Archive for August, 2012

The Abnormal Psychology Of Dell

Consumers favor choice in their buying strategies. Yet it is also a well-known psychological phenomenon that providing too many choices can be overwhelming.

Apple seems to be at one end of this purchase-decision philosophy, offering a limited set of platforms (iPad2 vs “new iPad”, MacBook vs MacBook Air, etc) and very few options within those choices (eg WiFi/GSM/CDMA for iPhone or iPad). In limiting variety, this strategy – along with their billion dollar war chest to provide unmatched buying power – allows them to streamline their supply chain and still achieve high margins on their products.

At the opposite end of the spectrum, there’s Dell. Dell of the razor-thin margins. Barely hanging on in the “post-PC era” Dell.

I needed a very specific type of PC – a large-quantity purchase, no less – for a project I’m working on. Something in the desktop-to-low-end-rackmount range. Of which Dell has no less than 25 models in this class. Vostro, Optiplex, Precision, R210, R5500, and so on – how would a computer novice navigate within such a collection?!? Apparently, Dell expects you to narrow things down by keying on certain phrases like “rack optimized”, “next-generation processing”, or “certified performance” to decide on a model. Pick one to customize, and you are faced with sometimes dozens of CPU choices alone. It’s positively overwhelming. I guess Dell thinks offering unparalleled choice is what the consumer wants/needs, despite psychological evidence to the contrary.

And yet even with all those permutations, after countless hours navigating the Dell store, what I was looking for could not be found. A note from a Dell sales rep confirmed it: “This solution doesn’t exist“.

So I bought HP.

The episode made me wonder if this was one of the reasons why Dell is in such trouble



Dropbox Issues With MiniKeePass

From comments to my earlier MiniKeePass articles[1,2], it was clear that there were a couple unanticipated behaviors that some users experienced in the program’s interaction with Dropbox. And while I am certainly no official support channel for either, I thought it would be worthwhile to document & clarify those issues here. It is natural to categorize these behaviors as ‘bugs’, though this is debatable. But just knowing what to expect goes a long way to forgiving.

(continue reading…)

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