New hard drive, new internet provider, new phone, the lot. I think I'm finally back in business, thanks to efficient help from both the public sector (Saif, the IT guy in our department at King's) and the private (Apple, Carphone Warehouse). In main Apple Stores you can book a session with an Apple Genius (yeah, I know). I don’t know if they’re geniuses but as well as being intelligent and knowledgeable they’re uncondescending, helpful and nice. In stores like the one at Kingston you can observe with hope the reversal of the usual education scene: at the long tables down the middle middle-aged and older people attend deferentially to the advice of young men and women in Apple t-shirts.
Carphone Warehouse (and the mobile phone companies generally, I gather) have terrible systems that make life difficult for their staff, but the people in the Surbiton branch, and one I've used earlier on Tottenham Court Road, are, like the Apple guys, smart, understanding, cool and friendly. It’s actually a good experience going into one of these places, unlike, say, Marks & Spencer or Ikea (no staff to be found).
If only what Apple and Carphone (and King's at times) knew about appointing the right people for customer (and employee) relations could be taught to all public and private organisations, how much pleasanter and easier modern life would be.