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Shockwave and my mom

I just got off the phone with my mother. She's been getting computer lessons from my sister Wopke. My mother used to do some computer work for my father's practice, but this "Windows" thing is totally new for her. Webbrowsing, emailing and MSN, she's learning it all (one step at a time). Anyway. she called me.

Apparently, my mother wanted to show my aunt Riet the panoramic photography I do. Riet is a "real", analog photographer, or at least I have always regarded her to be one.

"I'm on your site. Can I see the photos any bigger?"
- "Sure, you just click on the small thumbnail image I and the browser will show an image you can look around in."
"Yes, we did that, but all we got was this big bar that filled up really slowly. It also said something with Shockwave."

So I explained her what a plugin is, and that it needs to be installed only once to view my work.

"Ah yes," said my mother "it said it wanted to install something, but your sister told me not to install things off the web."

My sister taught her well... (Come to think of it, before the Shockwave install progressbar my mother stopped/canceled she must have allready agreed to install shockwave... Potential harm done...) So I guided my mother through the whole process.

- "Yes, just wait untill it has all filled up..."
"Now I'm getting something about searching, email, bookmarks"
- "Stop, there's a checkmark thing on the bottom of that window. Click on it to remove the bookmark and press next".

I don't need to make Internet Explorer any more complex than it already is for my mother by installing the Yahoo toolbar.

- "Now press next untill you get the choice whether you are older than 13 or not. Just lie and say that you are under 13, believe me".

My mother does not need to be registered with Nobody does.

- "Press next again and you should be done. Ok, sorry, press next again."
"Congratulation, you now have..."
- "You can close that window, and you should see my website again"
"Now I'm getting my screensaver".

It took me a while to figure out that either my mother was confusing the term screensaver with desktoppicture, or her screensaver looks exactly the same as her empty desktop. Anyway, my website got closed in the process. So I told her to open a new browser and type in the url to my site again. Now that process was quite a bit too complex if you ask me. Fortunatelly my mother was totally blown away by the content of my website she could now see:

- "Click in the center of the image, and drag towards the direction you want to look"
"Wow! Amazing!"

I'm not exactly sure what amazed her more though, my panoramas or the fact that she just installed something and it worked!

Anyway, the lesson to learn is that - at least for my mother - the problem in installing the Shockwave plugin was in the combination of a long download and the number of dialogs: Apparently the first dialog was not a problem. Scary as it looked, she decided "well, it's from my son's website, so I guess it's ok". But then the long wait for the download of the actual plugin gave her time to doubt her decission and she stopped the download. After guiding her through the rest of the install (one 'box' at a time, she talks about 'boxes' and 'that blue text' instead of windows and links), I am convinced that the sheer number of times she had to press 'Next' would have done the same thing: make her doubt and remember her lesson not to install things off the web. She would not have made it on her own, probably only installing the Yahoo searchbar, but not Shockwave. I can't blame her.


That was fun to read! Especially because I recognise so many things Aldo is talking about. Yes, I