The £150 laptop 2: software vs wetware

The story so far: in a change from my usual practice of buying something mid range, I’ve gone for the cheapest laptop in the shop. Will it stand up to my gentle ministrations? Is the guarantee (which, together with the price of Microsoft Office, costs more than the laptop itself) worth the money?

Time was when you bought a computer, it was more or less plug and play. It was a brief and, in retrospect, heady period between you having to basically being your own computer programmer with an intimate knowledge of MS-DOS and today’s ‘everything stripped out so you get the hardware dirt cheap’ epoch, when you went into the shop and bought the whole thing preloaded with the software you actually needed to make it go. Then the Lizard People who rule us all realised this wasn’t optimising their way of keeping the masses down. It coincided, possibly not coincidentally, with that brief, equally heady time when people could publish stuff on the Web their on own and it wasn’t all monetised to death.

Whatever. We are where we are, which in the case of folks of average IT literacy like me is a tense stand off between the software you now have to download to make it go, and you, the wetware. I kind of imagine this as a conversation, like this:

Laptop: Hey, welcome! This is Windows 10, the software you tried on your desktop PC when we tempted you with a free download and it mucked the existing software up so much you had to spend half an hour uninstalling it and fixing lots of problems you hadn’t had before. But this is different. It’s got all sorts of stuff on it, like Trip Advisor – see the wee button there? Amazon, Dropbox…

Me: I’ve already got access to these things. I want to install Firefox, because my brother told me about it about ten years ago as being safer than Internet Explorer, and I’ve stuck doggedly with it ever since.

Laptop: Really? I’ve got OneDrive, which can even make you a cup of tea while you’re browsing all these commercial sites and spending lots of money by ordering stuff online you didn’t even know you needed.

Me: Really. Firefox, please.

Laptop: (shrugging) Ok. There you go. That was easy, wasn’t it? Anything else, you daringly hipster indie type?

Me: No need for sarcasm. AVG free edition, please. It’s kept me virus free for years.

AVG: So, you want the full commercial version?

Me: No, the free version.

AVG: So, you want the full commerical version?

Me (somewhat tersely) No, just the free edition, thank you.

Laptop: There it is downloaded. You want me to install it?

Me: No, I just want it sitting there in Firefox’s downloads folder, a glittering software jewel hanging there unused and untouched like the Koh-I-Noor of anti-virus software.

Laptop: Now who’s being sarky? There you go. Oops, no, it wouldn’t install itself.

Me: What? Why?

Laptop: Dunno. Just didn’t fancy it. You could go to the AVG website and spend a fruitless hour trying to work out why…

Me: No, just leave it. Ok, now –

Laptop: Hey, you know what you need?

Me: What?

Laptop: Adobe Flash Player. You know, that’s that thing that makes websites run and such, and if you don’t have it, the site takes the huff and won’t work properly?

Me: Oh, yeah. I suppose so.

Laptop: Great. Oh, and while I’m at it I’ve installed McAfee anti-virus free trial. And something else you’ll fleetingly see installing itself and never see again. Knew you’d want that, yeah?

Me: NOOOOO!!! I told you, I don’t want McAfee. You put a link to it on the desktop already and I’ve been studiously ignoring it ever since. Couldn’t you take a hint?

Laptop (with a hint of hurt pride): I was only trying to help.

McAfee: computer needs to restart to update McAfee.

McAfee: computer needs to restart to update McAfee.

Me: Go away, McAfee.

McAfee: computer needs to restart to update McAfee.

Me: $£%$%£&^%$!

Laptop: There’s no need to swear.

I haven’t even installed the Microsoft Office I bought yet. I haven’t the mental strength.

HP Stream 11-r050sa 11.6" Laptop - Blue








Any ads below here were put there by WordPress. They’re probably for bloody McAfee.


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