Hang ups

8th November 1996 at 00:00
A pregnant chum of mine thought that having a baby was going to be easy until everybody started telling her how easy it was going to be. She is up to her newly-dimpled knees in re-assuring pamphlets, and being counselled by a monstrous regiment of midwives, health visitors and consultants, all of whom insist that there is absolutely nothing whatsoever to be worried about. Which she, of course, finds very worrying.

I know exactly how she's feeling - not because I've got an inexplicable craving for peanut butter and jelly sandwiches or to knit booties but because I, too, am more than a little perturbed by all the help I'm being offered. My mistake was revealing, in an article published a couple of weeks ago, that I had replaced my Apple IIsi with an RM MPC2. This is techie talk of no conceivable interest, you would think, to the rest of mankind.

On the contrary, ever since I made this public confession, my modem has sizzled with e-mailed advice.

Most of the Apple aficionados seem to think that I have made a mistake of Faustian proportions and urge me to repent. The PC mob assures me that Windows isn't - to quote one of them - "nearly as difficult as you might think".

I never thought it was. So why are they telling me this? What do they know that I haven't yet found out?

I know that there are many readers who have never been tempted from their Apples or Acorns -"the fruit 'n' nutters" one unashamedly smug correspondent calls them - so I had better explain how to operate Windows 95.

First, you must find the on-screen button which enables you to start on various other activities. Fortunately, this isn't too difficult, since it is labelled "start". It summons a comprehensive menu which is the launch pad for a variety of activities ranging from running programs to customising the desktop. And when you want to shut the machine down?

For some peculiar reason, you have to click on the "start" button again. It's not logical, but at least it means there isn't much to remember. And that is the end of today's tutorial.

Indeed, I have now told you absolutely everything that I know about Windows 95. It might not sound like much, but it took me about 20 seconds to learn and does enable me to access the far more interesting software on the hard disc and to run CD-Roms. So why should I need help?

It isn't only the well-wishers who e-mail me who want to dish it out. Microsoft is just as bad. Every time I boot up Windows 95 , I am regaled by a brand new tip, headed "Did you know ...?". In all cases, so far, I didn't. And didn't want to.

The less I know about defragmenters, hardware conflict trouble-shooters and similar horrors, the happier I am.

Then there is F1 (it's a "function key" - many Apple users are blissfully ignorant of such things. Pressing it unleashes even more help - megabytes of the stuff in alphabetical order - enough to give even the most sanguine beginner the heebie jeebies.

I honestly don't want the low-down on Arcada Backup Exec Agents or Autoexec.bat files (I haven't ventured further down the list than A) but even knowing that such things exist leaves me with an uneasy feeling that mastering a PC might well be beyond the reach of mere mortals.

If you know better, please write to tell me so. I really don't want any more handy hints or did-you-knows but I would appreciate the views of teachers who have made the traumatic change from one operating system to another. I hope to publish these in a future article.

And if you have any tips for an anxious mother-to-be, I promise to pass them on - but I can't guarantee that they'll be as gratefully received.


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