Monday, March 19, 2012

Computer Crash

So I'm sitting at my desk at work last Thursday and my wife calls.  "My computer won't start up - all it does is beep over and over in groups of seven beeps".  This is a computer (a Dell Vostro laptop) we bought in mid-December and already it's failing?  Not good.  Well, at least the next day warranty is good for another 250 days or so.

If you are a techie, you know that beep codes at system start up usually mean some sort of catastrophic failure has happened inside that thing.  So when I get home that night I start researching the problem on Dell's support website.  They say "make sure the RAM, disk drive, and CPU are all seated properly".  OK - this makes sense.  So I follow the very helpful on-line owners manual which I downloaded to my machine at home (which I built myself) and crack that puppy open.  Unseat and re-seat all components.  Reassemble.  Power up.  beep beep beep beep beep beep.  Sigh.  Call Dell.

Now, something else that techies know is that much of Dell's phone support is handled in India, and you hear the horror stories of barely understandable phone reps trying to go through the troubleshooting scripts.  I must say that this was not the case for my call.  While I believe my rep was from India, I could understand him very well, and he asked me good troubleshooting questions (although there are only so many questions to ask when the thing won't boot!).  I may have had a little advantage in that I have worked with a lot of folks from that part of the world so I'm more used to the accent than many people are.  It only took about a half hour to go through the troubleshooting and set up the tech support visit.  I didn't think that was too bad.

I also have to say that Dell's "Next Business Day" service so far has not materialized.  It's mid-afternoon of the following Monday as I write this and I still have not heard from them.  After they didn't call me on Friday I had them change the contact information since there would not be anyone at home to receive them this week.  I hope that didn't reset the counter or this thing might not be fixed until Friday, at the rate they're going.

I'm also quite astounded that this computer has failed so soon.  I have been using and recommending Dell computers of all types for ten years at least (and been through a half a dozen of them myself, including three laptops), and this is the first catastrophic failure I have ever had.  Perhaps the law of averages has caught up to me?   We'll see if there are any more problems with this computer - I hope it isn't a lemon!

So my poor wife is relegated to one of the kid's computers, and trying to work through the web interface for her email, and using OpenOffice Writer instead of Microsoft Word to create her documents.  Well, it shouldn't be too long and she'll be back up again.  I may have to look for some disaster recovery possibilities to get around this in the future.  Hmmm - virtual machines anyone?

Updated to add: The Dell Tech finally showed up on business day 3 and replaced the motherboard.  Everything working swimmingly now!