at first. Well, today, Quiznos just filed for bankruptcy. The only one near me was turned into a Little Caesar’s. So I’m asking you anyway if this depression is caused by the internet with the web and people buying things online instead of real stores with real workers and across the country instead of a central location called Amazon?
You’re basically asking “Is the internet directly responsible for our economic problems?”
In my opinion: absolutely not! Things are certainly changing, but that’s nothing new. Things have been changing well before the internet came along.
I’m no economist, but as you can tell, I do have a few opinions and I can go on about this for quite some time. I’ll try and control myself.
I recently realized something very critical about how the internet works today and how broken it is.
The assumptions that readers are making about the information they find online – even at relatively “reputable” sites – are wrong. The internet is breaking what “journalism” means. As a result, it’s become even more critical for online information consumers (that’s you and me, by the way) to take on a burden we haven’t been trained to even concern ourselves with until now.
The burden of confirmation.
I’ve written about it before, but the sad fact is,you just can’t believe everything you read on the internet. It is now your practical responsibility to do the legwork to confirm whether something is or is not true.
Last week, I shared on the Ask Leo! Facebook page an article from my local Seattle newspaper. It originated in the New York Times with the upshot that, “Roughly 20 percent of American adults do not use the Internet at home, work, school or by mobile device…”
My thought: How do we fix this?
Surprisingly, I got several comments to the effect that it’s not something that needed fixing.
Are humans getting dumber or lazier because of computers doing all the work? For example, spell-check replacing dictionaries? After 20 years, how can some one not know about the BIOS when the computer displays a message, “Press F1 to go into setup”? Or should they choose better instructions? Some of the new questions here seem like déjà vu and to me and probably lots of your readers.
I love these philosophical questions because they actually speak to the heart of what people are thinking and wondering about when it comes to computer from time to time.
My opinion is that people are as smart – or as dumb – as they’ve always been. Obviously, some are smarter than others and people have different strengths and weaknesses but by and large, people are still people even with 20-plus years worth of computers under our belts. I think what’s changed is where and how we spend our time and focus our energies.
I received an email with a disturbing story that seems like more people should know about. At the bottom, it even suggests that I forward it on to everyone I know. It seems such an important issue … and yet I’ve been told that I shouldn’t forward this kind of thing. Why not?
I get that kind of email from time to time also. Over the years, I’ve developed a pretty good skeptical “nose” for sniffing this kind of thing out.
What is it I’m smelling?
A big pile of lies, frauds, and misinformation usually.
I recently got that as a comment to my article How do I restore a backup to a smaller hard drive?. Presumably, the commenter believes that my reasons for recommending Macrium Reflect are somehow financially motivated and is trying to make some kind of snide remark to make his point.
(For the record, there are two completely separate reasons why the implication is wrong – more on that in a moment.)
I’ll admit that it irritated me. No one likes having their ethics questioned.