Saturday, January 27, 2007

More Funny Dell Stories.

One of the 20 or so Dell computers I support was complaining during startup that some of its memory was not working. If you tried a couple times, the computer would boot and run, but then eventually error out later on a memory read failure. The computer is still under warrantee, so I called Dell.

The support techs put me through the normal memory failure drill.
  • Boot the computer, hitting F12 (boot options) and select diagnostic utilities. Run the memory test. Failure.
  • Unplug the computer, remove the memory, clean the contacts with and eraser, and install the memory. Failure.
  • Remove both memory sticks and swap slots. Failure.
  • Remove just the stick from slot one. Computer Boots and runs fine.
  • Reinstall the memory to slot one and remove the memory from slot two. Failure.
By now we know the memory is bad, and that it is the memory in slot one. The support tech says he will be sending out technician with replacement memory for us. I counter that he can just send the memory, and I’ll install it at a time the system can be taken off line without disrupting the business.

So the support tech says “Are you comfortable installing the memory yourself?”

I laughed out loud and retorted “Um, I just took it out, cleaned, put it back in, swapped it, and removed and reinstalled them one at a time to help you diagnose the problem. You tell me if you think I can install the new ones.”

We both had a good laugh, which concluded with him admitting that he is required to ask.

The next day, I had new memory waiting for me. Dell delivers the fix, and good humor at the same time.

Friday, January 12, 2007

RAVE: I love bluetooth.

Long ago I gave up my regular flip phone in favor of a smart phone. Even as a nerd, I wanted to carry around the fewest gadgets possible. At first I had a TREO 600, a great phone to be sure, but it has some drawbacks.

What I really want is a phone with a built in PDA. What is available is a PDA with a built in phone. My idea of a phone is a flip phone. Something like a old Star Trek communicator -- flip it open and announce, "Kirk to Enterprise!" and a voice responds from the ether. One of my all time favorite phones was my old StarTac (ironic huh? StarTac vs Star Trek?). Then when the conversation is done, close the phone, and stick it in your pocket. Done, simple, fool-proof.

Instead I have a small brick I hold to my head. It does EVERYTHING I want from a PDA, but as a phone, it feels like I'm holding a VHS cassette to the side of my face. And corded headsets are frought with their own trouble. I was always catching the cord on something or dragging it along behind me. The cord evenutally caught somewhere, and the force of it jerking the plug from the recpical broke the contacts inside, making the phone usable only WITH a corded headset -- go figure!

I am at my core, frugal. My friends call me a cheapskate, and I'll accept that. I had been lusting after a newer treo, but my broken 600 was still under contract, and a new 650 or 700 with bluetooth was going to exceed my personal spending cap.

Then the the patron saint of the skinflints smiled on me. I was working on a customer's computer system, and he had a Treo 700w box on his desk. I asked him how he liked his phone.

"I hate it." He responded. "It is too big and bulky, so I got this instead." He remove a RAZR from is pocket.

"Would you sell me you old one?" I offered, hoping to buy it within my budget.

His response was curt and final. "No. Take it off my desk so I don't have to throw it away."

I bought a Jabra 250v headset off ebay the next week.

It was a breeze to connect, and has great sound quality. Now I have no brick by my face, no cords to get tangled, and I am one happy yacker! Give me a call some time.

Monday, January 08, 2007