Computers and users; definitions

June 27, 2008 at 2:46 pm 4 comments

Dealing with my wife’s old computer has made me realize again that there are points at which most people are relatively ignorant, most especially including (dare I say it) programmers.  Specifically, the average “end-user” is pretty well ignorant of most of the issues involved with computing except for the current catchwords.  The concepts that are associated with these cool words are generally relatively vague.  The programmer is entirely ignorant of the average home user, mostly because of insulation.  Most start out with some understanding.


“OEM” has come to mean one thing in the computer world, basically.  It’s an Operating System (OS) which only works on the computer it came with.  Dells, HPs and the like have OEMs.  There are also often OEM copies of things like Adobe=”trialware”=”shareware”=crapware, or something that’s limited in some way.  Usually it’s limited as to how many times you can use it, so you have to remove it from your system, and it leaves little bits and fragments along the way, from uninstall.exe programs to text files to dll’s/dynamic linked libraries.  The dll’s just contain various kinds of information.  …Libraries.


This means that if the motherboard or CPU in your Dell fail, you can’t just use your old copy of Windows.  It won’t work.  There’s a piece of hardware in there that has to stick up its little hand at the right time and say it’s Dell, or it just won’t work.  More or less. 


Now if it’s just the hard drive, and you still have your copy of Windows, because it’s on cd, you get a cd and install Windows.  If it’s a Northgate and the OS was on a partition of the hard drive (call a partition a virtual hard drive and you’ll more or less get the picture) things aren’t perfect.  I was just reflecting on the fact that I don’t actually know that the motherboard hasn’t eaten it, either.  But much less likely than the hard drive in the first place.


Most motherboards take up the functions of things like graphics cards and such that used to be separate entities in the old days five years ago.  You’ll generally have Ethernet; if you do get a separate graphics or audio card you actually bypass the existent functions on the motherboard (you also substantially improve performance by the nature of things, because you’re paring down CPU functions a bit).  Generally you can’t use the old Dell or whatever box (the thing the actual computer goes into) because a standard motherboard won’t fit somehow.  It also may be tricky figuring out actual wattages and things of the sort, important considerations when laying out a power supply for the interior functions.


Building your  own computer is much easier than you’d think.  This is where I want to go into user types briefly and then just stop.  This should be a bit different take than you’ve generally seen on this kind of stuff, so maybe it’s a little less intimidating.  Overdoing it isn’t particularly cool, either, though.


With users you have generally the standard user and the power user, with the latter being almost exclusively gamers.  Graphics uses a lot of computing power, but only when done in realtime.  Fractals are maybe the best demonstration.  Naturally, editing of videos and the like will eat a lot of resources and is entirely out of the realm of this discussion, because you’ve actually gone right to programs-for-pay with the price tag for “decent” starting at a couple of grand.  The ordinary user outside a company isn’t going to touch a computer’s capabilities–remember, watching a DVD is watching a DVD, no matter whether a computer or a “DVD player”. 


The point is that there isn’t any great merit in being a “power user” or a “gamer”.  A few things won’t run on standard equipment, and that’s all.  As far as word processors, editing photos, and that sort of thing standard equipment does just fine or the equipment is flawed.


The ordinary business user uses…about a tenth of what the ordinary home user does.  It’s inexecusable to have unnecessary input ports on a machine whose sole function is formatted data entry.  There should be communication with an authorized gateway, and nothing else.  For that matter, entry into the box should be physically keyed and there are several methods of doing it.  Keep in mind that physical, keyed connection to the gateway somehow can also prevent someone just unplugging the computer and walking away, which has been done.  (Random memory of actual places I’ve worked.  If you ask the obvious question, I actually don’t know why I never did.  Risk factor was somewhere near zero.)


Enough for now.



Entry filed under: computers/tech. Tags: , , , , , , .

yahoo! Spencer F Katt

4 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Computers and users; definitions  |  June 27, 2008 at 3:05 pm

    […] unknown wrote an interesting post today onHere’s a quick excerptDealing with my wife’s old computer has made me realize again that there are points at which most people are relatively ignorant, most especially including (dare I say it) programmers. Specifically, the average “end-user” is pretty well … […]

  • 2. Teh M1K3Z0R  |  June 27, 2008 at 4:07 pm

    I agree, proprietary OEM components are a real pain. I recall many times when I would have a dead powersupply in a dell or a compaq, or wanted to upgrade a component and it would not work, either the case was a funky shape so that only their components fit, ot the powersupply in a few instances was actually custom wired so that a generic atx psu wouldnt work…very annoying. Furthermore the option of getting bios updates for some oem machines was also very bothersome, particularly if the motherboard was a custom variant of a more popular consumer retail one, however the OEM did not have a bios update and using the bios update from Asus was a bad idea as it was not exactly the retail motherboard. When I asked Asus they refered me to HP, when i called HP they reffered me to asus and so forth, ugh

  • 3. oregonnerd  |  June 27, 2008 at 4:42 pm

    …However, since it’s Northgate I have a chance. Northgate was the nearest thing to heaven sometime near the inception of XP, as I recall, because it was going to do the multimedia bit. So it went nicely bellyup; compatibility issues and particularly DRMs were at stake. We’ll see. MS might or might not just provide a copy of Windows. Heck, it’s even possible I have a minor reputation on the ‘net as oregonnerd.

  • […] <b>Computers</b> and users; definitions […]


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