We're approaching the end of November, which for those of us in the United States who celebrate it, means it's time for Thanksgiving. It's a holiday that typically involves some combination of family, eating, drinking and/or relaxing. Despite it being a national holiday, the tech-savvy do not get the entire day off. For many, being back home with family means being casually asked to "take a look at" a loved one's computer or perform other IT duties around the house.
Whether they explicitly ask you to do it or not, chances are your parents' Web browser could use an upgrade. The Atlantic's Alexis Madrigal put out a humorous call to action asking that you do just that, with or without the consent of your parents. Lifehacker goes so far as to show how to trick them into thinking nothing's changed.
Designers and Developers Rejoice!
So, this Friday is Update Your Parents' Browser Day. As Madrigal points out, the more up-to-date everyone's Web browsers are, the easier life will be for people who design and code websites for a living. Sure, a few hundred people upgrading their parents' browser on Friday isn't going to put a noticeable dent in the current browser marketshare break-down. Yet if enough people got into the habit of performing this task, we could perhaps see older browsers phased out a little more quickly over time.
It goes without saying that the browser in most dire need of being phased out is Internet Explorer 6, the decade-old, hard-to-kill browser that now even Microsoft wishes wants to get rid of. If somebody in your family is still running IE6, do the world a favor and upgrade them to a newer version of IE or, if you can get away with it, install Chrome or Firefox.
It'll Be Faster, Mom
If your folks (or other relatives guilty of having outdated browsers) are hesitant, one way you can sell them is with a promise of increased browsing speed. Everybody seems to think their computer runs slower than it should. Chrome has an especially solid reputation for speed among the major browsers, so it's a good candidate to install. It has a different UI from IE and Firefox, but it's pretty intuitive and shouldn't be hard for newcomers to get used to.
Improve Security (and Reduce Those Year-Round IT Phone Calls)
One of the most compelling reasons for keeping any software up-to-date is of course security. This is especially true of browsers. If family members are running anything other than the latest stable release of a browser, update it. Again, if they'll let you, switch them to a browser with a better track record for security, such as Chrome. Just remember to carry over their bookmarks and browser settings.
The more you can keep malware and security threats at bay, the lighter your load will likely be the next time you come around and are asked to play Family IT Director.