Dell XPS 8930 Woes

As much as I would like to say my experience with the new Dell XPS 8930 tower computer has been uneventful, I can’t say that and regret this purchase after my experience with Dell support and their attempted repair. The issue started at the end of May when the built-in SD Card reader quit working. I had just used it the week before to inventory a bunch of cards I had lying around. And better to know I can reformat them in the camera without worry I that had not yet imported them into Lightroom. The only updates applied to the system through Windows update or the Dell Support Assistant application. One of the Dell updates, probably the Bios, made the card reader quit working. On June 6th, I called Dell support and they had me try things and one was to kick off diagnostics on the card reader through the Support Assistant program. The test failed and Support made a remote connection to my system for further troubleshooting. By the time support gave up, the card reader could not even be located by Dell Support Assistant diagnostics as the device no longer showed as a testable device. Support left me to try a system restore to try and bring the device back. That effort was a no go initially, as Windows wanted the system is a special boot mode to do the restore. Once the restore was complete, still no card reader. I felt sort of abandoned by Dell Support and they finally sent an e-mail inquiring on the situation and I responded that the card reader was still missing. They gave me the last option of sending it in for repair stating the motherboard that provided the connection for the card reader was bad and would be replaced. I sent the computer to Houston for service and status updates were nil until they had the device several days. Finally, the status moved to diagnostics and repair phase and stayed in this status for almost a week. Finally, I get notified that the repair was complete and the system was about to be shipped back.

I got the system back on Monday, July 6th, and reinstalled my data drives. Upon booting the system, I was greeted by the initial Windows 10 setup prompts as the OS had been wiped and reinstalled. No biggie, I had my data drives and backups if needed. The real shocker here was all of the Dell provided support programs like Waves Maxx and Dell Support programs like Support Assistant were no where to be found. I visited Dell Support on the web and there were no needed driver updates, so I decided to test the SD Card Reader. I inserted a card and waited for Windows to recognize the card insertion only to never have that notice appear. I go to the Dell support website so I can get Support Assistant back and open it so I can check the card reader diagnostics, guess what? The card reader is not detected and therefore not present in the list of devices Support Assistant can troubleshoot. This is my photo imaging workstation and loses a lot of convenience when I have to give up a USB 3.0 port and deal with an external reader. All of my previous builds, I bought 3.5″ internal readers to mount within the front bays on the case for convenience and not dealing with an USB reader.

At this point, I am beyond frustrated. I read the Dell repair sheet that came back with the computer and it says they replaced the I/O daughter board for the card reader. Unless my 35+ years of being an IT guy supporting desktops from before Windows and now as a senior forensic analyst for a fortune 50 insurer has left me brain dead, there is no daughter board to be had on this computer. The only thing I can think they may be referencing is the actual card reader slot itself which is directly connected to the motherboard and provides nothing but the connection for the card via the slot. Unless I am mistaken, the brains for the reader are on the motherboard as support stated several times that the reader was part of the Intel chipset.

I vented with a #dellsucks tag on twitter and got the attention of @DellCares and now I have new support ticket. Not sure what they think I am going to do to assist them. I am pretty disheartened with my efforts and the non-repair of the system after shipping it to them and waiting. While some may think I am just using this experience to bash Dell, I have a Dell XP laptop that I was still using to program Ham radios until I virtualized it in May. I use a Dell Precision dual Xeon system as my on-net corporate forensics tower at work and it’s been very reliable and the company has moved from HP’s to Dell for all our endpoint PC systems. Other than quirks trying to boot systems via USB Linux so I can get a forensic image of the internal drive, these systems have been pretty solid in the first year of the transition. I guess the biggest unknown for me now is trying figure what Dell is going to want me to do next. I honestly don’t have the patience to deal with the situation and have bought a USB card reader so my photos can get imported. If Dell doesn’t offer a solution that requires more than minimal effort, I will investigate returning the system as defective to Costco or let the Costco concierge team deal with Dell to get a replacement.

UPDATE:

As I stated, @DellCares opened a Dell Service ticket for me on the matter and I checked the status and asked for an update today, only to check the ticket a few hours later to find it closed. WTF #DELL. #DELLSUCKS more and more each day I deal with this no service response. @COSTCO needs to step up to the plate and make it right or quit selling #dell. I get your a large behemoth that probably doesn’t give a flip about the consumer market, but when I spend my hard earned money on something I expect it to work; especially if I have made the effort to return it for repair and it comes back still broken. #DELLSUCKS I am in #DELLHELL! (and I didn’t even know about Jeff Jarvis until I googled how bad Dell’s customer service reputation actually is.) @DellCares on twitter responded to my most recent post and DM about the ticket getting closed and this is what they asked:

DellCares

Hi, I am sorry for the confusions. Let’s run diagnostics on the system to check for any hardware failures. This video will guide you: https://dell.to/2WCTgwk. If you see any errors, capture images and share them with me. Note: Keep the charger connected to the system during the test. Also, click ‘No’ when prompted for extended memory test. -Pratheepan.

My Response: “If you go look at the ticket support closed without speaking to me, you see I posted screen captures showing Support Assistant can’t do a diagnostic on the card reader because it doesn’t seem to exist as a hardware device anymore. It doesn’t show if I say show hidden in device manager. I am not trouble shooting it anymore. Please have a Dell support manager contact me.”

Dell Response:

DellCares

I am extremely sorry for this inconvenience. Please allow me few minutes to get this reviewed with the experts. -Pratheepan.

Here is the information from the service request opened by DellCares. I am pretty sure the the numerous null entries is Dell’s way to keep their entries private, but still use the same support ticketing system as normal request. That is not very transparent if you ask me.

Almost as soon as I asked for the update, the request was closed. I made a couple more social media post about the lack of customer service from Dell.

UPDATE 2:
So, I decided it was probably in my best interest to resolve this issue before I get an ulcer or have some other stress related illness set in. For $50, I was able to upgrade my warranty be on-site after remote diagnostics. Once I could see the new warranty was in place, I made the call to Dell Support. The tech I spoke with saw the closed social media initiated ticket and re-opened it. I did not have to go through all of the diagnostics and other steps to confirm the card read was not working. He took my word for it and set me up for a visit from a repair technician, which was scheduled the next day. While my initial visit was estimated to be between 9am to 1pm, it ended up being more like a 6pm visit, but the technician either called me or sent e-mails to keep me updated throughout the day. Kudos to Curtis from Worldwide Technical Services for his efforts and installing the replacement motherboard while I bent his ear talking about forensics and computers in general. We have both paid our visits to state prisons to do tech work in our careers. Once the replacement motherboard was in and various connections remade, the first power up had me a little nervous as booting Windows failed, but that was expected as the new board needed the service tag and other information to configure the initial boot. Second time is a charm and I was prompted to login; all the drives were present and everything looked good. The final test was inserting a SD card into the internal reader… and it took a few seconds for Windows to prompt me what I wanted to do. I opened file explorer and the SD card was there and I was able to read the contents in file explorer without issue. At this point I am happy I spent the money to upgrade the warranty, but Dell should offer to compensate me in some fashion after the experience of sending the system in and the repair not being made the first time.

Get The Scoop on Facebook Ads

I recently started getting inundated with ads for Lightroom presets and Photoshop overlays and actions when on Facebook. They all purport to be worth several hundred to over a thousand dollars in value. Intrigued by one ad offering $694 worth of these items for $19, I followed the link in the ad to a myshopify site where the price was actually listed as $29. I went back to Facebook to report the ad as misleading and during the process Facebook offered a menu option to review all ads by this advertiser. I clicked the link to view all of the ads and saw where the collection was not only being advertised for $19, but also $14 and $29, all for the original $694 package. Clicking on the ad with the $14 price tag took me back to shopify where the exact same product was offered for $14. Part of me says this is just wrong, but the capitalist in me says – get what the market will pay.

Now the good part of all of this is I did a little digging to determine how I could use the Facebook ad library to view other advertiser’s ad feeds without having to go through the report an ad method. First, you need to know the advertisers ID number. This is a long number like “368333793192753” that is part of the ad code itself, but you have view the source of the web page to locate it. Once you see an ad you are curious about, right click on the ad company name, which should be at the top of the ad, and select the “inspect element” option. Don’t be intimidated by the split screen that appears in your browser. Now, look for the ID #. It should be right after /page.php?id=___________ in the highlighted text. Now take the URL I have below and copy and paste it into your web browser address bar at the top. Before hitting enter, go to the end and back space over the existing ID number and type in the one you want to view and press enter.
https://www.facebook.com/ads/library/?active_status=all&ad_type=all&country=US&view_all_page_id=368333793192753

You should now see something like this for the advertiser. The sample I have used seems reputable as the pricing offered is reflected across all of their recent advertisements.

Once you paste and hit enter this will be the URL you wind up on if you use my example. https://www.facebook.com/ads/library/?active_status=all&ad_type=all&country=US&q=Bellevue%20Avenue%20Photoshop%20Actions&view_all_page_id=368333793192753

I guess this could be useful if you think you may have missed a cheaper opportunity to take advantage of a time limited deal. As for these packages, I have ordered a couple but haven’t installed them yet. I will be curious to see if they are the same or similar presets between the two or perhaps just renamed stolen commercial presets and overlays. The real kicker would be to find that these are actually legit and actually do something worthwhile in Lightroom and Photoshop.

Nigerian Grant Scammers

Originally a Facebook post and note.

So a friend’s Facebook account got counterfeited (duplicated and made to look like her messenger account) and started contacting me over messenger. So I played along, while making contact with her via another comms channel to verify and let her know. Starts off simple enough; then there is a reference to some money via a grant. A quick Google turned up it was indeed fraud. So, I shared to link to my server in hopes they would follow it and let me see their source IP address. They took the bait and wouldn’t you know that my friend from Clayton is hitting my web site from Lagos, Nigeria. Sadly they dropped off before the details could be gathered on how the scam worked. I decided to tell them their game was up with me using Google translate into Huasa. My guess is they send a bad check that makes me lose funds, or they want upfront funds to make the grant application go through. So always be aware and note that anyone offering you money via a “social private grant fund” is probably sitting behind a computer half a world away who just wants your money. Hopefully the messenger images are in order.

Even after this conversation, the scammer uses Facebook messenger again the next day and provides a number a should text for my grant.

This is a log of my SMS text conversation with a Nigerian scammer… that was a result of getting a Facebook Messenger message from an account made to look like an actual friend’s account. That activity is recapped here.  “You Said:” is my portion of the conversation and (501) 215-5475 said: is the scammer.  Based on all caps and the speed at which responses were made, I believe they were using copy and paste.
You said: My FB friend Elizabeth said to contact you at this # concerning a grant I could get. My name Tim R. Brown, Tuesday, June 5 2018, 5:09 PM
(501) 215-5475 said: HELLO, GOOD DAY I’M , THE AGENT IN CHARGE OF THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT GRANT FUND, PLEASE HOLD WHILE I RUN A CHECK FOR YOUR INFORMATION ON OUR DATABASE, Tuesday, June 5 2018, 5:15 PM
(501) 215-5475 said: DO I HAVE YOUR ATTENTION SIR?, Tuesday, June 5 2018, 5:19 PM
You said: Hi, yes., Tuesday, June 5 2018, 5:20 PM
You said: Im here, Tuesday, June 5 2018, 5:21 PM
(501) 215-5475 said: CONGRATULATIONS!!!YOUR NAME QUALIFY FOR THE SOCIAL PRIVATE GRANT FUND. THIS IS A PROGRAM SET UP BY THE GOVERNMENT WITH THE HELP AND SUPPORT OF THE UNITED NATION TO HELP THE PEOPLE PAYING THEIR MEDICAL BILL, STARTING THEIR OWN BUSINESS,BUYING A HOME. COLLEGE / SCHOOL FEES E.T.C,THE TRUTH IS,MANY PEOPLE AREN’T EVEN AWARE THAT THE SOCIAL PRIVATE GRANT FUND, THE GOVERNMENT DOES NOT KNOCK ON YOUR DOOR TO OFFER YOU FREE MONEY.WE EMBARKED ON A WORLDWIDE PROMOTION FOR DEAF,HEARING,RETIRE AND WORKERS,WE ARE UNITED POWER TO SUCCESS AND FOCUS FOR YOUNG,OLD,RETIRE AND WORKERS IN THE COUNTRY,SUPPORTED BY THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT.YOU MAY BE ELIGIBLE EVEN WITH BAD CREDIT OR BANKRUPTCY, YOU NEVER HAVE TO PAY BACK.., Tuesday, June 5 2018, 5:23 PM
You said: OK, there has to be a catch…., Tuesday, June 5 2018, 5:24 PM
(501) 215-5475 said: I’M THE AGENT IN CHARGE OF YOUR CASE FILE AND I’LL PREPARE YOUR GRANT CERTIFICATE FOR YOU ISSUED WITH THE NECESSARY SIGNATURES FOR AUTHENTICATION. DO YOU UNDERSTAND?, Tuesday, June 5 2018, 5:25 PM
You said: Sure do i need notary?, Tuesday, June 5 2018, 5:26 PM
(501) 215-5475 said:
OK,NOW YOU WILL HAVE TO FILL OUT SOME INFORMATION NOW SO WE CAN PROCEED…
FULL HOME ADDRESS..
SEX..
AGE..
BANK NAME…
MARITAL STATUS..
PHONE NUMBER(TEXT)..
EMAIL….
MONTHLY INCOME..
OCCUPATION..
OWN A HOUSE, IF NOT STATE OTHERWISE..
YOU WANT CASH OR CHECK..
You said: Ok, I will make document and send you link., Tuesday, June 5 2018, 5:29 PM
(501) 215-5475 said: ALL I NEED FROM YOU NOW ARE ANSWERS TO THE ABOVE QUESTIONS, I AM UPDATING YOUR DETAILS DIRECTLY ON OUR DATABASE RIGHT NOW, OK?, Tuesday, June 5 2018, 5:31 PM
(501) 215-5475 said: DO YOU UNDERSTAND SIR?, Tuesday, June 5 2018, 5:32 PM
You said: Yes, will start now…, Tuesday, June 5 2018, 5:32 PM
You said: 118 Cherokee St Boone, NC 28607, Tuesday, June 5 2018, 5:33 PM
You said: Maile, Tuesday, June 5 2018, 5:33 PM
You said: 24, Tuesday, June 5 2018, 5:33 PM
You said: Wells Fargo, Tuesday, June 5 2018, 5:33 PM
You said: Married, Tuesday, June 5 2018, 5:33 PM
You said: 919-789-1009, Tuesday, June 5 2018, 5:34 PM
You said: 1,800/mo, Tuesday, June 5 2018, 5:34 PM
You said: DJ, Tuesday, June 5 2018, 5:34 PM
You said: Rent, Tuesday, June 5 2018, 5:34 PM
(501) 215-5475 said: Cash or check sir?, Tuesday, June 5 2018, 5:36 PM
You said: Ooops fogot that one. Cash, Tuesday, June 5 2018, 5:36 PM
(501) 215-5475 said: YOU HAVE TO HOLD SO ALL YOUR INFORMATION CAN BE SAVED INTO OUR DATABASE SO THAT WE WON’T DELIVER THE GRANT TO THE WRONG PERSON AND WORK WILL COMMENCE ON YOUR DELIVERY IMMEDIATELY., Tuesday, June 5 2018, 5:37 PM
You said: OK, Tuesday, June 5 2018, 5:39 PM
(501) 215-5475 said:
NOW YOU ARE TO CHOOSE THE AMOUNT YOU WISH TO CLAIM FROM US,
HERE ARE THE LIST OF CASH YOU QUALIFIED FOR
YOU PAY $600 AND GET $90,000.00
YOU PAY $1,100 AND GET $120,000.00
YOU PAY $1,650 AND GET $140,000.00
YOU PAY $4,000 AND GET $200,000.00
YOU PAY $8,000 AND GET $350,000.00 (BONUS GRANT )
GRAND PRIZE
NOTE;YOU ARE NOT PAYING TO GET ANY MONEY,THE FEE ABOVE IS FOR YOUR SHIPPING FEE AND CASE FILE,AND DELIVERY TAKE UP TO 24 HOURS.
CHOOSE THE CASH LIST YOU WANT TO APPLY AND YOU WILL PAY FOR THE SHIPPING FEE TO THE FINANCE AGENT IN CHARGE OF CASH, YOUR MONEY WILL BE DELIVER TO YOU AT YOUR DOORSTEP
(Tuesday, June 5 2018, 5:42 PM
You said: That is a decent return for my investment., Tuesday, June 5 2018, 5:43 PM
You said: but I am strpped for cash until friday., Tuesday, June 5 2018, 5:43 PM
You said: If i commit what do you need from me today, Tuesday, June 5 2018, 5:44 PM
(501) 215-5475 said: IF PAYMENTS CAN BE DONE TODAY YOUR MONEY WILL BE DELIVERED FIRST THING TOMORROW MORNING.OK?, Tuesday, June 5 2018, 5:47 PM
You said: But what if I cant give the $600 today, Tuesday, June 5 2018, 5:48 PM
(501) 215-5475 said: IT DEPENDS ON HOW MUCH YOU CAN SEND TODAY TO PREPARE YOUR CASEFILE, SO THE MONEY WILL BE SAFE AND WONT BE RETURNED UNTIL YOU ARE READY TO CLAIM IT., Tuesday, June 5 2018, 5:50 PM
You said: I make an iuo for you http://98.26.67.124/content/iou.docx, Tuesday, June 5 2018, 5:51 PM
(501) 215-5475 said: WHAT DO YOU MEAN SIR?, Tuesday, June 5 2018, 5:53 PM
You said: muna ƙoƙari ya lalata ni? Abinda na samo ku ya biyo ni bari in kama adireshin IP naka a Najeriya. Yanzu zan mayar da shi zuwa FBI inda na yi aiki a kan Cyber ​​Squad. Wataƙila ya kamata ka koma aikin daga ofishin ofisoshin saiti., Tuesday, June 5 2018, 5:53 PM
(501) 215-5475 said: SIR, I AM A MAN OF INTEGRITY AND I HAVE BEEN KEEPING UP TO MY JOB, I AM 59 YEARS OF AGE, I HAVE A LIFE AND OUR COMPANY HAS HELPED ALOT OF LIVES, I WONT WATCH YOU CALL ME NOR MY ORGANIZATION SCAM, DO YOU UNDERSTAND?, Tuesday, June 5 2018, 5:54 PM
You said: Ok, whatever you say. You are in Nigeria at IP address 105.112.44.43 NG,Nigeria,LA,Lagos,Lagos,,Africa/Lagos,6.4531,3.3958,0 The same address you used yesterday while in IM on FB., Tuesday, June 5 2018, 5:56 PM
(501) 215-5475 said: BECAUSE WE MADE IT LOOK THAT WAY, WE DIRECTED IT TO AVOID TRACKERS AND SCAM, Tuesday, June 5 2018, 5:57 PM
You said: Ok, whatever you say…. PSFU getting all logs and IP addresses as I type., Tuesday, June 5 2018, 5:58 PM

Bike Brands and Conglomerates That Own Them

The list below was quickly assembled from Google and sourced back to the respective company website, but it should not be considered an exhaustive list.  I decided to put this list together to look at the bicycle market and how it seems like there are fewer choices in today’s market.  There is also the proposed tariffs here in the U.S. on the imported bicycles from overseas.  While this Bloomberg report covers that angle pretty well, you have to wonder what it means the American bicycle market.  Will the tariff make it much more expensive to pick up a kid’s BMX bike from a big box store or make the price of the average entry level road bike increase by 25%?  I guess we will have to wait and see on that, but I won’t hold my breath while we wait to see high end mountain or road machines being manufactured here in the U.S. due to the tariffs.

Accell ASI* Dorel Cycleurope Pon
Haibike
Winora
Batavus
Sparta
Koga
Lapierre
Ghost
Raleigh Diamondback
Tunturi
Atala
Redline
Loekie
Fuji Bikes
SE Bikes
Kestrel Bicycles
Breezer Bikes
Oval Concepts
Phat Cycles
Tuesday_Cycles
Cannondale
Schwinn
Kid Trax
Caloi
Mongoose
GT
Fabric
Sugoi
Sombrio
Charge Bikes
Guru
Bianchi
Dbs
Everton
Gitane
Kildemoes
Monark
Crescent
Puch
Spectra
Tec
Peugeot
Definitive
BBB Cycling
Cervélo
Derby_Cycle
Faraday
BikeNED
Gazelle
Santa_Cruz
Union
Raleigh UK
Univega
Rixe
Kalkhoff
Focus

*Owner of Performance Bike stores

Note: Pon has offered to acquire Accell, which would certainly make the others look at each other as potential buyers, but the tariff situation could make for an interesting outcome for all of them.

So which bike brands are not owned by a conglomerate?

  • Trek
  • Specialized
  • KHS
  • Kona
  • Colnago
  • Pinarello
  • Merida
  • Ok, I give up. Check this Wiki list for another few 100