October 29, 2007

Really Bad HP Customer Service...
In my continuing struggle to find out what's happened with my laptop at HP (and get it back!), I haven't found out anything except that they've got really bad customer service.
I called the Canadian number (important to note) again on Wednesday to see what was happening, and where my computer was. I of course got booted around to a bunch of different people, and eventually talked to Kumar. He couldn't help me, and transfered me to some box-store/HP liason lady who was supposed to be able to find my computer in the system. Obviously Kumar didn't know that I was calling from Canada (despite me calling a Canadian number and being offered service in English or French), because he connected me to a lady in the US. After giving her all my info, computer info, store info, etc., she couldn't find my computer in the system. Nothing! I was getting a bit nervous. After 10 minutes of trying every number, product code, and phone number, she asked for my ZIP code. I gave her my postal code. "Your ZIP code sir." "Ah, I'm in Canada." "Well I'm in the States. Sorry sir, but I can't help you. You'll have to call the Canada support number."
Back to square one!
When I called the number "all of our agents are [of course] busy", but I could leave a message and they would respond in 24 hours. I decided it best to hold and wait for an actual person. It's not like I didn't have to write a 10-page paper about medical negligence for the next day on a borrowed computer or anything.
10 minutes of elevator music later and no operator. The system decided automatically to put me through to voice mail where I left an unhappy message with my product details and phone number. The machine said they would respond in 24 hours. It's been 4 days now...
So I went to Staples on the weekend, where I bought the laptop and a 3-year warranty, to see if they could help. The manager photocopied my details, and said she would have the tech department email HP.

October 23, 2007

It's amazing that when you've got a big essay or paper due, you always find things that "need" to be done more urgently. For example cleaning the oven, blogging, pouring a glass of wine, changing lightbulbs to energy saving ones, or checking your emails every 5 minutes.
Yup, I've got a bigish paper due on Thursday, and instead of writing about medical negligence and signing "Refusal to Permit Blood Transfusion" forms (based on Hobbs v. Robertson [2004] B.C.J. No. 1689 (B.C.S.C.)), I've been cleaning the oven, blogging, pouring a glass of wine, changing lightbulbs to energy saving ones, and checking my emails every 5 minutes.

October 18, 2007

Annoying HP...
My Compaq V2000 had to be repaired (i.e. have its hard drive replaced) in August just before I left for Ottawa. I figured that would be fine for a while, but three weeks after arriving in Ottawa Windows wouldn't start. So I took the laptop once again back to Staples, where I have a warranty, to get it fixed. I took it in on the 19th of September, and I'm still waiting. I finally went in, and they said that it was shipped on the 20th of September to HP to have
it fixed and that I'd have to call HP to check on the status.
I tried calling last Friday, and my call was dropped twice. The first time I actually talked to someone, after battling for several minutes with the voice automated system, who transferred my call. After a minute of music it was dropped with the annoyingly familiar 'beep beep beep' noise.
Anyway, I called HP yesterday to try again. A few friends suggesting pressing the '0' key to avoid the voice automated mess. I pressed '0' a whole bunch of times, but an annoying automated female voice replied calmly "I can understand when you speak; you don't need to press numbers".
Ugh. Then she says something like "to help us better serve you, please say 'home, work, or business'."
"Sorry, I don't seem to understand you. Let's try this again. Please say 'home, work, or business'." WHAT?! I thought she just said she could understand me and I didn't need to have to press buttons!
"Just give me an operator."
"Sorry, I don't seem to understand you. Please wait while I transfer you to an operator." Finally.
Music. Then I'm finally talking to a human.
After giving my phone number, product number, ticket number, computer model, name, address, and waiting ages while they try to find the product, the guy says that they haven't done anything with the computer.
"What do you mean that nothing has been done? I sent in the computer on the 20th of September, that's a month ago. Can you please tell me more about what you've done with it and when I can expect to get it fixed?"
"I can't give you that information. I'll transfer you to the Status Department."
More music, more waiting. Then my call gets transferred to India. The lady could hardly understand me, and the connection was awful.
"Hello sir, how can I help you?"
I go through the whole thing again, but this time she can't seem to find the computer! "Kindly wait 2 or 3 minute Sir."
Finally she figures out what's going on and tells me that it hasn't been fixed yet. "What do you mean that nothing has been done? I sent in the computer on the 20th of September, that's a month ago. Can you please tell me more about what you've done with it and when I can expect to get it fixed?" I feel like a parrot.
"Kindly wait 2 or 3 minute Sir." Crackling noises and what I think is Hindi in the background.
"Sorry Sir, I will put in a work order to fix the computer right away."
-OK, so isn't that why I sent the laptop to HP, to have it fixed? Are they now doing a storage system where if you go on vacation they'll hold onto your computer for the fun of it?! If the laptop has been sent in a month earlier for repair, why is the repair order just being made now?
"Well can you at least tell me when it'll be fixed."
"Kindly wait 1 or 2 minute Sir." Crackling noise.
"Hello Sir, maybe the maximum time is 7 or 9 day plus shipping, unless there is a backlog."
"Well can you tell me if there's a backlog?" I asked trying not to sound frustrated.
"Yes, I can find out if there's a backlog. Kindly wait 1 or 2 minute Sir." Crackling noise. "There is no backlog of the parts."
"Well I need the computer to do work, and this will take 6 or 7 weeks, so I'd appreciate it if you can do this as fast as possible."
"Thank you Sir for calling HP. Please have a nice day. If you have any questions you can look at the website www.hp. (long pause, while she's trying to figure out which country I'm in) ca"
Ugh. So now I have to wait another 2 or 3 weeks before I get my laptop back for the second time since August from HP Repair. Hopefully it will last longer than 3 weeks this time before it crashes again!

October 08, 2007

Gobble, Gobble...
I thought it might be nice to have a bit of a Thanksgiving dinner for some of the stragglers who were left behind here in Ottawa over the long weekend, so I did up a big turkey meal today. I was a bit worried about under cooking the turkey, so I got a meat thermometer and put the turkey in the oven early just to be safe. It turned out perfectly, as you can see below. It wasn't dry, and had a great browned skin. (We had taken off the wings and drumsticks when we realised we should take a photo, so I held them back on the turkey)

I also did up a green salad, got some buns, made garlic mashed potatoes, stuffing, broccoli and onion bake, gravy out of the drippings, and even had pumpkin pie and ice cream for dessert, with a decent white wine. I think it went pretty well, and even had a friend ask for the broccoli and onion bake recipe.
Of course I spent most of the day in the kitchen and at the table eating, but it was nice to take a break from some of those big law textbooks.
Now I'm stuffed with turkey and wine, and a bit sleepy... Time to read my Criminal Law & Procedure text.

October 05, 2007

Censorship and Privacy...
I was reminded of a post that I wrote a while back this week during my Torts class when we were talking about the alleged tort of Invasion of Privacy (it's recognised in some jurisdictions under Common Law). I didn't want to post this until after I left China for obvious reasons, so here's the post more or less in its entirety.
It's well known around the world that China has a lot of censorship in many areas and it's been evident living here. It's been rated in the bottom 10 countries for censorship. Even this blog is blocked from time to time by the Great Firewall of China. There seem to be two types of blocks in China -soft blocks and hard blocks. Soft blocks are easy enough to get around using an anonymous proxy (i.e. to read my blog when it's blocked), but hard blocks are pretty much impossible to get around.
Starting off with personal anecdotes, I have friends and have met travellers who have had their Lonely Planet China guides confiscated at overland border crossings, but not when entering by air, with the excuse from the border guards that the books are "wrong". They have a map of China which doesn't include a certain highly-disputed island/province. You can't buy Lonely Planet China in bookstores that sell LP for every other country, but there are a few places in Beijing with secret imports.
A friend of mine was entering the country overland from Vietnam when the border
guards went through her bag. They of course removed her LP China, but also a history book she had about China. When asked why they confiscated it, the border guard said "it contains 'wrong' history" and that "maybe [she] should buy a book with 'correct' history at the government controlled XinHua Bookstore". The real reason for confiscation? The book had a photo of a man in front of a tank from a certain 'incident' in 1989.
I've been reading an interesting blog lately called Truth About China, which has as itstagline "Truth About China, for people who want the truth". They recently ran a story about a French website blocked for warning of risks of investing in China. A section of the report that gets the site hard blocked in China is:
"The Middle Kingdom has managed to divert international investments for its benefit, obtain technologies without anything in return other that the promises arising from our own imagination, gag its dissidents - including those abroad - and ensnare the west in its golden clutches (...) Perhaps it is time to realise this before we are closed in the Chinese trap for good"
Supposedly you can read the whole story, but it's hard blocked in China.
Another example is Google.cn, the site that you get redirected to after typing Google.com within China. Massive amounts of information are directly censored, and some of the sites listed end up being blocked anyway. For example, even though Wikipedia.org comes up in some searches, it's always blocked (some pages about China are hard blocked, the rest is soft blocked). A funny joke I found referring to Wikipedia and China goes like this:
Question: What do you call a cooperative community of individuals, each granted use of the means of production, working as equals not for profit but to produce something that is collectively owned by all?
Answer: A threat to Communism.

The perfect example though is in the image section of Google. Go to
Google.com and type in Tiananmen Square. What's the image that appears? Now check out Google.cn's versions of Tiananmen Square. At the time of writing this there are apparently only a few photos of Tian'anmen Square on the internet, showing photos of happy soldiers, ethnic minorities, and tourists.
There was an interesting article on Yahoo!news not too long ago about blogging in China, and how it scares the Central Government. They're worried in part because "blogging is a disruptive technology that helps open up people's minds". I keep reading that in the near future China will make it necessary forbloggers to register with their real ID before they can post.
All in all though, things are much better than they were just a few years ago. Here are a few more links in case you're interested:
Danwei on Television censorship in China
Business Week: The Great Firewall of China (2006)
CNN: Tech execs get grilled over China business (2006)
CBS: China's Internet Censorship (2002)