Thursday, 31 July 2008

Teaching my nephew about Linux

My nephew has been hanging around me all night. He's been pestering me for a game of the penguine racing game. He'll play it for a while then get bored. What he really wants to do is play with the Fire and Rain effects in Compiz-Fusion. They keep him amused for hours. He loves drawing with Fire.

Of course he can't understand why his grandpa's Windows XP PC can't do those things. He's only 4!

Wednesday, 30 July 2008

Dell: Microsofts Poodle?

Using the new "Top Ideas" feature on Dell IdeaStorm I tracked all the top rated ideas from the highest voted to 0 points. From page 1 to page 400. On every single page there were a healthy number of ideas relating to Linux, Ubuntu,, Firefox and free open source software in general.

The highest voted Linux/FOSS idea had 151870 points and the lowest had 9 points. I'm sure there are other with negative votes in the remaining 79 pages. But most of those ideas were about Microsoft products. Windows XP, Vista, Microsoft Works and Office. The remainder were hardware related, things Dell just can't do or non-idea threads.

Surely this must tell Dell something about the demand for free open source software on Dell PCs? The highest voted idea of all time here on IdeaStorm is Pre-Installed Linux | Ubuntu | Fedora | OpenSUSE | Multi-Boot with 151870 points. In fact the entire first page is all about Linux, FOSS and no trial ware. That theme continues all the way through IdeaStorm to page 400.

So why then is it that Dell still insists there isn't enough consumer demand to warrant treating Ubuntu as an equal to Microsoft Windows? Remember Dell told it's consumers "if they voted for it on IdeaStorm, they would get it". Why are Dell taking so long?

Firefox, Thunderbird and are all free open source applications. Firefox 3 even supports branding! Dell doesn't need permission to distribute these applications. It simply chooses not to. Even though we voted for them.

Monday, 21 July 2008

I'm OLD!!!

I turned 30 today. So now I'm old. Officially old. But being old is good. I got a digital camera and an SD card to go with it!

Sunday, 20 July 2008

Dell Points The Finger

The above link contains a post from Direct2Dell. Dells main blogging site. Dell would like to point the finger at HP for shipping 32 pages of A4 paper in 17 boxes. Well no wonder they continued to sell the defective W2600 and W3000 LCD TVs for so long. No wonder it's taking an age to get a product recall put into force.

Dell clearly has other priorities other than providing proper customer service. "We can all learn a lot by listening to customers and uncovering ways we can improve ...". Before we inprove the planet, could just try and get customer service right?

Saturday, 19 July 2008

Ubuntu Tip

Looks like a half decent site. It's still in "beta" but there's a lot of good stuff there to help the beginner.

Of course my real tip here for Ubuntu users or indeed any PC user is to use the web to it's maximum potential. There's so much "free" information out there. There's really no excuse save being dead for not knowing how to do things for yourself.

Here's another great page.

Select Systems Now Available with Ubuntu 8.04

Select Systems Now Available with Ubuntu 8.04

About time too. We're really not that far away from Intrepid Ibex assuming it arrives on time. And why wouldn't it?

I am impressed with the inclusion of something from Dells new Studio line. Perhaps Dell are starting to take consumer Linux more seriously. The XPS M1530 is also a welcome addition. I just wish Dell would make Ubuntu available from the OS options list when building a "normal" PC. It would be much better than doing shady back ally deals out of sight of Microsoft.

Wednesday, 16 July 2008

Recall All Dell w2600 LCD TVs and Displays With the No Power Problem

This was an idea submitted to Dells IdeaStorm web site by me. The idea is to get hese faulty displays recalled as they should have been all along. Dell has now marked this idea as reviewed in record time. Well record time for IdeaStorm anyway. Which probably means it's not going to happen. We'll have to wait and see.

From the IdeaStorm moderators blog.

REVIEWED: This idea has been tagged "Under Review," sent to the business for evaluation, and reviewed. This status tag will require a response from the business that includes a summary of the review process and any outcomes of the idea discussion.

UNDER REVIEW: Dell is reviewing the idea and evaluating it against criteria that include, but aren’t limited to: market impact, regional demand, feasibility, timing, and vendor/supplier availability, etc. In some cases, the idea review process may take only a few weeks, and in others it make take several months to determine its feasibility and market impact.

Monday, 14 July 2008

Ubuntu Tip - Intel PowerTop

PowerTop is a nifty little command line application that takes a look at what's running on your PC and can recommend and implement changes to help you save power.

Installation is quite simple. Open a terminal windows and do the following.

1) Type sudo apt-install powertop

That's it. In a terminal window type sudo powertop. Powertop need admin privileges to make changes.

Sunday, 13 July 2008

Ubuntu Tip - Say Cheese For Your Web Cam

A quick and very simple way to get web cams working in Ubuntu is to install a Gnome application called Cheese. Installation is very simple.

1. Open a terminal window.
2. Type sudo apt-get install cheese
3. Let the installer run and that’s it.

This works for Ubuntu 7.10 and 8.04. I’m not sure about earlier versions. But it won’t hurt to try it.

Dell Customer Service - Part 2 - Dell Hell.

Over the years a certain phrase has been introduced in to the English language. The phrase is “Dell Hell”. It refers to the monstrous task of getting Dell to take responsibility for it's mistakes and problems encountered with it's products and services. In fact the phrase is so widely used many people suspect it's the reason “hell” is banned from Dell Forums and Idea Storm.

In my first post to Dell Your Blog I touched on issues like the XPS 700 upgrades and the missing XPS M1330/M1330n remote controls. Both issues that affected me and my experience with Dell. But happily both issues that were solved relatively quickly. Relative that is compared to the Dell W2600 LCD TV NO POWER problem.

For those that are unaware of this particular issue basically it refers to a situation where Dells W2600 LCD TV fails to power up. Sometimes the TV can be coaxed into life. But sooner or later the TV just dies.

Now most people would expect a TV to last a good few years. Most would accept 5 years of loyal dutiful service. The W2600 was supposed to last around 10 years. But in reality many customers have been lucky to get past 2 and a half years, while some Dell customers have gotten as little as a year.

One single solitary year of proper use from an LCD TV. Oh and Dells customers like me who bought the W2600 paid £800+ GBP. That's $1520 USD on the current exchange rate.

Dells response to this issue thus far has been to repair or replace these faulty TVs with refurbished models. Which might sound like a good deal. But there's a catch. This offer is only valid for up to 3 years from the start of the original warranty. If you miss it, too bad. You're on your own. And Dell hasn't exactly gone out of it's way to publicize this offer or contact customers. In fact this problem has been dragging on since 2002. I bought my W2600 in 2005 and it's now 2008. Count the years slipping by.

So if Dell had known about this problem for 3 years before I bought my W2600. Why didn't they issued a product recall? Why didn't they pull the whole product line sooner? Yes that would have been expensive. But Dells reputation would have been intact. They would have been a company that cared. They would have been a company that put it's consumers first. Instead of a company that seems to be washing it's hands of a problem only they can really fix.

Now if you think a product recall is a bit drastic. Consider that the W2600 is a product with a premium price tag. It's also just one of several Dell LCD TVs to suffer from this problem. Also affected was the W3000 and several other models.

Thanks for reading this blog. Please visit IdeaStorm and vote up or down for a product recall.

Dell Customer Service - Part 1 - Simplify IT.

Customer service is an emotive issue for many Dell consumers. My experience on IdeaStorm and Dell Forums has shown me that many consumers have encountered problems with Dells customer service. Inconsistent short term special deals, poorly designed marketing and poor telephone support have left many customers feeling disgruntled and ripped off. The following is my opinion of what Dell needs to do to correct these issues.

Dell has made much noise about it's campaign to "simplify IT". What a shame it is then that this campaign was never extended to the consumer market. This is in fact the first step Dell needs to take. Not because Dells customers are stupid. But because communication is so much easier when it is kept simple.

Rather than telling the consumer the potential for the product. Tell them what it is actually for. Tell them what they can actually do with it. Rather than show off all the potential things we could have with the product. Show us what we are actually getting.

Too many times in the past has Dell made promises about products it never intended to keep. The XPS 700 upgrades, the M1330 remote controls and recently LightFX to name a few. Dell needs to focus it's message to the consumer. Dells consumers shouldn't have to campaign to make Dell keep these promises.

After Sales Support

People hate call centers. They make us feel like we're children getting into trouble for doing something naughty. And when they are over seas call centers the language barrier takes the frustration to intolerable levels.

Dell needs to ditch the over seas call centers in favor of more local call centers. Web based support should be utilized whenever and where ever possible. Develop a proper on-line knowledge base. I believe customers actually prefer to solve problems on their own. Ditch the Microsoft Internet Explorer centric support tools. Go with open source technologies for support. Adopt open standards on your web sites. ActiveX does not work for Linux customers! PHP does!

Use e-mail support more often. E-mails give everybody time to calm down and think. Customers can communicate more clearly what they want to say. Tech support can take a little more time to investigate the problem. They can even request log files for examination. Implement an instant on OS like Splashtop. If the main OS goes belly up, then at least the consumer can still get help. There are so many more tools Dell could use but don't use.

Borrow a few ideas from Linux. Package repositories for drivers and pre-installed applications! How much easier life could be if Dell was more imaginative with it's tech support.

The call center in the 21st century should be the last resort.


aikiwolfie is the ID, tag, name whatever you want to call it that I go by on-line. I don't actually have a problem using my real name. It's just that I studied IT in college and the need for security was really drummed into us.

My reason for starting this blog is very simple. To have a little more freedom when blogging.

Recently I started contributing to Dells blog site. But I've found it very restrictive. There's no real blogging interface. Blogs are submitted by e-mail. Unless I'm doing something wrong. Just like all the other Dell sites with moderation. Moderation seems to go overboard here.

Another great site where you can find me is

So I'll be reposting my posts from Dells blog site and I'll hopefully be adding new content here. Enjoy.