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I suppose it's because I have so much time on my hands these days that all these memories come flooding back to me.

Technology Hitch

It all started when I found out that my copies of Windows XP was not a legal one and I had that little symbol at the bottom right hand corner of my screen all the time to remind me of the fact. I had asked my stepson, who pops in to see us regularly to see how his Mum is keeping, if he could help me, as he is quite good at all this computer stuff. So good that he has taught me quite a lot and, along with some of those help sites that you can log into and ask questions on, I have become what I would call computer literate.

I got this computer for my fifty second birthday. It was hand built for me by a friend of my stepson who got all the parts from a computer shop on an industrial park outlet and put it all together for me. At that time he thought he bought a genuine copy of Windows as it came in the correct packaging and he paid the full price for it. The computer was bought by my wife and her two sons, as it would have been too expensive just for my wife to buy alone. The first time we realised that the Windows program we had was not the correct one was when we could not install any of the updates that were coming through. Now I am not a boffin by any means, but I have learned enough to do what I set out to do and install the odd program if the need arises.

I have been on line now, as they call it, for about three years and yet every day I find something new that I never knew before. So solving this little problem of having a small blue star on the bottom right hand corner of my screen would be quite a simple problem to overcome. Well it just goes to show how wrong you can be in this world of computers, as it appears that in order to get rid of this little star, we would have to uninstall the present copy of windows and reinstall another. Now that does not sound like a lot of work, or indeed a daunting prospect in any way, but if I knew then what was to come, I would never have started the project.

It all seems so long ago now. But, in fact, it was only a week or so since we did it, yet I can't help but hold the feeling that I have aged a few years in the process. So you can imagine that parts of which you are going to read next have left scars on my memory for life, despite their mundane appearances. It all starts by backing up every thing that you have on your hard drive. For those of you who do not know what that is, it's the part of your computer that holds every bit of information - its just a like a DVD disc really.

The size of this can vary and is measured in Gigabytes. For example, a forty gigabyte computer can hold one third as much information as a one hundred and twenty gigabyte one can hold. To put this into perspective, a normal DVD disc can hold just over four gigabyte of data, which can be music, film or documents. So it was on one of these discs that we transferred all the programs and other data from the hard drive. What it actually involved was inserting the disc into a drive; opening it, then drag all the programs over onto it, before burning it onto the DVD. It may sound complicated but believe me, if I can do it, then it must be easy! Then we had to back up all the addresses and other information from my Email account, then all my Bookmarked (Favourite) web sites. All this, of course, can take up a lot of space.

As it turned out, when I went to put all my Bookmarks back they had lost their titles, so I had to search for them all over again and then add them to the list. So after we had done all that we then formatted the hard drive. All this means is scanning it to make sure it is free of any data or any other bugs that should not even be on there. The next stage was simple enough; we had to put everything back again after we had installed the new version of Windows which we double-checked was, indeed, a legal copy otherwise it would all have been a waste of time.

So after a while of re-booting (restarting the computer) which has to be done when installing programs, and re-installing everything my computer was ready to go, at last. Of course the first thing that happened was that Windows wanted to update itself as soon as it was installed, which is good as now we got all the latest updates to keep the computer running smoothly and virus free. In fact I was so pleased with our efforts that I thought I would send my daughter an Email telling her all about how clever her father was at being able, with a lot of help from his stepson, to accomplish this. So, as usual when I finished writing the Email, I clicked on the spell checker before sending it. I must admit I do tend to make the odd mistake with my fingers when I try to type as fast as my brain is forming the words as they tend to hit the wrong key leaving the whole message looking like it was written in a foreign language. At this point the word 'foreign' is very poignant as, after I had clicked on the spell checker, that is exactly what I did see, a foreign language! French to be exact! I have no idea how we managed to do it, but we had installed French as the language of the spell checker. No problem, we thought. All we have to do is go into the language menu and change it over to English UK.

That may sound like a simple task, especially after what we had done, but it just goes to show how wrong you can be. We spent ages trying to solve this problem; we went onto help sites and downloaded what they said were fixes for that problem, all to no avail. So we decided to pack it all in for that day and try again later. I think the whole thing must have put my stepson off, as he never came back up the following day. In fact, we didn't see or hear from him for a while after that as I think the whole thing had dented his pride. So I had to carry on by myself. I decided in desperation just to type Spellchecker for Outlook Express into Google and see what happened.

I could not believe it; there right in front of me on the screen was a link to a Spellchecker for Outlook Express. I read the whole page checking to see if there were any snags like having to pay for it, or it was only a thirty day trial, but no, it was free and genuine. So I went ahead and installed it. Then, as soon as it was in, I tried it out and it worked! To think that we had gone through all that trouble and stress searching for an answer to that problem and all we had to do was type a simple phrase into Google. It just goes to show, no matter how much you think you know about using computers there is always something new to learn. No one can say they know it all, unless of course...

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