There is so much good material that it’s hard to know where to start.  If you’ve come across a tech fail then let me know.   But I have to start somewhere.  So let’s pick Dell.

Now you’d think that after so many years of practice Dell would have got this laptop lark down to a tee, but no. They haven’t. There’s just so many ways to fail, so why not go for a load of them? Let’s start at the beginning.

A new, top of the range laptop from Dell arrived for me recently. Unfortunately they forgot a few little bits when they shipped it. Like installing a driver for the built-in track pad.

But it’s an easy mistake? Who wants to move the pointer around the screen nowadays? Isn’t touch the next big thing? Still, you’d have thought installing the software that let the touchpad be configured would be kind of useful, but nope. You need to find that on the website (or the mislabelled CDs they include).

My poor track pad

So that’s done, and now I can for example press both track pad buttons together to simulate a third mouse button and close tabs. But wait – why can’t I use those scroll pad regions that are drawn on the track pad? Surely they’re not just decorative? And what has happened to all the dragging and corner press shortcuts I had on my old Dell laptop? I know they’ve been invented, so where have they gone?

Apparently the relevant Dell track pad drivers – once you find them – do not support the features which are actually drawn on the track pad itself! So off I go, and find the reference Synaptics drivers – they’re the people who made the pad after all. And now, after more installation, I have a working track pad, with all the little short cuts I’ve used for years on my other Dell laptops.

But wait! Now I don’t have any short cut for a third mouse button. And I use this all the time for shutting browser tabs. How do I enable this? Short answer: you can’t. You either pick Dell’s driver and lose the clever bits, or pick Synaptic and lose the double button press shortcut. Isn’t that pathetic? Haven’t both of these companies had long enough to work out what they’re doing?