Thursday, January 10, 2013

Dear Dell power supply, I hate you

Sure enough, sometime in December the power supply (PSU) for my Dell XPS 15 failed again!! How ridiculous is that? I'm usually in favor of getting replacement PSUs from the manufacturer, but it's getting dang expensive. So I took a chance and picked up a couple off Amazon Marketplace, two of them for under $40. They look like legit OEM parts and work fine. Even if they don't last longer than the ones I've been getting from Dell, they are worth it. I got two of them so I'm not left waiting for a new one to get delivered when my next one fails, as I'm sure it will. I'll just try to stay one PSU ahead of the game.

My Dell XPS 15 has turned out to be a lemon for sure, but it still works for the most part, doing what I need it to do. If I weren't a computer tech, and able to get through (and in some cases, simply ignore) much of these issues on my own, I'd never expect an average consumer to think the problems I've had are acceptable. Here's a quick run-down:

  • Three power supply failures within 18 months, out of pocket for all

  • DVD-RW drive failure within first 12 months, replaced under warranty, but dealing with their locally contracted tech was a... story for another time (hint: it was bad)

  • System fails to shut down or hibernate about 50% of time, instead choosing to reboot, have had this issue since day one (S4/S5 problem?)

  • Frequent random service crashes, mostly 'PC Doctor', but one or two others as well, have had this issue since day one

  • Two burnt pixels on the LED LCD screen. Have never had this before on any LCD display, and I've owned many (I know, I've been lucky)

A side gripe about Dell: I've been disappointed that they no longer automatically ship operating system discs with their systems, but I'm really miffed about inconsistent support practices regarding said discs. I recently attempted to order one for a Dell laptop I purchased at work within the last couple of months. I received an email back stating that I would have to call by phone and pay for it. Although inconvenient, I figured that's just how Dell is doing it now, so I'll do it when I have some time. Even more recently, a colleague forwarded me an email she received from Dell support, in response to her same request, but for a three year old out-of-warranty system, stating that they were overnighting her the operating system disc at no charge. I can't share with you the words that came to mind when I saw this. I shake my head and wonder when Dell is going to get their shtuff together. It's soooo disappointing that their customer service and support still sucks, so badly.

QuickBooks error -6123, 0, and my solution

I was troubleshooting error -6123, 0 with QuickBooks Pro 2008, finally solved the problem and thought I'd share.

The text of this error message was something to the effect of "cannot connect to database server," however, mine was a single user installation with the company file residing locally. I realize QuickBooks may use a database server to connect to even a local database, but the knowledge base article on Intuit's website for error -6123, 0 was aimed at situations that did not apply to me. I was not using the company file over the network, I was not in multi-user mode, nor was I restoring a backup.

I went through a bunch of things, including the use of the QuickBooks File Doctor, which said my database was perfect. I disabled Windows firewall, and was using no other. I restored a backup of the company file using Windows Previous Versions. I checked QuickBooks services but found nothing that jumped out at me. I was stymied.

I started thinking about how I had the system set up. The computer is joined to a domain, so I logged in as Domain Administrator, tested QuickBooks, and it worked. The user I have set up to use QuickBooks doesn't have local admin, and I'd rather avoid giving it to her if possible. So I started Googling and ended up finding another Intuit knowledge base article for "Configuring multi-user access requires Windows Admin rights". Even though I'm not in a multi-user scenario, I decided to see if the information was helpful anyway, and it turns out it was.

Solution: For QuickBooks Pro 2008, there is a Windows user account called "QBDataServiceUser18" which I added to the local Administrators group. That did the trick and now my user can access QuickBooks without that pesky error anymore, and without admin rights!