I know that in all likely hood no one will read this as I am posting too late, but WHAT!!!
The problem with computes is not one of education. Why should an average computer user spend time learning the intricacies of a computer. The problem with computers is that they are too complex. We should be concentrating on making computers as easy to use for the end user, not telling them that they should learn how to use them.
>Google or a manual.
When your computer does not work? That is the kind of comment I have heard from ISPs when you phone up becuase your internet connection is broken.
As for your list of things users should do:
- Get a software firewall (ZoneAlarm) that tells you when an internal software package is calling home.
As an end user I should not have to do this. A good firewall should come free as standard on computers. By the time I have downloaded ZoneAlarm my computer may already have been hacked. This is not a suggestion for users, but should be one for PC vendors.
- Get AdAware, SpyBot, and SpywareBlaster. Keep them up to date and scan frequently.
Most end users do not even know what spyware is, let alone know about these tools. Also whenever I have used these products they have not presented results in an end user friendly way. As before this support should come as standard an end user should never need to worry. Any spyware should be seen and shot down automatically.
- Install all the latest updates for your OS and keep them up to date.
Should be automatic, thank you Microsoft for seeing the light with XP SP2.
- Don't install something that you don't understand. Check with Google first. It's not hard to spend the 5 minutes with a Google search on the name of the program you want to install to find out if it phones home (and if you don't at least you have ZoneAlarm to give you a heads up).
Erm, not much to say here, it is a good general point, but if we got people to only install signed software then perhaps this would be an easier way to eliviate the problem.
- Get some sort of virus protection (i.e. NAV or AVG)
Which works fine until the subscription expires and you forget to extend it.
- Realize that regular maintenance is required for ANY piece of hardware (cars, HVAC, etc). Do you not change your oil every ~3000 miles? Do you not check your air filters in your home every month or two? Do you not add water softener salt every month?
I am guessing for most of these no one. Certainly I leave my oil change to a service. I am not even sure I know how to drain the oil sump. Can't comment on the others as I do not have anything at home that requires them.
I think the point I am trying to make is that we should be concentrating on helping users with these problems not by saying they need to learn more, or that they cannot learn more or whatever, but we should help them by working to make computers easier to use and harder to mess up. We should recognise that people are afraid of their computers, do not have the time and do not want to spend the time learning how to get round these problems. Great innovation comes when we put our mind to solving problems of usability.
Well my 2 cents worth.