Thursday, 9 August 2007

Where was I? *

Not on holiday, that’s for sure. I don't do holidays.

No, I was still struggling with the new PC, and all that entails. Those things are supposed to make our lives easier and save us time. Yeah, right!

And that’s when the user is not a novice and knows her software from her underwear.

Even when everything is as it should be, i.e. when the computer purrs nicely and accepts new programs without spitting them out, you’re still at the mercy of those frauds, those people who get jobs with Virgin, or Symantec (don’t start me on those crooks), and call themselves helplines. If I had made a note of the name of that woman at Virgin who told me beforehand that, no, they didn’t have a specific broadband installation download for Vista and I could use the Windows XP one, I could have made a voodoo doll, named it and stuck pins into it. OK, the connection is working, but only because I had installed broadband on two other computers already and knew what I was doing. Since they charge something like £1.50 per minute and usually spend the first 20 minutes asking for your life story, you can imagine how much the poor people who don’t have a clue have to fork out.

And then there are the peripherals that are in perfectly good working order but that won’t work with newer computers because Microsoft or Apple have decided to produce a new OS (are you following all this jargon?) and the manufacturers of those peripherals haven’t bothered to make patches for them (still with me?), so said peripherals can’t work with above-mentioned computers (phew!). My lovely flatbed scanner – so flat, so bed – should be working with this beautiful PC (coochycooch). I need it for the OCR function (there she goes again with the jargon!) because it’s easier to translate stuff when it’s on the screen in front of you than to have it propped up on the side of the monitor. Much. Anyway, I cannot throw away a machine that is not broken. I just can’t. And is it possible to buy a cheap flatbed scanner these days? ’course not. At some point you could get one for, like, £20, now everyone’s buying those 3-in-1s and they’re no good if you need to scan a book. Luckily, my partner still has an older Mac and we’ve managed to make the scanner work on it. Hooray! That’s one in the eye for Bill Gates, Vista et al.

Now if only I could make my old speakers work on the HP (Hewlett-Packard to you). Why do some new computers come without speakers? They keep telling you about what sounds you can have to alert you when you fall asleep at the keyboard or when you need a pee, and there are NO speakers!

So, as you can see, the saga isn’t over: more potentially stubborn programs and devices to install...

While I’m on the subject of waste: we’re all doing our bit to save the planet. We sort out our rubbish; we don’t leave our machines on standby (well, not all of them); we reuse plastic bags, and then we buy cook-chill stuff (I don’t, but some people not a million miles away from me do) in Tesco or M&S, and we’re asked to cook a minute portion of dog food for 25 minutes in a hot oven. Twenty-five minutes for a few mouthfuls. You can cook a meal from scratch in 25 minutes!


* I know I’ve already used that heading for another post. So what?


  1. ooooh, technology makes you cranky! sounds like you won the big battles, though. *mwah* xoxo

  2. grr. My printer stopped working when I downloaded service pack 2 for xp and I had to pay someone to remove the download. Now I get messages every day from Microsoft telling me to redownload, but I can't without replacing my printer.

  3. Cranky? Cranky! Absolutely nuts! All that effort just to try to get back to square one!
    *calm, calm* xoxo

    GSE, so far, my printer is the one device that I've been able to install without a hitch: it worked just like that (didn't even have to use the driver CD), which was amazing, considering printers are usually the most pestiferous of peripherals.

    I never downloaded Service Pack 2: I'd read so many horrors stories about it. I gather Vista is supposed to be more secure (it does ask you constantly whether you really want to install this or that, which I found annoying until I realized it meant you'd be alerted if some hacker had taken over your PC and was trying to make amendments to it) and generally less of a pain. So far I like it (once I managed to figure out where it hid things).

  4. Give me a Mac any day, despite all the things you can't get.

    Mind you, it tries to hide things too - if I want my printer utility, in order to do a nozzle clean or realignment, I have to fight the Mac's attempts to make me use its own simpler version.

    If people could cook, they wouldn't get ready meals. Lots of people can't make tasty food :-(

  5. I agree, Bela. PC's should be sold with loaded guns that can be fired from any place at people manning the helplines!
    I'll be getting a new PC next week (as my old one was struck by lightning – an act of God???) and I'm both dreading it and looking forward to it (not sure which feeling comes first!!). BTW, I was advised NOT to choose Vista but to stick to XP.

  6. I could weep for you, Bela. We have most of us been there. I used to have such horrible expensive phone calls to AOL in Ireland when they were my vile provider. Now that I live in a small town with the most wonderful computer shop, who are a wonderful email provider and all, they will come out with all the new equipment (screen, column, speakers, etc.) and get everything going for me, connecting up to my old printer, and all that, and be there at the end of the local phone for me every day I need them. I hope you get there in the end. It is all worth it when it's finally going well, isn't it?

  7. Hooray! You're back and cranky as ever. I've been checking every day on you Bela. I was afraid that everything was wonderful over there or something horrid like that.

    I hate all help lines. On the other hand, sometimes they actually do help. I spent a bunch of time on the phone yesterday with Verizon, which is my cell phone "provider", my land phone "provider", and my on-line connection "provider". They had overcharged me by a huge amount. It seemed that finally it was all fixed. HA! Today I got a text message on my cell saying that I had canceled my automatic payments and would now have to pay by snail mail. WHAT????
    I still want my bills to be paid automatically by deduction from my checking account, I just don't want to be OVER CHARGED!

    SLAP! Thanks for letting me vent. I feel so much better now.

  8. >> because it’s easier to translate stuff when it’s on the screen in front of you than to have it propped up on the side of the monitor.

    I've solved this problem by having 3 (yes, three flat screens) linked up to my PC with a Matrox Threehead Interface (not that expensive and believe me, with the time you save, you recover your investment very quickly) . Like everyone else, I started off with one monitor, then decided to have two monitors and have now upgraded to 3 (As we say in French: "Jamais deux sans trois"). It's a piece of cake to set up.
    As a translator, I find this SO useful and boy, do I save on ink cartridges! I no longer need to print out the piece to translate. Imagine 3 screens in front of you: on the left, the piece to translate, usually in PDF format. In the midlle, the screen where my translation appears. On the right, my screen for e-mail and web. And the beauty of it is that you can move what's on one screen onto any of the other two . You can also copy anything from one screen and just SLIDE it into the file(s) on any of the other two screens. Wish I could insert a photo into my message! By the way, I do not work for MATROX (in case some of you wonder...). Only snag: I'll be retiring in a year or so: what shall I do with 3 screens? Watch 3 videos at once? Well yes, it IS possible with 3 screens!!
    [Still can't find William BOYD's letter, Bela. I'll keep hunting.]

  9. L, when you’ve spent 18 years learning how to use a system and you feel you know it inside out, you don’t go and start using a completely different one. And I’m really not sure that Macs are more user-friendly than PCs. Apple copied Windows for their OSX, didn’t they?

    Anyone can make simple tasty food but only if they don’t want to have new things all the time. Of course, I’ve eaten the same thing every single day for the past eight years so...

    J-P, I wish you luck with your new PC. However, I wouldn’t stick with Windows XP because I don’t think it’s such a good idea to stay behind when technology is forging ahead. In a minute everyone will have Vista on their machines and more new programs won’t work with XP. I had a ‘WTF!’ moment when I first put the computer on but it really didn’t take me very long to figure things out. The problems were caused by stupid people and stupider hardware. I already like Vista better than XP. :-)

    SS, AOL is the devil. How did you end up with them as your ISP? I envy you your computer shop, though. I would love to have a pet technician for when I’m in a hurry. When I have plenty of time, I don’t mind a bit of a challenge. You’re right: one gets such a warm glow afterwards. :-)

    I’m sorry, TLP, I didn’t mean to disappear like that, but I’ve been working a lot, and when you’re typing over 3000 words a day – even mindlessly (that’s how I do my first draft), you don’t really feel like putting fingers to keyboard (even one that’s the softest, most comfortable ever) at other times. ‘... everything was wonderful over there...’? Now, what are the chances of that happening? LOL!

    Ooooh, having one provider for everything. How dangerous is that? The words ‘eggs’ and ‘basket’ come to mind. I will resist all offers Virgin tries to lure me with, until it becomes compulsory to put oneself in the hands of one company. Hope you sort it out soon with Verizon – and to your full satisfaction.

    Maybe I should give you my Blogger password, TLP: you could come and vent in my absence. :-)

    Ah, J-P, I live in a tiny studio whose main room is exactly 13.72 square metres. In it I have a bed, bookshelves, my desk (a large table), storage units, a TV, an armchair, etc. etc. I think I have made good use of the space and there’s no other way I could arrange it. And, anyway, there’s a big window more or less in front of my desk, with a view on a lovely tree, which I wouldn’t not dream of obstructing, so where would I put two more monitors? Not possible, unfortunately. I find splitting the screen in half horizontally and having the text to translate at the top and the translation at the bottom works very well. I usually get my work as email attachments, anyway; it’s just this book that needs to be scanned.

    I sent you two emails the other day (one to the address you supplied here and one to your private address); did you get either of them?

  10. I'll have to try Vista. My fear is that if it takes me 3 months to master new software, when do I find the time to get on with my translation work?
    However, I do agree with you that one has to move with the times, especially when technology is concerned. For one thing, you've got to keep up with the publishers' new systems, etc. I remember how nervous I was when I was asked to make sure I could receive PDF files. I did not have a clue what they were and had no idea of how I would cope. Thank goodness, everything went well but I did have a few sleepless nights!!

  11. a pedant writes:

    In fact Microsoft originally copied the Apple GUI to create Windows, not the other way round but both drew on original development work done by Xerox.

  12. J-P, It doesn't take three months to get used to Vista: it's only slightly different. Still, I'm a bit less enthusiastic about it than I was the other day: yesterday, I discovered I can't connect my camera to it (the driver doesn't work with Vista, of course). Luckily, my new PC has a digital card reader so I will be able to download pics to it. Haven't tried the MP3 player yet. I think I know what's going to happen. :-(

    I'm aware of that, GSE: I saw a wonderful programme on the rivalry between Microsoft and Apple on the TV, a while ago. Microsoft gathered a whole lot of computer wizards in a room, locked them up and told them to reproduce by themselves what Apple was doing with their Mac. They then could say they hadn't 'copied' the system. I meant that Apple, who for so many years, was ahead of the game and so proud of their unique and original product finally did the same and copied some features specific to Microsoft.

    Love pedants (being one myself).

  13. Very happy and proud to report that it only took two whole days to make my Zen Micro work with the new PC. Apparently, Vista contains 'native drivers' (oh, yes!) that enable some 'old' machines (like, you know, a two-year-old MP3 player) to work with it.... if you can spare two days finding out how. Wish I could remember what I did: uninstalled this, clicked on that... who knows. Still, it works. :-)


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