Jul 13

Dell Rapid Response not so rapid

As my laptop’s warranty was almost over I decided it was about time I got that broken ² button repaired, as well as the loose plastic around both hinges.

When I bought my laptop I just selected the basic warranty, I’m not such a fan of spending a lot of money on warranty, just take care of your equipment and that should be enough. So when I decided to contact the Dell customer support they told me I had to pay a one-time fee of 34 euros. Reasonable for a “rapid response” which is -in theory- a technician coming to your home the next day. Up to there all went well, but then came the chain of events where rapid became awfully slow.

Once I screenshotted me sending the money to Dell they booked a technician to come 2 days later, awesome. The morning of that day I get a call from Dell where the person explains to me how my warranty was expired and the repairs to my LCD screen would cost me money next to the 34 euros I paid. Wait, what? LCD screen, warranty expired? Apparently they had mixed up the papers a bit, no problem, the technician would still come and fix my key and plastic in the afternoon.

So the technician came, he did not have a keyboard replacement part, nor plastic for the hinges. He changed the back of the LCD screen and also had the part of plastic that goes around the keyboard. I asked him not to replace the original because it wasn’t broken. Fun fact, he left the spare part for me to use when I need it. He also didn’t properly fit the plastic back so I had to slam my fist on it (really!) so it would get back into place, next time I’m going to check every small part of the laptop before I let him go.

At this point I was thinking by myself that I paid for repairs and all I got was a repair that wasn’t even necessary. So I email the customer support again and they tell me there was a mixup and they would send another technician at a time I give them, this time with the proper parts. Time goes by, no word of them for a few days and then I get a call hearing one of the parts isn’t available yet and would hopefully arrive in the next few days. Again I mail to customer support giving them a new set of dates I’m available. Time goes by..

Yesterday I get a call from Dell asking me if today was a good time for them to come even though I stated in my email that was not the case. I tell them Friday is okay and the guy confirms it, the technician would come this Friday. This morning I get a call from a Dell technician informing me he’d be at my address in fifteen minutes… I tell the person I’m not at home so there’s nothing he can do, that I told Dell Friday was OK and that they agreed. He politely told me it was no problem and he’d come on Friday.

So here’s hoping he’ll be here with the correct replacement parts on Friday. I paid them on June 20 and today is July 13. That’s nearly a month for a “Rapid Response”. I thought highly of Dell Support when I was emailing with them as they replied in a matter of hours but this is getting ridiculous as  I didn’t pay to wait a month for my laptop to get repaired.

Aug 06

Screen brightness issues

I noticed today my laptop’s brightness could not be adjusted any more, I wasn’t sure what was causing this as I disabled some services and startup programs to conserve cpu/ram. But in the end that didn’t seem to be the cause of this issue. I googled for a couple of minutes and quickly came to a thread on the Microsoft Social boards which had numerous posts by people who have the same problem.

– These people have a wide variety of laptop brands and types
– The symptoms are the same
– There seems to be no fix yet

The problem is as follows:

Whenever you have your laptop go to standby (Windows XP) or  Sleep (Windows Vista/7) brightness adjustments won’t actually change your screen’s brightness any more, even though the slider graphic appears. I have just tested with hibernation and it does not happen with this mode. This seems to be a Windows 7 problem as I’ve seen that people who are complaining about this all have 7.

The only “fix” at the moment is rebooting your laptop. Again a problem Microsoft should fix some time.

Aug 04

New laptop: first impressions

Last week’s Wednesday I ordered a new laptop on the Dell website, used their webchat to get a better setup for a smaller price. After about 3 hours (the Dell person was VERY SLOW with responding) I got myself a nice laptop:

Dell Studio 1558
Intel i7 720QM Quadcore with hyperthreading
ATI Radeon 5470HD
4GB DDR3 1333Mhz
500 GB 7200RPM HDD
9Cel Li-ion battery (around 4 hours on idle I noticed)

Anyways, as I got a free Windows 7 Professional x64 license through the MSDN Academic Alliance I formatted the disk and installed that. After getting all Windows Updates there are a few things I’ve noticed:

– Gadgets do not want to install anymore (Windows Sidebar). I googled a bit and the solutions given do not help. (Turn UAC back on, add a DWORD in the registry, uninstall a particular hotfix, …). Not sure what’s up with that.

– Whenever you create a new folder the following message appears: “This is no longer located in [PATH]. Verify the item’s location and try again.” I read it’s because of some hotfix Microsoft released a couple of days ago.

I hope Microsoft fixes both issues as they’re kind of annoying.

All in all I’m very happy with this laptop, it’s blazing fast in comparison with my old one, as well as only half the weight and a lot smaller and less noisy. Not sure what I’m going to do with my old laptop yet but for now my physical desktop has 2 laptops, 2 mice and an external screen which both laptops are hooked up with (DVI and VGA).


I have found a fix for the gadgets. You can check out the following page or follow my step-by-step guide:

1. Open up your [GadgetName].gadget with your favourite unpacking software (e.g. WinRAR)
2. Open up Windows Explorer and go to  C:\Users\[USERNAME]\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows Sidebar\Gadgets
3. Create a new folder called [GadgetName].gadget
4. Extract the files you have open in your unpacking software into this folder
5. Your gadget will now appear in the Gadget Library

Note: Change [GadgetName] to the name of the gadget you wish to install, change [USERNAME] to your username. If you don’t see the AppData folder, you’ll need to change the Folder Options so it shows system files.