Friday, April 11, 2008

Why Some People Hate Computers

Allow Me to Whine A Little

I have a new Dell Latitude XT Tablet with Vista. As configured, it costs around $4000. I say that not to brag but rather to help make a point. (Dell gave it to me.)

This computer is the latest and greatest technology and no expense has been spared. So you would think that everything should work. But you would only think that if you were an end user, a commoner, a man on the street, or a CEO.

As a tech guy, I know that stuff just doesn't work, and no, I don't have the answer as to why it does not work and there is a good chance that I can't "fix" it. Again, as a commoner, you might (wrongly) say I'm incompetent at my job.

Let me give you an example.

I use Microsoft OneNote. It is a program for taking notes and it uses tabs to navigate around the interface. I loaded OneNote 2007, the latest and greatest version on my new XT (which we have already established is the best of the best.)

Right away I noticed a problem. When I left clicked a tab, nothing happened. A small problem, an annoyance at worst but it did not work like it was supposed to. I downloaded the latest patches to OneNote and no change.

I figured out a work around that I have been using for a couple of months. I've searched for solutions but I could not find anyone having the same issue. If this were a client's computer, they would be all over me to fix it. By now, I would have put in about 10 hours troubleshooting. The drive would have been wiped clean, the OS re-installed, drivers, software and all personalized settings put back in place. The problem would still exist.

Well I checked the web again this morning and a fix was just released yesterday. See the progression here. It is a Dell issue but Microsoft figured the problem out. There is no way I could have been able to fix this issue.

If you are not technical, just skip the next paragraph or I'll lose you as a reader for life. If you are technical, you'll find this interesting.

Click Start, Run, type regedit, and click ok (acknowledge the Vista UAC prompt if it comes up). In the registry editor, navigate to "Computer\HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Control Panel\Desktop" Locate the DragHeight and DragWidth values in the right hand pane Select the DragHeight value, click the Edit menu, and select Modify (you can double click as well to modify) In the Value Data field, type 4 and click ok. IMPORTANT! You need to do this step even if the registry editor already shows the value as 4! Repeat steps 4 and 5 with the DragWidth field. Logoff or reboot your computer.

The really cool part is the IMPORTANT point. My registry fields already showed a value of 4.
Even if I had known what the problem is I would not have changed a registry to the value it already stated.

My wife finally understands. Her iPhone malfunctioned (is that even possible?) and she exclaimed, "You are supposed to fix everything technical all the time. You're in computers." She saw it in other people as well and started to realize that it's not my fault. You wouldn't blame your doctor for a drug manufacturer's mistake.

Suffice to say, I love technology and I love solving problems. If you are lucky enough to be my client and are having a problem with your technology, I will find a solution if one exists. I'm not a programmer, a debugger, hardware manufacturer, or electrical engineer so I have to let those people do their jobs first.

If you want to impress your friends with bleeding edge technology, expect to be a Guinea pig for bug fixes. You'll pay more for stuff that doesn't work. If you want technology that works, try something that has been tested true. (No dad, you can't keep using Windows 95!)


Scarlet Snow ::mike:: said...

where do i type regedit on my macbook?

Davis said...

ss::mike - don't you mean your band's macbook?

ren - wow, dude! i NEVER spend that much time trying to fix my own stuff. i've had an annoying little outlook pop-up on my pc at work ever since i installed '07, and it will continue to annoy me until the end of time or i pass the pc on to a new hire. along the lines of the "cobbler's children," i guess.

Wes W. said...

Fire in the Nerd Hole!!!

Wes W. said...

Just kidding, I actually found that fascinating.

Angela said...

Actually, Wes, those were my sentiments exactly. Notice the only responses came from the C-Tech Realm of the Nerds. ;) I'm afraid I couldn't even understand half of this post.

Scarlet Snow ::mike:: said...

novices. sheesh. just keep breakin' 'em so i can keep fixin' 'em. ;)

deWeb said...

dude, i've got no problem with tech guys, and i even understand a little the guy among my immediate friends and fam who knows the most about computers and whatnot...

my problem is with support departments of huge computer manufacturers... you know the drill: you call and talk to the guy who says his name is jon, but you know it's really habib, and you think you've got the problem resolved. then as soon as you hang up (you were on the phone for a total of an hour with hold-time and all) the problem resurfaces. so then you call back, and--wonder of wonders--you don't get the same person. so then you try to explain what the last person said, and how that obviously wasn't the issue...but you're interrupted by the professional who insists on activating the same active x controls and going through the exact same troubleshooting procedure... so this time you spend at least 10 minutes longer on the phone than the last call.

fastforward three months finally gave up, because despite your repeated requests that they take in the friggin' thing free of charge and FIX IT they have tirelessly walked you through the same god-awful, pointless-waste-of-time, i-freaking-promise-you-that-this-didn't-work-the-last-four-times-y'all-tried -it programming crap... then you buy a usb mechanism that allows you to forgo the troublesome device in question, and it works great.

...and you seriously consider billing hp/compaq/gateway/dell/etc. for the thing you finally bought to fix their crappy lemon computer.

other than that, i got nothing to say...