Computers: Endpiece

This is the Computer page's last appearance. On Monday, a new two-page section, called Network, covering personal and business computing will appear. Andrew Brown and Tom Wilkie, who edited this page for the past eighteen months, will scuttle back to decent obscurity as Religious Affairs Correspondent and Science Editor respectively. If readers had even half the fun that we did, it was all worth it.

RTFM before the revolution

I HAD, I thought with triumph, just joined the multi- media revolution. I had successfully inserted a sound- card into the bowels of my machine and carefully plugged into it a CD-rom drive and external loudspeakers. But the first CD did not work. My computer monitor had 'too few colours on its palette', writes Tom Wilkie.

Within Windows, a little box called 'Set-up' allows you to change from 16 colours to 256. But when I dutifully clicked on the appropriate icons, disaster ensued. My screen dissolved into lurid vertical stripes, fixed and immovable. There was no way to get out of Windows, because I could not see what was written on the screen nor where the mouse arrow was. And unfortunately, my machine is configured to load Windows automatically on rebooting. Wallpaper again.

Four hours later, after I had completely reloaded MS-Dos and Windows twice, I regained control. Clearly, the hardware inside my Dell computer was not powerful enough, so I resolved to borrow a video card from a colleague. Then I came upon a scrappy piece of paper supplied by Dell when I first bought the machine.

Despite its title of 'Software Support Utilities Documentation Update', it actually tells you how to get a better picture, without having to alter the hardware. Tucked away as a footnote were the fatal words 'You cannot run the Setup program that appears within Windows' to do this.

When I eagerly informed my spouse that this explained (and exculpated) my earlier wallpapering disaster, she was terse: 'RTFM, Thomas'.

It is a moral for us all: 'Read The F***ing Manual.'

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