Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Kids 'n Computers

Several years ago, I needed (or rather, wanted) to upgrade my computer. There was nothing wrong with the one I had - it still ran fine, had lots of memory and all the appropriate virus protections. I just wanted a change. So I gave my old desktop computer to my parents. It was their first computer, and I really only gave it to them so they could email me and keep some files. Which is all they would ever really need it for. Within two years of having it, the computer died.

So then I thought that maybe I would graduate to a laptop instead of a desk top. So I bought an HP laptop and gave my parents my desktop to replace the one that seemed to die. Again, within two years, it was destroyed.

I couldn't figure out what was going on until I found out that my nieces and nephews (who are not allowed on the computers at their respective homes) were accessing all kinds of websites and downloading games and God-knows-what-else onto my parents' computer. Every time I went home there was a new icon on the screen, and the pentium III processor seemed to be running on turtle power. My folks took it in for repair several times to have the hard drive wiped clean and reinstalled.

So last year, when a friend of mine was moving in with his new partner and no longer needed his computer, I bought it from him to give to my parents - again. It was a brand new computer that he bought three months before and only turned on once. I gave it to my folks last summer with explicit instructions to not let the kids on it. And then this morning I get an email from my mother saying,

"I am having a problem with my computer, it says I am running out of disc C space and it gives me options to delete files I don't need, but I don't know if I need them or not. How do I tell if I need them? You know how dumb I am about this machine. Maybe I will call you this evening after I get home from work and see if you can tell me anything. "

First of all, there is no way the C drive is full. My mom uses the computer to email me and spreadsheet her and dad's medications. And she might play solitaire now and then, but that's it. Which means that someone has been dicking around on their computer - again! My dad never touches the thing. If he needs anything, he gets Mom to do it.

I am going home this weekend for a wedding so I will have to check out the computer. And if I find out that the kids have been playing on it and downloading stuff again, heads (no matter how old or cute) are gonna roll.


  1. my sister was the same way with my parents computer...until they tossed it, due to the viruses crawling out of the disk drives

  2. Setup a default user ID and password that has restricted accesss so that nothing can be installed.

    You can create another ID that has full access that you keep.