On tech support and 240-volt shorts

As I noted this morning, my luggage didn’t accompany me across the Atlantic yesterday—in fact, the Lufthansa representative at the baggage claim noted unapologetically that “more than half the bags on this flight didn’t make it aboard.” I’m not entirely sure how that happens, but in my case it might be because I checked into Terminal 1 at the Flüghafen in München rather than Terminal 2 where my flight departed. In my defense, I had no idea that I was in Terminal 1 at the time—there was no signage indicating the fact when I came up from the S-bahn.

At any rate, my luggage is here now, and about damned time as my only cell phone charger is in the suitcase. On to other problems: my laptop.

As previously written, my work laptop let its smoke out last week owing to an accident with a high-voltage outlet. Today Dell’s tech support came to fix it—as I watched, the guy took apart the laptop screw by screw, removed the CPU and all other removable parts, put in the new motherboard, and booted it up. It worked, except for the video, which was screwy—black bands across the bottom, image spanning off the right side and wrapping around to the left. But otherwise, I was able to boot the machine, get files off to a USB drive, connect the network—pretty much everything.

After he left—having ordered some additional parts for tomorrow, I thought to check the laptop connected to an external monitor. Sure enough, the image was completely normal. So despite having been immersed in a magnificent high voltage short circuit, the laptop was working after some fairly straightforward fieldwork—no damage to the RAM or the hard disk.

The point is this: before today, I don’t know that I would have given you 2 cents for Dell’s tech support. After today, they get big points from me. The guy, from a local subcontractor, was knowledgeable, funny, experienced, and personable—we compared notes about local singing groups, as he’s in a barbershop group in Worcester. It might have been that I was re-reading The Cluetrain Manifesto before his visit, but the difference between Dell’s tech support line, which gave us misinformation about the international support policy and showed no common sense about how to solve the problem—proposing to take three to six weeks in Germany to fix the problem when I was going to be there only a week—and the hands-on brilliance of the support guy I met today could not be more pronounced. It is, in fact, all about the conversation.


I’m going to be busy today catching up, so this is just a quick note to say that I made it back, even if my luggage didn’t.

More later.