Simon's Blog

Mostly tech related stuff.

Impressed with Dell support!

I’ve bought stuff from Dell over the years and my run in with their support a few years back helped in finally switching me totally over to Apple Macs.

So they lost a customer back then, due to how I was handled. I should stress that as long as I didn’t have to deal with support the hardware was worth the price. But the possible stress of it happening again wasn’t worth it.

My wife on the other hand still has her PC from back then and has bought two Dell monitors since that fateful three months of pain.

So fast forward to the present. One of the monitors die. I go through all the steps on the website, trying to solve the issue before dealing with support. No joy. :(

So I ring support expecting being put on hold, transferred all over the place and having to repeat my details over and over, and do stupid steps that anyone who listened to the problem wouldn’t ask me that.

Instead the first person I talk to after getting my details asks me this:

“To save time, please tell me what investigation you have tried yourself so far?”

It sounds obvious enough, but I was blown away by this comment. Instead of asking me stupid flowchart questions, they wanted my opinion of what I did!

So I explained everything I had done so far from the web site. They then thanked me for doing a very well detailed investigation before calling. Now, instead of further trouble shooting there was no messing, they explained a new monitor would come in a day or so and they would pick up the broken one a day or two after that.

They then asked me how was my call. I explained I got mis-routed at the beginning, they apologised and gave me a direct number (which I could not find on the web site at the time) so that I would not have it happen again.

It was like night and day compared the travesty years ago.

They even followed up more then once to make sure everything was fine.

So kudos Dell on a support call well done. What was interesting for me (that I took from it), Dell had lost me as a customer previously. If I still used windows stuff, they could possibly woo me back. My wife is still Windows orientated so she is thinking about a new Alienware machine . What might push her towards Apple though is Windows8.

So often I have to sit back and watch misinformed/incorrect troll for hit stories being posted on a ┬áso called tech blog. While I can correct the information, I am not in the position to do it (on behalf of my employer). To be honest I am not sure why I even read their blog anymore, it isn’t like there is anything of worth in the areas I am interested in.

I do take contention however when the bullshit is directed at me though as an individual. To obviously try and goad me into saying something which can then be used against my employer, for more hits.

I am sure the person in question will read this, so this is really to let them know that the only time I’ll be typing in their URL again will be in my hosts file.

My Macbook Air just won’t let go.

I am in the process of resetting my Macbook Air 2011 so that I can resell it. However trying to do this is trying my patience.

So first I could not get the recovery disk to reinstall. It kept coming up disk is locked. After much messing around I found that I had to delete the Bootcamp partition while inside OSX, then resize the partition there.

Once I did that the recovery disk allowed me to erase the partition completely and create a new one (format) before running the reinstall.

However it said “14 hours to complete”. So I just left it running overnight.

I wake up this morning to find that somehow the Air is now back to the state when I first started. The only thing I can guess is that it somehow detected the Time Machine backup on the network and restored from that after resetting.

So I have to go through all this again. :(

Creative Thinking Techniques

This is a presentation I did a few years ago and at least once a year since then. I have now converted it over to Prezi format for your enjoyment.

Trying to push my MacBook Pro to the limit.

I recently upgraded my Mac Book Pro (Fall 2011) to 16GB. Just day to day work I get 0 page outs. But I also have a lot of memory just sitting there idle.

So I am attempting to see how far I can push it. At the moment I have the following setup running and the machine isn’t even breaking a sweat. Note: Picture does not show all my other day to day applications running outside the VM.

Topology of MBP layout.

The plan is to set up multiple partition servers with cluster on the Windows VM, along with another Domino server to run as another domain. After that if I am bored I’ll stick on Sametime server. :)

Life without Flash.

Using flash on the Mac has been for sometime quite painful. Even a trivial flash app will bump the CPU up, and most times causing the fans to kick into overdrive.

On a Macbook Air, it is quite painful to listen to the machine screaming because someone sent me a link to some cat doing something funny.

I’ve noticed since getting the iPad there is very little if any website that requires me to have flash to view it. So I removed Flash from my Mac to see how I get on (as well as Silverlight).

Overall I’ve found that I don’t need it. Youtube works for the most part. Some videos fail to load, although not always due to the video.

Some sites that I found working on the iPad failed horribly with “You need Flash” messages. Changing the USER-Agent string to mimic an iPad, these sites worked again by switching over to HTML5.

From the Silverlight end, only Netflix is the site I’ve come across that becomes non-functional.

So from my experience, Flash is not a needed to enjoy internet media.

Siri revisited

Further to the prank I posted the other day with Siri, further testing it appears calendar entries are also open for abuse without having the passcode access to the phone.


“Change Meeting this afternoon” (I only had one).

“Change the location to You will never find the room”

A slight issue using Siri

Holding in the front button will activate Siri. The phone stays locked but you still have some access to stuff.

Some fun things to discuss with Siri..

“Hi, please set an alarm for 2am every morning”.

“Remind me every 15 minutes Do not leave your phone unattended”.


I wanted to set up an SVN that writes to a mounted DMG file. So that I could easily copy the files to a USB key and not have to worry about someone easily reading them (using GPGTools).

I found a great tutorial on setting up an SVN server on OSX. Went off with only one hitch. That being I had to make sure that the svnroot folders had full access for the SVN account.

Creating the DMG file was easy enough as well (Diskutility). I created an encrypted DMG file and stuck it in the SVN account I set up.

As for auto mounting, there is a handy tool called Lingon. Using that and the following command line meant that the my DMG mounted.

echo PASSWORD | hdiutil attach /Users/svnacc/svnStuff.dmg

Although svnserve can launch before the mount, it doesn’t check until you try to access the repository and you are logged in at that stage.

Still alive.

Just insanely busy these days, both in and out of work. Quick catch up.

Still ongoing, but I find EverNote is painful to write into. So I have a text file with all my notes so far. Just need to covert over to Evernote. I am contemplating just doing this in an NSF and dig out/create an EverNote bridge.

Work is always busy, but more so at the moment as I have holidays planned soon. So it is planning of the holiday outside work/inside so that transition doesn’t impact anyone. *phew* On top of that usual extra-cirruclar stuff in work (which is eating into my side hobbies).

Constructive time wasting.
I recently joined StackExchange, so as to track Notes/Domino issues. It actually makes problem solving fun, and like the forums allows to keep track of what people are doing with the product.

New Toys
I plan to get a new iPad after my holidays, or more likely August (as that way I don’t have to pay for it. “No, you buy it!” – Wife :) ).

Got a new 4S. I like how they localized Siri for Ireland, so that when you talk to it that it feels like you are trying to explain something to your old Irish mother*. Siri seems more intent on telling me what it can’t do then helping, although the reminders is very handy.

I also got the GoPano lens for the iPhone. Tested it on the iPhone4 and the video was dire. Thinking it was processor/camera issue I tested on the 4S and the quality is just as bad. Also it won’t let you take 360 degree photos. I can only assume all the high quality videos they have on their site are using video cameras, not the iPhone.

* Talking to my mother recently on the phone, she was trying to relay details I had to take down without success. So I suggested she text it. My suggestion was followed up with various beeps as she was typing it onto the phone and then a comment of “it isn’t working”.

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