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Techy triumphs – and nightmares

In those moments when I have not been glued to the tennis, I have had a list of technical problems to solve. I started with the easiest: helping Dessa set up her swanky new iMac.

This proved to be fairly easy, thanks to a Mac utility called Migration Assistant, which lets you do exactly that: migrate all the stuff you want to rescue from your old computer to the new one. I reckon Dessa could have done it on her own, but it is good to have company when you are doing something as major as setting up a new computer system and making sure you are not losing anything.

The second task should have been easy: wiping the old computer clean and preparing it for use by the next owner (Dessa was selling her old Mac to my friend Dan). I have done this fairly easily in the past, using Disk Utility. The trouble is that I had not been reading the lit enough and had not realised how much in the past year Apple has been reorganising things under the bonnet of the Mac operating system. Something went horribly wrong with the operating system while I was reformatting the hard disk. I refused to be beaten, did some unwilling reading up and just about grasped changes to the Mac volume structure.

In the end I reformatted the Mac as a hard drive without a system, downloaded the system from the internet onto a usb stick, which I then used to reboot the system-less computer, and to reinstall the system onto it. Phew! I then set it up for Dan, created an Apple ID for him, installed a few useful apps like Pages (Apple’s free alternative to Microsoft Word), and handed it over, feeling rather pleased with myself.

After that things went gone downhill. I have two domestic techy tasks which I have been avoiding for some time. Since I got my new router in May, both my Sonos speakers and my Netgear extenders stopped working. The main Sonos speaker was a present from Jude and Ed and I really want it working before they come next month! And the extenders are needed so that the internet can be used everywhere in the house including the bedroom underneath – and its terrace (used last year by people needing work zoom calls away from family).

I thought I would start with the easier – getting Sonos to work on wifi again. Easier? Huh.. I kept on getting a message that my password was incorrect, which I knew was not the case. I asked for help on the Sonos community forum and the general response seemed to be to go out and buy another bit of kit (called mysteriously a Booster). Then I sought help from Sonos itself, using the online chat service. Four hours later I emerged a damp, exhausted mental mess, with a system working even less well than it had at the start.

The first ‘specialist’ took over my computer (with my permission) and sought to reconfigure the router (the Livebox). In the process she renamed the router, thus abruptly terminating all wifi contact in the house, including my lights – and computer. So the online chat froze!

I started again, with a second ‘specialist’, who was not interested in reading the transcript of the conversation with his colleague, so asked all the same questions, sometimes more than once. Then suddenly I saw the message ‘chat ended’. Why I dont know.

Anyhow I have given in and ordered the Booster. When it arrives next week, I will try one last time to get my music playing through the Sonos system before the family arrives.

So now onto the next task: to get my extenders to work. I have just managed to get one connected to the router. But now time to stop, have supper and recharge the batteries. That is my batteries.

It can be a bit stressful dealing with computer related problems in the depths of the country. When they are Mac problems, to be honest I am one of the few people around who can fix them – hence I have a small band of friends dependent on my aid. When it comes to networks and the products of other firms, such as Orange, Sonos and Netgear, I am struggling. And there is no obvious source of help round here.

Still, I did have one success today: I navigated the French health system’s bizarrely complicated websites, have downloaded the EU Covid certificate and put it on my phone – ready to be able to go to bars and restaurants next month!

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