Computers, a love hate relationship

Part one... Magic Jack

I haven't used the MagicJack my father sent to me in a few months. Last time I tried to use it Windows griped about "USB Device Not Recognized". I try it again and it tells me the same thing. I go to and search their knowledgebase... finding nothing... I decide to try their "live person" chat.

I hit level one. They basically verify I'm not an idiot and pass me on to level two. Level two has me delete a folder in "applications data" (Magic Jack is only for Windows and Mac)... and then touch about five different things in regedit.

I'll stop with the details only to summarize that it appears a Windows update had decided that the MagicJack fits the profile of something insecure so it won't let it load software. Anyway, a reboot or two later it is working again.

Part two... family tech support

I use the Magic Jack to call my father. He was born in 1932. He wants help with his computer.

We are trying to download AVG Free for his Windows Vista computer. You know how hard it is to download AVG Free? Sure it is free... but you have to wade through like 5-10 pages trying to talk you into buying the premium version OR with other "Download Now" links for other products that are easy to mistake for the link you are looking for.

Oh, and are you really on the AVG page? If you don't pay close attention to your search results you'll end up at some site wanting you to think it is AVG... or perhaps even a legitimate competitor... or perhaps one of those bogus websites with bogus anti-virus software downloads that are really just viruses that want to extort you for money.

And then I have to worry about my father getting phished... or becoming part of a botnet.

Computers have been good for modern society... but there has also been the bad that comes with it. With millions of computers on botnets... how many tax returns have gotten stolen along with personal information including financial info? How many companies have gotten broken into and their employee or customer records stolen?

Don't even get me started on email... and how broken it is.

Part three... Facebook

Then I have a number of friends nagging me to join Facebook. For whatever reason... after becoming annoyed from thoughts of the above... I decided to join Facebook. Maybe I was looking for something to push me over the edge?!?

So I go to I have to put in my email address, full name and my birthdate. Ok. It emails me a confirmation email with a link I follow back.

Look 6 friends wanted to be notified when I joined. Ok.

Oh, now what educational institutions do I want to inform them that I was associated with? Kingsbuy High School in Bent, TN? WTF? Kingsbury High School is in Memphis, TN but I can't select that.

What city / community group do I want to join? Billings, MT? No, I don't live in Billings anymore... and haven't for about 4 years now but somehow it thinks I'm in Billings. Ok, I put in Belgrade... but then decide I really don't want to "join" a Belgrade group. I mean, I have no idea what the point of the group is to begin with and they aren't presenting me with any information about it... but heck yeah, I can join up right now.

Now it wants my email address and password. WTF? It says that if it knows my friend's email addresses it can help me more easily find my friends. It tells me that after I click on why it wants to know. So, let me get this right, it is going to use my email address and my password and connect to my email server as me... and then search the various emails in my inbox and take those addresses... and then search for those on Facebook... so it can recommend them to me as friends? Umm, if I have email from someone in my inbox I pretty sure I'm already in touch with them... and I don't need any help finding them... you think?

Oh look... I get to read all of the inane things my friends have written... and look... it wants to suggest 30 more people I might want to have as friend... but I don't know any of them. Where is it getting this information? I have not told it anything about myself other than my email address, name, birth date, high school, and city I'm located in... but it has a zillion friends to suggest.

Ok, I was successful. I did allow Facebook to push me over the edge. Perhaps I'm being bi-polar or something... but I've decided to "deactivate my account" only after a couple of minutes through the signup process. Along the way I post a couple of quick messages.

Facebook sucks.

Do I really have to go through all of this bull sh** to help some company with their business model?

Then I find the deactivate link. It has a captcha with two words separated by a space. Hey, I can actually read it. I type in the words and submit. Nope, you didn't get it right. Try again. After about 10 more times of getting it perfectly correct with 10 new captcha word combintations... no... that isn't an exaggeration... I decide to give up. Wait, there is an alternative way to deactivate. Is it email? No, it is via texting to my mobile phone. For one thing I don't have a mobile phone. My wife does but I don't... and I really don't want Facebook to text her phone with a deactivation code.

I post one more quick message about how Facebook is making it hard for me to deactivate.

I try it again... and hey, it finally works. I'm deactivated.

I get a little result page with a web form on it asking me why I want to deactivate and I select that I didn't find Facebook useful. Then it tells me some things I should try to find it useful... and that they'll miss me... and that I can sign back up at any time with the same account info.

Ok, sure... use whatever descriptive words you want to describe my behavior or my attitude... but I found Facebook to be creepy within the first 10 seconds.

I wonder if my Facebook friends are going to get notified that I joined and then deactivated. I wonder if they are going to see my short posts. I hope so.

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I since Ubuntu 8.10, I have started a 3 strikes rule with my family. I fix your computer 3 times, your getting linux, with sshd, denyhost and ddns installed so I can remote in. It's been working great so far. Even getting a Verizon USB dongle to work was plug and play o_O.

Also, I've had a facebook account since it started, I only use it to find phone #s when my phone dies.

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