Unlearning Windows Habbits: Not Trivial

So a month ago, I finally took the plunge, or rather, I plunged my parents into switching to the Mac platform after years of Windows agony for them, and for me trying to explain things to them. No more. I set up an VNC remote administration to be able to help them through the transition and for all other questions of which there are always plenty, new operating system or not. This will be the topic of a different post. Now all is easy. Right.

I have recently been very frustrated by my parent’s approach to fixing alleged computer problems. They reboot. More than once. Then they get frustrated and call me. This happened now two or three times. I hope this time my dad finally got it. Rebooting won’t fix your problem. This is not Windows. You don’t need to reboot. Just force quit the application you are having difficulty with and get on with your work.

In the most recent case, there wasn’t even anything wrong. It was what I guess you could call a bug in Google Earth. My dad had not turned off the “Tips” window. Earlier this week, he wanted to close the window and couldn’t. He couldn’t exit Google Earth either. He had to force quit it.

My first idea was to delete the preference file, but that didn’t do the trick. Then I had him hit the F10 key. Sure enough, as I had expected, a “Update” window appeared, waiting for a user interaction. Stupidly though, this window was active, yet hidden. Without knowing about F10 there was no way to resolve the problem. While I had mentioned Exposé to my parents, it’s not something they have gotten accustomed to yet.

In fact, Exposé is really only useful if you have many windows open at the same time. They don’t do that. They use at most two apps at the time time. When they ask me for help, they always want to close an application just because they have a question on another one. Clearly this also is learned Windows behavior, b/c if you have an underpowered Dell laptop with little memory just combine that with Windows’ poor multitasking powers and you will quickly learn not to use more than two or three apps at the same time.

So I keep telling them: You don’t need to close that application, just open the new one. And please, if there is a problem, DO NOT REBOOT. It’s not necessary, it won’t help either. And while you’re at it, don’t shutdown the computer when you’re done either. Just put it to sleep. Makes life so much easier. I average uptimes between one and two weeks on my PowerBook and iMac and love it.

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