Monthly Archives: November 2007

On procrastination

So  I was on IRC today talking to a guy from the Creative Commons group – always kind of interesting and we shared some common neuroinformatics ground by way of CARMEN (me) and the Neurocommons project (him).

I declared happily after our exchange that this meant that IRC was in fact still useful as a work tool (you will find me on #bioinformatics on and not just a means of diversionary procrastination, at which point one of the other channel regulars posted this informative URL from Psychology Today:

The fact that I subsequently needed to blog about this really doesn’t count as procrastination.  Does it?

Just say No2ID

So finally the No2ID pledges are being called in.  No idea what this means?

“Hello, you have received this message because you signed my pledge, “I will refuse to register for an ID card and will donate £10 to a legal defence fund but only if 10,000 other people will also make this same pledge” back in 2005. In fact 11360 other people also did.”

My £10 is now in the defense fund to fight this stupidity, and as I pledged, I will refuse to register, carry or in any way be part of this nightmare in my own country.

Never signed up but want to donate anyway?  Full details are here.

Cheers Dell!

Well I’m typing this sat down at my new Dell Vostro 1400 laptop, and it would be remiss of me not to say something nice about Dell and the laptop itself.

This is actually my second Vostro 1400 – I bought one a little while ago, and somehow it picked up a dent in the screen.  Whether this was due to my mishandling or a manufacturing error which I didn’t previously notice (it didn’t show up well on my desktop background but was glaring under the bright white of a blank PowerPoint slide) I don’t know.  I was prepared to cough up for the repairs, but placed a call into Dell anyway to see what could be done.

I don’t know what Dell’s home service is like, but this is a Small Business laptop, and the Vostro line has a dedicated point of contact on the phone.  My first call was to report the fault.  My second call was from Dell to let me know that they would have to escalate the call to see if it was accidental damage or not.  The third call was from Dell to say that they would replace the unit for free despite the fact I had no accidental damage cover on the machine.  In the course of these conversations I spoke to excellent call centres in India and the USA with competent and efficient staff –  a stark contrast with my many dealings with Apple.

The laptop was picked up for free, and a replacement delivered in better time than expected, given the 6 week wait for a new build of the machines.  It’s now in my hands, I’m delighted to have it back, and Dell have gone right up in my estimation as a company to deal with.

And the laptop?  First of all – it’s pretty.  Not Apple pretty, but pretty nonetheless.  Much better looking than the plasticised home lines.  It’s solidly built too – it feels rugged.  I’ve eschewed the shiny screen that blights so many laptops and I’m glad I did.  When did glossy screens get so in vogue?    It’s also good value for money – £300 less than an equivalently specced MacBook and with a separate 128MB NVIDIA 8400GS to boot (and is just about capable of running BioShock – and more importantly Portal ;)).

Fine, I’m lumbered with Windows Vista Business preinstalled (but at least I get a CD with it on as well) but this has already been wiped in favour of a dual boot Vista/Kubuntu Gutsy. People may be surprised by this, knowing that I favour OS X on the desktop and Linux on the server, but I’m pretty technology agnostic to be honest and Vista.. isn’t as bad as everyone makes out.  I want to use it in anger a little longer and then do a little comparison with Gutsy  (the release so, so much better than the beta releases!).

But yes, I’m a happy customer.  Now I’m going to reboot into Kubuntu to burn the MSDN downloads of Win XP and MS SQL server that I’m obliged to install in work this week for CARMEN!