FryUp: Monumental emoluments

SP1 set to expand Vista's horizons

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— Monumental emoluments

— Still going to keep XP

ZOMFG it's teh m1x3s!!~~

- This is Sparta! techno remix

- Teletubbies techno-trance music video

Monumental emoluments

I am heartened to see that outgoing Telecom CEO Theresa Gattung won't be

short of cash while galloping around the Pampas. In her last year,

Gattung hauled in some $3.9 million in extra payments for a total of

$5.4 million.

Other executives such as Marko Bogoievski and Simon Moutter also picked

up a bit of dosh on the side, for being so kind as to stick around until

new CEO Paul Reynolds starts. Not as much as TG of course, but still a

goodly amount.

These sort of large payments to executives are completely normal for big

corporations, even ones that enjoy a state-supported monopoly and

subsidies from their competitors.

I just thought I should mention it.

- Gattung's final year nets her $5.4m

- Expensive change of guard at Telecom NZ

- Multi-million dollar departure for Gattung

Still going to keep XP

When Vista went Gold — that is, Microsoft decided it was good enough to

release — it still felt like a beta. I use Vista daily now, both the

32-bit and 64-bit versions, but can't ditch XP yet because certain

things just don't work in the New Windows.

For example, I was recently uploading a video from a Sony DV camera into

Movie Maker in Vista. There was no indication that things weren't going

according to plan, apart from the upload process taking a long long time

(more than an hour and a half), with Vista becoming totally unresponsive.

When the system woke up, I noticed the file size on the computer was

growing alarmingly large. Some eighteen minutes of video became a file

more than half a gigabyte in size, and it was still growing. The camera

itself indicated that the upload process had finished, and rewound the

tape cassette to the beginning, so I thought it was safe to disconnect it.

It wasn't: Vista said something along the lines of "the digital capture

device has been disconnected and everything had to cease, and would I

like to save the material uploaded already?" Well, yes, I would like that

very much.

The only problem was that Vista had six minutes worth of video in Movie

Maker. Six minutes, after more than 90 minutes of uploading.

In XP, Movie Maker uploaded the file in the expected 20 minutes or

so. The file size was a svelte 80MB as per the resolution settings.

That's the kind of stuff that makes you very defensive about your XP

installation. I think I'm looking forward to Service Pack 3 of XP more

than Service Pack 1 of Vista in fact.

The collection of badly-needed bugfixes for Vista is intended

to make it usable and accepted by not just early adopters. To be fair,

most people who criticise Vista have either very short memory, or never

tried for instance the first version of Apple's Mac OS X or even early

Windows XP. Neither should have been shipped to customers: OS X took

something like four point releases to work properly, and XP took numerous

hotfixes and Service Pack 2.

Vista is actually nowhere near as bad but the problem is that XP SP2

plus hotfixes is a safer option.

It'll be interesting to see if Vista SP1 sorts that out. I've signed up

for the beta already, so will report back when the allegedly

gigabyte-sized beta of SP1 appears and is installed.

- Vista reaches crunchtime with SP1 (the beta)

- Windows Vista Service Pack 1 Beta White Paper

- Windows XP SP3 Lives! Available from Microsoft + Leaked Screenshots


Cartoon from

Robert X. Cringely

Tales of tech terror

After my debacle attempting to replace my HP battery backup unit (the new one appears to be working fine, knock on wood), I received several emails from Cringesters with even more horrifying support stories — mostly HP or Dell sufferers. Here are four of the most chilling, slightly edited for clarity and length:

The BIOS from beyond the grave

K. T.'s tale of terror begins when he foolishly agreed to let HP automatically update the BIOS on his new Pavilion 7680n.

"Within 30 seconds my PC froze and would not reboot again. I called HP Tech support (India) and got the typical runaround. They were polite, but said there was nothing they could do. I could have my PC shipped to a service centre for a new BIOS chip and a hard drive reformat. I said 'HELL NO.' After several hours of being transferred around the world to different support groups, I was finally able to escalate the situation to someone in Canada, who arranged to have a tech come to my location and replace my motherboard. Within three days someone showed up and installed a new motherboard in my PC. Every thing booted up fine. They never would say what caused that bad HP BIOS update, but I believe it was for Vista users. I'm running Windows XP!

Voice menus of the living dead

When B. K. tried to get Dell to fix his dead hard drive, they sent him an SATA unit, not an IDE. So he called to correct the problem — and got bounced around more than a ping pong ball in a wind tunnel.

"After going through four levels of phone menus, I got to someone in India who said I'd reached the wrong department. He transferred me to someone in small/medium business, who also said it was the wrong department and sent me to India again to someone who did not know the difference between IDE and SATA. He sent me to another phone menu that was five levels deep. After 15 minutes on hold I hung up, and later called the number he gave me. That menu transferred me to another menu for tech support which then sent me to customer service and after two more menus transferred me to a menu for higher education, which sent me to the tech support menu again. After being transferred to their service menu and going through two more levels of menus I selected what seemed to be the most likely choice and ended up back at the phone number where I'd started."

The desktop that wasn't there

Two months ago, D. Y. bought Compaq Presario V6000 laptop running Windows XP. Mysteriously, the desktop wouldn't display if he created more than one user account.

"After 18 emails and as many phone calls, HP's only suggestion was to run the 'restore to factory settings' program — killing off all the applications, firewall, virus checker, and data that I put on the laptop after getting it. HP refused to dispatch a technician to my home, a service I paid for in an extended service contract, on the grounds that restoring to factory settings does not require a tech. HP refused to escalate the issue to 2nd tier support on same grounds, to identify whether any of the six dozen Microsoft patches to Windows XP SP2 I was forced to install after initialising Windows might be the culprit, or if anyone had ever called in with a similar problem."

Revenge of the local dealers

After having 15 Dell power supplies go dark in the space of a week, S. S. says he gave up on brand name manufacturers. As data administrator for a Michigan community college, he now buys all his machines — some 500 a year — from a local build-to-order shop:

"I get exactly the specification that I want and at a very competitive price. As I am their biggest customer, they bend over backwards to keep me happy. If I have a problem of any kind, I have a direct support contact or I call the owner. And, on the plus side, they speak English and are technically very competent."

When the next batch of power supplies went belly up, he didn't call Dell, he called his local PC maker, who sent out two techs with 24 units and replaced all of the original Dell power supplies for free. "Now, that's service," he says.

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