Dell’s customer service (or lack of)

Yes, I know they did fix my fan (which I’m grateful of), but that only happened after some chasing ups and getting ignored a couple of times…
My experience of Dell support was not actually bad at all – in fact, I was quite impressed by it.  Ok, let’s rewind a few years back when I needed a new HDD replacement for my old Dell computer, here’s what happened:
1 – I phoned Dell saying the HDD is screwed and I need a replacement.
2 – The next day, the PC is collected.
3 – Without any chasing up, I was contacted a week later and my PC returned to me – at first, I weren’t at home, a card was left there informing me a delivery had been attempted.  And guess what, the delivery guy came back later that day and I got the system back!  No fuss, end of story.
Now in 2005 (alright, 4-ish weeks ago…) I emailed Dell hardware support for a fix to my noisy CPU fan, here’s what happened:
1 – I gave them an email about my CPU fan situation. (3rd JUL)
2 – Dell automated response system sent me a confirmation email when I say wanted to get in touch with tech. support. (4th JUL)
(No reply for a week – My first email gets completely ignored)
3 – A week later, another email to Dell hardware support asking whether they got my first email. (10th JUL)
4 – 2 days later, a phone call from Dell telling me to create a new user account to see if the situation can resolve itself (urm… I though I’ve already explained that it’s not due to CPU usage in the email sent on 3rd JUL!). (12th JUL)
5 – Another day goes by, finally, Dell place a service call for me. (13th JUL)
6 – System collected. (15th JUL)
(I have to say, at this point I thought "ok, everything’s sorted!")
7 – Dell called (probably to tell me they’ve received my system) but I’ve missed those calls. (15th JUL, 18th JUL)
(Nothing is heard from them for a week)
8 – Another email is sent asking for the status of my system – and this one too gets ignored. (21st JUL)
9 – Phoned Dell customer support to ask them how’s my system doing, the guy said all works’ done, PC will be returned to you by 27th. (25th JUL)
10 – Comes 26th… gone 26th… still no PC (or word from Dell). (26th JUL)
11 – Comes 27th… gone 27th… still no PC. (27th JUL)
12 – Dell called saying they have tried calling on both 26th and 27th and no one was home (I thought: "WHAT THE HELL YOU ARE TALKING ABOUT!  I WAS THERE ALL DAY!!!" … "Bull shit!  If you were indeed there, how about leaving a little card saying we’ve called!") (27th JUL)
13 – Finally, gets my PC back. (and here’s the bit that really pisses me off ->)  When I open the box, I only found one half the protective foam packaging on the rear of the PC whilst the front didn’t have any protection from shock!!  It was a good job I took the HDD out before I shipped it off or I’m sure I’d have a fucked HDD now! (28th JUL)
And you think that’s the end!?  Oh no…
Check this out, I knew the inside of my PC was very dusty when I shipped it off but when i got it back, I found 3 dust balls (size aprox. 3 x 2 x 2  cm) inside the machine – 1 tucked away at the bottom of the fan, another one under the PCI cards and 1 on the motherboard!  Hum…
Dust (if) containing conductive materials on mobo. + switch on the computer = Firework!
Needless to say, I was not impressed by that (and not to mention they scratched one corner of my PC!) and I really would now consider building my own PC the next time I needed a new one…
Yes, it is possible that all those dust ball on mobo. and scratch might be caused by the urm… inadequate packaging.  In that case, Dell should find whoever is responsible for re-packaging, get them on a course, and learn why they should do a proper job, before shipping it to me!
No, I know what you are thinking.  I have packed it properly with 2 foam packaging blocks…
So, guess what I’ll put and where I’ll reference to on my Dell Satisfaction Survey!

Nice and quiet again!

After getting my PC back from Dell, everything is nice and quite again (if you don’t know what the hell I’m on about, please read my previous blogs on my noisy CPU fan)!
Anyway, from looking at (or "deciphering") the repair description, looks like all they did was changing the fan…  I’m sure it wouldn’t take me 2 weeks (the time it took for the CAR service) to do that myself…

Google Map vs. MSN Virtual Earth

Hum…  This should be interesting, both are web-based and have very similar features.
Anyway, just for a change, I’m going to get straight down to the main good and bad points of those services instead of ranting on how many bug there are…
Google Map
• Good coverage of the world
• One can download a program and use it offline – a very big plus!
• No mouse scroll-wheel / button support
• Lack of a temporary area to dump search queries
• No live query update
• Non-Full screen style
MSN Virtual Earth
• More refined user interface than Google Map – easier to use
• Support of a temporary "dump" area
• Live query update
• Only contain map data in North America (at time of posting)
• Very patch imagery data (at time of posting)
• Seems like the are using very old imagery
• Zooming control is sometimes borken…
• Only works in a web browser (i.e. no downloadables to use offline)
• Zoom in causes pixilated transition – kinda ugly
So which one would I use?  Well.. if I can, neither…  Instead, I’d use Google Earth, it’s a much more flexible program that you can download for free, you really need to use it to see how cool it is.

Windows V.I.S.T.A.

So what exactly does Vista (the next version of Windows) stands for?  I know the official meaning of vista is scenic or panoramic view, but to some of us, it means more than that.  Here’s a list of name people have come up with for the word, Vista:
If you can think of more acronyms for Vista, drop me a comment and I’ll add it to the list.

ZoneAlarm Pro -Ver 6.0.631.002-

Hum…  maybe this version is more secure than the previous versions, but there are a couple of things I find kinda annoying straight off.
But lets start off with one thing Zone Labs have definitely done well on – the "OS Firewall".  It’s function is to basically monitor activities other programs initiate to the operating system, such as making startup entries.
Unfortunately, that’s the only thing in my view that Zone Labs have improved on since the last version.
Now… onto the things I kinda don’t like (alright, hate!).
First of all, under the "Program" tab of program control, Zone Labs have added a column for the "Trust level" and "SmartDefense" configuration but unfortunately, taken out the "Pass Lock" column (as seen in pre-6 versions).  This I find really annoying as I allow some programs internet connectivity though my firewall lock and now, there’s no way of easily telling which program can pass through the lock and which one can’t – which, can be a potential security risk…
Another annoying thing about this version is the fact that it changes most of my program settings that I’ve specified to ask for internet connection / server rights to deny.  This meant I’ll have to manually, re-configure them to ask again – and since there’s no way of doing it to many programs at once, I’ll have to do each one manually…
So overall, this is a just very slightly improved version but there are a few things Zone Labs really needs to sort out before it becomes as user-friendly as the previous version – 5.5.
(But since I can’t be asked to roll-back to 5.5, I’m stuck with those annoyances…)

Longhorn is no more…

As announced by Microsoft, there’ll be no more Longhorn…  Urm… I didn’t mean MS lost all the source code of Longhorn but more like they’ve finally come with with a product name for it.  And the name is…
I know what you are thinking, and I don’t like the new name either (as with many people, I suspect…).  To me, the name "Vista" just doesn’t have the same punch as "XP", plus "Vista" would be better suited as a brand name for a credit card!  Not only that, it also sound (and make you feel) well… stupid saying the phrase "I’m using Windows Vista!" – try it, it has the same effect on you as if you say "I’m purchasing with Vista!"  .
Personally, I much prefer the codename "Longhorn" or why don’t they just call it something simple and to the point like "Windows 2006"?
Not only do I not like the name, I think the logo also suck.  I mean, they’ve put all those effort in the GUI of the OS only to slap a shitty, cheap, plastic looking logo on it…  I guess it’s the turn of the marketing team to learn how to make their stuff shiny.
Well, couple years ago (2001 I think…), they got away with calling XP well… XP, but this time, I think they’ve screwed up…
(To MS marketing dept.): You know, it’s not too late to change the name and logo, it’s only been a day (or less) since the announcement…
What do you think of this latest announcement?

TaskSwitchXP -Ver 2.0.6-

For those of you who is on Windows XP or newer, this is one MUST HAVE application!
You know when you press Alt-Tab to bring up the windows task switcher, well this one is essentially a replacement for that – except it has tonnes of improvements over the default Windows task switcher!
Anyway, here’s the URI: