Wednesday, June 22, 2011

New computer falls at first hurdle

Well, I've got the new computer and spent most of the evening checking to see what I needed to do before switching it on as this is the first time I've tried to get a computer working by myself. I've had about five computers in total: I bought my first one in 1990. It had a 30mb hard drive and the previous owner proudly told me I'd never need to buy another computer because there was so much space I'd never fill it. And even if I did, I could copy stuff onto a 5 ¼ inch floppy disc.

Second computer was one from work. Can't remember how big it was but it seemed incredibly fast. Mind you, it took all night to copy the data off my original computer, which was falling apart even as we copied. We ran a disc test on the hard drive before hand and it had maybe 5% bad sectors. After copying, we tried again and it was 25% bad sectors. My £700 computer went into a skip (minus the hard drive). Second computer was replaced a few years later with something that I think had a 35gb hard drive because we were by now scanning a lot of our own pictures (this being back in the days when I was working on magazines for Trinity Mirror). That one was replaced as my main machine around 2000; I used the older machine as a back-up until the summer of 2002 when the hard-drive went bang and froze solid. When we took the machine apart, the hard drive had a scorch mark on it. "That shouldn't happen," said a friend and demanded I take photos so he could show his techie pals.

I eventually replaced the back-up with a laptop, which I still use. The main machine was replaced around 2005 with the machine that's now on its last legs and about to be replaced.

A rambling way of getting to the point, which is that I've never had to set up my own computer from scratch before — that being one of the advantages of house-sharing with people who are technically minded.

"How's that working out for you," I hear you ask. Thank you for asking, but the title of this piece says it all. I got as far as plugging the new machine into the mains, unplugged the monitor from my old computer and... well, nothing, because it's the wrong sort of cable to fit into the new computer. Apparently I need a DVID cable. So the credit card has taken a bit more of a beating and I'll have another bash at getting the new computer working in a couple of days. I might have a photo or two of the new beast by Friday.

Before I disappear, a quick warning. Although I'm not losing access to the internet while I'm changing computers (I've still got the laptop) I may be losing e-mail and the scanner for a couple of days. So if you send an e-mail and don't hear back, you'll know why. I've just watched a Microsoft video about how to migrate old files onto a new machine but I'm still clueless.


  1. Good luck! Computers have been compared to that bottomless money-pit on an island in the Caribbean (?).People who have kept abreast of technology since computers first came into common usage about 30 years ago reckon that it would be grounds for divorce or suicide if they worked out the total cost of what they had spent on software, hardware & constant updating & occasional repairs. I remember as a teacher having the "school computer" in my classroom & it was loaded by a cassette! Now it's at least one computer between 2 pupils in purpose-built ICT suites!

  2. I don't think there was a computer in the building when I was at school. I remember shading in little roundels on cards with a pencil and sending them off to Honeywell (or wherever they went off to) to have our names printed out.

    The computer I bought in March 1990 was the first I ever used. I knew they were good for making lists and even with my Brother electric typewriter I was forever having to retype lists to incorporate new information. The computer meant typing something in once and never having to retype it, unless additional information or corrections were needed. It was going to revolutionise my life and create the paperless office. It did the former but never the latter. Some of the keystrokes that went into the writing of The Thriller Libraries were done back in 1990, 20 years before the book came out!

  3. Hi Steve

    Having written numbers of articles and some books and done lots of editorial work on a manual typewriter, used gallons of Tippex and made numerous re-writes to get the final version just right for the printer,I bought an Amstrad 9512 in 1988 as a writing tool.

    Used it for a number of years, and only moved to a PC when the need for internet access for research became overwhelming. Still got the 9512 in the attic, 'just in case'

    I've gone through 3 PCs since and am now on a laptop, bought in 1997 running on Windows XP. Use an Apple Mac in the Museum where I volunteer. Wish I could afford one at home!!

    I do think Alan Sugar deserves a medal for introducing a generation of middle aged writers to computing who would otherwise have been scared-off tackling the PCs as they then were.

  4. OOPS - Correction

    The laptop was bought in 2007

  5. I missed out on the early computers - Amstrad, Beeb, etc. - and the first machine I had was recognisably a home computer running WordStar 4. The original Mike Western Story booklet was designed on that machine.

    The next computer (c.1993) was all Microsoft and I still have documents in WS4 that I haven't gotten around to importing yet.

    I'm currently running XP, although I'm about to jump to Windows 7, which will be a challenge. First thing to do will be to turn off as many of the bells and whistles Microsoft insist on having 'on' as default and then trying to get everything looking as much like the system I'm used to as I can.

    I despise change...



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