Why Home Computing is a Mess


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A home computer is by far the most complex item that an average consumer is likely to own. Unfortunately, many of the possible uses of the standard home computer require a level of technical understanding that the average user does not have. Also a computer requires a level of routine maintenance that is more than many people can or will deal with. Security problems abound and require a vigilance that many do not exercise. Also, the economic interests of the computer industry often do not coincide with the best interests of the consumer.

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  • Dit is nu EXACT waar ik naar toe wil: de klant moet gewoon zijn computer aan kunnen zetten en probleemloos kunnen gebruiken.
    This is exactly what I mean: you just have to turn on your computer and work with it without any fuss
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Why Home Computing is a Mess

  1. 1. Why Home Computing is a Mess Vic Laurie
  2. 2. Background of the Problems <ul><li>Home computing has changed radically </li></ul><ul><ul><li>First home users were not involved with the Internet </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Users were interested in technology and willing to learn something about how computers work </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Home computers were concentrated in US </li></ul></ul><ul><li>World Wide Web is now a major force in global society </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Going on the Internet is the major reason for owning a home computer </li></ul></ul>
  3. 3. Who Uses Computers <ul><li>Nature of the people using computers has changed but computing paradigm has not </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Oriented to desktop applications for technically savvy users </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Hundreds of millions of new users </li></ul><ul><ul><li>75% of adult Americans online </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Over 200 million in China alone </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Children </li></ul>
  4. 4. The Problems <ul><li>Computers are too complicated </li></ul><ul><li>Users are untrained </li></ul><ul><li>Security is a major and worldwide problem </li></ul><ul><li>The interests of the computing industry are counter to the those of the consumer </li></ul>
  5. 5. A Quote about Complexity <ul><li>Walter Mossberg </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“ There’s no other major item most of us own that is as confusing, unpredictable and unreliable as our personal computers. “ </li></ul></ul>
  6. 6. Why Computers Are Too Hard to Use <ul><li>The model of one size fits all is not best suited for consumer needs </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Dozens of different functions </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Computer, hi-fi, TV, gamebox, telecommunications center </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Microsoft’s integration of everything into Windows </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Complexity, insecurity, and expense </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Design by geeks </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Consider Vista UAC </li></ul></ul>
  7. 7. Why Computers Are Too Hard to Use (continued) <ul><li>Mismatch with needs of average PC users </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Untrained users who want an appliance with a few functions </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Computer comes with no manual, few instructions </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Basic PC setup derives from 1980’s and was never intended for mass consumption </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Too much maintenance is required </li></ul><ul><ul><li>If help is needed, users can’t even describe problem </li></ul></ul><ul><li>“ Featuritis” </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Constant addition of more features to hardware and software </li></ul></ul>
  8. 8. Industry Misunderstands or Ignores Consumer Needs <ul><li>Hundreds of millions of users with no technical background </li></ul><ul><li>Microsoft is oriented to businesses and OEMs </li></ul><ul><ul><li>The “Bob” effect? </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Computer industry does not understand or ignores the mindset of the non-technical masses </li></ul>
  9. 9. Mindset of Average Consumer <ul><li>No interest in having to learn details of how a computer works </li></ul><ul><li>Do not do simplest maintenance </li></ul><ul><li>Inability to deal with even simplest computer problem </li></ul><ul><li>Unrealistic to expect anything different </li></ul><ul><li>Industry needs to recognize the realities </li></ul>
  10. 10. Quote from Security Expert (copying Robert Heinlein) <ul><li>The following does not apply to anyone in the audience but has some truth: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“ Trying to teach a typical user how to operate their computer properly is like trying to teach a pig to sing.” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>“ It wastes your time and annoys the pig.” </li></ul></ul>
  11. 11. We are all affected <ul><li>Knowledgeable users cannot ignore the problems that others have </li></ul><ul><li>The Internet is like a giant single organism with low resistance to disease </li></ul><ul><li>Infections spread everywhere </li></ul><ul><li>Example of spam and email worms </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Botnets </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Your name on porn </li></ul></ul>
  12. 12. Security Problems <ul><li>Organized international gangs </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Internet crime has little risk for the criminal </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The average PC user is a sitting duck for cyber-criminals </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Sophisticated techniques </li></ul><ul><li>Botnets and zombie PCs </li></ul>
  13. 13. System Deficiencies <ul><li>Malware defenses are inadequate and too complicated </li></ul><ul><li>Until Windows XP SP2 and Vista, Windows was a sieve </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Windows ActiveX </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Poor security at businesses </li></ul>
  14. 14. Security Quote <ul><li>Roger Grimes </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“ I don’t see any paradigm shifts. Computer security vendors aren’t likely to make you significantly safer, and what the criminals are already doing is working quite well for them, so there’s no need for them to shift tactics.” </li></ul></ul>
  15. 15. Ever-Growing Malware <ul><li>In the 25 years through 2007, Symantec detected 1.1 million distinct threats </li></ul><ul><li>The year 2007 provided 711,912 of these </li></ul><ul><li>Anti-virus software has to write a new signature for every one </li></ul>
  16. 16. Malware Everywhere <ul><li>Google search results infected </li></ul><ul><li>Normally trustworthy sites infected </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Trend Micro, USA Today , social portals </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Banner ads on legitimate sites </li></ul></ul><ul><li>DNS tricks </li></ul>
  17. 17. More Security Problems <ul><li>Constant need to apply security patches </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Many different software programs are constantly found to have security holes </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Secunia estimates that over half of systems lack updates </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Average user cannot keep up </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Failure of reactive methods of defense </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Program databases always lag the latest exploits </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Users often have outdated anti-malware </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Industry has no liability for faulty security </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Software firms often take months to patch known problems </li></ul></ul>
  18. 18. How to check if all your apps are patched <ul><li>Secunia Personal Software Inspector </li></ul><ul><ul><li>https:// psi.secunia.com / </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Adobe PDF reader, QuickTime, Adobe Flash, Java, RealPlayer, Microsoft Works </li></ul>
  19. 20. Consumer Interests Are Not a High Priority <ul><li>Quote from security expert Bruce Schneier </li></ul><ul><ul><li>&quot;The technology industry is driven by demand for features, for options, for speed. There are no standards for quality or security, and there is no liability for insecure software. Hence, there is no economic incentive to create high quality.&quot; </li></ul></ul>
  20. 21. Marketing and Consumer Interests are at Odds <ul><li>Computers are sold not bought </li></ul><ul><li>Consumers have insufficient knowledge to make informed choices </li></ul><ul><li>Marketing is the overwhelming factor and overcomes consumer discretionary choice </li></ul>
  21. 22. Microsoft monopoly limits choices <ul><li>Almost the entire ecosystem depends on Microsoft </li></ul><ul><li>Market grip so tight that over 140 M copies of Vista have been sold in spite of its unpopularity </li></ul>Linux - 0.67% Mac - 7.57% Windows - 91.46% Desktop OS market share as of January, 2008
  22. 23. Industry vs. Consumer <ul><li>Manufacturers and vendors have no economic incentive for simple, inexpensive systems </li></ul><ul><li>Digital Rights Management (DRM) </li></ul><ul><li>WGA </li></ul><ul><li>Software licensing </li></ul><ul><li>Enforced obsolescence </li></ul>
  23. 24. Software Feature Bloat <ul><li>In order to keep selling, more and more features added </li></ul><ul><li>Programs get more and more complicated </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Often become unstable or buggy </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Demand bigger and bigger computers </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Windows 98SE needed about 32 MB RAM, Vista requires 1000 MB or more </li></ul></ul>
  24. 25. Recommended System Requirements
  25. 26. Solutions <ul><li>Inexpensive Internet boxes powered by Linux </li></ul><ul><li>Macs at the higher price end </li></ul><ul><li>Open source software </li></ul><ul><li>Computer literacy in schools </li></ul><ul><li>Stricter laws governing industry responsibility </li></ul>
  26. 27. Improved Approaches to Security <ul><li>Sandboxing </li></ul><ul><li>Intrusion detection </li></ul><ul><li>Whitelisting programs </li></ul><ul><li>Virtual machines </li></ul><ul><li>Rollback software </li></ul><ul><li>Applications on USB sticks </li></ul>
  27. 28. Change in the Computing Paradigm? <ul><li>Modular PCs </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Basic kernel plus individual packages for different functions </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Applications on the Web, “Web 2.0” </li></ul><ul><ul><li>The browser becomes the platform </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Hardware virtualization- hypervisors </li></ul><ul><li>Mobile platforms </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Small units dedicated to particular applications </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Example of iPhone </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Mini-computers </li></ul></ul>
  28. 29. Let’s Help Others <ul><li>Advise people to keep things simple </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Few average users need a high-end machine </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Keep software simple- open source </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Encourage alternatives to Windows </li></ul><ul><li>Encourage computer education </li></ul><ul><li>Support programs for developing nations </li></ul><ul><ul><li>OLPC </li></ul></ul>
  29. 30. THE END