The snail won.

My mum has a Dell Inspiron mini 10 running XP.

She has been complaining for yonks that it has been running slower than a constipated snail. And I have been promising to fix it for an equally long time. I finally made good on my promise this weekend. Crivens, she wasn’t joking. By the time it booted up I could have sworn the flipping Olympics had been and gone. If only.

Now, my dear mum is what I would call a “light user”. She surfs the web, does the family tree, edits documents and goes on facebook. That’s it, really. It doesn’t get left on long enough to overheat, it certainly doesn’t get nonsense downloaded on to it, and the desktop is a pretty expanse of emptiness, as I have decreed to her it should be.

So why the geriatric pace?

Age, spec, and specifically, Norton. 1Gb of RAM is not enough to cope with that life force sucking monstrosity of a program. If your mother has the same problem with a notebook computer, you would be well advised to do the following:

Remove all unused software – especially browser toolbars
Remove norton
Install avast free
Full virus scan
Tidy up hard drive – save large files on external hard drive
Remove temp files
Empty recycle bin
Empty/tidy startup
Disk clean up
Switch off indexing
Update browser/clear cache/browsing data

Having done all these things, which at the speed of the Inspiron took a full 4 hours, I had managed to get it running fast enough to satisfy my mother, if not myself.

Which left me with one issue outstanding. The aspect ratio and the resolution of the Dell Inspiron mini 10 is not just wrong, it’s horrid. Stretched and pixelly.

I combed the web for answers, I downloaded the latest graphics drivers and chipset, I tweaked every setting there was. No joy.

I reached an uneasy compromise by changing the font size in advanced display settings to 96%, rather than the present 120%. Sadly that didn’t help the aspect ratio. I am stumped. I have seen this once before on a system prior to a full reinstallation of xp, but I’m trying to avoid a clean install for reasons related to the aforementioned family tree. Are the display problems a feature of the mini, or a feature of my mother’s mini? Or a feature of an xp system in its death throes?

I’d ask the snail, but it passed me some time ago. Laughing. Clutching an iPad.

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