Wednesday Feb 20, 2008

Dell's Great in-home service

Well, my mom's hard drive died on her - puking out the blue-screen-of-vista-death.  After spending an hour on the phone w/ Dell support in India she learned that her computer didn't work!  However,  they did not propose to fix it or help out.  The box comes with a 1 year in-home warranty so they should have fixed it right?  So she called me and I phone Dell, outraged! As it turns out they did file a report about a hard drive crash, but the passive tech support guy did nothing more (kind of like going to Kaiser to see your doctor - you have to be assertive or they won't fix you either).  So I managed to get them to admit that a hard drive crash after 6 months IS a warranty item and they agreed to replace it. Not only that, they sent someone out w/ an imaged disk to replace it at my mom's home. And, if you can believe this, they even showed up on time. On the promised day!  Now my mom's computer is back up and running, but with all that ad-ware that Dell so conveniently provides.  Well maybe there is hope for Dell yet!

My next step is to remove the adware and install CrossLoop an opensource  VNC application that allows me to take control of her desktop remotely so I can help her w/ email and Firefox.  So far it works really, really well and does exactly what I need it to do - saving me a trip to her house to show her how to print documents!

Monday Jun 04, 2007

I, sadly, replaced my Mom's Mac with an (erp) Dell


I am a Mac lover and so I bought my 80ish year old mom an iMac running OS9. Well that is now so old that the browsers for OS9 won't display Web content very well AND she can't get any support because few of her artist friends use Macs. I live far enough away that tech support is offered mostly by phone and our conversations often get bogged down with me asking her to do something like enter a URL. So my sister and I bought her an (erp) Dell. I know, I should have at least had it shipped with Ubuntu Linux, but again, none of her friends could help her w/ Ubuntu so I opted for (erp) windows. With this OS I am no longer the sole 1 800 line for help as she can ask her neighbor, friends, my dad and take classes (and maybe even test Dell support!). However, to retain what little dignity I have left and to counter the threat of Windows (and associated viruses) I am stripping all other M$FT products and leaving FireFox, ThunderBird and Open Office. There are so many free and open source applications out there that it is simple to set up a computer - even for my computer challenged mom. Her friends may not have heard of these applications, but they have the look and feel of other commonly used programs so it should be easy enough to get help! We'll find out in a couple of weeks when I delivery it.

Moving to a PC means that she loses the all-in-one sleek design of the Mac and gets more cables and a big case on-the-floor. The only problem with this setup is the very large case contains a very large heat sink and fan. The heat sink is the size of my fist and its cooled by a $2 fan. The heat sink is an engineering marvel as I am sure that many, many weeks went into understanding the thermodynamics of heat transfer in a box. I just hope they had sufficient slack in their calculations so the processor won't die if/when the fan quits and I lose the $200 motherboard and AMD processor (maybe that's why Dell tried so hard to sell me the 3 year warranty?). I can now understand why the high end computers are going back to the good old days of liquid cooling!  Side note - my son upon seeing the size of the Dell box exclaimed - that's not a computer, that's a Dell!

Final note - to compensate for the sin of buying a Dell, my wife did get a new Mac Book Pro and I am buying a new iMac for home. My daughter complains that our old iMac is too slow and doesn't have a full version of Adobe Photoshop (which it couldn't run very quickly anyway). I am just waiting for Apple to ship the new 64 bit processors in the new iMacs - I hear it is now end of June.

Tuesday May 15, 2007

Microsoft sees a clear and present danger

Lets review - The State of Massachusetts adopts the .ODF format. Michael Dell installs Ubuntu Linux on his laptop and Dell computer offers Ubuntu Linux as an OS option. Ubuntu distributes open source Java. Microsoft seeing a clear and present danger then claims Open Office and Linux violates its patents. As Warren Zevon said "Send lawyers, guns and money" we are all going to need them!

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