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Newbie Emptor

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If you’re not an expert and something goes wrong with your PC then all too often in the computer industry you’re left high and dry. Even for lawyers. Leo Waldock thinks it’s criminal.

Life isn’t fair. If you need proof just take a look at Robert Kilroy-Silk and his relatively successful careers in daytime TV and politics, despite a lack of any obvious talent or ability. Other examples include Mother Theresa of Calcutta who worked selflessly with the poor for decades and then had the misfortune to die on the same day that Princess Diana was involved in some particularly poor driving in Paris, and as a result no-one even noticed the nun’s passing, or at least they didn’t in the UK. I could go on; there’s Westlife, Victoria Beckham, footballers’ salaries, politicians – all of them – and anyone who has appeared on Big Brother.

I have known this for many years but it still came as a shock when we recently visited some friends who have bought a spectacular house in Hampstead. It dates from 1850 and is both enormous and gorgeous. Once you’ve had the tour and think you’ve seen it all you’ll find another room or a cellar and while I’m not a jealous person by nature, I have to admit that I felt a pang of envy. They can afford this decadence as both halves of the couple are lawyers. Now let’s be clear about this; lawyers are intelligent people who take many years to qualify so it came as real surprise to hear that they had a Dell PC in their study that had just come back from the PC shop and they had no idea how to plug it back together.

It seems they’d been struck by a virus and had come to the conclusion that the only answer was to plug in a new hard drive and install a fresh copy of Windows XP. I have to admit this wouldn’t have been my approach, but I would prefer to avoid the infection in the first place, however the deed was done. I’d been fed a fine lunch so was happy to spend a bit of time plugging the thing together and it never does any harm to see how the less geeky among us muddle their way through in this PC world. For the record their Dell Celeron PC had been fitted with a new Maxtor drive at £80, Windows XP Home at £75 and two hours of labour totalling £100. Add VAT on and you hit £300, which makes your eyes water a bit when you consider that the original drive was probably working perfectly well and there ought to have been a Dell recovery CD somewhere in the package.

Plugging in the mouse, keyboard, monitor and power took moments and then I was faced with the joy of installing AOL 9.0 to get the BT USB ADSL modem working. Personally I dislike ADSL and I detest AOL and am a massive fan of cable Broadband over Ethernet but even so I was unprepared for the twenty minute installation video that walks you through the driver and software installation process. Once we were up and running I had a look round the PC and saw that the shop had installed Grisoft AVG anti-virus but no Firewall so I bunged on Zone Alarm and was truly amazed by the number of bings and bongs that AOL caused. There are windows within windows and at least four pieces of software communicate at any one time. After that I activated Windows, downloaded 40MB of Windows Updates, installed drivers for the Dell All-in-One printer and then installed the Dell copy of Microsoft Works.

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