Sunday, June 10, 2018

Dell laptops … You might want to read this before buying one …

I have a rather nice little 13” 2-in-1 laptop from Dell … the kind that folds over and lets you use it as a tablet. This is so inconvenient that I do not recommend you bother with it as the laptop is too big and heavy to be useful in that mode. Tent mode is a bit more interesting, in that you can sit the laptop on a table like one of those image frames that play a list of files in a loop. I like that feature for tethered studio shooting, where images pop up as soon as Lightroom has them so you and the model can both wee them.

So I have been fairly satisfied with the Dell laptop, despite ending up using it very sporadically because I did less location shooting, and it is just an awkward size. Screen too small to use for development, and laptop to big to use instead of a tablet.

But it has found a home running my mimi-man-cave, where I sit to work quite often. It’s job is to be a small main monitor and run a second huge monitor so I can display windows containing my main machine, my Windows work laptop, and my Mac work laptop.

This arrangement works surprisingly well. I am beyond pleased.

BUT! I like to listen to music quietly while I work, so I tend to wear headphones (some very nice Audio Technica M50’s I bought used very cheaply on eBay) and I like them to sound good. Dell is known to have problems keeping the sound flowing on their headphone jacks, and this laptop gets into that state all too often. I got it working and enjoyed the sound for a couple of weeks until the next Windows 10 update came along and torched it again. The Dell support assistant software won’t even install, as it claims this is not a Dell or Alienware laptop.

I have followed all the instructions and reinstalled the appropriate Conexant audio drivers again and again, but the audio will not start up again. This may eventually repair itself (I have had that happen once or twice), but I am at my wits end. The last step to try is to blow away everything on the laptop and reset to factory. This belongs in the “ARE YOU F*CKING KIDDING ME?” category of support instructions, and to me is a desperate plea for a decent software team. I’m sorry, but this is completely unacceptable. It is a simple device (audio port) in a device designed to run Windows 10, and there is no reason why the drivers should fail so regularly. Just none at all …

Anyway, I cannot condone the purchase of a Dell laptop under any circumstances. This is not the only model that suffers this issue as I have found instructions for others online in my search. Momentum is a problem for me, but I am pretty sure that in less than 3 months this laptop will be someone else’s problem (if forced to reset to factory, I will never again use it).

You have been warned …

Friday, April 13, 2018

Intuit’s Quicken Cash Manager 2016 seems to be nothing but a cash grab where Canadian customers are concerned …

I’ve been railing against incompetence in its many forms for years now, but Quicken has my blood boiling today. I have not downloaded my accounts for a while now, so I thought I would do that and perform some analyses and such. Well, Quicken’s latest trick is to force you to log into Quicken even though you paid for the application and it is sitting inside your own network where it is relatively secure.

But it’s not like you have a choice, because you cannot FRICKEN import your own data without logging in!

And it gets worse … you cannot fricken log in because the app is completely broken!!!!!!!!!

UPDATE: After a lot of searching, I finally got instructions that kind of worked. Somehow I managed to get what is called the “Mondo” patch to update my version of Quicken to something that understands the latest Quicken formats from banks (see how they do that?) and it worked. I was able to create a new Quicken account because they detached from the Intuit accounts (but of course I signed up for Mint, the Intuit account management service before I found the right instructions) …

What a mess … Quicken should take a good hard look at the competence of their product managers and developers …

Monday, March 12, 2018

Published in the Ottawa Citizen on Thursday, 15 March 2018


Thanks go to Robbi Hay, editor of the Ourtown section of the Ottawa Citizen for publishing one of my images to celebrate the tenacious end of spring …