Month: December 2006

My Last HP Computer

I don’t think I will ever buy a Hewlett-Packard again!

After looking around, I decided on an HP laptop that I found at Circuit City. It was fully featured, but at the same time the price was very reasonable.

The model: dv9010us

The outside was sleek and shiny, and it just looked impressive. I really liked the bright shiny 17″ screen and the keyboard with the 10-key. I was a little apprehensive about buying another HP after mine just quit on me, but after all, mine was 2 years old. I also noticed that they had moved the power connection from the back to the side. Maybe it was improved to avoid issues like my old one.

Everything was great until I started using the CD burner. Of course, with new laptops, you don’t get any hard copies of the software; you have to burn backup DVDs just in case. The first DVD burned just fine with no problem at all. The second one did not! The first try failed part way through leaving me with a coaster. The second try, the same thing happend. The third left me with three wasted DVDs and no alternative.

So, I called HP technical support, and talked to a very nice representative. Although he tried to sell me the extra warranty, he also helped me with my problem. He logged into my computer and watched me try it again. Of course, it worked for him with no special tricks.

Next, of course, I tried to install Linux. I downloaded the 6 CDs for Fedora and attempted to burn them. But, I could not, for the life of me, get the first one to burn. The computer came with Sonic, which was easy enough to use. I double clicked on the iso file, and then, told it to burn the CD. After the first one failed, I changed the maximum speed to 16x. But, again it failed.

So, back to HP support I went. The person had me right click on the CD drive in My Computer and check to make sure that CD burning was enabled. It was — no fix. Then, she had me check the services panel to see if the “IMAPI CD-Burning COM Service” was running. Before I could check it out, I received an important phone call, and I had to tell her that I would call her back. None of the technicians that I would talk to later knew anything about the service that she had me look at.

The next person’s conclusion was that my media was bad. I had used that batch of CDs in my old laptop with no problem. They were 52x Memorex CDRs. But, the technician claimed that you could only use HP or Sony CDs with the CD burner.

So, off to the store I went to get some CDs. I was low on time, and Walmart was the only thing I could get to during my lunch break. The only Sony CDs they had were CD-RW, which actually was great since I would not have to waste the CDs each time I tried.

The next technician walked me through burning just a basic CD with some pictures on it. Of course, it worked for her! I later determined that it was probably because the CD was not very full. I had trouble later when I tried to burn a CD to backup the all pictures on the laptop including the ones the technician tried. The complete set of pictures almost filled up the CD and did not successfully burn. That technician’s conclusion was that I needed to pay extra for the next level of support so that I could have someone teach me how to burn a CD. I asked to talk to a manager, and had to press the issue. We conveniently got disconnected when she tried to transfer me.

I called back to talk to the next technician and immediately asked for a manager. This technician insisted that he could help. He offered several suggestions that would just prolong the pain. His last suggestion was to restore the laptop back to factory settings. I, of course, had a few things to save before I could even attempt that. He also said that if it did not work he could send me a new CD drive in the mail. But, the drive would not get there for 2-3 business days, and I would be gone on a business trip. When I got back from the business trip, it would be too late to return the laptop to Circuit City.

Final conclusion, return the laptop. Even if I did get a new CD Drive, it would probably be refurbished. Would it work? Was the CD Drive the problem? Could it be the mother board or the hard drive? I did not want to spend the rest of the laptop’s life on the phone with HP.

The technicians were probably the main reason I felt I needed to return the laptop. While they said they could fix the problem, they were not convincing. They retried things that a previous technician had already tried. If they were purposely double checking the result, they did not give me any indication. None of them seemed to know what an “ISO” file was — they only knew how to burn pictures or documents. Finally, while the one technicians insisted that they had a process that they had to go through, I could see no pattern or process in the things they were trying. They did not listen very well and were very quick to jump to the conclusion that I was doing something wrong whether it be what I was doing or the media I was using.

So, I don’t plan on buying another HP any time soon.

The Beginning

The genesis of this blog is a crashed laptop and a new laptop. This blog will tell the stories of getting Linux to work on the new laptop.

Hopefully, my struggle will help others who might follow in my foot steps.

Here is what happened:

Two years ago, I purchased a new laptop as a Christmas present from my wife. We kind of found the breaking point in the price and bought a nice HP laptop. It was rather large and heavy, but that was okay. It met all of my needs.

During its life, the laptop only had a few issues. Not too long after I got the laptop, the battery went out. I happened to be on a business trip, and after spending a while on the telephone, HP finally sent me a new battery to the hotel, and it worked fine ever since.

After the warranty expired my dogs stepped on the keyboard and popped the cover off of the O key. You never know how many words have O in them until you can’t properly press the O key. I took the laptop to Best Buy, and while they said they weren’t supposed to, they tinkered with it until they were able to snap the key back into place.

The only other minor problem with the laptop was that at some point, the hinge on the screen cracked. You almost wouldn’t notice it except that sometimes it was hard to get the screen to stay at the angle that you wanted. So, it was no big deal.

But, then the power cord quit working. I left the laptop plugged in and on the counter. I came back latter only find it off, and the battery was dead. The first time I thought was a fluke, but it began to happen more and more often. I would be working on it and notice that it was on battery power while I had it plugged in. I could just unplug it and plug it back in to get it to charge again. But, finally, the battery gave out. The battery would not charge, meaning that when it disconnected, the laptop turned off immediately.

I asked a few places including Best Buy, and they all wanted about $200 just to send the laptop off. None of them would work on the laptop in-house. Actually, while waiting in line, there was a lady in front of me with a different HP model that had the exact same problem. The $200 was too much for me to pay for a 2-year old laptop, especially when that did not guarantee that it would be fixed.

And so, the saga begins