gwynhefar: (DW Fantastic)
Halle-frickin'-lujah*

I am writing this post from my brand new Alienware Aurora desktop with more harddrive space, more memory, and a faster processor, than my old XPS, not to mention a Blu Ray player and Windows 7. A desktop that, with the replacement of yet another motherboard, finally works.

It's been almost 2 months of headache and crap service, but at least I got a better computer out of the deal.



*another example of tmesis
gwynhefar: (Default)
Ok, Dell Technicians, listen up. When my computer goes belly-up while still under warranty, *I* am the injured party here. I am not a supplicant. I am not required to turn my life upside down to accommodate *your* schedule and I am certainly not going to be slavishly grateful when you deign to grace me with your presence. The next person who huffs an exasperated sigh on finding out that no, I am *not* available in the middle of the day with no warning is going to feel my wrath. Such as it is.
gwynhefar: (hitchhikers guide)
I am beginning to give serious credence to the idea that there is a technology-hating imp living in my apartment. No other explanation makes sense.

My replacement computer from Dell arrived yesterday, right before I left for work. When I got home, I set it up, connected everything the way you're supposed to, and turned it on. I got an AUTOEXEC.BAT Failure after the Alienware logo.

So I call Dell. This time I get a very nice technician named William who listens to my description of the problem and goes "What? That makes no sense." I find that I respond much better to customer service folk who admit when they don't know what's going on, rather than trying to pretend they do when they obviously don't. I like this guy already.

So we check a few settings, all of which are where they should be. Finally he says that while he's never seen this problem before on a customer machine, he thinks that reinstalling Windows will take care of it. So he leaves me to do that and promises to call back today after work.

Reinstalling Windows *does*, in fact, resolve the error issue. However, while I can now get into Windows, it refuses to acknowledge my network connection so I can't get online, and it frequently stalls on various tasks. In trying to get online I tried disabling and reenabling the network adapter, and it stalled on enabling. At another point, it stalled on shut down - spending 45 minutes on the "Windows is shutting down" screen before I gave up and manually turned it off.

So something is still wrong. Here's hoping William lives up to his first impression and proves to be more competent and reliable than the other Dell techs I've worked with. Meanwhile, I'm going to go search for imp-banishing rituals.
gwynhefar: (Default)
Ok, so Dell is finally sending me a new computer (well a refurbished one, but that's ok). This came from the Dell representative stalking my blog, not from Nero or any of the interesting people I talked to on the phone. I've been promised that every part of the new system will be at least as good or better than the one I purchased (and I'm getting Windows 7 for free). I guess all it takes to get decent service from Dell is to complain about them on a blog with a couple hundred followers. Good info for next time :)
gwynhefar: (Default)
Oh, and Nero didn't call on Friday. Colour me surprised (no, not really).
gwynhefar: (Default)
So Dell replaced the motherboard, both hard drives, and all the memory. The new hard drive had Windows pre-installed, and we managed to get it up and running long enough to go through the loading of the various pre-installed software which the technician said should last about an hour.

I go to do something else and come back and there's another BSOD. Different error message this time. So yesterday I call Dell back *again*. I ask for a supervisor, but the guy says there's none available. Since the new error message is different from the first one, he wants to try and walk me through some things to resolve the issue. Ok fine. So I spend two hours on the phone with this guy, trying to reinstall drivers, which don't work because the computer says there's not enough disk space to install the drivers, despite the fact that there's nothing on the hard drive other than Windows. So he has me wipe and reformat both drives *again* before reinstalling Windows *again*.

Before ending the call to let Windows try to install for about the third or fourth time, I finally get to talk to a supervisor. He tells me his name is Nero. Yes, like the emperor. Or like the psychotic Romulan from the future, depending on your flavour of geek. This already does not inspire me with confidence, although I have to feel a little sorry for the guy. I bite back the urge to ask if he has a fiddle he can play while my computer burns (and yes, I know that's just a legend, so sue me).

Nero tells me he is very aware of my problems and he is very sorry for my frustration and all he wants to do is make me a happy customer. I express, once again, both my extreme frustration and my skepticism that trying once again to do something they've already had me do twice before is going to solve the problem. He tries to be placating. He promises to call me back at a time of my choosing to see if the problem is fixed, so I don't have to wait on hold.

Finally I get off the phone and go play some Zelda to clear my mind. I come back later to exactly what I expected - the BSOD with the same error it had when I first called about this problem almost 3 weeks ago. Somehow I don't think the call tonight is going to be very pleasant for Nero.
gwynhefar: (I can see you)
Ok, so I realise that Dell subcontracts their technicians, so an annoying technician doesn't necessarily reflect on Dell themselves, but this guy is ticking me off.

So Friday I went out to a social held by one of the student groups associated with Women & Gender Studies, to which I am the new liaison. It was open to all, student and faculty alike, and it was probably about one part work and two parts fun. At some point between 4:30 when I headed over to the social and about 7pm when I left, the Dell guy had called *twice* wanting to set up a time to install the part that Dell wants to be replaced that I can almost guarantee will not fix my problem. I called back and got a recording, which I expected, and said I was returning the call and for him to call back when he got a chance, acknowledging that that probably wouldn't be until today because of the long weekend.

So he calls today at 7:15am which in my opinion is straddling the line between awfully damn early and *unreasonably* damn early. And since I don't have to get up until 8 I put my pillow over my head and ignored the phone. I was going to call him back when I got into work to set up a time. So a little before 9am (I didn't have to be in until 9:30 today since I'm working until 6) I'm leaving my apartment and this guy walks up and introduces himself as the Dell technician and asks if I have some time.

Um . . . no. Just NO. You do not randomly show up on my doorstep. And he looked at me like it was *my* fault he'd made a wasted trip when I told him that no, I was on my way to work and I did *not* have some time. I told him I'd be home by 7pm. He then got another annoyed look on his face and said he'd have another technician call me since he "didn't usually work that late."

Well, excuse me for having a life and a job! If you'd waited until I returned your early-ass phone call I might have been able to work out a time later in the week where I could take a long lunch or leave work a bit early, but damn. *I'm* the customer here. I'm the one with the crappy broken computer that *isn't my fault* and you should be finding a way to accommodate my schedule, not getting ticked off because I haven't accommodated yours.

*GRRRRR*
gwynhefar: (hitchhikers guide)
Stupid computer is broken again. Thank goodness I keep most of my writing and other projects in the cloud. Talked to my brother the computer geek and he said it sounds like the motherboard, which I've had problems with before. So I guess I'll be calling Dell again. At least it's still under warranty, but I hate Dell's crappy customer support.
gwynhefar: (Default)
Got a call from the Dell technician today, who seemed to think I was being unreasonable because I refused to *take time off work* to meet him so he could install the *fifth piece* of replacement hardware on my computer. Dell has also been sending me annoying automated phone calls reminding me to return the old parts that were replaced, something I don't intend to do until I have a functioning computer. They can have their pieces back when I'm sure that they won't be needed again.

I am so sick of this. Last time I talked to someone at their technical support I asked to be transferred to a supervisor and my call was promptly dropped. I don't know for sure that was intentional, but I wouldn't be surprised. They've really screwed themselves with this. I've been buying Dell computers for years, and I honestly believe that the problems I've been having with this computer are the exception rather than the norm. Since I never had to have prolonged contact with their technical support before this, I would actually have recommended them. Their computers are usually pretty good. Now I know, however, that their customer service sucks donkey's ass, and I intend to tell everyone I know to avoid them like the plague.

I'll be telling them this too - *after* my computer is finally functional and if I ever manage to get myself transferred to a supervisor.

Ugh

Jun. 23rd, 2009 10:46 am
gwynhefar: (Default)
So, last night, I finally got to sleep somewhere around 1:30am, woke up around 3:15, got back to sleep around 3:45, woke up around 4:30, got back to sleep around 5:45, and finally woke up again when the alarm went off at 6:30. I have no idea how I'm functioning today. (scratch that, I do know - I'm *not* functioning today)

Also, I am at the heights of frustration because iTunes keeps crashing when I try to re-sync my iPod, which lost all its songs when I was trying to fix the volume control by restoring the factory settings. That solution did not, in fact, fix the volume control, and now I can't transfer more than about 200 songs at a time (and with almost 9000 songs in my Library, that's taking a long time). In addition, whenever a sync does fail, it somehow erases part or sometimes all of the songs on the iPod itself (I'll start out with 800 songs on the iPod, try to add another 200, have the sync fail, and end up with 650 songs on the iPod). I'm actually pretty sure by now that the problem is my iPod going bad, and not actually iTunes itself. Unfortunately, since I can't afford a new iPod, I have to deal with what I've got. Which is frustrating, to say the least.
gwynhefar: (Default)
Ok, so the Dell technician came back with the new motherboard on Monday. Everything now *seems* to work, but I won't really relax until I make it a week or two with no problems. I'm still in the process of reinstalling all my programs and restoring my backed up files, a process which is taking longer than it might otherwise due to my general frustration and lack of motivation to have anything to do with the computer for awhile. I have not torn a strip off Dell yet, but I will in a day or two, after I'm reasonably sure there won't be more problems.
gwynhefar: (Default)
The Dell technician is here. The new harddrive isn't working either. He thinks it's the motherboard. He's on the phone with Dell right now trying to explain it to them. I feel slightly vindicated. And still pissed off.
gwynhefar: (Default)
It took quite a bit. I've had good experiences with them in the past. My Dell computers have been by and large stable, and lasted quite a while. In fact, my nearly 10-year-old Dell desktop still works, it's just so obsolete as to be nearly worthless. And previous to this instance, I've been happy with their customer service as well. But now I'm not so enthralled.

First of all, they categorically refused to allow me to simply return the tower and let them figure it out. The guy I talked to has worked for Dell for eight years and in that time they have *never* returned a desktop tower. It just isn't done. They also insist that the problem is with the harddrive, based, apparently, on the x0000007B error code I've been getting, and are sending me *yet another* harddrive.

Let's recap, shall we? My primary harddrive didn't work. When the primary harddrive was replaced with the secondary harddrive, that one didn't work. While unlikely, I can see how it's possible that some environmental factor (a power surge that somehow got past my surge protector? something else?) damaged both harddrives simultaneously. But then the *brand new* harddrive they sent me that arrived yesterday didn't work either.

Now they're sending me a *fourth* harddrive, and somehow that's magically going to fix the problem. Ah, but this time they're sending a technician to install it for me (the unspoken but clearly implied explanation being that I installed the new harddrive incorrectly [I didn't install the new harddrive incorrectly]).

I was assured that no matter what other knowledgeable people of my acquaintance (including my brother, who now works for Microsoft) might have suggested, the problem could not possibly lay with either the motherboard or the power supply. I just have had the most horrible luck to have had three harddrives fail (one of them brand new). After all, that's much more likely than a single, underlying problem somewhere else. This new harddrive will work because, obviously, fourth time's the charm.

I was promised, after I politely but firmly expressed my skepticism that yet another harddrive would solve the problem and relayed my frustration over the sheer amount of time I've had to spend on this (not to mention time without my computer), that the technician would not leave until everything was up and working.

This sounds to me vaguely ominous. I'm having visions of having to kick the technician out at 1am because of course, this latest harddrive won't work either.

I feel very sorry for the technician they're sending. Because, while I'm sure that none of this is his fault, he will be there in person, and when the new harddrive doesn't work (which it won't) he won't be leaving without taking the tower with him. I don't really care what happens to it after that. In fact, if returning the tower is really truly that impossible, I can just dump the whole thing in the trash and they can send me a brand new one. I'm liking that option more and more. After all, I know they *ship* towers.

Aarrgh!!
gwynhefar: (father)
Ok, first you need to know some background. There is a country song called "26 cents." When I was in college, I heard this song on the radio and sent a copy to my mother, and it kind of became a thing for us. It tells the story of a girl leaving home for the first time and being given an envelope by her mother. She opens the envelope on the the bus to find it contains a note and 26 cents. The refrain (which is the text of the note) goes like this:

When you get lonely, call me
Anytime at all and I'll be there with you, always
Anywhere at all
There's nothing I've got that I wouldn't give
And money is never enough
Here's a penny for your thoughts
A quarter for the call
And all of your momma's love



This'll be important later, I promise.

It's been a crappy month for me. I've been sick with a miserable cold that won't let up. My computer is a broken mess, and I've spent way too much time on the phone with Dell trying to get it to work.

Today in particular has been bad for several reasons. When I went out yesterday, I apparently didn't close the door to my bedroom all the way, which means a cat got in and decided to express their annoyance at me not being around to pay attention to them by peeing on my comforter. Which meant that I had to sleep last night with just a sheet, as the comforter was in the wash. So I was cold all night and didn't sleep well. Today was boring and I was tired and couldn't seem to concentrate on getting any work done. Then I come out to my car after work to find that somebody left an advertisement flier on my car windshield *covering* my parking registration tag. As a result, I got a $30 ticket that I now have to take time off work tomorrow to go contest, since the parking office closed the same time I left work.

So all in all, I was in a pretty foul mood before I ever came home.

Then I came home, checked the mail, and found a card from my mother. It was an "I'm thinking of you" type card, and inside was simply taped a quarter and a penny.

So now I'm still having a bad day, only now I'm emotionally conflicted because I feel both warm and fuzzy from the card and also guilty because I haven't called her in almost a month which why she had to send the card in the first place.

I think I'm going to go take a nap. (yes, I've already called my mother)

*sigh*
gwynhefar: (Default)
Ok, so I spent about five hours on the phone with Dell last night, and the computer is still messed up. The first technician I talked to, who, happily, didn't treat me like I was an idiot, said that the fact that the computer was freezing when in Safe Mode indicated to her that it wasn't a malware or driver problem, since those things are disabled in Safe Mode. She thought my copy of Windows was corrupted, so she had me back up my important files and reinstall Windows.

Windows reinstalls in two stages - the first where it loads certain files, and then launches and begins setup. As soon as the files had completed loading and the computer went to launch Windows, I got a blue screen of death. This began hours of changing BIOS settings, unplugging and replugging in the hard drive, testing the memory chips, etc. Nothing worked. Finally, I tentatively drew the technician's (now a new person) attention to the fact that my computer came with two harddrives. We had been trying to install Windows on my primary harddrive. Might it be possible to switch the harddrives and see if the secondary harddrive worked? He agreed this was a good idea, and so it was done.

The files loaded, Windows launched, and began setup. I cheered. The technician said clearly my primary harddrive was bad, and that he'd have a replacement sent out. My secondary harddrive would be my new primary harddrive and the replacement for the original primary would become my new secondary. Fine with me. We got off the phone, and I breathed a sigh of relief. Windows was still loading, and would be for about the next half hour.

Twenty minutes later, I got another blue screen of death. It was now almost 11pm. So I had to call Dell back and tell them that the problem was *not* fixed, but that we'd have to continue this later, as I was completely exhausted and near tears with frustration.

So, either both of my harddrives are damaged, or it's something else completely. Personally, I'm ready to ship the whole damn tower back to Dell and let them figure it out, but they seem to want to do it piecemeal. So I guess I know what I'll be doing again tonight. *sigh*
gwynhefar: (Default)
Computer did freeze again last night, so I will be on the phone with Dell again tonight. *sigh* SpyBot cleaned up a few browser cookies, but nothing serious that should be causing freezing like that. It could still be malware, but I'm still suspicious of the timing. It started right after I got the new video card, and after reinstalling the video driver, I immediately got a full three hours of use before it froze again, when previously I never got longer than half an hour. So I still think it has something to do with the video card or the driver, but I guess we'll just have to see.

Meanwhile, my iPod volume is still stuck on *loud* and even a system restore through iTunes (during the 3 hour period last night when my computer was working) didn't fix the problem. Although now I only have a small portion of my music on the iPod, because it was all I had time to transfer back before the computer froze again last night.

Electronics really don't like me this week.
gwynhefar: (Default)
Ok, so hopefully my computer problems are fixed. Although the Dell support guy didn't exactly fill me with confidence at first when he tried to suggest that the freezing was due to malware and send me to a fee-based malware support line. Not that it *couldn't* be malware, but I am usually pretty careful with my machine (I have a firewall, I run virusscan and Spybot frequently, etc.) and it seemed suspicious to me that I only had problems with freezing immediately after installing a new video card.

I managed to convince him to at least check the video drivers to make sure everything was working properly before I wasted my money on the malware support line, and when the computer froze in Safe Mode he finally admitted it might not be malware. So we uninstalled the video driver and then downloaded a new version from the website and installed that one.

So far it's been about an hour and a half with no freezing, which is longer than I got any other time since I first installed the new video card, so I've got my fingers crossed. I won't really consider the problem resolved until I make it a few days with no issues, but for now, things look good.
gwynhefar: (Chaos Theory)
So last Friday night, my monitor went on power save and I couldn't get it to turn back on, so I had to reboot the computer. On reboot, the images on screen were incomprehensibly garbled - horizontal and vertical lines, flashing symbols, etc. Several hours on the phone with Dell and they concluded that my video card was bad. So they sent me another one, which arrived last night.

I installed the new card, updated the drivers, etc. exactly as they told me to do. Now I can see the screen fine, but the computer will randomly freeze completely - the cursor won't move, ctrl+alt+delete doesn't work, etc. Again, I have to hard reboot.

Dell was supposed to give me a follow up call last night, and they didn't. I was told to wait for the follow up call even if something was wrong, so that the problem stayed within the same team. So I guess I'll give them until about 7:30 tonight, and if they don't call by then I'll call myself.

I really *really* want my computer back working properly. *sigh*
gwynhefar: (raxacoricofallapatorius)
As I was passing by the computers earlier I noticed out of the corner of my eye that a student was looking at the Wikipedia article for "Sycorax". The first thing the popped into my head was "wonder if he's researching Doctor Who or Shakespeare?"

Yes, I am a geek.
gwynhefar: (Default)
How come I didn't know that half a byte (four bits) is called a "nibble"?

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