And the first user of Windows Vista in my immediate family is…

Date August 6, 2007

…my mother???

What exactly is a fellow to do when he has no house (and, therefore, no yard and no swimming pool to maintain), no kids, and no spouse? That’s temporarily my situation. I did get into the office for a few hours on Saturday, and I made it to Borders to pick up an atlas and some reading material.

Over breakfast on Saturday morning, my parents and I decided we would make a run to Fry’s on Sunday to work our way through their list of current technology wants and needs. I’ve learned that it takes my mother a year to decide that she needs to replace her computer, another year to decide there is not some sort of impending chaos in her life that makes it a bad time to act on that need, and then another year to actually make a decision as to what exactly she wants. Somehow, that process got partially short-circuited this weekend, as she now owns a new laptop. And, it’s not a Mac, which will likely earn her the scorn and dismay of some good friends in Maine.

That was not the only technology purchase by any means. Suffice it to say that, by the time we left Fry’s, we really only had room for 2.5 adults in the Highlander, which made for a cramped trip back to Dripping Springs (not that that prevented us from stopping at the grocery store en route!).

We had hoped that we might be able to purchase a laptop with Windows XP instead of Windows Vista installed on it, as my parents had seen recent articles about driver incompatibility and other issues with Vista. I knew that was an issue early on, but had not really stayed up as to the current state. And, as it happened, buying a computer off the shelf at Fry’s removed that option.

The setup went smoothly…to a point. The computer is up and running with internet access. There are driver incompatibility issues, though. The docking station has some audio and video issues that it looks like people have been able to work around driver-wise. I haven’t gotten through that workaround process yet, though.

The bigger issue was with Earthlink. I was anti-AOL very, very early on, but I’m going to go ahead and officially announce here that Earthlink has been promoted to the top of my list of most annoying ISPs. My parents insist on running the Earthlink TotalAccess software, which has a user interface that will likely go down in history as the Ford Edsel of ISP interfaces. Not only does it throw up a persistent navigation bar on the desktop, but it plugs a bunch of crud into Internet Explorer. I think Juno was less intrusive. I can only hope that most Earthlink users never install the software, as it’s not really required to use the service. But, since my mother insisted that she needed it, I bit the bullet and installed it. I found a way on their old computer, using Earthlink’s proprietary e-mail client, to export the e-mails in her inbox to a .dat file. That was actually a nice feature, in that it looked like I would be able to then import that file into the inbox on her new computer, once I had Earthlink’s e-mail client installed.

Except Earthlink hasn’t released their e-mail client for Vista yet.

This tells me one of two things:

  • Earthlink realizes that only a small fraction of their subscribers actually rely on their software, since it is genuinely awful, so they devote limited resources to keeping it current with the latest operating systems, OR
  • Earthlink developers have been so busy focussing on coming up with a user interface that is better than DOS that they were caught unawares by the rollout of Vista

Neither speaks well of the organization.

As for Julie, she and the kids had a good time in Dallas. She was hoping to leave this morning between 5:30 and 6:00 AM so as to stay on track with her itinerary.

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