Dec 31 2005

Best wishes to all our friends & family, both nearby and far away.Wishing you lots of happiness and above all good health in2006. So we say:” Gelukkig nieuwjaar! “” Bonne annee!”" Onnellista uutta vuotta! “moet champagne bottles… and of course: “Happy New Year!”PS: No we did not openthese! ;-) Click here to read more …

Dec 30 2005

Thank you all for the happy birthday wishes, cards & gifts. They are very much appreciated.

” Hey, icerabbit, what’s that thing with an Apple logo on?” Oh, that! ;-)
Say hello to ” icecream ” (ijsje). A cream of the crop PowerBook with upgraded faster hard drive & expanded memory. Yummie!

She is my first mobile mac. I have been sitting on the fence for a very long time debating if I should get an iBook perhaps – but I find those to have a few limitations (mainly the # of pixels of the screens) At one point I almost decided to buy a 12″ PowerBook, but I liked the 15″ better. And now with their recent updates Santa & Carolyn worked together to get me a 15″ PowerBook as Christmas & Birthday & New Year’s present. And there was custom protection sleeve too.

Thank you darling! I am really delighted.

Now the only detail is Carolyn’s hot tub I haven’t unloaded from Santa’s sleigh. Will it wait ’til
spring, when the ground thaws and I can build the deck? That is the other part of the gift ;-)

Dec 24 2005
Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Vrolijk Kerstfeest, Hyvaa Joulua, God
Jul, Joyeux Noel, Frohliche Weichnachten, Feliz Navidad, … :)

Click here to read more …

Dec 22 2005
Fedex delivered Kiwi – our Averatec 4200 series notebook model
AV4265-EH1 (fabrication 04/2005) – this afternoon.

The initial
excitement wore off really fast when I opened the accessory box only to find
that the battery had not been replaced. Same little scuff marks, same secret
little pen mark and the same serial number. So much for the promised battery
replacement under warranty. Btw. their battery warranty is only 6 months and has
now expired during this 5 week repair trip.

But it gets worse. In
the main system box there is another surprise: the DVD drive protrudes 3mm
outside of the case? Now, that is strange. At first I thought perhaps it was
just the tray that wasn’t fully closed, but no, it’s all the way in?! Not good.

Well, let’s fire her up. Insert battery. Power up. Pushing the eject
button does not eject the tray, which most likely means it is not powered.
Before Windows is completely loaded I’m greeted with some pre-installed
software’s warning that no writer can be found. My suspicion is confirmed when
the device manager does not list the drive. Either it is not hooked up or he/she
pinched one or more wires.

Absolutely
fabulous! At least before the repair session it still worked! Even if it was
only at 1x vs 6x. What a waste of time. Basically they had this machine for two
weeks and the only visible thing they did is a totally failed DVD-burner
replacement, after which they shipped it to the wrong address.

The
thing I can’t wrap my head around is, how in the world can you not mount it
properly? As far as I know there are no adjustable guides in notebooks.
Everything fits in its place or it doesn’t. But, even if nothing were to stick
outside of the case, you’d still make sure it works, right?

Time to
calmly call Averatec. I asked to know which repairs were performed. But, that
information is not available. There should be a note in the box. I
double-checked. No note. After a long calm talk … the best Averatec can do is
have it picked up at my place tomorrow via Fedex Ground and look into fixing
their repair. I am not happy with the shipping method, given that the notebook
was shipped out by me on 11/12. The guy explains that there is no other option.
Averatec’s corporate policy is that they only use ground. So we are looking at
another 3 weeks without this notebook. ( 1 week ground to California, 1 week to
repair it, 1 week return shipping ) Hopefully at least they will not hand it
over to the same tech.

Adding up all the time we spent on
troubleshooting this machine that means it will total > 2 months of
troubleshooting, repair & shipping, versus 5 months of use.

Way
to go Averatec. This is not customer service. You just lost a few customers and
I’m not recommending your products any more.

Click here to read more …

Dec 21 2005

Some of you (mainly those who have been at our place) will notice that the
monitors on my desk have been moved towards the edges, causing a spacious gap.
That, and the fact that my desk looks quite a bit neater then it often
(usually?) does. Yes, I admit it. I cleared it in anticipation of … the
mystery item = my Xmas & birthday present.

Any thoughts or
guesses?

Maybe I should have a prize in case somebody guesses it.

Click here to read more …

Dec 19 2005
After the unfortunate incident with M&M (which passed away) * things
weren’t quite the same for the cats. They were bored beyond words. All they
would do is sleep, eat, drink, go to the bathroom, return to sleep … A very
high contrast with how they routinely patrol the house for mice, monitor certain
places in the house, try to sneak into the computer room to check on the mice
cage, etc. Seven & Wizard clearly know it has been virtually impossible for
mice to enter the house for a number of months, as they haven’t caught anything
for the longest time. The disadvantage of properly insulating this old house.

So, we decided to give them something to think about and made a trip
to the pet store.

Actually we made two trips. On the first trip we
got a white boy and a grey girl from separate cages. After 20 minutes together
they were not getting along any more. We were forced to keep them apart. The
next day, back in the store, it turns out “Frostie” was girl and so was the
smaller grey one. So, we traded they grey one in for a white sibling, and all is
well.

Meet the Gerbils
:)

They
are actually a bit scared of the camera sounds (focus lock & shutter) and
the flash is like a lightning strike to them, so for now we just let them adopt
to their new home.

Of course they chose to nest outside the large
plastic pet residence with treadmill etc as well as the small wooden house. And
they love to chew! They go through the little cardboard roll from bathroom
tissue in less than two hours. It’s already clear I will have less cardboard to
recycle the conventional way (as in take it to the city recycling center of
course) Here you can see one working on part of a sheet of cardboard. Cardboard
tastes better then the gerbil size 2×6 in the background.

And
the cats? Only during their afternoon nap is when we don’t see them around.

* (during our trip to Florida M&M ate part of some branches
which I had placed in the cage for them to climb around on, and we believe
that’s how they met their end)

Click here to read more …

Dec 12 2005
KIWI, our 13″ Averatec 4265-EH1 notebook has been away for one month and
one day now on a repair adventure.

A few months ago we decided our
little 12″ Averatec on-the-road computer / notebook named Sammy could use an
update as C would like to use a notebook rather then a desktop as her primary
system. We were happy with the 12″ model, so we didn’t hesitate to buy a better,
faster & more versatile model from the same brand. 13″ widescreen, 1.6GHz
Pentium M 730, XP, 512MB RAM, 80GB HDD, 6x DVDr, wireless, etc. Sounds good.
Price is fair.

The initial excitement wore off pretty quick when
during the first weeks we noted very slow performance, 1.5hr battery life (can’t
finish viewing a DVD on the plane), 2 dead pixels (which were masked by their
desktop background), 1x DVD burning (vs 6x regardless of DVD media) and function
buttons not working. It literally is outlived and outperformed by the old model
with half the RAM etc.

The store (Staples) of course was no option
in terms of a return & exchange. (note to self, next time use Costco or
Sam’s again. Sam’s Club did a no questions asked exchange on Sammy v1 who’s
keyboard was a little warped causing some keys to rub the LCD screen and leave
rubbing marks on the panel within the first weeks
) I checked a few things.
No change. A few emails and calls to Averatec customer support later, they
advised to format the hard drive, reinstall the Operating System + drain &
re-calibrate the battery.

You have to love how quick they say format
the drive and re-install the operating system nowadays. It is the miracle cure!
And, this guy basically wanted me to erase the drive over the phone right then
and there. Euh … hello!? Not so quick. This is my wife’s notebook and she has
her email, photos & documents on there! Before they would issue an RMA, the
reinstall & battery thing had to be done, so, we backed up her documents
(which we would have had to do anyway), did the battery thing, reinstalled
everything and started testing it. Exactly the same battery life, slow
performance, 1x burning, etc. Time to get an RMA number and mail it in for
repair. Since we were a week away from going to Florida and still have Sammy, we
figured that was a good time to get KIWI fixed. We weren’t going to do anything
besides checking email anyway.

Customer service said average repair
time is only a few days, so based on that the notebook would be ready and
re-delivered while we were on vacation. I wanted to avoid it being undeliverable
up north and also avoid many daytrips bouncing on the delivery truck. He said I
can keep an eye on the RMA status page and call in to update the shipping
address when I think it is required. Sounds good. You can ship it to Florida.

Many days pass with an RMA status note along the lines of “Received.
This system is being diagnosed etc”. I call for a shipping address update, only
to be told I couldn’t do that. I explain the situation. Turns out they actually
didn’t know where the notebook was, as in: it might be shipped already. I get a
story about how the customer service and repair facility computers only
synchronize data overnight and they still have old information … Anyway, they
change my shipping address in the computer and would check on the repair. The
next day I receive a call: no info on the repair, but it certainly has not
shipped yet. The girl confirms that my shipping address is updated in the
system. Well at least that is sorted out.

A few days pass before I
check the RMA status page again. Oh, KIWI is repaired and shipped yesterday to
… Florida. Of course! Why am I not surprised? Now KIWI is going on a Fedex
ground trip California to Florida. Only upon arrival there Fedex will read the
address correction note and forward him ground from Florida to Maine. That only
takes about two weeks. Yippie!

Hopefully C’s patience will be
rewarded and KIWI will work the way it should now.

Oh, by the way!
Averatec’s dead pixel policy is that there have to be “two dead pixels side by
side” before they will replace a panel under warranty. No matter how many dead
pixels you have. Generally I hear & read about 5 – 8 pixels or so. But two
side by side?

Click here to read more …

Dec 11 2005
Our two felines Seven & Wizard joined us on our trip south. They
behaved very well in the car. Wizard did excellent compared to his last road
trip two years ago. Maybe they knew they were going on a Florida hunting
vacation?

Wizard like a true tiger, surveying the area:

Seven moved so fast outdoors I had trouble snapping her photo. Every time
I walked closer she thought I’d pick her up to go inside.

Click here to read more …

Dec 11 2005
A few “wildlife” images from our recent trip home to Florida, after a
mandatory first image :)

Enjoying a light breeze:

Hanging on:

Waiting for dinner:

Later gator:

Pipe sitter:

Click here to read more …