For someone who uses technology enthusiastically and promotes it aggressively in my work life, I am ridiculously neanderthal in private. For example; my Ipod is full and I cannot load any new music or podcasts simply because I don't know how to delete what's on there. I cannot use the DVD player (not a clue, I once spent 15 minutes trying to open the drawer before Steve put me out of my misery and told me I was using the wrong remote control) and I still don't know how to find a TV channel beyond 1 - 9 which can be accessed by simply pressing the corresponding button. Even worse, I have spent the last 6 months with the clock on my car an hour fast as I couldn't work out how to change it, and once even phoned the previous owner to ask him how to switch on the rear windscreen wiper, only to be told my car didn't have one.
My laptop is a disgrace (and I am talking about its physical condition, not what I have stored on it!) The battery is knackered and only stores sufficient charge for 20 minutes use, the screen freezes almost daily and I need to use it by an open window as the cooling fan has been broken for 2 years and if it gets too hot it closes itself down losing whatever I happen to be working on. And the socket where I plug in the power supply is hanging out and affixed to the machine by an elastic band.
My phone is marginally better, though it too has a knackered battery which only gives me an hours active use, and freezes at least once a day, resulting in me having to remove the battery and Sim card and reboot it.
After much (deserved) nagging I was dragged to Bluewater today as apparently 'everything you need is under one roof'. For Steve, this is a joy; he can shop for six hours and not actually buy anything, but will have enjoyed the experience. For me, shopping is akin to water torture. If the world consisted of three shops, Waitrose, John Lewis and M&S I would be happy.
First stop was Phones4U. This was the very first time I have ever set foot in a mobile phone shop. This one was staffed by pretty Asian boys in cheap suits and slightly older English blokes with clothes slightly too tight and five years too young for them. And for some reason they all seemed to be wearing fake Rolex watches and pointy shoes. Elliott and I didn't get off to a good start after he keyed in all my information and the computer said NO. Apparently I was not eligible for an upgrade. After a call to O2 customer service we found out the problem, my contract was with Orange! After confirming I was eligible, he reviewed my usage and I was pleased to hear I was on Panther 46 but have been transferred to a new tariff called The Works 41. Even after he explained this to me in simple terms, I had absolutely no idea what he was talking about.
Then we had lunch. This was the highlight - Loch Fyne for lobster and Champagne, guaranteed to cheer me up.
Then onto another of Dante's Circles of Hell; PC World. This place is staffed by people who longed to have the personality to work in Phones4U who seem to enjoy working in an environment where rave and house music drowns out any hope of intelligent conversation.
We wandered around looking at laptop specs which I couldn't even start to comprehend. I'm still remember upgrading our Silverjay election computer from a 386 chip to a 486. After careful research I settled on a Hewlett Packard machine as I liked its colour (maroon). It also had a tetra bite of RAM, which Steve said was good.
After much waiting Darryl come to serve us. No, I didn't want half price Norton as I still have ten month left on my present Norton license. No, I didn't wish to subscribe to a ten year contract for £79 per year for all the latest Microsoft Office upgrades. Two year extended parts and labour warranty for £117? Why is the machine likely to break-down in the next 2 years? No ? Well, in that case I don't need it, do I. By this point steam was starting to rise. Off Darren went to collect my new machine, which (surprise surprise) wasn't in stock (I recall this is exactly what happened last time). What's more, they couldn't even order me one as there was so much demand..... But would I like to see similar models which are just a little bit more....
At this point I just walked out - 45 minutes of my life gone waiting in a shop to buy a computer they didn't have and were unable to order. This does beg the question why they had it on display bin the first place.
Is it any wonder so many High Street retailers are going to the wall?