The content of this blog is my personal opinion only. Although I am an employee - currently of Nvidia, in the past of other companies such as Iagination Technologies, MIPS, Intellectual Ventures, Intel, AMD, Motorola, and Gould - I reveal this only so that the reader may account for any possible bias I may have towards my employer's products. The statements I make here in no way represent my employer's position, nor am I authorized to speak on behalf of my employer. In fact, this posting may not even represent my personal opinion, since occasionally I play devil's advocate.

See http://docs.google.com/View?id=dcxddbtr_23cg5thdfj for photo credits.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Toshiba TabletPC back from Repair Depot

I've decided to continue recording every step of my travail with my Toshiba Porteger M400 TabletPC, in case others have similar issues.


Today, May 4 2008, I finally got around to working on my Toshiba Tablet PC, which I shipped back to Toshiba's repair depot 4/6/2008, and which UPS says they delivered to me on 04/18/2008. (Leaving it on my doorstep unsecured, I might add.)

12 days for Toshiba to turn it around.

16 days for me to get around to testing it out.

Why so long a delay on my side?

a) after wasting so many days on this machine, I am reluctant to waste more

b) I can't waste any more weekday time, which I must devote all to work (yes, even when I am nit at work). (Originally I had hoped to use this TabletPC as a machine that i could do both work and personal stuff on - a hope that I have almost abandoned).

c) the free time that I was willing to devote to PC maintenance was largely spent on my wife's TabletPC, installing a MIDI keyboard and Sibelius.

d) Basically, the amount of time I have to devote to maintaining personal computers is limited and quantized. When a PC doesn't work out of the box, it is annoying.

So far, this Toshiba has been the most annoying computer I have ever had.

Repair Summary

The Toshiba Laptop Repair Summary (filled in by the Toshiba Technician, shipped back to me) reads:

Date Repaired: April 16, 2008
Technician: MXD4

(other form stuff)


Unit had defective System Board and CPU. System Board and CPU were replaced, hard drive re-imaged to factory settings. Unit passed all tests. BIOS set, DMI updated.

tech - VistaU,Wifi,bt,2048 Ram,120g hdd,IT Signed,Missing Screws,Stickers,Worn Plastics,Scatches,has stylus,no acc.,S/N Correct on IT,Has System Guard (Last used:Never used),scr lcd mask/lcd top,stkrs faded/frayed,dust under lcd mask,paperwork,Warranty [...]

Glew comments:

"Missing Screws" - not me, probably from the Toshiba recommended repair shop (Northwest Computer Support). I have never opened this computer up - I don't want to mess up warranty.

Worn Plastics - ditto (I think he means the plastic parts inside the case, and/or the case. Given how often this PC has been in the shop for repairs, hardly surprising.)

Stkrs faded/frayed - none of the stickers I can see outside the box seem faded or frayed to me; if he is talking about stickers inside the box, well, again, not me, must be Tishiba or Toshiba recommended service.

Dust under lcd mask - once again, this was either done by Toshiba, the Toshiba recommended technician, or it indicates a design flaw that allows dust to get in.

"scr lcd mask/lcd" - I suppose I might have scratched these in normal use, but if so it almost definitely indicates a design flaw, SINCE I HAVE NOT BEEN ABLE TO EVEN START USING THIS MACHINE YET. If it gets scratched when it has spent most of its time sitting idle, with only a couple of trips to work, ensconced in my Air Targus pneumatically padded bag, and where it sat on my desk unused at work because of these problems- well, again, this indicates a design defect, if it cannot stand up to such modest use.

Clicking Better ; Fan Still Loud

I am happy to report that the horrible, incessant, clicking (as if the keyboard was stuck), no longer seems to be occurring.

At first, I had some hope that the excessively loud fan problem might have gone away: it was quiet, no fan, while Vista asked me the initial questions "What is your username? Password? Etc."

Unfortunately, somewhere in that sequence - around the time I set the desktop background or the timezone - the fan once again went into hyperdrive, and has remained loud ever since.

Time Spent Re-installing for the 3rd or 4th Time

I started "re-installing" this system at 12:57 - actually a bit earlier, that's the fist time I entered. I wonder how much time overall it will take?

---+++ Create Recovery Disks

At the moment, I am creating new system recovery disks (just in case Toshina installed a slightly different OS image than the first time). 3 DVDs; done at 2:26 pm. I.e. roughy 1.5 hours for *that* task.

---+++ WiFi

That was fast... (Now that I keep my WiFi access code on my telephone).

---+++ Backup

I wasted circa half an hour trying to persuade the default Windows Backup to save a backup to my Buffalo Terastation. No luck - I seem to recall that a patch for Vista is needed, probably to disable Vista's quite reasonable new security for backups. Sigh.

I'll skip on this, while moving on to other necessary tasks.

---+++ Software Updates and Configuration

In this day and age, one of the first things you have to do is install all software updates and security patches.

Now, which should I do first? My Virusscanner, or Windows? ...

---++++ Virusscanner - McAfee

McAfee updates itself almost as soon as connected. Then requires a reboot.

Unfortunately, this is the Adware McAfee that comes preinstalled - 60 day trial, pay later. I'll have to uninstall it and install the virusscanner I get free from my ISP. Unfortunately^2, my company's "free to employees" virusscanner does not support Vista.

It is rather sad that McAfee's user registration does not allow you to have special characters and punctuation in your password.

Grrr... I follishly logged in with my "existing" McAfee account - which, of course, expired. So now I am naked on the Internet, courtesy of Toshiba reinstalling my system. I wonder if I can sue Toshiba if I am hacked before I get properly secured.

I'll install Windows security updates, and then go and find my real virusscanner.

Time: 3:09pm.

---+++ Windows Updates

On this new fresh system: 55 updates, 113.3 MB total, need to be installed right away.

    GLEW IDEA: I'm pretty sure I've discussed this in public already: we are fast approaching the day when a newly installed computer should start off with all Internet access disabled, except for a dedicated path to download updates as quickly as possible, with nothing else able to access the net.

    E.g. it should be running a mini-OS at this point.

Hey, wow! it looks like Comcast has decided to ration my bandwidth - since downloading these security patches makes me look like a net.bw.abuser. I'm still downloading, but really slowly.

3:44pm - restarting after Windows update completed. 35 minutes to do this upgrade :-(

---+++ McAfee Try #2

Uninstalled the adware McAfee,
installed (again) the free McAfee available through Comcast.

(Urgh: have I made myself a target by confessing that I use this version of McAfee?)

4:19pm: I have finally got a virusscanner running.

Looking through various security alerts: should I be running both McAfee and Windows Defender? I don't know. What's the harm? Slowness...

4:42pm: ok, all the security and virusscanning stuff is on.

Moving on ...

---++ Create User Accounts

As soon as the basic install is done, I create an unprivileged user account for normal access.

4:52 - that's done. On to installing the software I usually use.

---++ Installing Software

Software I depend on:
* Cygwin
* Firefox
* mozex plugin
* Quicken
* some sort of Office software - probably OpenOffice, since Microsoft Office is too expensive to buy yet another licence for

Software I am thinking about using
* Thunderbird (had installed it for first time just before TabletPC started misbehaving)

Software that I want to install:
* VmWare

Software I may need to work on my TabletPC:
* Microsoft Visual Studio
* the chip company's /C++ compiler

It is rather sad that admin privileges are required to install so many of these.

Urgh: McAfee decides to deny access to Mozilla Thunderbird. Now how do I persuade it not to do this?

Installing Cygwin, of course, takes hours and hours.