Posts for #Hardware

There was a bit of a confusion last week, when the DHL guy didn’t have all the details – apparently the Sony guys were expecting the machine to come in the next day and when it didn’t, they called me to ask why the pickup had gone wrong. Well, I had already received the receipt from DHL by then and I called them to tell them so, but by that time they had already received the machine and it was scheduled for repair. That was Thursday last week.

I went to Germany for Cebit on Friday, and in the late afternoon I received an SMS telling me the machine had been shipped back! No further information though. I tried tracking the package on my BlackBerry, but found that the DHL tracking website doesn’t find a BlackBerry web browser worthy of accessing that info. Tracking on the computer was somewhat impaired by the fact that while they’d sent me that SMS, I didn’t have the same info as an email. Hm. Also, even though I had a case number from Sony, I wasn’t able to find any status info about the case on their support page – I do have an “eSupport” account there, but the case wasn’t listed in there. Anyway, tracking tells me that I should receive the package today (Monday 9th), so I’m hopeful – assuming everything’s really fine with the machine, that would be a pretty good turn-around.

Just a short update: the DHL guy just left. He did bring a box and a plastic bag to package the machine, as I was promised by the support guy yesterday, but he claimed I should have all the information that goes on the various stickers for the package… well, I don’t. The Sony guy had told me that DHL would have all they need to handle things. Anyway, he took the package away, promised to deal with all the paper work later and return a receipt to me tomorrow (or so). I would have been hesitant about this, but as I know the guy – as well as you know your DHL delivery man, but at least it’s always been the same man for the last 8 months – I guess it’ll be alright like that. Wait and see, yet again.

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.

Still pondering that laptop thing – in response to yesterday’s post, someone pointed me to the Acer TravelMate 8204WLMi, which I had actually already seen in a review. I had not given it any further attention, partly because the review wasn’t completely positive, but now I find that this must have been about the only reviewer who found really interesting flaws in that laptop.

I was looking around for a computer that would be good to install Vista on and get into some WinFX programming, specifically the WPF part of it. My current desktop system is pretty nice to work with, but I’ve also had a higher priority for large desktop real estate and so I never got into those really fast graphics cards that are needed to do Aero Glass.

My desktop system is no slouch, but it’s one of these systems that have been extended manually over years, and it really doesn’t work all that fast compared to machines I see other people use – anyway, Vista will of course have a number of new versions released over the next months, so I couldn’t install it on my main working machine for now anyway. So, up to this point I had the impression that the only way to currently get into that kind of stuff would be to get a pretty fast desktop machine with a modern GPU.

I just came across a fantastic gimmick that I need to get: the USB vacuum cleaner! I found it for sale at, so that’s where the product link goes: - USB Vacuum Cleaner