Tablet PC

My experience with and about Tablet PC’s.

Computer Down: V – Horrible “Customer Relations”

Micro Computer Systems was open today and I was able to drop off my computer, but not before I made phone calls to Toshiba were I had one of the worst experiences ever.

My issue was this: While I have backups of all my important stuff, there are a variety of things that I would like to try and recover. However, MCS is required (my Toshiba) to return the defective hard drive. I called Toshiba and after being on hold for about 10 minutes, was finally able to talk with someone. With an accent so prevalent in today’s call centers, she informed me that should could not doing anything and offered to “escalate” my call to the next level. The level 2 tech, Marua (or something foreign like that) was very adamant that nothing could be done. When I asked to have my case elevated to the next level, she said I would have to write a letter (um, yea right). So I asked to speak with her supervisor. Apparently she was the CEO of Toshiba because she said that was no one else I could talk with. Her voice began elevate and I immediately asked for her name and some number that I could reference. She did not have an employee number, but did give me the case number, being very careful to give it to me quickly and not repeat it without having me to ask. I began to relate how the customer service representative I talked with earlier had escalated my call to the next level and I was simply asking to have it escalated again. First thing out of her mouth is “customer relations.”

I’m sitting here in the car with my mouth on the floor thinking to myself, did you just fucking correct me?!? You have got to be shitting me!

I then ask her if I am speaking with a customer service rep or a technical service rep. Again she corrects me.

You have got to be fucking kidding me! Let me explain something to you woman, I am the customer, you are the service person. You provide service to the customer and are therefore a customer service rep, no matter what your PR director tells you. Furthermore, under no circumstances, should you EVER correct a customer for calling you something that means the SAME FUCKING THING! (Side note: while at Nordstrom, they mentioned to us, the interns, that while the store is called Nordstrom, some people call it Nordstrom‘s and we were instructed to never correct them)

I start over again, asking her if I am speaking with a customer service relations rep or a technical service rep and she hangs up.

Son of a Bitch.

I paused in disbelief. Rule number one: Never, under any circumstances, hang up on a customer. Rule number two: Never, under any circumstances, hang up on a customer. Rule number three: If you hang up on Andrew Ferguson, you will have hell to pay.

I called Nick Lew, the technician at SAAS, to see if he had any ideas. While he had no ideas, he provided me with some valuable information about the process as he worked at MCS prior to SAAS.

So, I called Toshiba back and promptly explained that the last person had just hung up on me and that I would like to speak with an American. The closest they could get was someone from Toronto, that was fine. I explained my situation as before, although this time I added that I had classified information on the hard drive that needed to be removed before I could release the drive. Someone was finally able to explain that I was going about it the wrong way.

“No” is a fine answer as long as you can explain why you are saying no, this person did.

Less then a minute after I hung up with Toshiba, Ed from American Data Recovery called. I explained my situation to him and said that it probably was not worth trying to recover the data.

I had no choice but to concede. Ed was right and after an hour and a half on the phone I was sure there was nothing I had overlooked.

I turned off the car and walked back into MCS turned my Tablet over.

It might be ready as soon as tomorrow, hopefully.

[tags]Toshiba, m200, tablet pc, repair, customer relations, customer service, horrible, bad experience[/tags]


Computer Down: Part IV

Despite the fact that today is in fact, a federal holiday, I was hoping that Micro Computer Systems would be open; but they were not. So now I must wait 24 hours or so before I can go get it fixed.

[tags]Toshiba, m200, tablet pc, repair[/tags]


Computer Down: Part III

Hell of a way to start off the New Year, eh? Anybody know the recovery rates of head crash’s?

As I figured, MCS wasn’t open at 9:30 on a Sunday night. But they do open at eight in the morning (although their website says 9…hmmm)! Hopefully they’ll be open despite the fact that it is a holiday.

In the meantime, I’ve been having to sit on my hands and that is just frustrating. So I headed over to Quinn’s and watched Sin City and Donnie Darko. I was going to watch another movie, but Quinn said he wanted to go to bed because he starts school in two days. I took Chasing Amy with me and just finished that.

Less then three hours until they open…I think I can make it.

[tags]Toshiba, m200, tablet pc, repair[/tags]


Computer Down: Part II

I’ve been on the phone with Toshiba for the last 15 minutes or so (I’ve never had a more scripted conversation). My computer is still under warranty (until Oct. 2007, baby) and I can either send it in to the depot or take it to my local Toshiba rep. Based on Tracy’s experience, I’m opting to take it to the local Toshiba center, Micro Computer Systems, Inc.

I’m calling them now.

[tags]Toshiba, m200, tablet pc, repair[/tags]


Computer Down! Computer Down! Oh Shit!

I think my computer’s hard drive just got shot. It made this weird noise, then the computer beeped twice, and then the hard drive just locked up.

I think the arm of the hard drive locked against one or more of the platters.

I have most of my data backed up or online, so it’s not the biggest deal in the world, but it’s still going to be a hastle to get fixed and I would like to be able to recover all of my data.


eBooks in School

I went into the Campus Bookstore to buy some 0.5mm pencil graphite and ended up chatting with Ann Fraley, Barnes & Nobles VP Stores for Territory 4 for the better part of 15 minutes (Full Disclosure: the CSM Campus Bookstore is operated by B&N).
I asked Ed Showers, who runs the bookstore, about eBooks (I use eBook to mean any book that is available electronically). Ed directed me to Ms. Fraley, who was standing next to him. Here’s the low down:

  • Pearson Education (parent company of Prentice Hall, “the world’s largest publisher of academic and reference textbooks”) is pretty much the only publisher who produce eBooks.
  • McGraw also produces some eBooks, but to a much lesser extent.
  • In order to get access to eBooks, the course instructor must explicitly allow the bookstore to sell them
  • Most eBooks are only accessible through the web.
  • Some eBooks allow printing, but only a set percentage of the total pages (e.g. 30% of the book)

I’m now going to email all my profs for next semester and have them allow access to the eBooks.

[tags]colorado school of mines, college, tablet, barnes and noble, electronic book, ebook, McGraw, Pearson, Ann Fraley, Ed Showers, for Robert Scoble, for Gary Anderson[/tags]


ViewPad 1000

On my way through security, I saw a guy (I’ll call him Ben) who had a ViewSonic ViewPad 1000. I almost took a picture of it, but decided against it because TSA doesn’t like people taking pictures on their turf.

I asked Ben about it. The conversation went something like this:

Andrew, “Is that a Tablet PC?”

Ben, “Yea, it is.”

Andrew, “That’s cool. What kind is it?”

Ben, “It’s a ViewPad.”

Andrew, “Do you like it?”

Ben, “Yea!”

Andrew, “How old is it?”

Ben, “It’s a little old. 900MHz, 30GB Hard Drive, 512 Ram, WiFi. But it’s solid.”

Andrew, “That’s cool.”

Ben, “ViewSonic is actually refurbishing them now, too.”

Andrew, “Really?”

Ben, “Yup.”

Andrew, “Yea, I have an M200, Toshiba M200.”

Ben, “Cool.”

Andrew, “Yup. Well, thanks!”

In case anybody cares, Ben was having his bag wiped down for a mass spectrometer test (because everyone knows what that is;-)).

[tags]toshiba m200, viewsonic viewpad 1000, tablet pc, tsa[/tags]


Tablet Writing Gig

In person, I’ve always raved about my Tablet PC. However, for what ever reason, I don’t really talk about it on my site very much. I think it mostly has to do with the fact that I view my site as more of a place to let you know what’s going on in my life, not really as a place to convince others to do what I do. One of the blogs I enjoy reading is Student Tablet PC, and now I’m a writer for them. I literally sent an email to Tracy and a few hours later, I had an online interview of sorts with Tracy and her cohort, Trevor. The interrogation interview last the better part of an hour using AIM chat. We talked about everything from my thoughts on Tablets, to what what I’d like to see in the future, school loads, how many credits we could take at our respective schools, and so much more. Tracy and Trevor really seem like some cool people and I think I’m going to enjoy working with them. I digress. They’re going to test me out for a few weeks and see how things go and I really couldn’t be more excited.

I really enjoyed writing for The Oredigger last year, but it really wasn’t the best venue for me. And if you were to go look back at what I wrote about, you would see that they were, for the most part all technology related. So hopefully, STP will be a better fit. I’m not quite sure how often I plan to contribute, however I’m hoping for at least once or twice a week. So stop by Student Tablet PC and check it out.


Ken’s Lenovo Tablet PC

On Laura’s suggestion, I went to Circle K yesterday. Ken Melby was there and he had his IBM Lenovo ThinkPad X41 Tablet PC. My immediate impression was “way cool.” It’s a little smaller and a little lighter than my Toshiba Portege M200. Both screens are 12.1″, measured on the diagonal, however Ken’s screen resolution is 1024×768, compared to my massive 1400×1050 (my only gripe being that it’s a non-standard resolution). Lenovo gets cool points for their fingerprint scanner but looses some points for not including a Windows Key. What’s up with that? I use my Windows Key quite a bit and would definitely miss it on a Lenovo.

I’m not looking for a new computer (and I won’t be getting one for at least two or three more years), but it’s good to know that Lenovo has a good design in hand. However, I’m still waiting to see if Apple is going to join the Tablet market. And now that Apple has gone Intel, I’m even more excited to see if Intel’s codename Robson project will deliver what it claims to do: cold boot in just seconds. Now that will be awesome!


How to Save Money as a Student with a Tablet PC

From The Student Tablet PC:

In the course of four semesters, assuming a tablet costs ~$200 more than a similarly equipted notebook, the tablet will break-even or save you money. This is not including productivity gains.

Let’s do some math. In the course of 2 years taking an average or 4 classes or so per semester:

  • 4 semester x 4 Spiral Notebooks, $6 x 4 = $24
  • Pens/Pencils/Highlighters, $5 x 4 = $20
  • 4 semseters x 4 Binders, $12 x 4 = $48
  • 2 years of binder separators tabs and folders, $102 Ink cartriges of printing, $70
  • Loose paper (printing and lined), $10
  • 2 years x Quality academic planner, $20

Grand total after 2 years: $202

You can see the numbers I used are about average, so anything high quality or extra will just increase the cost. If you take more than 4 classes, that’s just more to spend.

I’ll probaby spen $40 on papers, pens, printer ink over 2 years and I take 5-6 classes per semester.

So if you’re looking for a laptop and X’ed tablet PCs because of the price jump, now’s time to take another look.

I would argue that you could save even more. How? Books. You can easily spend $600 on books per semester. Yes, you can resell them at the end and maybe get half of what you spent on them back. At least at my school, there are copies of the books floating around school, either the library has them or the department has them. If that fails, you can either borrow them from a friend or, as a last resort, buy them from the bookstore and return them when you’re done scanning. In any event, just go borrow it for a few hours and go on a massive scanning binge. Voila! Scanned books in whatever format you choose. Personally, I would go for the Microsoft Document Image format. It’s pretty portable and you can mark it up.

At this point, I may have convinced you that you can save money, but how much money can you save? I’ll be honest, I dropped about $2200 on my Tablet. But that’s the price for getting one early in the game. Toshiba sells their Satellite R10 for a mere $1,189. Granted, it’s bottom of the line. But it’s a Tablet and it works. Now personally, I would spring for the Toshiba Tecra M4 ($1,614) or even my Portege M200, now selling for a lowly $1715. Spending $600/semester, you can “pay it off” in under three semesters (1.5 years)!