It's a very exciting morning in the DG household. I've bought a new laptop (thank you for your recommendations) and it's about to be delivered. I actually bought it three weeks ago, but these custom-assembled things take a fair while to get fitted out. Then there's still the round-the-globe shipping to take into account. Thanks to internet tracking I know that my new laptop emerged in Hong Kong last Thursday, then spent Friday being flown first to Dubai and then on to Germany. It touched down at East Midlands Airport in the early hours of Saturday, then passed into the hands of a courier company who don't do weekend deliveries. So I'm expecting it today, sometime before 6pm, which means staying indoors until it arrives. Which is both immensely exciting, and immensely frustrating. So I thought I'd tell you all about it, with regular updates during the day. Oooh, new laptop!
07:00: Typical, I have the day off work, but I'm still up as early as usual in case a man with a van attempts to deliver early. The last thing I want is to for the entryphone to buzz while I'm asleep, and to have to stumble downstairs in the freezing cold looking like a comatose zombie. So, kettle on.
08:00: The online package-tracker tells me that my laptop left East Midlands Airport at half past four and is now "in transit". There are no clues to an approximate delivery time. I know these things can't be guaranteed, but it shouldn't be rocket science to add "probably before 10am" or "definitely after noon", should it?
09:00: OK, further news. You're kidding. From Nottinghamshire my laptop has been driven 125 miles south to a distribution hub near Southampton, presumably skirting round the M25 on the way. How unnecessary a detour is that? The package arrived in Eastleigh just after half past seven, got scanned "out for delivery" at eight and is presumably now on the 75-mile journey back to London.
10:00: While I wait, I've knocked up a map so you can follow my laptop's journey across the world. Three flights, then at least two lorry/van journeys around England, a total of 7500 miles altogether. And that's still cheaper than manufacturing in the UK, is it? In the meantime, I'm doing the washing and having another cup of tea. Beats work.
11:00: I've cleared a lot of space in the living room for the grand unpackaging, should it ever happen, but no sign yet. In the meantime I'm flicking through my copy of Smoke magazine - the irregular London fanzine whose 15th issue has just been published. Ooh, that's Bow on the front cover. Inside there's all the usual wordy/photo-y goodness (snippets here), and all 52 pages come highly recommended (as ever). Too late to mail a copy before Christmas, alas, but available in real shops now. I wish I'd bought my laptop in a real shop. <taps fingers>
12:00: Last time UPS delivered something, it arrived before 10am. Must be Christmas or something.
12:17: Hurrah, the UPS vanman has arrived (and he's parked on a red route, so he's keen to get away). My new laptop ends its 7500 mile journey with a quick trip upstairs, and the ripping open of a cardboard carton with a big pair of scissors. Everything in the box is very cold, but also (thankfully) in one piece. Now, do I read the instruction manual carefully, or just power up the 'on' switch?
13:30: The first thing I got when when I switched on was an error message, oh joy, something about invalid remote changes to security settings. So I fiddled around in the BIOS (I think) and tweaked a setting two levels down, and hey presto, next attempt it worked. I suspect this makes me a geek, but a chuffed one. Then a hop through the Windows terms and conditions (I'd rather not thanks, but what choice do I have), and a skip past various pre-installed programs they'd like me to use. Do I want to try a 30-day Vodaphone mobile trial? Not yet. Do I want to try a 30-day Norton Anti-virus trial? No thanks, even if you claim it no longer slows me down, because it slowed me down like treacle last time. And then the nightmare moment where I tried to remember what my router's security password is, or at least where I wrote it down, probably. Erm. Ah, yes, it's on a sheet of paper in the spare room somewhere. And I'm in! Action 1: download Firefox instead of Internet Explorer. Action 2: download AVG instead of Norton. Action 3: grin.
15:00 And then the nightmare of trying to make my new Windows 7 laptop feel like my old XP relic. I don't want the taskbar down there, I want it over there. I don't want that as my default font, I want whatever it was I used to have before (wherever that's hidden). And I want all my browser favourites to load like they used to, which means trying to locate log-in passwords I haven't needed to type since 2006. I've managed to enter most of them, but accessing Flickr took at least 20 attempts because the username and password which were 100% obvious when I chose them aren't 100% obvious any more. Some of the keyboard buttons aren't where they used to be, but I guess I'll have to get used to that. And, success, this paragraph is the first bit of blog posted from the new laptop. Now, what shall I try transferring next - all my email or all my photos?
17:47 (Winter solstice) There really ought to be an easier way of swapping files from one laptop to another. There probably is, but I don't have the requisite cable, and only one of my laptops is Bluetooth-enabled. So I'm scooping up photos and mp3s and Word documents onto a memory stick and transferring them across that way. Photos are taking ages. Six years of email may take longer. Cautiously optimistic.
23:30 Phew, that's all the photos transferred across, 7MB at a time. I knew I'd taken too many! I've also reinstalled iTunes, and almost managed to persuade it I don't have two copies of every tune in my library. Meanwhile I'm still trying to get the hang of Windows 7 and all the things it does different to XP (which is quite a lot). So, yay, 80% success! But I have yet to tackle email, and various other niggly transfers, so there's life in the old laptop yet.