>Not first on the subject…

>One of the challenges of writing a blog is to try and provide new content. I’ve always thought that there was no point in covering information that someone else has already covered – but it’s hard to be the first to break every story. So, I figured I’d do something else, which is useful: provide a few links to things that someone else found first.

Today’s breaking news was something I found at SeqAnswers.com, on the new relase of information on Pacific Biosystems’ new SMRT technology. The open access article is here. Thanks to ECO for updating with that link! (I was trying to get it all morning, to no avail.)

For humour, I wanted to discuss the IgNobel award winning paper: You Bastard: A Narrative Exploration of the Experience of Indignation within Organizations. However, another blogger on my reading list beat me to it.

I was also going to comment on lawsuit launched by the makers of Endnote against Zotero, but the same blogger also beat me to that. (Though, there’s certainly a lot to be said about that case in terms of open standards, and people with antiquated business models fighting technology advances by any means possible…) Since I’m still considering using Zotero for my own research, it’s probably something I’ll save for another day, when there’s more information available about the progress of the case.

Otherwise, there’s still the new Apple MacBook, milled out of a single piece of aluminum, and the new Dell Mini 9, which I’ve been debating buying. Since it now comes with Ubuntu pre-installed, maybe I can forgive Dell for not refunding me for the XP licence that they made me buy at xmas last year with my current laptop.

Oh well. Now you know what I’ve been looking at while I procrastinate on my thesis proposal, and the mound of code changes I need to make ASAP… and now, back to work!

>Dell Windows Refund

>Well, I just tried to get my “dell windows tax” refunded on my copy of Microsoft Windows XP that came with my Vostro 1000 Laptop.

Unfortunately, the people were less than helpful. Not only did they insist that Windows was given for free, but that they could only refund me for zero dollars, if I’d like to return the disk.

Somehow, that flies in the face of reports like: this, where a UK linux user got back the full value of microsoft windows.

So, the best I could do down this avenue was to get stopped by a woman named Tracy, who gave me the address of the legal department at Dell Canada. For those of you who are interested, it’s available only by snail mail.

Dell Canada Head Office
155 Gordon Baker Road
Suite 501
North York Ontario
M2J 3N5

If they’re giving away Microsoft windows XP for free, then I can’t imagine Microsoft would have any problems with me passing on the licence key for it – after all, Microsoft’s flagship product now has a value approaching zero.

>New Laptop… with a refund?

>Well, I took the plunge today. After struggling to get through grad school without a laptop for the past year, I’ve decided I can’t take it anymore. The computer I use at work is an ancient IBM, which does an admirable job of running Ubuntu, but really just isn’t up to the tasks I set it. So, with pending conferences, presentations, committee meetings and some serious programming likely in the next few months, I figured I’ve got shell out the money for a laptop. In fact, I’ve purchased a Vostro 1000 for $649 CDN… not too shabby, I think.

My plan A was to buy an Ubuntu laptop from Dell Canada, but after waiting for 8 months for that program to come north of the border, I’ve realized it’s probably not going to happen in a time frame I’m comfortable with. It’s only for a few select markets. So, I had to kick into plan B: I’ve bought the laptop, and I’m going to try to get an O/S refund from Dell.

It’s not malicious or trying to get revenge – I just don’t want to pay for software that I will be deleting straight away, once I turn on the laptop. I think it’s wrong to bundle in an operating system, and force you to pay for it – so I’m going to try to get my money back.

This isn’t a wild crusade – I have heard of people getting back money from Dell before, anywhere from $10 – $110, with no real regularity to what’s received. Such as these links:

here, here, and here.

The internet is full of personal accounts of this working – so I think it’s my turn to try. Besides, as a grad student, getting back $100 is worth about 10 hours of my time – I’m willing to give it a shot. Watch out Dell Service Reps… here I come.