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The client is always in the wrong

Yippee!  At the risk of tempting fate, for the first time in over a year I know how to use my no-longer so shiny, no-longer so new, laptop.  With Windows 95 I was still able to programme, though by XP I was down to just using the software, but could still understand what the PC was doing and sort out problems. Have now become a complete techno-numpty.

The trouble started after the mouse played up with the PC -the small furry variety, that is. We’d taken off the cover to install a bigger memory and weren’t quite quick enough replacing it. The fan makes it a lovely warm spot, and all those lovely wires to chew. Youngest cat may also have contributed to the demise as various cables were pulled from their moorings and there was a strange yet familiar aroma of eau de félin. In short, a dead PC.

Santa Grouch decided he was too busy to build me a new PC from the various components we have lurking in drawers so a visit to the Pewter shop loomed. Yay!

I chose a laptop,(so that the Grouch couldn’t dismantle it!) with a useable keyboard and Windows Home Premium, in the erroneous belief that one could change language  – my mistake, I admit it, mea culpa – the quick research I did was wrong . All it did was offer to translate text from English to French,  and had no effect whatsoever on the OS display.

Not only that, but it was a cobbled together mixture of Vista beta & XP.  Ctrl+Alt+Suppr did nothing – no Task Manager. I found a Vista shortcuts list on the web and eventually found the Gestionnaire des Tâches, but when you typed that into the ‘super dooper’ new Vista search – nichts, nada, nyet!   I was completely at sea! No longer could I find out why it wasn’t doing as it was told, but was reduced to wailing the all too familiar – “What’s it doing now?”  Even the French IT bod living next door couldn’t fathom it.

Next came the fun bit – back to the shop :

  • you said this was Premium, it isn’t, it’s Basic
  • you said it would be in English, it isn’t
  • you said it was Vista, it isn’t, at least not as I know it

No problem, said shop, just phone the manufacturer, they’ve made a mistake with the packaging

I think we can all see where this is going – 6 weeks of ping-pong/wiff-waff/wimbledon between the Manufacturer and the retailer, both blaming the other, before I gave up and vowed never to buy anything from either again.

So, during our ‘holiday’ I bought another copy of Home Basic and now, 20 months later, my ‘new’ lappy is finally doing what it said on the tin. Though,of course it wasn’t quite as simple as that. The upgrade function wouldn’t work with change of language so had to install it from scratch.

Having backed up all files and folders on an external drive I confidently clicked the install as new button, only to find that when I later tried to re-upload my documents and programmes, that the whole system reverted to the Windows Old French version. Growl. Re-install with the attendant phone call to Microsoft that no I wasn’t trying to load one copy onto more than one computer etc etc etc. Somewhat galling, as I’d effectively bought two copies of Vista for one computer.

The admittedly long-winded solution I’ve found is to attach the external drive to the other PC and to e-mail my documents to myself.

Surely there has to be an easier way.

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8 Responses

  1. There is a process you can follow to get reimbursed for Windows that you were forced to buy

    e.g.

    http://equiliberate.org/?q=node/3
    http://simos.info/blog/archives/1000

    You can probably find more with Google. I would do it and I would write a letter of complaint to the European Commission for good measure.

    Buying Vista at this point was regrettable. Windows 7 will be out in a few weeks. So will Ubuntu 9.10. The 3rd alpha version will be out in a few hours and from what I’ve seen of a preview video I just might give the KDE user interface a whirl. Latest version (4.3) looks really nice

    http://www.liliputing.com/2009/08/sneak-peek-at-kubuntu-9-10-netbook-edition-video.html

    If your laptop can boot from a USB memory stick (which it probably can) you can try out Ubuntu alongside Windows without committing to it.

    Google ubuntuforums and post a question about flipping back and forth between French and English. It will give you a feeling for a different kind of customer service.

    • Methinks you may have missed the tag labelled techno-numpty :).

      I used to manage but now no longer have the confidence to try anything that requires knowing what you’re doing, i.e. Linux/Ubuntu even though I’m sure I’d love them. I need to kidnap my nephew.
      The problem is with both Microsoft and the retailer – the latter for lying, deceptive practise, failure to supply goods as advertised, which it seems that they are perfectly entitled to get away with here. To be fair, you can change the French version of VataVistaTime into Castillian/Galiçian and all sorts of obscure romance languages – but not into anything I’d term useful. Mind you if the blog doesn’t get the brain working again, I might try learning Occitan – that would really tee off the yokels 😉
      We have already let rip to the EC on far weightier matters (will divulge by e-mail if you’re in an inquisitive mood) and found them as much use as the proverbial chocolate théière.
      Will nevertheless go have a look at your links and IF I understand any of it, will let you know.

      PS It’s going to be B hot Saturday, but stormy on Sunday in case anyone needs wardrobe hints 🙂

  2. No, I read this. But… Ubuntu is EASY and getting easier. Software installation and updating is a breeze compared to Windows and you NEVER EVER run into licensing grief of any kind and people are HELPFUL.

    With Windows you have to run separate updates for Windows, for many hardware device drivers and for applications. Keeping systems up to date (also with anti-virus etc.) is a pain and frequently involves lengthy reboots. With Linux you get everything in a single update and rebooting is rarely necessary and soon won’t be necessary at all, ever. The contrast is night and day. If you can use a PC you can use Ubuntu.

    Where Linux has fallen down in the past is in hardware support, but this is increasingly a non-issue now. Wireless didn’t always work a year ago but now that not longer the case. The polish on the user interface is getting better all the time. With Ubuntu there are two windowing systems (well two main ones): Gnome and KDE (for K development environment). Gnome is the default, looks most like Windows. KDE looks most like Apple (in my book). You can swap. There are others too but these are the big ones.

    In saying this I hint at one of Linux’s weaknesses which is also a strength. The fact that nobody owns it means you (er, one) can make a custom version (see distrowatch.org). It leads to the small market share being spread around a bit. Many versions–but you’ve had this with Windows too, in a different way.

    But… Microsoft is AFRAID (they’ve admitted it) and with reason. Ubuntu, the most popular flavour, is doing well and is getting better faster than Windows. The diversity might appear daunting but if you think of it terms of cars it’s not that great; they’re all basically similar.

    Right now about the only thing Vista does better on my laptop is that it gets a longer battery life and it doesn’t run the fan so often. This will very likely be fixed shortly.

    Re offline… I’m as inquisitive as the cat

  3. That’s what worries me about Linux/Ubuntu (are they the same thing?), that anyone can change them. How do you know you’re getting a clean copy w/out malware. How does software compare? – have just shelled out for Office as I didn’t dare download Star for the same reason as above.

  4. Linux is the kernel of the operating system. It deals with the hardware mostly.

    All versions of Linux use the same kernel. Versions differ in the applications bundled together to make a “distribution” (or distro in geekspeak). E.g., some use the Gnome window manager, others use KDE. Ubuntu, which uses Gnome by default, is the most popular version of Linux. There’s a version that uses KDE called Kubuntu.

    Ubuntu = Linux + packages, such as Gnome.

    Ubuntu and Linux are often used interchangably but they’re not really the same thing. Linux is the engine. Ubuntu is a particular configuration of seats, windows, dashboard etc.

    You get a clean copy by downloading from the official distribution site for the distribution (e.g. http://www.ubuntu.com/getubuntu/download). Each has a cyrptographic signature to enable anyone to check if its a good copy (both in the sense of untampered and an accurate copy).

    Open Office is your best alternative to MS Office –IMHO

  5. Thanks – I appreciate all the advice. And at this rate you risk becoming my personal IT guru 🙂

  6. I posted about that recently 🙂

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