Azure Jane Lunatic (azurelunatic) wrote,
Azure Jane Lunatic

Netbook Crash & Attendant Festivities (including my thoughts on Best Buy)

So I woke up Thursday morning (at an unearthly hour) and found that my dear pet netbook, "Disaster Area", a black Eee PC 900HD that I got last year thanks to a v. nice tax refund (and to supplement Thalia, my patient & aging Dell Inspiron 1000 from 2004), had (as expected) suspended his operations in the night, but (not as expected) would not wake up to mouse-jiggling and key-tapping, despite his power light, his battery/charge light, and his wireless light being on steadily.

Nor did he wake up after I hard-powered him down. His screen stayed the flat black of power-off; his HDD light stayed off. I powered up Thalia, and began a frantic Google chase after what one is supposed to do when one's Eee starts saying that three out of four lights are on, but no-one's home.

Meanwhile, I popped Disaster Area into the freezer, as this is what one does when one has a hard drive failure.

I tried him again, post-freezer. No luck. I grabbed my screwdrivers. There was some brief hilarity as I failed to find the screwdrivers I was looking for; ultimately, one of the changeable screwdriver bits for my big screwdriver proved sharp enough to handle the minute screws of his case. I operated it with my fingertips.

Sadly, when I opened the hatch and had extracted the hard drive and had disassembled my Emergency Laptop HD Enclosure, my enclosure proved to be ATA, and Disaster Area's HD proved to be SATA. (I found this out from looking up pictures; the sticker on his HD snottily said to refer to the documentation for drive specs. Fuck you too, Seagate.)

(By this time it was Sunday.) This avenue of easy work blocked, I debated making the pilgrimage to Fry's Electronics for a suitable enclosure and perhaps the services of one of their white-shirted, black-tied geeks at the repair bench. As Fry's is a good 30 miles distant (the good one; the not-so-good one is more like 25), I decided it would be a good plan to call ahead. Some brief geek-dickswinging later (I passed), I learned that Fry's will not touch an ASUS netbook while it's still under warranty. GOOD TO KNOW. They will, however, helpfully ship it to ASUS for me! But they will charge me for it! I thanked the nice fellow and plunged boldly onward.

Sadly, there was no serial number sticker on Disaster Area's underside, nor was it in the Helpful Introductory Manual. Some weeping and wailing ensued, with assorted comforts from IRC.

I determined to put the best face on it, and to at least do the recommended troubleshooting steps. The internet (one of the gurus on the ASUS help forum) had said to troubleshoot by attempting to start him with every combination of a/c adapter and battery, so that is what I did: battery only, both battery and a/c adapter, and a/c adapter only (which made him look very funny). (I did not try without either, for obvious reasons.) I tried using a pin to hold down the emergency reset button concealed in a tiny hole labeled with a >.< on the underside; the internet said to hold it down for quite some time, so I did this. The only visible effect that had was to make the three out of four lights blink on more slowly.

I located the information to call in, and learned that it would be done faster by filing a ticket first, to which their techs could refer. Good times. This form required the machine's serial number. A shuffling-of-papers ensued, and the warranty card and the original receipt were turned up in the expected stack of papers, although not in the expected drawer containing TFM. (as in RTFM.) A ticket was filed; a call was made (using the headset that sounded like I was under water, as my good headset was nowhere to be seen). (Steph, paraphrased: "Maybe your missing headset is in the freezer. Everything else is.")

Two wrong departments and a lot of hold time later, wherein I read fic on Thalia and chatted with Steph, I finally reached a tech. I could barely hear her. I had evidently done most of my own troubleshooting already, and had documented it sufficient that she did not inquire further. She told me to push F2 upon startup; I had to clarify whether she meant to hold it down, or to push it repeatedly (it was to push it repeatedly). This yielded a flash of the expected O HAI IM BOOTIN UP screen (pre-OS), and then the navy-blue glow of an LCD unit that is powered on but not getting signal. I relayed this.

The tech said that it sounded like hardware failure after all, rather than an LCD problem (she'd thought it sounded like an LCD problem at first) and directed me to take the poor machine to the nearest Geek Squad, who are evidently ASUS-approved techs. (I declined to tell the tech my thoughts on yaoi at this juncture, and meekly agreed.) She summarized our conversation, I corrected that at first the screen had been black-like-power-off, and now the screen was backlit-like-no-signal, rather than in the same state the whole time, but otherwise everything was consistent with c'thia.

My Thoughts on Yaoi: the LiveJournal holiday Best Buy ads.

I shall digress for a brief interlude about Best Buy, having spared the poor tech my commentary on it. This December, Best Buy and LiveJournal colluded to produce one of the most fantastically obnoxious ad campaigns I have ever had the displeasure to encounter. (I do prefer LiveJournal operational rather than defunct, etc.; I can still express my utter loathing of that ad campaign.) For those who managed to miss this, people-who-saw-ads were (at first) treated to their page blacking out, a box popping up in the middle of it, and a selection of actors intended to portray Helpful Best Buy Staff yowling a Christmas carol. Yes, video and audio and inability to actually do the task that you were attempting to do before this ad loaded until the ad was closed or finished. (I think that most of you can take my sputtering and incoherent fury at this as read. This ad hit while I was on vacation, contributing to it not being a particularly relaxing vacation.) Furthermore, it did not play particularly well with tiny screens such as netbooks, and the button to shut off the damned caterwauling was out of sight until the browser window was maximized. People with slow internet connections were SOL, see above about full video and audio loading. (This was later evidently changed to not play until the person pressed something, or not autoplay the audio, or something.)

Being as I'm a volunteer for LJ, I expressed my displeasure in the most direct and sane manner possible: by filing a support request with the facts of the matter and mentioned my displeasure, then promptly moved it into the Ad Feedback category so I wouldn't have to trouble anyone else with the moving of it, aware all the while that it was likely to be seen and handled by people in my man'chi, people who I treasure and hold in high regard. Thus the facts of the matter, and not my utter rage, were key.

Being as there are two parties to every ad, I expressed my displeasure to Best Buy as well. I know of no friends whose feelings I hold in high regard within Best Buy customer service; likewise, I know of no person in Best Buy customer service who would be personally hurt if I expressed my rage. I kept it simple and to the point: while I knew that Best Buy was occasionally unavoidable, this ad campaign dropped them from an acceptable place to purchase electronics, to below Wal-Mart and the guy at 16th and Mission with the stuff spread out on a dirty blanket.

The response I got back from Best Buy customer service was poorly spelled and poorly written, and it told me that the ad campaign was necessary so that I would know when their sales were. HI, BEST BUY. THAT'S WHAT YOU CALL A CUSTOMER SERVICE FAILURE. WHEN A CUSTOMER TELLS YOU THAT YOUR AD CAMPAIGN HAS MADE THEM LESS LIKELY TO SHOP AT YOUR STORE, YOU DO NOT DEFEND YOUR AD CAMPAIGN, YOU TELL THEM THAT YOUR OPINION HAS BEEN NOTED AND PASSED ON TO THE APPROPRIATE DEPARTMENT.

I ate crow, located my good headset (it was on the counter where I set the clean dishes, on the other side from where it usually is when charging) and proceeded with poor Disaster Area to the local Best Buy. Some brief geek-dickswinging ensued (again, I passed). There were some hijinks where the tech attempted to locate the serial number on Disaster Area's underside; I took pity on him as he was taking out the battery and told him it was on the warranty card. (He then ran a copy of the warranty card, at a considerable magnification.) He advised me that they could not attempt to repair the machine on-site ("But the tech said you were an authorized repair location!" "We are, but for this we have to send it in." "Alas.") and I would have to leave a deposit (of the same amount the Fry's tech had quoted to me as the price to ship it in) and assuming it was something that could in fact be repaired under warranty, it would be refunded.

I reassured him that I was pretty sure there was no irreplaceable data on the drive, kissed Disaster Area goodbye-for-now, and finished the transaction.

As I was headed out the door to get back in the car, my phone rang. It was Dad. I told him of my computer woes ("And fixing it is cheaper than getting a new one?" "Given that it's under warranty, yes." "How much does a new computer run these days?") and chatted with Mama for a while.

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