Posts Tagged ‘computers’

Abominable Snowmen

Thursday, 4 December 2008
[image of tumble weeds arranged and decorated like snowmen] Tohono Chul Park Seasonal Display

I didn't get a chance to ride the bicycle that my father gave me. The vehicular gate to the parking area of the apartment complex in which I live was mysteriously disabled; and a few days later, on 25 November, exactly one thing was stolen — that bicycle. Whoever stole it came prepared with something that could cut through a heavy-duty security cable.

I learned of the theft on the morning of 26 November, as I was packing my car for a trip to visit my parents. The complex manager promised to review the video recorded by the security cameræ. Since the bicycle wasn't visible from the street and the thief or thieves were prepared with cable cutters, I'm pretty sure that the theft was by a party including someone who had been on the property earlier, and that said person or persons had disabled the gate. He, she, or they were probably attendant to the position of the security cameræ.

As unhappy as I was, I considered not travelling, but I knew that I would make my parents very sad if I didn't come. So I went ahead.

On top of ordinary reasons for visiting them, I had been asked to help them get their computers up-graded from Windows XP SPs 1 or 2 to SP3. Although SP3 installed without difficulty on my Windows partition, the installation aborted on each of their machines. Well, we have SP3 on their machines now, but the processes have been trips through mine-fields, with many explosions.

We ultimately resorted to formatting the principal hard drive of my father's desk-top computer, and installing everything from scratch except in-so-far as we have over-written much of the new contents of the Application Data folder with the old contents. It seems to be in reasonably good shape now.

Things went smoother with respect to my mother's lap-top computer, but (at this stage) the OS knows that the built-in sound card is some sort of audio device, but does not recognize it as a Playback or Recording device. In fact, the OS likewise cannot tell what sort of audio device a SoundBlaster PCMCIA card is. I've tried many things, and visited many sites looking for a fix, but have so far failed.

As I've fought with the computers, my mother has repeatedly acted as if my father has been pushing me too hard to solve the problems, while actually my father has at various stages pushed me to quit working the problems hours before I would normally want to stop. I greatly wish that neither would act this way.

Also making me unhappy is the reduced opportunity to talk with the Woman of Interest. My parents are Morning People, and operating on something like their schedule greatly reduces my window of opportunity to speak to her. Then, because I use a head-set, people don't have a good visual cue that I'm using the phone. People have a propensity to start talking to me without first listening to whether I'm in conversation. And, finally, a fair amount of my normal telephone interaction with the Woman of Interest involves one or both of us being relatively quiet for extended periods. (We have unlimited connection time within the Sprint PCS network,[1] and so leave the connection in place and interact as if separated by a room partition.)

My brother and his long-time girl-friend also came for Thanksgiving, but left on the week-end. Yester-day, they got a quick civil marriage. Later, they will have a bigger ceremony to which they can invite friends and family. What precipitated the marriage seems to have been that my brother was offered a job in Tucson shortly after being laid-off from his job in Austin. I think that his girl-friend reälized that she should seal-the-deal. (Yes, she seems to have been the one most reluctant to commit.) My parents and I really like her.

With my brother moving to Tucson, my father is now speaking wishfully of my moving here as well. But he does understand that I would much rather live in or near the forests of the Pacific Northwest than in the Arizona desert.

Yester-day, my cousin Lyn (a really nice guy, who suffered some sort of in utero cerebral damage) came to visit my mother. I tagged along as they ran errands yester-day, and to-day as they went to Sweetwater Wetlands and to Tohono Chul Park.

[1] Actually, we're limited to 44640 minutes per month (or sometimes as few as 40320 minutes). Perhaps not enough if one loves eight days a week.

Amnesiac Phœnix

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

As previously mentioned, one of my Corsair Voyager 8GB USB flash drives has failed.

Christophe Grenier's TestDisk was unable to locate a partition table. But his PhotoRec is racing through the drive recovering various sorts of files. I am quite pleased and impressed.

Unfortunately, the program has no way of identifying the file names! So the files are all being given new, opaque names.

Addendum (2008:12/17): A recent entry by oddharmonic reminded me to note here that PhotoRec reässembled video files like Frankenstein Flub-a-Dubs. Mind you that there was really no practical way for the program to know what bits belonged together, and the resultant files could be fixed by using a decent video editor to re·splice them.

Backing-up to /dev/null

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

One of the Corsair 8GB Voyager USB flash drives that I bought seems to have completely failed, before I even received the mail-in rebate for it. Grand.

Piercing and Accessories

Sunday, 2 November 2008

I'd like to be able to connect my note-book computer to a better antenna than those built into it.

I could drill a hole in the case, and mount an RP SMA jack there, connected to the internal Wi-Fi card. The patch cord that I would use fot this would cost me $20.50.

An alternative would be to get a new USB or PCMCIA[1] Wi-Fi adapter with a built-in external antenna connector. Setting aside units that I fear would be even cheaper than they are inexpensive, it appears that an adapter with an antenna jack or jacks would cost at least $40, and then not support the forthcoming 802.11n standard.

Thus, basically, if I bought one of these Wi-Fi adapters, then I'd be paying $20 or more to avoid drilling a hole in the case of my computer, and for the convenience of not having to open-up the case whenever I wanted to switch to-or-from the internal antenna that would be disconnected to enable the RP SMA jack. (A patch cord with bulkhead U.FL-R connector instead of an RP SMA jack would spare me that latter awkwardness, but I've not found such a cord.)

[1]I don't much like the idea of surrendering the PCMCIA slot, as I only have one; but I have six USB slots, and have never used more than five at one time.

Days Late and Dollars Short

Tuesday, 24 June 2008

At 12:58, Rod Pereira, owner of Geek Available (AKA GeekAvailable) called my cell phone and left a message on my voice mail, saying that he'd been unable to reach me by e.mail and asking me to call him or to send my e.mail address to his e.mail address.

(Geek Available got my USPS address and cell-phone number at the same as my e.mail address, when I first gave them my computer for repair, so they've had two other ways of reaching me besides e.mail. At that time, I was asked to recite rather than to write my e.mail address, so there may have been a transcription error, but Geek Available should have received a bounce-back from that — it is unlikely that AT&T has a user account with anyone of the more typical misspellings. Certainly AT&T sends a bounce-back when it rejects e.mail as spam.)

I have no desire to communicate with Pereira off-the-record, so I sent my e.mail address to his.

Geek Hide

Saturday, 21 June 2008

I have received the following from the Better Business Bureau concerning my complaint against GeekAvailable (underscore mine):

The Bureau has decided to close this complaint and consider it unresolved. You have indicated that the company's response to the complaint does not settle the matter, and the BBB has determined that the company's response does not adequately address all the issues or make a good faith effort to resolve the dispute.
When I told Rod Pereira that I would go through the BBB first, rather than court, because it would take more out of your hide, this outcome was what I had in mind. The BBB won't take a case if it has already been taken to court or to a government agency; so Pereira's record with the BBB would have remained as it had been (one resolved complaint). But I can still exercise either one (or both) of those options after an unsatisfactory attempt at resolution through the BBB; and now Pereira's record there reflects his bad faith behavior.

Of course, Pereira could have minimized the loss to his hide by refunding the evalutation fee and offering some compromise on the other costs (enough to satisfy the the BBB, rather than me), but I had a feeling that he'd let adolescent machismo get the better of him.

I am now waiting on billing records from a credit card issuer, then I will take Pereira to court. Pereira will thus be made to bear court costs on top of repaying me.

Matte Display

Friday, 6 June 2008

Speaking — well, writing, actually — of my note-book computer and its display:

Instead of replacing the original glossy display with another, I chose to replace it with a non-glossy matte display. Of course, I did this hoping for some improvement, but the improvement is substantially better than I had anticipated. For example, unlike before, the screen is now comfortably readable when (to conserve power) dimmed to the preset level for running on battery.


Thursday, 5 June 2008

Yester-day, the Better Business Bureau sent to me a copy of a fax in which Rod Pereira (Geek Available AKA GeekAvailable) asserted

Answering the issue under ID [here omitted], I would like to state that the computer was returned to him as soon as he showed up to pick it up on Tuesday, the 27th
As seen on the documents provided attached to this, I already sent him an email explaining that we actually dropped the ball on his particular case and saying how sorry I was for that
I absolutely refuse the reimbursement of any computer rental fees he could have had as it wasn't agreed under any circumstances
I informed the BBB that I'd received no such communication from him, that his communications to me since I'd contacted them had consisted largely of various misrepresentations, that vague admission to dropp[ing] the ball was not sufficient, that he'd not returned my computer before extracting an evaluation fee (the diagnosis of which evaluation was incorrect), and that the delay from Saturday until Tuesday didn't result from mere ineptitude and that I was plainly entitled to reïbursement for that.

Pereira can agree to repay me in the process, or we can go to court, in which case he will have to repay me and bear the court costs. I'd say that he should cut his losses.

Deleted from Kudzu

Monday, 2 June 2008

My latest review of Geek Available (AKA GeekAvailable) has been deleted from Kudzu and when I tried to repost it now, instead of absurd messages about failed searches I got this message:

We're sorry

Your previous review of this business location has been deleted by the team.
You won't be able to write another review for this location.

For more on our rules regarding reviews, please see our Visitor Agreement and Guidelines for Writing Reviews.
So, plainly, Kudzu is an advertising site masquerading as a review site. No big deal. The more significant result of the exercise was earlier catching Geek Available lying about not using parts got from eBay; I'll be using that later.

ThiefAvailable (Yet Another Installment)

Saturday, 31 May 2008

On 27 May, after Geek Available (AKA GeekAvailable) moved their page on Kudzu, I posted a new review:


Instead of buying repair parts through reputable channels, Rodrigo Pereira (owner of GeekAvailable) uses eBay account "rodrafael" (which, as you can check, used to be named "geekavailable"), to buy questionable parts from unreliable dealers, without telling his customers that he is doing so. When things go wrong, Rod doesn't take responsibility; he lies and stalls and misses appointments. My computer was supposed to be repaired in about 72 hours; thanks to Rod Pereira I lost two weeks.
To-day, Rod Pereira posted a new response with a new version of events:
Dear Daniel McKiərnan, this kind of part can be found with the same 6 months warranty for $30 on ebay or way more through Dell (not even counting on the waiting time). We didn't lie when we told you that we would be on shop on Saturday, but as you can see on our business hours, we don't open on saturdays and unfortunately you got to our shop too late without any calls in advance. We could never realize you would still come and couldn't wait for the whole day as we were only organizing the shop. We told you to come as we wanted you to have your laptop back ASAP. And actually, you didn't lose 2 weeks. You dropped your computer on May 15th and instead of having the parts here on 72business hours (on May/20th) it got here on May/23rd,[1] the same day you called yelling at the lady that you wouldn't wait anymore. Following my instructions, she just told you that would return the computer back to you as you demanded since you were extremely rude and unpolite. Regards, Rod
So I've tacked-on an addendum to my review:
Geek available lied to me about when the part was ordered; at one time (and this can be documented) they lied about not using eBay; at another time (and this too can be documented) they lied about having been open until 2:30 on that Saturday. I was there at 2:10 because I was told that they'd be open until 3:00 that day. (Had they instead said that they'd not be open, then I'd have gone on later Friday afternoon.) They lie now when they claimed that I yelled. And on the 23, the day that they claim that the part arrived, I called after mail delivery, was told that the part was not there. So either they were lying then (which would have been weird even for a dishonest business) or they're lying now.

[1]Mind you that Rafael Schneider Pereira told me on Tuesday (27 May) that he thought that the part had come-in on 24 May. (I rather doubt that it was even mailed by originalpartsglobal before 27 May, as he'd promised them tracking, but on 23 May they said that he'd not provided a tracking number.)