I should know better than to give my family tech advice. I really should. It all starts way back when I was the only person in the family that even had a computer and my dad asked me if he should get a Mac or a PC and I gave him several choices from both types that would work for what he wanted to do. I had one caveat:
Whatever he did, he should not buy a damn iMac.
So a couple of months later my dad is riding on an airplane and he meets, and apparently really hits it of with, Scott Hamilton. Scott Hamilton raved about the damn iMac. So what does my dad do? Does he take the advice of his daughter who actually went to school for and works in the field of computers? No. He takes the advice of an 80s figure skater. He buys the iMac.
Worse, he convinces my sister and brother in law to buy the iMac.
Who do they call when they get the inevitable flashing question mark of death? Scott Hamilton? Noooo. They call Arlene. So I am forced to learn more about iMacs than I ever wanted to know to get them up and running again. Repeatedly.
Stupid figure skater and his iMac love. I'm going to email him and chew him out for this some day.
This latest round is over upgrading to Vista. My dad called me in a dither because he had heard that Microsoft was going to discontinue Windows XP. Should he upgrade to Vista?
I told him no. For two reasons:
1) His computers were not powerful enough to run Vista properly without some serious upgrading of hardware.
2) A lot of the software he is used to using is going to be very different looking and have a different feel on Vista and for now it was better to stick with what he had just barely figured out how to use.
He seemed to think that the discontinuation of XP would mean his computers would implode or something. I assured him that they would not and that until Vista was a little older and more stable and there was a real need to upgrade his computers themselves there was no pressing need to switch to Vista.
The other thing that I did not tell him was that he'd finally gotten comfortable enough with the OS that he wasn't bugging me every 6 weeks to tell him what this or that message meant or should he allow this program through his firewall. I don't want to start all over again teaching him a new OS long distance. Not right now.
Did he listen to me? Oh, hell no. He went to some chain electronics store and took the advice of some pimply faced kid, that likely hasn't even had a real girlfriend yet and whose computing experience probably runs to level grinds on MMORPGs and how to make your 'puter look kewl, and bought Vista upgrades for everyone! He always drags my sister and her husband into these tech nightmares he creates. I love my sister but you'd think she would have learned after the iMac fiasco. She never could stand up to dad.
So, as of this afternoon my father has two computers that run very, very slowly and my sister has an $1,1000 dollar brick. Hers won't run at all. It just gets to some screen and shuts down.
My sister's I can drive down and take care of. I'll likely just downgrade her back to XP and tell her if she ever listens to dad again, no I will not fix her computer. My dad's are another story.
I'm either going to have to walk him through downgrading over the phone or how to do some hardware upgrading. I relish neither of these options. He tells me he "thinks" he has a backup of his data. That's one of the problems, the upgrade has lost a bunch of things. He thinks. He can't find them. Personally, I doubt they are lost but it is hard to be sure from thousands of miles away.
I'd tell him to go pay someone to fix it for him except I know that if history is any indicator he will find some twerp who sounds like he knows what he is doing who will really screw things up and will convince my dad to either keep the Vista or buy expensive new computers he doesn't need. Then I'll be getting daily phone calls asking for help.
Maybe I'll just have him mail them to me to fix. I do know one thing for certain, the next time my dad asks me for tech advice I'm going to either email Scott Hamilton or grab the most clueless pimple-faced electronics store flunky I can find and ask them what their advice is. Whatever it is it will be the exact opposite of what I'd tell my dad. Then I'll tell him what they say and with any luck he will instead do what I think he should.
It might work. You never know.