Fortify not Occupy
By Rick Smith
I saw two signs driving around Ventura County this last month. One of them was a person trying to save her home from foreclosure with a sign that said "Save Blue Hill Farms" with a banner across the top saying "OCCUPY." I actually met this person when she found my Dachshund Dog Roxy wandering the streets near my office looking for a handout. She took her home and put her up for the night and I found her the next day and picked my beloved girl up no worse for wear. She was featured on the cover of the Ventura County Star this week. Her husband died and she was trying to save her property and her lifestyle from the villains at Wells Fargo. It's hard to know right from wrong sometimes on the issues we face in life but one thing I know. If I borrow something I have to eventually pay it back. During the housing run-up I got offers every week offering me $300,000. All I had to do was sign on the dotted line. I threw every one of them in the trash. So when my home value fell I was right back where I started with excellent credit and was able to re-fi when banks were denying everybody. The other sign I saw had a banner across the top saying "Fortify", Get ready, buy lots of ammo, because somebody wants your stuff. You can probably figure out where I land on regards to my preferred sign, now on to something about computers.
Sony VIAO, Have you ever wondered what that name meant? Well todays your lucky day. Here's what Wikipedia has to say:
VAIO is a sub-brand used for many of Sony's computer products. Originally an acronym of Video Audio Integrated Operation, this was amended to Visual Audio Intelligent Organizer in 2008 to celebrate the brand's 10th anniversary. The branding was created by Timothy Hanley to distinguish items that integrate consumer audio and video with conventional computing products, such as the Sony VAIO W Series personal computer, which functioned as a regular computer and a miniature entertainment center. Although Sony made computers in the 1980's exclusively for the Japan toy market, the company withdrew from the computer business around the turn of the decade. Sony's re-entry to the global computer market under the new VAIO brand, began in 1996 with the PCV series of desktops. The VAIO logo also represents the integration of analog and digital technology with the 'VA' representing an analog wave and the 'IO' representing a digital binary code.
It's well known I'm not a big fan of some of the big name PC manufactures and Sony just about tops my list. I had a client come in this month with a SONY VAIO VGC series multimedia PC. This thing had a TV tuner and all the bells & Whistles you'd expect from SONY to entice you to buy this PC. He got infected with "CLOUD SECURITY" malware. We were able to partially remove the active infection but the web browser was still redirecting to alternate sites. This generally means there's a rootkit hidden or a very sneaky .DLL hiding doing the dirty work. I handed this project over to our partner emeritus TOBY SCOTT who was sleeping in his chair. In the interest of the common good he decided he do battle with this new variation of a common malware plaguing the populace recently. After working on it for the afternoon he proceeded to render it unbootable. He was trying various fixes recommended by unknown people on internet blogs. So now we had to get XP working again on this PC. We tried the usual standard XP repair of the operating system.
When it came time to start copying the software everything halted because XP could not detect the hard disk. This means you are either using the wrong version of XP or there is some sort of RAID controller driver that needs to be installed. So off to Sony's website we go and sure enough there is a list of about 6 hard disk controller drivers to try. Wonderful we thought, now we're going to be here all day. If you've ever installed Microsoft Windows XP or other Microsoft operating systems you may have noticed "hit F6 to load additional drivers" near the beginning of the software install. Of course if you miss the couple of seconds the screen is displayed you have to start over again. We had to install a USB floppy device to load the drivers as this PC had no floppy drive controller. We dutifully hit the F6 and noticed that six choices of drivers presented themselves. We tried each one and as it failed we had to start the process over again and choose the next one. Of course the one that worked was the final choice. It saw the hard disk and gave us the choice to repair the existing installation, which is essentially an upgrade of XP with XP. As it chugged away imagine our surprise when it asked a second time for the hard disk drivers. OK Fine, we put this floppy disk in it then said unable to find floppy disk to load drivers. What! It is a SONY USB floppy drive and it doesn't work. Nothing we could do would get us past this SONY roadblock. Eventually we found some info suggesting a Teac drive might work but no guarantees. So after a day or two messing with this we called SONY and ordered a restore disk for $25.00 as the PC did not come with one.
After over two weeks and three calls to Sony who took over 10 days just to get the item into a box we received the product. Now remember people who order this stuff usually have a dead PC and need it fixed as soon as possible. There is a huge disconnect between corporate thinking and what end users want and need. Now we are about three weeks into what should have been a one or two day fix. Thank you TOBY. So we used the disks provided by SONY and the install works. Now granted we had to wipe out the whole PC because restore disk doesn't allow the repair option. Once everything finished imagine our surprise when none of the drivers were installed. Every other manufacturer who supplies system restore disks do it with the necessary drivers included; except, you guessed it, SONY! So we now had to download every driver from Sony's website and there were about twenty-five of them. After it installed every driver they had there was still one exclamation point in the XP device manager. It was the TV tuner card. Nothing listed on SONY'S site. So I had to remove the card and write down the part number and begin searching. SONY'S site had no information at all when I searched for it. What a surprise. I finally had to go to drivers guide and get the driver. It would not install and froze up the PC when I tried. You who know me can only imagine how depleted my patience meter was at this point so I resorted to the thing I hate the most in Tech Support… ONLINE CHAT. There has never been more time wasted in my life, except maybe at the DMV, than doing online chat with some slightly educated tech in a foreign country. I tried 5 times in a period of three day to get a person online and gave up after over a half hour on each attempt. Finally on the third day I got a phone call and went into the other room and when I came back the tech had got my request and dropped me because of MY non-responsiveness. Every man has his breaking point and I had finally met mine. I called the client and said please come get your PC. Too bad he didn't know I would have paid him to rid my life of this monster instead of him paying me. After we went through everything I found out he did not use the TV tuner and had no idea what the device manager was so I let it go out with the job partially completed.
Did I take the coward's way out not telling him about the missing device driver, probably? Did I lower my standards to relive myself, yes? Would I allow myself to be put in this compromising position again, No! I am putting a sign on the door that says we have the right to refuse service to anyone, especially SONY! So if you are reading this and own a SONY VAIO and need to have some service done you might consider asking someone else to help you. See you next month, hopefully, I on my way to buy some bullets and bottled water right now.
Rick, you shouldn't slam Toby and then ask him to proofread your musings. The bullets are blanks and the water is tainted. You won't read this soon enough to save you.