Dell Becomes Less Schizophrenic

Dell’s website, at least, reflects schizophrenia. As you navigate around the site you find you can’t get there from here because you are, in Dell’s opinion, the wrong kind of person. It’s maddening to me that I have to be someone else to look at product X or Y.

Dell must be having psycotherapy because they now realize that having MPD (Multiple Personality Disorder) is a negative in relations to others. Dell should either separate their website or unite it. They have managed to unite two of their five personalities, public and large enterprise. Maybe it will take a few more months to eliminate another one…

A website for a business should serve a few basic functions: providing information about products, offering products for sale, providing support, getting feedback etc. There is nothing in the list of things a website should do that includes running a gauntlet of barriers shunting visitors through like cattle. Imagine a site that had a policy of providing a different content based on race, religion, weight, sex, etc. It might make sense to have different sites for those special interests but why complicate a site with the barriers?

Check out Dell.com. “For Home” does not have servers even though my home has several and almost every home has a media collection and/or a database of some kind and many homes have multiple computers. “Large Enterprise” can have a netbook with Ubuntu or FreeDOS for $429 and a few logical clicks but “For Home” has to have perseverance and a long hunt.

I guess Dell does not want me as a customer. I am not schizophrenic. I am eclectic.

About Robert Pogson

I am a retired teacher in Canada. I taught in the subject areas where I have worked for almost forty years: maths, physics, chemistry and computers. I love hunting, fishing, picking berries and mushrooms, too.
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26 Responses to Dell Becomes Less Schizophrenic

  1. Ray says:

    Or they could build a faster iPad/iPhone 🙂

  2. There is a rumour afloat that Apple might spend some of its cash to port its whole empire to ARM. That way they could have MacOS on a smartphone and MacOS on a desktop or notebook. It’s all speculation at the moment but Apple has the cash to do anything they want. The docking of a smartphone to a notebook is too cool for them to pass up. It’s only a tiny step to using ARM on all their stuff. see http://www.itproportal.com/2011/01/19/apple-spend-39-billion-reviving-project-aquarius/

    I hate to complement Apple on anything because they are otherwise so closed but if they did put ARM into their stuff more generally, the world might copy that pattern just as they have with ithingies… I have no idea how long it would take Apple to do something like that but it is conceivable that some skunkworks has done some preliminaries. Apple could get the Chinese to produce something by Christmas. I have no idea how much work it would be to port software to ARM. Apple could likely do it but their third-parties might freak as when Apple went to x86.

    It’s just a rumour, sufficiently believable to have legs.

  3. oldman says:

    Pog: thanks for the updates. I’ve been looking more deeply into the references that you sent. The problem is I am not sure whether this is going to amount to much

    For instance, The NEC LT-W Cloud Communicator, is precisely the kind of arcane gadget that the Japanese market seems to come up with for itself. I’m willing to bet thatwhen this does ship, it never makes it very far beyond Japan, if at all.

    The Toshiba AC100 is sold as a smartbook, not a netbook and is only available in the united Kingdom. Also at $450.00 it begs the question of why I shouldnt just spend $100.00 more and by a real laptop that can actually DO something.

    The HP offering suffers from the same issues IMHO as the Toshiba – limited distribution and a cost that is very close to that of a laptop.

    This comments aside you have indeed answered my query. These are mainstream vendors delivering android on something other than a smart phone.

    We will need to see how this turns out.

    BTW – I fail to see how any of this changes my original points about Dell selling server class systems to home users.

    But maybe that’s just me.

  4. Ray says:

    The question is… will they buy it?

  5. NEC:“NEC Personal Products’ Mobile Notebook
    Android powered”

    That’s a quote from the link. NEC announced a string of product.

    Toshiba: That was a poor link. Try this. Toshiba is pretty global. I am using a notebook from them a few years old.

    Lenovo: The thing is a hybrid. It can function as a tablet or a notebook.

    Motorola’s gadget is also a hybrid. It functions as a smartphone or a notebook by pluggin the smartphone into a dock, see http://mediacenter.motorola.com/Press-Releases/Motorola-Mobility-and-AT-T-Announce-ATRIX-4G-the-Future-of-Mobile-Computing-353c.aspx

    HP’s gadget is out there. see http://www.slashgear.com/hp-compaq-airlife-100-arrives-in-spain-for-e230-2983611/

  6. oldman says:

    “Quick list of mainstream vendors supplying android on a laptop or desktop:

    NEC
    Toshiba
    Lenovo
    Motorola
    HP

    Is that mainstream enough?”

    Lets see…

    NEC – A vendor locked in cloud based solution. Hardly the avenue for freedom that you want. also, a tablet not a desktop/laptop.

    Toshiba – a Tablet not a desktop or laptop, and not even shipping until the vaporware version of Android (3.0) actually ships.

    Lenovo – giggle. It Runs windows 7 Pog! and the detachable tablet is equipped with a highly customized extremely back level version (1.6) of Android. I wouldn’t want to bet on the tablet portion running any third party software, nor would I be willing to spend the $1300.00 that it is going to cost just to get a usable configuration.

    Motorola – More vaporware OS for what is a tablet not a desktop/laptop

    HP – As of the last article I could find on this, it isn’t even shipping! If there is an update beyond 5/10 I would be interested.

    So we have one Netbook that hasn’t shipped and one hybrid laptop. Hardly a stampede of mainstream vendors.

  7. Ray says:

    One of the only exception to this rule: Games 🙂

  8. I once took a course online in which the instructor asked us to install and use two “commercial applications”. They were a problem for me because they were .exe and I was using GNU/Linux. Both were easy to replace with Free Software once I figured out what the programmes actually did. The websites were so vague that it took some time to figure out what the applications did. The instructor was intending us to run the application with a recipe to produce a file to send her for marking. It turned out that one of the applications was something that gobbled up HTML and produced an executable that the instructor could run when it was e-mailed to her to view the web pages we were creating… After I connected the dots I asked her if I could slap my files on a server and give her the URI. She said that was OK. So that’s what I did.

    I have forgotten the name of the application but it did what this thing does, more or less. My point is that a lot of commercial applications are quite useless and not worth a licensing fee. It takes five minutes to scp files to a server to accomplish the same function that my instructor needed with tools already on most GNU/Linux PCs. Instead, thousands of dollars worth of licences were bought for the course. The course was about using IT in education. You would think a graduate-level course would be more real-worldly but it was not. I ended up chatting a lot in the forums about Free Software. Some eyes were opened. For the same course, we were to create a concept-map. Again another expensive application was distributed and all I had to use was FreeMind. I got an A+.

    Non-free software is very expensive to develop because the wheel must be re-invented or licensing fees paid to use the wheel while Free Software can use the shared software resources of the world and get the job done faster and with less expense.

  9. oldman says:

    @Brian

    “why?
    what’s to gain by showing that mainstream doesn’t think people want this?”

    What is to be gained, is that Pog gets to back up his statement.

    “Commercial software is made for Ubuntu and other GNU/Linux and Android/Linux operating systems.”

    My experience is that the reality is (at least in the case of the Linux desktop) quite the opposite. I had been hoping to be convinced otherwise, but it does not seem to be so.

    “until then, we have to settle for driving around in taurus wagons like suckers.”

    Characterizing users of commercial desktop software and the environment that that software runs in as “suckers” because they forego the (IMHO) dubious pleasure of using FOSS almost exclusively seems a bit extreme don’t you think? Especially in light of the fact that commercial vendors have delivered a broad set of sophisticated applications that people have real needs for.

  10. Quick list of mainstream vendors supplying android on a laptop or desktop:

    NEC
    Toshiba
    Lenovo
    Motorola
    HP

    Is that mainstream enough?

  11. I did not lose anything moving to a GNU/Linux desktop. I gained bigtime reliability, freedom to examine, modify, copy, and distribute, centralized package management, openness about bugs, freedom from malware, and a lot of time.

  12. Brian Page says:

    Oldman,

    “Now show me a mainstream vendor selling android on a laptop or desktop.”

    why?
    what’s to gain by showing that mainstream doesn’t think people want this?

    it’s like saying: show me Ford’s offering in the flying car market.

    well, hell yes, people want that.
    but ford isn’t doing that yet… why?

    any number of reasons: ford doesn’t have the market cornered, oil cartel influences, air traffic control is keeping it down, etc.

    point is: just like android on laptops from dell, we don’t have flying cars from ford.
    No matter how awesome that would be, we aren’t there yet.

    until then, we have to settle for driving around in taurus wagons like suckers.

  13. oldman says:

    IBM WebSphere, Oracle DB engine, Novell Groupwise and
    are not commercial desktop software.

    “VMWare *pick anything*”

    Yes VMWare allows me to run anything under Linux, but it also allows anyone to run Linux and the small amount of Linux only FOSS that one might want to run under Windows.

    Fluendo Codecs/DVD Player, Adobe Flash are utilities.

    That Leaves MatLab and StarOffice. These I will grant you. This make a total of 5 packages. Hardly a impressive list, and certainly not one that is going to make up for what would be lost moving to a Linux desktop.

  14. oldman says:

    “No, but you can see it here. That’s an x86 port and the guy doesn’t own a tripod…

    Here‘s another.

    Anyone can hack up a system. I ran Windows 2003 Enterpise Edition on a dell laptop designed for windows XP successfully for over two years in a configuration that was not supported by Dell.

    Now show me a mainstream vendor selling android on a laptop or desktop.

  15. No, but you can see it here. That’s an x86 port and the guy doesn’t own a tripod…

    Here‘s another.

  16. oldman says:

    “Folks barely use 10% of the “features” in those applications but they can handle just about any workflow.”

    That may very will be, but can you tell me exactly WHICH features you are going to drop? Guess wrong and you have users who are very unhappy.

    “It took me a while to figure out the user interface but I could not get the bulk processing to work so I had to click through 16 photos one at a time. ImageMagick/convert would have done the job for me in seconds in GNU/Linux.”

    Ths says nothing about anything other than you did not know how to use Photoshop but you did know how to use a command line oriented package that that person would have had clue one on how to deal with.

    As far as GIMP is concerned. I’ve used both that and Photoshop. Given my druthers, I’d rather deal with “bloated” competently designed software like Photoshop than have to deal with so called “lean” software with a junky interface any day.

    I used to be able to take all sorts of short cuts when I was using the ScorePC program (circa 1988)for creating musical scores. I even write a nice set of C programs that did a better job of stitching together multi-stave scores that what the vendor gave me. And I dumped it all when the first version of Finale came out. In comparison to ScorePC finale was a bloated mess and slowed things down. but it allowed me to stop being a programmer and just concentrate on the task at had, which was making music. That was all I cared about. I was able to solve the speed problem to my satisfaction by throwing hardware at it. I have been using finale ever since. End of story.

    “Android was designed as an operating system. It has specialized for smart-thingies and tablets but it works very well on desktops”

    Have you worked with Android as a desktop Pog? Can you point to one main line vendor that is successfully selling android as a desktop?

    “People put Android in anything else and connect monitor, keyboard and mouse to it.”

    Again, show me a main stream vendor that is selling this configuration as a desktop.

    “Better” is a relative term Pog. Dell sells system configurations that it feels are supportable and salable. The vast majority of their desktop systems are sold with windows because that is where their market is. T

  17. Brian Page says:

    “Name some main stream commercial desktop software that runs on the Linux desktop”

    OK,

    Fluendo Codecs/DVD Player
    Adobe Flash
    StarOffice
    IBM WebSphere
    Doom 3
    Oracle DB engine
    Novell Groupwise
    MATLAB
    VMWare *pick anything*
    Cedega

    taken from: https://secure.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/wiki/List_of_proprietary_software_for_Linux

  18. The bloat in OpenOffice.org comes from trying to imitate Office and implement the file formats of Office. Folks barely use 10% of the “features” in those applications but they can handle just about any workflow.

    Yesterday, as luck would have it, I was visiting an office where a lady could not send some photos by e-mail because they were too large. She had PhotoShop but could not figure out how to resize them. It took me a while to figure out the user interface but I could not get the bulk processing to work so I had to click through 16 photos one at a time. ImageMagick/convert would have done the job for me in seconds in GNU/Linux. That’s an example of bloat getting in the way. Any time someone tells me Gimp is inadequate, I will remember yesterday.

    Malware and other software is aimed at that other OS for obvious reasons. It’s not because that other OS is better.

    Android was designed as an operating system. It has specialized for smart-thingies and tablets but it works very well on desktops. The reason Android is not usually designed or installed on desktops is because a desktop box is not necessary. People put Android in anything else and connect monitor, keyboard and mouse to it.

  19. oldman says:

    “Malware and bloat. People don’t want that.”

    Malware can be avoided, and Most software that people would want to use on Linux (Openoffice comes to mind) is just as “bloated”. In fact Bloat is an irrelevancy in an age of cheap hardware. I can always throw hardware at a big software package. An “efficient” OS that doesn’t support software that I want to run is useless to me.

    “Recoll desktop indexer for instance is not available for that other OS. That is no comment on the quality of that other OS.”

    Big Deal, This function is built in to windows 7 explorer. I just used it to find a file in about 10 seconds.

    “Commercial software is made for Ubuntu and other GNU/Linux and Android/Linux operating systems.”

    Name some main stream commercial desktop software that runs on the Linux desktop (Android doesnt count because it wasn’t designed for the desktop)

  20. Malware and bloat. People don’t want that.

    Commercial software is made for Ubuntu and other GNU/Linux and Android/Linux operating systems. The fact that some applications are not made for Ubuntu is a commentary on the applications and their providers, not Ubuntu. Recoll desktop indexer for instance is not available for that other OS. That is no comment on the quality of that other OS.

  21. oldman says:

    “Ubuntu really is a better product for many people. Dell should sell what people want and need.”

    I’ve been using the latest Ubuntu these past few weeks in a VM on my system. Other than the fact that it only runs two packages that I currently use (firefox and Thunderbird) and none of what I want to run, its about as Good a Linux desktop as one will get these days.

    As for being better, it is debatable how much better a OS that cant support any of the commercial created software that people might want to use is.

    At any rate, Dell is selling what people have proven that they are willing to purchase – Period.

  22. Excellent points in that post. Thanks.

    This is consistent with some of the points I made in my post:

    • Either they want to do business with you or not. If they want to do business with you why then beat you over the head when you visit their site?
    • Enterprise visitors can choose Ubuntu much more easily and get “customize” as an option…
    • Ubuntu really is a better product for many people. Dell should sell what people want and need.
  23. Brian Page says:

    Not too long ago, I wrote about my own dell.ca vs linux experience here: http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=1620687

  24. Finding and storing stuff is one of the major tasks that computers do well. Many people use their computers for entertainment and games. Even for entertainment keeping track of collections is important. Hobbies, photography collections, memoirs, etc. are all things that ordinary consumers do at home that could benefit from having a database on a server at home. For that purpose a consumer could put a database on a normal PC but many families have multiple PCs and a server with greater redundancy, storage, speed, etc. could make sense.

    My point is that Dell virtually eliminates the possibility of making a sale the way they operate. The consumer could easily go to HP or some other supplier and buy a server to suit his needs. Why does Dell make things so difficult?

  25. oldman says:

    “”For Home” does not have servers even though my home has several and almost every home has a media collection and/or a database of some kind and many homes have multiple computers.”

    Why should Dell include servers for home users? The average home user (you are NOT average Pog.) is unlikely to implement the basic file sharing capability in windows , let alone purchase a dedicated computer system for use as as a dedicated server.

  26. Richard Chapman says:

    I once tried to find a Linux loaded Dell laptop that I had a link for. I just wanted to see how difficult it would be to negotiate Dell’s site. After 15 minutes I gave up and put the search terms in Google and found it in 20 seconds. They did everything possible to steer me away from what I was looking for. If I didn’t know it was there I would have assumed it didn’t exist.

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