There is a documentary in the making about the hacker culture surrounding the Chaos Computer Club in Germany. The creators would like to make that movie without institutional funding to be free of any limitations imposed on by said institutions.
I helped funding the project several months ago and would like to see it succeed in releasing everything under Creative Commons. So if you like the basic idea, read more about it on the project’s website and rob your piggy bank. :)
As you probably know, KDE is preparing to celebrate its 20 years anniversary in October 2016. See how it all started: https://www.kde.org/announcements/announcement.php
Just recently I realised that I started contributing 10 years ago. Coming from fvwm2 I had just started using KDE shortly before. Contributing started for me with the German translation of an amaroK 1.4 release announcement with … room for improvement (Yes, Amarok was amaroK back then :)). I made some suggestions, the translation team’s coordinator from back then asked for more and I delivered.
Two years later I started contributing to KDEGames a bit, mainly in KShisen to get some practice in software development.
This has always been a leisure time activity for me and something that gave me a feeling of achievement when the “real world” did not have that ready for me.
Over the years there have been times where I did not find the time to contribute. Then, my only connection to KDE was me using it and my monthly donation. Eventually, though, I always found my way back to translating KDE and to KDEGames, two projects that are unfortunately constantly under-staffed.
But now, during the last few weeks KDE left a bigger imprint on my life.
My new job opportunity came from my KDE involvement (having connections is half the way) and the almost impossible undertaking of finding a flat in the city suddenly became easy for me when one of the landlords (a theoretical physicist) googled my name and found KDE contributions within the search results. Kind of awesome, isn’t it?
So thank you KDE, not only for a great desktop, a nice community and the opportunity to learn about technology and (through communicating with other contributors) about other cultures but also for my new job and my new flat.
The German translation team changed the names of the suspend states so brace for impact.
Two months ago, Nils decided to change the current state of the world … of German-speaking KDE users. It all started with an innocent question he asked himself. “Why do the sleep states in KDE have different names than the ones in other desktop environments?” … or in German: „Muss das so?“
So he went on a journey to fight the status quo by subscribing to the mailing list of our small but cosy translation team and instantly started reasoning about a better world. He talked about how the rest of the world had come to some kind of agreement and we just didn’t notice. (BTW: reminds me of the metric system that some people did not feel the need of adopting ;)
So, what was the current state, then?
There are Suspend to RAM (S3) and Suspend to Disk (S4) in KDE. Some operating systems also support a dual suspend mode where the state is restored from RAM as long as the battery survived the sleep period and otherwise the state is restored from disk. But it’s not part of KDE, so it is of no concern here.
So, let’s have a look at the differnt contenders in English and (German).
|Windows||Stand By (Standbymodus)||Hibernate (Ruhezustand)|
|OS X||Sleep (Ruhezustand)||Hibernate (Ruhezustand)|
|GNOME||Suspend (Bereitschaft)||Hibernate (Ruhezustand)|
|KDE||Suspend (Ruhezustand)||Hibernate (Tiefschlaf)|
As you can see, everybody agreed to a consistent naming scheme. Well, not really. And furthermore this table elides the fact that even in English there are different terms used. In KDE you can find for S3 (as far as I could tell):
– sleep state
– Suspend to RAM
and for S4:
– Suspend to Disk
So why change our German translation if the terms are far from unified throughout desktop environments? Mainly because of the use of Ruhezustand. In most other environments it is used for S4 and in KDE we had it for S3. OS X does not count because they just have Ruhezustand for all suspend modes (including the combined one).
So for KDE we decided to go with:
|KDE||Suspend (Standby-Modus)||Hibernate (Ruhezustand)|
While the use of Ruhezustand is less confusing now, Standby-Modus might cause forehead wrinkles for some people. So let me explain that choice a bit.
Standby has its place in the German language for 20+ years now thanks to the HiFi ages. Yes, there was a time, when music did not come from smart phone speakers.
Bereitschaft is a great contender on that front but at least for my ears does sound like the fearful state of a worker sitting at home on Saturday, carefully nipping his beer, hoping his boss won’t call him in. If more desktops would call it Bereitschaft, I would vote for it in KDE too because I like consistency, but in this “everyone on its own” state of affairs, I prefer Standby. And we use the dashed version of Standby-Modus because we prefer to separate foreign words from native words. It’s a matter of taste and the transition from “foreign” to “native” is blurry but the German KDE team once decided to go the “dashed” way for all but two or three words.
To be honest, I do not know. Because separate parts of what was formerly called KDE are realesed separately. So maybe the new terminology will arive partly with Plasma 5.6.0 on March 17th, partly with KDE Frameworks 5.21 on the 2nd Saturday of April and partly with KDE Application 16.04 on April 20th. And then there are other applications like KTorrent, where we need to wait for the next release to deliver this change.
If you think you have urgend reasons to bring to our attention before the rollout, please do so. But remember:
– I do not like it -> opinion
– I think you should have used this other term -> opinion
– There is something you did not consider and the following problems might arise […] -> reason
Opinions are good and can be discussed but do not expect us to change anything solely on one specific opinion.
Reasons are great and we will discuss them.
You can subscribe to our mailing list to ask questions, discuss matters and offer help.
Thanks to Nils for bringing this up.
There have also been some reports on mistakes or ambiguities in our translation from other people and thanks goes out to them as well. The German translation (same might apply for other translations) is a small project. We are currently two people working in our free time. So we cannot check the context and looks of every translated string. For me it boils down to checking the translated strings in applications I use. That’s probably similar for other translators. Forthermore I cannot translate domain-specific applications like Digikam, Step or Calligra, so they are in need of helping hands.
To conclude, the German translation relies on users reporting issues they see. So what are you waiting for? :)
Around two years ago I wrote about my problems with the Lenovo support Germany.
In short: I bought a Thinkpad L520 which was broken on arrival and then I had to fight quite a bit with the Lenovo support to finally send it back.
So what happened during the last two years?
I finally decided to buy a Thinkpad T430 for around 1500 € and was happy ever since.
Well, until the keyboard broke after only six months. The problem was rather subtle at first. Sometimes lots of characters (q, w, e, s, d and f, all close together on the keyboard layout) appeared wherever the text cursor was. It took me a few months to see a pattern. It only happened when the laptop sat on my lap or was standing on another soft surface. So I decided to call support again.
This time it went better. The person on the other end had problems understanding me and I had problems understanding him, but only two days later I had a new keyboard and the offer to call someone to help me change it. I did not need that help but it felt like good support.
But now things have changed again. A few weeks ago, when I turned off my laptop and wanted to close the lid, one of the hinge-joints broke. One week after on-site support expired, normal support still running for another year. So I called the Lenovo support again. The woman at the other end asked me to explain the problem and then told me I had to send in the device so they could check if the damage was covered by warranty. Shortly after that I got an email from a company called Teleplan which asked me to order a pick-up service, which I did. What followed, I will put in a time line for easier reading.
After lying to me, picking up at wrong address, sending back to wrong address(!), refusing to pick it up there again and deliver it to me(!!!), I finally got my laptop back myself in worse condition than before by drivin almost 1000 km straight through my country. And it took them only 42 days to achieve that. In the end, they denied everything and I stopped trying to get compensation from them due to health issues. Last … Lenovo … ever!
Now diving into the whole story.
The pick-up service company (UPS) is asking me for my address, a date and time span for fetching the parcel. Seven days from now, I need to go to the dentist and will be at home anyway, so I am giving them the according data. The time span is 14:00 till 18:00.
Day 1 (because the delay so far was my choice)
Waiting for UPS, checking the door bell because you never know if you are not at home much. It is one of the last warm days of the year (October) and I cannot go outside. Bummer.
At 19:00 I need to go to the grocery store so I leave my post. Only days later my neighbour will come to me and give me a pick-up failure notice he found in his mail. But of course I do not know this yet.
Calling Lenovo support.
Me: Hi, my laptop is broken and I ordered pick-up but they did not come here to pick it up.
Him: How is your ticket number?
Me: Umm, I do not know. I did not receive a confirmation after opening a ticket.
Him: You can open a ticket and then you will receive a ticket number.
Me: I already opened a ticket but did not receive a ticket number. My email address is correct since Teleplan contacted me and I also checked my spam folder.
Him: Your email address might be incorrect.
Me: Umm, but Teleplan got my email address from you, right?
Him: Yes, we have the following email address listed: […] Is that correct?
Him: So you got an email with the ticket number which I now need.
Me: I did not get any email from you so I do not know my ticket number.
Him: Then I cannot help you.
[5 seconds silence]
Him: Is there something else I can help you with?
Me: Listen, my laptop breaks within warranty, does not get picked-up and when I want to know why, you tell me you cannot help me because you did not send me an important email?
[at least 30 seconds silence]
Him: So, we can leave it at that?
Me: Leave it at what? You close the ticket I cannot give you the number for and I keep my broken laptop?
Him: But I cannot help you if you cannot tell me the ticket number.
Me: And now what?
Him: You might not have the device number, do you?
Me: The device is packaged and I do not remember the number.
Him: Then I don’t know.
Me: Half a year ago, there was a different case with the same machine. Maybe you can look it up and see the device number.
Me: OK, this is the old ticket number.
Him: Found it, you are […] and the device number is […]. … But the ticket is closed.
Me: Yes, that’s correct. It is the old ticket you wanted to use to find the device number so you could find the new ticket, which I do not have the number of.
Him: Right. … The delivery company did not reach you.
Me: Oh, I was here, when did they try to reach me?
Him: I don’t know.
Me: And now?
Him: Maybe I can try ordering a new pick-up.
Me: That would be nice.
After this conversation, there is still no confirmation email, but well.
I will only be here for the next few days and then have to leave for business without knowing for how long I will be gone.
Since I do not receive an email to order another pick-up, I call Lenovo support again.
I am asked for the ticket number again, wich I do not have but this time I can tell the support guy quickly how he can find the correct ticket.
Additionally I try to get more information about the process:
Me: How long will it take until I get the email where I can order the pick-up?
Him: I don’t know. I can only write here.
Me: I mean, since the first time it took just a few hours and this time there was no email after one day, so maybe there is something wrong? Maybe a new pick-up cannot be ordered as long as the old one is still in progress?
Him: I don’t know. I can only write here. We do not do more. Another company is managing the pick-up.
Me: I know. Teleplan. But do they not give you updates about the process?
Him: Yes. They could not reach you and will try it again.
Him. I do not know. I can only write here. I do not know more.
And again, I receive neither a confirmation, nor another chance to order the pick-up.
I am receiving an email from Lenovo (so they do have my email address!?) informing me that they tried to contact me and that the ticket will be closed if I do not call back within two days.
So I write an email, telling them, that I am starting to get annoyed and that my address will change soon. I also give them the new address.
Another email, that they have been trying to contact me and will close my ticket. So I call them again and ask which number they are trying to reach me on. It’s my cell phone, which does not have any calls logged for the last few days. So I ask about the email I sent two days ago. Instantly she tells me about server issues and that they currently have problems receiving emails.
Frustrated I give her the new address and ask her to order a new pick-up.
I decide to give them the address of the company I will be working at during the next few months because I will spend most of my time there anyway.
Teleplan is sending me an email where I can order the pick-up. I go with the next day between 11:00 and 15:00.
UPS tries to pick up the parcel. At 9:15. I am in a meeting.
The driver calls me at 14:00. Did he get my number from the Lenovo support? No. The people who live at my old address now gave it to him. Lenovo gave him the new address but still the old telephone number. Is there anything they can get right?
The driver promisses me to pick up the parcel now. And there he is. At 17:00. I am gone by then again. But I learn quickly. I gave the parcel to the company’s internel parcel station earlier and told them to give it to the next UPS guy they see. So it works. The parcel starts its journey.
Email from Teleplan: “Your Lenove machiene (sic.) reached the repair center”.
At this point I realise how many typos Lenovo has in their automated email responses.
Again, Lenovo tried to reach me and threatend to close the ticket (erm, closing when they still have my laptop?!) if I do not call back.
This time there at least was a missed call on my cell phone.
So I call back and get the info, that three parts are broken on my laptop.
I only know of one, but even after asking several times, I cannot understand what the guy is telling me. Noone in support is speaking my language reasonably, but furthermore the connection is really bad resulting in a very low volume and many crack sounds and other noises in the line.
What I understand though is the fact that mechanical issues are not covered by the warranty and that they can repair the damage for 350 EUR.
I decline and ask him to send the laptop back. Just because I still remember what happened so far, I ask him about the address they will be sending it to. He answers stuff like “where we picked it up from” but I wanted to know explicitly. So he had to check and then gave me the address of my company. All good.
Right after this call I write an email to Lenovo support, telling them how unhappy I am with the fact that the first person I talked to three weeks ago did not tell me that the damage was not covered by the warranty although I had to tell her the exact nature of the damage. It was clear that it was a purely mechanical issue but she insisted that I send the laptop in for figuring out if it is covered by warranty.
Email from teleplan: Repair conducted.
Wait, what? I assume, this is a badly worded default message.
The people who live at my old address now call me that there is a parcel for me. So I write to the Lenovo support how this could happen. I cannot call since it is Saturday.
No message yet, so I call again.
After giving the woman a short timeline of what happened, she asked me to write an email she then would escalate. I asked her if she could just escalate the email I wrote two days ago. She suggests server problems as a reason for why they cannot receive emails properly.
So I write the email, give them the old and the new address, explain the current situation and ask them to fix it.
In the meantime UPS claims, that the person who signed for the parcel was me. A lie. The sign at the door does not state my name and the person living there was not asked for his name. He only took the parcel because he thought it was better this way than to let it go back.
Email from Lenovo that they tried to contact me. No call on my cell phone.
At least they are not threatening me to close the ticket anymore. Escalation succeeded?
I answer via email because I am at work and cannot make a phone call.
After two days of silence I call again. The support guy can open my file but cannot give me any hint of what the status is. He knows nothing about what happened so far and asks me to give him an overview. My last two emails are not there, I have to aswer basic question several times and in between he just remains silent for minutes(!). Since I do not know what to do, I join in to the silence and so the call lasts very long. I have time today.
Finally the guy asks me to wait a bit while he is asking a colleague. I agree and sit in the waiting line for over 15 minutes. After that, I am ensured, that although he cannot tell me what happend and also cannot tell me what the exact next steps will be, they will now solve the issue as quickly as possible.
I am asking him what will be different this time from them assuring me to fix this three days ago but he does not know any answer.
I tell him that I am not angry at him but that I am really unhappy with the process so far.
Since the weekend is coming, I call again to ask for the status. Just in case.
The support gal does not know anything about the case and asks me to summarise. Then 15 minutes waiting line again while she is asking a colleague.
She then assures me that they would solve the problem quickly.
Confronting her with the fact that the people living at the wrong address have not even be contacted and why I should believe her that anything will be different this third time, they are trying to fix it, she tells me that she is sorry for the inconvenience and that this time they would solve it for real.
I am offering her to fix the problem myself if they compensate me for that but she refuses. They cannot do that. (oh, there is so much they cannot do)
Now I am already late with my tax report and in Germany taxes are not a laughing matter. I asked the finance authorities for a delay already but only got two weeks. The new deadline is approaching so I am getting nervous.
After I tell the support gal how urgent it is, she puts me back into the waiting line for another few minutes and then assures me that they will solve the problem quickly.
I call Lenovo support again to get a status report. My ticket now has the status “waiting for support”. The employee has to ask a colleague for what that means and gives me the info that the ticket was escalated to another support center and that she cannot do anything now.
She promisses that her boss will ask about a status update now every day.
She also tries to explain the delay by saying that they first have to figure out where the parcel currently is. It could as well still be in the repair center, she claims.
So, although I am pointing out for 10 days now where the parcel currently is and where it is supposed to be delivered to, it seems an unsolvable issue for the Lenovo support. They do not even know, where it parcel is. But I do not say anything anymore. There is no information flow anyway. Wasted breathing air.
Email from Lenovo that they tried to contact me. That’s correct this time although I never hear my phone actually ringing when they try to reach me. I call back. The support guy does not know why I was contacted and wants to ask a colleague. After five minutes in the waiting line he tells me that the colleague is on a break and will call back in ten minutes.
45 minutes later, I get a call.
The woman explains the current situation to me … something I did ten days ago. She then asks me to coordinate the pick-up with the people who live at the wrong address.
She then explains three times (!!) that I will get an email to order the pick-up.
Right after that I ask the finace authorities for another delay. Granted (phew).
Again, there is no email for a pick-up order and no communcation whatsoever, so I decide to pick up the laptop myself for this to come to an end. After all this I get stomach pains after talking to the Lenovo support and panic attacks at night. I need that laptop to work. Not for my first daily job but for my second job as a freelancer. Since I have a first job, I do not work regularily as a freelancer but just “here and there”. But still, there are deadlines approaching, not only for the taxes.
Also the people that live at the wrong address are too busy to play this funny support game and I do not want to drag them into my problems because they are away from home for work a lot as well.
I write an email to the Lenovo support to inform them about me solving their issue now on my own by driving almost 1000 km in one day and again ask for compensation.
After opening the parcel, I see that they broke the lid completely. So before, the hinge-joint was broken rather internally and now the whole lid cover is broken and the whole laptop looks like some coal miner inspecting the device was turning it around in his hands for hours leaving fingerprints and dirt all over the place.
So I call support.
The woman does not know anything about the case and does not understand what I am trying to explain. Then five minutes waiting line while she is asking a colleage.
After that she starts explaining how they will now pick up the parcel at the wrong address and deliver it to the correct address. She is talking for several minutes and she does not let me interrupt her.
When I then tell her that I am currently holding the laptop in my hands thanks to … me, and that I just want to know why it is more broken than before, she puts me to the waiting line again.
After another few minuts, she suggests we should exchange pictures of the laptop. Unfortunately I did not take pictures before I sent it in. Biiiiiig mistake!
Since I am supposed to send them an email and until now I know of not a single email that reached them, I ask her how to go forward. She sends me an email and I answer while she is still on the phone. Nothing so far but she then promisses me to notify me as soon as the email arrives. This is the first time, I feel as if someone there cares a tiny bit about what will happen.
She even tells me her name and suggests that for future calls I should just ask for her so the issue can be solved faster.
And indeed. After 15 minutes, I get her confirmation that my email arrived.
Email that Lenovo tried to reach me. No call logged on my cell phone.
I write an email, that I was not able to take the pictures yet due to work away from home.
I receive the pictures from the repair center. The laptop is already opened, which broke the cover. It was possible to open and close the lid carefully without breaking the cover by supporting the area around the joint with a finger. I did it like that. The repair center now just opened the lid, broke the cover and then took the pictures.
And that is, what I explain to the support today. The support insists that the laptop arrived exactly how it is seen on the pictures … with an open lid. My question about how an open laptop would fit into the box, that can also be seen on the picture, remains unanswered.
Instead they offer me to escalate the issue. I suggest that they should consider a deescalation instead but ironie is not their strength.
So I throw the Thinkpad in a corner, go with a Dell laptop because it’s the last one available with mouse buttons and try to get over the whole issue for the sake of health preservation.
Now I can use the Thinkpad again without getting a high blood preasure but I removed the lid cover completely. I could repair it for around 50 EUR but decided to leave it like this as a reminder to never ever think about buying something from Lenovo again.
I know that this is not purely a Lenovo problem but the way they let me standing out in the rain for weeks is nothing I do again while thinking straight.
What happened since
I stopped caring for brands or devices. I care for my health and my data. My data now sits on a soft-raid system of four disks. Since my data is fairly safe that way, the importance of a good laptop somehow shrinks. My next laptop will be a refurbished one for 200 EUR to 300 EUR. So some several years old business laptop. If it’s no fit for me, I can give it to someone else or whatever with almost no harm done. No matter if it’s HP, Lenovo, Dell, Fujitsu or whatever.
Just as a finishing note: I know of three IBM Thinkpads still in use and still completely intact. Those were the days. If only 700 MHz would still be enough for daily use. ;)
The second tech support story features a Dell monitor. Well, not the monitor itself, but from the beginning.
The last few years I was away from home ~27 days a months due to paid work. If that is the case, you do not need a lot of stuff at home so over time I gave away almost all of my IT infrastrucure to friends in need. Now that I am at home again more regularily, I decided to buy a new desktop PC and a new monitor. Nothing fancy. Just a brick PC (yay, silence!) and a 24″ monitor from Dell. For the monitor I decided for a refurbished model to save a bucketload of cash.
But wich one?
There is another reason why I chose a refurbished monitor. There were only three available at my retailer of trust, and only one meeting the only criterion I had (it not being 16:9). Before that decision I had about 40 tabs open (~20 alone from ASUS) with monitors at 24″ and weeks of work ahead, allegedly making sure not to choose the wrong one. After going for a refurbished one, that was not an issue anymore. If there is just one choice, you cannot make a mistake. :) And to be honest, I do not care much about the details (pun intended in case you get it ;)).
There is even a book about this “paradox of choice” but apparently ASUS did not read it yet.
I don’t like Butts
But there was one issue. Reviewers reported about colour issues with that one monitor I chose which they could fix with a firmware upgrade. So no problem, eh? You bet!
In the Jungle
The Dell website does not have a firmware image for download. I talked to some Dell folks in chat but that was apparently just the sales department and they insisted, I should install the Windows driver update instead … on Linux *coughs*. :)
Since the monitor is refurbished, it does not have a service tag anymore and without that, you cannot go through the support clicky thing on the website. So I asked my retailer for help. They said, they are not in contact with Dell but could give me the direct phone number of tech support.
I called tech support then, which of cource has nothing to do with Dell but is just some repair service shop. They were surprised that monitors can even have a firmware and told me they could only give me what was available for download on the website.
Finally I found a thread in the Dell Community support forums where one guy (not a Dell employee) was handing out firmware images to other members via private message and when more and more people asked for it, he even published a link to some file hoster (wich is of course dead by now).
Do I really want to install firmware images from an unofficial source? The answer is: no.
My question here is, why Dell is not putting firmware images for download on their website. Are they only working on firmware images for business customers? What would be the harm in also handing them out to private customers?
After staring at a slightly coloured screen for a few days, you get used to it. And since I do not work with images or videos or anything, I do not care anymore. If this would have been a brand new monitor, I would have sent it back just as a matter of priciple. I really hate it that companies only care for you before you become a customer of theirs. After that, they already have your money, so you can as well just go die in the sewers.
On the plus side: all people I talked to have been very nice and really tried to help me.
During the last few years, I encountered some computer-related problems which I tried to solve by calling tech support. Three of those encounters are worth being told about (actually four, but the last one is about a musical instrument, so I will not put it on Planet KDE). Today’s story is the shortest one and as such the one, I could even smile about afterwards. The second story was (and still is) worth a head-shaking and the third one gave me a stomach ulcer and panic attacks. Have fun. :)
Shut up and take my money!
So one day in the distand past (means: February of the year 2015) I decided to get myself a small home server for file synchronisation, media server and for playing around in general. The HP ProLiant MicroServer Gen8 seemed just about right for my purposes so I was sold for that.
Have you tried clearing the NVRAM?
When it arrived, one of the NICs seemed odd, so I took a picture…
…and sent it to HP’s tech support.
Tech support called me a few hours later and the guy at the other end started by asking, if I already tried to fix the issue by clearing the NVRAM. After my short but descriptive “what?!” he explained to me how I could clear the NVRAM just before I told him that I did not even switch on the server yet. He was surprised and wanted to know how I then knew, the NIC was broken. That’s when I pointed him to the picture, I sent in. Silence. So I explained to him what could be seen on said picture and he asked if he could put me through to another colleague. I agreed.
I will spare you the details of that second conversation but it was basically the same.
Cleared NVRAM? No. Why? See picure please. … … NIC is broken hardware-wise. Ah, ok. We will send you a permission sheet so you can bring it back to your retailer.
I have never needed a permission sheet to send something back right after the purchase. Not sure why in this case. Maybe because ProLiant is part of the business series?
In the end…
All good. The server I received in return was alright then and is happily in use now. But what is the point in them asking you to send in a picture of the defect if they then seem not to be able to look at that picture. A world of wonders. :)