Don’t Panic!

New site, new theme, no content! I’ve moved the site to an actual host rather than hosting it on my NAS via my home connection which means that it should be faster, better, stronger….well, at the very least it will be UP!

Of course, that doesn’t promise posting more frequently, if at all, but at least I’m now paying for the right to not post and hopefully that will inspire me to actually keep the site going more than I have over the last year….maybe.

Apple iPad, shitty name, nice device.

best_experience_20100127

9.7 inch touch screen, 1024×768 resolution, WiFi, 3G, Accelerometer, compass, 1Ghz CPU, running iPhone OS, this is pretty much a gigantic iPhone (without being an actual phone).

I think for someone who doesn’t already have an iPhone (and wants one but is most likely locked in to a contract with a shitty device) this would be a good option. Same goes for anyone looking to buy a netbook who only cares about social networking, IM, surfing the web or reading ebooks. This makes the Kindle look like a sad little joke in that regard.

I’ll be interested to see how the 3G data is packaged in Australia especially since there will be an unlimited data plan in the US for $29.99 which is cool since you can run Skype on this and essentially use it as a phone, if you wanted to.

I’m puzzled over the lack of a camera, but then again, the iPhone doesn’t have a camera for use in teleconferences either (i.e. no front facing camera) so it’s not surprising.

I’m torn about if I like that it’s based on the iPhone OS rather than Mac OS, but each has it advantages. iPhone OS means all the apps you own on your iPhone will run on the iPad, but it obviously means you can’t run full apps you are running on your Mac. I think they went the right direction with this, considering the target market.

For US$499 for the base model, the iPad is competing with the netbook segment but interestingly would be about the cheapest netbook with a touch screen, of course, if you go for the 64Gb 3G model you’ll be looking at US$829, which is approaching full laptop price.

I think for sitting on the couch surfing the web and IM’ing this is pretty much a winner. I’m looking forward to using it when someone enters my study and swinging around in my chair holding it and saying “What is it, number one?” in a British accent.

picard460

(note, doing a google image search for “Picard trek padd” revealed some pretty damn disturbing images)

Happy/Merry whatever whatever

Two months since the last post and not much to report.

My continuing work on the Terminator 2 pinball restore has come to several screaming halts after I powered it on for the first time since stripping it down and it went completely mental (technical term), after having the main power board looked at and a fair bit of work done to it, it worked for a grand total of about 30 minutes then went completely mental again. I’m beginning to realise that restoring a 20 year old pinball is both an exercise in frustration and a money pit, but it sure if character building! Again, check out the picasa gallery for ongoing pictures of the T2 and other junk: http://picasaweb.google.com/royalla

We had the open part of our shed closed in just before Christmas which gave us a bit more (about 6mx3m) storage/workshop room, I build a 3mx2m mezzanine  floor which was supposed to be used for storage but I made the mistake of lifting Alex up to it and he has now claimed it as his “junk shop”, to which I has since added some carpet and will soon be building a set of steps or ladder..I really wish I’d build it better now! (kidding, it’s typically over-engineered and takes my weight easily).

Apart from that, we had about a week away in Forster for Christmas, 2000% humidity is a killer and I was glad to be back in a climate where you can dry a towel or sit completely still without breaking in to a sweat.

#Apple vs #Dell

So I picked up the iMac (a mentioned here) and took it home, plugged it in, started configuring it. Horror of horrors I notice a dead pixel on the screen (at 11pm) and do some googling about the dead pixel policy, unable to find anything conclusive I have a fit-full night worrying about if we’re going to have to live with a dead pixel on this $3000 iMac.

I go to call in the morning but at 8:50 Applecare isn’t open yet, so I kill time by calling Dell to check on the progress of the refund for the dead Laptop they sold me. 1 hour and 15 minutes later (I shit you not) they finally tell me that the refund has been approved by tech support but it will be another TWO TO THREE WEEKS before I will hear from Customer Care about the next step. Just shoot me.

So I call Apple and immediately get on to an Applecare guy who apologises profusely and  informs me that the iMac is essentially D.O.A. and had I purchased from the Applestore they would send me out a replacement, since I didn’t I should talk to the retailer. That took 5 minutes. Another 5 minutes later, after talking to a very helpful guy at Myer Canberra Centre and the replacement has been organised, all I need to do it take in the dead one and sign some form.

Today I picked up a shiny new iMac after 10 minutes on the phone and some time in-store.

In stark contrast to 14 (yes FOURTEEN) hours on the phone to Dell, and a total of more than 6 weeks elapsed time by the time the issue is resolved (if ever!).

Apple sent me a customer satisfaction survey this morning and I couldn’t find options with enough accolades for their service and support

The contrast in experiences is Apple and Oranges (pun intended, more like “Apples” and “Steaming Piles of Dog Shit”) and I now understand how people can be so fanatical about Apple computers, consider me one of them from now on.

EDIT: Steve sent me this link this morning, further illustrating the real measurable difference between Dell and Apple customer support:

http://www.laptopmag.com/mobile-life/tech-support-showdown-2009.aspx?page=1

#Dell Update, they still suck, still.

Since the last update another Unisys engineer has been on-site and replaced the motherboard (again) and the entire LCD and the issue as described here still exists.

Another long story short but 3+ hours on the phone and (I have it well documented this time) speaking to ten separate people from Dell and I think we finally have a solution which should be a full refund within the next day or so (still waiting, after 3 days to actually get confirmation of this).

In addition to this, Dell Customer Care (that’s the oxymoron of the century) sent me one final email explaining that there was no way in hell I would be getting a refund based on receiving the wrong laptop, like so:

Thank you for contacting Dell Customer Service.

Apologised for the late response

We have checked again from the online order and 17” Widescreen WUXGA CCFL(1920×1200) TFT Display with TrueLife(TM) w/o WebCam has been selected

We do have models that comes with and without webcam as an option.

Therefore, if you still want to return, $174 will be incurred.

As for technical issue side, I believe you have already spoken to technical support and have already provided you with a solution.

To which, full of (controlled?) venom  I replied:

Thanks for your late reply. If you actually read the case you would know that tech support have tried and failed to rectify the technical issues with this laptop and after a total of 14 hours on the phone, two new motherboards and one new LCD screen the problem is still there and I am in the process of having them approve a full refund.

Had you just approved my original request to return the laptop and waive the fee you would have saved Dell the cost of two new motherboards, one LCD screen, the time and materials of two local Unisys engineers and 14 hours of phone support, not to mention the time it would have save me.

The end result of all this is a lot of bad feelings from me towards Dell which will no doubt end up costing you way more than $1241 because I personally will never buy another Dell and I will never recommend Dell again and I will take every opportunity I can from now on to warn anyone I come in contact with to never touch anything from Dell ever again.

In fact, as my first step towards this goal I purchased an iMac on the weekend and I am confident that I will be able to recommend Apple to all my friends, family and work colleagues from now on.

So, thanks for nothing, really.

On all accounts I should really be genuinely thanking Dell for driving me towards Apple, I’m picking up the iMac today so we’ll see.

30 second movie reviews

I’ve been making an effort lately to watch a movie a night, so far so good, here are my 5 second reviews:

The Mist

Based on a Stephen King short story, scary as sh1t (both psychological and cheap monster jumping out of the dark) with a classic ending.

The Grudge 

fvcking japanese making me freak out as I walked the dark hallway that night on the way to bed, I watched the hollywood remake with Sarah Michelle hugejugs but from what I read it’s a scene for scene remake so it’s just as good as the original.

The International

I don’t know what the fvck was going on for most of this movie, some guy gets killed by a German bank, then another guy spends the rest of the movie plotting to take down the bank then realises if he does so he’ll ruin the whole world economy so he just lets the mafia shoot the bank CEO, lame.

The Hangover

I was expecting to wet myself with laughter watching this and while it was mildly funny in places and well acted, it wasn’t the laugh riot I was led to believe.

My Bloody Valentine

Jansen Ackles (from Supernatural) plays some dude who survives a valentines day massacre at the hands of some other dude who he nearly killed by being an incompetent idiot then lots of people die and blood and oh god, why am I watching this?! I haven’t seen the original but it couldn’t be worse than this.

#Dell update, they still suck.

Long story short, I’ve given up pursuing Dell in regards to getting the actual laptop I ordered, I called, I wrote emails, I even wrote an actual letter on paper, real dead trees and no response whatsoever. The next step is to lodge a formal complain with the Department of Fair Trading but I’ve already spent more time than it’s worth to chase this and I think that Dell’s policy of being pretty fucking useless until the customer eventually gives up has succeeded in this instance, go Dell! (I mean it, go Dell, to Hell).

So after giving up that angle I called up tech support to have the motherboard replaced to fix the graphics issue, the guy came out the next day (wow!) and replaced the motherboard only to find (or CAUSE?) another unrelated issue which means the LCD screen now needs to be replaced…oh, and the new motherboard suffered the same graphical glitches but some further investigate revealed:

  1. The issue only happens when running the desktop in Aero (this happens on both Vista and Windows 7 RTM)
  2. The issue only happens when two sticks of RAM are inserted, it doesn’t matter which stick (so it’s not the RAM that is bung) it just matters when both RAM slots are filled.

I would suggest that the issue is with the RAM being shared with the on-board GPU and the two not playing nice together and unfortunately this would suggest a severe design flaw in the motherboard of this particular Studio 17, most probably the one which doesn’t have a webcam or fingerprint scanner (ironic that this isn’t the one I actually ordered?). So, this particular configuration which was materialised especially for me is completely broken and when the next engineer appears with another motherboard and the new LCD screen and the issue still happens, that is when I’m going to have to demand a complete replacement or refund, god help me.