This blog is about a love story. And a breakup. With Dell...

by Michael S. Kaplan, published on 2013/08/20 07:01 -04:00, original URI:

Alternate title: Dell has succeeded in permanently curing me of my love of Dell Latitudes

I used be addicted to Dell laptops.

For the last twenty years, I have had at no fewer than one and at times up to five Dell laptops.

Usually Latitudes, but occasionally Inspirons.

I always bought them myself and did almost all of the dev and PM work on them, using my share of the hardware budgets for test machines and 2nd monitor flat screens.

But now, after two decades, after having written every line of code of consequence, be it Microsoft Access wizard or VB wizard or MSLU or MSKLC, I am four years into my last Dell laptop.

After one abortive bout with an Inspiron, I have always had next business day service for problems, which I needed less often in the earlier days and more often as the years went on and as refurbished replacements proved to be less properly refurbished.

This last Dell Latitude E6500 required 12 attempts at system board replacements for five repairs, due to either the wireless network card (on the system board) or the smart card reader (also on the system board) not working properly, or both.

it got to the point where I would request they send 4 refurbished system boards at a time so that when one or the other (or both) wasn't working, they wouldn't have to wait another day but they always refused, as the service agreement didn't cover it.

Thus the multiple visits and the increased cost (to Dell, not to me) for the service calls, which my request for sending multiple refurbished system boards would have saved!

In other words, their policies combined with the incompetence of the quality of their refurbishing have viciously conspired to cost Dell a large amount of money.

The most recent attempt at replacing the system board ended in failure after five attempts, keeping one of the boards with a working wireless card but a non-working smart card reader the best available option after the final badly refurbished system board introduced problems to the touchpad not working properly.

I now use an external smart card reader attached via USB.

The service techs (usually but not always the same guys from visit to visit) agree with my requesting sending multiple system boards, for the same reason I do. But it isn't up to them, and the asinine Dell policies that cost them more money and time and me more time and that caused the last failed attempt at next day onsite service to take nearly two weeks have succeeded in permanently curing me of my love of Dell Latitudes.

I just can't do it anymore. It isn't the company it once was, and I can't waste any more time for the mythical next business day onsite service that can't be fixed even after weeks of trying.

Well, if Michael Dell called me up after reading this blog and told me was instituting a zero tolerance policy on faulty refurbishings and promised to let them send out four system boards, I would gladly come back. but otherwise...

As I move on to my Lenovo and my Surface, I'll think back to the old days and what I used to have with the old Latitudes. The C600, the D800, the D820, and all the others, ending with the E6500.

This relationship quite literally gave birth to the Partial Replica Wizard in Microsoft Access.

And the Publish to the Web Wizard in Microsoft Access.

And the Exchange and Outlook Import Wizard in Microsoft Access.

And the bulk of the maintenance of almost all of the wizards in Microsoft Access from 1997 to 2000.

And the independently produced Form/Report to Data Access Page Wizard and the many Trigeminal Software free utilities, components, and tools.

And the VBA in VB Wizard.

And the Desktop Passthrough feature in WIN CE that I wrote the spec for as a contract PM on a Dell Latitude over 15 years ago - my first feature PM role ever!

And a lot of code and data involving collation.

And hundreds of thousands of data updates and fixes involving locales.

And almost every keyboard layout added to Windows from XP SP2 to the upcoming Windows 8.1.

And the Microsoft Layer for Unicode on Win95/98/ME Systems (aka MSLU, aka unicows.dll).

And the Microsoft Keyboard Layout Creator (aka MSKLC 1.3 and 1.4).

These are by no means children. But they are as close as I'll ever come to having them for reasons previously stated and they have helped a lot of people, all over the world. I have a bit of 'father's pride' for some of them - certainly for MAKLC, who I am working on again now, mostly on my Dell Latitude E65000.

I leave with no regrets. I'm only mildly embarrassed to call this the fourth most meaningful relationship I have ever had. And, all things considered, one of the most significant ones. Certainly the one with the most impact to everyone else.

John Cowan on 20 Aug 2013 9:09 AM:

This is sort of like the idea that routines that have bugs are good places to look for more bugs: this particular Dell has had a lot of hardware defects, so it probably has even more hardware defects lurking somewhere.  Probably just replacing it is the Right Thing.

Yuhong Bao on 20 Aug 2013 8:21 PM:

One question: Why was the VBA DLL names so confusing? For example, VBA332.DLL was part of VBA 5.0.

Yuhong Bao on 21 Aug 2013 1:28 AM:

@John Cowan: I believe something similar is the reasoning behind Office's File Block too.

Matthew Slyman on 1 Sep 2013 11:14 PM:

Purchased a Dell Vostro 3360 in January, and then fitted a mSATA SSD (256GB Crucial). The machine works wonderfully. The screen is poor, but everything else is just wonderful! Thin and light, long battery life, etc. Just perfect as a stop-gap until they let self-employed people get mortgages so that I can get that Macbook Pro...

Matthew Slyman on 1 Sep 2013 11:30 PM:

p.s. I forgot to mention. The first Vostro 3360 they sent me had a faulty screen. Every 30-60 minutes from the moment I switched it on, it would develop another 500-2000 dead pixels, a whole horizontal line of them! It was quite bizarre. After wasting £50–100 GBP worth of time proving to them that this was a real problem, they sent me a new machine and an extra memory module "free of charge" to compensate me for my loss of time (their support people were very reasonable, when I pressed my case quite diplomatically with them.) A quick switcheroo with the free module and the module in the malfunctioning machine resulted in paired modules in my new machine. So in the end I have a development machine with 8GB of fast paired memory, long battery life, a decent enough Intel 3rd-generation i3, 500GB HDD+250GB SSD and a poor-to-mediocre screen (but external HDMI/VGA connectivity) for just £400GBP ($600USD) — a bargain I think, in January 2013. Overall, I'm quite happy, and will certainly look at Dell myself again next time. (Thanks for the warning about certain current models though!)

Nicholas on 19 Sep 2013 5:39 AM:

My girlfriend and I have been together for 7 years now. We had fights every now and then but it usually went away. 4 weeks ago, I caught her flirting with my best friends and we had a big fight and broke up after that. Now I really miss her. i treid everything to get my ex back? I called her and she wouldn't even answer. Everything goes into voicemail. When I bumped into her, she treats me like a friend.. I've been sleeping 1 hour every night. Every time I close my eye, I see my girlfriend...i tried every thing to get her back but all was in vain. I want her back because of the love I have for her, I begged her with everything, I tried to entice her with money, made promises but she refused. I explained my problem to someone, and he suggested that I should rather mail a spell caster that could help me cast a spell to bring her back but I am the type that never believe in spell, I had no choice than to try it, I mailed the spell caster who was from USA Texas, she told me there was no problem that everything will be okay, that before three days, that my ex will return to me before three days, she cast the spell and surprisingly in the second day, that was around 4:21pm. My ex called me, I was so surprised, I answered the call and all she said was that she was so sorry for everything that happened, I was so happy and told her to come, she came to me the following day and we started living together again. Since then I have made a promise that everybody I know will never have a relationship problem that I will refer them to the spell caster to help them. you could need the help of the spell caster, her email is ( you can email her if you need her assistance in your relationship or anything

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