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The Secret Cevennes - articles by Samantha David

Rant, rant, rant...

Don’t talk to me about computer shops. We’ve got three of them in our local town and they’re about as useful as paper wellies. The cheapest (dirtiest, darkest, smelliest) shop is run by Son of Fawlty. I’ve never heard anyone shout as much as he does.

“WHAT DO YOU MEAN IT DOESN’T WORK?!” he yells furiously when you take your machine in. “WHAT HAVE YOU DONE TO IT, YOU STUPID WOMAN!?!”

Gulp. But it’s not just me. He shouts at everyone. He shouts all day long, every day. You can hear him from the other side of the road as you try to sneak past without him seeing you.

The latest shop, suitably installed beside the undertaker’s, is run by Son of Bean. This guy is so inept he can’t even open the front door without smashing the glass, which is why it is permanently covered with brown parcel tape. Once inside with the broken door carefully propped open with a brick, he can’t do anything else either.

“What do you mean, print some business cards? Oh dear. Well, I don’t know what’s wrong with the printer, but I’ll have a go at mending it if you want to come back later. Oh yes, your disk. Well, it got wiped, actually... you did back it up, didn’t you?”

He’s quite sweet in an useless sort of a way, with his pleading eyes and shaking hands. But not the sort of bloke you’d want fiddling with your soft drive.

And the third guy is Son of Profit Guru Number One. He slimes about in a new shop with cream carpets and walls covered in hi-tech gadgets for sale.

“Oh yiss Madame, that scanner you brought in to see if I could fix it. No I can’t. It’s a year old, non? Obsolete. So I’ve chucked it out. That’s 15 euros. Yes, of course you have to pay for my time. (I kid you not.) So which one of these morons am I going to employ on a regular basis to maintain my machine? Correct. None of them.

Enter the guys who advertise in the local paper. Worser and worser. They arrive at the house (usually several weeks later than originally arranged), spend hours reading my columns and articles, losing files, making mistakes, asking questions I don’t know the answers to, and then leave explaining that my system is too old or too small or too grey.

What I need, they say, is a new machine that isn’t fudged up. It would also help, they say, if my keyboard wasn’t bald. I’ve obviously been typing too much, they complain. Don’t I ever play games?

I have to buy a mega scroogle counter, or a partition lamm, or a pentium five thousand euros, or a natty hardware throttle, or more memory, or a faster gigga-nibble, or more bites per inch. If I had that, then they could sort the machine out, but as it is... two hundred euros, please and what’s the fastest way back to Montpellier?

So here I sit, installing virus-catchers and ham-fistedly attempting to exterminate phishers and Trojans and all kinds of other beasties without the least chance of ever succeeding. My machine runs like a three-legged camel and it always will, because apart from not knowing how to maintain it, I’m not in the slightest bit interested in learning how to maintain it.

Why should I? I don’t maintain my car and in fact the garagiste would be horrified if I proposed doing so myself: it’s a specialist job. Ditto the engineer who services the heating boiler, the man who delivers the coal and stacks it in the cellar, the hunk who deals with the gas bottles, the chimney sweep, the hairdresser, and the builder who fixes the broken tiles on the roof every autumn.

So I’m utterly sick of the idea that as a computer user I ought to maintain the wretched thing myself. I want someone to do it for me but I don’t want to leave it in a shop, send it to Paris, or spend hours watching a compu-babble twit sticking chewing gum under my desk.

I don’t want to deal with spotty youths who only know slightly more than I do, or snotty youths who bad-mouth my machine. I don’t want to listen to verbiage from people who simply know fudge all about IT - or anything else for that matter.

What I want is someone who miraculously hacks into my computer once a week at 3am on Sunday and cleans it all up. I want this person to do the filing, root out weeds, expel unwelcome visitors, oil the works, update everything, and generally ensure that come Monday morning my pc is sparkly fresh and raring to go.

Listen, hackers can get into my machine and fudge it up can’t they? So why can’t a maintenance man hack in and clean it out?

Next column will be uploaded around 15th May.

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