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Software users of the world, unite!

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I've been hearing a lot of talk lately about having Congress adopt a "Patient's Bill of Rights." After spending an interesting couple of weeks installing several operating systems and a slew of new software and hardware on my home computer, I think that while they're at it they should consider adopting a "Software Users Bill of Rights," too.

Now, mind you, I'm not what you'd call a typical computer user. Most people I know consider me an alpha geek. So when I'm going batty trying to make things work, I can only imagine the frustration and horror that faces a person new to computers. So here are my humble suggestions for some constitutionally mandated rights.

Article 1: All products sold will have a customer-support number listed clearly in the instructions. Such numbers are to be toll free and get you to a live person within 5 minutes of calling. Anyone whose music-on-hold consists of a looped 30-second promo shall be forced to spend a day trapped inside "It's a Small World" at Disneyland (this after having to listen to a promotional message from a cable Internet provider for 90 minutes about the upcoming World Championship Wrestling special, over and over and over).

Article 2: All products still on the shelves after the release of a new version of an operating system shall work with said operating system or be withdrawn from sale.

Article 3: If new software can't play nice in the same playground with the other programs, it should get a timeout in the corner, along with the numerous applications which failed to coexist on the same computer when it was installed.

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