Off to the Microsoft Campus to day to collect my recovered and restored HP laptop. You may recall that last week, Windows XP collapsed dramatically and unrecoverably, leaving me in the lurch and having to beg my eight year old for the use of the Windows (ME) machine I'm working on now. After lengthy and intense negotiation, a price was agreed, not with Microsoft but with my daughter, while a courier whisked the laptop back to Microsoft's A&E department, where it was immediately placed on emergency life support.

Sadly, it was too late to save the patient but the very efficient Microsoft 'ER' team managed to recover the data before XP finally expired, leaving me pathetically grateful for their efforts.

Why my laptop died is still a mystery. Ricin poisoning has been ruled out but the Coroner has entered an 'Open Verdict' and speculation suggests that the collapse could have been a consequence of cumulative patching and updating of Windows XP since its first release a year ago.

The consultant Windows surgeon has now replaced the BIOS and re-installed the Operating system with the latest and most up-to-date build of Windows XP Professional and so, with luck, the patient should be available for collection at 1 O'clock today. Thank God for BUPA without it there's a waiting list of three years!

The stress has been so much that I have decided to start smoking. At forty-six I decided I'm missing out, so now's as good a time as any to start and anyway, there's a certain perverse pleasure in blowing smoke and wild ideas at the monitor in front of me.


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