Free Republic
Browse · Search
General/Chat
Topics · Post Article

Skip to comments.

In Faulty-Computer Suit, Window to Dell Decline
The New York Times ^ | June 29, 2010 | Staff

Posted on 06/30/2010 3:22:36 AM PDT by driftdiver

After the math department at the University of Texas noticed some of its Dell computers failing, Dell examined the machines. The company came up with an unusual reason for the computers’ demise: the school had overtaxed the machines by making them perform difficult math calculations.

Dell, however, had actually sent the university, in Austin, desktop PCs riddled with faulty electrical components that were leaking chemicals and causing the malfunctions. Dell sold millions of these computers from 2003 to 2005 to major companies like Wal-Mart and Wells Fargo, institutions like the Mayo Clinic and small businesses.

“The funny thing was that every one of them went bad at the same time,” said Greg Barry, the president of PointSolve, a technology services company near Philadelphia that had bought dozens. “It’s unheard-of, but Dell didn’t seem to recognize this as a problem at the time.”

Documents recently unsealed in a three-year-old lawsuit against Dell show that the company’s employees were actually aware that the computers were likely to break.

(Excerpt) Read more at finance.yahoo.com ...


TOPICS: Society
KEYWORDS: computers; dell
This explains a lot for me since we buy Dell computers. Well we used to.
1 posted on 06/30/2010 3:22:39 AM PDT by driftdiver
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | View Replies]

To: driftdiver

From the few hundred I have had my hands on, Dells usually held up well and gave little if any trouble. Really old units had typical failures such as boards/power supplies/bad caps.


2 posted on 06/30/2010 3:32:52 AM PDT by wally_bert (It's sheer elegance in its simplicity! - The Middleman)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: wally_bert

You can imagine the Dell customer service department...getting this complaint...then noting it’s a math department at a major university...so then they cook up this excuse of folks adding too many numbers and that screws up the computer.

I’m just curious if the Jack Daniels distillery had Dell computers and would call up the customer service folks with a similar complaint...would they suggest that alcohol is causing the Dell computer to screw up as well?

This is where you take the guy who made up this excuse and just let him go (don’t even fire the guy)...and make sure everyone knows what he did.

Somewhere about six years ago...you could see various Dell models having unique problems (their first “mini” would burn up the motherboard in twelve months, then you did the warranty replacement, and the second lasted roughly twelve months...the whole interior was just too hot and no air circulation was the culprit).


3 posted on 06/30/2010 3:37:52 AM PDT by pepsionice
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: driftdiver

Maybe Dell should just shut down and refund the value of outstanding shares to their shareholders, lol.


4 posted on 06/30/2010 3:40:46 AM PDT by RegulatorCountry
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: pepsionice

Corrosive fumes from alcohol distillation ... yeah, that’s it, corrosive fumes.


5 posted on 06/30/2010 3:42:03 AM PDT by RegulatorCountry
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 3 | View Replies]

To: wally_bert
From the few hundred I have had my hands on, Dells usually held up well and gave little if any trouble. Really old units had typical failures such as boards/power supplies/bad caps.

If my memory serves me, it was just a specific optiplex model.

6 posted on 06/30/2010 3:46:13 AM PDT by EVO X
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: wally_bert

I had similiar problems with compaq, they all failed at the same time.

My recent calls to Dell for warranty support were quite disappointing.


7 posted on 06/30/2010 4:00:43 AM PDT by driftdiver (I could eat it raw, but why do that when I have a fire.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: EVO X

“If my memory serves me, it was just a specific optiplex model.”

Thats the only one they’ve admitted the problem existed on.


8 posted on 06/30/2010 4:01:34 AM PDT by driftdiver (I could eat it raw, but why do that when I have a fire.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 6 | View Replies]

To: driftdiver
I was given an "old" computer after an upgrade, and I found a bunch of those leaking capacitors in it. It wasn't a Dell, and there were a LOT of electronics manufacturers hit by this problem.

Due to the way the boards are constructed, and my lack of a $2000 soldering station, I had a very difficult time replacing about 8 capacitors without damaging the board. I ended up having to mount them upside down on the board with double sided tape dots, and use jumper wires to connect the leads to the board pads.

I'm using that very computer to write this even as we speak.

9 posted on 06/30/2010 4:06:23 AM PDT by Dumpster Baby (Truth is called hate by those who hate the truth.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Dumpster Baby

I wish this article had named the capaciter and its manufacturer(s). Capaciters are used in lots of electronic manufacturing, and I have thousands in the warehouse, left over from various jobs.


10 posted on 06/30/2010 4:13:39 AM PDT by afraidfortherepublic
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 9 | View Replies]

To: afraidfortherepublic

In before first “should have bought a mac” post.


11 posted on 06/30/2010 4:14:49 AM PDT by don-o (My son, Ben - Marine Lance Corporal texted me at 0330 on 2/3/10: AMERICA!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 10 | View Replies]

To: driftdiver

See Reply #10.


12 posted on 06/30/2010 4:14:53 AM PDT by afraidfortherepublic
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 10 | View Replies]

To: EVO X

It does and mine fails me on which one. 520’s and up that I run into seem durable enough.


13 posted on 06/30/2010 4:16:04 AM PDT by wally_bert (It's sheer elegance in its simplicity! - The Middleman)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 6 | View Replies]

To: driftdiver

Despite what complaints I have had with Dell, my run-ins with HP/Compaq have been far worse.


14 posted on 06/30/2010 4:17:49 AM PDT by wally_bert (It's sheer elegance in its simplicity! - The Middleman)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 7 | View Replies]

To: afraidfortherepublic

Panasonic DVC Pro videotape machines from a few years ago had endless capacitor problems. The maintenance unit would have to recap every deck every couple of months.


15 posted on 06/30/2010 4:19:32 AM PDT by wally_bert (It's sheer elegance in its simplicity! - The Middleman)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 10 | View Replies]

To: afraidfortherepublic

“I wish this article had named the capaciter and its manufacturer(s). Capaciters are used in lots of electronic manufacturing, and I have thousands in the warehouse, left over from various jobs.”

If my memory serves me correctly, ALL the electrolytic capacitors were potentially affected at a certain time of manufacture. I think the problem was that there was only ONE source for a chemical used in the manufacture of the caps and that it was contaminated. All manufacturers were affected to some degree. At that time I was working for NCR and had to replace a boatload of IBM motherboards.

PC’s are (for the most part) junk! Consider the hardware as disposable. The hardware will be overtaxed by the changes in software demands in about 2 years time.

Good thing FR has a very simple web interface. Gosh, I can even use a Win98 machine if I need to (or Puppy Linux as I am now).


16 posted on 06/30/2010 4:26:27 AM PDT by vanilla swirl (Where is the Black Regiment?)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 10 | View Replies]

To: driftdiver
Thats the only one they’ve admitted the problem existed on.

They had a 2 stage failure. The first was the product line was bad, and then they failed at correcting the problem to the satisfaction of the people that bought the product. Unfortunately for Dell, the bad product was sold to major companies so word got around quickly.

17 posted on 06/30/2010 4:28:03 AM PDT by EVO X
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 8 | View Replies]

To: driftdiver
This sounds like the capacitor problem that was prevalent throughout the industry. A lot of people, including those who built their own computers, were victims of this as the mother boards had these defective capacitors. The capacitors bulged and sometimes burst.

I built a computer with one of the boards that was subject to failure. I guess that I was lucky since mine is still working. I didn't have to replace any capacitors. I'm not the one using it but it doesn't seem to have any capacitor related problems.

18 posted on 06/30/2010 4:31:24 AM PDT by FreePaul
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: vanilla swirl
If my memory serves me correctly, ALL the electrolytic capacitors were potentially affected at a certain time of manufacture. I think the problem was that there was only ONE source for a chemical used in the manufacture of the caps and that it was contaminated.

Let me guess. China?

19 posted on 06/30/2010 4:32:05 AM PDT by PapaBear3625 (Public healthcare looks like it will work as well as public housing did.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 16 | View Replies]

To: wally_bert
It does and mine fails me on which one.

I think it was 270 plus or minus 10..

20 posted on 06/30/2010 4:32:54 AM PDT by EVO X
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 13 | View Replies]

To: driftdiver
Cheap chicom electrolytic capacitors on mother boards that were full of moisture... when they fail they bulge out at the top. Seen hundreds of these go bad. Dell is not the only one that used this crap knowingly.

LLS

21 posted on 06/30/2010 4:36:08 AM PDT by LibLieSlayer ( WOLVERINES!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: vanilla swirl

Thank you for the information. I’m passing it on to my husband. This is just another example of why we should never have allowed any crucial industry to depend on one source in their supply chain. We are a small contract manufacturer of industrial parts for OEMs. I do not believe that we’ve had any complaints related to this, but we use capacitors like popcorn. I’m not even sure that we make a line item for them in our quotes. I’ll have to ask somebody to check our inventory. Would these little devils “leak” if they are not installed anywhere — just sitting in the bin?


22 posted on 06/30/2010 4:40:57 AM PDT by afraidfortherepublic
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 16 | View Replies]

To: driftdiver
More on this from Karl Denninger:

Faulty Capacitors: See, They Knew!

Chinaman Fails To Hose American.

23 posted on 06/30/2010 4:59:18 AM PDT by DuncanWaring (The Lord uses the good ones; the bad ones use the Lord.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: afraidfortherepublic

“Would these little devils “leak” if they are not installed anywhere — just sitting in the bin?”

I suppose it’s possible but I think that they had a problem under load. Sometimes they would fail without leaking although usually they looked “puffed out”.


24 posted on 06/30/2010 5:07:45 AM PDT by vanilla swirl (Where is the Black Regiment?)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 22 | View Replies]

To: driftdiver

I have a Dell Studio for work and I am ABUSING it with mathematical computations. No issues at all so far.


25 posted on 06/30/2010 5:19:38 AM PDT by dartuser ("Palin 2012 ... nothing else will do.")
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: PapaBear3625; vanilla swirl
The swollen capacitor problem originated in Chinese industrial espionage done incompetently. A Chinese chemist working for a Japanese company (Rubycon Corporation) stole an electrolytic formula and sold it in Taiwan and Red China, but a key stabilizer was omitted in the stolen formula.

For most people the U.S., the first coverage of this to hit public awareness was in comp.risks back in 2003:

     The Great Capacitor Scare of 2003 (that posting also has a link to this still extant article, though most of the other links no longer work.)

Following that posting, the IEEE covered this in several articles; here are two representative ones:

     Leaking Capacitors Muck up Motherboards

     Dell Tried to Hide Bad Capacitors Problem 2003-2005

This is the reason that when I bought a power supply and a video card recently, both prominently said "all Japanese capacitors" on the packaging.

26 posted on 06/30/2010 5:49:15 AM PDT by snowsislander (In this election year, please ask your candidates if they support repeal of the 1968 GCA.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 19 | View Replies]

To: driftdiver

We have hem at work. They are crap. I will NEVER buy one for home. IF I had to buy a PC...I would get an HP. But since I don’t HAVE to, I buy Apple products :)


27 posted on 06/30/2010 6:00:16 AM PDT by RoadieFan
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: RoadieFan

All computer products have problems. Whats great about America is we still have a choice on what to buy.


28 posted on 06/30/2010 6:23:53 AM PDT by driftdiver (I could eat it raw, but why do that when I have a fire.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 27 | View Replies]

To: don-o
In before first “should have bought a mac” post.

More like "Should have bought from any company that doesn't stress delivering the absolute cheapest systems with a minimum of overhead such as R&D, testing and support."

29 posted on 06/30/2010 6:55:56 AM PDT by antiRepublicrat
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 11 | View Replies]

To: EVO X

We had a problem with some (non-Dell) motherboards about 10 years ago. There were a batch of capacitors from Taiwan that were defective and ended up in a lot of machines.

This was probably a similar problem.


30 posted on 06/30/2010 6:59:06 AM PDT by B Knotts (Just another Tenther)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 6 | View Replies]

To: snowsislander

“Chinese industrial espionage done incompetently. “

wow, thanks for the info. And we still buy our crap from China? Un-freakin-believable!


31 posted on 06/30/2010 8:28:19 AM PDT by vanilla swirl (Where is the Black Regiment?)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 26 | View Replies]

To: wally_bert
Leaky electrolytic capacitors are why I try to avoid them where possible in my designs. Of course, there are places (like in power supplies) that you have to include them, so it's good to include redundant caps in parallel in case one fails open. They're pretty cheap, after all.

I hate electrolytic and tantalum capacitors because of their premature failure issues.

32 posted on 06/30/2010 10:10:03 AM PDT by backwoods-engineer (There is no "common good" which minimizes or sacrifices the individual. --Walter Scott Hudson)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 15 | View Replies]

To: wally_bert

“Despite what complaints I have had with Dell, my run-ins with HP/Compaq have been far worse.”

Same here. What they do to customers is criminal.


33 posted on 06/30/2010 10:47:32 AM PDT by TexasRepublic (Socialism is the gospel of envy and the religion of thieves)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 14 | View Replies]

To: B Knotts
This was probably a similar problem.

IBM had a bad hard drive product line early this decade. There were class action suits over that. They ended up selling the business to Hitachi shortly after..

34 posted on 06/30/2010 3:25:59 PM PDT by EVO X
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 30 | View Replies]

To: B Knotts
This was probably a similar problem.

IBM had a bad hard drive product line early this decade. There were class action suits over that. They ended up selling the business to Hitachi shortly after..

35 posted on 06/30/2010 3:26:10 PM PDT by EVO X
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 30 | View Replies]

To: vanilla swirl

That’s what my husband said. So, it could be years before we discovered a problem. The caps sit here (probably on a tape), then they are installed and shipped, then they sit at the customer a while before he installs them. Heaven help us if they go into an assembly that has be be potted. We’d never find out what’s wrong. Nightmare alley.


36 posted on 06/30/2010 3:37:38 PM PDT by afraidfortherepublic
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 24 | View Replies]

To: EVO X

I have so many HDDs come through that fail secure-track due to bad/remapped sectors that have to be destroyed. The bad part is that I strapped for spare drives to rehab units for resale, esp. laptops. The most reliable drives that I run across are Seagate Cheetahs 10K & 15Ks. Out of the hundreds I have wiped, I have had to junk 3.

It may not matter after next week when I go back to crazy co. after being out of commission for a short emergency hospital stay. I may be back to the contractor life sooner than I thought depending on how hard El Presidente wants to tap dance on my head.

Never mind it was said directly in the presence of witnesses that I was setup to fail. I actually learned to like playing short term contract person. I will take the heat for my shortcomings but there is plenty of blame to go around. I have had to go toe to toe with El Presidente before and actually won a couple.

I actually left crazy co. for contracting for several reasons and never expected hear from them again. A few months later, I was called several times and went back for the promised slot. I’ve done my best to make things work but knew going in not to expect any real support. When the head guy and his minion came to train me (big joke), that became blatantly obvious to all in the facility, esp. my manager who is a really sharp organizer and people manager.

I’ve turned away a few promising contract gigs. If I am still flailing around after begging for help and material support for ages, the next ones get real attention. I also keep my eye on real jobs and even score an interview every so often.


37 posted on 06/30/2010 7:07:28 PM PDT by wally_bert (It's sheer elegance in its simplicity! - The Middleman)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 35 | View Replies]

To: antiRepublicrat

I just got my first mac, albiet a used Macbook Pro at a very good price. I like it but haven’t fooled with it a whole lot. It works great and I really can’t complain about it.

The battery is probably on the way out though. Even after a full overnight charge, it will last 20 minutes before a low power warning kicks in. I’ve played with power settings to no avail. Besides Apple, where is a good source for replacement batteries?


38 posted on 06/30/2010 7:13:42 PM PDT by wally_bert (It's sheer elegance in its simplicity! - The Middleman)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 29 | View Replies]

To: wally_bert; Swordmaker

Swordmaker probably has good sources for batteries.


39 posted on 07/01/2010 6:38:49 AM PDT by antiRepublicrat
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 38 | View Replies]

To: EVO X

Yep. I had some IBM “Deathstars.” I have one left that seems to still function. All the others failed.


40 posted on 07/01/2010 7:06:34 AM PDT by B Knotts (Just another Tenther)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 35 | View Replies]

To: B Knotts
Yep. I had some IBM “Deathstars.”

LOL..

41 posted on 07/01/2010 8:47:17 AM PDT by EVO X
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 40 | View Replies]

Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.

Free Republic
Browse · Search
General/Chat
Topics · Post Article

FreeRepublic, LLC, PO BOX 9771, FRESNO, CA 93794
FreeRepublic.com is powered by software copyright 2000-2008 John Robinson