The desktop saga

For reasons I’m not prepared to go into (because they’re mostly illegal) I’ve ended up running Windows Vista on a desktop which has exactly half the recommended minimum RAM.

For those of you who don’t speak geek – that means it’s completely fucked.

Well, not completely. It works perfectly adequately if, for example, you need a door propped open, want to drop something heavy on someone or desperately require a useless lump which takes up space on your desk without actually being any fucking use whatsoever.

Okay, so I’m being melodramatic. It’s just mind-numbingly slow. So slow in fact I spend, on average, fifty percent of my day staring at it and shouting incoherently. Add to that the burnt out DVD writer (they don’t last forever) and the overheating issue I’ve had from day one, thanks to buying a miraculously cheap computer only to discover it was also miraculously shit, then you have a computer which is not worth repairing.

Okay, so actually it is financially worth repairing, since all those issues could be sorted out for a £100 or so – but that’s not the point. I want a new computer. I want it to be shiny, I want it to be full of toys and I want it now!

So I went to PC World clutching a fist full of money.

Now, long time readers of this blog may remember THE LAPTOP SAGAand how that ultimately turned out. For those who don’t, and can’t be bothered to click and read those three links, here’s a brief summary:

It turned out badly.

I ended up with a gay laptop.

I’ve since come to terms with the gayness of my laptop, but I’m determined not to repeat those mistakes.

Ever, you hear me?

So I went down to PC world calmly clutching a fistful of money.

Can I just add at this point that I was pretty sure I couldn’t afford a new computer right now, not with a new baby in the house; but, bizarrely, Mandy persuaded me I could and even drove me to PC World. Which tells me two things:

  1. I have the best wife in the world.
  2. She’s fed up of listening to me scream at my desktop.

So now buying a new PC is a family outing.


I bet Alice can’t wait to tell all her friends. If she had any. Not that she’s unpopular; but, you know, she’s only nine weeks old. Babies don’t really have any friends – at least none who are prepared to listen to tales of daring-do in PC World.

The only problem with buying a new computer is, well, it’s boring. They’re all the same, they all do the same things …

And no, before all you Mac-mentalists wade into the comments with how cool Macs are … they’re not. They do exactly the same things as PCs, so fuck off.

… and buying computers is all about the numbers. Basically you want the highest processor, hard drive and RAM numbers for the lowest price. Although, I’m not going down the cheapest route again. I’ve learnt that lesson time and time again – things are cheap for a reason and the reason is … they’re shit.

No, this time I have a reasonable mid-budget price in mind, about £400-£500 that should do nicely.

After a few minutes scuttling around PC World, committing long strings of numbers to memory while trying to weigh up the difference between a marginally faster processor versus a marginally larger cache … I fall in love.

The HP TouchSmart IQ790.

Touchscreen! It has touchscreen! That means you can literally, touch the screen!

And yes, before you Mac users wade in again, I know you can touch the screen on a Mac whilst pleasuring yourself and muttering sweet nothings; but with this one, touching the screen actually does stuff!

Other than make a sticky mess.

You can open files and stuff, browse the net, move shit around and … oh, just everything, simply using your finger!

True, it’s £200 outside my budget, but who cares? Touchscreen, baby!

To those of you who know about my intense dislike for touchscreen on phones, this euphoric rant may come as a bit of a surprise; but there is a difference. Touchscreen on phones is a silly idea because you have to use both hands to operate it.

A normal, buttoned phone, needs one hand. Touchscreen needs two.

That’s not progress, that’s a backwards step.

No hands to operate a phone, that would be cool. Two hands? Madness.

And before you iPhone-loons wade in, just fuck off. It’s just a phone. Yes it has a few cool applications, but it’s not actually a very good phone. Besides, there are other touchscreen phones out there and they’re all equally annoying.

By the way, I have nothing against Apple products, I just hate their marketing and the fact people follow me around telling me how wonderful Macs are. Mormons, Scientologists and Mac users, please, keep it to yourself. I don’t care.

Anyway, did I tell you how wonderful my new computer is?

Touchscreen on a computer? Genius! No more mouse. It has a mouse, but you don’t need it. You don’t have to point and click … you just point!

With your finger!

Seriously, how cool is that?

Oh wait, I still haven’t told you the saga of buying it … there wasn’t one. I went in, paid for it and walked out again. Pretty easy really.

I have a touchscreen computer!

If you’ll excuse me, I’m off to touch it.

And maybe myself.


The above is the post I wanted to write when I went into PC World on Friday.

The actual truth is a little different. I don’t often share the real truth on this blog, since it’s rarely as interesting as lying.


Don’t look at me like that. If I thought the truth was so damn great, I wouldn’t be a writer, would I?

The truth is, they only had one left – the display model. The helpful shop assistant refused me a discount before I’d even asked and found a boxed one in Tottenham. He phoned them, got them to send it to Bexhill (for that was where I was) and promised someone would ring me when it arrived on Tuesday. I wasn’t planning on being in the area on Tuesday, but said I would probably pick it up on Thursday and we parted company on equitable terms.

I was a little disappointed to have to wait for six days to get my fingers on its silky black screen, but I figured it would be worth it.

Then I got sick.

Nastily so.

By the time Tuesday rolled around, I was feeling a little better and decided I would just pick it up today.

Only the bastards haven’t rung.

Still, no problem. They probably think I’m not in until Thursday and will ring me then. So I ring them. They answer, I explain … they know nothing about it.

No big deal. The guy says he’ll find someone who does know and ring me back.

Two hours later, he still hasn’t rung.

So I ring them.

They pretend to be out.

Three hours later, they’re still not answering the phone. Fearing PC World in Bexhill might have burnt down, taking my new computer with it – I race to the scene.

Ten minutes later, I’m surprised to discover the building is still standing and after a bit of searching they find my touchscreen baby sitting in the warehouse.

And I came home.

And touched it.

A lot.

In fact, I’m touching it now.

Ooh, baby.

Categories: Sad Bastard | 29 Comments

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29 thoughts on “The desktop saga

  1. My finger hurts.

  2. God knows, I’m open to the idea of touchscreenosity. But why would I want to be leaning forward and touching my computer screen, sir? I’m not getting it. Why is that better than a mouse? And if you’re just using your finger, then what becomes the equivalent of the clicky mouse button, hmmm?

  3. But Phill, what about a Mac, eh? Phill? Phill?

  4. Mandy, if you read this blog please be prepared for the ‘Novelty Wearing Off’ stage. Phill might need to be locked in a room with his hands tied behind his back. Signs of this phase will start with Phill trying to touchscreen everything.

  5. Jason: if you have very short arms or tend to sit a long way away from your PC then touchscreen is not for you. If you have touchscreen, then you don’t actually need a clicky button, simply touching the screen is the same as selecting and clicking.

    So if, for instance, I was looking at the blogroll above right and I thought ‘I’ll check out that Arnopp fella’s blog’ then I just touch your name and magically I’m there.

    Why is it better than a mouse? It’s not really. But it is cooler. I have touchscreen.

    Danny: nah, too expensive. Besides, I have touchscreen.

    CNUT: Wear off? Never! I have touchscreen.

  6. Not often you get both sides of the story from the same person. That’s mad.

    Touchscreen is very cool. I like. The main trouble with Vista is, they’ve packed so much shite into it, that only a computer the size of the Earth is capable of running the fucker properly. Like I keep saying, it’s not the hardware that’s the problem, it’s their shitty Windows software.

    Also, yes, Macs do all the same stuff PCs do. But they’re not saddled with the extra headaches that Windows provides, and have saved me months of trauma and screaming. Still. No touchscreen. Can’t really argue with that, it’s a very high scoring trump card.

  7. Macs can’t run Channel 4’s 4OD service. Mwah-hah-hah! That’s my one advantage and I’m only too happy to tell people about it.

  8. James: oddly enough, my experience is exactly opposite. I’ve found Vista works fine but the hardware I was running it on was shit – presumably because it was assembled in a Nicaraguan sweat shop by blind, handicapped kids.

    I think the main thing to bear in mind in the Macs v PCs argument is people only remember the evidence which backs up their theory. I’ve watched Macs crash and the next day listened to their owners swear blind they’ve never, ever had a problem with their machine. I don’t think I’ve had a problem with Vista on my laptop – but being human, I can’t be sure I’m not imagining it.

    I think it’s just a matter of preference; but most Mac guys won’t let me believe that and follow me around with pamphlets.

  9. John

    Er… doesn’t your arm get sore…. I mean… well, I was just trying it, imagining I had a touchscreen, and being as cool as your good self, and, well, apart from the strange looks I was getting, and the fact that I felt like those guys in the second Matrix film, guiding the ships into the big cave place…. my arms began to ache…. no? no-one?

    Ok, I loved it and I want one!

  10. Ah, there’s your problem – the handicapped sweat-shop kids need to be able to see what they’re doing, otherwise they make mistakes.

    I’ve had about 2 hours experience of Vista, in total, and just ran screaming. Admittedly, it was just after it came out, and on the brand new machines we were using, we had to switch off *all* the fancy bollocks just to get the menus appearing within the same decade as when you clicked them. I am a Mac zealot, but if something’s working for you and you’re happy with it, then I’d never try and force you into it (apart from ditching IE, I’m pretty strong on that, although I was even when I had a PC). Although I have never had a crash on mine. Honestly. Now I bet it’ll crash immediately, just because I’ve said that and tempted fate.

  11. mandy

    containsnuts; i have been with phill for five years in total, the first two of them he refused to have a mobile phone “why do i need a phone” he would say “nobody would ever ring me and its all a bit pretentious” after him breaking down and arriving home five hours after he said he would be, i dragged him to the phone shop where he started out with a semi basic nokia. Oh the joy, i unleashed a monster, he raved and raved and raved for tweleve months until he could ungrade to a sony that had even more gadgets attached, so a bit more raving ensued, then he discovered the nokia n95!!!!!If i have to listen to one more story about how great this phone is…….and not only does he like to inform me of every new application he finds to put on it he will tell EVERYONE he comes into close contact with, so yes i am slightly worried about the effects of a touch screen pc, in fact myself and alice are already looking for alternative accomodation.

    p.s. to my husband Your nine week old daughter already has more friends and social outings arranged than you ever have had, possibly due to your nokia n95. love ya babe

  12. John: I’ve spent most of the night pretending I was Tom Cruise in Minority Report – only taller and without the looks or money.

    By the way, I reckon everyone reading this has had a surreptitious touch to see what it would feel like.

    James: Now, see, what’s wrong with IE? Someone badgered me into using Firefox once and it seemed to do exactly the same thing. What’s the difference?

    Mandy: You just wait, I’ll have the N96 by Christmas. I’ve got a leaflet here somewhere …

  13. Yes, it does the same thing, it’s a browser. But it’s safer, more regularly updated, and has tons more cool features if you want them. Check out the list of cool stuff:

    Basically, it’s the N95 as opposed to the bog-standard phone. Sure, they both make phone calls and send text messages… but one can do so much more.

  14. Ah, but will those extra features help me write, or help me procrastinate?

    Hmm … Like the N95 you say?

  15. Oh, they will only help you procrastinate. See, there’s all those web pages to read, but before you start, you’ll want to add all the toys to the browser, to make sure you’re reading them efficiently and excitingly. It’s another tool in the box of the professional procrastinator, we need all the help we can get. How can you enjoy a website if you haven’t got a cool visual theme applied to your browser?? It’s madness.

  16. Luckily I don’t have any phone fixations, but that’s because I have N73. I feel so inadequate… why, WHY!

  17. My first thought was – as Mr Jason has already said – why would you want to be leaning forward all the time. Watch out about that, you could end up with a bad back. Then again, even sitting back in my chair I can just reach out and touch both the screens here.

    My question is… how precise is it? I touched where your blogroll is and while my finger was on one name it looked like it was encroaching on the name above and name below. I suppose it would help to have fingernails but I’ve chewed my off.

    One last question – which is nothing to do with ace Macs… Do you have to wear a Starfleet uniform?

  18. How precise? Depends on the size of your finger and the size of the font. In all honesty, it’s better for moving windows around, pushing on-screen buttons and selecting icons than fine detail work like picking names from a list or ticking a box.

    I’ve finally got it set up in my office (I was in the lounge last night) and after a little bit of practice, I can pick the right name from the blogroll every time – although, I tend to lie back in my chair and put my feet on the desk when I’m reading for a long time; so I’ll probably be using the mouse for that.

    And no you don’t HAVE to wear a Starfleet uniform; but I’ve got one and …

  19. With your feet up on the desk, I thought for a moment you going to say you were using your toes to move things around on screen.

    You could nick a hand off a department store dummy and put it on a stick to use. That would be aces!

    Any excuse to dress up. Do you silver your skin up to be Data?

  20. Toes! That’s a genius idea! The shop dummy thing might be a little awkward to operate – unless I use my foot as a snooker-style bridge; but I’m liking the toes thing.

  21. Why, oh why, when I’m supposed to be packing my suitcase for Edinburgh, am I still thinking about your bleedin’ touchscreen technology, Barron?

    I was browsing through some laptops, see, and saw this phrase among one model’s included accessories: ‘Integrated pen for touch screen’. Now, see, a touchscreen pen I like more. Because when I’m simultaneously munching toast and surfing of a morn, I don’t want to be using my crumby, buttery mitts on the lovely screen, but a pen would be fine.

    Right. I really am going to pack now. After a cup of tea, perhaps.

  22. You’re thinking about it because, deep down, you know you want it. You want it so bad.

    I too have an integrated stylus, but I don’t have to use it. I can use my finger, a pencil or even my cock.

    Hmm … I wonder if that would work?

  23. And now all the ladies, and perhaps some of the gentlemen, are wondering how far you were from the screen.

  24. Sadly, so close I was practically behind it.

  25. Alice is going to enjoy reading your blog when she’s older, isn’t she?

  26. By the time Alice is old enough to read this blog, reading blogs will be a thing of the past. People will download their thoughts directly onto the Internet and absorb others in the same way – reading will be a thing of the past and frogs will rule the Earth.

    Either that or she’ll be so embarrassed she’ll change her name and move abroad.

  27. Errr…. I think you went a bit wild with your imagination there. As if she’ll be allowed to change her name with the frogs in charge…

  28. Darren

    Macs… PCs… they both suck.

    I’m gonna invent a hybrid… the, er… PaC! Yeah! Then I can have the worst of both worlds.

    And Firefox 3x is knackered… they added an address bar that displays your favourites as you type (and there’s no option to change this)… so there go the privacy (ahem!) settings then.


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