September 29, 2007

I still hate Windows Vista. And Dell.

[Update: And I really hate that today is the first day in a week that I've had steady internet access. Though that's the fault of neither Microsoft nor Dell. Blame, like credit, only where due. Gaaah. My frustration is inexpressible in any human tongue.]

No, apparently there's no way to protect yourself from Vista experiencing 'unexpected shutdowns' when you put it to sleep. When you have windows opened up that you were still working in, that were the whole reason why you didn't just shut the thing down yourself.

Some people just can't figure out that it's a serious goddam bug to have a browser that's so frakking unstable that it kills your whole system in sleep mode because it couldn't figure out what to do when the wireless connection went out. That maybe system instability is a problem even when your interface is all bright and sodding shiny.

But it's going to be even longer before I can afford to get a Mac, because the unutterable creeps at Dell will tell you that you've got some kind of 6 month grace period on your bill, then when they don't send you a bill for 6 months and you call them up, they forward you to collections. Then these complete goat blowers tell you that you haven't responded to your bills, or their notices. Which they've been sending to the address you were living at when you bought your last Dell computer in two thousand and frakking four.

We're sorry, didn't anyone tell you that Dell has no connection with Dell Financial, except to tell them you owe us money and set up the credit line with them? That was your responsibility to know. We don't have any way of telling them your new address. You know, the one we sent the computer to. No, the tech support department that called back and forth with you a month after you got your computer doesn't have any connection to the rest of the company so that we could try to get in touch with you. Have you really had to update your address with us every one of the half dozen times you first tried to get in touch with us? Sorry about the inconvenience. But thanks for the $600 dollars extra in fees you had to pay to recover something from the wreck of your credit.

This is a petty thing, I suppose. What's an extra whole month's rent and utilities gone? What's a company being so worried about their stock price that they cram software down people's throats that isn't ready for primetime. They never face any consequences, but it keeps the economy going. All to the greater good. As a faithful American capitalist, I know that the economy is way more important than I will ever be.

Posted by natasha at September 29, 2007 12:37 PM | Technology | TrackBack(1) | Technorati links |

Dell isn't exactly my favorite computer vendor. They've made it so hard to buy the computer I want that I usually skip them entirely unless my management forces me to us them. Vista appears to be one of the worst versions of Windows, too.

Meanwhile, I suggest you try Linux. SuSE Linux and Ubuntu are both easy to install, and relatively easy to operate. (Dell is now selling computers with Ubuntu installed, BTW, if you're lucky enough to find the option on their website). If your laptop is more than a few months old Linux should work with its devices pretty well. Both distros have "live CD" versions, which allow you to boot from a CD or DVD and try them out. The only two things Linux isn't terribly good at is supporting wireless networks and suspend/sleep mode. Both can be done, they just are far more trouble than they ought to be (and you can blame the hardware manufacturers for that).

Best of all, it's free, and you get office software and bulletproof network software along with it. Definitely try out the live CDs before taking the plunge, though.

Posted by: Cujo359 at September 29, 2007 03:01 PM

Unfortunately, wireless support and sleep mode are both pretty important to me. And an example of how the second can go badly wrong can be found with the computers in my grad school office, which, after finally getting internet set up, were set to shut off the hard drives after 10 minutes of idle time. After the first time they did that, they can now no longer be turned on. Even a cold boot means that the initial logo screens come on, but if you don't start in safe mode, the screen just goes black because the hard drive is still set to be shut down. It's unreal.

And wireless has been terrible at home. It came on for just long enough today to write this post, then it went off again for hours. Now it's back, and I have to go out. Charming all around. I'd think the router must have heard me take the name of Microsoft in vain, except it's been like this most of the week.

Posted by: natasha at September 29, 2007 04:25 PM

My sympathies for your Vista (or as we are learning to call it around here at work, "Blister") troubles. If you need or desire any help to revert your box to XP, let me know.

Same with SuSE or Unbuntu. They are very good versions of Linux - however, beware that Linux does require some gyrations, not all of them technically legal (though it's not as though Novell is likely to chase you down), to make such things as DVDs watchable on the OS. The difference is that you won't get fined for not knowing what the vendor has or hasn't done, and there are a zillion or so folks who practically live to explain such things as KDE's or Gnome's special wrinkles, and how they can make life more enjoyable if the right charms are enforced.

I know it is not really the time to consider an alternative, but in a year or so the iPod Touch should be at a point where it has, I think, all of the properties you'll want. (It doesn't now because Apple, in it's infinite wisdom, is not providing certain utilities and crippling others, apparently out of fear that you won't then buy one of their precious iPhones.) But in a year, with or without Apple's acquiesence, I think you will finally have a wifi-based web browser and note-taker/media distributor that you've always wanted and that fits in a pocket.

Posted by: palamedes at September 29, 2007 08:34 PM

I did a post on Vista/Linux yesterday:

I am running SUSE, and it may well drive some users nutty -- though not as badly as Vista does. Make Dell fork over XP.

Posted by: Scorpio at September 30, 2007 12:44 PM

While I personally am avoiding Vista like the plague it is, there has to be some way of adjusting the "power saver" settings to leave the wireless card alone. The "power saver" is the root cause of your problems and there are adjustments that can be made in XP to tell it what not to touch, and what to shut down. There must be a similar utility in Vista, but you have to resort to "help" to find it.

Posted by: Bryan at September 30, 2007 06:32 PM

You are mad at Dell for making you fork out money for something that is their fault.

I am mad at Bank of America for the same reason.

I got mad enough to switch banks, you should vow to make this your last Dell.

In looking at where their political contributions go they are good companies to be mad at.

I am beginning to listen to Catherine Fitts who says we have to make economic decisions that have an impact on politics.

Posted by: Gary Denton at October 1, 2007 08:34 AM

Thanks for all the good and colorful advice. As it happens, though, tech geeks aren't as thick on the ground out here, and I'm very slow to fiddle with these things left to my own devices. It's unusual for someone to introduce themselves as a consultant and not mean in politics, for example. Reason #837 why I miss the West Coest.

Gary - I expect that this will be my last Dell computer. Barring that someone gives me one for free, I have no desire to be a customer of theirs ever, ever again. And I'm going to tell this story to everyone in my vicinity who's thinking about buying a new computer.

I *will* cost them more than they cost me. I figure my negative investment in their company will be matched if I can convince at least one person not to buy a new desktop, at minimum tripled if they were planning on a laptop. I may pick an item of furniture on which to mark notches.

Posted by: natasha at October 1, 2007 04:21 PM

How many times do I have to tell you, N? Use a belt, not furniture. Leaves people wondering, too. ("So, how many people have helped you with this problem on the laptop?" Hmmm....three, four, five. Yes - five tried to help." "Umm...")

If nothing else, it's portable.

Posted by: palamedes at October 2, 2007 01:32 AM

Use a belt, not furniture?

Aren't you the cheeky one ;)

Posted by: natasha at October 2, 2007 10:05 AM