HP Pavilion Slimline: Designed by Rube Goldberg?

A few days ago, a client called me because the power supply in their computer was dead. I picked up the computer and confirmed that the computer still worked and all I’d need to do is replace the power supply.

Easier said than done.

In order to remove the power supply, I had to remove: the HP Pocket Media Drive Bay, the hard disk, the front panel, the optical disk, the cage that holds them both, the media reader, the graphics card and …….. the motherboard. Well, I could have left the motherboard and removed the CPU and fan, but I didn’t want to deal with the heat paste later on.

Let me summarize that.

In order to replace *just* the power supply, I had to take apart the whole computer.

Whoever came up with that design: you must be stupid, stupid, stupid.


Dell.com is down?!

I’m rebuilding a client’s Dell Latitude D630. Everything is going well, but I can’t access their site to download the drivers.

I was able to download the ethernet driver, but after installing that, i’ve been unable to connect since to download other drivers.

Can you connect to Dell? It’s been over 12 hours….

Plea to computer manufacturers: Stick with standard components!!!!

Personal Computers are not that complicated. I mean, there’s a box with stuff inside: motherboard, memory, graphics card, sound card, networking, USB ports, some hard drives and optical drives, and …….. a power supply. Plug them all in the right way, press the “On” switch and you have a working computer.

PCs are made from standard, off-the-shelf parts. You can pick the ones you want. ASUS motherboard, nVidia-based graphics card, Western Digital hard disk, etc. And you could upgrade or replace a bad component at any time.

But then you’ve got companies who want to improve on that design concept. And by doing so, they ruin a good thing by designing non-standard parts that are only available through them.

In the last year, I’ve had several clients call me with dead power supplies for various reasons including the above. Each time, I confidently told them, “No problem. I’ll pick up your dead power supply, take it to the local computer parts store, get a replacement, put it in and we’re done!” But, at least twice, it wasn’t so easy. And now a third time.

I had two clients with Dell computers with dead power supplies. But, the power supplies were *not* standard dimensions. I took them to the store and said “Gimme one of each of these” but they just shook their head and said “Call Dell.” Famous last words. Without all the gory details, it took 4 months and two letters to the CEO (which were never answered!) for *any* kind of reasonable response. And, yes, this meant the client had no computer for four months!

Now I’ve got the same problem with an HP desktop computer. Luckily, I have a spare one so I was able to swap out the power supplies until the new one can be ordered, but that’s not gonna happen every time.

So this is why I ask manufacturers to please, stick with standard components. Failure to do so just makes people frustrated with you when something needs to be replaced.


Transfer Outlook to Mac (iCal, Address Book)

A recent client bought a new MacBook Pro. She asked my help in moving her data from her old Acer to the new Mac. Simple enough, right? Ummm, yeah.

I was able to move her documents, music, photos, etc. with no problem. But, she used Microsoft Outlook. While my every fiber wanted to run screaming, I had to contain it and assure the client, “Yeah, I can do that.”

Straight to Google and I found many, many things to try. Exporting from Outlook is awful because the file formats it exports to are …. well, useless, really. There were suggestions to import Outlook into Mozilla Thunderbird, but that did nothing for the calendars, plus it didn’t seem to work 100% with the contacts. Not sure why, but I didn’t spend much time worrying about it. I tried using Windows Mail (Vista) and Windows Live Mail. That also didn’t work for me.

Then I remembered something I had read about a week or two ago: MobileMe for Windows. I started to think about it but was worried about using my MobileMe account information and mixing my data with the client’s data. But, then…..

Remember the scene from How the Grinch Stole Christmas when the Grinch finally understands Christmas? I had a similar dawning, without stealing any trees.

iTunes and iPhone.

I picked up my spare iPhone 2G, plugged it into the old Acer. Launched iTunes and told it to sync Contacts, Calendars, Mail, Bookmarks, and Notes.

When it was done, I moved over to my MacBook Pro, used an account I created specifically for the client, attached the iPhone and did a Merge. Voilà!


I love it. The best way to export data from Microsoft Outlook is by using Apple’s iTunes with an Apple iPhone/iPod. Sweet.