Tuesday, June 06, 2006

No, I Did Not Get Lost in Amsterdam

It's just that a confluence of circumstances has conspired against me to keep me from blogging. First, there was that general post-trip malaise and don't-wanna-go-to-school blues that always descends after a prolonged absence from work, especially when said absence was spent in an interesting city.

Then, the weather here went from Dublin to San Diego quick enough to give you whiplash. We left on a rainy, miserable day and came back to glorious blue skies, warm temperatures, and fantastic long hours of daylight. It's enough to make a grown girl weep. The cynic in me was sure that since Thursday and Friday before the bank holiday weekend were gorgeous, the Weather Gods were playing a nasty trick and were going to pour rain on us all weekend. But no - the weekend was an amazing, sunny, lazy, actual summer weekend.

The final circumstance is the most dire and upsetting (for me, at least). My laptop died - again. I didn't blog about this last year, but in August, my laptop sputtered, flashed and then the screen went black. I had to fight my way through the phone tech support system at Sharp Electronics (Them: "Are you sure the contrast on the screen is set properly?" Me: "You don't understand. The screen is dead. Black. No light whatsoever." Them: "Try pressing the reset button.: Me: "Aaaaarghhh!")

Since I bought the laptop in the States, it had to go to the sick laptop hospital in Romeoville, Illinois. (Which is about 5 miles away from where we used to live.) I had to spend 100 euro to ship the laptop there, where it languished in the workshop for an entire week. Each time I called for an update, I was told they were waiting on a part. Finally, I got wise and asked when they would have the part. (I don't remember the name of the part - my understanding is it was a small bit that went on the main board and it wasn't something obvious like the video card.) The conversation went something like this:

Me: OK, so when will you have the part?

Them: We don't know.

Me: You don't know.

Them: No, that's what I said. We don't know.

Me: How can you not know?

Them: The part comes from Japan.

Me: OK. This is 2005 - not 1805. You have computer inventory, tracking numbers, bar codes. You must be able to find out when the part is arriving, if you've ordered it.

Them: We ordered it alright. It comes on a boat.

Me: So, what, it's going to be 6 weeks? 8 weeks?

Them: We don't know.

Me: When did it leave Japan?

Them: It hasn't.

Me: So then when is the boat, carrying this essential part, scheduled to leave Japan?

Them: We don't know.

Me: When did you last get a shipment of these parts?

Them: I think it was in May.

Me: The entire laptop weighs 2 pounds. Surely this part weighs about as much as a quarter. Could you not have a guy in Japan put the part in one of those nifty FedEx or DHL envelopes and have it next-day delivered to you?

Them: No. We don't do that. We can't do that.

Me: So I'm supposed to just wait until this mystery part arrives on a boat that hasn't left Japan yet and you have no idea when it's going to leave, let alone when it's going to arrive in the States?

Them: Yes. Pretty much.

Me: When exactly were you going to tell me this?

Them: We told you we were waiting on a part.

Me: But you never told me how long it was going to take until I finally asked. Now, when someone says we're waiting on a part, you figure that the part will arrive in a reasonable amount of time. A part on some nonexistent mystery ship in Japan that has no set date to leave port doesn't qualify as a part that's going to arrive in a reasonable amount of time now does it?

Them: I don't know. You know now.

Me: OK - fine. I use that machine for my work. Waiting months is not an options. What can you do?

Them: We can send you a reconditioned laptop.

Me: I need my hard drive.

Them: We might be able to put it in the refurbished machine. But we might not. We won't know until we start working on it.

Me: It is absolutely vital that I get that hard drive back.

Them: You should have gotten all your data off the computer before you sent it to us.

Me: I couldn't. The screen was absolutely inoperable. The proprietory monitor cable you gave me is in storage, as is the brain-dead docking station software that's required to hook the laptop up to a desktop. How, exactly, could I get the data off the hard drive?

Them: Oh. I don't know. We'll try to give you your hard drive back but I can't make any promises.

I went a couple of rounds with this guy, with his supervisor, and finally with Sharp's ombudsman. I did get a promise that my new laptop would contain my old hard drive. They couldn't ship the laptop out of the country though, so it had to take a detour to my parents' house. Then it was another $100 to ship it to me, where Customs and Excise promptly seized it and demanded an unreasonable ransom. I had to dig out my original receipt, my original warranty, and my shipping bill and fax that to them before I could get my laptop sprung.

I was without the laptop for two and a half weeks. Now, not even a year later, it looks like the same thing is after happening. Laptop #2 is scheduled to arrive at the sick laptop hospital on Friday. You can be sure that I will be calling as soon as I get home from work on Monday to find out what the status is and I am not going to be fooled by any "waiting for a part" nonesense.

In the meantime, Peter has generously lent me his Powerbook. (It's big and clunky and not nearly as cute and comfy as my little lappy.) I'm furiously working on the Amsterdam trip report and hope to have it done by this weekend. So, I have returned, sadly minus a laptop but in otherwise good shape.


At 7 June 2006 at 09:45, Blogger Fence said...

My laptop is currently on its last legs, but I've been advised by the brother to wait till the Windows Vista thingy is released before I buy a new one. So my fingers are crossed and hoping that it'll last till the end of the year. I'm sure it will.

At 7 June 2006 at 12:31, Blogger John of Dublin said...

Hi Ann. What a scary story about the laptop. It has reminded me to review my back-up methods and also do it more often!

BTW - if you work for Peter Cox and it's on Rochestown Ave. then you work only a stone's throw from where I live!

At 8 June 2006 at 17:24, Blogger Lyss said...

I am sorry about your laptop, but you're recounting of that whole converstation (and managing to remember it all- I would've forgotten) is hysterical. I bet they've never had a customer smart before to ask all tha before.

At 8 June 2006 at 20:11, Blogger Arbusto said...

Fence, don't wait for Vista. It's going to be first generation software and very, very buggy. It might take a year for the software to be any good.

Ann - sorry about the laptop. Last year one of my roommates had Dell come out to fix his laptop (this after a week and a half of daily calls). The guy starts taking it apart and saying "Hmmm" or "oop" every few minutes. We were a little concerned. It turned out fin in the end.

At 9 June 2006 at 17:56, Blogger -Ann said...

Fence - Yeah, it's a tough call to decide when to get a new machine, especially if your old one is limping along well-enough.

John - Hi, Neighbour. Gosh, I sure hope you're not a stalker. :) "Work for Peter Cox" is a gross overstatement of what I do. My day job is in a software company. Being the Lovely Assistant for Peter is my avocation, I guess you could call it. He's my husband, so I have a vested interest in helping him out.

Lyss - I remember the conversation because it was so absurd and upsetting. I am still mystified by it.

Arbusto - Yeah, if there's one thing you don't want to hear your repairman say, it's "ooops". I heard our electrician once say "uh-oh" and I nearly had a heart attack.

Laptop update: It's safely arrived in Romeoville and been signed for by a J.Guzman. I think I am going to hold off on calling them until Monday. I don't want to be a nuisance too quickly.

At 10 June 2006 at 02:10, Blogger Jack's Shack said...

"a confluence of circumstances." I like that.

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