Thundercloud and Eightball RANT - Cloudeight Internet LLC

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Our Little Rant by Eightball & Thundercloud
First published in InfoAve Premium Issue #142 July 6, 2006

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Hey Dude! I Got A New Dell

You might think I'm crazy, hangin' around with you. Oops. Sorry. Indeed you might think I'm crazy to buy a Dell after all the negative things that we've said about Dell in the past year. And, maybe this chat isn't really about my new computer or about Dell. Maybe it's about you. The plural you. As in "Ya all".

And maybe you have to give people some credit sometimes too. After all, everyone makes mistakes; that includes corporations too.

In case you've been hiding under a rock in Lower Slobovia or camping out in a tent in Abyssinia for the last year, let me fill you in and, against my natural instincts, I'll try to be brief:

We've (meaning me, Cloudeight, EB) have used Dell computers for the last four years. For a large part of that time, we wouldn't have thought about buying anything else. We've had good luck with Dell, although we didn't always agree with some of the things they did (like moving home/personal computer support to India). But, still, we liked the computers we bought from them and normally we required very little in the way of support, cos we're like computer wizards, aren't we? Just kidding, folks.

Sometime in 2005 someone at Dell; apparently someone isolated from things Web (maybe he/she was spending time with you in Lower Slobovia); or someone who was naive enough to buy the song and dance that FunWebProducts (IAC corp.) was selling them - decided to make a few extra million bucks for Dell by pre-installing some FunWebProducts programs on their new Dimension and Inspiron desktops and notebooks. Well, it just so happens that Dimension and Inspiron are Dell's two biggest selling computer lines. In fact, a majority of the computers they sell to home/personal users are Dimensions or Inspirons. Well, in short, that means that a great many customers bought Dells with FunWebProducts "programs" installed on them. The trouble with that is, and I'll be kind here, that FunWebProducts is a bundle of software programs that are very questionable. We consider them PUS (potentially unwanted software), but others on the Web are not so kind. They call them "spyware", "adware", "browser hijacker" "search hijacker" "badware", "malware" - even good old McAfee calls them something unkind, and I can't remember what, but I'm too lazy to go look right now. Any whale, to make a long story shorter (still not short by any means), it means that Dell was pre-installing what amounted to something questionable on every new Dimension and Inspiron they sold. And, another funny thing (funny meaning "strange") is that most all good anti-spyware removes FunWebProducts or at least the questionable parts of it - enough of it so none of the other programs in the bundle function, at least. Funny thing too, is that Dell for the longest time was anti-spyware in its corporate stance. And another funny thing: If you called Dell during the time they were installing these programs, you could get help removing them for a mere $40.00. Which is more than you'd pay for Spyware Doctor (which removes FunWebProducts).

By now you probably got the picture, don't you?

Anyway, recently (last November I believe) Dell stopped installing FunWebProducts on its new computers. This was due in large part to the outcry from people like you who couldn't believe that Dell would do this. We were contacted by Dell (twice) and informed that they had stopped installing FWP on new computers. This didn't, of course, help the hundreds of thousands of people (millions?) who trusted Dell and purchased their computers. And, Dell continued to install FWP on computers sold outside the USA until just recently.

Now I know all this makes you wonder. But, remember: "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone". (Did I do that right, I mean with the quotation marks and the period?). Dell made a terrible mistake and it took them a long time to realize their mistake, but they listened. They listened to people like you and people like me. And while, I'm sure, they were getting paid big bucks by IAC corp. for installing FWP on new Dell computers, all the money in the world isn't worth ruining a good reputation. And, that's exactly what Dell was doing by associating itself with FWP (MyWay, MyWebSearch, MyTotalSearch, MyWay Search Bar, MyWay Toolbar, et. al.)

But, and this is an important "but": Dell responded to your outcry, to my outcries, to our outcries and despite the loss of some pretty easy money, did the right thing. They are no longer installing FWP on any new computers.

So, dude, I bought a new Dell three weeks ago. And sure enough it had no FWP/MyWay on it. I'm very happy with it; it's a great computer. After insisting that I'd never buy another Dell, I bought a new Dell, dude!

There's a lot to be said for a company that listens to its customers and potential customers and responds to them. Dell listened. Dell responded. And now you can buy a new Dell and not have to worry about it being pre-infected with anything questionable. My Dell is fast, works well, and I couldn't be happier.

Was it perfect as Dell shipped it to me? No. Was it in the class of my dream $8045.00 Alienware computer? No. But for the money, no other computer company could touch the deal I got from Dell. Oh, before you go thinking that Dell gave me a better deal on my computer than you could get, they didn't. I purchased mine online from just like you can do. I didn't get anything free that you couldn't have gotten free. Oh yes, I should've, I think :). Dell should give me a computer don't you think? Darn it, they put me through all this work! Are you listening out there Dell? Send one to EB too (EB bought a new Dell too, dude!). And  I could use that 3.8 GHz Pentium-D powerhouse with 4GB RAM, a high-end 256 MB NVIDIA Quad Graphics card and the RAID backup system, dual 750GB hard drives - if you please! Yes, it's the one I've drooled over many times before reality set in and I bought the modest Dell system I have now. "Perhaps that's all Bob Cratchit can afford, Scrooge!" But, while I think I deserve the best I can afford only the mundane :). What's a fella to do? That's life! Ain't it the truth?

But, I'm very satisfied that I got my money's worth with this new Dell computer of mine. I don't much care for the software that came preloaded with it, so I simply formatted it and re-installed Windows. Yes, I did get the Windows XP CD-ROM with it too. It cost me $7.00 extra, but all shipping (computer, monitors, etc.) was free so I came out ahead. Besides, $7.00 is pretty cheap for a Windows XP Home Edition (full) CD. Other computer manufacturers either charge you a lot more or don't even give you the option of ordering a Windows XP CD with your computer at a discount. Sure, you could go out and buy a full version of Windows XP Home for around $150.00. But after shelling out a thousand or two for a new computer, who should have to do that just to get the operating system disk. If the computer you're about to buy does not give you the operating system CD or at least make it available to you at very low price, buy another brand that does give you that option. You'll regret it if you don't get the operating system disk - maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but someday, you'll regret not having that Windows CD. Trust me. 

I got a good deal and a nice computer and I'm a happy customer. As long as Dell doesn't go back to installing something like FWP on their computers, I'll continue to support them. If you're thinking about buying a Dell, I would encourage you now, to do so. There's some great deals right now as we approach the Windows Vista era. If you're stick clunking away on Windows 98 or ME, it's like your old computer won't support Windows Vista and you won't be able to upgrade to Vista. So, now's a good time to jump into the modern era as computer manufacturers sell off their Windows XP computers and get ready for Windows Vista. And, I'll tell you a simple fact: Windows XP Home/Pro or Media editions are far above Windows 98/ME. You'll be amazed at the difference. So, jump now while prices are at the lowest if you can afford to do so. When Windows Vista comes out early next year, deals won't be so good. I can almost assure you.

I got a Dell because, they cared enough to listen. I'm sure they could have kept on installing FWP/MyWay and still sold a zillion computers. But, somewhere in the soul of Dell, they knew it wasn't a good thing to do to their customers. They changed. And, I changed my opinion of them.

And, I wonder too, just how many of us keep quiet when we should speak out. I wonder how many wrongs are done everyday that could be righted if we only cared enough and were brave enough to speak out and say "Hey! That's wrong!".

We see our local governments doing dumb things and we keep quiet. We see our state government doing stupid things and we keep quiet. We see our national government making one blunder after another and we don't use our voices to speak out. We keep quiet.

I think we keep quiet because we feel so powerless sometimes. It seems we can't change the way things are and so we keep quiet and things get worse. Maybe each of us alone can't make a difference in this world anymore, but together, our voices are strong and they will be heard.

So, I've learned something from the "Dell experience". If I see something wrong I'm going to speak out and tell you about it. If you agree with me then join with me and speak out too. We can make a difference and we have made a difference. And, I think we've only just begun.

So, dude, I bought a new Dell and learned a lot in the process.

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