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Why Can't Computers Just Work All the Time?

Dec 05, 2008, 16:33 (7 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Andrew W. Tanenbaum)

[ Thanks to Britta Wuelfing for this link. ]

"Computer users are changing. Ten years ago, most computer users were young people or professionals with lots of technical expertise. When things went wrong-which they often did-they knew how to fix things. Nowadays, the average user is far less sophisticated, perhaps a 12-year-old girl or a grandfather. Most of them know about as much about fixing computer problems as the average computer nerd knows about repairing his car. What they want more than anything else is a computer that works all the time, with no glitches and no failures.

"Many users automatically compare their computer to their television set. Both are full of magical electronics and have big screens. Most users have an implicit model of a television set: (1) you buy the set; (2) you plug it in; (3) it works perfectly without any failures of any kind for the next 10 years. They expect that from the computer, and when they do not get it, they get frustrated. When computer experts tell them: "If God had wanted computers to work all the time, He wouldn't have invented RESET buttons" they are not impressed."

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