Sunday, February 04, 2007


Here is my new toy; a Toshiba Qosmio luggable (as opposed to portable - it weighs 3.3kg). I don't intend carrying it too far, but it is a robust piece of equipment, and it needs to be seeing as I have two boys who will be using it from time to time.

I decided against getting MS Vista in the end, and went instead for an end of line good quality machine loaded with XP as it seems Vista is causing problems with some games. I'm not keen on buying first versions of things as they usually have bugs that get resolved in the second version, and I'd rather hang on until a decent Vista upgrade is on the market.

I bought it from Darty with a laptop bag and MS Works thrown in, and forked out for the 2-yr guarantee extension for the same reason I did so with the television - boys. I have not regretted it with the tele as the on-off button died just before Christmas and got seen to and repaired quickly. I used to have a Toshiba Satellite portable the screen of which collapsed after two years, closely followed by the hard drive, and I have no intention of buying annual laptops.

When the screen was going kaput, I remember researching repairers of screens. As my ex-h and I were due to visit the UK, I looked up places in London. I don't know how I did it, but I found somewhere near the Temple in the City which was not a shop but some bureaucratic establishment dealing in Toshibas. I think we had lost the screen screws, or something, and I set up a meeting with London guys, handed over the laptop and picked it up later in the day, mended temporarily. They said it had basically had it, but they'd patched it as best they could, and charged us nothing! Amazing!

In fact, I still have the hard drive from that machine. I'm waiting for technology to get to the point where it can read corrupted hard drives like ours without it costing hundreds of euros. If I remember rightly, it has loads of photos of medical cases - irreplaceable ones, some of which had been backed up, but not all. Hard drives rarely tell you in advance when they are going to expire.

Anyway, my new joujou has a tele capability which means we could watch the tele on holiday I suppose, or avoid disputes as to who hogs the box as someone could watch the laptop in the comfort of another room.

One thing I sort of regret however, is that it doesn't have an in-built webcam and microphone. When I got back from Darty, I found my eldest, for the first time, logged into MSN chat on the pc with his girl friend from down the road, webcam and microphone going all hell for leather. I feel I might be using my Toshiba toy more than I expected!


  1. Hi there Sarah - I am home and as I have said to everyone, loads to catch up on and my new laptop arrived when I was away - more of that during the week!

  2. It's nice to have Louise back. But you girls are making me very jealous with your new laptops.

    I think that was a wise decision to bypass Vista, Sarah. Here's a comment on one of Shane Richmond's recent posts that says it all:

    The Big Selling Point

    As ever, MS is collaborating with hardware manufacturers, so Vista has to be very resource hungry in order to generate a much needed round of hardware upgrades. Needed by hardware manufacturers, not us, of course. And in return the hardware manufacturers ship boxes with which OEM OS?

    Joseph James at 30 Jan 2007 18:49

    No sooner have the computer manufacturers beefed them up with more RAM and better video cards, than along comes Microsoft with a "bigger and better" OS that stretches that to the limit, so we all have to go out and buy another laptop, and shell out again for the bundled Microsoft OS ......

    Moral: stick with XP, and run it on a modern laptop that's got plenty of oomph.

    And that's without mentioning the Big Brother aspects of Vista.

  3. I stick to XP but keep getting "charm" mail to try and slink me off to Vista.....oh dear, I don't even know what it all is actually - I stick to XP like a limpet, becoz I know how to handle it..and my pc is a good one......but wouldn't I love a lap top! Yummy. Such attractive and seductive toys. I WANT ONE....but ,I'll have to wait till my work goes down to posterity! Lucky Sarah, dying to see it.


  4. Louise, great to have you back!

    Colin, this is my first laptop à moi toute seule and it's been preying on my mind for sometime now - months. Glad to know I did the right thing with Vista.

    NG, you will, you will!

  5. It's a funny business buying a new laptop -speaking as someone who's bought three in the last 5 years for myself (two at Darty incidentally) and advised my kids over the choice of another three.

    The shops don't make it easy to know how it performs in the real world, like online. Like how much heat does it generate, and is the fan running the whole time.

    And there are the little things one may forget to check, like where are the USB sockets - are they somewhere handy on the side, or hiding behind flaps at the back.

    The best one I've bought was also the cheapest - an hp pavilion with a rectangular screen, but it had to be upgraded from 256 to 512MB to avoid messages about insufficient memory. What's not always appreciated is the Windows XP takes a big bite out of working memory when one boots up.

    One can see this for oneself -démarrer- tous les programmes-accessoires-outils système-informations système. Then wait a few secs for the data to appear, then read the figure for physical memory, ie memory available for what you want to do (which, thanks to XP and to a lesser extent, all your other resident programs, is a fraction of installed memory).

    Darty after-sales service can be good but slow. I had a problem with faulty re-charging on the Compaq. They took a month first time, but did not find a permanent cure. Second time they traced it to a faulty motherboard, which was replaced, but that took another two months, would you credit it ?
    That's a good reason for keeping a spare laptop handy, even one that's showing its age.

    I'd never touch a Dell, ever again. Cheap and nasty components, so-called after-sales service a black comedy.

  6. Colin, you are quite the laptop pro!

    What I did was go to Darty, look at the laptop which interested me, go home, google it to read the reviews and then once satisfied, went back to buy it.

  7. Sounds like you're no innocent abroad either, Sarah, in walking away from those sales assistants first time round to do that googling.

    With a big chain like Darty's, one can also make their website your first port of call, to find what models they stock, and what kind of deals they are offering re bundled software, warranties etc.

    If I don't do that, I tend to suffer sensory overload as soon as I set foot in an electronics store.

    I "web-site window-gazed" recently for my eldest son (we gave him a laptop as a 30th birthday present)and was amazed to find big differences in the overall deal, between,say, Currys, Dixons and PCWorld, despite them all being part of Sir Stanley Kalms's stable.
    But we finally found the best deal on guess where: John Lewis.

    And it's so important to read the small print closely. Some laptops that seemed at first sight to have a tremendous spec' for the price turned out not to have XP or any other OS included, so there was an extra £120 to pay on top.

    All this is academic where you're concerned, but may be of help to anyone else thinking of parting with a big chunk of their hard-earned dosh.

  8. You're right about checking what's included in the package, Colin. Darty clearly labels the specs and what you get for your money. I did not get useless software that I didn't want, which was great.

  9. Darty used to be a great shop. Then it was bought by the British. Not so good now. Service poor. The people aren't knowledgeable any more. I go to other shops.

  10. Reader's comment on one of the blogs in "Ouest France"

    Ras le bol des donneurs de leçons expatriés

    mardi 30 janvier 2007 à 09:57, par Gérard (Saint Brieuc)

    "Je suis avec attention les longs discours de des mêmes intervenants ( vous travaillez quand ? vous dormez quand ? ) qui nous donnent des leçons sur la prétendue " faillite " de la France , culpabilisant à outrance la majorité des Français qui travaillant durement pour des salaires médiocres doivent battre leur coulpe.
    Pour en revenir aux donneurs de leçons expatriés. C'était votre droit d'aller voir ailleurs, mais, de grâce, arrêtez de cracher votre mépris sur la majorité des Français .
    Arrêtez de vous faire passer pour des réfugiés politiques ayant quitté un pays dirigé par des dictateurs.
    Lorsque un certain Charles DE GAULLE s'est expatrié en Angleterre, ce n'était pas pour cracher sur les Français et encore moins sur les Bretons.
    Alors, chères élites, allez ou bon vous semble, mais arrêtez de nous donner des leçons de morale. On fera sans vous."

    Is it any consolation, Sarah, to know that the French have to endure their own "Richard d'Orleans" in reverse, eg Pierre de Putney, who move abroad, and then slag off the mother country ?

    No, I didn't think it would be. Sorry I asked.

  11. Richard, I've never had any problems with Darty's service record, nor with the knowledge of their sales-staff. I never rely totally on sales-staff, anyway. You never know how much they are being driven by sales %ages.

    Colin, it's no consolation, but it's funny even so. He and Richard could snarl at each other from across the Channel.

  12. Charles de Gaulle left on the first plane available. Great man.

    We know what it is of Orléans that entrances Richard. Now what could Pierre find delightful in Putney? Maybe the planes that drone overhead at 30 second intervals. Or would it be the CO from the perma traffic jam in Putney high street. The ugly block of flats overlooking the river might challenge his aesthetic senses. How about a walk over Putney Bridge, under grey sky, across an unprepossessing stream severely bordered by concrete on both sides. Maybe he gets his kicks from the bottom end of the New Kings Road, run down and tatty. A sprint over the ugly playing field, ill maintained, is hardly enticing.. No surely the cherry of his eye is the fag end of the British Raj, otherwise known as the Hurlingham club.

  13. Tu demandes ce qui plaît à Pierre de Putney en Grande Bretagne ? Eh bien, voilà !

    En France, le mot "risque" est un gros mot. Ici, si on veut travailler, on réussit, pas comme en France. C'est plus libéral - pas de 35 heures. Le Royaume Uni a su trouver le juste équilibre entre la protection sociale et le plein emploi, grâce à la transformation des résultats économiques du pays au cours des quinze dernières années. D'un autre côté mon enterprise FRANCE est déjà mal en point. L'avenir de mon pays m'inquiète chaque jour un peu plus.

  14. Well, I think there are pros and cons for both countries and it's up to each of us to find what works best for him/herself.

    Constant ridiculing of the one we left is somewhat unnecessary in my opinion, because, theoretically one is happy where one is, and harping back just summons negativity into an otherwise happy existence.

  15. Pierre if things are going so well over there, why are you dumping so many of your old folk over here?

    Or is that 'free trade'? Take the best years and leave others to take care of the rest?

  16. Sarah I disagree with you on many points. We are all hurt by the war in Iraq for example.
    But above all I am a great believer in the political union of Europe. A day doesn't go by without the UK seeking to sow discord in this great and ambitious project for peace and well being for us and our children. If Britain would get out maybe that would quieten by spirits somewhat.

  17. Britian doesn't believe in kow-towing to those who think they are Europe's 'natural leaders', Richard. You may not agree on the way they go about it, but democracies need opposition and debate if they are not to become abusive, which they would.

  18. There are presently estimated to be some 300,000 French working in the UK. Despite competing for the same jobs as locals, I never heard a word of resentment spoken against them as a group. Contrast that with French job protectionism and xenophobia ("Polish plumbers" etc).

    In fact there are probably as many French in Britain as Britons in France. The difference is that the latter, having for the most part prospered in the UK, and retired on reasonable pensions ( accrued before Gordon Brown came along) are rich enough to own second homes in France, where they make occasional visits, of live in semi-retirement.

    It was a voluntary decision on the part of these older emigrés. To use the term "dumped" is typical of Orléans crude propaganda that he uses, Goebbels style, to demonise a particular group, setting them up as a scapegoat for all of society's ills.

    It's well recognized that these same older Brits have re-energized many rural communities (generally their preferred destination), and so cannot be charged with robbing locals of jobs.

    Instead they bring their pension spending power, which is used in the shops, bars and restaurants, and to give employment to local tradesmen, and provide the French economy with extra by way of VAT receipts. They are essentially like long-term tourists, who contribute to French GNP. Most "real" French recognize this, and would have no time for Orléans and his anti-Brit rants.

    As for the charge that we Brits take advantage of the French health system, Richard of Orléans blithely ignores the facts (when he is not making them up): since one pays upfront in France, and then claims back if entitled to do so, where is the abuse ? This system is much harder to abuse than the British one, which is free at the point of delivery. And let's not forget those reciprocal arrangements on taxation and health provision between the two countries.

    As for those comments about the EU, most of that is pure humbug. Just look at the behaviour of France re EU enlargement, encouraging other countries to join, knowing that the bill for doing so would fall mainly on other members. Which ones ? Why, those that are not main beneficiaries of the CAP , such as Germany and the UK.

    France then shut out job-seekers from those new member states, leaving it to others, notably the UK, to make them feel welcome to the club.

    That was hypocrisy of the highest order on the part of the French, which did not go unnoticed in Eastern Europe. So the last thing we want to hear from Orléans is more of his weasel words on how the UK undermines his precious EU.
    Actions speak louder than words, especially when those words are small-minded, ignorant, malevolent propaganda

  19. Judging by Colinb’s loss of self control I must have touched on some sensitive nerve endings. Surely the facts can speak for themselves:
    --The UK has always been opposed to the European political Union first from the outside, then as a Trojan horse from the inside. Shame on Continental politicians for letting them get away with it.
    --The people who expatriate to the UK from France are generally speaking young, well trained, economically productive people. Those that come from the UK are generally speaking old, in failing health, and inactive economically requiring considerable state services. It’s a bad deal.
    --A system where you pay low taxes in one country and seek high services in another cannot possibly function. Why not pick up your sweaters in Harrods and pay for them in M&S. If you observe the Luxembourg border it is exactly what is happening. Ten petrol stations in 500m on a piece of road between Belgium and France. The British want to pick and choose on state services bur refuse tax harmonisation. It is deliberate sabotage, kick them out.
    -- France is progressively opening their borders to people from Eastern Europe. It is a Republic and has a responsibility to its entire population. We don’t believe in ‘free trade in people’
    --France has always wanted to adapt the union progressively so as to avoid too much disruption to people’s lives.
    --Eastern Europeans were initially favourable to Anglo Saxon ways but are gradually discovering that they leave a bitter taste.
    --Britain is the odd man out. It is not a question of kow towing to others. They just do not want to respect the rules of the political union to which they belong while gorging themselves on the facilities (for one coming to France and using the State services). In the main the other countries accept to play by the rules

  20. No loss of self control, Richard of Orléans. Just a loss of patience with your non-stop flow of poisonous propaganda, all sadly reminiscent of Joseph Goebbels getting into his stride. Just substitute Brit for Jew, and it's a replay of the late 1920s, early 1930s.

  21. And that's soooooo English. Lost the argument, call them Nazis.

  22. If there's one thing the 20th century taught us, it's the futility of arguing with Nazis. That same would presumably apply to neo-Nazis, quasi-Nazis, crypto-Nazis, in fact Nazis of all shades and flavours. Because the only thing that interests them is domination and control, so they can pursue their hate-agenda unhindered.

    But hey, hold on a minute. Who introduced the N word into this thread ?

    Tell you what, pretend everything I've just written is in invisible ink, and let Richard have the last word - literally.

  23. Don't know if you saw Robert Peston's bad experience with Vista, Sarah on the BBC's website. Methinks you made a wise decision to stay clear of Vista.

  24. Obviously didn't learn too much.

    Certainly you didn't catch on to the fact that invading Iraq for its oil is a fruitless proposition.

    France learnt that they are better off close to their natural ally, Germany and keeping the Brits at a distance.

  25. And now we read (today's Telegraph) that iPods are being irreversibly damaged by Vista.
    Folk putting comments onto that Robert Peston thread are advising that one waits for the appearance of Vista Service Pack 1 before thinking of upgrading.

    Personally, nothing I've read about Vista interests me in the slightest.

    When I see Microsoft's No 2 (Paul Allen) berth his obscenely large Octopus in Antibes, and then look at what Microsoft charge for software that was developed years ago (eg Office, PowerPoint etc ), I'm resolved to stick with what I've got for as long as possible.


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