Sunday, February 19, 2006

When Will It End? 

More notebook problems. I just spent the last two hours in two separate online support chats with Dell. My notebook won't power up. Prior to calling, I went through all the troubleshooting I could think of.

Unplugged the adapter cord from the wall, the adapter cord from the adapter, the adapter from the notebook, replugged it all and tried again.

Unplugged the adapter from the notebook and tried under battery power.

Plugged the adapter back in, removed the battery, tried on AC alone.

Returned the battery, repeated above steps.

Moved to a different outlet, repeated above steps.

Noted that when I plug the adapter to the notebook, the power and battery lights on the front of the notebook flashes briefly. Noted that anytime the adapter is plugged into an outlet, its green LED is brightly lit. Noted that when the adapter is connected and I press Power, nothing at all happens. Noted that when working on battery alone, when I press Power, the power and battery lights on the front panel of the notebook flash once simultaneously, but nothing else happens.

So I logged onto Dell Online Support and waited 11 minutes for an agent. I then went through the above troubleshooting. Over the next 30 minutes I repeated all the above steps one at a time at the agent's instructions. What a shock - same results. I then searched my apartment for my tiny screwdrivers so I could follow the instructions to reseat my memory and my CD/DVD player. I couldn't find them after 10 minutes, so I had to log off in order to "arrange" a screwdriver. Before I left for CompUSA, I checked the drawers again, and found them. Reseated above components, with no status change.

Logged back on, and was connected with a new agent after 10 more minutes. New agent (Anupama) indicated s/he was reviewing my case notes, and asked about the screwdriver. I relayed my steps and results. Anupama then asked what the previous agent told me. Conversation as follows:

3:28:24 PM Anupama_01117550: [RSLS] I am going through the previous interaction.
3:28:32 PMYou: Okay.
3:30:53 PMAnupama_01117550: What did the previous agent tell you about this issue?
3:32:11 PMYou: That it could be anything loose internally, and to get a screwdriver so I could reseat the memory and the CD/DVD driver. This was after I repeated all the steps I had done before logging on, which I had also described in detail (removing the battery, trying to power with and without the battery while plugged into the adapter, power with just the battery, etc.).
3:32:16 PMAnupama_01117550: All right [RSLS] I went through the notes.
3:32:34 PMYou: So you know what the previous agent told me.
3:33:22 PMAnupama_01117550: yes

Then later in the conversation, Anupama asked me to "please verify the steps." You can imagine my visceral response to this. Good thing it wasn't a telephone support call. Instead of blowing my top and yelling, I was forced to breath for a moment before responding, "Which steps? Everything done so far?"

Anupama wisely apologized and corrected the typing error. The intended request was for me to verify my mailing address. Anapuma was putting in a "dispatch for the motherboard." Again, internal seething on my part. When I got this computer, I paid for the at home service, but so far every time there's been a problem I've had to ship it off to Dell, or they've shipped something to me, and I've done all sorts of pulling and reseating, etc. But it turns out that the dispatch is for a tech to come to my home and replace the mother board. The tech will be calling me in the next two business days to arrange an appointment. Guess I'll be working from home again one of these upcoming days, hopefully this week. And guess I'll be taking notes by hand at school this week. At least tomorrow is President's Day so there are no classes. But that also means it's not a business day, so I might not hear from Tech until Wednesday.

And yes, I back up my school notes onto my Palm after each night of classes, before booting down the notebook, so I have all my semester's notes. I guess that's something.

Posted by Beth Henderson at 3:59 PM
Thursday, February 16, 2006

Death by Starbucks 

Oh no.  Starbucks is at it again.  First they experimented with the uber chocolatey Chantico, which The Guyfriend and I tried and found the first sip to be good, but overall it was just too intense and would be best used as a base for really good hot chocolate.  Just last week Starbucks announced that they were eliminating it from their lineup, but blamed it on control issues of customers.  The spokesperson said something to the effect of it was a really great hit and the customers loved it, but Starbucks customers complained that it only came in one size and had no add-in options.  You see, their customers like to specify size, syrup, caf/decaf, type of milk, extras, etc., but they didn't allow any of that with the 6-oz Chantico. 

Hey Starbucks!  It's not that we wanted to request a frande triple shot, half-caf, soy, no foam, no water added but extra whip Chantico.  It would have been nice to have it in a larger cup that could accommodate the steamed milk that it desperately needed.  I mean, a spoonful of brownie batter is nice, but six ounces?

Anyway, this winter they introduced the Cinnamon Dolce Latte.  Mmm.  Nice.  Definitely to be limited to an occasional treat, however, unless I want to blow up like a balloon.

Now they've just announced their latest – Marble Mocha Macchiato.  It "begins with an intense hit of rich dark chocolate and espresso, and finishes with creamy steamed milk and sweet white chocolate."  Are they trying to kill us?  At least we'll die with a warm, happy feeling on our taste buds.  Must try.  Just one.  Really.  Just one. 

Posted by Beth Henderson at 8:38 AM
Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Office Snacks 

Note that Trader Joe's chocolate-covered, candy-coated sunflower seeds are a big office hit, at least in my office. Note also that although one of my project manager friends convinced one of the programmers that they were candy covered quail eggs, they really don't resemble little tiny bird ova in the slightest.

Posted by Beth Henderson at 8:05 PM
Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Free Credit Report Nightmare 

Now that everyone in the country is entitled to one free credit report per year from each of the national credit reporting companies, The Girl and I went online to Experian last week and filled out the forms.  We figured we'll get this one now, then in four months we'll get our free annual from another company, and then continue the rotation.  The Girl was able to view hers online immediately, and everything appeared to be accurate and in good order. 

Mine didn't go so easily or well.  As part of the online request, they ask you several questions relating to items in your report, and you have to pick the correct answer from a few choices.  For example:  In 1999 you had a car loan from which of the following companies:  Ford, Chevrolet, Chrysler, Not applicable.  Unfortunately, several of my questions appeared to be for items unknown to me.  Because I didn't/couldn't answer their questions, instead they snail mailed a report number to my listed street address, which I could then use to go online and access my report.  The number arrived yesterday (over a week after the online event), and I logged on. 

Ay carumba. 

There are mortgages, loans, credit cards and hospital debts that don't belong to me.  There are joint responsibility parties I've never heard of.  There are "alternate names" that have no resemblance to my name.  There are "alternate Social Security Numbers" that bear no resemblance to mine.  The name of my spouse is not my spouse's name (or gender). 

The part I really don't get is the "alternate Social Security Numbers."  Isn't that pretty much the gold standard of verifying that they're putting the right information in the right report?  Say my SSN is 012-30-4567, and someone, even someone with a similar name, has an SSN of 548-68-9256.  Why would they put their information in my credit report?  This is the level of similarity between my actual SSN and the "alternates" they have listed.

They have a nice "Dispute This" feature online, which I tried to use.  Unfortunately, I got a pop up response that my issue can't be resolved online and I have to call.  Oh, and by the way, you can only call them Monday through Friday, between 9am and 5pm in whatever time zone you happen to live.  I've never seen this floating time zone thing before.  Usually it's the time zone where their phone center is located. 

So now, not only do I have all this crap confusing my credit report, but I may have to take time off from work in order to resolve it.  This seems more complicated than what I could resolve during a 30 minute lunch, and I really can't take a longer lunch if I want to get to school on time.  Unless I get to work early, but given that I already get here at 7 am, I'm not sure how much further up I can push my arrival time. 

This blows.  Check your credit reports to make sure you're not suffering the same twists of fate, idiots and/or scam artists.

Posted by Beth Henderson at 12:55 PM
Thursday, February 09, 2006

Missing the Mystery Chime 

Imagine my distress (or imagine my surprise, for you Holly Near fans of a certain age) this morning when I heard the phantom chime again, put my glasses on to see what time it was and how many more hours of sleep I could have before the alarm really went off, only to discover that it was the real chime and it was time to drag my ass out of bed. 

Posted by Beth Henderson at 8:48 AM
Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Alarming Trend 

Several times recently I've been awakened by the subtle "ding" of my zen chime alarm clock, but have felt just exhausted.  I would stay in bed for a few minutes, wondering why I'm so tired when I went to bed at a reasonable time the night before.  Then after pondering, I would put on my glasses and sit up.  At that point I see the clock on the cable box, only to discover that it's indeed the middle of the night and I only imagined the clock chiming.  But then I'm awake, hoping and hoping that I'll fall back asleep, and that I'll have enough time left to catch some more deep somnolent time.  Invariably it takes me a while, and then it seems that just when I've finally drifted off the alarm really does go off.

This morning it was 3:48 when I heard the call of the imaginary alarm.  Ugh.

Posted by Beth Henderson at 11:15 AM
Tuesday, February 07, 2006

The Shell Word No More 

Yes, I've decided that I no longer need to refer to The L Word as The Shell Word. After watching this week's episode, I've now decided that instead it's The I'm-Going-To-Poke-You-With-a-Pointy-Stick-Just-to-Watch-You-Cry Word.

What is with the characters lately? I don't want to go into too much detail, since The Girl hasn't yet watched it (plus I'm just in a posting backlog in general…), but it's just turning into one big party of pain, misery, jealousy, overreaction, fear, divisiveness and did I mention misery? And just generally bad choices.

But I do have one positive note – and the filmmaker? Mmmm.

Posted by Beth Henderson at 8:20 AM
Sunday, February 05, 2006

Oscar Update 

The Oscar Party invitations have been sent, and yesterday The Girl and I went to see Transamerica and Mrs. Henderson Presents - both fabulous, by the way. Tonight we're off to Capote. Three more down, so many still to go...

Posted by Beth Henderson at 5:03 PM
Thursday, February 02, 2006

L Word - Coming Back Next Year 

Despite the gutting of the characters, Showtime has given the green light to start production on season 4 of The L Word. I have to say, I was happier with their treatment of Moira this week, but I'm completely befuddled by Bette and Tina's entire storyline. Bette really thought it was a good idea to call Tina to consult with her about the Hot Senator's proposition - while still in the Hot Senator's house? I don't know what anyone else thinks, but does this really seem like the best approach for a woman trying to get back into her girlfriend's good graces after having cheated on her?

But back to class for me - this was a momentary time out after receiving the AfterEllen e-mail about the renewal.

Posted by Beth Henderson at 7:21 PM