Doug's Blog

Why would you own a Dell?

The official Dell apology count is now 9. This, however, brings me no closer to having my system replaced or repaired.

Apparently, the two last conversations, one with a social media rep and one with the person who handles their community forum, have led to me to believe that the warranty expires next August and they’re trying to hold out until then. (That’s being facetious, but I suspect that will be the end result.)

My service file was indeed closed. Apparently, this is because I didn’t send it back within 10 days of it being booked. Since I am still waiting for the packing box and information they told me I had to send it in for a month now, I’m not that willing to accept the blame for that and pointed it out. I have yet to hear back on that one.

Also, the forum manager has said no refund since I’ve had the unit for more than 30 days. The fact that it arrived on the 15th of August and I’ve been trying to get it repaired for a month seems to have no relevance to that at all. I’ve asked to have it escalated to someone who has the authority to override that. I have yet to hear back on that one, too.

Oh, well. I’ve already ordered my new laptop. I pick it up Tuesday morning. I have, however, gotten rather tired of backing up and reconfiguring new computers in the last little while, though.

As I note, I did check my warranty. I am supposed to have next day, on site warranty repair. Maybe I should be insisting they send a tech from Vancouver or Prince George to repair it…

Laptop status report

In my last post, I outlined some of the issues I have been having trying to get my laptop serviced. I suppose the first thing I can point out in the definition of how successful I’ve been is that the laptop is still in my living room.

I posted my woes on the Dell Community Forums. I actually did get a very noncommittal response from someone who states at the outset that she is not very technical and can’t help with diagnosing my issues. This makes me wonder, since my complaints are not with the diagnosis of the problem. This was settled at the very beginning and, one would assume she should have noticed that.

At no point in my complaint did I mention what the technical issue was… just that there is no definitive way I’m supposed to send it back and the lack of follow through on the shipping of the laptop itself.

“Please note, I am not technically inclined and will not be able to troubleshoot your system. If your case has already been referred to our Executive Escalations Team, I will not be able to intercede on your behalf, as their authority supersedes that of my department.”

Has it been escalated? I haven’t got the faintest idea, and don’t know if I have to deal with that myself or will they do that based upon the message.

I pointed out the problem lay with having it returned for service and the oddly competitive nature for how it gets returned. Since the first message took almost 24 hours to get a response, I don’t know what this will yield. I did state that I am no longer interested in dealing with the poor level of service I’ve received and want to return it for refund.

That being the case, I have already found its replacement. No, it’s not a Dell computer. But, if there is no really fast resolution, I’ll just write my computer off as a bad decision and pick up a new one.

I suspect one of my students will have a new tear apart computer by the beginning of next week.

As an aside, you can go online using your service dispatch file number and determine where your service issue is at. I entered mine and was told the file doesn’t exist. Dell sucks…

Adventures in tech support

I’ll preface this with the fact that, to my students over the years, I have constantly referred to Dell as the gold standard of customer support. That’s not just a reference to the computer industry, but customer service overall. I have stayed at some rather nice hotels over the years and they didn’t treat as well as Dell support has in the past.

Oh, how the mighty have fallen.

My old Dell Inspiron laptop, a 2010 model, finally started showing signs of moving on to that next plane. For example, when you open the optical drive, part of the physical drive carrier droops down. Yes, it’s been dropped.

I purchased a new laptop at Staples but returned it the next day because it had been used. Used, and not wiped, by the way. At that point, I decided that ordering a new one from Dell and waiting until it was shipped may be a better choice.

“May” is a very powerful word. After about five weeks, I started getting warning messages that the computer could not recognize the AC adapter and would no longer charge. This is where warranty service comes in, and armed with several previous dealings with Dell service support, I figured this would be pretty quick and dirty.

I’ll break this up by mentioning that Dell now outsources its call centre to somewhere in India. Many such centres use what is called by some outsourcing agencies as a “pay for performance” model. In short, when I submit my computer for repair, the person from the centre who convinces me to do so gets a commission.

So far, I have been given five different options for resolution and these have come from about 10 different techs. However, each of these wants me to acknowledge to them that I intend to go through with the repair, meaning, of course, that they will be the one who gets the commission. They actually have been, basically, competing to be the one who gets paid for this.

My options have been:

1. I’ve sent a shipping box and you are to send it via FedEx.
2. I’ve sent a shipping box and you are to send it via Purolator.
3. I’ve sent a shipping box and you are to send it via the mail.
4. I can arrange for onsite repair.
5. You have to provide your own shipping box and send it using a waybill I will send you.

Some of the others have provided the same suggestions, but have also asked that I confirm which one I will use with them specifically. A lot of these conversations have taken place through Twitter and their Dell Cares account.

As a note, I’ve found the Dell Cares account is just the technicians and any real social media manager for a major company should be having fits over the level of conversation conducted using their brand name. For example, I pointed out after the first (I’ve had several from several different people) mention that my warranty is supposed to provide onsite service. Dell hasn’t had an authorized technician here for years.

When my last Dell laptop needed a new keyboard under warranty, I did manage to convince the tech that I was able to replace it myself after he had spent about 20 minutes trying to find someone to replace it. I pointed this out and I was somewhat rudely informed that I obviously had access to a technician since my warranty called for onsite repair. Also, they certainly wouldn’t have sent a technician to replace a keyboard anyway, since the user would be expected to do that. I don’t quite think he or she understands the difference between replacing a desktop and laptop keyboard.

I seriously doubt that Dell is going to pay to send a repair tech from Prince George or Vancouver to come and replace my motherboard.

I got enough of both rude and repetitive from Dell Cares that I actually blocked their Twitter account. There’s probably enough Norse blood in my dating back from 1,000 years ago that I can go with burning the odd bridge every now and then.

So currently, I’m at the point where I don’t know which choice is actually the right method for sending it back, and quite frankly, I’m still not that sure where it’s supposed to go. I can think of a suggestion of what someone could do with it, but that may be anatomically difficult.

I have twice asked to deal with a supervisor, through the Dell Cares account and through their Facebook page. Times were arranged for them to call on two separate days, but no one called either time.

I do get a kick out of the attempt of one of their techs to blackmail me, namely, that he would arrange for a supervisor to contact me in a few hours, but first I should confirm to him that I was sending the computer back through arrangements he would set up.

In short, the concern is not how to best service my brand new laptop, but how to ensure that you are the one who gets the commission for getting it serviced.

A suggestion: unless you can be guaranteed that the computer will never need warranty work, you probably don’t want to buy a Dell computer…

Another month, and the end of another summer

Hic est September, to paraphrase my poorly retained high school Latin.


Late August light.

In the Yukon, September is fall. Let’s face it, fall starts in August with the change in light, the turning of the leaves, and the descent into cooler, wetter weather.

I grew up on the east coast, where fall was a riot of multicoloured leaves and cool evenings but warm days through into October. I remember walking the Clyburn valley one late October weekend with the temperatures above 28°C.

That extreme a temperature is not going to be found here. By September, we tend to be rainy and cooler. Currently, it’s trying rather hard to rain and 10°C.

This time of year is a reminder that those chores that need good weather are needing to be done soon. Any painting, siding, etc., that you’ve put off should be moved up the to do list rather soon. I will not be going this weekend for Labour Day, since I wouldn’t get a site this late and I have things to do that a long weekend allow me to approach with plenty of time, and according to the forecast, plenty of good weather.

However, I do have a fondness of fall camping. Actually, it’s a fondness for fall lake trout fishing with camping thrown in to season the adventure. It’s rather nice to go a lake close to home and commute this time of year. It’s still relatively light to make early morning drives a lot safer and there are campgrounds within a one-hour commute from home.I have a friend who, along with her husband, doesn’t even start camping until the Thanksgiving Day weekend in October. I’m considering extending my season until the end of October if possible this year, myself. And, with that in mind, I probably won’t miss summer that badly.

So, all things being equal, I’ll probably be out camping the weekend coming after this one. After all, there is wine needing to be consumed around a campfire, marshmallows needing roasting, and fish needing to be caught and fried up. Keep that in mind, since we do like company…

Kusawa Lake campground

August 11

We came out after 5 PM and it was a nice drive. Clara sat on the passenger seat with Furball on her lap as a bit if an experiment to see if he found the trip better that way. Darcy had her seat belt harness on in the back seat. All went reasonably well until the halfway mark when Furball left Clara, headed into the back seat, made a few mournful meows and promptly up chucked.

It took a few minutes on the side of the road to clean up and the poor little guy was pretty clingy at that point. He spent most of the rest of the drive on the console between the driver and passenger seat with his head on my lap. By the time we reached the campground, he seemed much better.

This was a first. He’s normally a road warrior, although he does meow quite a bit on the way. That being said, he normally is rather talkative, since he has a fair bit of Maine Coon in him and they can be rather vocal. I suspect that being on Clara’s lap and being exposed to all of the scenery may have been a bit overwhelming.

We got to the campground and got set up quickly. There were a few things to get done that I hadn’t been able to do at home. We barbecued a quick dinner and settled down for bed at a relatively early hour. First, though, I introduced Clara to the game of Yahtzee. I beat her rather soundly in a few games before we went to bed.

The weather was overcast and it rained a bit. I opted not to set the alarm  in hopes of catching some of the peak of the Perseid meteor shower. I’m hoping for better conditions tomorrow night.

August 12

Today could be summed up in one word: windy. It was far too rough to take the boat out, so we did a few things around the campsite. We read and I took the cats for a walk on their leads. We barbecued dinner. All told, a rather relaxing day.

I did stay overcast again so there wasn’t much hope of seeing meteors. However, it did get up to 23° so it was shorts weather. I’m not going to complain too loudly. There have been many years where I would have put my shorts away for the year by this point so it’s not that bad a thing.

Before going to bed, we discovered that Clara’s skills at Yahtzee have vastly improved and she won the majority of games from today.

August 13

I didn’t sleep well last night, so when 7 AM came around, and it was dead calm, I opted to go back to bed. By 11 AM, it was rather windy.

I did head out with the boat but really only made it as far as the second campground which is still partially sheltered. I trolled in front of it and the first campground loop for two passes, but there were very few fish on the fish finder. The ones I saw were all on the bottom, probably not feeding. I’ll try again after supper if the wind has dropped a bit.

Other than that, we spent the day reading and I took the cats out on their leads. Furball managed get under the motorhome and wrap himself around three struts and brackets before becoming completely stuck. Fortunately, there is enough ground clearance to rescue him easily enough.

I cooked dinner in the motorhome stove rather than barbecuing. It made for a nice dinner and a nice change. The wind did not drop off any over the rest of the day. In fact, it blew a bit harder by early evening. I’m going to have to set the alarm to try for about 6 AM and see if I can get down the lake a bit.

We played five games of Yahtzee. I only won the first one.

August 14

Today started with the wind. Over the course of the evening, Darcy became fixated on a moth on the window screen and tried to go out the screen after it. This involved jumping on me in the process. It took over an hour to calm her down and it was 3 hours before I got to sleep. Yes, I set the alarm for early fishing. No, that didn’t happen.

Because of the weather, we hung around the campsite. Much Yahtzee ensued, with Clara whomping me in some horrible example of how wedded bliss is not supposed to work.

That being said, Clara suggested the improbable  game of sequential Yahtzee, where you get the required matches in order. I clobbered here, including getting Yahtzee in the allotted roll. Try this sometime. It’s a riot.

By after dinner, the wind had died down in front of the campsite, so I did go out for an hour to try fishing at the point and in front of the first campground. I had a nibble but that was all. I am jinxed this year. It has been almost three years since I caught a fish in Kusawa Lake, where I have almost always been successful.

After fishing, I did put some of the campsite away. I figure that that will let me get away a little earlier, since it is Mom’s birthday and I would like to get home at a reasonable hour to call her.

By 10:15, it was starting to actually get dark. There are some clear patches so we may see a meteor or two before all is said and done. I think it’s been too cloudy to see the Persieds here for four or five years.

August 15

No meteors. We get up and headed back. Furball was fine. Darcy rode willingly in her crate along the Kusawa Lake Road. In fact, she walked into it herself. When we got to the Takhini Burn rest area, I let her out and she got into her normal favourite spot on the dash. There she rode like a little sphinx. However, I did learn something just outside of town. Rain landing on the windshield you’re resting against is apparently rather disturbing to little cats…




The leveling blocks

I finally got to building new leveling blocks for the motorhome. I opted for low-tech, and built them from lumber.

I used three levels, rather than the four I was originally considering, each 6 inches longer than the other. I also used preserved wood, although it’s a bit more than is needed since my blocks tend to break long before they rot.


I went with three levels each, since the highest number of blocks I’ve needed was three. Also, if I was to need more, I could place a single block under the new ones.

Also, to keep me from rolling off unnecessarily, I added the 6″ pieces I was going to use as the top level on the end as a stop. You should feel hitting these if you go too far.

So, with the cut ends treated, here is the finished product. Next week, I get to find out how well the work…




First trip to Lake Laberge


Lake Laberge

T’was on the marge of Lake Laberge
I cremated Sam McGee.
– Robert Service


July 27

I had hoped to have far more done before leaving this morning; however, that did not materialize as it should. For example, there was a bit more cleaning in the house to do before leaving, but I was worried about getting a site. Lake Laberge is a small campground, and many of the sites are not suitable for anything other than a car and tent. There are really only 16 sites at the campground and it is close to town and supposedly rather popular.

I did say supposedly. After all, Clara and I have never camped here before. And, for the first two evenings, it will only be me camping here. Clara is going to a funeral on Friday so probably won’t be coming out until then.

I did find lots of open sites, with the first grouping of campsites open other than one site. I found one after a couple of tries, since the first two I did try made leveling a bit of a chore. I still need to develop some better system for leveling the camper. It’s 25 feet in length, which means it doesn’t take too much of a slope to require quite a few blocks under the wheels.

fig 2

The campsite


We chose Lake Laberge since friends were also going there. It’s a rather easy commute to town, about 35 km from our house. One person was working in the daytime so the commute time was an issue.

There are a few things I don’t like about the campground. Sites here are rather small, and I had a choice of leveling the motorhome or putting my awning out fully (see the campsite picture above). I did put it out partially. My other issue is that some of the access roads are quite narrow and sites were harder than usual to back into. The campground was obviously designed for tent camping.

My other big peeve is that there is no wharf for tying up your boat. I have an inflatable and since the lake can blow up quite well, I don’t like it crashing on the shore when it’s just tied up on the beach. The beaches here are quite rocky to add to the problem. The alternative is to launch it every time you want to go fishing and then reload it onto the trailer when you’re done. This would involve breaking down camp since all I have with me is the camper.

However, with the small sites and the small number of places to camp, even though the campground is quite close to town, it should work out to be rather quiet. We’ll see how the weekend progresses.

fig 3

Many sites are quite small.

Weather wise, as I mentioned, today was rather windy. There was no consideration of going fishing.There were whitecaps on the lake and it seemed to have enough energy built up that it wasn’t going to flatten out this evening. The temperature got up to 20° C, so it was pleasant though. And, while the sun came out again after supper, there was light rain in the afternoon.

July 28

 It was a quiet night, despite the wind. That did die down over the course of the evening. I woke, and made a rather nice breakfast.

The wind blew up again, and was even stronger than yesterday. Around 11 AM, I put the awning back up because I was a little worried about the possibility it may get damaged. I would like to replace the fabric at some point, but not until I have to.

Camping at Laberge has reminded me that I have camped in a fair number of the Yukon Government campgrounds. I did get involved in a “How many campgrounds have you camped at?” thing a few years ago on Twitter. I think I really should review the list again:

  1. Lake Laberge
  2. Kusawa Lake
  3. Fox Lake
  4. Twin Lakes (first place we camped with the old tent trailer)
  5. Quiet Lake South
  6. Yukon River, Dawson (first place Clara and I ever camped together)
  7. Klondike River (working an archaeology contract)
  8. Lake Creek (coming back from Homer, AK)
  9. Watson Lake (easy one to remember since I almost broke my hip when the picnic table collapsed on me)
  10. Tagish Lake (before it was transferred to the First Nation)
  11. Wolf Creek
  12. Squanga Lake
  13. Snafu Lake
  14. Kathleen Lake
  15. Lapie Canyon (another archaeology project)
  16. Pine Lake
  17. Tatchun Creek

I should add one or two more, since, if the weather holds like it has the last three years, an October trip to the Takhini River campground sounds like a decent plan. While we’ve passed it numerous times, and stopped to use the bathrooms on the way to Kusawa Lake, we’ve never stayed there. I had wanted to get to Drury Creek campground this year, but the timing never worked out. Marsh Lake is quite close, and we’ve never camped there either. The boat launch is a bit far from the campground, but something may work out.

I went for a walk, about 2.3 km. This was to completely walk around the campground, including the suspicious campsite number 8. This is a nice site, near the boat launch. However, there was a black truck and camper there the other day, although they did leave Wednesday morning. When they left, they seemingly abandoned a Suzuki quad on their campsite. I walked up the Deep Creek Rd. as far as the bakery. I didn’t take my wallet, although I have more than enough baked goods in the camper as is and buying fresh bread to freeze it when you don’t have to makes little sense to me.

It started to warm up a bit during my walk. I’m glad for the wind, since the breeze made it seem a bit cooler. I was breaking a bit of a sweat when I got back to the camper, in spite of the wind.

fig 4

I was glad for the breeze.

After supper, I dropped in on our friends and after a bit, the wind did die down enough to try fishing. It was still a bit bumpy, although we kept to the leeward side of the lake. However, as the evening went on, it became obvious the wind and the lake were going to die off a bit. Neither of us had any luck, even though we trolled for a while and then tried or hand at casting for pike. However, we shall see what tomorrow offers, since it looks like the weather will turn nice tomorrow morning,

July 29

I woke about 9, when friends came over to visit. We followed that with another round of fishing, this time heading north around Richthofen Island. Fishing was not the most stunning. We did see some on the fish finder but they weren’t biting.

The lake was rough, but there wasn’t any wind. There was still a lot of built up wave energy from the wind the days before. We thought we might try across the lake, on the lee shore, but gave that idea up shortly after starting out. Instead, we decided to try the lee behind the island. On the north point, it was rather sheltered. We fished there for four hours but, as mentioned, had no luck,

Once we came out of the lee, we realised it was somewhat windy and had to deal with up to 3 foot waves on the way back. It was slow, and getting the boat onto the trailer was tricky, but nothing too much to manage.

A quick note on the rest of my weekend. When we were on the lake, between the shore and the island, I could get a bit of cell service and got a text from my Katrina that Clara would not be coming out tonight. I guess I’m on my own, and am now trying to decide if I’ll stay out tomorrow night or come back to town. Hmm. There are advantages to going back, but this is the last weekend of my vacation and I really should be catching fish rather than getting stuff ready for work.

The weather today was cooler, with a high of only 18° C and cloudy most of the day. Hopefully, things settle down and we get a nicer day tomorrow, which would also help me make up my mind about what to do. However, I did get a chance to sit down in front of the campfire finally, although there were a few black flies around. My bug lantern was enough to keep them down and I didn’t need to smother myself in insect repellent. However, I do need someone to explain to me why I brushed my teeth and then made s’mores.

July 30

A nice sunny morning, although there is a bit of a breeze. The outside temperature dropped to its lowest I’ve seen in a few months, 6° C. It got down to 10 in the camper. However, it was 17° when I woke so it was actually warmer outside than in. I went out to start the generator to make toast for breakfast and opened the door to warm things up.

Daryl had come to wake me earlier, probably to go fishing, but I had been up a lot last night and just wasn’t into getting up quite that early. I think I was lucky I could haul myself out by 9:30 as it was. I still haven’t looked at the lake so I don’t know how calm it is.

We did go fishing, actually, and it was probably the nicest day on the water this summer. While Daryl caught a single fish, and I only got two nibbles, the water was dead calm and the sun shone. In retrospect, I could have put a bit more sunscreen on; however, it was a nice day to run across the other side of the lake and into Upper Laberge to fish. We came back and tried the side of Richthofen Island as well.

After fishing for four hours, we came back in for supper and then went out again, fishing until 10 PM. It was still calm, and the lake was quite nice. I was really regretting forgetting my camera this trip. After we got back, I sat by the fire for a bit before turning in.

July 31

Where has my vacation gone? This is the last day, and I have to celebrate that by cleaning up after a camping trip. I woke at about 8:30. It was, about 13C with a small breeze. I made tea and started getting things ready to drive home. I will admit that the prospect of the short drive home does appeal to me; however, another trip has come to end and that usually isn’t that appealing.

This will probably be the last time I camp here. It’s simply too close to town, which makes it a prime party spot. I don’t know why people go to a campground to drink. It’s easier and safer to just stay and home and be hammered before 10 AM.

And, if rules aren’t your bag, stay out of campgrounds. For example, quiet hours run between 11 PM and 7 AM and you aren’t supposed to run a generator during that time. I saw one person, in a group of partiers that occupied the four sites around me, wait a few minutes after a Park Officer asked him to turn off his generator, and then take it and a long extension cord and put it across the campground boundary where the rules don’t apply. This doesn’t demonstrate your expert legal prowess. It means you’re a jerk…