TideLog Archive for September, 2009

I love my customers! Especially when they cheer me up with their mistakes and conversations!

Here’s a common conversation at work:

  • Customer: Hi, my laptop has a problem, can you look at it?
  • Me: Sure… (I switch it on and it boots to a BSOD) oh, it’s a blue screen of death? That could be hardware. We’ll need to book it in and look closely at it… did you bring the power adapter for it?
  • Customer: The what?
  • Me: …the power adapter. The big power cable that charges the battery.
  • Customer: Oh. don’t you have one?
  • Me: Not for every single make and model of laptop, we don’t. And definitely not (glances at laptop) for Vaios.

Fair enough, we’re a computer repair co. We do occasionally order in and sell laptop power adapters, and we have one or two universal adapters for our own use, but it’s easiest for everyone if customers bring their own in.

It’s common enough that it’s no longer annoying and I’ve grown my own natural response to it already. Today, though, we had an entirely new take:

  • Customer: Hi, I’m having trouble with my printer. I’ve brought my computer, can you plug it in and take a look?
  • Co-worker: Sure, have you got the printer with you as well?
  • Customer: No… don’t you have one?

I can completely understand people being ignorant about how their electronic possessions work.

But come on, would you book in your car for a service and deliver them the parcel shelf and the seat covers to examine? Are people really so afraid and ignorant of their computers they don’t even have the basic knowledge to identify what components need to be present to figure out why they can’t print?

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LG's new burner - with a nastier surprise than the product!

LG's new burner - with a nastier surprise than the product!

LG's new GH22NS50 DVD-RW SATA burner, with a twist!

LG's new GH22NS50 DVD-RW SATA burner, with a twist!

This is the LG GH22NS50. We’ve started stocking these at work at Kitamura, our low-cost SATA burner option. Except it comes with a nasty surprise, and that surprise is Bluebirds. Now, I’m no fan of LG products. Their LCD screens are crap, and either fail completely or in segments, their optical drives usually decide to only read CD’s, and not burn or read DVD’s as their primary role suggests they should. So, this pile of inexcusable rubbish wouldn’t be on our shelves if it weren’t for our supplier being out of stock of our usual BENQ drives.

Looks innocent enough, but is annoying and useless!

Looks innocent enough, but is annoying and useless!

It’s some kind of drag-to-disc software included with the drive. Not on a CD, of course; it’s hacked into the drive’s firmware as a virtual disc drive, and shows up when there’s no disc in the drive at all. Which means that every time you close the tray with nothing in it, you get prompted to install it, thanks to Windows helpfully autorunning it, even if it’s already installed. even mobile broadband dongles remember that you’ve installed the software on them, and don’t bother you

It’s not really a malicious program. It just sits in your system tray until you close it or uninstall it (Control Panel -> Add/remove programs, in XP). It’s probably even helpful, for the few people who let it sit around long enough to find out. I haven’t, nor have I seen anyone do that yet.

Nice, LG; not only does your drive automatically try to install an unwanted program on your customers’ computers, but you’ve changed a fundamental thing about how CD drives work: If there’s no disc in the drive, it should be empty and that’s the end of it. You’ve changed how it behaves, and that fills us with false and misleading knowledge. Stick to making VCR’s, it’s the only marginal thing you’re good at….but…oops, they’re obsolete!!!

It’s as bad as when ISPs used to rebrand Internet Explorer as being “provided by [some ISP]“; none of my customers could ever understand that IE was just a program on their computer and nothing to do with their ISP.

Anyway, there’s a firmware update for the drive that removes the Bluebirds installer, along with the fake disc-in-drive thing. I might even go one step further, and remove the drive out the shop window!

The firmware flasher that gets rid of the birds! (There's a dirty joke in there!)

The firmware flasher that gets rid of the birds! (There's a dirty joke in there!)

The firmware updater orders you to remove the disc from the drive before running the firmware update, which is the most passive-aggressive thing I’ve ever seen a PC program do. You have to eject the drive and let it sit there poking its tongue out for 30 seconds while you erase the Bluebirds part of its brain! One expression comes to mind…. LG + Technology = ROFLPMSL!

I’ve uploaded the program to my /uploads/ folder, so there’s another place on the interweb for it to be found:


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It’s very nice of you to say you think my articles are well-written, and that you feel the author knows the subject matter very well. It’s lovely that you’ve so carefully considered the relevance of my website to yours, and decided to enrich my website with a link to your own.

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I’ve just noticed this morning, “Test Mode” has appeared with the Evaluation Copy string after a recent update last night. I wonder if this means you’ll be able to unlock the full version of Windows from the RC with a license key?

Windows 7's new Test Mode. Full version unlockable from the RC, I wonder?

Windows 7's new Test Mode. Full version unlockable from the RC, I wonder?

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I bought my silver 80GB Classic 2 years ago next month. I regularly use it to store files on, and haven’t used the iPod aspect much. That means I rarely discharge it. I normally do discharge/recharge cycles on all my batteries, it keeps the lifetime going, they wear out otherwise, similar to the old NiCad memory effect. The battery can be full, but the iPod thinks it’s empty, vice-versa.

But, my battery still seems to discharge correctly. I left it with a couple of old episodes of Torchwood running with the backlight on full, and it lasted well over an hour!

My old Thomson Lyra PDP2842U was a 20GB heap of crap, the battery expanded on it, and the hard drive bearings went after 12 months, leaving me 20GB of songs and files out of pocket. What a pile of JUNK! Never buy Thomson, they’re shite, and customer support are a bunch of uninterested subject changing schoolkid morons!

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I’ve fixed my lil monster again! I had to re-deploy the whole drive, including Mac OS X as well. Here’s how I did it:

1. Connect my original 40GB drive and my ill 320GB to Lucy via SATA.

2. Boot into XP (Windows 7 doesn’t work with Acronis True Image) and launch, well, True Image 2009.

3. Set my original 40GB as source, and the WD 320GB as destination.

4. Manually set Windows 7 as 140GB of the drive, and left Mac OS’s ShagOS (ooh err, missus!) partition alone at 18.6, as we can’t change it. True Image cannot resize Mac partitions, only clone them. I set the rest as Unallocated, you’ll see why later. I made Windows 7 partition active, as that’s the bootloader I like first.

5. Off it went! Once done, I booted the machine with my Parted boot USB flash drive (I won’t cover that here, Google it!)

6. Use the partition manager to set the Unallocated space as HFS+ for Mac OS. Leave it inactive, and while we’re here, check that the Win 7 partition is still Active and Bootable.

Here’s the fun part of the job with Mac OS. It seems weird how I did it, but it worked:

1. I booted from my iPC 10.5.6 Leopard DVD. Go into Disk utility, and copy the contents of the Mac OS partition from the OLD 40GB drive, not the fresh 18.6 from the newly ghosted 320GB drive (see, weird, but I preferred it this way) into the new 140GB HFS+ partition on the 320GB drive.

2. Use Parted USB to delete the 18.6GB partition from the large drive, and turn it into a FAT storage partition for both OS’es!

3. Bam! Done! Switch off, disconnect the old drive leaving the new large one, and test. It worked for me!

To save me this hassle again, because I know it will happen, I really need to use Sandboxie! Note to self!

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I’ve never really been the type of guy to think that women are just housewives, who “have small feet so they can get closer to the sink”. I’ve known for years they’re just as good as men at lots of things.

I’m in the IT industry, I’ve worked with Linux chicks, Mac chicks, and Networking chicks. Women can have IT skills too, (and what a turn on it is! Not that this is the only reason I like working with them, of course, that’s not the point). I’ve been in the transport industry, and worked with female lorry drivers, bus drivers, even female panel beaters and paint sprayers.

At Matsuki we’ve got two female drivers. Rikky not included. She’s in the office most of the time, but, whoa, when she’s at the wheel of our 12 ton Volvo, boy can she push her hard, especially when all the passengers have disembarked. She knows I think she’s cute at the wheel, so she gets her foot down, and makes some noise! She actually forgot she had passengers one time, I had to kindly remind her that the old lady sat behind the cab partition was pushing herself into her seat with fright. She wasn’t driving recklessly, just quick, but she could have lost her operator’s license. That is her only slip up!

With passengers, she’s really gentle, curteous, and a good driver, I learn a lot from her for when I finally get my renewed PSV license. I can only roadtest and work in the garage at the moment.

She’s sooo gentle on the brakes, too. Most drivers will complain that the “brakes bite”, instead of owning up that they’re crap on distance judgement. Rikku knows how to bring 12 tons, even 40 from when she used to do HGV’s, to a gentle feather light stop, both at traffic lights and bus stops, and it is really cute, her passengers love us for it. “It’s the boss, that lovely gentle lady driver!” some will say. And she’s only 25, coming up to 26 on the 10th Sept. The dear old ladies we get when we do our BullRing route, they’re sweet, and know a good driver! Rikky likes to play football too, for an amateur club, she’s done it on and off for 4 years now, and she kinda looks hot in her kit!

Awww. All you female bus drivers, IT technicians, whatever, keep up the excellent work. Show bossy sexist blokes who really knows their stuff! I prefer to work with women, being a non-typical bloke I can’t stand other “typical” blokes, the arrogance really gets me!

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