New Foreigner Book!


a few hardcovers and pbs available from Closed Circle, signed. Latest: Moonlover and the Fountain of Blood, Jane Fancher short story. Chernevog, part 2 of the Rusalka trilogy co-written by CJ and Jane; and Orion's Children, a tetralogy from Lynn.

They’re sending the guy back with the mobo…

He’s not happy. He’s complaining how much time he spent on us.

But hey, we want what we want.

And if his company isn’t paying him for his time, that’s between him and his company.

45 comments to They’re sending the guy back with the mobo…

  • It’s not his place to complain, especially in front of you. You pay for an in-home service contract with Dell. That means he’s required to do what it takes to fix the computer in your home. If there is some reason why he can’t, then that goes into other areas.
    I’d give a call to Dell, or perhaps write a nicely worded letter to the corporate office describing this guy’s visit and perhaps a warning that if Tech Support sends this knucklehead to your house again, you will not allow him anywhere near the inside of your house. This is totally unsatisfactory and should not be tolerated from any representative of Dell. When you consider how long you’ve been a Dell user, this is the very treatment that turns people away from the company. Perhaps wording it such that Dell gets the message that they are not the only computer manufacturers in the world, and that if they intend to keep you happy, they’ll uphold their part of the contract.

  • CJ

    Joe, re your computer problem: try removing the battery, letting it sit an hour, then bringing it up without the battery installed, just on the power cord alone.

    • they don’t make it easy to get those things out….well, at least it wasn’t the CR2032 with the tabs that have to be soldered (and desoldered)onto the motherboard.
      It’s out, I’ll let it sit for a while, at least an hour, since I have dance lessons tonight and leave in about an hour and a half…’ll give the computer time to bleed off any capacitance that might be lingering in the components.

      • paul

        Funny you should mention… I believe some MoBo’s are using capacitors. The Japanese have developed some 1 farad capacitors. That’s a tremendous amount of charge, for special applications.

        In my college physics class the brought out an oil-filled capacitor that was built into an “aquarium” 2′ square and 10″ thick, which they’d charged. We were told it amounted to about 0.2f. The prof took a 2′ long screwdriver with a shaft of 3/8″ square steel, plastic handle, and shorted the terminals. Sounded like a gun going off on the classroom, and chewed a notch out of the steel! 😉 Impressive, obviously. 1f would blow yur socks off!

        • which is why you don’t mess around the back of the old tube-type television sets. The high-voltage tube acts as a capacitor, it can pack a wallop. I’ve heard of guys getting severely hurt if they touch that tube.
          We used to take small capacitors, maybe 100 picofarads, charge them up with a 9-volt battery and then toss them to some unsuspecting sailor, “Hey Smith! Catch!”

          I took out the old CMOS battery 4 hours ago, came back and plugged in the power supply, pushed the old power button, and nothing. I have not put the new CMOS battery in yet, since CJ suggested not doing so until after I try powering it on. I’m not sure if it would be a waste to try it with the new battery installed.

          • paul

            @joe: I believe CJ is correct. The battery provides a trickle of power to keep CMOS transistors “set”. Powering it without the battery would mean if you did get it to wake up, success in this case, it would be pointless to set the BIOS parameters, but the system should run.

  • Good luck with your computer problems, CJ and Joe both.

    My Wacom tablet and my iMac keep having trouble talking to each other. I’ve tried swapping it to another of the USB ports, but no luck. – And then I noticed a certain someone, he-whose-middle-name-is-Trouble, apparently went gnoshing on the gods-be cord. The little imp is lucky he didn’t get hurt by doing so. — So, I ordered a new tablet, which has arrived but which I’ve not yet installed. I expect no difficulties, and hope the new one has no such problems.

    Both cats have lately taken to *walking across (and on!) the keyboard* when they want attention, or just to mess with me when going about their business en route to the window sill or a corner of my desk. This, despite repeated loud and adamant statements of protest, displeasure, and colorful verbage from the human, who remains intent upon having a working keyboard and documents without, ah, feline editorial content. — I would go for a water pistol or sprayer, except it’s the computer and keyboard, plainly. — Most assuredly, the two feline denizens know what the heck they are doing. I think they’re doing it at least in part for a joke, to mess with me, as well as to see if they can get what they want. — But danged if I’ve thought of a way to discourage them so far. — A cover would only be useful when I’m not using it, and typically, then it’s off altogether.

    At least it’s not dull around here…. 😀

    • chondrite

      Bad ol’ puddies… A sovereign remedy for cats with bad habits is the brief application of compressed air from one of the dust-off cans. You don’t need to point it at them, just a quick burst apparently sounds like the World’s Biggest and Meanest Cat, who does not approve of what they are doing. They get the hint quick.

    • WOL

      I hear you. I have a half Siamese (the wrong half obviously) and half Godknows kitteh who “digs” on the leg of my desk and/or “the kitty equivalent of whines” like a thwarted 2-year-old. It’s called “Guess what I want done ten minutes ago now”. He periodically kills toys for me and then sings triumphal arias about it as he carries it up and down the hallway. The move this May will be his second one. He’s the only one I have left of the three I moved here with 13 years ago (he’ll be 15 in July).

  • CJ

    We’ve just learned an interesting fact: new computers now have USB 2 and USB 3 ports, and USB Sata ports. If you plug the wrong device into the wrong one, bad things can happen—and worse, the ‘wrong’ devices ‘fit’, unlike anything else in computer history.

    Isn’t this sweet?

    • hmmm, because I’ve got the UPS data cable plugged into the USB SATA port on my laptop….so far, no adverse effects…..maybe I should check it out further….

    • Teegan

      I had no idea that SATA & USB were plug compatible! They look so different that it never occurred to me that it would work. One learns something every day if one pays attention, I suppose.

      • paul

        @Teegan: They are NOT “plug compatible”.

        • CJ

          Mine has SATA-USB symbol on one socket that will take either. I hear rumored that the difference is the pin-length of the plugin device. That seems a bit scary to me! The other has 55USBsymbol lightningsymbol.
          The ports on the right side are on the motherboard; the ports on the left [ a 55USB and a straight USB] are on a separate card.

        • Walt

          CJ is right. It’s an emerging standard, pushed by the SATA people, but ignored by the USB people:

          “eSATAp (also known as Power over eSATA, Power eSATA, eSATA/USB Combo, eSATA USB Hybrid Port (EUHP)) is a combination connection for external storage devices. An eSATA or USB device can be plugged into an eSATAp port. The socket has keyed cutouts for both types of device to ensure that a connector can only be plugged in the right way.”

          “As the port is designed to work with both SATA and USB, neither organization has formally approved it. USB-IF states it does not support any connector used by other standards, hence such ‘combo’ ports are to be used at one’s own risk. As of 2011 the organization responsible for the SATA specification, SATA-IO (Serial ATA International Organisation), is working to define the eSATAp specification.”


          • CJ

            It’s the ‘at one’s own risk’ part that ticks me off. And it may have been responsible for my problems…

          • Walt

            But that’s the USB people saying that about the SATA (pre-)standard. Cum grano salis–or, addito salis grano, if you prefer.

      • paul

        SATA, Serial ATA, is an in-the-box interface for HD and CD/DVD drives to the MoBo. A picture of the plug is here. The corresponding connectors on the drive look like this. See the Wikipedia page here for the gory details. SATA has replaced the older PATA, Parallel ATA, HD/CD/DVD interfaces in all newer equipment.

        I believe what CJ meant is that there are “containers” for SATA hard drives that have a built-in adapter to an external USB interface. This, of course, is a USB plug. Not at all the same. 😉

    • paul

      Sadly, that’s not a unique one-off.

      DELL was responsible for a truly evil piece of misengineering according to Scott Meuller’s Upgrading and Repairing PC’s, 19th Edition, pg 955.

      “It seems that when Dell converted o the ATX motherboard form factor in mid-1996, it unfortunately defected from the newly revised standard and began using specially modified Intel-supplied ATX motherboards with custom-wired power connectors. Inevitably, it also had custom power supplies made that duplicated the nonstandard pinout of the motherboard connectors.

      “An even bigger crime than simply using nonstandard power connectors is that only the pinout is nonstandard; the connectors look like and are keyed the same as dictated by true ATX. Therefore nothing prevents you from plugging the Dell nonstandard power supply into a new industry-standard ATX motherboard you installed in your Dell case as an upgrade, or even plugging a new upgraded industry-standard ATX power supply into your existing Dell motherboard. But mixing either new ATX board with a Dell supply or a new ATX supply with the existing Dell board is a recipe for silicon toast. How do you like your fried chips: medium or well-done?”

      Needless to say, those of us who’ve come from the personal computer “hobbyist” movement of the late 70’s and early 80’s and build our own systems without a qualm, have always had prejudices for companies that think they’re big enough to neglect industry standards, e.g. Dell, Compaq, HP foremost.

      • my computer seems to be configured that way…there is a separate power cable for the motherboard that comes directly out of the power supply. I believe that if I copied all of the connections down, making sure that I had each one double-checked, I could possibly desolder all of the cables from the power supply, and resolder them into a new power supply. Or, spend the extra $30 and buy a rebuilt power supply designed for the XPS 420.
        I noted that when I plugged in the power supply last night prior to the power-on test, that the motherboard voltage LED lit up. So, SOME of the power is getting where it needs to go, it appears. Why won’t the rest of the computer power up? I haven’t had much success getting the power switch out of the front panel, it’s like they designed this so that tinkerers like me can’t get it out. I’ve built my own systems several times, and while it’s a bit more expensive, it’s also something that I built to my specifications.
        I have another ATX tower with motherboard in it, I tried using the hard drive from the “comatose” computer in it and got a single long beep from the system speaker. I’m not sure if that’s saying the CMOS battery is dead (easy fix), or if there was another problem, because the video card didn’t send a signal to the monitor. Well, I’ve got plenty of time for fooling around with it, I guess.
        I’m not very happy with Dell, though. Unfortunately, it seems that computers are getting to be like cars – they all look a little differently, but are made by the same manufacturers…..

  • CJ

    Most of what SHOULD happen is that the device self-adjusts. But I’d sure like to know if that fails—what then happens to the much more expensive device to which it’s attached. DOes everything work infallibly? Not in this universe.

  • CJ

    I can now report the new mobo is installed, and lo! the factory had not (irrelevant to USB problem) put goop on the video processor. Mmm. That might have become an issue, over time.

  • Teegan

    Yay for new motherboard. Hope it fixes the glitches you were seeing. Re USB 2 & 3 ports, I had issues with plugging USB 2 devices into a USB 3 port on an ASUS laptop I was running for a while. The USB 3 port should run a USB 2 device, but that one would not reliably stay connected to the device plugged into it. This Samsung has both USB2 & USB3 and doesn’t seem to care what’s plugged into the USB3 ports. I don’t think my Latitude 6520 has any USB3 ports, but yours is newer than mine by about a year, IIRC.

    • thegelf

      There shouldn’t be any trouble (in general) plugging a USB 2.0 device into a USB 3.0 port. The USB 3.0 port and plug are actually deeper than a USB 2.0 port and plug. In a USB 3.0 port, the USB 2.0 contacts are up at the front, where a USB 2.0 plug sits, with USB 3.0 contacts in the back, where the longer USB 3.0 plug sits. No wonky software/intelligent detection, just physically different. I’m not sure how the USB/eSATA ports work, I’d have to do some reading to find out.

      A side note: if you see a USB port on your laptop with a little lightning symbol next to it, that means it’s meant to be used as a charging port. You can configure your laptop BIOS to provide power through that port even when the laptop is asleep or shut down, whether it’s plugged in or on battery.

      • Homer2101

        A USB/eSATA (eSATAp) combination port has connectors for both USB and eSATA. eSATA, unlike USB, cannot provide power to external devices; eSATAp gets around this limitation by drawing on the USB connectors for power.

        Otherwise, an eSATAp port should function as a standard USB or eSATA port. It is physically impossible to plug a USB or eSATA device into it the wrong way, or to plug an eSATA cable into a USB port or vice versa. USB and eSATA ports look similar, but are not physically compatible unless something is terribly wrong with the port or the cable.

        USB 3 ports are usually blue, to distinguish them from black USB 2 ports.

  • Yay, CJ, glad your compy is back in action.

    @ Teegan, one notes your Shejidan forum membership’s activated, and folks are saying Welcome In!

  • Tommie

    Do you suppose that the postal worker will be distressed if I set up a chair by my mailbox?

  • WOL

    As part of a settlement about the ebook price fixing brouhaha (, I got $22 and change from Amazon, so thanks to them, I preordered my HB copy of guess what. Counting down the days.

  • WOL

    . . . and as an aside on the way my brain works, “mobo” as an abbreviation for motherboard put me in mind of what “mofo” is an abbreviation for. At this juncture, judging from all the rigamarole you’ve been going through with your computer, CJ, it wouldn’t surprise me if that latter term, abbreviated or otherwise, has dropped into your working cursabulary.

  • CJ

    I have heard, alas, that that is bogus, and that the photo is actually a Chinese tomb. Don’t know where it came from.

  • Aja Jin

    CJ, sorry if I missed it, but will you have copies of Peacemaker available? I have a Kindle copy on order, but would like to get the hardback from you.

  • CJ, you need a Lawn Dinosaur! 😀 This was linked from Jim C. Hines’ blog, so it’s a third (or fourth) party.

    Too cool not to share. Snerk!

    • Raesean

      Oh, I want a Lawn Dino! We have occasionally thought of doing a Merry Mithras set-up out front, with a lovely white bull with a big, red bow around its neck and a gold vessel at its feet… And, closer to reality but still never quite accomplished… a four foot, light up Eiffel Tower sold at Loews as a Christmas lawn ornament that we discussed buying and then finding a King Kong to hang off of it, but we punted on buying the tower when we saw it (too expensive but didn’t survive to the mark down post season sale), to our regret.

  • CJ

    BCS: oh, dear!
    Our neighbors already wonder.

    Aja Jin, I will I’m certain have some copies. Haven’t gotten them yet.

  • chondrite

    Nevermide the lawn dinosaur — what you really want is a custom-built herd of mecheiti 😀

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