Category: Dell

Grandma vs. the Alien: Chapter 3

The Alien

[To begin this story at the beginning, click here.]

A few of you may have been following my misadventures — those involving the acquisition of my first new desktop computer in five years. I refer to the Alienware computer I originally ordered in late August to replace my dying, outdated Dell.

As Chapter 2 of this saga drew to a close, the Alien was on its way back to the factory for a little R&R (repair and rehab). Meantime, I assumed I would use my Dell. Wrong. The next day, it refused to start. For months it had been unreliable about starting, but for it to quit on me the day after the Alien left was particularly frustrating. And in support of the conspiracy theory that readers have suggested, it refused to start up again until — surprise — the day before the Alien got back from the factory.

Thoroughly rested and checked out by no less than the aliens themselves, and with several new parts, the Alien got back to me on October 1. I’m sure by now you can guess what happened next. DOA. It started up, immediately asked permission to restart because of some newly installed something-or-other. The new installs were not identified in any way, but my choices were “restart now” or “restart later,” and I chose the former. Big mistake. It screwed up on the restart and stayed screwed up through two hours on the phone with tech support.

I thought I was being incredibly patient up to that point, given what had transpired in the preceding weeks, but when the tech had me pull the plug and told me to get a screwdriver in preparation for opening the case, I blew my top — sort of. I told him no way, no how, I’d get back to him — CLICK!!

This time my son, who probably knows more about computers than 90% of the aliens, agreed to come over, check things out, and initiate whatever calls and conversations might be necessary if he failed to fix the problem. He was finally able to get over here Friday night. Result: Son failed. Calls made Friday night, Monday morning, and this morning.

Long story short, the Alien left this afternoon on a final, one-way trip to its mother ship. A totally new machine is being built and will be shipped ASAP (a couple of weeks, probably). No, I’m not happy, but for the moment the Dell is still running and I don’t plan to turn it off until the new machine arrives.

Stay tuned.

[continues with Grandma vs. the Alien: The Final Chapter]

Grandma vs. the Alien: Chapter 2

The Alien

[To begin at the beginning, click here.]

About a week ago I wrote about my not-so-great experience with my new computer. As it turned out then, the Alienware computer, when it finally arrived, chose not to run properly. The upshot of the ensuing chaos was a new video card being shipped to me by the Aliens. It arrived last Thursday, the 18th. (To put all this in context, the Alien was originally ordered Aug. 23.)

As it turned out, my daughter-in-law, who does have a life of her own, could not get over here until Saturday to install the new card for me. (Beggars can’t be choosers, after all, so how could I complain?) She popped open the shiny, dead Alien box and installed the card. Then she had to unplug the old computer and move it out of the way so she could put the Alien in its place and plug everything back in.

By now, of course, you’ve already guessed that the new card didn’t work either. What followed was a display of how my DIL deals with customer service dudes who aren’t providing satisfactory customer service. In the course of the conversation those guys were painted in various ways as “taking advantage of a little old lady on a fixed income.” It was, of course, quite true that on my own I’d have been utterly unwilling and incapable of wrestling the Alien to the floor, popping its case open, and applying a screwdriver to the appropriate parts in order to extract and then reinstall a video card. Yes, I’ve done it before in years past, but I’m no longer as fearless as I once was. It was all I could do to watch my DIL tearing open a brand new computer and ripping it apart. (Actually, I couldn’t watch; I left the room.)

Anyway, the best deal she could get from the Aliens was they’d have FedEx pick up the computer and take it back to the mother ship for repairs. Then before she left, of course, she pulled the dead Alien out from under the desk, helped me get it all packed up again in its white cloth bag, black molded styrofoam, and black box, and slid the old computer back in place. (That old Dell has been laughing its RAM off throughout this entire misadventure.)

The Alien lifted off about 10:00 hours this morning. It better come back with a whole new attitude and a ton of Reese’s Pieces.

[continues with Grandma vs. the Alien: Chapter 2.2]

Black box appears in Denver; no identifying marks

My new computer was finally delivered a bit after 5 pm today.

First surprise: two women working the delivery. One with the sign-here tablet, the other hauling the 70-lb box to the porch. I know, it’s not PC for me to notice there were women working the delivery, but I did. I don’t think I’ve ever encountered female delivery persons when a heavy shipment is involved. Impressive. (Is it sexism when a woman says that?)

The Alien

Actually, what really caught my attention was the box. Yep, the cardboard box. What a fine example of brand name merchandising. The box is solid black. No labels or marking beyond the shipping label itself, except for a small strip of tape at each end, marked with that distinct black-and-yellow diagonal stripe pattern that usually means “Caution” or “Warning” — each said “heavy.” Oh, and the packing tape down the middle that sealed the box is solid black. The source of this marketing expertise: Alienware.

The company is owned by Dell and makes gaming machines. Their line of desktop systems is designated Area-51, their logo is an alien head, the website is predominantly black. The computer cases themselves are vaguely reminiscent of Battlestar Galactica’s cylons. My marketing instructors would have given Alienware an A.

No, this old lady hasn’t completely lost her marbles (if I had, would I know it?). I didn’t set out to buy a computer that any teenage gamer would kill for (although the launch of Warhammer Online next week was definitely relevant).  My last three computers have been Dells, and I was ready to buy from them again. However, this time their options didn’t include some of the components I wanted, and I found them at Alienware. I’m guessing Dell has passed off some of its high-end items to Alienware. Anyway, I have this theory that a good gaming machine, by default, is going to be capable of handling almost anything else you might want from it. True or not, it’s a great rationale, so don’t go shooting it down now.

I’m not looking forward to the impending set-up operation. Crawl around under the desk, disconnect all those cables, pull the old computer out, get the new one into place, reconnect all the cables, install, reinstall, troubleshoot, etc. All this in a tight little space with bad lighting. I don’t do “on my knees” very well anymore (should I rephrase that?), and just thinking about all this is making me tired.

[continues with Grandma vs. the Alien: Chapter 1]