King of Excellent (according to Scaryduck)

Thursday, September 18

In the land of the broken laptop

I've always said I won't do laptops. The fact they are pretty well un-repairable, un-upgradeable, and un-user friendly means that as an engineer they are a nightmare. The problem is I've let one or two through, and now find myself an 'expert' in laptops. This doesn't, however, make me a miracle worker.
The general market for laptops is hot. Teenagers want them because they look cool. Adults want them because they take so little space. I don't want them, because when they break they break catastrophically.
This week, for example, I had a call...
"You know the laptop you got my son for his birthday?"
"Yes. The one he got last month..."
"He's dropped it. The screen is all broken. Is it covered by the warranty?"

Need I say any more?
I also have in my possession another common fault...
"Can you have a look at this laptop. It doesn't seem to be charging."
"You mean the one with the gnarled up power connection?"

The problem with these is they are repairable. The screen normally costs about £150-£200 but on a new laptop it's difficult to get. The power connection only costs a few pounds, but getting to the joint to resolder it is a royal pain in the bum, and half the time the board is physically damaged so replacing the socket doesn't help. The one thing that I am happy to do with the latest influx of work is software related.

When you buy a car, you wouldn't be impressed if they told you what engine size you want, or if it only comes in a colour they have on their shelves. Well this is what we do when it comes to the new operating system. Vista is still an incredible burden. I have, in the past week, twice had a "Vista is broken. Click here for it to repair itself" message.

Both times, it didn't. Both times, the customers didn't have recovery disks. Both times, they lost all their data because Vista had cattled the drive. Both times, I put XP on instead. I have recently dabbled with making XP look like Vista, and have a very passable simile by the time I've finished. And the customer's happy because the thing is flying.

And then they take it home, put it on a desk, where it would be better, cheaper and more reliable if they had a desktop PC in the first place.