April 7th, 2006


Wild Bandon

Don't know how I forgot to mention it in my voice post, but there was some adventure Wednesday afternoon at Bandon Inn. The cretin who assured me that I would be able to stay the extra night had forgotten to tell anyone else. So when I went to the hotel at lunchtime, the maid was in there, all my things were gone, and she said they were in the office.

Most of them were - they had put my insulin in their fridge and she had forgotten to look in the clothes drawers, so all my dirty laundry was still there.

On Friday, when I had called in my reservation, I tolf them I might stay an extra night, and they said okay, but I would probably have to change rooms. Fine. When I checked in Monday night, they said the same thing. Monday afternoon, when I knew for sure I was staying the extra night, I told them, and the nice young man at the front desk said I could stay in my room and not have to move.

The owner "upgraded" me to a room on the next floor up, which was a change from a room with a queen bed to one with a king bed. Big whoop. The rooms are the same size, so the result was less floor space, and an extra flight of stairs to walk up.

They had rushed to clean it, so it still smelled of cleaning fluid. And there basket in which there should have been coffee and tea was empty. Not as big deal, since I rarely drink coffee and could have called down to the desk if I needed any.

Turns out one of the other guys on my project had the same thing happen to him.

They had our cell phone numbers, you would think they would have called before messing with our stuff. The owner kept trying to make it look like it was our fault that they had us down for one night less than we said we had booked. If I ever go back to Bandon, I won't be staying there again. It's not a nice enough place, the service is not good enough, and there are other places in town. Not that I plan to go back again - any work I need to do I can do by Internet.

In other news, on Tuesday night I ate at a place on Hwy. 101, and had a view across the highway of the abandoned Bandon cheese factory. Pretty grim. The mercantile store next door is also going out of business.

One other observation is there were not attractive women in town over the age of 17. Lots of ancient people. Lots of people in need of serious dental work. Coos Bay had its share of codgers and an apparent goodly supply of ugly sticks, but there were some hotties in each of the places I ate. My waitress at the Kozy Korner Kafe looked a lot like someone I dated while I was in Peace Corps, and we got together again briefly when I moved to CA. A face I would not mind waking up next to.

Your Say Notebook, I Say Laptop. We both say bananas

Called Gateway, they would fix my laptop for $300 plus tax. Or, they said, I could take it in to Best Buy or Circuit City or Office Depot and those folks could send it in for me.

After last week's rudeness at CC, they were ruled out. Office Despot also has a spotty track record, so it was BB.

Before I went, I scoped out laptops at several sites, especially ones around town, and decided that maybe I could land something for around a grand which had what I wanted:
- Decent video
- 15" or more screen
- DVD writer
- Dual or 64-bit or fast 32-bit CPU
- less than 7 lbs.
- internal wireless G
- internal 100 bps (or better) LAN
- 80 GB hard drive (or more)
- Windows XP Pro would be nice

BB had a Sony VAIO which had everything except the CPU. I like Sony's laptops, even after doing QA on them for a year and a half. There also was an HP Pavilion which looked good, and it had an AMD 64-bit CPU.

So I hauled my dead machine to BB in Sunnyvale (it's a brand spankin' new store) and the nice man hemmed and hawed, said they would have to charge $24 for shipping, and then said he needed to talk to his manager. This is a man in his 40's, he wanted to make sure he gave me the right answer. After maybe 5 minutes he came back and said that on top of the shipping, they would charge $60 for a diagnostic fee, and then I'd get an estimate. That was bogus, considering Gateway will not only pay shipping, but they would also provide the box for that $300 flat fee.

The nice man said it would probably cost almost as much as a new machine if it was a motherboard replacement, which is usually a good guess, but not in the face of the $300 flat fee.

On the other hand, I had been planning to replace the laptop, it is just too heavy and has a fan which sounds like a wind tunnel when it comes on. Last week I had to carry it around a lot, typing with one hand and holding on my other arm - they don't have any desk-like surfaces in the server room. Much more of that and I would need to find Barry Bonds' trainer.

And I'm thinking, why spend $300 to fix a machine I'm going to replace soon anyway, why not use that $$ towards a new one? I can probably get a couple of hundred for the dead one on eBay, as long as I am honest about how dead it is. Someone could get a really nice machine for maybe $500 ($200 to me, $300 to Gateway).

So I went to the BB laptop section, and they had a very nice selection, well-displayed, listing all the things I needed to know to make my decision. I got everything I wanted except for XP Pro - in a Gateway. This makes my 3rd Gateway in a row. It comes with Windows Media Center Edition, which is sort of XP Home with benefits. It'll do just fine, I think. It was enough under $1k that with tax I was only about $40 over my ideal price, but $150 less than MSRP. The similar HP and Sony machines either had half the RAM or a 32-bit CPU. So what I have is a Gateway MX6450 and you can follow the link for the specs.

Interesting thing is this model is not on BB's web site. Maybe it's been reduced to make way for the next series.

There's a considerable feeling of having had a walletectomy here, but at least it wasn't entirely unplanned, and there was no sticker shock, since I'd already done the research.
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