My notebook is farked up again (Hewlett-Packard Pavilion, if anyone out there is taking notes on what not to buy.) There are a good half-a-dozen signs which point to its being a hardware fault (my second, on this machine which is just turning 1 year old) not the least of which is that horrible sound like a ping-pong ball being dropped on a tile floor, which exact sound was made by both of the last two hard drive failures I have witnessed. But you know you're about to have to run the tech support gauntlet, so you go through all the things that you know the guy is going to ask you to try even though they make very little sense, and you write up all the results clearly emphasizing all of the clues that point to a hardware fault, and you send it to HP Support.
Now the guy I'm corresponding with has been polite, and more importantly fast, and he even managed to suggest a couple of things that made a sort of sense to check (or would have, if it wasn't so obviously a hardware fault) which I hadn't thought of. So I tried them, and they didn't work, and the next thing on the poor unfortunate man's decision-tree of things hes allowed to tell the customer was:
Thank you for writing back.
To confirm whether the issue is related to hardware or software, I recommend you to perform the complete format of Hard Drive and Reinstall Windows XP Operating System.
Note: Please backup your Important data.
Right. Reformat the hard drive just to _check_ if that might be the problem. Unfortunately for him, I'd been given this little bit of advice from HP Support before. My reply:
This is the second time I've got that particular piece of advice from HP support, so I know it must be company doctrine, so I'm not blaming you.
But seriously, that must be just about the stupidest piece of advice I think I've ever heard of. And I worked in tech support for awhile, so I've seen some winners. Reformat the hard drive, not because you've in any way determined its necessary, but just to check and see if the problem is hardware related? Sure, I'll just rip all the data off the machine, go through hours of backup, reinstall, and restore, which will inevitably foul up somewhere and cause me to have to spend even more hours re-installing software, just so you can say "well, it wasn't that; guess that strange noise coming from your hard drive was the problem after all" and then I get to do all the tedious restore _again_ on the new drive you eventually send me. Sounds like great fun; I'll send you a bill at my hourly rate.
I've got a better idea, which I hope you'll pass along to whoever wrote the idiotic manual that you are no doubt being forced to follow. How about you either come up with some software to test the hard drive, or else you let me send it to your hardware guys for them to test? Because we've got half a dozen signs pointing to a hardware fault here (the second hardware fault I've had in this just-turned-one-year-old machine, I might add) and this machine is my livelihood, and I'd really rather not screw around for another couple of days before you get to the bit where you admit its broken and fix it.
Thanks for your help,