Frustration with Uncommon Sense

This is being written in LibreOffice on a Linux-only computer, and is being written with some frustration. Not that I am frustrated with either LibreOffice or Linux — I am frustrated with some of my clients. Behind me sits a newly converted computer that started its life as an XP machine. It worked for years and then its owners tired of waiting for it to do whatever they wanted, so they got a new computer with Windows 7 and had me set this new computer up for them. They gave me their old computer with my promise to scrub the hard drive and see that it either got a good new home or that it was scrapped for parts.

After scrubbing their personal data, I installed Linux and re-formatted the hard drive. While it is not an over-clocked gamer’s special, it is a good little machine that zips right along. It can play videos and download from the Internet with the best of them. Trashing XP also meant deleting a perfectly good copy of Microsoft Office, so I thought about it first, but the benefits to whoever gets the re-conditioned computer seem to outweigh the losses. This seems obvious to me.

Frustration with Uncommon SenseYet none — yes none — of my senior clients use Linux, and only a few use LibreOffice. Most of them have bought some version of Microsoft Office. With the exception of a few Apple people, they all use Windows.

During my first meeting with a new client, I try to assess how they use computers and what their expectations are. It takes only minutes to ascertain their current state of computer literacy. Only a small minority approximate power users. Some do write code or use spreadsheets, and some play games, but generally not fast-paced video games. One or two edit HD video. In other words, why do they buy quad core computers with 8 gigabytes of RAM? If you just want to have email and be able to surf, why spend so much money?

Something else must be going on. Perhaps I am seeing a subset of the users, and that subset thinks of their computers differently than I do. For instance, more than once clients have told me they need a new computer because the old one is worn out and getting slow. Sometimes that is nearly a valid observation. As Windows updates take more memory, the initially installed RAM might become insufficient. Adding another stick can do wonders.

So I occasionally am given older computers; I convert them to Linux and donate them. Maybe it is a Johnny Appleseed syndrome. Windows is a very good system, and I have no issue with it, but for the money, people on a fixed income are often better off with quality freeware. That is the basis of my frustration.

By the way, I was recently corrected on my pronunciation of LibreOffice. Being from Southern California, I naturally gyrated to “Lee bray Office,” but that seems to be wrong and the right way is “Lee breh Office.” The derivation is apparently from French, not Spanish. I had just recovered from being corrected on this when a stunned silence followed my reference to Calibre eBook manager as “Cal lee bray.” “Surely you jest,” I was told, “it is ‘caliber’ as in ‘theater!'”

Oh, well, sometimes you just have to suck it up.

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