Posts tagged: Dell

Netbook fever

Hey man.  I got netbook fever and I got it bad.  I need a hit, man.  Come on… you can leave Windows off of it if that will make it cheaper.  Just give me the cash and I’ll buy my own.  I swear I’ll use the money on a netbook.  Yeah I can get one of those cheap Asus EEE or one of its new competitors like the MSI Wind or the Acer One.  I’d even be happy with the low cost Dell Mini 9 or the slightly more expensive HP Mini Mi. Those are all fine examples of the netbook craze.

But the one I really have my eye on is the Lenovo U110.  That baby is freaking sweet.  It has an 11″ screen with a resolution that is actually useful (1366×768) unlike all those others I listed.  Something else it has that none of those other netbooks have is an actual DVD/CD burner built into that tiny chassis.  No lugging around the extra weight (and expense) of a slim external USB drive since it’s built in and always there if you want it.

The bitch of it is the price.  Oh that is where it hurts the most especially nowadays.  Where as all those other netbooks listed cost anywhere from $200-$400 US dollars, the Lenovo U110 starts at $1,600 US dollars!  What the fuck?  That’s why I’m pissed about this thing.  It’s perfect.  OK not really – if it had a Blu-Ray drive then it would be perfect since that higher respolution can display 720p.  But still, does this near perfection give them the right to charge $1,200 more than the highest priced alternative?

I guess the answer is: If people will buy it for that price then yes it is worth it.  They are idiots, those people who are spending that much money on this little netbook.  Idiots.  How can they justify that unless of course they are stinking rich and don’t have to worry about cash.  Then OK, I get that.  I’m jealous and I hate those people but I get it.

So here’s the deal.  I need EVERYONE to stop buying the Lenovo U110 (especially the red one).  Drive market demand for these little netbooks down as far as it can go.  Then we all win.  We can all buy them at the same time for probably around $500.  A much more reasonable amount for such a computer.  But you have to do your part.  Otherwise it’s a failure.

Mixed up PCs

For as long as I’ve been with this company they have been using only Dell computers and servers.  Recently though our parent company has decided that all companies under it’s umbrella must start purchasing and using HP computers and servers.  I don’t mind HP at all but this shift in hardware was not thought out other than to make this mandate and then leave people wondering: How?

We have no corporate or global agreement with HP like we do with Dell.  We have no standardized pricing and discounts like we currently enjoy.  And so far, it looks like the first HP notebook I’ve ordered is going to take at least three weeks to arrive.  Unlike Dell which takes, at most, a week.  Someone should have thought about this just a little more.

Now add to this that we also have to deal with Lenovo on some projects so we have to be able to buy Lenovo notebooks as well.  I just received a brand new Thinkpad X61s this morning (which was ordered one week after the HP) and have started removing the bloatware.  Thinkpads have always been notorious for putting tons of extra crap into their computer builds that no one will ever use.  It’s a waste of everyone’s time.

I just ordered six PCs from Dell last week.  They are all here already.  I think I’ll just worry about HP later.

Thursday Tech Tips

I had a user setting up his notebook at the last second in a conference room full of expectant visitors.  When his notebook wouldn’t connect to the room’s built-in projector it seems that he went and grabbed our nice Dell portable projector.  When that didn’t work and the meeting was two minutes overdue to start, they finally came running to me.

Unfortunately, this left me with no time to help him with the problem he was having with connecting to external displays.  The only thing I could do was grab a spare Dell notebook on the way out of my office and have him copy his presentations to it so he could continue on with the meeting.  Problem not solved but crisis averted.

Today he tells me that he’s leaving on the weekend for a week and he needs that functionality to work and he won’t be able to let Dell have the laptop before then to fix it.  Uhh….  So I dredged through my rusty databank of a mind and remembered that I kept seeing a little graphic pop-up each time he hit Fn+F8 and it said “Presentation Mode: OFF.”  I remember thinking that that wasn’t right but couldn’t troubleshoot it at the time.

I contacted Dell Support and of course they can’t do much without me having the PC in front of me, but they did give me a hint that I thought might work.  There’s a Dell QuickSet application that runs in the background and gives some control over certain system settings and functions.  So I got the PC for a few minutes and checked QuickSet and sure enough, there’s a Display setting that, if unchecked, will not allow you to use external displays.  Presentation Mode was indeed turned off.

So I checked the box to enable Presentation Mode and tested it with an external LCD monitor and a HD Plasma TV in the conference room.  Imagine that…   it works now.  Not so hard of a fix after all.  But how did it get set like that in the first place?  That I can’t answer… yet.  I have two new D630s sitting here in my office though and I intend to see what their default settings are on this.

So that’s the first tech tip for today.  The second one is more of a common sense tip that should be obvious after reading the above.  If you need help with your PC, please… for the love of all that’s silicon, give us technical people a little time to fix your problem.  Asking for help at the last possible second is the worst time to do so.  Especially when you knew the problem existed previously.

My computer is broke. Nuh-uh!

Dealing with technical support at the best of times can be difficult.  Dealing with tech support in Hong Kong can be absolutely infuriating.  The DVD-RW drive in my Dell XPS M1710 computer has been slowly dying for months but Friday it decided to give up completely.  This is a pretty fast PC but it would take six hours to burn 1GB of data to a DVD because it reset every two seconds.  Now it won’t even read a disk.

In a nutshell, here’s how the conversation went:
“My computer’s broke.”
“No it’s not, that’s normal.”

Yes tech support in Hong Kong will regularly flat out lie to try and keep from actually sending someone to fix something.  It’s not just Dell or even computers.  Getting service in Hong Kong is painful.

Actually the Dell Optiplex support line is pretty good and they speak English.  When you call the Dell XPS support line, you get transferred to Mainland China somewhere and they don’t speak English.  Knowing this, I had an admin make the call for me and warned her that they may not even speak guangdong hua (Cantonese).

Sure enough, the first person to answer speaks putong hua (Mandarin) only.  Luckily most of the local staff in my office are at least able to handle most conversations in Mandarin but they still get mixed up sometimes.  Oddly enough, the tech must not have liked the admin’s knowledge of his language because he hung up on her.  So she called back and luckily this time she got someone who speaks Cantonese.  Mind you, this is a Hong Kong phone number we’re dialing.

Instead of going through all the details of what happened, I’ll just give you the excuses that were translated to me.  There may have been more that I didn’t hear or understand.

  • “Has Windows been re-installed?” – This insinuated that it’s not the drive but that Windows is the problem and needs to be re-installed.  No.
  • When the call was made I had a burned copy of Symantec AV in the drive.  He told the admin that “there was just an incompatibility in the way that the burned disk had been created.”  So he told her she needed to put in a CD provided by Dell and if it worked then it wasn’t their problem.
  • So I put in the XPS Drivers and Utilities Disk.  Standing near the PC you can hear the drive spin and reset over and over and over.  I told her to tell him about that noise.  He responded with: “That’s normal.”
  • When the Dell CD didn’t come up, he had her try another Dell CD because it must be a problem with that CD.  We entered another one which made the same sounds and didn’t work.  He told her “the drivers weren’t loaded” even though we told him it’s been working for almost two years.  He had her check Device Manager and sure enough there was no Exclamation Point marking a problem.
  • When I told her to tell him it took six hours to burn 1GB of data to a DVD-R, he started questioning the software we were using and blamed it on that.  He told her then that “the software you use is just not updated.”  By this point I was well beyond pissed and glad he couldn’t understand what I was saying on speakerphone.

The admin started getting confrontational with him at that point because he was wasting our time.  We had spent 30 minutes on the phone at that point.  Finally he relented and told us someone would contact us tomorrow to replace the drive.

Of course I thanked the admin since I’ve made similar calls before and they were just as painful except neither person understood the other.  Imagine trying to convey “video card” to someone who only speaks Mandarin and you only speak English.  Painful.

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