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Discussion Starter #1
Joe,
Was digging in my pile of bagged ballast rock and guess what I found on the bottom? An unopened bag of the rock you asked about that I used for the wheel shop's boiler room annex.

I'll also take some photos of "landscaping" on the POC and hopefully put together a small "Techniques For Non-gardeners" article. It'll have to wait until Spring though when I'll be able to work on the groundwork.

 

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Thanks, Richard. Sorry I didn't respond sooner, but me and the missus have got the dreaded Norovirus (commonly called the stomach flu) and spent tha last day plus, ahem, making Buicks (sorry to be so graphic). But I'm up, though a bit shakey, and ready to tackle the modeling tasks at hand. And yes, I would love to see a few words about gardening techniques from the Smith perspective.
 

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Hi Richard,

Aargh! Yesterday, while I was typing you a long answer about how much more anal I have become about this dang gas station, my Dell flat screen suddenly went black (not MS Blue), but everything else was working. After some fiddling around I discovered--after turning off the screen and turning it back on--an error message reading "Auto Detect: digital input." Being computer illiterate, I had not a clue as to what that meant and after being knocked off a few more times yesterday, called the Dell help line today, where a very nice lady techie determined--after taking control of my screen, a sobering story in itself--that the problem was I had two AOL versions loaded and that one was interfering with the other. So she dumped 'em both and loaded a fresh version while we chatted about things in Manilla, which is where she was. In the course of all this she had me go to the post I was working on (yours) and just type something. Hence, the test. All of this personal attention cost me $239 a year, or $129 for 72 hours (I took the super-saver off course) and sent my wife in apoplexy, as we aleady paid Dell $200 or $300 for an extended warranty, which I learned was only for hardware problems, should they occur. My wife said that if other businesses ran this way, there would be riots in the streets. Now we know why Bill Gates, Michael Dell, Steve Jobs, not to mention Carly Fiorino (wearing her HP hat) et all, have more money than Midas and old farts like us are subject to their every whim. In the words of Snoopy: "BLEH!"
 

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I can quite understand the apoplexy condition as I, too, have seen such bills... and not to defend the riches possessed by those that you have listed...

But it is quite astounding that, in order of increasing astonishment...

1. She was able to communicate with you in YOUR language. I have to assume that she was understandable to you and you to her, since you discussed "things in Manila" with her and you didn't complain about a language barrier. Okay, not all that astounding, given the general universality of English in the business world.

2. She was able to repair the problem from 1/2 the way around the world. Yeah, easy with computers, but I remember having to have someone perform my repair instructions over the phone and it was very difficult to get them to do ONLY what I said and not go off and make their own adjustments in the middle of a required sequence of setup.

3. She was able to diagnose the problem without being in the same room as the machine nor being able to actually see what is on your screen (the "Auto Detect: digital input" was generated by the display hardware itself and would not appear on her screen). Likewise, I remember having to diagnose problems from the descriptions of someone that both they and I "thought" were computer literate (I sure learned otherwise after a few minutes of chatting with them on the phone!).

4. That it only cost you $129 for the service. You got 72 hours of help for $1.80 an hour. Have you had a refrigerator repairman in lately? Ha! for that matter, are there any refrigerator repairmen any more? A rhetorical question to be sure... NO there are not... you just go buy another refrigerator... right?

Yes, I recognize the consternation of the separation of the Hardware "Extended Warranty" and the Software repair costs... I too, expect the computer and its programming to be a "unit" ... but how long has it been since you went to the doctor and paid just one bill for a diagnosis... do you not get a bill from the doctor's office and another from the lab and another from the xray lab technician and another from the xray orthopedic interpreter and another from the ... well, hope you didn't have to go to the hospital for the tests cuz they will soak you for the emergency room, the crash cart, materials and consumables and floor wax and... and... and...

Yeah, I would be bemoaning the cost... that was an unwanted, unexpected and unprepared for expence... but it was also cheap.
 

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C.T.
Funny you should use that example. I was thinking of replacing my fridge. I called a repair man instead. That cost $35.00. Much cheaper than an new one.

I always try to repair appliances myself. After a few years all the screws are rusted, the plastic fittings are brittle, and the hoses are dried out. Any attempt to repair causes more damage.

Dave
 

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C.T.

By beginning three of your sentences with "she," and emphasizing "YOUR language," you have taken part of a thread that was a gripe about the hidden costs of computers (among other things) and made it seem that I have disdain for women, foreigners, and off-shore businesses, which is not the case at all.

I mentined that it was dealing with a woman--a nice one at that--because that's who was on the other end of the line. I said she was in Manila because that's where she was. For the record, I have a lnumber of Filipino friends so I was able to use a little of the Tagalog I know to thank her for her help and bid her a good day.

That "she was able to repair my problem" suggests that I was amazed that a mere woman could solve a real problem. My wife is one of the smartest people in the world and I have nothing but respect for all women.

What amazed me was not that "she" was able to diagnose my problem, but that one can do this by remote control from halfway around the world.

As for paying for services, I don't mind ponying up whatever it takes to fix a problem when something breaks. But when a manufacturer of a product that's barely three months old and still under warranty charges me $239 to fix a problem that they were able to solve in 45 minutes by phone, that's what I object to.
 

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Posted By joe rusz on 12/03/2008 6:47 PM
C.T.

By beginning three of your sentences with "she," and emphasizing "YOUR language," you have taken part of a thread that was a gripe about the hidden costs of computers (among other things) and made it seem that I have disdain for women, foreigners, and off-shore businesses, which is not the case at all.

I mentined that it was dealing with a woman--a nice one at that--because that's who was on the other end of the line. I said she was in Manila because that's where she was. For the record, I have a lnumber of Filipino friends so I was able to use a little of the Tagalog I know to thank her for her help and bid her a good day.

That "she was able to repair my problem" suggests that I was amazed that a mere woman could solve a real problem. My wife is one of the smartest people in the world and I have nothing but respect for all women.

What amazed me was not that "she" was able to diagnose my problem, but that one can do this by remote control from halfway around the world.

As for paying for services, I don't mind ponying up whatever it takes to fix a problem when something breaks. But when a manufacturer of a product that's barely three months old and still under warranty charges me $239 to fix a problem that they were able to solve in 45 minutes by phone, that's what I object to.








Joe:

Oops, sorry, I didn't intend to imply anything like that.

I used "she" simply because if I had used "he" it would have been grossly inaccurate. No other meaning should be implied at all. As for any "Sexist" attitude in me, well, I would, in general, much prefer to interface with a women in business dealings than a man.

I mentioned the language barrier because the last time I interfaced with a person with a different native language there was a near total lack of any actual communication, even though both he (it was a "he", in Taiwan) and I worked very hard at it. Your ability to communicate with her in her native language is pretty good... I have just enough command of a few other languages to know that I should never attempt to use any of them in the presence of someone for whom it is their native one.


I did not intend to imply that anyone should be astounded that a woman was able to diagnose the problem, it was that anyone could be able to diagnose it in a remote location via the computer link... (interesting diagnosis, too!). I am a retired computer programmer (nearly 40 years of it) and I have worked with both men and women programmers in group programming situations and, pardon my extreme sexist attitude, but I much prefer WOMEN programmers to men. It may be a cliché that women are not logical, yet I find that, in general, most women can program circles around most men. I have seen some pretty lousy women programmers and they were still better than the lousy men programmers; the better programmers of both sexes were pretty much on a par with each other. Some of that can be attributed to the relative numbers of programmers of each sex, and also that women have traditionally had a harder time breaking into certain areas of business and thus had to be "better" just to break even, but I am of a mind to think that in the general population it would still hold true. But then, I'm a Male Chauvinist Pig... just ask my ex-wife.

And I still agree with you that the warranty should be for the "computer" as a whole, not just the hardware and that the software is the customer's problem... but I also can see the manufacturer's point of view in that the hardware is harder for the end user to screw-up (and there is always evidence if the end user take a 10 pound lump hammer to it) and the software is much too exposed to the user rearranging it to unworkable configurations... The butcher shop here guarantees that they sell fine steaks, but if the customer burns it to a crisp they won't replace it for free. Software is somewhat like that... and it is just too difficult to make it such that the end user can't season it with ground glass and cook it with napalm.

But I also think you got off CHEAP. And I don't say that to make you feel bad... if I believed in luck, I'd say you were lucky. I think it could have been much worse!
 

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C.T.

OK, we're good. I tend to get emotional--very happy, very sad, very angry--and can be thin-skinned at times, even though I'm always up for a sarcastic comment or two. Anyway, no hard feelings.

Our Dell is working swell and I love its speed. Verizon is installing fiber optic in our 'hood and I am tempted to sign up, although with the economy sagging and taking our retirement funds with it, I may stick with DSL, which ain't too shabby.

Now if I can only sort out my Adobe Lightroom 2 and Photoshop Elements, I'll be good as gold. As things stand, it took me two hours just to edit, 'Shop and print a simple photo page for our Christmas letter, because I could never find my images, which were hiding in several different places and on my external hard drive.
 

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C.T. suggested that rather than just tell him personally--which I did via an e-mail directly to him--I tell the rest of you how my Dell story played out.

Although my Dell was working swell on Dec 5 (the date of my last post on MLS), several days later the same problem (screen goes to black, even though computer is working proeperly) returned. This time I drew a guy person--in India, perhaps (I have a follow-up tale about that, so don't jump yet)--who took over my screen and tried another software related solution (I forget what he picked on). Anyway, I got my screen working for about a day, but then the problem began to recur with increasing frequency. When the screen wouldn't stay on for more than five mintes (I timed it), I started to play around offline and found that the same thing happened. So I wondered if the problem could be my 22-inch flatscreen monitor. At this point my wife, the diplomat who is more even-tempered than me, called Dell Sales, who transfered us to tech support where I came on the phone and told the guy about my bad monitor theory. He told me to unplug the video feed and tell him what happened. Well, for the first couple of minutes, this little image with red, white and blue bars began to wander around the screen (I didn't those screens could self-diagnose). But five minutes and eight seconds later, the screen went black. So I yelled for the guy to come back on the phone (he was working in the background) and told him. He said, "We're sending out a new monitor," which arrived by FedEx today.

I'm back to being a happy camper, but annoyed that I shelled out $239 for a software warranty, which I didn't need, since the probelm was with the hardware. And I already had purchased an extended, three-year hardware warranty, which didn't apply since the hardware was still covered by your basic, one year factory warranty. This makes me feel like we were scammed and in the survey Dell sent me, I didn't give them my usual high marks.

By contrast, when I couldn't get my HP Pavillion laptop (pinch-hitting for my Dell) to sign on to the internet, the guy at Verizon, after calling up his Vista instruction book, led me through the process in a few minutes and got me on line. He, and Verizon get the highest marks. And they even e-mailed me printed instructions complete with a diagram, so that I can do it myself in the future. BTW, Verizon is installing fiber optic cable in our 'hood and I would love to get it because it is super fast. But at $75 a month (or so my neighbor says) I think I'll stick with my DSL.

About Dell's offshore tech support--a story in the business section of the December 13 LA Times stated that for $99 a year for new computer buyers, or $12.95 a month for existing customers, Dell will hook wil hook you up with an agent who is based in North America and speaks 'American."

Anyway, that's the end of my saga. Now, back to the trains.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Posted By Ray Dunakin on 12/13/2008 12:32 PM
I want to know more about the bag of rocks! Richard, do you provide tech support with that? :D




Hehe!

Guaranteed to be made of real rock! Good for throwing, skimming or filling holes. Aside from these exclusive features you're on your own! ;)
 
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