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Information for the trade and an unloved upgrade

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I have to declare an interest about the legendary Ian Martin, whose surreal reporting I have admired for two decades and who once served a stint on this very organ. Now he has a site intended for the medium-to-small practice at www. spa. uk. net. Martin being Martin, I spent some time trying to read a second meaning into 'spa'or even 'spauk'or even 'uknet', but it seems it probably just stands for small practice architect. Last week the main headings, serious and sublime, included: can you spot the fake CPD seminar? ; where are all the unattached architects? ; are Muslim architects building walls or bridges? Essential viewing from day one, and there is a regular newsletter.

That terrific source of computer information Fred Langa (you may subscribe to his free newsletter The Langa List at www. langa. com/news letter. htm) has been looking at the new Windows XP. He tried it out on two machines which, according to Microsoft, would be suitable for the new operating system. Old computer-hand Langa ran into trouble with both of them. On one, nearly two years old, its sole network card disappeared under XP. On his newer computer, less than a year old - fast chip and well stocked with memory - the Windows XP analyser insisted that he would have to replace his printer, scanner, digital camera, disk utilities, anti-virus tools, CDR burning tools and encryption tool. OK, so hopeless as that is, it is not all that exceptional for a new operating system (ask your IT person or someone installing Linux). It does not alter the fact though that, as Langa says, 'The claims of XP being a painless upgrade for machines of recent vintage simply are not true'. His conclusion is:

'Don't bother upgrading to XP because the benefits it offers probably will not offset the hassle and/or costs.' This view seems to be supported by UK company IT managers: according to a Computer Weekly straw poll the 'vast majority'of them are 'not planning to implement XP within a year of its release'.

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