Now you too can enjoy my Inbox without
the annoying spam. Every week I get some amazing e-mail. Some amazing
because of the sheer cluelessness of the sender, some because of
the time and energy that went into crafting them and some are just
We're having a hard time fooling people. Maybe the word has been
sent out on the "gullibility mailing list" to watch out
for BBspot articles.
A reader responds to yesterday's article about Dell's
Sent: Monday, August 25, 2003 11:44 PM
Subject: Dell patent article
Great... now my ISP is going to start charging more, since
they'll be paying lots of royalties to Dell. Either that, or
they'll respond by getting a patent for "the problem is
on your end, and if you don't like it, we're going to cancel
your service." tech support process.
And some more Dell Hell...
Sent: Thursday, August 14, 2003 9:26 PM
Subject: Dell Support Follies!
Sorry about the long letter, but your Dell Hell series inspired
me to share one of my horrible experiences.
Our (large, U.S. defense-related) firm is buying Dell PC's
by the pallet-load. Oh, wonderful, I said when the first truckload
Last year one of my subordinates had what could only be described
(at least by Somebody Who Has A Clue) as a hard-drive crash.
Every time he started it up, it displayed the typically horrifying
message, "Unable to locate boot device." When he
rebooted the box, it would sometimes (but not always) "find" the
elusive hard drive, but if it did then Scandisk would run and
find megabytes worth of bad sectors. Sectors that were, of
course, full of valuable data and essential programs.
The Nimrod-in-Chief from IT said that Dell wouldn't send
us a new hard disk until we had exhausted all other options
(what other options?) and then sent them the hard drive; when
they had the bad disk in hand, they'd sent us a new drive -
which would leave my valuable and well-paid employee without
a computer (and unable to do any work at all) until the new
drive arrived. Nimrod would come down to our department, reboot
the box, see the error, and run Scandisk and Defrag, thus trashing
even more data and programs. Meanwhile he'd walk away and leave
us to call him over and over again to reinstall those essential
programs (including Windows itself, more than once). This went
on for two weeks.
Finally I convinced him to cannibalize one of the dozens
of Dells sitting on pallets in the middle of the production
floor for a fresh drive. I should mention that I suggested
that on the first day that Nimrod came down to see the problem
(his MSCE status gave him the "wisdom" to suggest
from the beginning that it was a "software issue";
yeah, the software disappeared every time we rebooted).
So, let me see if I understand this: we have about $30K worth
of Dell hardware sitting on skids on any given day, more being
delivered all the time, but they don't trust us enough to send
a new 20 gig drive until they get the bad one back. Where do
they find 20 gig drives these days, anyway? eBay? What do they
cost Dell, about $15? My employee's downtime cost us more than
that before lunch on the very first day. Not to mention the
4MB of video RAM - on the motherboard, of course. No fancy
video cards for us. Nope, we're a CAD department running PCs
with 1/4 the VRAM as I had on my vintage 1996 Gateway Pentium
To paraphrase Donald Rumsfeld: "Would I do business
with Dell, if I had a choice in the matter? Maybe, if they
were the last PC manufacturer on Earth. Or maybe not. Pencils
and paper are very underrated, you know."
By the way, I build my own PCs for home use. That way there's
nobody to blame but me if there's a problem - but there never
has been a problem, so it's a moot point.
Jay (running like the wind from Dell Hell)
A rebuttal rebuttal...
Sent: Wednesday, August 13, 2003 9:29 PM
Subject: Dell C640
Noting your ongoing Dell Support commentary; Chad mentions
keyboard problems with a C640 laptop. We've got a bunch of
these (8, I think) of which within 6 months, 3 have suffered
I suspect that in Chad's case, his swift response was due
to the fact that Dell *knows* that the problem will be fixed
with a replacement keyboard.
We have had no problem in getting our keyboards replaced
(I'm typing this on my C640 at the moment, so any typo's are
Dell's fault, not mine:) Our laptops tend to boot Win2K, Linux
and Solaris at a minimum, plus maybe others. They can use Lilo,
Grub, or Solaris boot manager to select OSes. The most recent
to be replaced booted into the Solaris boot manager boot screen,
which scared the poor engineer sent on site to fix it. The
laptop's owner was at lunch when the engineer came, so we confirmed
that we knew none of his passwords, but here's a DOS boot floppy
if you want, or a Linux rescue disk, or the Dell diagnostics
floppy, to confirm the keyboard problems. He ended up asking
us to boot the Win2K partition for him, and tested the keys
be entering "qwertyuiop", "asdfghjkl", "zxcvbnm" into
the login prompt. This was apparently enough to convince him
of the keyboard problem, and he replaced the keyboard and repeated
his "tests". Good job it wasn't the "Windows" key
or anything else not displayable in the Win2K login dialog
which was playing up!
Also a good job that he clearly knew before coming on site
that the problem was likely to be fixed by replacing the keyboard.
.... Just waiting for my laptop's keyboard to die!
I welcome tech support stories from other companies as well,
not just Dell :-)
One Mailbagger a few weeks ago claimed that the Enterprise would
conveniently have a species to counteract the force on it if it
ever met up with the Death Star. I received a plethora of messages
like the following...
Sent: Friday, August 08, 2003 12:30 AM
Subject: species NOT unknown
Just thought I'd correct one little inconsistency in "Ben's" Star
Wars v. Star Trek e-mail, thus proving myself a true nerd ;-).
Says he, "Anyone who's watched Star Trek knows that there
would be some previously unknown species conveniently on board
the Enterprise when they encountered the Destroyer that would
be able to counteract the Force."
This may be true, but anyone who's read some Star Wars novels
would know that ysalamiri can counteract the Force, therefore
they are not previously unknown. Well, previously unknown to
the Enterprise, of course, I'd grant you that.
I'm so proud of all of you.
By Kyle Bresin
Rick Berman: Thank you all for coming today. George and
I are very excited to be backing this project. I'm confident
that this penultimate science fiction crossover will do more
than enough to revitalize both of our flagging, terribly mismanaged
George Lucas: Flagging? I'm just trying to make it more
Rick Berman: Whatever... Anyway, our market research
has shown that nearly 50% of people who classify themselves as "nerds" have
had asked this exact question, "Who would win in a fight
between the Imperial Death Star, Mark II and a Borg Cube?".
George Lucas: <chuckles> I think the answer is
Rick Berman: <scowls> We're going to great
lengths to ensure the ending remains a secret of course.
George Lucas: I mean, only *one* of the ships has a weapon
that can destroy *planets*.
Rick Berman: The borg have managed to outwit superior
firepower before, as the opening sequence of First Contact proved,
in which the borg managed to transport themselves onto the Enterprise
while it's shields were down.
George Lucas: HA! The Second Death Star has shields!
Rick Berman: Now, wait a second, this movie isn't called "The
Forest Moon of Endor and The Death Star Vs The Borg Cube"!
George Lucas: Well, I don't need shields, since I'll
just blow you up before you come within transport range of me
Rick Berman: That may very well work Lucas, but, by the
time I'm within range, I will have encountered enough of your,
pathetic, *unshielded* scout tie fighters to have a sizable borg
fleet of my own. <Laughs> What's your compliment of them
again, 7,000? Let's see you pick those off with your planet sized
George Lucas: ...
Rick Berman: Well, now that that's settled, any questions?
Reporter: You have a title worked out yet?
Rick Berman: Our working title is The Empire Strikes
George Lucas: I thought we agreed on Attack of the
Rick Berman: Oh yeah, you always had a talent for picking
George, next question.
Reporter: Will this be a horror movie or a sci-fi movies.
George Lucas: I think you'll find we blended the two
quite expertly. Even taking a few lessons from the masters. In
fact, the opening scene is a flashback to Alderaan, involving
a young Alderaanian, innocently taking a shower, when the death
star sneaks up and, well, I wouldn't want to ruin the surprise
Reporter: Didn't the Death Star Mark II get blown up?
George Lucas: That was just a dream sequence.
Same Reporter: The entire movie?
George Lucas: Yes, the Ewoks were a dead giveaway.
Reporter: Will the Enterprise be making a showing?
Rick Berman: Rest assured that the Enterprise and the
Rebel Forces will make a showing, and attempt a ragtag saving
of the universe. While, I don't wanna give too much away, imagine
a mixup that results in Geordi being on the Millenium Falcon,
and R2-D2 in the Enterprise engine room.
George Lucas: And Geeks, try not to stroke your lightsabers
in the theater, all right?
Rick Berman: Yeah, that can wait until it comes out on
George Lucas: No DVD release! I'm awaiting the invention
of holofilm to release my perfect masterpieces!
Rick Berman: We have to release on DVD! DVD sales can
account for as much as 25% more profit!
George Lucas: Your reliance on aftermarket sales is your
Rick Berman: Your faith in your "Yes-Men" is
George Lucas: I don't have to take this! I'm the best
screenwriter, director, producer who has ever lived! <stomps
Rick Berman: Please see this movie. Seriously, I owe
That's all for this week!
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