Review: Dells Warranty

So, I have a friend who bought a Dell, I told her to buy a Mac, she said she was going to buy a Mac, then someone at the last minute convinced her into getting a Dell.

No Problem, Dells aren’t *too* bad I figured (despite having 3 friends with other random issues with their Dell laptops).

The problem is, her Escape key broke. Not only did the key break off, but it broke IN HALF. Even with 30 kids in a computer lab for upto 5 hours a day banging away at keyboards, I have never seen a key actually break in half.  Thing is, she didn’t really put any stress on the key anyway, so it appears that either Dell is making their keyboards out of crap, or it’s a fluke that it broke.

She lodged a call with Dell to get it replaced. My first thoughts were that they would either send her a new key to click on, or tell her to take it to an authorised repairer where they will conduct the repair. This wasn’t the case however. She indicated to the person arranging the warranty that she was an intermediate computer user.

Time Line:
12th – Submitted support request via Email
15th – Reply from Dell asking for a photo of the Key – Reply with photo sent off on this day
16th – Email back from Dell saying they will replace the part
17th – Replacement Part Sent
18th – Replacement Part arrived
19th – Taken to me to install for her

Total time: 6 days.   Not too bad really.

keyboardThey sent her a replacement keyboard and an addressed package to mail the return part back in. No instructions on how to install the keyboard either. With no clue on how to install the keyboard, she brought it to me.  I had a quick poke at it to see if it was one of the easy types of keyboard to get it (the pull it back a bit and it just pops out type). But no, it was screwed in somewhere.  I turned to the service manual. (took me a few minutes to find that too…)

Following the instructions I was able to work most of it out, however there was one unclear step:

Disconnect the keyboard cable from the keyboard connector on the system board by rotating the keyboard connector latch towards the front of the computer.

insideAfter scratching my head and looking at the unclear diagram I worked out that the step was wrong. You have to flick the latch to the BACK of the computer (white bit is lifted upwards and swings back).   There’s no way that that is an “Intermediate Computer User” repair job.

Thankfully everything worked fine.


In Summary – How good is Dell Warranty?
Speed: 8/10
Quality of Service: 3/10
Overall: 5/10

Posted by duck in IT Issues, Reviews

32 Laptops, 32 000 Fingerprints

Update: 27/1/17 – This cleaning stuff is good, but I personally use now a mixture of ~10% isopropol alcohol and 90% water with a Microfibre cloth.


Part of my job at my school involves making sure the computers are clean.

Today I figure I’ll cover something that I get a lot of people asking me about: How do I clean LCD screens?

Now, I’ve heard people in the industry say “Use watered down Windex!”…. Don’t do this.

Windex contains Ammonia, Ammonia degrades the plastic coating on your screen.
(I also heard somewhere that it can also make your screen get a yellowy tint).

Of course, if you’re one of those people who has always been cleaning with Windex, it does take a while of cleaning before you’ve ruined the screen.

For cleaning LCD screens, I use a microfiber cloth, it won’t leave any bits of cloth on your screen like your standard rag would and as for the cleaning agent I use some special LCD/Plasma Screen Cleaning Spray.

LCD Cleaner

LCD Cleaner

This stuff is great, it’s cheap, you can pick something similar up from BigW. Getting one that has a dispenser for the cloths is also good and with tricky folding you can clean up to 16 screens with one cloth. It leaves no streak marks and requires no hard rubbing and fingerprints just disappear.

Long as you get a decent size bottle of it (the one in the picture I would call a decent size bottle), it will last you for ages. I clean the 32 laptops here every 1-2 months and the bottle is still about 2/3 full.

Good Luck Cleaning 🙂


Posted by duck in How-To Guides, IT Issues, School

Thanks for Attempting to Rip us Off – Laptop Storage

Laptop Storage

Laptop Storage


Revolution 8 Bay Wall Cage

Revolution 8 Bay Wall Cage

What’s the difference?  $900 and a padlock.

Because there isn’t many suppliers of products like this, a few companies have a monopoly on these laptop cages. Of course, the padlock is a good idea, though we keep all ours locked away anyway.

Here’s a link to the Revolution website

What about iPods then?

On the note of storage units like this, I’ve been looking at ones for iPods (I’ll explain about the iPods later).  I found one that looked pretty nice, it’s a 15 iPod Charge/Sync Machine. I liked the look of it and contacted the seller of the item (They’re based in the US). They sent me a quote that said:
SC15A Sync/Charge/Organize Desktop Station
List Price – $899
Discount Price – $699  (I guess he’s giving me a bit of a discount.. for no reason..)
Here’s the catch:  Shipping/Handling & Insurance:  $175

… That’s a lot of postage for a very expensive product.

So, the total price, $874USD… That’s $1327 AUD….. for a device that lets me charge 15 iPods at once….  My planned solution: A $10 Powered USB Hub… with lots of flashing lights inside it (it seems, the more tacky it is, the cheaper it is).

15 Slot iPod Charge Station

15 Slot iPod Charge Station

Here’s a link to the Tribeam website with the iPod Charging Stations

Leave a comment if you know of any cheaper ways to do these things and I’ll check them out.


Posted by duck in IT Issues, School

HP550 Notebook

This is my first real post 🙂

So, our school bought 30 HP550 notebooks, with the idea that we could use 5 of them in each Year 5 and 6 classroom.  We ordered them Tuesday… they arrived Friday (don’t you just love speedy delivery?)

Here’s the HP website with the specs of the laptop:

Now, all the computers we have in our school run off an Image, and the image is the same as the other schools nearby with the exception of a few files, each laptop takes about 45minutes to image and set up to be working with our school (most of the time is spent in the imaging phase, copying the files over etc).
It was doing this image that I realised, they only come with a 10/100 Network card (a real bummer since we upgraded our school switches to gigabit last year). These laptops were destined for wireless anyway, so it’s not too much of an issue 😉

The build quality of the laptops is good, with one horrible fatal flaw. The mouse buttons are TERRIBLE. 1/3 of the clicks on the button just don’t make it to the computer. So you sit there hitting the button hard every time and that’s probably breaking it and making it even worse later down the track.
To fix this, we bought 30 mouses to go with them.

The “upgrade” from the HP530 to the HP550 would have been just perfect if they had kept the same buttons from the HP530.

I just hope that HP realise that the buttons are terrible and do something about it for the next model. I know I’m reccommending that we don’t buy any more HP550 laptops until they come out with a newer model.

As for some of the other parts, the Battery life is great. We stack them all up at the end of the day and plug them into the charger, they sit on the kids desks throughout the day. I haven’t heard of any issues of them running out of battery at all.
Speed wise they’re pretty snappy too, we got all ours with added memory, they’re all on 2gb of RAM.

Overall, they’re a very nice, well built laptop with the sole exception of the mouse button being terrible. If you’re looking at buying some for yourself/your school, make sure you get external mouses with them.


Posted by duck in Reviews, School