Journey through space to the Planet Fabulous, where the Ruler of the Universe will see you shortly.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Computing For Dummies

I hadn’t realised what a rich and varied readership my guest spot here at Glitter For Brains would get. In the last week, for example, I’ve had three proposals. Two of which I could only manage with Yoga training, and the third of which would be impossible unless I grew a third leg and put on a Bacofoil jumpsuit. I’ve been sent a recipe for raw chicken Yum Yums and coincidentally I’ve spent two days in a casualty ward having my stomach pumped. And I’ve been asked for advice.

Well, boys and girls, I’m afraid I don’t have the life experience to help most of you, nor should I pretend I do. Mr H from Clapham, might I suggest you stop pretending she’s just sleeping and call the police. Miss X from EC12, there’s nothing I can offer to help except that facial hair on a woman can occasionally end a relationship but only with the most shallow of men. Unless they’re literally tripping over the stuff, in which case you’ve got no one to blame but yourself and possibly an Italian ancestry. And Mr T of California. You’ve been locked in a garage, there’s an oxy-acetylene welder and four yards of drain pipes. I shouldn’t have to draw you a picture.

However, computer-wise I do have a little history and I’m more than happy to put it at your disposal.

Miss Helen Rolling-Stock of Dumbarton writes to say, “Dear Mystery Guest. Ever since my grandchildren moved away and my poor husband died I have been dabbling in the exciting world of computing, and I now consider myself quite the enthusiastic amateur able to search the web most confidently for knitting patterns, Agatha Christie reviews, and Oriental fisting techniques. But this week I accidentally deleted an image of my first great-grandchild. Can you help?”

Well, Helen, it’s important at first you don’t panic. It has been proven that panic causes cancer. But I’m afraid it’s a very difficult task to get any files back once they’ve been deleted. They go to the Recycled Bin, where they are broken up into ones (known in the trade as “bits”) and zeroes (“pieces”) to be used again in new files. Systems without Recycle Bins are now the main consumers of raw binary (mined solely in Siberia) and if they’re not phased out by 2010 then the Internet may well be unable to keep working.

However, there are a few tricks that we in the know have. If you have an older style Cathode-ray monitor, then leaving a magnet sellotaped to the front of the screen overnight might well drag the lost image out of secondary storage. If you have the more modern “flat screen” then you can always draw the missing image back in with felt tip and it will be there forever. The best thing about this approach is that it’s then impossible to delete by accident. Or deliberately, come to that.

Lastly there’s an absolute sure-fire approach that will help. Firstly, go into File Manager, right-click on your C drive, and select “reformat drive”. Say “yes” to any comments that come up, and don’t worry about how alarming they may seem. It’s just scare tactics: I can confirm absolutely that anyone who’s tried this technique has never got in touch with me again.

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