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Archive for the ‘General’ Category

PostHeaderIcon Happy New Year!


PostHeaderIcon Problems with Dell Tech Support – Part 2

You can read Problems with Dell Tech Support – Part 1 here.

So, my replacement Axim came, and I immediately noticed that the case had a couple of scratches. No big deal, I thought. I can handle that. But there are 2 small scratches on the screen, and I won’t accept that. I haven’t even used the thing yet. So now my second replacement is bad and needs to be replaced. I emailed the escalation specialist directly, so we’ll see how fast I get a response.

For those just tuning in:

  • my original Axim had the screen go bad
  • I received a replacement and the audio jack didn’t work on it.
  • Now my third one has scratches on the screen before I’ve even used it.


PostHeaderIcon Problems with Dell tech support – Part 1

This is going to be a long one…

A couple of weeks ago, I noticed that there was a thin dark horizontal line on my Dell Axim x30. Because it was so thin, it wasn’t that much of annoyance, but it was definitely something wrong with the screen. It only was seen when the backlight came on. When the backlight went off, the line disappeared, even though I could still see what was on the screen. Obviously it was something wrong electronically with the screen, so I called up DELL support.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006
I called our normal support number, but there was no option for Axims, so I chose the laptop option and was on hold for a couple of minutes. A woman answered and when I explained my problem, she said that I had to call a different number. I did so, and was on hold for over 20 minutes. I finally spoke with someone who was helpful, but also asked some stupid questions. I’m sure it was just a checklist of things she was asking, but it is still annoying. She asked me if I had done a soft reset on the device. Of course I had. She asked if I had done a hard reset. Why would I do that? I’d loose everything, and how would a hard reset resolve a bad screen? Thankfully she didn’t insist that I do it. She arranged for a replacement.

Friday, January 13, 2006
Two days latter I had I had the replacement. I took the replacement home for the weekend, backed up my old one, and restored it to my new one.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006
Everything seemed to be fine, so I packaged up the original one and shipped it back to Dell.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006
Then the next day at lunch I went out for a lunch and expected to be able to listen to some music. Of course that was the only thing I hadn’t tested on my replacement Axim, and the headphone jack was bad. I tried my headphones, and two different sets of speakers, and it would crackle in and out.

Friday, January 20, 2006
I called back and tried to arrange for my replacement to be replaced. The person acknowledged that they had received the original one, but he said the replacement Axim still hadn’t been switched over to my name, so there was nothing they could do. I complained, and the person said they’d send off an email to that department, but there was still nothing they could do for me at that time.

Monday, January 23, 2006
I called back and spoke to a tech named Janine. She said the same thing to me. She said that it still wasn’t in my name, and until it was there was nothing that she could do to help me. I explained (as politely as I could) that there was a problem with their support system if there wasn’t anything she could do. I asked to speak to a supervisor, and so she put me on hold. A second-level technician named Rob came on the line. I explained that I didn’t need second-level support and that I wanted to give a complaint to a supervisor, and he said the supervisor was busy and that he could help me as much as the supervisor. Well, he was useless. He said that sometimes the switchover can take a day; sometimes it can take 6 days. He said again that there was nothing he could do about it, and that I’d just have to call back again.

Friday, January 27, 2006
I called and spoke to a tech named Barry. I explained the situation. He figured there was a problem, and put me through to Vicky in customer care. She told me what my service tag was supposed to be. They kept saying that I claim to have a different service tag. Hello! I have the thing in front of me. The tag you say I have and the tag I have are not the same!! Deal with it! You messed up! (I didn’t really say that, but I sure did want to scream that at them). Vicky was very helpful, and after 30 minutes or so she said that I should talk to tech support again and they could arrange for a replacement. I explained I wanted a new one, and not a refurbished one, as I didn’t want to go through this again. She agreed, and said the tech could arrange this. This seemed odd to me, but whatever. Unfortunately, I went back into the regular queue on the support line, and so had to be on hold for a while more. I then spoke with a tech named Mark. He kept putting me on hold while he worked with a different person in customer care trying to figure out how to handle my problem. He said that Vicky shouldn’t have said what she said as their policy is to send our refurbished items. At the end of the conversion, Mark said he could arrange to send me out another Axim, but it would most likely be refurbished. If I was insisting on getting a new one, then I’d have to talk to Eric, an escalation specialist. Eric was on another call, but would call me back in 15-20 minutes, tops.
2 hours later Eric called. He wasn’t rude, but he also was not very pleasant. He barely apologized, didn’t acknowledge flaws in their system, and said the terms of the support “contract” were for a refurbished unit. That part really annoyed me. It was as if he was trying to tell me I was breaking a contact. Well, I think they broke the contract by sending me a cruddy product. If I was going to insist on getting a new one, then he’d have to send it to someone else. I said not to bother, and we arranged for a replacement, that I’m supposed to have on Monday. If it doesn’t work, I will not be a happy camper!

I’ll report back when I get the replacement…

So, here are the problems/complaints I have about Dell support:

  • The wrong replacement unit was sent to me
  • Returns take too long to get switched over
  • I had 2 different phone calls that were over an hour. I spent over 3 hours on the phone so far.
  • The tech support people seem intent on dealing with things that only fit their area. They are of no help if you are kind of in limbo like I was
  • I was not able to speak with a supervisor/manager when I requested it
  • No one seemed particularly pleasant. I understand that they deal with complaints all the time, but when he are in the service business, you have to be pleasant. An unpleasant technician only adds to the frustration

Of course I would have loved to have a new Axim. They don’t make the x30 anymore, so I would have received a new model. But ultimately all I want is a model that works. I don’t want to waste 3 hours on the phone again. I don’t want the hassle of moving data from one Axim to another. I want Dell to tell their techs to stop saying, “There’s nothing I can do.” As an end user, I can’t do anything. As the manufacturer, you better believe there is something they can do!

We have probably a dozen Dell servers at work, and 60 workstations, and we’ve never had a problem like this. Generally I think Dell makes fantastic products, has good service, and I’d recommend them to anyone. But after experiences like this, I sure will hesitate a bit more before recommending them to someone else.

PostHeaderIcon The value of intellectual property

We received a package today from Microsoft. The USPS customs declaration (I’m in Canada) said the following:

5 CD’s @ .75 $3.75
1 Brochure $.50
Intellectual Property $5.00
Total value $9.25

Can you ship intellectual property? Wouldn’t most people value their intellectual property at more than $5? Inside the package along with the CDs and brochure, was a 2-page letter. I can only assume that was the intellectual property that was worth $5. If I tried to sell the letter, could I get $5 for it?

PostHeaderIcon Windows Live Mail Beta impressions

Last night I received an invitation from Microsoft to join the Windows Live Mail Beta:

I signed up and after 2 clicks my account was switched over. The new interface is very slick. Only the mail portion works in Firefox, but in IE, you get mail, calendar, tasks and reminders. It looks very much like Outlook 2003, and you can even drag and drop messages.

I hardly use my Hotmail account (I use mostly Gmail for web-based mail), but depending on how the “Windows Live” features develop, I could see myself changing. We’ll see…

PostHeaderIcon Yahoo! Publisher Network

Further to my discussion of my Google Adsense problems, I researched some of the alternatives that Shawn suggested. I wasn’t comfortable with any of them, other than Yahoo! Publisher Network. I applied, and have just now received my notification that I’ve been accepted. Unfortunately, the program is only open to US-based publishers:

Please note that during the beta period, Yahoo! is only able to serve or accept U.S.-based publishers with a valid Social Security or Tax ID number, and with web site content that is predominantly in English and targeted at a U.S. user base.

I guess I have to wait until it comes out of beta, or at least until they expand the beta program.

PostHeaderIcon Subscribe to the Update feed

I’ve put together a bunch of images to let you subscribe to the Update feed using various programs/web sites:

Subscribe with RSS 0.92
Subscribe with RSS 1.0
Subscribe with RSS 2.0
Subscribe with Atom
Subscribe with Bloglines Subscribe with Bloglines
Subscribe with myFeedster Subscribe with Feedster
Add to Google Subscribe with Google
Subscribe with MSN
Add to My Yahoo! Subscribe with Yahoo
Subscribe in NewsGator Online Subscribe with NewsGator
Subscribe with AOL Subscribe with AOL
Subscribe with Pluck RSS reader Subscribe with Pluck
Subscribe in Rojo Subscribe with Rojo

Wouldn’t it be nice if they all used a common way to subscribe?

PostHeaderIcon Why Computers Sometimes Crash!

A co-worker sent this to me. It is on all sorts of sites. I generally don’t like this sort of thing, but seeing as I love reading Yertle the Turtle to Andrew, I’m partial to Dr. Seuss:

(Read this to yourself aloud – it’s great!)

If a packet hits a pocket on a socket on a port, and the bus is interrupted at a very last resort, and the access of the memory makes your floppy disk abort, then the socket packet pocket has an error to report.

If your cursor finds a menu item followed by a dash, and the double-clicking icon puts your window in the trash, and your data is corrupted cause the index doesn’t hash, then your situation’s hopeless and your system’s gonna crash!

If the label on the cable on the table at your house, says the network is connected to the button on your mouse, but your packets want to tunnel to another protocol, that’s repeatedly rejected by the printer down the hall……

And your screen is all distorted by the side effects of gauss, so your icons in the window are as wavy as a souse; then you may as well reboot and go out with a bang, ‘cuz sure as I’m a poet, the sucker’s gonna hang.

When the copy on your floppy’s getting sloppy in the disk, and the macro code instructions is causing unnecessary risk, then you’ll have to flash the memory and you’ll want to RAM your ROM, and then quickly turn off the computer and be sure to tell your Mom!

PostHeaderIcon Google sucking my bandwidth

I seem to be having my share of Google problems lately! I wrote a lengthy post about my problems with Adsense. There have been a few responses, but no one is really able to answer my questions.

I’ve also been having a problem on my family website. Almost every month the Googlebot goes crazy and crawls my site non-stop. I won’t go into the detail I did with my Adsense problem, but I did email them originally, and it took 10 days to get a response! In the meantime, they kept sucking up my bandwidth which I have to pay for. They asked for some information from me which I sent. They replied 5 days later asking for more information. Things seemed to settle down (I assumed they’d fixed the problem), so I waited a few weeks. But then it started again, so I sent along what they had asked for. 11 days later after not hearing from anyone yet, I emailed them again (I was obviously angry):

Do something about this!!!!!!!!!!!
Why is no one replying??????

You’ve already used up 12.5 GB this month, and I only have 15 for the entire month. Stop this. I want to be crawled, but not like this……………

Why is the customer service so bad? Is there someone I can email who will actually read this? This should have been corrected when I first commented on it 2 months ago. I provided all the necessary information, but was still told they needed more info (even though I had already given it to them).
Now here I am with the same problem.

Fix this please

Unbelievable, it took another 15 days after that angry email before I got a reply. Wow, their customer service is awful!

The end result was their Googlebot doesn’t handle sessions well:

From the log snippet you provided, we can see that your site is using session IDs. As you’ve observed, session IDs can cause problems for our robots. Please disable session IDs for Googlebot so that our robots may crawl your site more efficiently.

They sent me a link to some information on how to modify a PHP script so that it doesn’t create a session for the Googlebot. Unfortunately, I don’t use the script that link talks about. So I have to figure it out for myself. It irks me that I have to make changes on my site when they are the ones that have the problem. I have 2 PHP scripts on the site: PhpGedView (for genealogy/family history information), and 4images (for family photos). Now I have to go figure out which one is the problem…

I realize I’m using open source scripts that are free and there is a risk in that. I realize that this is not a business site that has quality control over the scripts. I realize that the site isn’t really meant for anyone other than my family. But Google should be able to reply in a more timely manner, and provide better answers.

As of November 27, my site had 224.55 MB worth of regular traffic, and 21.55 GB worth of “not viewed traffic” (according to Awstats), with the Googlebot using 21.40 GB of that traffic!

PostHeaderIcon Google Adsense problems

This is going to be a long post…

As I’m sure you’ve noticed, I have ads on my site. I am part of the Google Adsense program. I recently noticed that on Saturday, November 5, 2005, my reports indicated that there was a search done using my code, and an ad was clicked on. But there wasn’t any money credited to my account.

I know it would have only been a few cents, but its the principle of the thing. It’s also a trust thing. How do I know that other clicks weren’t recorded properly?

Anyway, I emailed them:

My search performance shows that there was one click on Saturday, November 5, 2005. Yet I earned nothing for the day. How is that possible? If a link was clicked on, then there should have at least been 1 cent in earnings.

I got an email in reply from them. I can’t tell if it is a canned message or not. And it’s signed The Google Adsense Team. I hate that. Let me know I’m dealing with a real person! Here’s their response:

Hello Graham,

Thank you for your email.

To protect your interests as well as those of our advertisers, Google monitors clicks and impressions on Google ads to prevent any abuse of the AdSense program. Google’s proprietary technology analyzes all ad clicks and impressions for any activity intended to artificially drive up an advertiser’s costs or a publisher’s earnings.

Clicks or impressions deemed by our monitoring system to be invalid will appear in your reports, but because advertisers are not charged for them, no associated revenue will be shown. Please rest assured that your account is being properly credited for all valid clicks and impressions.

For additional questions, please visit our AdSense Support site at or feel free to reply to this email.


The Google AdSense Team

To access the Google AdSense home page or to log in to your account, please

Well, I thought that was a pretty lame explanation. What makes a click invalid? A click is a click. It wasn’t me. If it was a robot following links, then shouldn’t they be able to tell me that? All I want is an answer. I don’t want to know the “proprietary technology”. I just want to know what made it invalid. So I replied:

How can a click not be valid? I wasn’t at my computer all day, so it wasn’t from me. It was a regular click from one of the sites.

I think I’m dealing with a real person now, but apparently it still took the whole team to reply:

Hello Graham,

Thank you for your concern. Each click on an AdWords ad is examined by our system. Google looks at numerous data points for each click, including the IP address, the time of the click, any duplicate clicks, and various other click patterns. Our system then analyzes these factors to isolate and filter out invalid clicks.

As previously stated, please rest assured that your account is being properly credited for all valid clicks and impressions.


The Google AdSense Team

By this point I’m getting annoyed. What made the click invalid? Why can’t they tell me what it was. The proprietary nature of their system is the algorithm that determines if it’s invalid, not the actual fact that it was invalid. So I replied again:

I sure hope I’m dealing with a person and not an automated reply. I certainly don’t think the whole Adsense Team got together to reply to me.

You say that I can rest assured that account was being properly credited, but I still don’t understand what would have made that one click invalid. I realize it would only be worth a few cents, and I’m not concerned about losing a few cents, but it raises concerns about the whole system. So what made that click invalid?


The response was pretty short. Apparently it doesn’t matter if I have any questions. Apparently it doesn’t matter if I’m helping them make money. An apparently it still takes the entire team to answer my questions! Here’s their response:

Hello Graham,

We understand that you wish to receive specific information regarding invalid clicks. However, due to the proprietary nature of our algorithm, we cannot disclose any details about how our monitoring technology works.


The Google AdSense Team

So, the bottom line is they won’t help. So here’s my questions:

  • What made my click invalid?
  • Why can’t they state clearly, “It was invalid because it came from an IP that regularly clicks.” or “We think it is click-fraud” or “It was a search engine robot” or something else like that?
  • How often do they do this? I only noticed that day because there was only 1 click. I don’t make a lot of money, but I almost always have anywhere from 5 to 20 clicks. I’ve always assumed I was paid for those 5 to 20 clicks. Now I don’t know if I’m being paid for 1 or if I’m being paid for all of them.
  • Why do they record clicks if they are invalid? That throws off the stats. If it isn’t valid, then don’t even include it, or find another way to report it.
  • Why can’t they have one person reply to my ticket? I can’t stand not knowing who I’m communicating with.

I know I’m “small potatoes” in the big pictures, but it’s frustrating not being able to get help or a satisfactory answer. I’m glad that I am able to make some money, and I don’t want to lose that. But I’m still annoyed!