By Rick Smith
I never thought I'd agree with the "OCCUPY WALL STREET" crowd but it seems we have something in common. They advised everyone to boycott BLACK FRIDAY and not go shopping at major retailers. I heard and answered the call. While everyone else was hitting the stores at 12:00 PM and other ungodly hours I was sleeping off an incredible meal enjoying the break after preparing a fabulous feast for family and friends. Yes I know I probably missed a few bargains but hey, let's face it, we all have enough stuff and I find waiting for things I desire a virtue of my maturity. I am amazed at how people will act crazy to get something at a discount and then go live their lives wasting money every day. I wonder how much of that DISCOUNTED stuff goes on credit cards with interest. No so discounted now is it.
Nonetheless I even stayed home on Saturday which was "SHOP SMALL BUSINESS SATURDAY". Christ, they even have a Facebook page devoted to it. Go ahead; I know you're thinking it, call me Scrooge for not getting too wrapped up in the whole retail thing that has turned my beloved holiday Christmas into an excuse for self-indulgence. What is supposed to peace and good will to all instead brings out the mob mentality of I'm going to get mine before you get yours. So I think I'll shop early this year online at Amazon while I still can get tax free items. I'm staying home for Christmas so no airports to hassle with. I'm not making my annual pilgrimage to visit my relatives and sit through another horrible gift exchange where we fight each other for the right to claim the only decent gift. You know what I'm talking about. The game where you all get a number and choose a gift and it can be claimed three times and then it's frozen. My relatives are so unimaginative that they give the same gifts every year. Lottery tickets, Starbucks gift card and coffee cup and the DVD movie with popcorn and a blanket. We're going to enjoy our home, each other, listen to Christmas music and go to a Christmas Eve service at our church. Who knows, if I have enough spiced eggnog we might go by the neighbors and sing songs to them. So let me wish anyone who reads this a Merry Christmas and a very joyous holiday season. Now lets' start talking about computers.
Sony, Sony, Sony. Just when I thought I had had enough they pull me back in. I had a Sony VIAO notebook come in for a Solid State Drive upgrade. If there's anything you want under your tree this should be it folks. He had asked me to fix the battery icon as it was gone and you had no way of knowing when the notebook was going to run out of power. Well sure enough the power meter icon was greyed out and could not be selected. I tried everything under the sun to fix this thing. Oh yeah there were fixes for this kind of thing but none of them worked. And not knowing when the notebook was going to turn off was a major hassle. Imagine if you will, you're working on a Word document and the thing just goes black. Yes, that's what happens when you cannot gauge battery power and the notification does not work either. As it turns out it's a known issue with Sony. Oh by the way. Continuing a trend this model required me removing 28 screws, the keyboard and a couple of other small parts to remove the hard drive. Be forewarned if you try to do this yourself.
My second Sony notebook was a PCG-8VIL. But it's really not. It's a VGN-AR1906. Sony puts about three different numbers on its PC's and it's confusing for me. It took me about 10 minutes to find the number written very small under the LCD screen. This was a high performance notebook that Sony loves to hype. It came with two hard drives setup as a RAID. Since you all now know all about RAID you would think OK, it's going to be a RAID 1 for data protection. But no, It's shipped as a stripped configuration RAID 0. This increases performance but makes it hugely more likely to lose data. Sure enough we worked on this last year and I told the person that this was only going to end badly. I sold her a backup drive and warned her the best I know how about the dangers. Well sometimes I hate being right. One of the drives failed and the notebook takes an hour to start. Unfortunately when you remove the drives another PC does not even recognize them and the person of course never used the backup drive I gave them. I find myself wondering why with my infinite knowledge of human nature I didn't just force the issue and do a complete re-install of the OS on a non-RAID drive and set her up to go through life with a small margin of safety. Now she is going to have to spend lots of money paying me to try to get her data. As I have said before. RAID should not be sued outside of a server environment and certainly not on a notebook with non-raid notebook hard drives. I just pity all the people under similar circumstances that trust major vendors to look out for them. That notebook should have come with a big red warning label stating that you better be religious about backup if you're going to own one of these.
Yes it seems I'm on a one man quest to get Sony out of the PC business. So let's see what next month brings me as I search for the world's worst computer problems to share with you. Happy New Year and Merry Christmas to all and to all goodnight.