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Patching average intelligence

By zefficace ·
This is a rant that I couldn't keep to myself any longer. And since many will see this on Friday if at all... well lets have fun!

It seems that "average" and "intelligence" is a contradiction in terms. This appears obvious to me in many situations, but IT is like a magnifying glass on the problem. I know everybody makes mistakes, it just seem to me that many ARE the mistake.


For those who won't bother to read my profile, I'm a lawyer who likes to keep informed about IT since he has choices to make in the domain. Summed up, compared to people I know, I'm pretty much the power user and solve my own damn problems.

What is weird is that friends call me to fix their dumb computer. Remember, I'm a lawyer and they call me to fix their computer. They even call me during office hours! At which point I half-jokingly tell them it will be at least 100$/hour to fix the problem... one day, I'll charge it for real.

In particular, yesterday I had a friend that told me he downloaded a file from limewire that was infected with a trojan. He knew it was infected because he had just enough brains to scan it with AVG. But he "mistakingly" executed the file anyway by "clicking on the wrong button", whatever that means.

Now, I'm thinking that I NEVER had an infection on windows with only a good router and a drop of intelligent paranoia. But this moron, clicked the wrong button! (insert "F" word at end of phrase)

QUESTION 1: Is this what you IT guys face on day to day? If so, you're not better off than lawyers...

I hear many complaints about windows not being secure, the comment usually ending with "compared to linux". But my friend would probably just type in his root password for nothing more than a window asking for it...

QUESTION 2: Would a perfectly patched OS really change anything?

Considering the "average" behaviour of many people, I don't even think you can "educate" them. You can "train" them, like I would do for a pet, but "educate"?!?!?

QUESTION 3: Does user education work for you IT guys?

I know this rant probably comes off as pumpous, but hel people, I work in law and some morons call me up at the office to solve their petty IT problems... so please cut me some slack about this rant!

I would wish that, if there is a God, he would go open source so that we could patch the "average brain" and perhaps raise the IQ a little. I'd love to see pseudo code on this one, if someone cares to pitch in.

Something like...

public class CriticalThinking{

/* You have to start somewhere */

public CriticalThingking(action){
boolean goodidea;
boolean = thinkFirst(action);
break; //or just DONT do it
catch(irrecuperable_moron_error e){

/* no point in a stack trace, throwing yourself off a bridge will always solve the problem */


public boolean thinkFirst(action){
boolean b;
criticism = instatiate ThoughtProcess;
b = criticism(action);
}catch(noBrains_available_error e){
System.out.print("admit to being cattle");
b = null; //as in hopeless idiot null
return b;

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by boxfiddler Moderator In reply to Patching average intellig ...

is quantitative.
Intelligence is qualitative.

Apples and oranges maybe. Oxymoron, I'd argue that.

Stupidity is. We deal with it. Worst, is dealing with our own. You know, that occasional 'duh moment'?

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I had 1 person

by The Scummy One In reply to Patching average intellig ...

after telling them (after a malware infection) not to visit a specific website. I had also mentioned that she shouldnt randomly download 'cute' things from the web. 3 times in a month I had to spend a few hours cleaning up her system -- all the while 'overhearing' how much work needed to be done and being asked constantly how much longer it would take.

Personally, I think that some people should never be allowed near a computer (or life for that matter). However, I help support attorney's all day. Some of them have deeper knowledge than me in certain areas, but when out of those areas come to me for more general knowledge items. Some of them I do not hear from for years, while others call (or have their admins call) every week or every time they are in town.

Many of them do not care about how things work, nor how to keep safe, they just want to do what they want to do and have everything magically work for them.
These are not uneducated people, and there is plenty of documentation (if it can be found ;0 ) on the intranet. I would consider many of them to be pretty damned smart actually, however, when it comes to their computer, they just dont want to know (other than when i will work again).
Just like if I was looking at a plumbing job. I have no friggin idea, so I would call someone with an idea. Then I would likely leave it to them, because to me, I just want the water flowing.

in other words, if people are not interested in a specific thing, they will pay little to no mind to it -- no matter how much they want it to work. In itself, it has little to do with their intelligence, just has to do with applied intelligence!

I kept pointing out what she did and why it was not a good idea, and, if she listened to me she wouldnt be 'behind' on her work. She flat out told me that I was full of it -- that the cute downloads were linked to her by friends and they could not possibly cause an infection.
I blocked 8 websites in the registry on her computer, and went 5 months without an infection complaint However there were plenty of "IE cannot display this site" complaints. When confronted with the issue (blocking content without permission)(and yes, I would censor this person again) I came clean and told all. Her manager understood and I didnt get into trouble
Well, she changed to a new system and I didnt set it up -- not 3 days went by before it was infected :0

but it couldnt be those pesky websites I warned of (and blocked) now could it?

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by seanferd In reply to I had 1 person

Quit trying to flush tennis balls down the toilet.



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LOL -- :^0

by The Scummy One In reply to Plumbing

I used to work in a small shop (house converted to a business). The next door neighbors constantly threw the used rubbers in the toilet -- which got to a T section of piping, and got stuck -- right out in front of the shop.
They were told by the plumbers to stop, but never did as long as I worked there.

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by Jacky Howe In reply to I had 1 person

we've got them over here as well. You've hit the nail on the head.

Good points.

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I have worked in several places

by The Scummy One In reply to LOL

and they are not a 'contained' group, sadly

Hey, I had someone call up several weeks in a row asking why the cd could not be read, found out they had it upside down in the drive :0 :^0 :^0

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Oh my, that's hilarious!

by JackOfAllTech In reply to Patching average intellig ...

I've been in IT for almost 30 years now and you've no idea how bad it really is. There are literally hundreds of sites dedicated to support peoples' best (worst?) user stories.

I've never been infected either (and I used to be a hacker) because I check everything before I do anything else with it. This is not rocket science.

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Not really dumb, but ...

by Bizzo In reply to Patching average intellig ...

I reckon it's not that the "average" user is less than average, it's just that he doesn't need to be more than average.

For example, I have a car, I know how to fill it up, check the oil, water etc. But if anything major goes wrong, I don't know how to fix it, because I don't need to know. I get a mechanic to look at it. If I didn't have a mechanic to fix it, I'd learn to do it myself. Probably the same with plumbing, plastering, electrickery etc, all the things I don't necessarily need to know because I know someone who does.

Your friend presses the "wrong" button, because he knows you (or someone else) will fix it. If he had to fix it himself, he wouldn't press the button again.

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Talk about hitting the nail on the head.

by DHCDBD In reply to Not really dumb, but ...

Case in point, the old lady. She was coming down with infections on a weekly basis. I became tired of spending several hours cleaning her messes up and added some security, which helped, but chose not to totally lock her computer down. After a clean install I hid a restore partition on the computer to make my job easier. I had to use it three times in three months, each time she lost all of the work she had done since the last restore. Still no luck in educating her. I finally told her the next time she trashed the computer she would have to clean it up. Funny note, she has not trashed the computer since. I still do weekly checks to catch what I can, if there is anything to catch. I have not found anything to catch since informing her that she would have to fix it and that I would only tutor her.

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Yeah, he knows me

by zefficace In reply to Not really dumb, but ...

But would you open the hood and start fooling around. Would you pull a wire or puncture a hose and then go ooops, please help FOR FREE!

That is what my friend is doing (I know the guy since kindergarden). He does this, and so do many people. They screw up badly and then look for the cheapest source of recue.

****, when we were teens, I even changed his tie-rods on his car (a part of the direction system) because, like me, he just had the money for the parts. He put me in a bad mood then too because he almost made the car fall on my leg. It didn't happen because I was quick to get out of the way.

It just looks like quite a few people have a talent for screwing up. Chaos should not be a part of a person's life, even more so when the chaos is coming from their friends.

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