Wednesday, 13 August 2008

"Chat with an agent" == Poor time to value

After a surprisingly excellent run in with Dell's telephone support where my PC freezes were very quickly diagnosed and fixed, I thought I'd try their online chat support to see if they could make Sleep mode work for me in Vista. Here's the transcript:

10:31:58PM Session Started with Dell_Agent
10:32:24PM Dell_Agent: "Thank you for contacting Dell Hardware Warranty Chat Support! My name is Xxxxx. How may I help you?"
10:32:42PM Tim Poultney: "hello"
10:33:02PM Tim Poultney: "I'm trying to get Sleep mode on Vista working so that I can cut down my energy bills"
10:33:36PM Tim Poultney: "it seems to sleep, but won't resume"
10:34:02PM Tim Poultney: "when I try and resume, the keyboard lights come back on and the hard disc is making noise, but Windows never comes back"
10:34:16PM Dell_Agent: "Let me see if I have this right. I understand that you're system did not resume from safe mode. Is that correct?"
10:34:40PM Tim Poultney: "no"
10:34:54PM Tim Poultney: "unrelated to safe mode"
10:35:09PM Dell_Agent: "I am sorry about that what I mean is sleep mode."
10:35:21PM Dell_Agent: "Is that correct?"
10:36:35PM Tim Poultney: "yes"
10:36:52PM Dell_Agent: "Thank you for confirming that for me."
10:37:19PM Dell_Agent: "Thank you for bringing this matter to us. I am glad I am the one who received your request as I am going to do my best to assist you today."
10:37:30PM Dell_Agent: "Is this the first time you contacted us regarding this issue?"
10:38:28PM Tim Poultney: "yes"
10:39:27PM Dell_Agent: "May I have your express service code please?"
10:40:49PM Tim Poultney: "8XTXHXX"
10:41:33PM Dell_Agent: "Thank you. By the way that is your service tag but it will also work."
10:42:17PM Dell_Agent: "I am now pulling up your records, while I'm doing this for verification, what is the name of the person or organization that owns the computer?"
10:43:16PM Tim Poultney: "Tim Poultney"
10:44:14PM Dell_Agent: "Thank you for that information and I am pleases to meet you online. To ensure we are working with the correct system, are you chatting about the Vostro Desktop 400 listed on your account?"
10:45:31PM Tim Poultney: "yes"
10:45:41PM Dell_Agent: "And in addition, your warranty will expire on February 19, 2009."
10:46:42PM Dell_Agent: "Have you performed any troubleshooting steps on your own to fix this issue?"
10:46:54PM Tim Poultney: "yes"
10:47:02PM Tim Poultney: "I've checked Event Viewer"
10:47:19PM Dell_Agent: "Can you tell me what are the steps that you have done so far?"
10:47:24PM Dell_Agent: "I see."
10:47:36PM Tim Poultney: "and I've followed a Microsoft KB article about disabling USB mice waking up from sleep"
10:47:59PM Dell_Agent: "Is that all?"
10:48:10PM Dell_Agent: "Thank you for that information."
10:48:35PM Tim Poultney: "I also determined that the PC only has a problem with Sleep, rather than Away mode (ie. media sharing)"
10:48:49PM Tim Poultney: "but Away mode doesn't save much electricity :("
10:49:12PM Dell_Agent: "Okay, I understand. We may have to do some steps that will help us resolve the issue."
10:50:02PM Dell_Agent: "First, we will need to check the Power Management options from the Control Panel."
10:50:51PM Dell_Agent: "Please go to Control panel and look for Power Options."
10:51:12PM Tim Poultney: "I'm there"
10:51:17PM Dell_Agent: "Then double click on it."
10:51:21PM Tim Poultney: "have done"
10:51:34PM Tim Poultney: "setting is High Performance"
10:52:05PM Dell_Agent: "Once the Power Options Properties window appears, please go to the Power Schemes tab."
10:52:23PM Tim Poultney: "I don't see that"
10:52:27PM Tim Poultney: "I'm using the classic control panel"
10:53:16PM Dell_Agent: "Can you tell me what you see on your screen now?"
10:54:00PM Tim Poultney: "left pane, shows options of power related task. ie. "create a power plan""
10:54:13PM Tim Poultney: "right pane shows "Select a power plan" and then lists power plans"
10:54:47PM Dell_Agent: "One moment while I check on this for you."
10:56:00PM Tim Poultney: "ok, I have to stop soon as it's been 25 minutes"
10:59:00PM Dell_Agent: "I sincerely appreciate your patience and apologize for the inconvenience caused. However, I will need 2 more minutes to look into this matter. Please bear with me."
11:00:08PM Dell_Agent: "Thanks for waiting. I do apologize if I took longer than expected."
11:02:22PM Dell_Agent: "You may see the option Power saver?"
11:02:27PM Dell_Agent: "Just click on it."
11:02:35PM Tim Poultney: "ok"
11:03:13PM Tim Poultney: "next?"
11:05:39PM Dell_Agent: "One moment while I further check on this for you."
11:05:56PM Tim Poultney: "ok, sorry, I don't have time for this"
11:06:13PM Tim Poultney: "it's not fast enough and I'm finding the time to value poor"
11:06:22PM Tim Poultney: "thank you for your time"
11:06:33PM Dell_Agent: "This will allow me to give the accurate steps for the operating system you are using."
11:06:43PM Dell_Agent: "I am really very sorry for the inconvenience this has caused you."

11:07:20PM Session Ended

I found during the whole interaction that the agent was way too focused on following the script and didn't really seem to understand my problem or be doing anything other than cut&pasting from the internal troubleshooting tool.

That's 36 minutes of my life I'd like back please, Dell.

Monday, 11 August 2008

A big idea about... the automotive industry

I drive a 2.0L Turbo Diesel Ford Focus, and when I renew my lease next year I'm planning to move down in engine size. Why? Mostly because I've identified that the prime reason I have a 2 litre is vanity; I have it because it goes fast and because it's available to me.

So, given the challenge that cars provide for the environment, how about this for an idea?

What if there were only 4 different types of car available in the whole world? Cars would be graded by size, ie. a 2 person car, a 2 + children, a 4 adult and a people carrier. Within those 4 types, each would be identical, no engine choices, no alloy upgrades, no body styling, no nothing. To pull this off, all of the car manufacturers would pool their resources to make the most efficient 4 cars they could, leading to huge technological advances and the resulting vehicles would then be manufactured en mass. Personalisation would be dealt with on the exterior - each car would be sold in white, and then customers could customise the paint job to their personal and no doubt exacting standards.

Car choice would then become a simple size equation, and given the combined might of the automotive industry I'm sure super low CO2 and super high MPG would be assured, along with excellent drive, comfort and ride. The mass production and removal of intercompany competition would hopefully lower prices to boot.

However, there are 2 problems with my plan. 1) Greed - the big manufacturers wouldn't go for the above because they'd have to share their profits with the little guys. 2) Vanity - us consumers will continue to demand the freedom of choice to buy whatever vehicle we want, even if it is a 4.8L Chelsea tractor that does 9MPG and outputs 350g CO2.

Tuesday, 5 August 2008

Cake girl

May has got pretty hardcore into baking over the last year and bought "The Classic 1000 Cake and Bake Recipes" by Wendy Hobson in a charity shop.

As well as having excellent recipes, the book also came with an added extra in the form of this photo inbetween the pages.

"Cake girl" is always there, in the book, smiling back at you. No idea who she is, or whether she left the photo on purpose, but I quite like the idea of leaving a photo inside books you donate to charity. Inspection of the photo reveals: birthday wrapping paper, Asda shopping bags, Animal skiing jacket, pink "to do" list, exotic spirits collection.

Friday, 1 August 2008

Status: July

July 1
11:31am Tim has exited No Booze June with only 6 exceptions.
12:55pm Tim is accelerating for growth.
7:38pm Tim is taking May on a DATE.
10:21pm Tim has to be up early tomorrow.
10:28pm Tim just saw Joe and Clare on TV again - they're both in that very popular Andy Murray clip from yesterdays Wimbledon.

July 2
7:29pm Tim should not try and sing like Beth Gibbons...

July 3
10:45am Tim is not a domestic godess. :(.
7:34pm Tim likes his present from May.

July 4
3:16pm Tim is thinking about packing for Boca.

July 5
4:25pm Tim is watching a Falcon eat a chick at the Hursley 50 celebration.
7:41pm Tim can easily do without going to Miami tomorrow.
8:30pm Tim is listening to the Orchestra at Hursley 50, the brass seem to have some tuning issues.
11:33pm Tim has his alarm set for 6am.

July 6
8:03am Tim is at Heathrow, bound for Miami. Assessing if arms meet the exit row criteria.
7:32pm Tim is benvenido a Miami.

July 7
4:34pm Tim is working in Boca Raton today.

July 9
3:00am Tim 's $40 massage turned out to be an overly greasy full body. "You can take everything off Sir", umm...
4:13pm Tim is still waking up at 6am every morning. So much for jet lag recovering at 1 hour a day.
11:55pm Tim engaging gregarious mode before going out for dinner with clients.

July 10
2:23am Tim just had key lime pie forced upon him. It was good.
3:48pm Tim is presenting Free Form Commands.
8:27pm Tim missed out on a Wii Fit. :(.

July 11
12:34am Tim is going to dinner with Mr Muschett.
4:11am Tim is having an ace time checking out genuine Floridian lifestyl.
4:14am Tim is enjoying some genuine Floridian lifestyle with Brien and has conquered his fear of chicken wings.
4:35pm Tim is telling people what they already know.
7:27pm Tim is going to buy May gifts, then heading for MIA.
10:45pm Tim is bored at MIA, it's a very sparse air side. Boo.

July 12
1:26pm Tim survived the night flight back into LHR, used IRIS for the first time (aces) and is very glad to be back home with May.

July 13
5:22pm Tim is watching House S3, napping and thankful for his May-larm clock.

July 14
9:19am Tim is struggling with getting up.

July 15
9:10am Tim is not impressed by his Nokia forgetting the time and therefore failing as an alarm clock.
11:55pm Tim is nonplussed with Nintendo's E3 showing. Apart from AC:City Folk which is a WANT.

July 16
6:57am Tim is up early again. Taking the first flight to Glasgow today.
6:17pm Tim has been royally shafted by American Express today. My entire itinerary was 1 week out thanks to the travel booking, and the PIN on my corporate card has locked.

July 17
9:18am Tim forgot to pack a book, so went to sleep using the only available reading material. Thanks Gideons...
11:24pm Tim is back from GLA. Presentation went well but have developed a massive mouth ulcer. Taking tomorrow off as flex to compensate excessive travel.

July 18
11:55am Tim has a sore throat and is feeling pretty grumpy.
2:13pm Tim has set off for Leam, currently in new Sainos Starbucks for lunch.
5:03pm Tim is now at Bicester.
11:59pm Tim is at home in Leam, Mum's 60th tomorrow!

July 19
3:02pm Tim is celebrating Mum's 60th with the entire extended family, inc. the brand new baby!
8:37pm Tim has delivered success on Operation Birthday pt 1.

July 21
2:20pm Tim is at day 2 of Mum's 60th celebrations.
8:51pm Tim is on the A34 bound for home.
10:13pm Tim is back home and a little partied out.
11:12pm Tim is in the office today doing expenses and admin.
11:52pm Tim is checking out - where did the option to filter mini-feed by type go?

July 22
7:29pm Tim has 2 parcels to collect, that'll be 2 more pairs of Wovens then.

July 23
9:05am Tim is going to Leeds on the train.
11:15am Tim thinks the dude sat opposite him on the train should stop reading that novel, it keeps upsetting him.
3:34pm Tim is at the Mal in Leeds.

July 24
8:51am Tim is going to Jack's graduation today.
2:03pm Tim has done the official photograpy, lunch now.
4:44pm Tim is concerned that May is a little too excited about going to the hardware store.

July 25
5:21pm Tim is stationary on the M40, where for art thou Venga bus?
9:41pm Tim is throwing shapes with Ed like it's 1992.

July 26
11:20pm Tim liked Wall-E a lot.

July 27
9:02pm Tim has been sunning @ Hillier, playing Halol with basement and tidying.

July 28
5:50pm Tim is thinking antipodean.
7:05pm Tim can't get to Pilates because of the M3 coach fire. Going for a walk instead, then waiting for Mark in the Lemon van.

July 29
12:22pm Tim has 2 new pairs of Wovens, nice!
4:46pm Tim can't get an iPwn after all - O2 have all sorts of extra rules if you want one!

July 30
2:03pm Tim is installing software, then going for a massage.

July 31
10:49am Tim is pleasingly pummeled after last nights massage.
3:28pm Tim can't get the Australian set as good as he'd like.
11:47pm Tim is plotting bank switching for £150 free.