Testing Sony Vaio Support, Part 1

My Vaio VGN-SZ4 died last week while I was at Basta in Germany. One minute it was working fine, just sitting there on the table with the large external display attached, the next it was just displaying weird colorful flashing things on both screens, and it hung of course. So I switched it off, and since then I’m unable to switch it back on. It just turns on the power and bluetooth leds, I hear the DVD drive initialize, and when it was still warm I could hear the fan running a little bit as well - when switching off, I can hear the hdd park itself, and that’s it. Nothing on the display, no beeps, nothing blinking, nothing.

So I called Sony support this morning, since the machine is still in warranty. The guy had me go through a few steps and asked a few questions, but I’d tried the obvious things already – took out the memory sticks and popped them back in, tried using just one of them at a time, tried to run with and without the battery (and a second battery as well) and with and without the power adapter. Tried switching the Stamina/Speed switch, which also switches from primary to secondary graphics hardware on this device. All to no avail. He had me take out the battery and hold the power button, “in case there’s static built up in the machine”. Any scientific background to that one? I don’t know. In any case, it didn’t help. So he said he could arrange for DHL to come pick up the machine tomorrow, which is nice. Having the original packaging (which I don’t) is apparently not important, nor is having any packaging at all (which I might have had), since the DHL guy is supposed to have “a box and a plastic bag” available when he comes here to collect. I hope the guy knows that 😃 Then we moved on the topic of backups. I do have nice and current data backups and I’m already (more or less) up and running on my old Acer machine, so I thought that wasn’t going to be a problem, until he informed me that the tech guys may well have to restore the hdd to the base state of that system. He wasn’t able to tell me why they would do that, assuming the hdd isn’t broken of course, and although he went away to confirm, he said they couldn’t promise to call and let me know before they considered doing that either. So I said okay, I’m going to take out the hard drive in that case and create a full image backup, because I don’t want to risk an additional few days of work to reinstall all my software, in case they kill my hdd. It’s not really easy to take out the hdd in that machine, since it’s built in – you have to unscrew quite a bit of the machine to get to it. There will probably be marks on the screw heads if I do this, so I don’t want the tech guys coming back at me and telling me there’s physical damage to the machine… he went back twice to try and confirm that this was okay, but all he was able to tell me in the end was that he didn’t see any other way for me to backup the hdd either, and that if the tech guys called me about it, I should just say I had to backup somehow and there wasn’t any other way. Well, I’ll see how well this goes. The weirdest thing was what he asked me at the end – I should tell him my username and password for the login to the system, since the tech guys would have to do that once they got the machine running again. That’s pretty weird, isn’t it? What if I had <insert name of Vista security thingy that encrypts the whole hdd> installed – would they ask me to give them the usb key that decrypts everything? Surely the purpose of having security features like that is that you’re not so much at risk of having information stolen if for whatever reason your system is on other people’s hands. They should have a bunch of other hdds available at Sony’s if they want to actually run the computer… after a while, he conceded I didn’t have to give him the password if I didn’t want to, but I did get the impression that my chances of getting the machine back with all hdd content still in place had just been diminished. Another thing to wait and see about. Right, so that’s it for today – I’ll post again when I know more. Ah yes, the whole thing is supposed to take 5 to 10 working days. Hm.

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