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Autorun: security and usability -- enabling novice users

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rab040ma
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Autorun: security and usability -- enabling novice users

I've done some searching, and as usual I've found bits and snatches on this subject, but in most other places it has been discussion of why autorun doesn't work.

What I'd like to see is a discussion of how to enable novice users to be able to launch PA comfortably on machines that don't have autorun enabled. For example, the "windows-start" key plus E opens "my computer" in explorer, a couple of clicks opens the PA drive and starts PA. That's what I'd do, but that's probably not something that newcomers would find comfortable ... or is it?

The other thing is to let people know (or help them expect) that those concerned with the security of their computers/data/lives will have disabled autorun (in group policy or other ways). This is simply because too many nasty programs like to install themselves from any CD or USB drive you insert, and make copies onto other drives. In fact, I'd like to see people more concerned for their own security after using PA for a while, or at least be better educated to the issues.

In other words I'd like to see PortableApps documentation set up so "autorun disabled" is the default expectation. If it is enabled, fine, that makes it easier, if less secure; but if it isn't, people shouldn't be caught short or have trouble figuring out how to get it working. Yes, the instructions say (almost in passing) To start up the PortableApps Menu, just double-click StartPortableApps.exe in the root of your portable drive. But I have a rather low expectation of how many people understand the verb "double-click" or the noun "root" in this context, let alone how to do those things to the little USB thing in their pocket. (You mean you have to plug it in before you do those things?) Note however that I don't necessarily have something I consider a better answer, even after walking my wife through that and similar tasks many times ... She's actually getting better, and knows enough to plug in her "cigarette lighter" (what she calls a USB flash drive) before trying to do things or calling me.

Maybe this is taken care of in the next release? If not, what thoughts do people have? I suppose that includes a suggestion that rab040ma go away and mind his own business...

Joble
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You certainly don't need to go away. I think autorun is a big PITA (pain in the ???) but as for the other points. If someone managed to download and install PAM they should know what double-click means. StartPortableApps.exe is in the folder when they open the drive, if they don't know enough to click it, well, how did they get this far?

As for root, that's a bit more obscure, but I believe the "root directory of your drive" is the "root directory of your drive" no matter what OS you're using.

The problem is Windows has been hand holding a whole new generation of computer users who never saw the need to learn "Computing" so don't know, or care to know, how it works, why it works, or how to fix it when it breaks.

Now don't get me wrong, I had to teach, and reteach my wife and be very patient, I empathize with novice users, I was one once. But if they don't take some responsibility to learn about their new toy, then it's just an expensive typewriter and not a computer at all.

Have an Awesome Day!

Lurking_Biohazard
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Very True
But if they don't take some responsibility to learn about their new toy, 
then it's just an expensive typewriter and not a computer at all.

Preaching to the choir bother, preaching to the choir!

The problem is Windows has been hand holding a whole new generation of 
computer users who never saw the need to learn "Computing" so don't know, 
or care to know, how it works, why it works, or how to fix it when it breaks.

This is the cause of so many problems. ID-TEN-T Errors & PEBKAC have become commonplace.
What a PICNIC!

BTW - AOL had a lot to do with this problem, also.

~Lurk~

rab040ma
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Well how about

But if they don't take some responsibility to learn about their new toy, then it's just an expensive typewriter and not a computer at all.

Well how about taking the philosophy that PA can help with the learning process, instead of being something only those at the other side of the learning curve can use?

The other side of it has to do with support. The easier we can make it, the fewer people will either give up because it doesn't work for them or come, and pose a question in the support forums. Support is frequently one of the biggest expenses of an enterprise like this.

MC

Joble
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On this point I agree

Do we have a wiki? If we do, I haven't seen it.
The problem is, will we stick with support for portable apps? If we try to help every novice, with every problem, we'll be more like a computer support center, Wow I just thought of something funny, we're all over the world right? We could re-route our calls to make sure a portable-apps support rep is in another country from the original caller, then we'd be more like the other support centers.

I think most of us here try to help with any question posed in the forums, or at least point the person in the right direction to get the answer they're looking for.

Maybe we could scour the forums for the most recurring questions and make a faq or wiki or add it to the support page.

I don't really understand the scope of what your asking, but I agree with the concept.

Have an Awesome Day!

rab040ma
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scope

In some respects the scope is "whatever keeps John away from answering support questions and focused on developing, and mentoring his volunteer developers". The same might go for the rest of us, I suppose.

Another aspect of scope is "whatever helps keep PA users secure".

A (relatively closed) wiki might be a good idea ... or else, doesn't drupal have an add-on for a manual or book or FAQ?

MC

Joble
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OK, where do we start?

I'm on board, but time is limited. Let's to a first page of a wiki, faq, or manual, addressing a common problem. Pick one. Then we'll submit it to John, or whoever administers this site to add it to the support page, or add a wiki or faq link. But we should have something of value to show them, so where would you like to start?

Have an Awesome Day!

consul
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start here

https://portableapps.com/node/9616 for your wiki thread. Smile

Don't be an uberPr∅. They are stinky.

Joble
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Thanks

Look how new that thread is, and so big already. I was totally unaware of it. Thanks!

Have an Awesome Day!

rab040ma
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wikipedia

https://portableapps.com/node/9616 for your wiki thread.

That thread is about wikipedia. I think what was just suggested was a way to update PA documentation and HOWTO or tutorial articles.

Or maybe Mr Patience would open up his mediawicki site for some other development too?

MC

LOGAN-Portable
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Secutiry is an important issue

Security is an important issue.

"...how many people understand the verb "double-click" or the noun "root" in this context..."
Everyone using Windows should be able to understand Double-Click. And root of the USB Flash Drive is just as expected the first thing that shows up after 'double-clicking' the appropriate 'removable disk'. The filename "StartPortableApps.exe" speaks for itself.

To be honest, I believe that anyone who can use the apps included can master starting the Portable Apps Menu, as that's the easy part. Only people who have little to none computer experience could have problems with it.

Calling the USB Flash Drive a sigarette lighter?? Maybe there's a small problem by confusing things from the get go Wink

consul
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I'd prefer it to autorun*

* when it does it! Wink Sometimes the auto run doesn't autorun for me. Smile

I think that most users who are using portableapps would know how to run it manually, especially if they are going to plug in a usb first. If they forget where the program is, they learn soon enough. Hell, I forget at times whether I have a program on my usb key or on my harddrive or if I am another computer, I may forget that it doesn't have a particular program, because my usb key plugged at my main computer.

And in regards to programs that install when you put the disk in, to me, that doesn't seem to be an issue since that's the point of an installation disk. The edumacation is to not let them just put whatever in the cd/usb, that they should know who it's from, or why you want to install it.

I can understand though, it may be that portableapps just has a threshold for use.

Don't be an uberPr∅. They are stinky.

OliverK
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I just want to say that I

I just want to say that I like to know how computers run, and that I became geek because of Portable Apps.

I'm using the geek menu, so its now of no use to me. Use OpenOffice, make a pdf, and host it someplace, like esnips or a geocities page.

For security, I just don't plug into a "risky" computer.

My next project is to make linux boot enviroments on a flash- just as soon as I get a new one Smile I'm thinking a sony microvault

Too many lonely hearts in the real world
Too many bridges you can burn
Too many tables you can't turn
Don't wanna live my life in the real world

rab040ma
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John was mentioning a QEMU

John was mentioning a QEMU environment for that the other day.

MC

OliverK
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First DSL- later Ubuntu or

First DSL- later Ubuntu or Mepis. We'll see.

I'm probably going to do a puppy flash as well. Oh well, no money, so no new games.

Too many lonely hearts in the real world
Too many bridges you can burn
Too many tables you can't turn
Don't wanna live my life in the real world

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