Sometimes just let your memories go. Part Four.Praha: 2016-08-29 11:00
Budapest: 2016-08-29 11:00
Buenos Aires: 2016-08-29 06:00

The last October was a bit grim, but inevitable. As some might noticed on some traveller and minidiary pictures, with high respect I used to use a Dell Latitude D600 machine for years.

During these years I was daily assured that I can rely on this machine: superb stability, versatility, reliability and - laugh me if you wish - the D600 looked like just as a laptop should look like. Simple and clear design, also with inner qualities, which are the most important.

What's the continuation? Alas poor Yorick?
Not at all. As of 2016.06.01, the laptop is still in mint condition, the ride of the keys is just the same like on the first day. There's some fallout, dimmed lights here or there on the screen, also a bit reddish hue - but nothing significant. The battery life still delivers about 3 hours under heavy load. And this system was used very close to 24/7 through the ages.

Why don't you use it still then?
It's Moore's law. Somewhat 10 years later, the CPU and memory need of the applications proved to be heavyweight for this 1.6Ghz CPU and 1024GByte RAM (upgraded in 2010).

It's not a solution, it's a quickshot hack under the small finger: when you feel that the system is getting, or in the close future will be slower - then you immediately click:

killall -9 flash-plugin

Neither a PATA 20GB HDD for two operating systems, or any data.

So. Based on the brand Dell, based on the line Latitude, based on overwhelmingly positive satisfaction, I decided to have a new Dell Latitude. In supra res, so did I in last October.

The biggest question mark was the budget. Furthermore I had personal expectations such as built-in Ethernet port, 2+ USB ports, also a DVD-drive (I know, I'm old). After browsing-a-round and visits to the physical computer shops, I decided to buy a Dell Latitude E5440. During the purchase a prebuilt Ubuntu came was learned.

Whattaheck, they think I'm some Linux Fanboy? - I murmured in myself, so bought a Microsoft Windows 8.1 Home HUN operating system. The final sum was something 250 000HUF/~1,100USD.

Well. Getting into the direct picture of the sum, the direct memoairs of the energy of the Dell Latitude series - I had expectations. The first steps went very well, and as it was readable many years ago, I prefer a Linux+Windows multiboot system. Everything went well, except - in medias res - shall a nice long list be enlisted in historical and chronological order:

  1. right on the week after the purchase, I had to stroll back to the shop because of nothing less than 3 problems.
    • WiFi didn't want to work, if so, the connection often broke
    • the rear USB sometime did, sometime did not recognize the USB devicES and pendrivES
    • the plasticweak nature of the DVD-reader, you could press only at certain points, and with fine fingers, to have the click
    The Wifi under Windows and right next to the shop's router didn't produce ani eror. Alas, I didn't have any pendrive to test the rear USB connector. By strength and force, the pushed in DVD-reader clicked without a sound. Alright, I accepted the answers; the same evening I realized that the WiFi connection problems were due to older Linux modules.
  2. January of 2016
    Everyone has his or her pet peeves.
    My topmost IT pet peeves are the unresponsive keyboards.
    If you can't type instinctively.
    If you have to repeat the presses.
    If there's no light ticking and speed and rhythm while typing.
    Then you are going to be annoyed.

    So was I, when the q-w-e-r-a-s-d-f keys started to loose the rhythm. Sometimes the ride of the key was perfect, sometimes the letter never reached the motherboard.
    The affair is more swearsome if you're typing passwords, passphrases and other measures.
    Surely, it's a personal problem of being abroad, yet I was already preparing a next visit to Budapest - déjà-vu at the computer shop.
    Quite likely, this computer is the last one I'll have with Hungarian keyboard. After years of usage of English and Spanish keyboards, I realized I have no problems to find the Hungarian characters instinctively on those. Yet, on a Hungarian keyboard I need more time to use the English layout.
  3. Not that fast, no. So, the keyboard was getting annoyed - not THAT, it was ME - the touchpad also started to provide symptoms.
    Again, this is a 3 months old computer.
    Namely the middle part was already shinier - it recognized the Sensitive Finger Touch (SFT) much more sensitively. When I did the SFT, the cursor both under Linux and Windows(r) just trembled onscreen.
  4. Just for the entertainment nature, the Latitude E5440 painting under my left hand already started to disappear.

June of 2016
I made the preface communication with the shop and the service, did the travel arrangements. Besides since I have service level experience with pasttime Dells, I took a quick look at the uttermost annoying problem: the keys. Well, to keep the friendship intact, I don't wish to comment the low-quality plastic and mechanics of the keys under.

No, no liquid was ever spilled under, neither forces of excessive Gs hit the keys anytime, ever.
So back in Budapest, rephrasing problems: The WiFi problem has been solved, next to the remaining 2, 3 more have arisen. The shop was helpful, the laptop got a perfectly new keyboard from the Dell factory, the touchpad didn't raise errors, the DVD, the back USB port and the motherboard was replaced.

160629...2016-06-29, after the adventure
After the first key presses I had to admit the perfectly mint keyboard.

With SFT you feel the surface of the keys is a bit rough, the painting of the letter. With used keyboards this gets rubbed down by time, the feeling will be smooth and the key becomes shiny.
Then after just about in 1.5 weeks, the g key has started to ride strangely: if I press on the left side, it stucks. If on the right side, there's no mechanical feelin...*repeated pressing of key*...g of the key.

Even Better
At least one time per 2 weeks, the computer totally freezes. Sometimes during an active session, sometimes just at boot. The logs are getting filled:

Device: /dev/sda SAT, ATA error count increased from 0 to 1

Exactly 1 month and 15 days after the servicing, from the 14th of July the Binary Pigeon Post brings the news each day at 5pm:

Device: /dev/sda SAT, Failed SMART usage Attribute: 184 End-to-End_Error.

Look Ma'! It's art!

Jul 27 15:25:18 h kernel: [20083.827958] ata2.00: exception Emask 0x0 SAct 0x1000000 SErr 0x0 action 0x6
Jul 27 15:25:18 h kernel: [20083.827964] ata2.00: irq_stat 0x40000008
Jul 27 15:25:18 h kernel: [20083.827968] ata2.00: failed command: READ FPDMA QUEUED
Jul 27 15:25:18 h kernel: [20083.827973] ata2.00: cmd 60/70:c0:70:b7:24/00:00:38:00:00/40 tag 24 ncq 57344 in
Jul 27 15:25:18 h kernel: [20083.827973] res 41/84:70:7e:b7:24/00:00:38:00:00/00 Emask 0x410 (ATA bus error) <F>
Jul 27 15:25:18 h kernel: [20083.827976] ata2.00: status: { DRDY ERR }
Jul 27 15:25:18 h kernel: [20083.827977] ata2.00: error: { ICRC ABRT }
Jul 27 15:25:18 h kernel: [20083.827981] ata2: hard resetting link
Jul 27 15:25:19 h kernel: [20084.141644] ata2: SATA link up 1.5 Gbps (SStatus 113 SControl 310)
Jul 27 15:25:19 h kernel: [20084.272800] ata2.00: configured for UDMA/33
Jul 27 15:25:19 h kernel: [20084.272818] ata2: EH complete

S.M.A.R.T. is a kind of monitoring software to follow the health of a harddisk. You can read its notifications in a relaxed Hey, no worries kind of way: if there are warnings here and there, you can safely ignore them, but if there's something which makes it honk continuously, then it's a 99.999% certainty, you're in a big trubble.

SMART Attributes Data Structure revision number: 10
Vendor Specific SMART Attributes with Thresholds:
1 Raw_Read_Error_Rate 0x000f 111 099 006 Pre-fail Always - 34049400
4 Start_Stop_Count 0x0032 100 100 020 Old_age Always - 619
7 Seek_Error_Rate 0x000f 073 060 030 Pre-fail Always - 23555972
9 Power_On_Hours 0x0032 096 096 000 Old_age Always - 3756
12 Power_Cycle_Count 0x0032 100 100 020 Old_age Always - 413
184 End-to-End_Error 0x0032 099 099 099 Old_age Always FAILING_NOW 1
188 Command_Timeout 0x0032 100 099 000 Old_age Always - 3
190 Airflow_Temperature_Cel 0x0022 054 045 045 Old_age Always In_the_past 46 (Min/Max 45/46)

If you've ever seen a harddisk, then you remember the warning on the top: Do not cover this hole. Putting a screwdriver into work, and checking the bay for the disk realizes: this hole is perfectly pressed to the wall of the plastic bay, thus pretty much the hot air circulates inside the disk. Does this have any direct connection to the error? Probable, but a bad design is clear.

Dumbfounded as of now.
I don't know if I had ran out of Luck potions, or had fallen into the dark pit of a seriously failed Dell notebook line, or one should buy Dell XPS only.

The only 2 beauties I found in this device:

Einstein used to say: I don't know what weapons will be used in the Third World War. But the fourth will be fought with sticks and rocks.

I don't know when and what my next laptop will be, but not Dell. During these years, I worked with other brands too - and who knows what efficiency and quality their personal line will offer - yet I tend to go out into the winter snowstorm to catch the prey, than snuggle together around the warm campfire inside and just hope for something to happen; like sudden growth of vegetables.

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