Saturday, January 13, 2007

I think technology is making me bipolar...

Received the replacement for the previous laptop that died - it was a 500m, which was a ~4yr old design. They said they didn't have that model around anymore, so would give me something somewhat newer. The replacement is a Dell e1405 - a very good, middle-of-the-road laptop:

  • Intel® Core™ Duo T2050 (1.60GHz, 2MB L2 Cache, 533 MHz FSB), 100G,
  • 1G of RAM
  • 14" WXGA+
  • 7200RPM hard disk
  • 8X CD/DVD dual-layer burner
  • 802.11 b/g
  • Bluetooth

A very nice system overall. Processor is 1 generation behind what I was going to buy, and I'd like a discrete graphics card, and WSXGA, instead of WXGA+. But hey - it's a ~$1200 system I got for free.

When I signed into my Dell account, to register it and link it to my account, I found out that it comes with a 3yr "Complete Care" warranty. Yep - old laptop died ~1.5yrs out of warranty, and the replacement, thank you very much Dell for just giving us a replacement, the replacement has a 3 year "Complete Care" warranty, which covers:

  • Liquid spilled
  • Dropped
  • Electric surge
  • Broken LCD
  • Accidental breakage

Doesn't cover damage in fire, theft, intentional damage (they even mention hammer marks), or normal wear.

PFA. The ~$1200 replacement has a $300 warranty.

So - that was the highlight of the week.

On the same day the laptop arrived, also got the replacement monitor. 2nd replacement, as the first one was "torqued". New one looks great, sits almost perfect level. Very happy. Not. After resolving the initial display issues of hooking up the monitor while the computer is running, the display mostly behaves nicely. Except it's a 20" monitor that should have 1600x1200 resolution, and we can't get it w/ the DVI input.

Call Samsung tech support - they walk me through a couple of things, and then pass me on to Level2 support. They walk me through a few more, and then decide it's the ATI Radeon 9550 video card I have, as the monitor will display 1600x1200 with the analog video cable, just not with the DVI capable.

I'll buy that. Update the ATI driver / software, re-boot. No luck. Re-install the Samsung monitor driver. No luck. Maybe it's a software problem, and I need to do the Microsoft Windows trick of rebooting, and while the machine is booting, crawling into the room, naked, begging for pity from the software gods. No luck.

Open up the desktop, remove the ATI card, and put back in the old Nvidia one (no DVI). Analog 1600x1200 resolution w/ out any problems (no duh). Remove all ATI software. Remove all evidence there was any ATI software (regedit, remove Programs/ATI*). Download the latest ATI software. Find out it wants Microsoft .Net Framework 2.0. Download and install that. Download security updates for .Net. OK - all set to re-install, so turn desktop off, swap cards, make sure monitor is off, turn desktop on.

Go outside for a smoke, with the computer booting, but the monitor connected by DVI, but not turned on. Come back in, power the monitor on, trying to make sure that ATI card sees the Samsung Monitor as a new monitor, and tries to set itself up for it. OK - resolution defaults to 800x640. Go to resize - hey, instead of having 20 random sizes above 1280x1024, now there's only two - 1440x1080 and 1600x1200. That's promising. Try 1600x1200. Same damn problem - you see 1280x1024, and can "pan" left/right or up/down to the see the remainder of the screen. Check ATI software, and it's sure that the Samsung can only display 1280x1024 natively.

Which is exactly what it said 2hrs before I started the whole "re-install" process. But, at least when I talk to the ATI tech support folks on Monday (no weekend phone support), I can say "yes, I updated all the drivers and software", and "yes, I then did it again, after removing all previous versions", and "yes, I did crawl into the room naked and groveling", so maybe that'll speed-up the process of them giving me to someone who may be able to help.

New laptop working fine - I wanted to remove the free McAfee security tools, and install Norton. I've used Norton for years, and they've got this hook into me - every time I need to re-subscribe, I can pay something like $15 more and just update to the latest / greatest security and utility suite. And you can use it on 3 computers. And I like to have all the computers in the house running the same basic software (OS, security, office tools), so that it's easier to support and network them, and if I screw something up on one, I know how to make the same mistake on the others ones.

Amazingly, McAfee pissed Nava up more than Norton did, so she demanded I remove it. I was pretty sure she would go with the "change as little as possible" on the new laptop, given the recent tech problems we've had. Which would be a shame, as futzing with electronics is one of the things I really enjoy. Nothing like getting into the guts of hardware or software, finding the little ways of make it do things slightly better (OK, slightly different, but to me it seems better). Having another screw or widget to add to the box of "wonder where that came from" parts.

But, since the monitor / video card didn't agree to play nice together within ~4hrs of labor, fun hobby turned into a chore.

Now you know why I don't fix my own car. If the computer crashes, odds are it won't kill anyone. OK - Nava may kill me, but no civilians. (Statistics say if you are killed, it'll likely be by a loved one.)


Nava said...

- Liquid spilled
- Dropped
- Electric surge
- Broken LCD
- Accidental breakage

Dell's warranty doesn't cover dusting, Eh?

Nava said...

"McAfee pissed Nava up more than Norton did"

Of course it did!
No stupid program will tell me I cannot send an Email because its contents is the same as the previous one I sent.

I am, after all, an Aries.

I'm known all around the hi-tech-company-whose-name-I-am-not-supposed-to-mentioned as she who refused to get an automatic car, as "No car will tell ME what gear to drive in!".

MichaelBains said...

...rebooting, and while the machine is booting, crawling into the room, naked, begging for pity from the software gods.

Huh... That didn't work? Having to do that at work so often is why I keep m'self in relatively decent shape, eh. {-;

The replacement, replacement monitor has a bad DVI connection. Period, wouldn't you say.

But congrats on the Dell replacement. With the Complete Care even! Wow! Think they're saying "Please don't sue us. Pleeeease!!!" Whatever works, eh.

Hang in there, amigo. Is some crazy shiite.

Nava said...

I am not the only one thinking it's the monitor's fault!!!!!

Now, if we could get them guys at Samsung to feel like the guys at Dell, that would be glorious!

IT'S A SCREWED-OP MONITOR - i said it first.

Nava said...

My word verification was "IXXVCI".

I wonder if that's the year when we'll finally have a working monitor?

CherkyB said...

That's an improvement. You used to be tripolar.

Blueberry said...

You need to stick to "CTU Jack Bauer" equipment which not only works after vigorous dusting but after explosions, EMPs, whatever you throw at it.

If you like the humor in that show, I highly recommend Cave Barry's coverage, which includes liveblogging:

Blueberry said...

That's supposed to be DAVE Barry, not CAVE Barry, who is an entirely different person.

Rhonda said...

Oh we can relate at our house with one aspect of your very sad & distraught story...
McAfee. Sucks!!!!!
The Hubby installed it
(updating it)
and since then things are...
well...ASKEW! or funked up! This is the reason (I think) I can't attach pictures. This alone is frustrating. I can't imagine nor will I attempt to console you.
Hopefully the nightmare will end...soon!

Nava said...

McAfee seems to have a very tyrannical approach, in the sense that it pretty much decides what you can do and what you are not allowed to do.

And I say: Off with dictatorship!

CherkyB said...

So, McAfee is a lot like having a wife?

Rhonda said...

uhhh low blow cherk.

MichaelBains said...

While I do rec using something, personally, I haven't used anti-virus software at home in the 10+ years I'm been PCing.

In that time I've gotten 2, very minor virii, and 1 big one. The big one was stoopidly contracted as I really should have known better, but wanted to see for sure what would happen if I did something.

Live and learn.

Oh yeah, reason so clean? Don't use a local email client. Webmail only please, and only open attachments I'm sure of.

Oh, alright, and a little luck. {-;