Doing tech support on Dad’s computer

My parents live in North Carolina, about twelve hours away; my wife and I visit them at Thanksgiving most years.

My dad is scared to death of his computer. He uses it for email, web browsing, and some simple games, but I think he’s convinced that, if he makes one wrong move, it will burn the house down, send Western civilization back to the dark ages, and make broccoli fattening, and it will be all his fault.

He couldn’t open some attachments that he was getting. It turns out that most of these were .pdf’s, and I was able to install the Adobe Acrobat Reader.

One of the attachments was a .pps file, which (it turns out) is a PowerPoint presentation. Microsoft offers a free PowerPoint Viewer, which we installed… but the built-in Windows Mail program won’t default to opening the attachment in the Viewer, even though the associations are set correctly in Control Panel.

So I tried to install OpenOffice.Org, but the install stopped while opening the first .cab file. I think that’s because his security settings are so high that his anti-malware program (don’t remember which) stopped the install.

Rather than trying reducing the security settings (an idea which struck fear in his heart), he’s decided to save the attached file, and open it in the viewer program manually (which may, in fact, be less secure). And since I’m not there to clean up a mess he gets into (and believe me, telephone support with him is tough – e.g., he doesn’t always see menu options, even when I tell him where to look), I can’t persuade him to loosen things up.

It’s frustrating. I think I’m gonna give up trying to do anything except the most basic service for him.

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