Tina K. Russell

November 6, 2008

Don’t buy from Gateway

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — Tina Russell @ 6:12 pm

I sent in my beloved tablet computer back to its manufacturer, Gateway, on Monday, October 20th. I had no other choice; even though I depend on my computer, I take notes on it, I use it to make art, I keep track of my life on it, I use it to read, I use it to write, and so on, it was falling apart. The computer I bought from them, the Gateway C-140X, had a wonderful feature set, but its build quality was terrible. In the end, after less than a year of usage, it had accumulated these problems, all through normal use:

  1. The rubber feet had all fallen off
  2. The magnetic latch would not close
  3. One of only two USB ports had come apart
  4. A dead pixel had appeared on the monitor, or possibly a speck under the glass (somehow)
  5. The fan sometimes made a horrendous grinding sound
  6. The plastic swivel hinge had broken, meaning the monitor half could not stand up on its own in laptop mode
  7. In a month, the battery life had adorably plummeted from more than two hours to less than half an hour
  8. In a grand finale, the laptop had begun having the problem I like to call “proper alignment of the planets,” where charging the machine becomes harder and harder until it finally will not charge at all. In these cases, the machine must be repaired as soon as possible or the motherboard will be permanently damaged.

I delineated each and every problem to Gateway tech support over the phone; in fact, I called the following day and asked them to read the list back to me to make sure they had everything. (They did. Actually, I think they may have missed the dead pixel, but they assured me that they would check the machine top to bottom and fix any problem that appears.) You’d think that with eight individual problems, they would have no trouble finding things to fix; all you’d have to do is attempt to put it in tablet mode, or attempt to close the lid, or, for that matter, attempt to plug the machine in or turn it on, and you’d find problems to fix right there. And, with two weeks to work on it—I sent it in via three-day air, so they’ve had from Thursday two weeks ago to today—you’d think they’d be able to get it back to me in tip-top shape, or at least send me a refurbished unit while they fix mine up for somebody else.

Today, not having seen my beloved tablet for two and a half weeks, I called Gateway to find out what happened to it. They let me know right away: just today, they’ve sent it back to me. It should arrive on Monday. What’s more, he told me, they couldn’t find anything wrong with it.

They’re sending it back unrepaired.

Never mind the fact that I delineated each and every problem to them over the phone and made double-sure they had it all. Never mind the fact that it had so many problems, there’s no possible way you wouldn’t be able to find one. What really burns my pancakes is that they took two weeks not to find anything wrong with it. Apparently, blithely ignoring blatant, crippling problems takes time.

When I get my computer back Monday, I’ll try it out. If it, miraculously, works—if that fellow was wrong—and all eight of those problems have been fixed, I will made an addendum to this post and perhaps even revise the title. If it does not, I will ask for a new computer; I’m not sending mine back until I have a working one in my hands.

For now, I will advise you this: do not buy from Gateway.

August 13, 2008

More on Apple

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , — Tina Russell @ 7:26 pm

Cory Doctorow, in an interview with the Chicago Tribune:

Hypertext – The wide world of the web | Chicago Tribune | Blog
What looks bright and shiny today…

Absolutely. I mean, I was a long-time Apple customer and I think one of the great geniuses of Apple’s industrial design is their capacity to ship designs that at the moment they ship, look absolutely futuristic and eighteen months late look completely disposable and played out. And I think that makes you feel better about throwing them away. iPods? I have a phone in my pocket that’s been in my pocket for a year and doesn’t look like its been through a rock tumbler. But you buy an iPod and you stick it in your pocket for ten minutes and it looks like you’ve been sanding it with a belt sander. And I think that’s because in six months it’ll have three times the capacity and cost half as much so you don’t want to feel guilty about putting it in the trash.

It’s design obsolescence.

Yeah, planned design obsolescence.

I don’t hate Apple… I want to emphasize that the consumer electronics and software industries could learn massive heaping loads from Apple, and that if you’re simply aping Apple you’re probably doing better than 99% of the companies in your field. I simply do not think their white rectangles are orgasmic conduits to pure joy. I’m rather concerned about one company controlling all the music players and the music stores. And, I’d really like to buy devices meant to last long-term, not ones I’ll feel ashamed to have the next time Steve Jobs takes the stage.

On a related note: does anyone know of any particularly open-source-friendly portable media players? If you know of one that plays Speex audio, I may die happy.

(Mr. Doctorow, incidentally, is a hero of mine. His speech on DRM at Microsoft is seminal.)

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