Can’t believe I haven’t posted for two weeks. My only excuse is that I have been without my dear old Dell computer, which was only returned to me yesterday (Friday, 21 February), with a new hard drive, but not running any faster. The technician who sourced, fitted and installed it, told my One and Only Husband that it was running faster – in his workshop in a town seven miles away. I believe him, but our rural broadband is such rubbish that I’m sure that any benefit of having a new hard drive is more than offset by our poor connection.
In the meantime, I have used my iPad (with a Bluetooth keyboard – see 9 February post) and borrowed computers from other members of the family. Arrgh. Nothing ever feels quite right, does it? You can’t relax with someone else’s machine, can you, and, if you can’t relax, you can’t write. One of them was my Beloved Daughter’s new laptop, with – horror of horrors – Windows 8 on it.
“Oh yes, Mum. You can have your own SkyDrive, and I can share photos of the baby with you.”
“Lovely darling, but where’s Microsoft Office which I installed – with many trials and tribulations – yesterday? Yes, I realise you got it working eventually. How was I to know that you had had a trial version in the past and that Microsoft would get fixated on its product key?”
“You switch to classic view.”
“You mean get rid of the swanky Windows 8 desktop that is trying rather too hard to look like an iPad?”
“Of course. I’m sure Microsoft will scrap Windows 8 soon. They always do when nobody likes something. I mean, they moved on from Vista pretty quick, didn’t they?” (Vista. Now there’s a sore point – more later.)
So, last Wednesday, while she was feeding my Darling Grandson, I played with her Windows 8. Dear Reader, a Windows 8 laptop is an entertainment machine, with links on the desktop to apps for ‘Sport’, ‘Health and Fitness’, ‘Music’, ‘Video’ (but not YouTube), ‘People’ (a natty little link for joining everyone in your address book to your SkyDrive whether you or they like it or not), the inevitable ‘Games’, more games and other stuff I can’t even remember. I left in the news and weather links, the SkyDrive and Internet Explorer, but more or less everything else went, with the result that I was soon looking at a very empty desktop. Then I got started. As if I were playing patience, I moved displayed links to all the Microsoft Office applications I use on a regular basis (Word, PowerPoint, Access, Excel and Publisher), Google Chrome and Dropbox and shuffled them around into what was to me the ‘right’ order. Within a few minutes, DR, I’d converted it into a machine for writing.
Now the beauty of it is that, although I was doing all this on my user area on Beloved Daughter’s computer, which I had to sign into using my ‘Microsoft’ user id and password, it’s there for me for keeps. When this old Dell finally curls up its tootsies, and I’m compelled to buy a Windows 8 computer (or later – presumably), I can log into it with same ‘Microsoft ‘ user id and password and see the same desktop, use the same settings and access my files through the SkyDrive. Suddenly, Windows 8 becomes worth having.
Now back to the dear old Dell. I remembered to send it off to hospital with Microsoft Office, but I’d completely forgotten that, when I bought it, the OS was Windows Vista and that a few weeks later I’d installed Windows 7 using a disc from Dell. I still have this disc, but when I tried inserting it in the optical drive, it rattled ominously and wouldn’t do what it was supposed to do. So here I am using a discredited and very old operating system and at a loss as to how to sort it out. Also the computer has been very reluctant to re-acquaint itself with Adobe Acrobat, Flash Drive and Evernote, although it did the the wifi, the printer, and Dropbox without blinking – thank Goodness. I can’t begin to count how many user ids and passwords and other security paraphernalia I’ve had to dig out over the past few twenty four hours. Fortunately I keep them on a file on my (external) hard drive – except for the very old ones, like Kaspersky, which, as you might expect from a computer security company from the country which invented the KGB, is almost impenetrably secure. Then there was Firefox and its Bookmarks to reinstate, to say nothing of Autocorrect and other settings. Wouldn’t it have wonderful to have logged with my Microsoft id and just got on with using the computer?
Am I boring you, DR? Hope not. Nowadays, writers don’t write but type and we are dependent upon our writing machines. Would I go back to the A4 lined pad, pencil and rubber? No, I don’t think so.
(Image from Wikimedia, accessed 22 February 2014.)