pizzaquinnLooking at the heading to James Quinn’s column today, I wonder if like me you sense he has an undeclared personal interest in Pizzas.

At the end of what’s been a day of having a second log burner installed (yet another consequence of the fat psycho who ballsed up the ‘central heating’ installation over a year ago), I turned to what has now become a daily routine: reading a hitech manual. In the last two weeks I’ve been upgrading the pc hardware and peripherals stuff I increasingly need for one largely invalid reason or another. None of it is working, because the initial software installation of the Epson printer had a deleterious effect on the laptop’s driver designed to recognise peripherals. But I thought that, in the interim between buying yet another pc to recognise my cameras and mobile phones – and then getting that to install the printer which will afterwards hopefully deign to talk to the wifi and print off snail mail communications typed on the offline pc software – I might as well ensure that I’m up to speed with all the possibilities offered by this new upgrade to the Zil lane of the communications freeway.

I shouldn’t really need to buy another pc, but the hp Pavillon Notebook that would just about suffice has a mains lead that has sent the French mains to Coventry as well. You’d think getting a replacement lead for an hp notebook should be easy, but you’d be wrong. The shop where I bought it has to order them, and says they “don’t do that lead any more”. Odd that, given I only bought it 15 months ago….but anyway, I went to who are normally a bit arrogant (but good in that they actually let you speak to someone real) and they confirmed the problem: hp have discontinued that mains lead.

Now what hp really want me to do is buy another box of kit, to which my response is f**k that for a game of marbles. So I wrote to the media (press) centre at hp France, since when the email inbox has been devoid of replies. In the meantime, I have established that this particular model of notebook has – hold your breath – 11,051 different versions. This is how insane things get when you let tecchies have any power in a hitech multinational.

But I’m digressing. Digression is the default mode when dealing with silicon chipheads, because you find one madness and then immediately 230 others fly off in all directions. See? I nearly did it again. Anyway, tonight’s manual of choice was the remote control for the new digibox. No, you’re right, I didn’t really need a new digibox, but it was on offer as part of the satellite wifi package – and the specialist news channel offer is better on Astra2 than Astra1, plus I can get all the French channels with hard of hearing subtitles for when the dialogue gets too quick to follow. So I sat down to read the Humax TNT digibox ‘guide’.

It is a guide in the sense that you need a guide when covering hundreds of square miles on an African safari. As a guide to constructing a favourites list, it was akin to turning up for the safari jeep to find that your guide is visually challenged. Read this series of actions required to compile a list of favourites aloud:

Press the menu button and select channel operation. Select edit channels and press OK. Press the blue button to arrive at the Favourites menu. Press the OPT button to bring up Edit Channel menu. Select ‘Group Name’, type in a name for it, press lock, press OK. The channel name will appear in the blue bar at the top of the screen. (It didn’t). Press the red button to bring up All Channels. Select a channel you want, and press ‘Pause’. (There was no pause button on the remote). At this point, continuing with the operation became instantly pointless.

So I went back to the start, and then once I got to step 11, I pressed OPT. This then showed me a new menu (absent from the manual) which said ‘lock’. So I  did. Nothing happened, so I pressed OK. Miraculously, it saved the Channel.

I could’ve graduated on to a further degree in the green and yellow buttons, but enough was enough….especially after trawling through – hold your breath – 1,355 channels, 80+% of which were German and involved tits: Deutsche Girls, Sexy Babes, Porno Mädchen, Raunchy Sex, Hot Babes zzzzzzzzz

Another fabmodgear thing that came inclusive in the satellite wifi deal was a FREE satellite phone system with a FREE new number, offering FREE calls throughout France….but chiefly, FREE from telesales spam – which is an absolute nightmare in France now.

Last night’s task was to read that manual and work out how to save favourites, pick up messages, and personalise a message for when I’m not there. Nowhere in the manual does it say how to do any of those things. I have pointed this out to the ISP Nordnet, and they’re considering a response. The phones work pretty well, but there’s that gap you get while the router, dish, satellite, dish and router unscramble each other across 15O,OOO feet of Space. It’s quite fun actually, because you can speak and then say “over” to the person at the other end, thus progressing 72 years backwards to a 1943 Lancaster bomber intercom system. I keep wanting to say things like “Bombs gone Skipper”, or “Hancock to control tower”.

I am going to hang on to the old Orange landline as a backup until people I know finally read their emails and see I have a new number. But as from last week, I just let it ring. If there’s a message on it, I reply. But then I thought, maybe I should leave a message saying leave a message or be ignored. So I went into my telephonic menu principale. To change my personal message was a process involving six menus and 3-5 options per menu.

Complication is not progress. Poorly composed and incomplete instruction manuals are not progress. Multiple product versions which mean the manuals/product congruence is at best tenuous are not progress. Crap after-sales provision with the aim of generating more sales does not represent a step forward. Automated telephone options replete with menus and potboiler Mozart sonatas are not progress. Consequently increased unemployment and reduced welfare benefits are not progress. Moroccans trying to sell you a penis extension for your garden shed do not enhance the citizen’s quality of life. Chinese circuit boards that die within months and solar garden lights that don’t light anything except the stick under the light are not progress. Hiding in silos from customers is not progress. Protecting those in the silos from the full force of commercial law is not progress.

And dubbing me a Grumpy Old Man is the worst kind of braindead stereotyping. It is not progress, it is regression. Only one really usefully enhanced primary sense comes with age: the ability to smell bullshit from a mile away.

Earlier at The Slog: Lying about ecnomics and crime is criminally uneconomic