The rational part of my brain was berating me for letting a a seemingly insignificant thing overwhelm me. The rest of me was a quivering mass of panic, Panic, PANIC, pulse racing, adrenaline flowing, feeling utterly, terrifyingly helpless.
The weekend began with the purchase of a new computer. Something that had been planned for a while, as my trusty companion since 2000 was not even compatible with XP. Or Ipods. And was starting to labour a bit if I tried to use anything remotely interesting like Dreamweaver or Photoshop. And so it came to pass that I added a a powerful but not too expensive new toy to my shopping basket and Frog, Tadpole and I went to collect it from Surcouf in a borrowed car this weekend.
Surcouf is a computer warehouse shop, located in the seventh circle of hell. Vast, intimidating and filled with swarms of teenage boys with skin problems at the weekends. The salespeople are young, incompetent and – apologies for the generalisation – mostly de la caillera (backslang for racaille: literal meaning = scum; commonly used to describe young folk from the dodgier suburbs, who may or may not be dressed like British ‘chavs’).
I marched straight to the collection room brandishing my internet receipt and queued up in front of a large printed sign which read ‘desktops’. Charming young gentleman at the desk, growling: ‘C’est là -bas, vous savez pas lire ou quoi?’ (‘the queue is over there, can’t you read?’) Ah yes, a handwritten post it note attached to the ‘laptops’ sign did indeed read ‘internet orders’. Cheeks flaming I fled. French customer service: an exercise in humiliation.
Home sweet home and several hours of saving things from the old computer later, I emerged from a spaghetti of computer wiring, covered in the clumps of fluffy dust you only find behind electrical appliances (rather appropriately called ‘moutons’ in French). And switched it on.
It sounded like a HAIRDRYER.
I began to wish I hadn’t made quite such an impulsive purchase. I dimly recall having read somewhere once that AMD processors can overheat and tend to need very strong fans to keep them cool.
Perhaps the fact that the computer was called Aspiro should have sent alarm bells ringing. Not Aspiro as in aspirational or something nice and positive. Aspiro as in ‘aspirateur’ (French: hoover, vaccuum cleaner). The smiling lady pictured on the box was probably wearing cunningly concealed earplugs.
Gritting my teeth, determined to pretend that it didn’t sound like I was sitting in front of a jumbo jet propellor, I loaded up the antivirus, spyware destroyer and firewall first, like the sensible girl I am. I noted, with annoyance, that XP was in French. A lovely language, but one which has no business to be on my operating system. Another point I had gaily overlooked while making my purchase.
I then spent the rest of the day duelling with a particularly resistant browser hijacker. I removed it, it came back. Repeat to fade. Each time the red spyware alert popped up to say that the little f*$@&r was trying to re-install itself, I edged one step closer to meltdown. A cool, white, padded cell started to look soothing and attractive.
And forgive me for sharing what could be seen as too much information, but I note that the laxative properties of viruses and spyware are really quite remarkable.
I think it’s gone now. Fingers crossed. But I have to admit I am dreading going home and switching on the hairdryer from hell just in case that pop up message comes back again. I simply can’t face wiping clean a brand new computer and reinstalling everything. I had nightmares about it last night. I’m an untidy bundle of nerves.
How is it that these machines are able to wield such power over us? And why didn’t I shack up with a geekfrog who could sort these things out. Why oh why?