Jan
12
2009
4

Cheap Online Glasses?

Glasses, online

Glasses, online

I’ve already said I’m a big fan of NPR.  A few weeks ago they ran a story about the “Best-Kept Online Secret: Cheap Eyeglasses.”  The author, tired of paying hundreds of dollars for glasses, tried out a few different online glasses retailers. [1]

This weekend I ordered glasses from two different websites. (I’m going to hold off mentioning which ones for now.  I’ll wait to find out what kind of a job they do.)

I ordered four pairs of glasses for much less than what a single pair used to cost me.  If all goes well, I’ll be getting one pair of sunglasses, one pair of color changing glasses, one pair that looks almost identical to the ones I wear now, and one pair of funky glasses (this was the free one).

The trade-off is that the glasses will take about two weeks.

See you in two weeks![2]

  1. Photo courtesy of Morningstar Lee []
  2. Ha ha! []
Jan
09
2009
4

Dell Customer Service!!!

Dell

Dell Customer Service!!!

Dell’s customer service has been my single greatest customer service experience with any product, ever.

Let me break it down for you:

Here’s Lionel’s e-mail to me from just after midnight this morning:

“Jay:Lionel Menchaca, Chief Dell Blogger

That’s great news. I’m really glad to see it all worked out smoothly. I appreciate you being a loyal Dell customer. Feel free to tell any other Dell customers how to contact me directly if they need some assistance.

It’s customer’s like you that make this the best job I’ve ever had.

Sincerely,

Lionel Menchaca

Chief Blogger, Dell Inc.

www.dell.com/blogs

e-mail: lionel_menchaca@dell.com

Twitter: twitter.com/LionelatDell

phone: 512.728.8685″

If you’ve got an issue with your Dell, get a hold of Lionel directly.  He’s an incredible guy working for an incredible company.  Lionel and Dell took care of me.  This Dell XPS m1210 is my third Dell laptop, and my next computer will absolutely be a Dell too.

  1. It died within 1 year after my warranty expired, but by the time I talked to Dell it was more than a year out of warranty. []
  2. It was a very simple and short e-mail, so it took me forever to write. []
  3. The only way to fix a bad integrated graphics card. []
  4. Rock on completely, with some brand new components!” – CAKE []
Jan
08
2009
1

Dell Corporate Customer Service – WOW

Dell

Dell Customer Service?

I think Dell just made me a customer for life.

I’ve already spent nearly $200 repairing my laptop. After three total repairs[1], my laptop finally died – again.

Since I had nothing to lose, I sent an e-mail to Dell’s head blogger, Lionel Menchaca about my problem. He was lightning fast in responding to me – asking for my Dell service tag.[2]

When Dell had lost my prior laptop and replaced it with the XPS m1210 I purchased a warranty extension. I had spent a fair bit of change on that laptop and I was expecting to keep it around a while. However, that extended warranty lapsed a little over a year ago.[3] I explained my problem with the bad nVidia video card. He responded telling me that I would be getting a call from someone soon.

Sure enough, less than a day later I received a call from Dell’s corporate customer service program. They told me that as a “gesture of good will” they were going to replace my computer’s motherboard – by sending a technician to me to do the repair.

Replacing a motherboard is so expensive its almost always cheaper to buy a new computer. Offering to repair an out-of-warranty laptop by sending a tech to me to replace the motherboard???

All I can say is WOW.

  1. Two of which were under Paramount Technology’s repair warranty. []
  2. This is a number on a little sticker underneath the laptop. The service tag code is essentially a serial number they use to track your computer when its being repaired or you call for technical support. []
  3. Although, less than a year from when I first started having this problem []
Jan
07
2009
2

How to Buy a New Computer: Part II Netbooks

New Laptop

New Laptop

Yesterday I discussed the basics of buying a new computer.  The most important first step is figuring out what you need and what you want out of a new computer.  There are three main types of portable computers available these days: netbooks, basic laptops, and high-end laptops.  Today is all about “netbooks.”[1]

(Scroll to the end to see my picks…)

Netbooks

A netbook is a very small laptop designed to extremely mobile and portable.  They are optimized for portability and wireless connectivity.

Netbooks typically have a display of 10″ or less. [2] They usually don’t have any CD or DVD drives. [3]  They usually have very small solid state drives or mid-sized hard drives.  On the plus side, they usually have bluetooth, media card readers, and WiFi.  They’re typically between 2 to 3 pounds, depending upon brand and type of battery.  They’re also relatively cheap – between $350 to $500.

My requirements may differ from yours.  If I were to buy a netbook, I would want:

  • Minimum 2 USB ports, preferably 3
  • Minimum 100 GB hard drive
  • 1 GB RAM
  • Bluetooth
  • WiFi aka 802.11a/b/g, and preferably also 802.11n
  • Ethernet port
  • Modem port

Other things people might care about (but I don’t):

  • Webcam
  • Keyboard size
  • Monitor size

Keep in mind, I’ve never used any of these laptops – I’m just evaluating them based on their prices and my own opinions as to their respective brands and specs.  Although, I’m enough of a nerd that I put together a spreadsheet to compare those five netbooks as well as about another dozen or so models and submodels.  If anyone is interested in seeing the spreadsheet, mention it in the comments below or drop me a line.

Dell has a new netbook too, but it only has solid state drive options – which are too small to be of use to me. [4] However, I’m sure it would be perfect for some people.

My picks are, in rough order of preference:

If I were to buy a netbook today, I’d probably go for the Acer Aspire One.  It occupies a sweet spot in terms of price, is a decent brand, and has very comparable specs to the higher-end models.

Next, basic laptops!

  1. Photo courtesy of Ciccio Pizzettaro []
  2. TV’s and monitors are always measured by the diagonal. []
  3. This means they’re no good for watching DVD’s or playing CD’s. []
  4. 8 GB of hard drive space is barely enough to run an operating system and a few programs these days… []
Dec
19
2008
1

How NOT To Build A Successful Website: Frames

No Frames, Please

No Frames, Please

A little while ago I posted about How NOT to Build a Successful Website using Adobe Flash.  Long story short, Adobe Flash websites are extremely unfriendly to both website visitors and businesses who own the websites. [1]

The second worst way to create a website is to build it totally out of frames.  There are several workers’ compensation defense firms who have websites built out of frames – and they’re terrible.

In the early days of the internet frames were an easy way to enable navigation throughout a website.  Since then easy-to-use intelligent server-side languages[2] and client-side languages[3] have made building website navigation tools a breeze.  More importantly, these other technologies and techniques do everything frames do – only better.

Here are some of the problems with websites created using frames:

  • Un-bookmark-able. Just as with Adobe Flash, users can’t bookmark specific pages within a website built using frames.  This means your website visitors can’t come back to visit that specific page and, more importantly, can’t send a meaningful link to their friends.
  • Un-navigable.  Depending on how someone links to your frame based website, its very possible that they will link directly to an internal frame.  This means a website visitor getting to your website from a search engine might never see your website’s name or logo!
  • Printing. Frame based websites don’t always interact properly with web browsers.  When you go to print, you might end up printing the wrong frame.  Make it easy for your clients to make a hard copy of the information they see on your website and don’t use frames.
  • Search Engine Optimization.  Search engines are designed to be smart.  Even so, search engines still have trouble untangling a website made out of frames.  If people cannot reach your website by searching for exactly what you’re about, your website is a failure.

I know why there some web developers sell frame-based websites.  From a development standpoint, they’re very very easy to write.  Frames are little more than HTML, so they’re if you can create a Word document, you can create an frames-based website.  I suppose it would be relatively easy to also recyle parts of that website in a new website.  These websites are also deceptively good-looking.  When the web developer is showing you a frame based website, you’re going to see exactly what you expect.  The “danger” of a frame-based website, as indicated above, is that its so easy for it to be shown to your potential clients in the wrong way or out of context.

I think I also know why businesses invest in frame-based websites.   They require so little skill to create that a business can just have one of their file clerks or some high school kid build the website cheaply.  The website would be, for all intents and purposes, free.

A website is essentially the 21st century equivalent of a resume.  You’re using it to tell your clients about you before you ever get a chance to meet them.  These days everyone considers Google to be a verb.  If your potential clients are already looking for you through the internet, shouldn’t you try to put your best foot forward?  A cheap temporary website is fine … as long as its temporary.  As soon as you can afford to do so hire someone to put togther something better.

Website Development Tips:

  • Never build a site out of frames.
  • Other web technologies and techniques do everything frames do, only better.
  • Think of your website as your business’s resume, since that’s what potential clients may see first.
  • Think of your website like a business suit.  If it doesn’t look good on a first impression, a potential client may never even speak to you.
  1. Original photo courtesy of eriwst []
  2. Such as PHP and MySQL. []
  3. Such as Javascript. []

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