How Was “Upgrade Your Parents’ Browser Weekend” 2011?

It’s Monday after the big Thanksgiving holiday weekend here in the US.  You’re back at the grind, heads down in e-mail, and perhaps even some code.  All the usual manic Monday comments are flooding your social network feeds. The Boomtown Rats are ringing in your ears.  For many, it’s just going to be “one of those days”. 

VisionsOfTurkeyFor some techies, maybe it’s not your first day back after the big holiday.  Maybe you “worked” the holiday weekend by playing tech support to your “friends & family network”?  I know.  I know.  Why would you WANT to do that?!

But it’s inevitable that you’ll hear from the likes of Aunt Betty * and her desperate pleas:

“I need help!  My computer is double spacing and I can’t figure out how to make it single space!!!  I don’t know what to do?”

What do you do??  As much as you don’t want to ‘work’, your membership in the human race can’t help but be overwhelmed with sympathy for poor Aunt Betty. 

Okay, maybe you CAN lack sympathy!  Visions of tryptophan induced sleep on the sofa after dinner ring in your head.  But between the turkey and the stuffing, you ARE going to find a way to satisfy her request, even if it’s only so you can enjoy the rest of the day in peace without all the nagging.

* – Note: Names changed to protect the innocent.

And so it begins…

XPUpdatesYou look at Aunt Betty’s computer, open up Word, and realize you can’t remember such trivial settings such as line spacing.  You open up the browser to do a search online for an answer.  As your search engine is loading with the brain dead easy answer, you squirm in horror as you realize:

“Ugh.  Aunt Betty is running IE7?! Really?! Oh, and she has 36 updates waiting to be installed.”

Setting Word back to single spacing is the easy task. Then comes the real challenge…  tryptophan induced sleep on the sofa or really helping Aunt Betty?

The Moral Dilemma

VistaUpdatesThe sleep sounds sooooo tempting!  But, are you really going to leave Aunt Betty’s machine in the dark ages?  What type of netizen are you?  Are you going to allow for a rogue machine like this to be on the internet holding back progress? 

If you can walk away from a situation like this, more power to you.  But I’m guessing most of us feel some sort of technical & moral responsibility to fix things.

Does this sound familiar to you?  Do you find yourself in this position at family gatherings? If so, you’re not alone.  Alexis Madrigal over at The Atlantic knows this story too.  Last Tuesday, he wrote about it in a humorous piece, declaring Black Friday as “Update Your Parents’ Browser” day

The folks over here at Microsoft picked up on Alexis’s article last week and endorsed it fully, along with a Top 10 list featuring tips on when to get the job done (in the event of a family member refusing the upgrade).

I second that endorsement.  In fact, this is not a one time event. It’s likely that many will be gathering with friends & family for the December holidays too.  Let’s make the entire month of December “Upgrade Your Friends & Family Network Month”!!!  Maybe we should register a domain and get a fancy logo for it?  Nah.  Okay, now that probably would be a little too crazy.

HanselmanZenFor all of you out there who do decide to take on the challenge of helping the likes of Aunt Betty, Scott Hanselman posted an AWESOME checklist back in August 2011.  Check out:

The Technical Friend’s Essential Maintenance Checklist for Non-Technical Friend’s Windows Computer

So did you upgrade your Friends & Family Network this past weekend?  I made out okay… AFTER I took my tryptophan induced nap on the sofa.  In 2008, I wrote here on this blog about how my job as ‘tech guru’ had gotten a lot easier.  Yup… still relatively easy.

  • Aunt Betty’s Word set to single spacing between paragraphs. – CHECK!
  • Aunt Betty (already on IE9!) updated with latest Windows Updates. – CHECK!
  • Mom’s “secondary” laptop browser updated from IE8 to IE9 & Windows 7 SP1 applied – CHECK!
  • Dad’s computer…  amazingly already up to date! No work necessary! Woot!


Now, if I can just make it until Christmas…