Dave, I Have Updates for You. Dave?



After yesterday's excitement, I decided to ensure my computer software was updated. That meant visiting MS's Windows Update site, and also - label me a team player - turning on the automatic update function in my XP security center.

This morning, Windows has been relentless in pressing me to install automatically downloaded updates which, each time, fail miserably to install.


Worse, each time they fail, I'm called over to my PC to click "ok" or "cancel" or some such "yes I am listening to you" button.



Working through the custom install system, declining the failed updates, and clicking the "don't remind me again" box does nothing. Automatic Updates cheerfully reaches elsewhere and "discovers" another dozen or so crucial updates.


The program apparently has nothing better to do than constantly download MS Office 2003 updates, and then demand my acknowledgment when they fail to install.

This, dear friends, is why I keep automatic updates Turned Off.

Anyway, I'm not just complaining for complaining's sake here.

Well, I am.

But I'm also thinking about this stuff because over on the Alphaplus blog they're highlighting a report called "The Digital Divide, Computer Use, Basic Skills and Employment" on the value of including computer or digital literacy within basic adult upgrading.
The study shows that lack of access to and low levels of use of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) combined with literacy need can have a negative effect on employability . The study suggests that literacy and basic skills provision alone does not appear to enhance employability but that programming that combines building digital skills and basic skills is more likely to lead to enhanced employment opportunities.

I'm a believer in this. Just last night I helped another learner create a Gmail account, set up a Facebook account (with proper security settings), and log into Yahoo long enough to create an avatar to use until she's more comfortable putting pictures of herself online.

Good for her, I say. Good for me. And, good for Google and Facebook and even them crazy Yahoo folks.

But what's she to do if and when she catches this MS Windows Automatic Update Virus? How are learners with lower reading levels to defend themselves against XP's self-generated spam?

Yes, I believe computer literacy is an important part of employability. Increasingly, in this province, where so many services are only available via the web, digital literacy is a life skill. But I also believe PCs are poorly designed machines that employ poorly configured software. Core programs typically stress hardware, conflict with one another and promise more than they deliver.

(Sortta brings back fond memories of Win95, doesn't it.)

If we are going to provide "programming that combines building digital skills and basic skills," we need to do so in a way that deals with the reality of poor computer performance, of web insecurities, and of the persistent gap between software promises and hard experience.

Now, if you'll excuse me, there are updates awaiting my gentle attention.

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