Friday, October 19, 2007

Visiting hours with the non-tech world

Just spent a couple of days at home with my family. It’s always refreshing to spend a few days away from Silicon Valley in order to see how people live when they’re not obsessed with technology. My family lives near DC, so they are pretty obsessed with pundits and the ‘08 presidential race.

Anyway, I was at my sister and brother-in-law’s house and I asked to borrow a computer. It’s hard being away from the internet for several hours a day with no way to check in and see what’s going on in my online world (email, news, chat, facebook, etc). To my utter shock and dismay, my brother-in-law hands me a laptop and there’s no Firefox logo to be found anywhere on the desktop. As if that weren’t bad enough, I grudgingly click the little blue e in order to see what they’re running and it’s IE6! Argh!

I take a deep breath and explain that although I would prefer that my family use Firefox because that’s what I spend all day trying to convince the rest of the world to do, I don’t mind if they keep a current version of IE running on their machine just in case they can’t resist the urge to click the blue e. But to have IE6 on their home machines is unacceptable, especially with a sibling who works at Mozilla!

So, I used this as an opportunity to flex my Mozilla community member muscles and downloaded Firefox on all of their home computers and then installed Adblock Plus, and showed my sister how to navigate add-ons in case there were others she wanted to install. I tried to install IE7 as well, so that they would have added protection, but I couldn’t get the download window to come up. I kept getting an explorer.exe error. Strange.

My brother-in-law was playing around on the laptop for a bit and before I left, I asked him what he thought of Firefox. He said, “I always thought I had a slow computer. Turns out I had a slow browser.”

I understand that not everyone lives and breathes technology the way we do in the Bay Area. As an organization, we’re working hard to figure out how to reach the folks who don’t even know that just because software fulfills the minimal needs to be functional, doesn’t mean there isn’t something better out there.


LpSolit said...

"But to have IE6 on their home machines is unacceptable, especially with a sibling who works at Mozilla!"

Why is that unacceptable? It's like saying you should take out a policy in some given insurance because your uncle works there, or use some given ISP because your brother or sister works there, etc... Working in a company doesn't mean your family must use your products, even if they are fine! What should your family use if someone else in your family was working at Opera? Firefox or Opera? So I don't think "unacceptable" is appropriate here.

melissa said...

The unacceptable part wasn't that they weren't using Firefox. It was that they were using IE6, one of the least secure browsers out there. As I said, I tried to upgrade them to IE7 but got an error message.