Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Samsung support may actually be evil geniuses

Readers of my previous two posts might be forgiven for assuming that I think Samsung support is a bit crap.

I now believe that they might actually be evil geniuses.

After giving up on their support I decided to take the phone apart and blast compressed air into the power switch in the hope it would un-jam.

This failed to work, so I returned to Google and turned up this page. 

It turns out that throwing the phone on the floor is the way to fix this problem.   Sure enough, when I did this (presumably un-jamming the switch in the process) the phone magically booted.

Now I understand how the Samsung support line works.  Clearly, they are too embarrassed to ask you to throw your phone on the floor.   Instead, the support people act like complete dicks in the hope that you will throw the handset on the floor and thereby solve the problem.

So, Samsung, I owe you an apology, your support lines are run by evil geniuses.   Albeit, evil geniuses that provide no help at all and never get back to you when they promise they will.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Samsung customer support still sucks.

So following the last blog post I sent another message to Samsung through their web contact form.

The message was as follows:

I have just written up my Samsung customer support experience: 
I used to be a huge fan of Samsung Android phones, frequently recommending them to friends and relatives. 
After this experience I will never by another Samsung device of any description. 
Congratulations on losing a loyal customer.
I received the following response:
Thank you for contacting Samsung Customer Care. 
We understand that you have an issue with your phone replacement. 
We sincerely apologize for the inconvenience caused. 
Although this service is provided as a means of technical support for our customers, we appreciate any feedback about our company's products and services. The e-mail message you sent has been reviewed and forwarded to the proper individuals. We value your comments. 
We recommend you to contact our phone specalist department on 1-888-751-4078 for further assistance on this. After dialing this number select (1) for English or (2) for French. 
Samsung values the relationship with its customers. We realize that you have been greatly inconvenienced by the situation. 
Thank you for contacting Samsung. 

So I once again called the support line.   Once again, they are not actually prepared to do anything about the situation other than giving me a number where I can get a quote for the cost of a repair.

So although "Samsung values the relationship with its customers" and realizes that I have been "greatly inconvenienced by the situation" they are still not prepared to do anything about the situation.

In short, they are just wasting my time by asking me to call them.

Update: they have opened a new support ticket and punted things back up to executive support with a promise to get back to me in 24-48 hours.   Watch this space for the next fun instalment.

Samsung Galaxy Infuse is a lemon

Back in December 2011 I bought a Samsung Galaxy Infuse for my son.

In July 2012 it developed a fault, similar to the phone in this youtube video

In short, the phone was stuck in a boot loop, alternating between the Samsung and Rogers logos.

As the phone was still well within its 1 year warranty Rogers sent out a new device to me and I returned the original.

However, in January 2013 the new device developed exactly the same fault.   It appears that the real fault is that there is an issue with the power switch that causes it to lock permanently on and hence you get the boot cycle.

Rogers refused to do anything about the problem as they only give a 90 day warranty for replacement phones.   They advised me to contact Samsung, which I did.

After going through their web-based contact form I received a reply asking me to do a hard reset on the phone.   If they had read my problem report they would have known this was not possible due to the power switch issue.

In order to point this out to Samsung I had to re-enter all the details again in the web based contact system (clicking on the "If you are not satisfied with the answer we provided, please   click here" just takes you to the contact form).

I received a reply saying as the phone is no longer under warranty there is nothing they can do.

I send another request from the web contact form pointing out that:

  1. given the replacement phone developed exactly the same problem as the original and
  2. googling suggests that this is a common problem with the Galaxy Infuse
that the phone would appear not fit for the purpose for which it was designed and that as such Samsung ought to accept this and provide some redress.

I got a reply asking me to try a hard reset on the phone.

A fourth message via the web contact pointing out this was not possible (as I had already told them) received a reply suggesting I call their customer support line.

I called this line and was given an "Executive support line" number to contact, suggesting they might be able to help.

I called this number and they said they would escalate the matter and get back to me.

5 days later I had still not heard anything so I called back.

I was told that my case had been closed as after escalation Samsung had decided they would do nothing about the problem.

Samsung did not bother to contact me and inform me of this.

I repeated to the person on the support line how unhappy I was with their product, the fact that I felt it was not fit for the purpose it was designed and how I felt some redress from them was appropriate.

The support person apologised for all this (in effect, acknowledging that the phone was unfit for the purpose it was designed), but refused to do anything about it.

Up to now I have been a great fan of Samsung Android phones.   I admired the way they responded to Apple's attacks in the courts and would regularly recommend their phones to others.

It is now clear that I was mistaken here.   I have dealt with Apple customer support in the past and the difference to the Samsung experience is like night and day.   Others I know have had similar experiences from Apple.  

So my conclusions are:
  1. Samsung do not care if their customers have a bad experience with one of their products
  2. Samsung support is not actually designed to give a good support experience
  3. If you are out of warranty you are out of luck, regardless of how many times you have had to replace your device under warranty
  4. The Samsung Galaxy Infuse is a lemon.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

SWIG and fstream

I have a love/hate relationship with swig.
I have had some success wrapping C and C++ libraries so they can be called from python. The real plus with swig is that is not invasive to existing code, with a little work you can usually create good wrappers without having to change underlying code.
However, when it fails it can be hard to spot why. I've found that looking at the C++ wrapper code that swig produces can help a lot, but still there can be a lot of thrashing around.
My latest battle was with fstream. I had a method that need a C++ stream to read from and I wanted to open a specific file, so I needed fstream. Unfortunately, I had no joy wrapping the fstream header file. Some googling suggested that C++ streams are one area where swig struggles.
In the end, my solution was to just create a function that takes a filename and returns an istream:
%inline %{
istream & open_stream(const char *filename) {
istream *infile = new ifstream(filename);
return *infile;
istream & open_stream(const char *filename);
Armed with this I can open files and get the istream objects I need to pass into methods that read streams.
I'd be interested to hear of any better solutions.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Wikileaks: most startling revelation

The dump of diplomatic cables from wikileaks has provided some interesting insight into diplomatic communications. So far I've not really heard anything earth shattering.

The most surprising thing I've heard is that 2.5 million US citizens had access to all this data. Now if I was one of the diplomats involved I'd be more than a little miffed that what I considered confidential conversations were being dessiminated so widely.

This piece explains some of Assange's motivations in publishing this material. I had originally thought he was just interested in exposing illegal and immoral behaviour in governments, but his motivations are much wider than that, hence the dump of data rather than publication, allowing others to mine the data.

Whilst nothing I've heard so far seems to threaten security seriously (although some of the revelations re: Saudi Arabia might have potential to increass tension in the Middle East). My guess is that most of the data just confirms stuff that people already suspected. In many cases, it actually might increase trust between nations, since they now have confirmation of what they have up to now only suspected.

However, it is going to be hard for diplomats to be so candid in the light of these revelations. The US can actually help heal this damage by accepting that the wide internal dissemination of this information was itself a breach of trust.

Meanwhile, there are some pretty scary ideas about how to deal with the perpertrators of the leaks.

Update: this piece in the Guardian sums up what I was trying to say above.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Upgrading cable modem with built in wireless router

I had a cable modem with built in wireless router. Unfortunately, it did not support the faster wireless protocols. Since I want to use it to stream video from mythtv I needed to upgrade.
Now the simple (famous last words) thing to do was just to get a new wireless router and then just use the old one for its cable modem.
Of course, it isn't that simple. I had hoped I could just take a lead from one of the modem LAN ports and plug it in to the wireless router's WAN port.
What did work was the following set up:
  • Set both routers to use the same private network (192.168.0.*)
  • Have the modem serve DHCP, with local IP address
  • Set the wireless router IP address to (really just anything to avoid the modem IP address)
  • Turn off DHCP on the wireless router.
  • Cross fingers
This seems to work ok. New machines connecting to the wireless router get their IP addresses served by the modem, which happily sets the default gateway, DNS etc correctly.
The only downer is that I'm forced to use the modem configuration for firewall etc. and its firewall configuration is less powerful. Also, it doesn't seem to support assigning static IP addresses in its DHCP set up.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Maverick Meerkat initial impressions

I am not really a fan of reviews where the reviewer throws on a new distro, plays with it for 3 hours and then does a write up. I find it takes much longer to get a proper impression about a new distribution.

So, having said that I'm nonetheless going to give my initial impressions of Maverick Meerkat. I started switching a couple of weeks ago.

So far I have upgraded (or re-installed) 2 laptops, a netbook and 3 mythbuntu boxes. All bar the netbook have gone pretty smoothly (more on that below).

The new installer has some good improvements, such as doing work in the background while you are still answering questions, resulting in faster installs.

shotwell has replaced f-spot as the photo manager. I'm finding shotwell much, much faster than f-spot and all round a pleasure to use. Migration from f-spot is trivial as shotwell has an "import from f-spot" option. This worked a treat for me.

Ubuntu Software Centre has two new features I have already found very useful. History allows you to see the history of your package installs. Installed Software splits stuffup according to which repository they have come from. I've already found both these features invaluable.

Software sources has been moved from a standalone entry in the System->Administration menu to being part of the ubuntu software centre. You will find it under the Edit menu.

I do think Ubuntu releases could do with some more comprehensive release notes which list changes like this, it took me a while to track things down.

Upgrading the Acer Aspire, 11.6" ZA3

The problem with this netbook is that it has the poulsbo video chipset. Despite being an intel chipset, the drivers are closed source. However, there is now reasonable support and repositories with the necessary fixes were already available.

After upgrading, just:

add-apt-repository ppa:gma500/ppa

and install the poulsbo goodies from there.

My upgrade on the netbook ran into a few problems. First, the installer told me it could not figure out the upgrade and told me it was probably due to third party stuff I had installed, but gave no clues as to which. If only I'd had the new softwar centre to allow me to browse what I'd installed from strange sources.

Happily, synaptic has a similar option. Using that, I guessed that it was the poulsbo goodies causing problems, so removed them and then fired up the installer. Success!

Now the install was going ok until I looked at the netbook and saw that everything seemed to have frozen. The window manager had crashed. Note to self, don't do a gui based upgrade after removing a bunch of the packages that your X server is using ;)

Sadly, I ended up killing the upgrade before I found the window asking me some question about which version of a config file I wanted. This had been hidden behind another window and, without a window manager running I couldn't see it.

The good news was that I was able to complete the upgrade using apt-get commands from the command line. A reboot got me to a console, I then added the poulsbo goodies, rebooted once more and all was good.