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How I used Scroogle to “fix” a computer

A couple of weeks ago, I was asked to have a look at a “broken computer”, or more precisely, at a Mac with a “broken Internet”. “It broke when our ISP changed the [modem-router] – by the way, the phone line got broken too in the process”. I’m not anymore a big fan of fixing other people’s computers because that tends to be repetitive (always the same mistakes, always the same shitloads of junkware, and you can be sure that 2 months after you cleaned it all it will be all back as it was), but since I don’t know Macs much (more like “not at all”, in fact), I still find fixing them an interesting challenge.

So I discover a shiny Mac with apparently no central unit:
“- Mkay, where’s your central unit?
– My what?
– Well, nevermind. What’s that small thing, is this the [ISP-issued modem-router]?
– That is the computer.
– Oh” (Macs, eh…)

Then my summoner demonstrated the broken internet problem: open “Internet” (Safari + Google as start page), type a search, click any result => crash:
“- Look, Internet is broken
– Actually, it’s not Internet, it’s your browser.
– My what?
– Mkay, nervermind. I’m going to install a piece of software which should fix this.”

Then I went to getfirefox and got a weird page with no download link. After a bit of searching around, I finally find a useful message: “Your OS is too old to install Firefox 3.6”. (NB: that’s not a mistake, it was a few weeks ago, the current version of Fx was 9.0, still the website was telling me “too old for Fx 3.6”). Jeez, I didn’t know Fx had such high version requirements. Tried Chrome: same problem.

“- How old is your computer?
– I don’t know…”
(of course, why did I even ask)
I browsed around a bit, finally found the OS version: Mac OS 10.3.9. (c) Apple 19??-2004. It’s amazing how a Mac is able to _look_ recent while actually being an ancestor.
“- I guess you bought it like in 2004-2005?
– Sounds about right”

That looked like a dead-end: no way to upgrade the browser without first upgrading the system. Not sure how far that old Mac (512 MiB of RAM, if I remember well…) could even be upgraded, not to mention how much it would cost.

“- Maybe… you should get a new computer?
– What? Oh noes, it’s so recent!”
(come on, it’s 8 years old, finish it already!)
“- Okay, maybe I’ve got a workaround: I can replace Google with Scroogle.
– What?
– I can replace Google with another, plainer version. It gives the same results, but without the fancy look.
– Alright!”
(yeah, usually I don’t manage to convert people to Scroogle because “yuck, it’s ugly”, but suddenly when it can save a few hundred bucks, look doesn’t matter so much anymore)

So, I replaced Google with Scroogle SSL search French in the bookmarks and start page, explain that “yes the page – title and search button – is in English but the results will favor French pages”. I then offered my summoner to try for themselves: open “Internet” (Safari + Scroogle as start page), type a search, click any result =>
“- Google works, it’s a miracle!
– Actually, it’s not really Google, it’s Scroogle.
– It’s what?
– Nvm…”

They then tried a few other searches, and at some point went to Wikipedia:
“- Wait a minute, does it look normal to you?
– What do you mean? Yeah it works great!”
Honestly, the page was a wreck. To give you an idea, if you have the technical knowledge (if you don’t, just imagine): try loading Wikipedia without the stylesheets. No wonder eventually some AJAX-intensive site managed to crash that middle-age Safari…

Anyway, the official version is I “fixed Internet”, and as a bonus I withdrew someone from BigBrother’s reach. Half an hour well spent 🙂

Posted in funnies, privacy.

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