Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Open letter to Michael Dell


Your people's approach punishes your customers who do not follow your processes which are not clear; also, these processes cause your people to give ambiguous instructions. Before the events described below started, I had researched Dell's ratings. Some things that I noted, and ignored, came about. My intent here is to document what happened clearly. Perhaps, you might learn from this.

By the way of introduction, except for systems bought in the early 90s (one still working), I have bought Dell computers. These still work (10 years old, 7 years old, 4 years old) even if I do need to nurture the function of the older models. I am currently writing this on the 4-year old (Vostro) which has performed marvelously (still does). But, I need a larger laptop plus something a little more mobile.

So, to the gist of the story. I ordered a Venue 10 in February. I thought that it might be large enough. The Venue and its accessories came quickly with no problems (two boxes, though, from two different places). After a week, I saw that it was too small. The keyboard was awkward (larger hands and fingers, also I am a touch typist so I do not hunt and peck). Incidentally, I have an early Toshiba laptop (the model that went up on Everest). Its keyboard was quite comfortable.

I called Dell to initiate a return. Your agent asked, would you take a discount and keep the thing? Well, I opted for that. Dell gave me a discount. But, after another week, I did not see any need to keep the system. Also, I think that I need, at least, a 12" to have a more comfortable keyboard. I called Dell, again. The person that I talked to was hard to understand but ended up sending me one address label. I had asked about this. To the person, and by email.

There was no response, so I put everything into one (the larger) box and took it to UPS (destination, Ohio). There were several items in the box: those that came originally in the larger box plus the Venue which had come from a different location by itself in a smaller box. Everything was packed well in the larger box. I received notice of receipt by Dell plus UPS notified me of delivery.

Recap - timeline:
    Feb - order and receive; start return
    March - pack and ship, confirmed by UPS and Dell; call about refund
    April - calls about status and refund
    May - calls about status and refund
We are now into June.

I got a refund in short order for the items in the larger box. When I called about the Venue, I was told that Ohio did not handle these types of returns. But where was the Venue? I had feared that someone would swipe the Venue. But, it sat on the shelf for over six weeks. After several calls, we worked out that the Venue was supposed to have gone (by itself, separate box, address label) to Tennessee. Tsk, Tsk for me (stupid customer).

So, we have a problem in this instance. Your people implied that the process could not work because the records in the computer were not right. Okay, is that my problem as a customer? When the box was opened in Ohio, the extra item (the Venue) ought to have been noted and put into some type of return process. As in, change the computer record to reflect this. But, no, the Venue was put on a shelf somewhere.

In response to some of my calls, your folks noted the time lapse and promised that the remainder of the refund would be done in 3 to 5 days. On the last call (two weeks ago), I was told that the case was, finally, in finance. That is, there had been some change made to the computer record, the Venue had been shipped to Tennessee, the Venue was processed back into the Tennessee site, and the refund process was going forward.

And, I was reminded that refunds could take 30 days. By this time, it was already over 60 days from receipt of the Venue by Dell in Ohio.

Today, I re-checked; there is no refund. We are not talking a huge amount. It is not the money. Rather, I wanted to see just how botched up your process might be. Too, I got an earful of your people's attitude. As well, this has caused me to delay my purchases.

So, the issue is that I ought to have been sent two address labels. However, even with that, the person opening the package in Ohio could have done more than just put the Venue on a shelf. Then, I talked to several people who could not figure out what had happened. Some actually suggested that the problem was due to me (stupid customer). Meanwhile, the Venue sat and sat. At some point, in late April, one of your folks got the process going to get the computer record updated so that the Venue could be handled properly (planned delay to make me squirm?).

What gives there? Dell is supposedly a top-notch technology firm. And, it takes six weeks to move one little computer one state over? I could drive that in half a day.

My purchases are pending resolution of this little tangled mess.

BTW, since I am a long-time customer, I got an email asking how the purchase went. I responded and never heard back. I have sent notes through various means. It is like a blank wall. That is, people respond to a call; then, things are dropped. Where is the follow-through that would help with your customer relations?

Fortunately, I can still call which I will do in the near future. When I do so, I will put notes below.

Like your canned music. Being on interminable hold (time and again) can be bothersome. But, perhaps, the light at the end of the tunnel is close at hand.

Remarks: Modified: 06/14/2016

06/03/2016 -- Called today. Another 45 minutes or so. Most of it was the Dell person having me on hold while he researched the problem. After some circuitous movement through cases, delineated by long numbers, we got back to the original one. That was nice, as I recognized the number.  In short, he verified what I knew. Made sure that I knew that I was to blame by insisting that Dell sent two labels. My email shows that I got one. And, the Venue was in Tennessee by early May (six weeks) at which time the refund process went to Finance as I learned when I called on May 3 and verified on 11. Why did I call back in 8 days? On May 3, the person said it would be 3-5 business days for the refund. We are waiting. 10 weeks after the Venue was in Dell's hands. The Return department has done their thing; now, they say wait. Some more.

06/06/2016 -- No refund, as this am. The computer sat on a shelf about four hundred miles from where it should have been for six weeks. At least, it was not stolen. Does that, perchance, say something of the Venue 10? BTW, I drive that in a day. Perhaps, I ought to have offered to carry it from OH to TN.

06/14/2016 -- The last time I spoke to Dell in early June, it was the Returns department. They informed me that the they have done what they could and that I ought to contact Finance. So, not being an irritant, I waited and was going to call today. As, there is no refund. I have been checking, every day. Just did a few minutes ago. Now, to call Finance, I needed a number. Looking, again, at the FAQ, I saw that refunds could take 60 days from receipt. Let's see. That was March 21st. So, we're approaching over 90 days. But, it sat for six weeks. The clock then started in late April. The FAQ suggested to check Dell account. I had been doing that; last time was on the 6th. So, I see, today, that on the 7th, payment was approved. The notice looks like an order with a delivery date. The type of delivery was for 7-days. So, that would be today, unless it means business days. In any case, the order said that it was awaiting pickup by the delivery system. Okay. The other credit was back to the card used in the order. Other? Yes, the part of the order that was returned to the right place. That worked well. It was the part of the order that went to where it ought not that caused this hangup. So, the question is, when will the refund pop up? There are purchases pending resolution of this. Not from a financial sense; rather, a mere matter of principle. In the meantime, I am looking at other options. You know, Samsung looks good.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Windows and all

Context: OfficeLive, Content, we know (note, my favorite site, dealing with mathematical physics, was HTML/CSS for years - flash can work against content - games are not reality).


This is an oops for me. MS has been offering Windows 10 (W10) for free, for awhile. Lately, I notice that the offer is up at the end of July.

So, all of these months, I have held off. I am running Windows 7 on a laptop (Dell Vostro) that is 4 years old. It has been doing well. I had a BSOD yesterday but can explain it. Altogether, there have about a handful of these events. On the other hand, Windows Vista had a slew of BSODs over the years.

As I write this post, I'm enjoying the cooling breeze of the fan. As, the computer is running just warm after I went back to Windows 7 after doing W10 just long enough to see the issues. The CPU usage is holding at a low rate. After all, all I am doing at this time is typing. Nothing is running in the background. Sure, there are a whole bunch of processes awaiting something from me, but they'll sit there until I respond. Very few cycles are required for that.

So, now for the OOPS (yes, MS, tsk). This is my fault. I read about a year ago some (very) glowing report about W10. I used it briefly on a Venue. Also, I have played with various demo little devices. But, I did not get into the specifics. I did notice that it was not as fast as I expected. As the glowing report talked about speed and small footprint.

Where the heck did they get that idea for the report? That is, it appears to use less memory. It's beating up the CPU in order to have that little bit of fantasy. Clever, sure. But, somehow, I had expected that we were looking at something new.

Today, I put on Windows 10. I have notes and can write about the process. I told MS when they asked, that if I had not known what I was doing, I would not have completed the task. I had to do some workaround. The wait during the install process was not outrageous as I could continue to work.

But, as soon as I booted W10, my computer ran hot. So, I pop up the Task Manager. Sure enough, CPU as maxed out. Memory was almost out (we're talking 6 gigs). So, I started to remove things that somehow were put in place by the installer. That got memory reduced. So, I could get to where I had multiple processes going that I could balance.

However, even if I just let these things wait and just typed like this post, it still ran 100% and in a very heated mode. MS, ever heard of burning candles at both ends?

Well, I did some quick reading. Remove things was suggested. Clean out the crap. So I did. But the biggest thing of use had to do with memory and compression. So, what is that? Well, this little sleight of hand by MS pushed a big thing into a smaller space by doing transforms. That is, smaller, but denser. Trade-offs that ought to be brought to attention. I know, lots of brains were behind this.

Well, silly old me, I figured that they (MS) had really pulled out the crap. What a dunce I was! This is MS, after all. The joke was (is?): type win, and you lose.

So, when I get a W10 machine (for the apps), I'll have to make sure that it has oodles of memory. But, then, will the CPU still be worked to death? This may have already been discussed elsewhere. I will have to read on this and get back.

Do I have the energy to look at this in detail? You see, waste and computing seem to go hand in hand. And, these folks talk as if they are going to maximize efficiency, minimize need for power, etc. That is, people who use these things are driven to bow to this stupidity.

When will we wake up?

There is a bind here. Windows 7 is so far down the line that updates have accumulated almost to the height of the highest mountain. Going to W10 was supposed to reduce that so that the heap would be small for awhile.

Forget that.

Is Apple any better on the efficiency issue?

Remarks: Modified: 05/31/2016

05/31/2016 --

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Beans, again

I put two posts on Truth Engineering (TE) related to this theme: Beans and such and Boomer lessons. Why TE? Well, beans are important. We expect that they will be handled appropriately; yet, through history, beans have been hard to control.

In the modern realm, things are a little better. Little? Yes, we have accounting. Yet, books are cooked; people are screwed out of their life savings. Then, even the most modern are problematic. Take bitcoin. It has been used to support gambling, illicit activities of other types, and even piracy. Piracy? Yes, someone ran a Ponzi scheme, evidently successfully.

So, oops, too? You bet.

And, beans apply here, too (04/11/2009). Back then, the conversation was about the fiction in finance. Is it any different, today?

Not. But, we must get a better handle on these things. How to go about that varies so much by personality and such.

We must not think that it is hopeless; after all, we learn how to engineer chaos, manage NP, and have some sort of success with Turing issues.

Remarks: Modified: 04/13/2016

04/13/2016 --

Friday, March 25, 2016

Ranting bot

Could not have asked for a better Good Friday gift: ranting bot. There will be subsequent analysis after a little time to see the reactions.

Related to this? Big-daddy data. Gosh, if only Janet would pull the plug on this mania by raising the rate. Janet, you are coddling moral idiots in their trashing of our economy.

Remarks: Modified: 03/25/2016

03/25/2016 --

Monday, February 29, 2016

Leap Day, 2016

We started this blog in 2007. So, this will be our third Leap Day. It might be interesting to see what was going during each of those earlier times.
    2008 This blog's first focus was looking at one product from a project management perspective. By February 2008, there was a fourth survey completed. See Oops happen. The response was hardly enough to be significant; however, it it interesting. We intend to get back to this; however, the engineers took over in 2010 which prompted this "We're gone" post.

    You see, we could trust engineers to do a product right once the marketing folks got out of the way. Finance? Not, it's a mess. Was then; still is. There were so many things out of whack that several books have not covered the gamut. So, expect more about this.

    2012 A few years later, the product was in the air. However, we were all watching Ben trying to get the economy to go. Those who could were still not getting things back to normal. That is, the best and brightest were still baffled and baffling to the rest of us. By this time, there ought to have been some recovery that would have pushed inflation and prompted Ben to raise rates. But, now, Ben went into QE and more; savers, essentially, went from being slapped to being flayed.

    Guess what? Now, we're dealing with Janet. Things are still running amok. The investors want cheap money. But, why not? Some central bankers have gone negative. Makes it all the more apparent that there needs to be a redefinition. What this might look like is the task. 
This brief look back us of the work that remains to be done.

Remarks: Modified: 02/29/2016

02/29/2016 --

Friday, February 19, 2016


Still plugging along. Truth engineering covers the larger picture. Quora has been taking time and interest of late. There will be more about the discussion platform made available via Quora. I have attained a frequently-read writer status in several areas.

A couple of items. These will continue to be of interest as is safe computing.
  • . Businessweek had an article: Why Doesn’t Silicon Valley Hire Black Coders? One coder talked about his culture shock. Now, having lived in several parts of the country, I can relate. Some location transitions are more jolting that others. Now, this guy said that he kept hearing: I started to code at 7 years old. Turns out that SV is full of these types. Loose or non existence moral sense? Elsewhere, I mentioned that the financial mess is due in part to the young, best-and-brightest being let loose. As in, old guys with money not wanting to look at technical details. It's true, folks. One wonders how things will be when the current millennial mix gets older. To my view, this whole perturbation was a one-off deal. Technology came along causing (forcing) all sorts of changes. One prevalent view, that is troublesome, is that (real) people are in the way and unnecessary. We will get back to that. 
  • .The WSJ reported that BA has a deferred cost burden around $28B. Yes, billion. And, they are nearing the point where they can sell for more than they spend making the 787. Now, let's say that they sell 2,000. That would be a burden on each of $14M. Yes, million. Deferred cost? Just what exactly is that? Many would like to know. 

I will link this blog, and the other blogs, to Quora this year. 

Remarks: Modified: 02/19/2016

02/19/2016 --

Saturday, January 9, 2016

I'm back

Earlier, there was a not-back series. But, it's time to get involved, again.

Yesterday, I saw two attempts at taking over the machine. Now, why is this related to 7'oops7? After all, the 787 flies. Well, the whole cloud / internet is a mess. And, engineering is responsible for part of this. What ought to be done about the mess?

Too, the younger types are running after the internet of everything. They need to talk to some old fart, like myself, who sees things more clearly than their pursuit of money and fame allows them to see. Okay?

In one case, it was a survey that was presented under the guise of a legitimate company with whom I deal. Let's say the company is right in the middle of the stream. We cannot live digitally / virtually / cloudily / et-al without this type. But, they are not saints, to use one culture's view. The survey then popped up coupons, for trashy stuff. Sheesh. Of course, I did not follow the lead; til then, I had ignored this type of thing. But, this was from a core piece of the flow.

Then, later, while browsing / searching via Google a pop-up came on about the machine being in a state of a comprising nature. I happened to have the speakers on since I deigned to watch a video (crap, did not tell me anything of value, no one reads anymore? - sheesh, give me text to read) on the subject - technical, by the way. A woman's voice broke into my awareness with a supposed message of concern.

So, I have my ways and means; I got the process trashed before it could do anything. But, it gave me pause. As when one is working and focused, one does not expect that a coworker would set up an unsafe mode. Not usually. If you work in an environment that is unsafe, then process and caution will help. OSHA, for one, deals with the proper way there.

So, thanks brothers and sisters who are providing the internet. Nice job. Lots to say here.

Slogan: We stay safe as we practice safe computing. But, we, too, need to identify the idiots and not allow them to make so much money (by the way, those with the most money are, sometimes, the dumbest from one very old, and respectable, view - but, then, it is an age-old set of problems that we are dealing with here).

Remarks: Modified: 01/09/2016

01/09/2016 --

Monday, January 4, 2016

Summary, 2015

In 2015, there were 14 posts.

See Summary, 2014. The "All time" reads are the same as last year. The "Last 30 days" reads are all of this year's posts.

Top 5 posts 

Prior years: 201120122013.

See "4th December" in 2010 and "Last post for 2008" (for Truth Engineering, this same post has been popular). 

Remarks: Modified: 01/04/2016

01/04/2016 --

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Mania and more

I never saw any of the these movies. And, I am starting to remember the mania at the first movie release (Star Wars). At the time, it seemed awful silly. Now, we're decades past, and it still seems so.

But, then, some made oodles of money. And, a whole lot of people have been entertained.

Soon after the original mania, a Defense Initiative got a "Star Wars" nickname. Remember that? Lots of folks were weighing on both sides of that argument. Then, the later '80s and early '90s sort of pushed that whole theme to the background.

And, now, we find that some naive views on security were way off base. The internet, for one thing, is a mess. Then, we can start to list ... (must we?). Let's just say, the cloud is muddy (no manna there).

When the first movie came out (we were all younger), I had just gone through a couple of years reading a bunch of science fiction. Of course, Asimov was high on the list of favorites. There are more.

But, I never went to a movie if I had read the book after doing it once. Like Paul Simon says, cannot beat the sweet little imagination. Hear that, Hollywood? Their quandary is that things have to rush to the bottom (real fast) in order to keep the titillation up.

Remarks: Modified: 12/17/2015

12/17/2015 --