I'm in the market for a new dev box to stick under the desk. So besides checking out eBay I'm googling away as well. You can imagine my surprise to find that Manchester University is now in the business of bespoke PC sales.
This has got to be something that DELL should take a clear view of as if you read further you will see it's going to be very hard for me to recommend DELL from now on.
Recently a local neighbour who discovered I was working in IT took me aside to ask for my help. It appears that a DELL customer services rep. imparted some very strange advice to them. My friend had contacted the customer services centre and explained they believed their DELL Dimension 4100's power supply had failed. So what did DELL customer service say - they told them that it was no point sending it into DELL for repair as that was far too expensive and that they should find a local PC repair centre to replace the power supply. I have no idea what the precise dialogue was but it is a terrible shame that DELL customer services pushes these types of calls away, they could have given my friend much more comprehensive advice but instead they felt it better to send them towards local cowboys - the customer services representative was not even able to recommend a reputable repair shop - it was a case of you are on your own.
The local PC repair centre then proceeded to cock-up the process further by attempting to charge an exhorbitant fee and fitting a power supply that did not work causing further damage.
If DELL runs their customer service this way then it's not surprising that organisations like Manchester University will have a great proposition for potential clients. In fact, unless I'm mistaken, we've got a nationwide network of universities across the country who could provide this service as well as train our next generation of IT support teams in the field, on site at Campus, and they can forget relying on brand name companies to qualify their work experience. Furthermore I doubt very much these universities will be recommending users order specific extras nor install proprietary operating systems.
DELL needs to realise it's responsibility to the market otherwise better service providers will erode their market share - I wonder if the universities would co-operate to such an extent that they'd club together to buy electronic parts in bulk. Perhaps in a networked world even the likes of DELL are now a risky investment.
Repeated research is a well-respected model of investigation in many sciences. Independent tests of published research are valued because they document the general applicability of results. In addition, repeated research often sheds new light on aspects of a work not fully explored in the original publication.
In computer science, however, it is most common for researchers to report results from testing the software that they themselves have implemented. There are many reasons for this, including the wide variety of hardware and software platforms and the difficulty transferring fragile research software to a new environment. However, without independent trials, it is difficult to establish reported experience as repeatable fact.
Computer systems researchers often note with dismay the number of great ideas that are not incorporated into production computer systems. We argue that encouraging repeated research is an important step towards this transfer of technology. Researchers who release their code to the open source community make a valuable step towards encouraging repeated research in computer science.