Monday, August 06, 2007

On Earth?

Thank you for providing me with this webfodder, anonymous user from Middletown Delaware.

You sir (or madam) are an idiot. The gram is a measure of mass, which on earth is generally equivalent to weight. A gram of cocaine weighs a gram.

Oh and if I needed any further proof, you are running Internet Explorer 6, on WindowsME, at 800 x 600 and 16bit color.

If your computer is capable of running WinME (though gods knows why you would), it's capable of running at the very least, 1024x768 at 24 bit (and most likely more). In fact any computer built after 1996 should be able to do so; except a few of the ultralight (and ultra expensive) laptops with 10-12" screens (that use 800x600 because you can't really SEE text at 1024x768 on a 10" screen).

So, why is it at 800x600? Because that's the default screen resolution for most video drivers that display at xVGA and above (640x480 used to be the default, but they changed it around the time WinME came out).

I can't tell you the number of computers over the years that I have showed up at to fix something; only to find they were set at 800x600 (or 640x480), and 16 colors, with HIDEOUS eyestraining flicker caused by the monitor being set to 60hz (the default refresh rate).

I change the screen to 1024x768 at 24bit and 75hz and the users look at me like I'm some kind of mysterious god; who upgraded their computer through my magic typing fingers... Simply ecause they never learned, and no-one ever bothered to teach them, that you could CHANGE that setting.

For several years Microsoft was wondering why common user reports said the screen looked awful, when they had spent so much time and effort on pretty themes, and the users screens were getting bigger, and more capable.

Well, it turns out that literally millions of users , whose installs from the manufacturer had failed and been reinstalled, or whose OEMs hadnt set the drivers properly, were running at 800x600 and 16 bit. When the uesers were all on 14" viewable and even 17" viewable crts, this was at least livable; but as the 15" and 17" LVD panels became popular (which have a larger viewable area and higher native resolution), users screens looked like overcrowded jigsaw puzzles.

For WINXP they included an automatic detection feature that checks to see if your resolution and color depth are set to "the optimum level for your hardware".

Now, just from looking at the log entry, I can tell that the computer hasn't been updated at all since about 2001.

Javascript 1.3 was released in 1997, and it's follow-on 1.5 was released in 1999. Internet explorer 6; which was as far as Windows ME would have gone on its initial update; was released in 2001.

Now, the OEM build of the computer would have updated once the first time they connected to the internet after turning the computer on; but automatic updates were never a part of WinME (the automatic update service came in for WIN2K and XP). If it had been updated after that, it would be running I.E. 6.x other than 0; and it would be running a more recent version of Javascript.

Actually, I'm amazed the thing has survived six years on the internet in it's unpatched condition. It must be so loaded up with spyware and crap by now... He'll it's probably completely compromised and spreading infection at a ridiculous rate.

Normally I only see such stupidity in offices populated with middle aged women and no IT staff, at libraries, sometimes at grandmas houses (usually they have a nice grandchild who gets irritated when trying to IM their friends from grandmas computer and fixes it)... and very occasionally in industrial environment like warehouses, airports etc...; because those are the only environments where people will put up with it.

Why those groups?

Well, in libraries, people expect the computers to suck; and they don't have a stake in how good or bad they look.

In the industrial environment it's almost invariably because the computer is used by near completely computer illiterate people, who have been shown how to use one single application that hasn't changed in a decade... and they wouldn't know how to deal with it if it did.

In the offices, middle aged women without computer experience are generally afraid of making a fuss, or looking stupid by complaining. As a result, they will put up with an inordinate amount of stupidity to "go along to get along".

...This seems to only be true of middle aged women by the way. Men, for the most part, are more willing to disturb other people to get things fixed. Younger women generally aren't as worried about other people thinking they are dumb for asking to have things fixed; or as worried about disturbing others. Older women generally can't use the systems at all unless their physical limitations (usually poor vision and arthritis) are compensated for, which means no 800x600 at 16bit (low contrast and jaggy, blurry edges make things difficult to read and select).

Basically though, what it comes down to is that the technically incompetent and/or technophobic are disturbed greatly by changes in the environment they either fear or do not understand; and will do anything they can to memorize things so they can get it to work, and NEVER under any circumstances change ANYTHING (which would destroy the mental map they worked so hard to create).

Which reminds me, I really need to do a post on engineering, design, and the "Fair Ellen" problem...

It's important to note, I haven't said the users are stupid; I've said they are putting up with stupidity when they shouldn't be. The users aren't stupid, (well, they may be, but they may be geniuses as well) this has nothing to do with their intelligence; and everything to do with their experiences, and reactions and adaptations to those experiences, which are the crux of the "fair Ellen" problem.

Anyway, somehow, I don't think this person is any of those things. I'm going to go with druggie idiot here.