This is why we can’t have nice things

this is why 131824620529

You can almost hear your mother’s voice, can’t you?

This… is an Internet meme (recurring inside jokes shared by Internet users). This particular catphrase is slapped onto myriad funny pictures and even used as a response to dumb comments posted online. And today… we’ll talk about why the IT industry stumbles all over itself.

Whenever I say to myself, “Gee, self, maybe you’re being a bit HARD on yourself and your competitors. Maybe the IT world isn’t as bad as you think it is. Maybe there ARE guys who know a little something,” I then recall some of the disasters I’ve had to clean up, and the mind-blowing ignorance with which they were made.

I see examples on a daily basis. Today, for instance, I called Time Warner to raise the Internet speed for a customer. The agent stated that if I increased or decreased the speed, then the customer would lose the ability to write e-mails. (Did your head just explode? Mine did.)

How do people find you?

Well, unlike your average business that advertises, everything we do here at Teknosophy is word-of-mouth. It’s hard to have your name and number on a billboard; people don’t really know if they can trust you. So, people usually call us based on a recommendation… oftentimes after someone just finished destroying their computer.

Where are we going with this?

Okay, I’m going to try to be nice and clear here. Scammers make malicious software programs. Their goal is to infect as many computers as possible with these programs. In the 1990s, these programs were called viruses, and antivirus companies kept detailed lists of the new threats that emerged (called virus definitions).

When a customer suspected they had a virus, they called in a computer professional, who would then perform a virus scan using the latest definitions. On their way home, they might pass by a milkman or blacksmith.

Nowadays, viruses are old news. Nowadays, unstoppable viruses, fake cleaners, and technicians with outdated training are the new threats.

Even my arch-rivals over at Symantec acknowledge in this Fortune article that problems have moved beyond viruses now. Scammers are no longer creating viruses. Sometimes they create trojans (as you’d expect, these are programs that trick your computer into thinking they’re gifts), and email worms (viruses that Microsoft Outlook loves spreading from person to person). They’re also creating toolbars and even corporate spyware.

Sure, by skirting around the details (technically you accepted McAfee’s nag-ware when you installed the latest Adobe attack), many of these guys have become perfectly legal, but they’re awfully evil.

I’ve seen it all. PC Doctor, Registry Cleaner, Registry Scanner, DriverGuide, MySearchDial, WhiteSmoke Toolbar… basically all malware/scams, except they’re perfectly legal because they aren’t called malware. These scumbags have offices and secretaries and lawyers and accountants and even presumably water coolers… but their products prey on customers, insert themselves unbeknownst to customers, spy on them, slow down their machines, and are hard to remove… yep, pretty much the definition of malware. (One of my favorite examples is IAC Search & Media, creators of the MyWebSearch virus, er, ahem, program. Some of these guys hijack your homepage and searches, while others claim to clean and protect your system. All of them damage your computer.

Evil Indian Scams

Indian-style scams are a vile plague this decade. They are evil incarnate. Basically, the consumer goes on google and types in “Outlook Tech Support”, “AOL Tech Support”, or some such thing, and Indian scammers advertise their phone numbers, claiming to be whatever company you needed. (They’ve also been calling consumers around the country claiming they’re Microsoft!) Then, they access your computer remotely, run a FAKE virus scan, destroy your computer, and charge you around $400.

Lest ye say I have a thing against Indians, there are two Indian gentlemen on my advisory team who are brilliant. The folks who call and scam people have zero computer knowledge, zero training, and are under the impression that they’re helping people. They know not what they do.

Herein lies the problem: As I’ve said on my talk show many many times: Most of the residential IT support professionals we trust have no clue what they’re doing. No, I’m not an arrogant guy in real life, but I am one at work. If you worked in my office for one week you’d see the messes I have to clean up.

Why don’t you invent some sort of program or service?

Two reasons. First off, I don’t want to fall into the bucket of those other guys on the radio claiming to clean your PC for $50. They’re basically vaporware – you pay them money for them to perform various ineffective token buzzword services to your machine. Second, I want to form a team of personable, knowledgeable, responsible people who perform exceptional, premium, white-glove, no-nonsense, no-joker computer services. I don’t want to work alongside scammers.

The Solution

The reason why Cloud Computing is so popular lately is unfortunately because it is so centralized. You pick a platform, (Apple, Google, hopefully not Microsoft) and THEY DO EVERYTHING FOR YOU. Your account, your programs, and all your devices depend entirely on a central server. For those customers on Earth who don’t have access to a high-end technician, this is much better than being at the mercy of a mom-and-pop computer shack’s useless virus scan.

THE WHOLE GOAL HERE is to eliminate scammers selling fake cleanup programs, to eliminate security risks, and hopefully, that customers realize any maintenance tasks are utterly useless.

Enter the concept of a centralized app repository. Popular examples of such are the Apple App Store and Google Play Store. Customers are able to purchase music, movies, and computer programs instantly for these devices. Ironically, the Microsoft App Store was so DESPERATE for developers and customers to join its ecosystem, they allowed ANYBODY to create ANY kind of app, without regulating it. The result: Most apps on the Microsoft App Store are scams.

Unfortunately, these centralized, draconian app stores are necessary to protect customers from scammers (well, at least non-Microsoft app stores!). Also unfortunately, this means you’re locked into one vendor’s platform for everything. Gone, for now, are the days when you could download anything from anyone. (Luckily, Android users can install non-app-store apps if they’re advanced users and accept the risks.)

As usual, the stupid and evil people have ruined it for everyone.

Thanks for reading, folks. More to come.


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