Monday, 22 August 2011

Three Little Words

No, not 'I love you', though those are of course very nice three little words which perhaps should be used far more often in appropriate circumstances.

The three little words that I'm thinking about are, "Easy to Install". You see them everywhere, and they throw the fear of god into me if I have to buy anything and 'install' it.

I like to think that I'm reasonably intelligent, though I don't particularly want to take an IQ test, just in case it shows up my self belief to be delusion. But something always seems to go wrong when I try to install, or programme some equipment,

For many people, "Easy to Install" is just that, but for me, I know that I'm beaten before I start. I don't know what part of the brain controls these actions, but short-circuiting takes place, and I'm left feeling depressed, inadequate and with something that I can't get to work. "Easy to Install" really are horrible words, and over the years, the mere sight of them has brought on palpitations, and caused me to run the proverbial mile. I'm thinking of setting up an on-line campaign to have the words "Easy to Install" banned from public advertising, on the grounds of human rights (well, everything else seems to come under human rights), as my human right to be equipmentally (yes I know there's no such word) challenged is being infringed. Also, the Advertising Standards Agency needs to be brought on board, as the claim, "Easy to Install" may well infringe their code of ethics. Let me give you some case studies.

What seems like aeons ago in another galaxy, I purchased a "self-assembly" conservatory from Wickes. This "Easy to Install" kit could be erected by two people over a weekend.

To show how easy it would be, the advertising blurb had a picture of a retired man and women erecting it. On seeing this, I thought, How hard can it be?

A few days later, the conservatory arrived - there seemed like hundreds of bits which was a touch daunting. On having a quick look at the instruction manual, my first thought was, never in a month of Sundays will I be able to erect this. Actually, this was also my second, third and fourth thought. I decided to contract the work out, and it took these professionals four days to erect the thing. "Easy to Install" be damned.

We've all known about the digital switchover for ages. To be fair to the authorities, they've been very clear for months.

In the Nottingham area, we've known that on the 17th August, the analogue signal for BBC2 would be switched off, and that on the 31st August we would lose BBC1, ITV 1, Channel 4 and Channel 5. We would therefore need to be digital ready.

I don't have a digital TV, so knew that I would have to get a Freeview Box, and tune it in to the new signals. The box would be "Easy to Install" and would self tune. I however, have put it off, for fear of this technology, and I can no longer get BBC2.

Today I bit the bullet and wandered down to Curry's to buy their finest (ie cheapest) Freeview receiver. Earlier, I spent half an hour working out which lead goes where (yes I know!), then trying to get the remote to work. To my shame, I'd missed the instruction that told me to insert batteries into the thing. With the TV switched on, I began the process of getting digital signals to my TV. But something happened. The instruction windows coming up on the screen didn't all seem to correspond with the diagrams in the booklet, and I didn't know what to do. I still don't, and I've left it until tomorrow, hoping for inspiration. Have you noticed that there's never a young child around when you need one? I know what some of you are thinking; all you need to do John is carefully read the manual. Listen, to me, that is the equivalent of telling someone suffering from severe depression to pick their socks up. I'm not thick, but something happens to me when faced with an instruction manual, particularly if it is accompanied by the words, "Easy to Install".

My bank is upgrading its Internet banking security. I knew this was coming, and that a new keypad would be sent out to me, which would replace the old system.

Today it arrived in environmentally friendly packaging, which took me ages to get into. The accompanying letter informed me that I had 30 days to set up the secure key, after which the old system would not operate (a bit like analogue switching to digital).

I started to worry a bit when the Bank's letter said of this Secure Key that "its intuitive design makes it easy to use". As this was a day for biting bullets, I decided to set up the new system.

No doubt the finest minds at HSBC have been hard at work to keep my meagre account safe from thieves, and I'm grateful to them. Thankfully no batteries were needed for the key, and though sweating profusely, I slowly and agonisingly made my way through the instructions. Please don't cock it up John, as you'll have to own up to the helpdesk, who probably get more than enough laughs at the expense of customers already. Halting only through indecision over what security questions to ask, and then what answers to remember in the future, I was finally set up. I am now fully secure, that is until some criminal finds a way around this latest security, and we have to begin the process all over again.

So do look out for my forthcoming on-line petition to get the words "Easy to Install" banned by all manufacturers.

However, there is one "Easy to Install" instruction that I have left for my family in the event of my demise. It's a really "Easy to Install" coffin - it's made of cardboard. Greetings to all fellow sufferers. 


  1. John - what a delight! I can empathise with you completely on this. And I'll definitely sign your petition!The worrying thing is that the older I get the more inadequate I feel and I'm not sure if it's my age or the fact that things really are getting more complicated!

  2. Dad - a past with enormous resonance for me - now I know where I get it from!! How can I manage multi-million pound budgets but not build a Billy bookcase from IKEA? My mind, capable of so many things when faced with the 'easy' instructions goes into a blank. I agree with Tony and will sign your petition - the best example of why these words are so wrong is that for the people writing them these blasted things probably are 'easy to install.' But we are not like them - for instance, I find the violin 'easy to play' but I know that's just chance that my brain is wired like that - it is isn't easy, and no music teacher would ever say so, it just is for me - great post and we're all standing in the middle of the room with incomprehensible numbers of bits of something with you....