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Geek Eye for the Average Guy 507

Posted by michael
from the tech-support-on-speed-dial dept.
Yxes writes "Fortune designed an experiment: give three geeks US$15,000 and three days to bring a family of four up to date with technology. The average family doesn't know which DVD player to buy or how to setup a wireless network. What happens when even the geeks can't get it to work?"
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Geek Eye for the Average Guy

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  • No Fair (Score:5, Funny)

    by Sloppy (14984) * on Tuesday September 23, 2003 @02:18PM (#7036365) Homepage Journal
    3 days?! What a blatant anti-Gentoo bias!
    • Re:No Fair (Score:3, Informative)

      by drinkypoo (153816)
      You just have to have your priorities right. Spend $5k of it on a bitchin' dual opteron and you can have gentoo, kde, and gnome built in three days, easy. Hell, maybe even two days. This is assuming the broadband is installed on day one...
      • Re:No Fair (Score:3, Informative)

        by anthonyclark (17109)
        Speaking as someone who just installed gentoo on a dual opteron*, I can tell you that it'll take a lot longer than 3 days to make the necessary code changes for kde and gnome to compile.

        That said, less than 2 hours to bootstrap and emerge system is most wonderful.

        * The dual opteron now has suse back on it, due to the opteron/clisp clusterfuck.
      • Re:No Fair (Score:3, Informative)

        by be-fan (61476)
        Um, even installing from stage1's, it never took my 2GHz P4 more than a day to compile Gentoo and KDE.
      • Re:No Fair (Score:5, Funny)

        by drivers (45076) on Tuesday September 23, 2003 @04:41PM (#7037959)
        you can have gentoo, kde, and gnome built in three days, easy. Hell, maybe even two days.

        Because as we all know, gnome wasn't built in a day.
  • by DeadSea (69598) * on Tuesday September 23, 2003 @02:18PM (#7036374) Homepage Journal
    For the Audio Visual setup:
    1. Get them down to one remote - Nice receiver, learning remote - properly programmed, buttons all labeled
    2. DVR - TiVo or Replay TV, its a must have. Enable the 30 second skip button on the TiVo remote.
    3. Adjust the TV properly - turn the sharpness the whole way down, go through all the test patterns and balance the colors.
    For the computer:
    1. Open source software - Install software from the Open CD [theopencd.org], Linux if they are up for it..
    2. Decruft the mouse and keyboard (although even most geeks could use this)
    3. A decent home network, add more computers as needed.
    4. A nice office chair and good ergonomics - switch them over to the dvorak keybord and make them practice.
    For the kitchen:
    1. Print out list of all pizza delivery options
    2. Stock fridge with Mt. Dew and Guinness.
    Personal grooming:
    1. Pocket Protector ;-)
    • by andyrut (300890) on Tuesday September 23, 2003 @02:22PM (#7036440) Homepage Journal
      switch them over to the dvorak keybord and make them practice.

      In three days? They'd have to have quite a bit of motivation to accomplish this - I'd suggest breaking one of the family members' hands and forcing them to learn right- or left-handed Dvorak.
      • They're supposedly technologically illiterate. I somehow doubt it'd be 'switching over' so much as 'learning to type from scratch'. Might as well give them the typing skills that will confuse the heck out of them when they sit down in front of good ol' QWERTY at any other computer. ;)
    • FORTUNE's requirements: The products needed to be practical, easy to use, fully installed, basically idiot-proof, and very, very cool. I'm sorry, but did you recommend Linux? I don't think that meets any of the above requirements for the typical home user. ;)
      • I don't think that meets any of the above requirements for the typical home user.

        Sure in the hell meets more of those requirements than Windows does. Lets see...

        1. practical - Having to call Microsoft to activate your OS is very impractical. Having to wait on a vendor to provide (on their own schedule!) patches for security holes is very impractical
        2. easy to use - Since this is subjective, I think it's safe to say that ALL OS'S ARE EASY TO USE.
        3. fully installed, - Debian GNU/Linux has 10 (count 'em) insta
    • About the one remote... it's handy, but sometimes turning stuff on is like playing a damned instrument. I have a 8 way programmable RCA job (low end, maybe $60), and to watch a DVD I have to push.

      1.TV mode
      2. TV power
      3. DVD mode
      4. DVD power
      5. Tuner mode
      6. Tuner power
      7. Tuner, select DVD input
      8. DVD play
      9. Tuner, adjust volume as needed

      That said, I still keep my DVD remote handy, as it has a buncha speeds of ffW/rew that I never programmed.

      One really cool thing my remote has is macros. I hit one button and
    • by Schwartzboy (653985) on Tuesday September 23, 2003 @02:36PM (#7036595)
      For some reason, I'm reminded of "Query Eye for the Database Guy" (anyone read Foxtrot? Bueller? Bueller?). Remember, a null pointer doesn't have to be a dull pointer!
      But really....
      "and stacks random CDs behind the TV and on top of the dryer."? *shudder*
      Pearls before swine, says I.
      • by OECD (639690) on Tuesday September 23, 2003 @05:22PM (#7038397) Journal
        Geek Eye for the Average Guy? It seems like we need a term for the opposite of geek (I'm not ready to concede 'average guy', though you could make an argument there.) Preferably, it'd be a single syllable word, like "gay" or "straight" or even "geek".

        I'm going to suggest "mug". It seems to have gone unused since the 40's--"Hey, you mug!"--so we might as well dust it off. Plus, it suggests "Muggles".

    • by jd (1658) <<moc.oohay> <ta> <kapimi>> on Tuesday September 23, 2003 @03:03PM (#7036888) Homepage Journal
      Look, if I decrufted the keyboards and mice I've
      used over time, they'd need to open up a new
      landfill site.


      The other thing you've got to teach them is that
      if you pour coffee down the keyboard, it runs down
      the wires and into the network, attracting spam.

  • by teamhasnoi (554944) * <teamhasnoi AT yahoo DOT com> on Tuesday September 23, 2003 @02:18PM (#7036376) Homepage Journal

    I enjoyed your article immensely, especially when the Geek starts calling everyone 'bitch'. However, I can't quite get the gist of it.

    Please repeat your experiment of 4 guys installing 15,000 dollars of equipment at my house, so that I may understand *exactly* the trials of learning to use technology.

    Many Thanks,
    Teamhasnoi

  • by blchrist (695764) on Tuesday September 23, 2003 @02:19PM (#7036391)
    It should be the other way around. A group of average people can tell a geek how to shower. They can teach him that long greasy hair in a ponytail is not a fashion statement. They could even take him shopping to buy clothes that aren't just t-shirts with nerdy slogans or anime characters on them.
  • by Gefiltefish11 (611646) on Tuesday September 23, 2003 @02:20PM (#7036397)

    "Ok, the first thing you need on your PC is Linux. And forget a GUI, you need to do everything in text. Windowed interfaces are so not cool. Once you're set up with this, we'll go to the de-tanning booth to get your skin a nice white pasty color..."

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 23, 2003 @02:20PM (#7036398)
    "But why is my homepage www.slashdot.org? What is this site? What's it good for? Are there games? Oh wait, I see the games section!"
  • by Neuracnu Coyote (11764) on Tuesday September 23, 2003 @02:20PM (#7036403) Homepage Journal
    ...the last few paragraphs of the forthcoming Fortune article are dedicated to the team of geeks sitting around a monitor on the other side of town, packet-sniffing the new network for leaks and shreeking at what horrible things the new users are doing to the whole system.
    • No kidding. Not only that, but ever tried to suggest to a non-technical person that they get something high-tech? I made that mistake. I told my grandfather to get my grandmother a TiVo. All I can say is: let me just die in peace. Giving an "average" person all the high tech toys is not always the best thing to do, they can't understand them usually it seems! I suppose if I were a paid technical consultant it might not be quite as bad, but when it comes to recommending new technology to non tech people, I r
  • cool! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by dustmote (572761)
    Where do I sign up to (pretend to be) technically illiterate, so I can get this kind of electronics budget? The sad thing is that these days I probably wouldn't be pretending, I've been so broke lately. I have no idea what is cutting edge on anything.
  • by MurrayTodd (92102) on Tuesday September 23, 2003 @02:20PM (#7036408) Homepage
    The $15K money would be a nice change, but I'm always spending my free time setting up WiFi home networks, etc.

    The same problem would exist for both the "Geek Eye" and it's original "Queer Eye"... given a few months without supervision and the recipient will revert back into low-tech chaos. Maintenance is much harder than configuration.
    • by Lawbeefaroni (246892) on Tuesday September 23, 2003 @02:32PM (#7036541) Homepage
      It's a lot easier to revert back to old jeans and picking your nose than it is to ignore a 42" plasma screen and a 7.1 surround system.

      Maybe they'll go back to doing grocery lists on paper instead of Grocer XP 2.0 but they won't give up Tivo.

  • by Rick the Red (307103) <Rick.The.Red@nospAM.gmail.com> on Tuesday September 23, 2003 @02:22PM (#7036425) Journal
    No wonder the project failed. Where was the Requirements Document? The simple statement: "bring a family of four up to date with technology" is not a proper requirement. Did they want to make home movies? Send email to Grandma? Walk in the house and have the lights turn on automatically? What were they trying to do with that $15k?
    • Ahem. From page 1 of the article...

      Heistad grilled them on their tech needs--really, all they wanted to do was send digital pictures of the kids to Grandma.

      Short, succinct...ah, if only all requirements documents were so sweet.
    • by Wakkow (52585) * on Tuesday September 23, 2003 @02:33PM (#7036559) Homepage
      Here's the requirements from the article:

      "really, all they wanted to do was send digital pictures of the kids to Grandma."

      Of course, it continues on with:

      "Heistad came back with a shopping list that would get them that, plus a home theater, a wireless network, new computing, a tricked-out music system, and GPS positioning capabilities"

      HA! You think a group of geeks would only buy a camera and maybe a new PC? HA! GPS is definitely needed to send photos to grandma.
      • GPS? (Score:5, Funny)

        by donutz (195717) on Tuesday September 23, 2003 @02:56PM (#7036817) Homepage Journal
        HA! You think a group of geeks would only buy a camera and maybe a new PC? HA! GPS is definitely needed to send photos to grandma.

        GPS: Know your exact location in your own home!

        Without GPS:
        Wife: "Kids, dinnertime!"
        (no answer)
        Husband: "Maybe they're in the toy room, dear!"

        With GPS:
        Wife: "Kids, dinnertime!"
        (no answer)
        Husband: "Kids are at 33 56' 52" N, 118 8' 5" W, dear!"
      • Re:Requirements? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by msgmonkey (599753) on Tuesday September 23, 2003 @02:57PM (#7036832)
        Yeah, that's half of the problem, most geeks spend more time tinkering with and configuring their machines than actually using them.
      • GPS is definitely needed to send photos to grandma.

        Well, what if you can't find Grandma?
      • Re:Requirements? (Score:3, Interesting)

        by karlandtanya (601084)
        "really, all they wanted to do was send digital pictures of the kids to Grandma."

        $15K? No Problem!

        Hello, B&H? I'd like:

        D2H

        WT1-A

        +5 Diopter eyepiece corrector

        SB800

        SB29

        20mm f/2.8D

        50mm f/1.4D

        105mm f/2.8D Micro

        80-400mm f/4.5-5.6D ED VR AF

        Oh, yeah--Some POS computer with USB & a dialup modem.

        THERE Now you can send her some pictures!

        /wiping drool off of keyboard

  • Never had anything delivered in less than 3 days, and I don't shop at circuit city for computers (perhaps DVD players, TV, etc)
  • by avandesande (143899) on Tuesday September 23, 2003 @02:22PM (#7036432) Journal
    I was pretty proud of myself, i set the clock on my vcr. Too bad a blown lightbulb tripped the circuit breaker. Now its flashing 12:00 again.
  • Hmm. (Score:5, Funny)

    by grub (11606) <slashdot@grub.net> on Tuesday September 23, 2003 @02:23PM (#7036444) Homepage Journal

    Does the $15,000 include the $699 for SCO?
  • Most people can avoid issues with compatibility and getting things working if they buy their equipment from one vendor. As long as you're not trying to buy the best of everything you can do this very effectively.

    Also, most people have never considered this, but don't care about connecitivty at home [usabilitynews.com].

    Is it a education problem or is it that things haven't reached critical mass?
  • A waste of $15,000 (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rjstanford (69735) on Tuesday September 23, 2003 @02:26PM (#7036467) Homepage Journal
    From the article, "really, all they wanted to do was send digital pictures of the kids to Grandma. Heistad came back with a shopping list that would get them that, plus a home theater, a wireless network, new computing, a tricked-out music system, and GPS positioning capabilities."

    Pathetic. How about a 6 month followup (honestly reported)? After all, what are the odds that most of this equipment will just be gathering dust by then?

    Alright, probably not the Tivo... but still...
    • by King_TJ (85913)
      Well, yeah - but does it *ever* really work out well when you send a group of people into someone's house (on a tight schedule, no less), and start making buying decisions for them?

      This was money spent for the sake of writing a story... not for the sake of ensuring the family's goals are achieved.

      It's no different than the shows where they remodel your house for you. People following up on it later find that at least 50% of the time, the homeowners undo all the remodeling work shortly after they're done
  • $15,000 (Score:3, Funny)

    by BlackBolt (595616) on Tuesday September 23, 2003 @02:27PM (#7036484) Homepage Journal
    $15,000 = ONE REALLY FAST POWERMAC G5.

    Buy it and you're done. Everything else is uncivilized.
  • by Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) on Tuesday September 23, 2003 @02:27PM (#7036488)
    What happens when even the geeks can't get it work?

    Blame it on Windows : it always works with budget overruns as well as questions about technical problems. Tell the family you told them about Linux but they wouldn't hear. Make sure you use a patronizing tone.
  • Simple! (Score:5, Funny)

    by AndroidCat (229562) on Tuesday September 23, 2003 @02:28PM (#7036499) Homepage
    If the avarage family doesn't anything about the stuff or how to install it, they won't miss it if they don't have it.

    1. Install cardboard box with "Really Neat Box!" written on it.
    2. Pocket $15,000.
    3. ???
    4. Profit!

    (I think ??? involves running away very fast, but doesn't it always?)

  • Typical problems (Score:5, Insightful)

    by moehoward (668736) on Tuesday September 23, 2003 @02:28PM (#7036501)
    The main problems here are compatability and demand. First, demand... The people don't need it. So, they won't use it. That's easy. The people in this article were all wrong for this stuff. They will NEVER use 20% of it.

    Second, compatability. We all know and it is obvious to most people that this stuff all becomes 10 times cooler when it works with other stuff. When I buy a new X, it would be totally awesome if it will integrate with my Q, R, S, and V. Well, open standards certainly won't make much money for the manufacturers, so they don't work very well together. Heck, even all my Sony stuff has problems playing nice together. And especially the really cool features will never integrate.

    Last, but not least, they kids are gonna ruin it all anyway. So to hell with it. Read a book. Take the $15,000 and put it in the kids' college funds.
  • by waxmop (195319) <waxmop@@@overlook...homelinux...net> on Tuesday September 23, 2003 @02:28PM (#7036505)

    Now that being geeky is seen a cool trait, marketers are now buslily redefining the label to describe people that spend lots of money on high-fashion electronics.

    Why are we letting this happen? Which is more impressive: owning a lot of expensive hardware, or turning outdated junk into useful tools?

  • It's a sham (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Eponymous Cowboy (706996) on Tuesday September 23, 2003 @02:28PM (#7036509)
    From the article [fortune.com]:
    On the way out they pick up a MAG Innovision 17-inch CRT monitor for a hundred bucks, hop in the Chevy Malibu rental, and floor it back to the Burkes'.
    I, too, had a 17" MAG CRT monitor--in 1990. These so called "geeks" should be able to do a heck of a lot better than a 17" CRT if their goal is to bring the family "up to date." I lost all faith in them after reading that. As far as I can tell, they did nothing more than buy whatever was on page two of the Best Buy circular that week.

    The idea as a whole is intriguing, but with posers instead of real geeks, it's pretty pointless.
    • Remember, they only had $15000 to spend... That Plasma TV probably ate up about ten grand of the budget.

  • So i'm behind the times and they'll come in and replace all my old 386 class and 2x CDR crap with SOTA gear??

    Yes, that will work. Fab 3, please email me, I'm stuck in 386 hell...

    Please hurry!
  • by barryfandango (627554) on Tuesday September 23, 2003 @02:35PM (#7036578)
    [Geek] Okay, now you're running Linux! Your computer will run faster and be more stable. Also it's politically and morally superior, and the software is all free!

    [AverageGuy] Awesome, thanks! So what games are on here?

    [Geek] I have to go now.
  • Ha! (Score:5, Informative)

    by Lumpy (12016) on Tuesday September 23, 2003 @02:36PM (#7036592) Homepage
    Most Geeks dont know what DVD player to buy.

    Pioneer Elete series? Or do we go for the Carver Studio series? or do we go for even better? or are we happy with the sub $400.00 junk at best buy?

    Most of the decisions are made based on preference as is you went for the "best" based on research and actual reviews $15,000.00 is not anywhere near enough money.

    I can spend $15,000.00 on the PC,home netowrking and home server alone.

    for the average Joe, the best DVD player to buy is the $59.00 APEX cheapie.. they will be happy with the picture on their 29 inch tv. and it's the one I reccomend to all my relatives as it's dirt cheap / throw away type appliance if the kids break it. plus it does a better job than the playstation2 or Xbox.

    unless you have a HD tv or projector that can handle the progressive output buying a "good" player is a waste of money.. and most "geeks" wont admit that buying the cheapest is the best for the average joe.

    • I call BS (Score:5, Informative)

      by Obiwan Kenobi (32807) * <(evan) (at) (misterorange.com)> on Tuesday September 23, 2003 @03:24PM (#7037138) Homepage
      No, the cheapest is not best for the average joe.

      The best for the average joe is the most reliable, and the best bang for the buck.

      Did they need progressive scan? Well, if you're going to blow $4k on a TV, get the people the equipment to carry the best signal and hook em up with a nice sound system as well.

      When someone who doesn't know anything about DVD asks me what to buy, I tell em Sony. Sony's aren't the cheapest, but they make a nice $100 or so model and those stand up over time.

      I had a Toshiba that burnt out in a year. I know three different people who bought those $69 Apex pieces of shit and the best one lasted six months.

      You get what you pay for, and suggesting Apex to your friends or family will just make sure they don't ask you for your advice ever again...
  • Imposters!!!!!! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Kruid (646582) on Tuesday September 23, 2003 @02:37PM (#7036603)
    "Day Two The now fully assembled geek team pulls up to the Burkes' house at 9 a.m. " No real geek, given $15K to play with for 3 days, is going home/hotel to sleep!! Who are they trying to kid??? -k
  • by justMichael (606509) on Tuesday September 23, 2003 @02:37PM (#7036611) Homepage
    You read the end of the article as

    They pause. Ross fingers his goatse...

    instead of

    They pause. Ross fingers his goatee...

    Damn you /.
  • why it doesn't work (Score:4, Interesting)

    by spoonyfork (23307) <spoonyfork@gmailRASP.com minus berry> on Tuesday September 23, 2003 @02:37PM (#7036612) Journal

    Heistad grilled them on their tech needs--really, all they wanted to do was send digital pictures of the kids to Grandma. Heistad came back with a shopping list that would get them that, plus a home theater, a wireless network, new computing, a tricked-out music system, and GPS positioning capabilities.

    Not only did the family not want the technology but had what they didn't want "forced" on them. This is the problem with mass consumerism of entertainment technology. You don't need it. It isn't even cool if you think about it.

    • Crappy pop music doesn't sound any better on outrageously huge speakers and expensive audio system.
    • The TV show "Friends" certainly isn't any funnier on a 90" plasma HDTV.
    • GPS is only helpful if you don't know where you and you know where you want to go. Besides, who needs to know the lat/lon of the dry cleaners?
    • Computer and console games like Grand Theft Auto X, Everquest, Star Wars Galaxies, and Sims still suck and disconnect you from society whether on a slow computer or fast one.
    The parents should do their kids a favor and sell all that crap. Keep a decent notebook and digital camera around for the pictures to grandma and email. Buy the kids some books, take them to the parks, get them involved in their community.

    All of that useless tech is going to kill your culture.

    • by Bugmaster (227959) on Tuesday September 23, 2003 @03:14PM (#7037037) Homepage
      Technology is like a knife. It's not inherently good or bad; it all depends on how you wield it.
      • Trance sounds better on an expensive audio system
      • Anime and The Matrix sure look better on a 90" plasma HDTV
      • GPS is very helpful if you're planning to go to that hacker convention three cities away
      • Computer and console games like Tetris will bring you hours of joy
      See what I mean ? I just rearranged your list a bit, and now it sounds a lot better, doesn't it ? So what's the conclusion: only geeks deserve the latest tech gadgets ?

      No. The conclusion is that you shouldn't be so arrogant as to assume that you're the final arbiter of what kind of toys other people deserve. If I want to watch Friends and listen to Celine Dion, you bet your ass I want to be able to enjoy it full-size, full-color, with high dynamic range. It's not your place to stop me.

  • by teamhasnoi (554944) * <teamhasnoi AT yahoo DOT com> on Tuesday September 23, 2003 @02:42PM (#7036666) Homepage Journal
    "Helloooo...1997 called, they want their Moo Cow Gateway back!"

    "You call this a wireless mouse? More like a wireless HOUSE!"

    "Hmm. I like what you've done with this cabling - it's very Feng-Schwing!"

    "I hope you're going for a grainy, 'Kiss me Deadly' sort of thing with this greyscale monitor!"

    "Nice X-Box! Can we move in? And the controllers...I haven't seen anything that big since we did Kevin Mitnik..ss house... ahem.."

  • by Infonaut (96956) <infonaut@gmail.com> on Tuesday September 23, 2003 @02:42PM (#7036668) Homepage Journal
    Do it as fast as possible.

    Throw money at the problem.

    Don't think long term. Remain fixated on the short-term.

    I've taught basic Internet and computer skills classes to a wide variety of people, all over the US. In doing so I've found that the only way to really make something stick is to actually sit them in front of the computer and have them learn by doing. The "three geeks and $15k" method is like a Microsoft Windows wizard. It may help you with the problem at hand, but it's not revealing anything about the hows and whys behind the problem.

    In short, the end user isn't learning. They're still beholden to the geeks, because as soon as the carefully orchestrated setup hits a snafu, Abbie Normal won't know how to fix that problem.

    Immersive, hands-on teaching works. It takes time and patience. Unfortunately neither are in ample supply these days, so everyone keeps on looking for silver bullet "solutions". This attitude is everywhere, even in large corporations, where managers want the latest shiny packaged product, because they actually believe that they can get results without having to learn anything first.

    The computer industry is a victim of its own hype. Or rather, society is a victim of the industry hype. If we actually acknowledged the value of learning, we might collectively be able to harness the power of computers instead of spending huge chunks of time dealing with trivial annoyances.

  • by JSkills (69686) <jskills@goofb a l l . com> on Tuesday September 23, 2003 @02:43PM (#7036683) Homepage Journal
    I'd end up being one of the geeks of course - and that has some inherent problems. I've ended up performing a service like this for many of my family and friends (helping to choose and set up computers, stereos, and home theatre systems, etc.) The problem is the fact that you now become the defacto tech support person for a group of people you basically like (friends and family). But being a tech support person makes you dread the ring of the phone and basically not want to talk to any of them any more.

    Hopefully, the geek-eye guys have unlisted phone numbers ...

  • Utter failure. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sahala (105682) * <sahala&gmail,com> on Tuesday September 23, 2003 @02:44PM (#7036696)
    The 3 geeks were setting up stuff that they themselves would enjoy. They didn't focus on what the family really desired, nor did any analysis of any real goals. That's not to say that other "improvement" shows do any better...most of them overlook this obvious, but important, step in the process.

    Ahh...and the remotes. This is the kind of stuff that has ALWAYS needed a lot of work. Check out this Cooper article [cooper.com] on an elegant solution.

  • by irving47 (73147) on Tuesday September 23, 2003 @02:45PM (#7036714) Homepage
    MONSTER DATA CENTER!

  • $15k wasted (Score:5, Funny)

    by r_j_prahad (309298) <r_j_prahad AT hotmail DOT com> on Tuesday September 23, 2003 @03:06PM (#7036929)
    These turds blew $15,000 on gizmos and gadgets for a family that only wanted to send pix of the kids to Granny? Talk about scope creep....
  • Easy. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by sfgoth (102423) on Tuesday September 23, 2003 @03:06PM (#7036932) Homepage Journal
    What happens when even the geeks can't get it work?

    You know they didn't buy a Mac, that's what.

    Seriously, get 'em DSL, an AirPort base station, iBooks and iSight for each family member, and now they have high speed wireless internet with videoconferencing.

    Pile on a TiVo, any DVD player, and a $1000 30"+ CRT TV, and a decent sound system.

    Total cost: way under $15k.

    The key is, don't buy the best of everything, buy the stuff that's proven to work.
    • by SuperKendall (25149) * on Tuesday September 23, 2003 @03:42PM (#7037360)
      They did buy a Powerbook and Airport base station - which they designated for use in reading email!! Then they bought a $699 Best Buy PC to handle the tasks of camera mounting and digital video editing. Madness!!

      They should have gone one way or the other (I'd have gone Mac myself), but introducing a mixed system to non-tech people is not a good plan. They basically demonstrated no degree of ability to interconnect systems, where all the REALLY cool features you could have nowadays come from.

      The interesting thing to me is that these guys, being geeks, must read /. - where is the post from them outlining more detail?
    • Re:Easy. (Score:3, Funny)

      by orpheus2000 (166384)
      Fucktard, RTFA. That's what they *did*!

      They got DSL, Powerbook G4, Airport Extreme, 2 TiVo's, plasma tv, and yes a killer sound system (among many other things).

      They failed in their execution only with the remotes. That's the "it" in your quoted text.
  • by Psmylie (169236) on Tuesday September 23, 2003 @03:06PM (#7036934) Homepage
    Who wants to lay bets as to when they first get robbed?
    Did they get them some high-tech security?
  • the geeks (Score:5, Funny)

    by corian (34925) on Tuesday September 23, 2003 @03:10PM (#7036986)
    What happens when even the geeks can't get it work?


    If that happens, they send someone out to buy them a preposition.

  • by Elvisisdead (450946) on Tuesday September 23, 2003 @03:21PM (#7037106) Homepage Journal
    It's me at my parent's house.
  • Stupid. (Score:3, Funny)

    by Gannoc (210256) on Tuesday September 23, 2003 @03:25PM (#7037161)

    So for a family of complete techo-illiterates, they bought a PC _and_ a Mac. That way they'll never figure out how to use anything. Bravo.

  • misreading (Score:3, Interesting)

    by EZmagz (538905) on Tuesday September 23, 2003 @03:34PM (#7037266) Homepage
    Some folks are misreading what's really going on here. Of course it's a 3-day bootcamp to throw $15K worth of high-tech gear at this family. The whole setup is modeled after Queer Eye For A Straight Guy, and as anyone who has watched that show can tell you, it's not about long-term retention with the new goodies that they person at hand received. Hell, it's a GIVEN that this family won't know what the hell to do once they have a power outage and their stereo resets to the default settings. Or when the 4 year-old decided to piss on their WAP. Or when Verizon cuts off their DSL because they're about to get a supoena from the RIAA for sharing all their mp3s stored on their new music server. That's not the point.

    The point is that these guys were SUPPOSED to go overboard. Hell, on Queer Eye the only thing really wrong with the guys are that they're messy and slobish. All they really need is a maid to swipe through and vacuum their apartment and do the dishes. Is that where the show stops? Of course not, where's the fun in that? It's more entertaining to see a guy's guy get totally redone by a bunch of flamboyant fashion kings/queens going the whole nine. New pimpish wardrobe, new interior decoration, a preplanned meal that rivals most 5-star restraunts', etc.

    Sorry for the rant. It just seems that a lot of people read too deeply into the whole purpose of this "experiment". Have fun, enjoy. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm gonna go find the family's address so I can sniff their wireless traffic and blackmail 'em for that plasma tv.

  • by taernim (557097) * on Tuesday September 23, 2003 @03:42PM (#7037359) Homepage
    Queer Eye doesn't just fix their problems and say "Here is what you need to wear to not look like a slob. By the way, your hair sucks" ... they actually take the guy and say "Hey, this would look good on you, this would look good in your house... and here is how to do it from now on." They give tips, pointers, and no-no's.

    Geek Eye just said "Here's a bunch of technology, which you have no idea why you need it and not something else... now use it." There was nothing beyond the How To UseExpensive Technology for Dummies crash course that they were given.

    If you want people to actually grow and learn, you need to explain why. Honestly, technology is a more difficult beast to master than fashion... although looking at many /. readers, I'm sure that may be relative. ;-)

    *prepares for mod down*
  • by dmayle (200765) on Tuesday September 23, 2003 @03:53PM (#7037491) Homepage Journal

    "The PC sports a 2.08GHz XP processor"

    XP processor, what's that? Is that what I use to run Windows 97 for my Outlook Explorer?

  • As a geek who has set up AV and computer systems for 'average' family members, I've found that getting the thing working is by far the easy part.

    It's when you say goodbye and leave the house that the problems start happining. Computer drivers become muddled. Wifi networks magically stop connecting. Stereo settings become off.

    And you end up dreding answering your phone because you're going to have to do tech support.

    To the average person, keeping a hi tech setup in good working order is difficult. (My stereo doesn't work. After hours of troubleshooting over the phone, you discover it's because they hit the 'a' speaker button while cleaning the recevier).

    Keeping a computer system in top condition is even harder. "Of course I clicked on that attachment. It said it was from microsoft and it would clean the virus out of my computer".

  • Geeks? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ninjaz (1202) on Tuesday September 23, 2003 @07:42PM (#7039407)
    The qualifications of these "geeks" seems questionable. It sounds more like they had typical executives from technology companies (an IT executive at Time Inc., A former CTO, and an audio store owner) calling shots in their standard fashion:

    1. Buy expensive things based on the brochures,
    2. Yell when the standard lack any due diligence or research left them in a jam,
    3. Demand a bonus for staying on the sinking ship! / Get the geeks to come up with a workable interim kludge. -- omitted

    However, in this case, they didn't have actual geeks to pick up any slack. And, they also were forced to omit their core competency of writing memos "We are excited to announce the strategic alliance with $VENDOR! We will be rolling out $BROKEN_PRODUCT beginning next month!"

To avoid criticism, do nothing, say nothing, be nothing. -- Elbert Hubbard

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