People who know me understand that I recently moved myself and
my family from Dallas, Texas to the northeastern tip of Tennessee,
close to the borders of Virginia and North Carolina, nestled deep
in the Appalachian Mountains. One of the benefits to moving up here
(aside from the obvious peace and quiet) is that much of my family
Last night my brother, Andy, brought his family over for dinner.
The tour I gave of our new property ended with my showing him my
office where I run my part of Linux Today. His first reaction was:
"Wow, what a big monitor!" His second reaction was: "Look at all
these computers". His third and final reaction was: "Look at the
size of that Linux Today logo!"
Andy is just about as computer illiterate as it gets. He's not
interested in diving into computers, and has little need or use for
them. I suspect the user-unfriendliness of Windows has giving him
the impression that computers are difficult to use, and very
frustrating objects when they crash or provide instabilities. As
the store manager of a fast-food restaurant, his only use of a
computer is to perform the most mundane tasks. His computer at home
is relegated to the occasional E-Mail check using Eudora.
I offered him to sit down at my machine and take a test drive.
His first comment was about my Afterstep wharf (an icon bar at the
bottom of my screen, full of neat icons and fun toys). I have
running xeyes, wmtime, an ethernet monitor, and a CPU monitor in my
wharf (see screenshot). He
moved the mouse and saw the eyes following the cursor. He asked for
detailed explanations of the CPU and ethernet monitors. But what
caught his attention the most was the Pager, which allows me to
have multiple desktops open at the same time. I walked him through
moving across desktops, and explained how I have all my E-Mail work
in one window, most of my Netscape's in another window, and xterms
He wanted to see my E-Mail, explaining that he uses Eudora for
Windows, and was interested in what I had that compared. I pulled
out my TkRat, and walked him through how my E-Mail works, including
a detailed explanation of procmail, and I showed him a script that
I wrote to parse my procmail logs and report to me, on an on-going
basis, when my mail arrives, and which folder it arrives in.
When I told him how much mail I receive (you really don't want
to know), he understood the importance of procmail.
He asked if he could get all this for Windows, and I explained
that Linux was an entire operating system that lives outside of
Windows, and, in fact, that I didn't even have any Windows running
on almost all of the computers in my office (with the exception of
my laptop, which has a dual-boot that I never use). He wanted to
know how hard it would be to get Linux on his computer, so I
explained the concept of dual-booting and the benefits of using
Linux over Windows.
His final reaction was that he was amazed at this whole world
that he had no idea existing. He now understands why I have devoted
my career to Linux, and is excited to get Linux on his computer so
that he can improve his efficiency and possibly start using a
computer more than 1 hour per week.
All this, from a computer illiterate person who has avoided
computers because of his dislike of Windows. In reflection, I have
to wonder if Linux could be the breath of fresh air that
computer-haters and computer-illiterates need to finally feel good
about actually using computers. Do these people really dislike
computers, or are they attributing their disgust of Microsoft
Windows to a disgust of computers in general?
In any event, I'm now in the market for a second hard drive for
my brother's computer. Maybe we'll plan a Family-wide Linux
install-fest for all of my relatives. Welcome to Northeast
Tennessee: Here's a Linux CD-ROM, put it on a second harddrive and
call me in the morning.
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