Delayed Dell

LG 22" 2252 LCD

LG 22

As I mentioned before, it’s been over six years since my last home PC purchase and it’s been long overdue for a new one.  I think my registry is pretty much ‘borked’ with junk…enough junk where it slows my system startup to almost a crawl these days, and good luck trying to launch Outlook Express in under 2 minutes.  I even notice with around 768 RAM, I can’t usually have more than 2 programs open at a time without the PC taking its sweet time chnaging between programs.

So I ordered my XPS630 on Aug 28 and it was supposed to ship on September 5th.  Well, it didn’t.  My new ship date was updated until September 12th which of course bummed me out.  The thing is, I cannot figure out ‘why’ the delay, unless it was related to hurricane Gustav and getting parts out to TX (where Dell’s custom assembly plant is).

I called Dell on Sunday and requested more information on the delay.  I was a bit surprised when the lady told me it was the battery.  The battery?  What battery?  I didn’t order any UPS?  She asked me if I was getting a laptop?  A laptop?  Damn, I gave her my order number and everything and clearly I ordered no laptop.  Needless to say, now I’m getting a little skeptical.

She finally found the correct order and aplogized and said they would upgrade me to next day air.

Finally my PC shipped yesterday, the 8th, and on my online account it does indeed say ‘Next Day’, however, the tracking order is Ground, and as of this morning, it’s sitting in a FedEx center still in TX with a new estimated arrival date of this Friday, the 12th.

Don’t ask.  I have no idea.  But so far, while they didn’t screw up my order, but my Dell experience this time around is about a ‘B/B-‘ if I were to grade it.

In the meantime, Best Buy put its LG LCD monitors on sale.  I couldn’t resist the sale on the 22″, so I bought one which will indeed replace my 17″ this weekend.

Here’s the specs on the LG 2252:

  • 2 ms response time.
  • 10,000:1 contrast ratio; 300cd/m brightness.
  • 1680 x 1050 resolution.
  • DVI-D w/ HDCP input along with standard VGA input.
  • 16:10 aspect ratio
  • Energy Star compliance.

So I figure this weekend will be re-intsalling WoW, CoH/CoV, Quick Books, and email.

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Dude, I’m getting a Dell

Coming to my own personal Azeroth soon.

Coming to my own personal Azeroth soon.

So I finally plunked down the cash after over a year of putting it off on buying a new Dell computer.

This will be my third Dell, as I purchased one for my father about 3 years ago, and my personal PC is now approaching six years old, if not actually older.  Overall, I’ve had good luck with Dell PC’s and I always stick with the minimum 1 yr warranty (I don’t undertsand paying so much for the 2 – 3 year extended warranties, since I’m not a PC novice anyway).

I’ve built my own computers before.  I’m even A+ certified, but really…I have no desire right now to buy things piece-meal anymore and configure and build and cross my fingers.  Sure for a few extra bucks, I’d like something to work right out the box anymore.

My current PC is a Dell 4550 Pentium 4, 1.9 GHz with 712MB Ram, and a 6GB (yes, six) hard drive.  I’ts been slowing down the last few years, despite how clean I try and make all my installs and what not.  I’m sure the registry has a lot of abandoned keys, and there are some start up programs I haven’t used in years.  I basically play WoW on it now and gave up play CoH strictly because of slow load times and disk caching.

I have some family pics, some business docs, personal papers, and mostly MP3’s.  So after 6 years, I’m not up to a full 6GB.  You can’t even buy a computer today with anything less than 250-300 GB hard drives today.

So my new rig is far from being top of the line.  I am on a somewhat of a budget, but at this stage of the game, anything today will blow my current system out of the water.  Since I plan on only playing games on it and never watching movies or hooking my TV up to it, I don’t want….or need…the ultimate entertainment machine.  Besides, I still have my 360 and Wii for gaming.

Here’s my new rig:  a red bezzeled XPS630, 750 watts, 320GB HD, Core 2 Q6600 (8MB L2 cache) , 2GB DDR2 SDRAM @800MHz, 2.4 GHz, 1066FSB and a nVidia 512 MB GeForce 8800, 7.1 surround sound.  And that is probably a minimum spec’d mid-range 630.

I’ll probably upgrade my monitor as well, but at a different time.  My current LG 15″ LCD is okay for now…but I’d like to get a 19-20″ in a few months.

The biggest task will be re-installing CoH & CoV, WoW and getting all the updates along with them.  Plus changing to my gaming keyboard and installing all my extras like my printer, but now that I plunked down the money, I’m totally psyched to get it in about two weeks.  There may be a day of hooky coming up soon as all this will take quite a bit off time to do.

Games I’m looking forward to: WoW Wrath of the Lich King, Spore, Diablo III for starters.

Personal Gaming Journal #3

So I’m kinda excited that my OXM subscription kicked in yesterday and I recevied my 1st issue.  It’s a pretty good deal to get the magazine along with the disc for $24.95 for the whole year as opposed to paying $9.99 an issue at the grocery store or bookstore.

I’m happy to see some offical pictures of all the new Rock Band 2, Guitar Hero World Tour, and Konami’s Rock Revolution peripherals (well Konami only showed the drums kit, and it looked a little strange).  The nice thing is that Konami stated that both RB and Gh’s guitar will be compatible with their game.  I’m getting pretty psyched that these will start launching next month, and I’ll have a whole new bey of songs to play and download.

Ion is introducing there own uber drum kit for the Rock Band series which just looks crazy mad.  By itself, it’ll be $300, metal, and ships with 4 drum pads, 2 cymbals and kick peddle.  For even another $50 you can buy yet a 3rd cymbal!

Harmonix’s new Stratocaster looks pretty sweet, and they promise it will be much more sturdy than the original, meaning overdrive sensor and strum bar, plus it’s wireless.  A fine addition to my colllection.  However, RedOctane’s new axe for World Tour may be the one to get.  Also wireless, it has an additional touch sensitive neck for hand sliding and an oversized ‘star power’ button (thank God!) so you won’t have to tilt your guitar to achieve star power.

I played RB last night for a bit and tried multiplayer online play.  I experimented with both ‘Tug of War’ and ‘Score Duel’ modes and had my as handed to me all four times, but it was fun.  I have to get out of the competitve mindset and just enjoy it playing a song with someone else.  The problem for me is that Tug of War is very unforgiving…miss one note and it’s very difficult to recover against the other player.  This resulted in a True Skill point value of ‘1’ for me, even though on medium I was pulling perfect solos and completing like 97-98% of the song.  Seems a bit harsh to ever recover and be motivated to continue playing…you find yourself praying the other guy misses one note as well just to give you a chance.

I may need to buy a new HD soon with all the songs coming down the pipeling.  My 20GB drive is already 75% full lest I remove some other games and demo’s.

On the horizon for me: Force Unleashed, Rise of the Argonauts, GH WT, RB 2, Too Human, Fracture, GoW2, Lego Batman, CoD 5, Clone Wars (Wii) and a few others.  Man, I don’t even have time now….or money.

Speaking of money….I was so planning on buying a new PC today.  A new Dell XPS system to replace my 5year +, but then my wife told me yesterday she is behind on bills.  Dammit.  Well, there that goes for now.  I was eyeing a 2.4 GHz system with 3GB memory, plenty of L2 cache, and a 20″ widescreen monitor for my WoW and CoH habits.  Looks like that’s put on hold….yet again.  ::Grumble::

Been getting back into my PSP again too…playing Metal Gear Solid Ac!D and enjoying it.  My coworker was showing me his new God of War PSP slim and gameplay and it looks pretty sweet as well.

Wii: Okay, so my store didn’t get the Wii Fit today, but I also have an alert from Amazon.com sent to my phone.  If any Fit’s become available, they send you a TXT message to whcih you simply reply ‘Buy’, and they send one to you based on your Amazon account.  Well imagine my surprise when I got my alert today (WooHoo!!) at 10:17am saying they are available.  I reply at 10:20am with my text.  At 10:22am I receive a reply back saying they are now ‘unavailble’!!!  DOH!!  WTF?  So between the time I received the alert and I responded (3 minutes!) they were already sold out again.  What….did they only get 2 in stock?

Ah well, there’s always next week.

PC: Malware Invasion – worse than any Skrull

I don’t consider myself a computer ‘expert’ ny any means.  I don’t check out NewEgg everyday for the latest prices on mother boards, or study trends in server cooling fans, or compare frame rate and packet loss on a regular basis.  However, I do consider myself above average when it comes to desktop technical issues and through my career I have had a hand in quite a few upgrades, troubleshooting, and help desk ventures.  A few years back I even got my CompTia A+ certificate, started my MCSE (before I realized how expensive and never ending it was), and have even built my last 3 PC’s from scratch.

With that being said, even I was recently duped into installing some malicious rogue malware on my computer.  I surf the net at home just like anybody else, and have both McAfee Virus Scan (updated regularly) and MS Security Updates turned on.  I am generally very careful not to open any unsolicted email and have come pretty atune to most tricks, but would’t you know it, the other day I let my guard down for a single minute and before I knew what happened my IE browser was hijacked and thus started one of the most frustrating hours I had recently experienced.

I clicked on a pop-up window in haste, not really realizing what I clicked before it was too late.  Instantly I was taken to a very official ‘Windows’ looking dialogue box that insisted that my PC was ‘unprotected’ and needed to be protected.  Here’s their dirty little secret: No matter if you hit ‘Okay’ or ‘Cancel’ it downloads and installs anyway.  Bastards!  I couldn’t click any link or new page without being taken to some bogus message, effectively raising my blood pressure and confusion.

Offending program:

Bastards in Disguise

Because I was at home and not at work, thus alone, I panicked.  After 10 minutes of letting it sink in that I indeed had been duped, I reluctantly agreed to pay some unknown company $39.95 for their spyware cleaner (billingware.net). 

This was mistake number two.

As I forked over my CC information in a rush, little did I know when I hit ‘submit’ the offending company not only charged me $39.95 for their ‘spyware killer’, but also charged me $24.95 for premiere support and an additional $19.95 for something called AlphaWipe Tracks Cleaner 2008 for a grand total of $84.85 to some Euro company with no phone number listed on their web page.  It was billed to billingware.net and of course there is no one there to speak to.  My email inquiries have yet to be responded to.

IE AntiVirus (latest is v3.2x) basically hijacks your IE browser with annoying messages, writes tons of crap to the registry, processes and files.  It’s a rogue anti-spyware program that initimidates users to buy their full fake version with numerous hidden charges.  I bet they bank on the fact that no one complains or eventually gives up and decided they made an $85 blunder and move on.

Not me.  The next day I decided to investigate IE AntiVirus and after reading and understanding how I got hornswaggled, I am contacting my CC company to fight back and report a fraudulant charge.  So far in my life I have won every errant charge I have ever made, so hopefully my win streak will continue and I’ll get my $85 dollars back in all humbleness and humility.

But let me impart a few lessons here:

  1. No matter how well you think you are protected, there is always someone else out there whose motivation is money, and where there is a will, there is a way, and there is a way to defeat you.
  2. Always be vigilant in what you click.  If it smells fishy, no matter what, go with your gut and run like hell.  It only took me one minute of being lazy and not paying attention to be tricked.
  3. Do not panic.  Panic leads to making irrational decisions.  In my case handing over my CC information and being charged more than double what I had intended to be.
  4. If you have the time and you can wait….use another PC and a thumb drive to research ‘valid’ malware killers and install on your system before you try and use the Internet. 
  5. Set a regular schedule for both quick scans and deep scans of your system, change your passwords regularly, and always try an update spy-killer/ad-killer signature files.

For those that have been affected by IE Anti Virus, please…please check out: Malwarebytes.org.  They have a ‘Free’ (and legit) malware killer which if I would have known about this before hand would have saved me all the confusion, letters I have to write to my CC company, and hours of agitation.