Monthly Archives: June 2007

Dell: over and out

[A note before I start: the impressions and opinions I’m expressing here are based on Dell’s offerings at the time I wrote this piece. Things will probably change eventually. I really don’t need someone to point to me that “Dell’s 1420n has discrete graphics”. At the time I’m writing this, the 1420n does not have discrete graphics.]

After nine years of being a Dell costumer, I’ve decided to switch. No, I have not switched to a Mac. A nice friend of mine lent me her Mac for the summer. I’ve tried it but did not see anything there that I need and was willing to pay for that Ubuntu on a PC does not already give me. So I’ve switched from Dell to Sager. The Sager brand is not as well known as Dell but I have no reason to believe that this will translate into problems for me. My problems with Dell can be summarized as follows:

1. Dell’s build quality has gone down over the years. I’ve owned 3 Dell laptops over nine years. The first one was very sturdy but the one I currently own had issues from the start and aged very badly. Most of the issues did not prevent me from getting work done but a few of them were major.

2. Dell’s Linux offering is still not to my liking. But Dell offering Linux is better than nothing, right? In theory yes. The problem is that all the laptops they offer with Linux (Ubuntu) preinstalled do not have the options I want. Dell can offer the same model of laptop for Windows and Linux but the Linux version is severely restricted as to what options are available on it. Now, I understand that Dell uses parts that perhaps Linux does not support. For instance, maybe they use a webcam that Linux cannot handle. Ok, what about switching to a webcam that Linux can handle instead of not making it an option on Linux systems?

Ever since I’ve started using Linux, I’ve bought computers that had features that Linux could not immediately use. Typically, a few months down the road an upgrade would provide all the necessary drivers and everything would then be usable. Is that ideal? Hell, no! The ideal situation would be to have everything work right from the start. However, Dell’s choice to achieve that goal is to decide that if Linux does not support option X, X won’t be offered. That’s the wrong solution to the problem. Dell should instead turn around and select brands that are supported by Linux or tell the companies that produce their parts that they have to support Linux or else Dell buy their parts elsewhere.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I sincerely hope Dell’s Linux offerings are good for a certain type of customer. I could see for instance, businesses that want Linux preinstalled but don’t want discrete graphics or webcams go with a Dell. For me, however, Dell’s warming up to Linux is too little too late.

3. If you buy a Dell you must buy an OS with it. If their Linux offering is not to your liking, you must buy a laptop with Windows. And they sell you a crippled license. Dell sells OEM licenses of Windows and those are not transferable to a new PC.

The Sager has all the features I need so that takes care of point 2, partially at least. I could not buy it with Ubuntu preinstalled but I’ve bought it without an OS installed so that takes care of point 3. For point 1, I have to rely on reviews and Sager’s reputation online. Only time will tell whether their build is better than Dell’s but I’m optimistic so far.

Pink kitty

I mentioned earlier that yesterday was my wife’s birthday. The big gift for her birthday this year was an Epson Stylus Photo R380. Yes, she’s that kind of girl (the kind who likes electronics as gifts) and I’m that kind of guy (who is apt to give electronics as a gift to his wife). She had been talking about getting a new inkjet to be able to print photos. We had one that came “free” with the last Dell laptop I bought but it was utter crap. That’s what you can expect with “free” printers.

Anyway, the new printer is good but I found that it has a color balance problem. I’ve been testing it with a of Ice, the best feline companion we’ve ever had, now deceased. Here’s the problem: Ice is white but appears with a pink hue in the pictures I’ve been printing. So now I’m fiddling with the settings to try to see if I can turn off some “feature” which might be messing with the color balance.

The appeal of “plus-size women”


I just caught a glimpse of a show called “Divorce Court”. It seems to be some sort of show where people with marital problems air their grievances in front of a judge. Anyway, just as I come across that show I hear the following exchange. I’m paraphrasing but I think I have the gist here.

JUDGE [TO HUSBAND]: she says you like plus-size women, is that true?
HUSBAND: That’s right.
JUDGE: Why do you like plus-size women?
HUSBAND: Well, plus-size women know how to pamper a man. You know… they know how to take care of their man. Thin women don’t know how to cook. Plus-size women know how to cook. I like my food greasy.

And so on and so forth… Basically, the guy likes plus-size women not because he associates obesity with overindulgent eating habits and hopes to benefit from those habits. And thin women don’t know how to cook. Ain’t that charming.

Before anybody gets the bright idea that I spend my days watching “Divorce Court”, I caught a glimpse of it while I was sorting out my recorded episodes of “Kahani Saat Pheron Ki”. That’s a Hindi show I watch to try to keep my Hindi fresh… somehow. Oh alright, it’s a soap opera… but I watch it for educational purposes! I do have some standards.

Lemon meringue pie

Yesterday was my wife’s birthday. For the occasion, I shook off my laziness and baked her a lemon meringue pie. It was a semi-success. The taste was perfect. However, the pie crust did not turn out well. I made a special crust because my wife and I wanted her daughter (my step-daughter) to be able to have the pie. She can’t process gluten so the usual kind of crust would not have worked.

So I’ve used a crust recipe we’ve often used in the past for making another kind of pie. That’s the problem, in its original context that crust works perfectly but for a lemon meringue pie, it does not work. When the time came to eat the pie, I found that the lemon filling had weakened the crust. I know the crust was fine before I put the lemon filling in. Lesson learned: don’t use the crust for a heavenly silk pie to make a lemon pie.

I also over-whipped the meringue. Not a disaster by any means but it was so stiff that I could not make any nice waves or peaks on top of the pie. Oh well. Tasty anyway and my wife enjoyed a good home-made pie.

Darby Conley hits the nail on the head

I don’t think Conley was trying specifically to comment on online discussions with his last strip. Yet, even if inadvertently, that strip does point out a prominent problem when engaging in discussions on the web. The world is filled with people who like to make outrageous claims, all the while being patently aware that some statements are just not disprovable or are disprovable only with a significant effort on the part of the person trying to disprove them.

Persecution complex

Here is a good example of how Apple fanboys are easily prey to feelings of imaginary persecution. According to the author analysts are dissing the iPhone without good reason. The logic is flawed. It is unfortunately the case that it is easier to spew out faulty logic than refute it and I have no time for refutation so that’s all I’m gonna say about this.

Formula One at last

Since I’ve moved to the US in 1997, I have never watched any Formula One race… until today. Much to my surprise, I found that Fox is broadcasting the US Grand Prix. I knew that the Grand Prix had come to the US and I knew it was being broadcast. However, in past years I found that it was broadcast on channels that require special subscriptions. Those were just too expensive. The only racing I have any interest in is F1 racing. I don’t care about Nascar or any of the other offerings. So I could not justify the price of subscribing to a special racing channel just for F1 racing.

But now Fox is showing it… and in HD no less! Yay!

WordPress is so damn easier to use than Dotclear.

In my previous post, I included an image. Including images in posts in Dotclear was a huge pain in the ass. I had to leave your editor, go into the gallery manager to upload the image, come back into the editor, etc. etc. I also had to be careful about image size: too big an image would screw up the page formatting. In WordPress, you never leave the editing screen and image sizes are taken care of by WordPress. I’m so glad I switched!

Kissing mutants

In our first floor bathroom, we have a poster of the following painting hanging on the wall:

Kissing Angels

People typically understand the picture to be showing kissing angels (and I think that was the intent of the painter) but I interpret it as a picture of kissing mutants. I guess it’s all a matter of perspective.

Apple’s Safari browers is insecure both on Windows and OSX.

People who think Apple is the second coming should read this article. The announcement of security vulnerabilities in Safari was made in the context of the release of the Windows version but those vulnerabilities also exist in OSX. Apple’s software more secure… hmm… yeah, and unicorns too. Choice quote:

Two of the researchers blamed Apple’s “false claims” about security and what they called its “hostile attitude” toward bug finders for the rush to dig up flaws.

Apple surely wins points for its elegant hardware design but that’s the only place where they win points. OSX is a mixed bag: great UI features juxtaposed with inefficient (if not downright confusing) UI misfeatures. Their software is clearly not secure. And they are not your BFF, that’s for sure.

Update: Apple has fixed the security issues. Can’t say they are slow. That’s for sure.