My New Computer

My New Computer

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At last I can use my new computer!  After
struggling for years on an outdated (dinosaur, really–­ I refuse to
reveal the model number) Macintosh, I have updated. 

how it all happened.  First came a cell phone call from a friend
of mine who knew I was looking.  “Hey,  I’m here in Cash and
Carry and they’re selling used Macs!” (Cash and Carry is a chain of
pawnshops that originated in Australia. How and why they ended up
setting up branches in Paris I haven’t the faintest idea, but it must
not have been a good one, as the chain has just been sold off.) Within
an hour I was in the store myself, and indeed, they had two used iMacs
for sale, 649 Euros each.  I chose the blue one and wrote 3
checks:  216, 216 and 217 euros, one to be cashed each month
during the next three months.

the fun began. I wanted all the data from my old Mac transferred to the
new one.  “No problem” they said. Just bring I in. Which I
did. On Tuesday. Having lived in France a while, I didn’t
even bother to pick up the computer Wednesday. When I arrived in
the store on Thursday, I was informed that there was a slight
problem–without my password, they had been unable to do the transfer!
I gave them the secret code and finally, on Friday, I had my new

“Phooey, the printer
cable doesn’t go in.” I addressed this problem to Jacques, who
sidelines as a Mac setter- upper and who had really helped me with my
dinosaur computer. Jacques whizzes by on his moto to install Mac
programming and to help you along.  “Sorry,” he confirmed, “you’ll
have to buy a new printer.” Plus install more memory and buy a CD
writer to make backups.

was at this point I realized I had no diskette drive at all and my CD
drive was read-only. Hmmm, how did they think you were going to back up
your data? 

So, off I
went to “complete” my computer. Stop number one:  buy the printer.
That weekend, I looked at FNAC and Darty, the two electronic havens in
Paris. At one point, a salesman at FNAC had sold me on an Epson
printer. On my way to pick it up, I thought I’d just stop off in
accessories to buy a couple of spare ink cartridges.  “21.30 E an
ink cartridge?  No way José!”

walked right out of the store and never looked back. The following
Monday, I thought I’d check out Surcouf, the largest computer store in
Paris in terms of space, taking up almost one city block near the Gare
de Lyon.  I arrived, only to read the following sign:  “We
are closed for inventory. Come back another day,” or something to that
effect.  As I have said in other articles, when you shop in Paris,
always have a backup store.

Jacques had given me my backup.  Around the corner from Surcouf is
a small Chinese-owned store, Univack, where you can get computer
supplies. I told the guy behind the counter I was looking for a
printer, but that the ink cartridges had to be
reasonable. Voilà–how I found and bought my fantastic new Canon
printer, ink cartridges 8 E each.

I had my printer. Onward.  Increase the memory. That went
without a hitch at Ginko, a Mac store in the 5th arrondissement on
Boulevard Saint Germain. Expensive, but easy.  Then, onward once
again for that CD read/write external Firewire drive.  I decided
to chance going back to Surcouf, which, this time, was not doing
inventory but was actually open during business hours. I looked in
the Mac department, but no luck–they didn’t have it.

did, however, have a printed list of Mac stores.  Cell phone in
hand, I phoned Allis, the one the salesman had marked on the
list.  Yes, they had it!  Then, having lived in France for
awhile, I asked another question. “Do you close for lunch?”  “Yes,
Madam, we close from 12:30 to 2:00 pm for lunch.”  Since I was
phoning them at 12:15, I was proud of myself for remembering to
ask.  If not, I’d have turned up during lunch in front of a locked
door!  Would the man have ever told me, unasked? Being as I was
phoning him at 12:15?  Not on your life. So, I went to their shop
after 2 pm to buy the CD read/write external Firewire drive. 
Then, another appointment
with Jacques to install everything.

came the challenge of buying spare ink cartridges. I say challenge
because, I’m not sure why, all the usual sources of supply (including
Darty and FNAC) were completely out of stock and not to be in stock for
another 4 to 6 weeks! Even the French Canon website was out of
stock.  (“A distribution problem, Madam.”) Now, when a French
salesperson tells you a date, you’ve got to realize that what this
really means is that the date he or she tells you is the absolute
earliest date, but it could, in fact, take longer ­ a lot
longer. On a whim I re-visited the street with all the
Chinese-owned computer stores. I’m not sure how they did it, but
at a tiny store called Yottacom, the shelves were absolutely brimming
over with ink cartridges (totally absent everywhere else)!  And,
the price was right.

finally buying my ink, I went home to take stock.  I love my new
Macintosh computer!  In the end, my 649 E computer cost 1300 E
including the programming set up by Jacques, the expanded memory from
Ginko, the CD read/write external Firewire drive from Allis, the
printer from Univak, and the ink cartridges from Yottacom.

Ah, at last, I can start working on my new computer.

Surcouf: 139 avenue Daumesnil, 12th arrondissement, Metro/RER Gare de Lyon
or Metro Montgallet

Univak: 1 rue Montgallet, 12th arrondissement, Metro/RER Gare de Lyon or
Metro Montgallet

Ginko: 65 Bd Saint-Germain, 5th arrondissement, Metro Maubert-Mutualité

Allis Informatique: 21 Bd Richard Lenoir, 11th arrondissement, Metro

Yottaco: 39 rue Montgallet, 12th arrondissement, Metro Montgallet

Feldman is an intercultural specialist working with English speaking
expatriates to help them integrate into french life, both
professionally and personally. In addition she works with French
executives who need to communicate internationally.

Jeanne has also written a shopping guide, Best Buys and Bargains in Paris.