Thursday 25 August 2011

The begining, obviously. I can hardly start at the end can I?

So time to start a blog, several years too late, but I might as well. If I've recently starting going to the trouble of making videos of dissembling and reassembling laptops, and have an archive of lengthy letters of complaint, then I might as well put it on the web, some of the stuff may actually help people, which would make it a worthwhile exercise.

Stuff should just work, and work for a few years, not die after 12 months after you've paid a figure in excess of a £1000 for something. UK consumer law is quite good, yes I have experience of other countries, and judging from the ones I've been in, the grass is not just brown on the other side, it's burnt.

I've been buying computer hardware, Hi-Fi equipment, cars etc. from the early 80's. I've been through a lot of stuff, some reliable, some not. Due to repeatedly dealing with the same retailers or manufacturers, I've had good and bad experiences with the same people in many cases. So for me, it's a lesser of the several evils out there. For example I had 1998 Lexus LS400, which I still have access to as it was sold to a nearby relative some 5 years ago. Apart from the air con no longer working, every last thing in that car still works, amazing. So I bought a Lexus LS430 (Dec 2005 reg) last year, and it has been a major source of stress in my life due to trivial faults making it a pain (literally) to own. The dealer, and let's name names, they can try to claim libel, but considering I have independent documentation of the faults (I ended up wasting almost £50 on that too) they won't get very far in court, Jason Jones Auto Centre of Tewksbury, have added to my woes with this car. Then again, considering they claim never to have received e-mails from me, and have never sent one either, they probably won't know what is being said about them on the web.

Now some could say the best way of judging a manufacturer or retailer is when something goes wrong, as if there are are no problems, you'll never know how good or awful their after sales service is. Counter to that is the argument that if an item is well built in the first place, then there should be no need to find out how good the support for it is. Just thinking now of all the Apple products in the household, only my father's iPod (1g) touch has a home button that I had to change, as it became defective after a few years of use. However thinking even further back, the first Apple item I bought was a keyboard, which I felt didn't quite work as it should months after I bought it (for my PC), and I wasn't impressed by their support. But I still bought Apple products years later, and faith in them since has held up.

Thinking of the 1st generation iPod touch, which was actually a gift, it is old, and will probably be replaced in the coming months by an iPad, mainly for video calls via facetime and/or Skype. At some point I'll be posting my Skype experiences too, with their rather odd billing problems, but that'll be later, much later. Back to the iPad Touch, fair enough, it's had its day, I might never get to writing about it, it still works. So what made me finally start this blog.

What was the final straw?

It was the HP Envy 17", the all signing all dancing, alleged, flagship model by HP, meant to rival the Mac book pro. I had some teething issues, their StarDock'd theme gave me such a hard time I just turned it off. The touch pad was epileptic until I messed around with the drivers, but otherwise I loved it. Then, about 2 months later, it's Blu-Ray drive, apparently HP manufactured, started having problems reading even normal DVD discs, and then started to stop reading any discs at all, even putting radial scratches on the discs to let you know of its displeasure.

That was it, I've had stuff fail within months of purchase, but in the 21th century, with such hi-tech gear surrounding us, and such gains in reliability, e.g. hard drives over the years, I was annoyed, really annoyed. Yes I've had to contact HP support before, over five years ago, and the outcome was negative, but the context was different, the machine was fine. The start of my contact with them again all these years later hasn't been great either. So begins a waste of time quest to get this laptop fixed. Oh not forgetting of course that Envy was purchased due on-going issues with a heap of junk Acer 8920G 18" laptop, another 'flag ship' model that didn't even work problem free for more than a few months.
That shouldn't have been the final straw, it should have been what happened a few weeks before, my wife's Compaq CQ61 had a fan that started to sound like a shaver, it had to be replaced, Compaq (HP) designed it so well that the whole machine had to be taken apart just to get to the fan. So I asked my daughter to video the operation to post on the web, but the expensive JVC Eeverio Camcorder, albeit five years old, only used to make about 10 hours of video, died. Great I thought, just what I needed.

I'll probably structure this blog into things I have had or still own, and write up each items good and bad points over time. Starting with the most recent. So don't be surprised if you click on a link and it's pending a write up, it will come, but later. I might do requests if asked, so feel free to e-mail any requests. Don't expect a review the Sinclair ZX81, I had a fond and torrid time with it, but it's ancient history. This is not a nostalgia trip, though if I ever get the time, one of those will turn up too, separately.

I intend to write up things as I see them, but it is a personal perspective, so may well be unintentionally biased. For example, I haven't been enamoured by Android, as I have to 'support' my fathers HTC Hero, which he has because it was £25 on his contract. I have a Mac mini, the use of which has to-date, been a total fist fight, its write up will be negative, yes it's old and slow, but the issues I have with it are common to people with newer Mac's. Why bring this up? Because as I opened this first blog entry with blogger's editor, it has one of those stupid Mac style resize corners, and I thought, oh great, and it's part crippled, I can't make use of the horizontal half empty page (now more common due to the wider 1080p being enforced on us). Yes I don't know how users who switch to a Mac from Windows get used not being able to resize using any edge, yes I've heard of a 'plug in' etc. to fix, no I can't be bothered because I have other issues with Mac OS.

Yes this will be littered with typos and poor grammar. But it will be intelligible, and hopefully readable. It is likely to be quite vitriolic, as once someone becomes unreasonable, or a cause is lost, I'll let rip and let them know what I think of them, with bagfuls of vitriol and cutting sarcasm. Who knows, readers may even see where I went wrong and make alternative suggestions. Then again some may say I was in the wrong. I have, when pushed, done some bloody minded things that on reflection even surprise me. Some of the stuff will be cringe worthy, because sometimes to get a result, one has to be melodramatic, it can work at times.

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