Saturday, March 30, 2013

Miscellany On My Countdown to New York: Dell Computers, Paris, Victor Hugo

Forever by Chris Brown on Grooveshark

Have you heard about Dell's "grim filing" to go back to being privately held? Yesterday, it filed a huge 274-page Schedule 14A with the SEC, a preliminary proxy statement relating to a proposed going private transaction and man, it was bleak.

Read about it here but basically Dell has been on a downward trajectory for the past 10 years, its own management doesn't foresee any possible upward swing in the foreseeable future, and is accepting bids to go private; Dell has widely missed its own internal projections for the past seven quarters, its precipitous decline in its revenue is projected until at least 2016 and Mr. Dell himself informed investors that the only way that Dell could even conceive of making any sort of reversal is by injecting expensive investments in new technology and products (no duh...who the hell wants a Dell computer any more) which would involve huge capital commitments by investors who are already completely over Dell.

I always hate to hear about a company that is not doing well, I want everyone to succeed, I believe in the American dream!  But here's the thing, Dells are crappy computers in comparison to Apple and Apple gained its market share by providing a superior product and service.  What can you do about that?  That's entirely Dell's fault.

When I was in law school, Dell had a captive market, we all bought Dell computers with the occasional fancy-pants buying a Sony Vaio or IBM. But my Dell crashed all the time, or there were components missing when it was shipped over, and each time I spent immensely frustrating hours on the phone, I would get routed to a foreign call service who had good intentions but was powerless to really do anything.  It was the classic kiss-off.  I spent SO many nights frustrated trying to get my Dell to work properly and getting no support even when I had paid extra for the customer support.

Then the unthinkable happened, right before a final exam in law school, my Dell crashed.  I couldn't get anyone on the phone from Dell, I was literally crying tears of anger and frustration and panic...I had to hand-write my final exam not to mention the dent to my equilibrium right before a major exam comprising 80% of my final grade.

After my exams, I threw out all my Dell stuff - I would rather not have a computer at all than have one that was unreliable and which caused so much stress in my life - and never looked back.  Now I have almost exclusively Apple products, a Macbook Air, a Mac at home, an iPhone.   You know why?  Not because they're trendy - I actively hate trendy stuff - but because they are great products.  Like an oasis in the desert of my starving need for reliable electronic products, Apple is the best:  its products continually surprise me with innovation that seems inspired by wanting to do better for the sake of being better rather than being reactionary to the market which if that's your business model (as it was with Dell for far too many years), to me, it's too little too late.  Apple's customer support always helps me even when I don't have their extended support.  And their products have never, ever, ever crashed on me despite the beating I put them through.

I'm sorry Dell, but you were cheap with your support, you deliberately gave customers the runaround with your outsourced calling system that I am convinced was intentionally designed to have the customers hang up in frustration, and you refused to improve your products despite knowing what improvements were necessary - you rode the coattails of your success at the expense of quality and customer satisfaction and now you have lost your market share to superior products.

The good thing about a tight economy is that it forces inferior companies/systems to fail/re-boot - which is why we should never have bailed out the banks.  This is a fundamental precept of capitalism!!

I usually am indifferent to financial news of computer companies but when I saw this headline on the Wall Street Journal it brought back nightmares of my law school exam.

My final days in Paris are here and so everything I see here is even sweeter, imbued with the impending sadness of saying goodbye...although I am ready to leave, I can't wait to be in New York City.

Last night we had dinner at the Jules Verne restaurant at the Eiffel Tower...if you can get reservations YOU MUST GO.  The view was breathtaking and the food was so delicious I kept putting down my utensils and shaking my head why, why is it so good my mouth wants to explode.

There were so many more posts I wanted to do on Paris and I was feeling stressed out about that...until BB reminded me, hey, you will be back soon, Paris has been here thousands of years and will be for a long time, you will have many more stories here to tell... How is it that a 25-year-old can teach me life lessons?  Madness.

Today I took a walk to the last home of Victor Hugo, my most favorite author next to Leo Tolstoy (Russia is on my hitlist of places to explore but I feel it's a place I shouldn't go as a single woman).  Les Miserables is one of my most revered novels ever, I read it at least once a year and each time, I leave its world transformed, learning so much more about the human condition (read it for free on your Kindle or from Project Gutenberg...it's so old it's passed copyright protection...it will change your life!!).  BB wanted to go with me but I told him I wanted to be by myself.  He looked at me for a long time and said, you're already saying goodbye, aren't you? And that was too, too sad, so I said let's go.

Victor Hugo's home is located in Place des Vosges, a famous upscale plaza.  This is the entrance we used, you walk through and...
...Place des Vosges.  It is a beautiful enclave rich with historical significance, just like everything else in this city.

The bottom level is now filled with art galleries and high fashion stores.  
The buildings of Place des Vosges in Victor Hugo's time, it's exactly the same as today. 

Foyer into Hugo's apartments.  



His view.  


Portrait of Madame Victor Hugo.

His sitting-room that he decorated himself with Chinoiserie which was popular with the upper-class at the time.  





His bed.  It is tiny.  But then again, I am used to huge California-king beds...

One of the most famous portraits of Hugo, he was hugely venerated in his own day.
...Hugo sitting for said portrait.  
I loved visiting his home, I would reach out and touch his furniture wondering if he had touched the same items himself...I'm so in love with this city!

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