My reluctance at replacing it is not borne out of fondness or nostalgia for its little temperamental quirks, rather the cost and the sheer terror and unfolding horror that is upgraded software. Then there is the bedlam caused by attempting to move all my files, folders, and email to the new beast. So I go to John Lewis, which is what you do when things have reached this point. Some unscrupulous people go to John Lewis and have, what is known in our house, as ‘the John Lewis tutorial’ and then sneak off to the Internet and source the object of their affection for less. Not me. I pop upstairs to the technology department on a quiet day; early Monday morning, or forty minutes before closing on a Friday, then snaffle a bored computer literate assistant and ask him probing questions. I buy the whole package, the machine (beautiful, all in one, Windows 7 and with a touch screen) and Office Home and Business 2010, the full version, avec man to deliver, install and move all my data. So far so blissful.
My gleaming hi-tech machine graces a desk newly spruced up, dusted and free of the plethora of yellow post it notes that dotted the old one with reminders and philosophical statements about ‘ living in the moment and accepting the past’ and ‘eating elephants in small bites.’ The man sets about dismantling the hard drive from my ancient slacker and a pile of thick grey dusts falls from its interior. He tells me this is normal, they attract dust; nevertheless I feel that my below par domestic standards are on show and vow to vacuum the office more often. Within an hour he moves my files and folders, sets up my email and leaves me to become acquainted with the new hub of my universe. It is exciting and terrifying all at once. Tentatively, I play. I have decided I will learn how to use my beautiful shiny demigod properly this time. I marvel at its touch screen and dizzying speed. The following day I actually start work. I achieve my allotted writing tasks in record time; I wander downstairs and consider housework for the first time in weeks.
Later I realise, that a number of vital functions have not fully transferred. I get the man back to move more obscure data, like my much loved Internet favourites list. A day later the email, which had been working, will send, but not receive. I am cut adrift from my world. I call the free ninety day software support, they explain that my email provider is at fault; I must go to them.
And so it begins the thing that I dreaded, the hours spent on Yahoo Helpline Chat. In a small panel on my computer I type a conversation first with Betty, then with Leon and finally with Andrew; knowing full well that Betty, Leon and Andrew are situated on the Indian subcontinent and actually called Anahita, Pavit and Dhumavarna, and are enslaved in a remote call centre despite having a work ethic not seen in this country for half a century and first class degrees. This goes on intermittently for two full days. As they type from a script, we get precisely nowhere. Over time, I become remarkably adept at clicking between pop and imap, I understand the options in the advanced dialogue box in ‘Settings’, I know not to check ‘this server requires and encrypted connection’ , I know my incoming port number and my outgoing server number. I thank Betty and Leon and Andrew at the end of each session, as they log off with ‘you should be able to receive your emails in Outlook now.’ But I can’t. I look at my inbox, pitiful and empty and I imagine my emails lost, floating in cyberspace.
I ring a local company; I will now pay any sum of money to connect with the outside world. They send me Nick, Nick is their star geek. Nick knows everything. Nick knows that Yahoo is on its way out; Nick knows that Google rules the world, and what’s more he can set me up with an automatic transfer from my old provider to my new inbox. I will of course need to change my email address, the one thing I had been trying to avoid, but now I am persuaded of the idea. I will make any sacrifice in order to send and receive. Nick flies around the dialogue boxes and menus with the speed of Ninja. I am saved.
Nick and I have a chat about the ludicrous continuum of upgrades that no one wants or needs, upgrades that make things worse and not better. Together we set of on a hunt for the Undo and Re-do buttons. Even for a super-geek this is a stretch. Nick finally locates them hidden in a discreet corner above the task bar; they are now tastefully configured in grey on grey, and so small as to require MI5 levels of detection to bring them to functionality. My super-geek leaves, advising me to purchase Windows 7 & Office for Dummies, the multi-pack with the helpful DVD’s. I buy them and that evening I settle comfortably on the sofa to gen up on E-Mail, data bases and groups. I have the television on, with one eye on the news. From the corner of that eye I spy a small hairless man with oddly placed ears, he is on a stage making a presentation. Something about his features attracts my attention, he is from Microsoft and he is holding up a device, he is launching a new operating system, he is launching Windows 8. I scrutinize this small being that purports to come from planet earth and then the truth hits me…he is an alien, they are all aliens. The history of colonisation is not good. One does not fair well on the receiving end; better by far to colonise than be occupied. Mine is a hopeless cause; I will never ever be up to speed with the technology, not when the relentless driving force is alien super-geeks who force us inexorably on and on into upgrade pandemonium.