My E4300 is driving me nuts

I really like my new Dell E4300 laptop but it has an odd behavior which is driving me nuts.  When connected with either WiFi or BroadBand (I have the AT&T card) it will lose network connectivity after some period of time.  Sometime is takes an hour or more, sometimes it happens very quickly.  Once it  happens, I am usually hosed and need to reboot.  But not always.  It only affects WiFi and BroadBand.  It has no affect on the wired Ethernet connection.  As long as I am in the office or at home I am ok.

I have been round and round with our internal IT people as well as Dell on this issue and haven’t found any resolution yet.  A new BIOS update (A05) actually made the problem worse.  With the A03 BIOS when it happened I could still ping other computers and eventually full connectivity would come back.  But not now.

Reportedly Dell has a production stop on the E4300 to resolve a bunch of issues and a BIOS update is supposed to be available on January 19th.  I hope so – I am about to spend a bunch of time on the road for work and having an unreliable network connection is not ok.

If you are considering an E4300 I’d hold off for now and see if reports improve over the next couple weeks.  That is of course assuming that Dell actually delivers a new BIOS update and doesn’t delay it again!

Solved my DSL woes

I finally solved my DSL woes.  I got Cable instead.  It took me a while to find someone at Earthlink who could help me move from DSL to Cable.  Seems like it should be a fairly simple thing to do since Earthlink offers both DSL and Cable but it isn’t.

I ended up having to set up new service and now that is is running, I need to migrate our e-mail addresses from my old account to the new one.  The support person I worked with assured me this should be simple to do, we’ll find out in a day or so when it bubbles on to my to-do list to take care of.

DSL Woes

I am getting increasingly frustrated with my Earthlink DSL service.  At our old house it was very reliable but since we moved it has been up and down on a regular basis.  It usually isn’t too bad, it comes up and the performance is usually pretty good.  But for the last week or so, something is wrong and my patience for Earthlink is waning.

Look at this results from’s Speed Test.  Bleh.  I need to call the cable company.

RockBand Update

I have posted much about RockBand lately.  Not playing as much as I was.  At this point I have finished the original RockBand game on Guitar at both the Easy and Medium levels and started the Hard level.

I am now to the point where I can usually make it through a song on Hard as long as it doesn’t get ridiculously complex.

We’ve been playing some RockBand 2 at home lately.  For the most part I like the game better but I do miss the Solo Tour which really walks you through the game in a logical progression.  In RB2 I find myself without the time to play the 3-6 song sets required to finish many of the tour stops.

Last night my son and nephew were playing Guitar and Bass so I played some Drums with them.  I haven’t played the drums in a while and was pleased to see I wasn’t totally incompetent with them like I had been previously.  I guess just playing the game has helped somewhat.  I was able to finish the first City on the RB2 tour playing Easy Drums and got 4-5 stars on all songs but one.

The Drums are much harder in my opinion.  I find myself getting out of sync from time to time and really struggling to get back on track to hit the notes.  When I do that I really need to pause, skip a note or two and then get back at it but often I will bang through a whole phrase slightly out of sync and miss all the notes.

Dell E4300 two week review

I have had my Dell E4300 for two weeks now.  At this point I think I can offer an opinion which is based on fact and real usage and opposed to first impressions and emotion.

What I like

  1. I really like the size and weight, it is thin and weighs less than four pounds.
  2. It is fast and it hasn’t crashed on me during normal use.
  3. The mechanics.  It feels solid – nothing flimsy about it at all.
  4. Real docking station.  I really like not having to plug anything when when I get to work or go home. 
  5. Built-in BroadBand card.  I really like this – it is nice to not have to worry about an external card.
  6. The color – I picked the bright blue and while it make no difference to how the machine works, it is nice to have something a little different.
  7. The neoprene sleeve that comes with it.  Sometimes I don’t want to carry my computer bag so having the sleeve is a nice compromise.

What I don’t like

  1. Dell Control Point Connection Manager – this is the one thing I really don’t like about the machine.  The DCP CM is a nuisance.  For whatever reason it wants to create “Profiles” for each different configuration, why I don’t know.  Each time I use the BroadBand card the screen flashes and a DCP window “informs” me about a profile change when all I want to do is make a connection.
  2. The “clicking” sound of the 7200 RPM SATA HDD.  It sounds like there is something wrong with it but I guess that is just the way it works.  Odd.  It is loud enough to be noticeable.
  3. Windows XP.  I may be one of the few who happens to like Vista but at this point, XP is old and running it on a brand new machine is a bummer.  Unfortunately, my employer is reluctant to deploy Vista.  I could probably push it but for now, I am living with XP.
  4. Undock:  The way the release button on the docking station works it sounds like something is breaking.  Each time I undock it I cringe a bit.
  5. Stand-By:  I am seeing some flakiness coming out of Stand-By when using the docking station.  I would guess about half the time the machine doesn’t come out of Stand-By correctly.  I have a dock at work and a dock at home – my normal (and preferred) usage is to go into Stand-By when I leave the office, remove it from the dock, go home, put it in the other dock, and come out of Stand-By.  It should work but doesn’t always.

First thoughts on the AT&T Fuze

Last night we were out running some errands and were near the AT&T store.  Since we’re looking at getting phones for Christmas for some of our family members we went inside to do some research on phones and family plans.  While there, I asked the guy helping us if he had a Fuze in yet and he pulled one out from under his desk.

I have really wanted to play with one before committing to it.  The Fuze will replace the Tilt (which I didn’t care for) in the AT&T line up and has the TouchFlo interface which has received good reviews.  TouchFlo is supposed to make the Windows Mobile Pro UI easier to use.

The Fuze is slightly smaller than the Tilt and a quite a bit lighter.  That said, it is still fairly heavy and fairly thick.  It would be easier to carry than the Tilt was I am still not sure I’d want it in my pocket.

Before I make a final verdict, I want to go back and play with it again.  I had three of my children with me so I couldn’t give it my full attention but I found the TouchFlo interface interesting but not real intuitive and surprisingly, not real easy to use.  I couldn’t make it work consistently.  However, the Sales Rep could so it must require some practice to get used to it.

Got my new laptop

I received my new Dell E4300 last Friday and over the weekend I got all of my applications installed.  Tuesday night I copied over my 125GB of data (I really need to delete some stuff) and I have been using it ever since.  I even sent the M1210 I had been using back to our IT guy so I am committed.

For the most part I like it.  Mine has 4GB RAM, 250GB HDD, internal AT&T BroadBand card, the bright blue case.  About the only thing I am not thrilled with is the Dell Connection Manager.  It takes over the function previously supplied by AT&T’s BroadBand Connect software.  The Dell application is clunky and it is constantly asking me to create a profile.  I don’t want a profile, I just want a connection!

I definitely like the size and weight.  There should be no problem working with it on an airplane.  I really like the ambient light keyboard too.  At first I thought it only had one USB port which would have been a real bummer but it turns out it has a dual function eSATA/USB port on the left hand side so it has two USB ports.  I typically use a BlueTooth mouse with it so I don’t think only having two ports will be an issue.  I may pick up a USB ExpressCard anyway for the odd time I need more.

Still lusting after the Sony-Ericsson XPERIA X1

I still want to see one of these phones.  I just read a review on which proclaims the X1 as the best Windows Mobile device ever.  There are a ton of pictures and videos in the review and the lack of one handed use still concerns me.  It is nice to see that it weighs much less than the AT&T Tilt which is really a heavy phone.  I recall reading somewhere that the X1 US carrier announcement should come out this week and I think it will be T-Mobile because my contact at AT&T has told me they aren’t going to have it.  Bummer.  I am also looking forward to seeing the AT&T Fuze which should be available in the next week or two as well.

My Dell E4300 arrived!

Yesterday I received my new Dell E4300 laptop.  I ended up getting a blue one with a builtin AT&T BroadBand card (replacing the webcam) and 4GB of RAM.  I am now in the process of moving my life from one laptop to another, a process which will take me a couple of days.  I have most of the applications installed again, will probably copy my data over tonight.

WordPress 2.7 Thoughts

If you haven’t seen it yet, WordPress 2.7 changes the Admin interface again.  While it seems many people don’t care for it, I like it a lot better than the existing interface.  I don’t care for the terminology they used for the main headers on the side bar though.

I was on the road this week so spent some airplane time working on my wp-SwimTeam plugin and decided to see how it would work under WordPress 2.7.  I have actually started moving my development around a bit and I think it will turn out to be a good thing.  Yesterday and today I was running 2.7 under Linux with PHP 4.4.9.  Last week I was running under Windows with PHP 5.2.6.

2.7 exposed a few things in my plugin which I have fixed but like I said, I am not happy with the new terminology being used.  I had changed my implementation recently so the end user chose the Swim Team menu off the Users menu in the Dashboard and the Admin would choose Swim Team from the Manage menu.  In 2.7, the Users menu doesn’t exist so there isn’t a logical place to put the functionality exposed to the end users.  I’ll figure something out, in the meantime, there is plenty of work to do on the plugin itself.