Dell Techcamp 2011–packing it in.

IMG_8422 (640x478)Conferences can feel like sitting through a slideshow of  someone  else  holiday snaps. You nod and approve and smile and agree to all that is said and do so at  all the right moments but you generally look to your watch and wonder if something interesting will slip into the presentation.  This Conference began with Holiday snaps and then a few things dropped in that made it ‘interesting’

Dell Techcamp 2011 was part showcase, part conference , part meet Dell and their partners  and mostly it was  part of the day. From a buying perspective I could note nothing of individual merit other than the confirmation that the updated Vostro v130 would feature an improvement to the design of its battery life. 


I left the techcamp ( can we call it a conference ? ) with the knowledge that I had been given the opportunity to highlight one aspect of design and delivery for Dell that had  gone overlooked among the demonstration for the day.


IMG_8413 (640x478)The unboxing and subsequent  disposal of packaging of the Dell Experience. I speak of the abundance of twist ties and cable wraps, plastic sleeves and plastic covers. CDs and Cardboard cases.

Whilst Dell have made excellent progress in updating the materials and product for protecting the goods on route to the customer what we are left with are robust boxes, plastics and wires which must be disposed of. The materials used in their manufacturer have improved and their design to degrade and reduce volume is noticeable.  Dell offer to recycle your old PC if you put it back into the box in which the new machine arrived however many businesses will sell old machines onto employees and the boxes and packaging remain to be disposed..

From my own experiences and metrics ( based on timesheets for work I have done on site ) I can see that delivery and installation  of Dell computers has reduced in onsite time from appx 180minutes to 90 minutes per device. In examining the process I can see that at least 20minutes of my time is spent in handling and managing packaging. Not only the time to remove the equipment , remove the plastic, remove the tie wraps and then to fold, pack , collapse and dispose of the packaging are factors in hardware delivery.  It needs only three new computers and I am charging my client for an additional hour of my time to install and configure said equipment.

Hats off to Dell for listening to  my comments and taking the next to introduce me to people within  Dells whom are  responsible for packaging and the ‘out of the box’ experience

If I had a wish list of what Dell could change in their delivery it would be.


  1. Provide a URL to all ISOs that represent CDs delivered with equipment. Alternatively provide them on a single USB stick.
  2. Discover a replacement to tiewraps and wire ties as well as plastic sleeving on folded cables.
  3. Allow me to pack down packaging and return it to claim a deposit which can be used as a credit against my next Dell purchase. Make it worth my while to return you the packaging material which can clearly be reused.


So there we go ; I went to see tech and I left with a wish list in cardboard and bamboo lets see whats next. 

Thanks for reading.


#dtc2011 , #delltechcamp

First Impressions; Lasting advice.

You might remember that throughout March I blogged quite a bit about the Dell Vostro v130 as part of the Dell Trade Secrets marketing event. Participants were invited to contribute business advice which would be turned into an eBook ( available as a PDF  in this link ) .

My advice was is on page 25 in the “Advice from SMB Experts”.

Give them an Answer, not a solution. Answer the question they put before you with the answer to their question
and not an answer that fits a solution which you can sell them. Understand how that answer fits into the whole
picture and not the problem they are presenting you with.
-Nicholas Butler |


If you have the time and are genuinely interested in what there is about me , how I work and why I keep my clients then I recommend you listen to the interview that Dennis Howlett   ( @dahowlett  ) did with me back in June 2010.

Victim no 1: Why should you hire Nik Butler ?

If I am guilty of anything it is that I rarely promote what it is that I do or why I get things done. I think the best people to tell you that are my clients and my friends. Hopefully they might leave a few comments here to expand.


Thanks for reading.

Classy and Powerful


Its that time of the upgrade cycle for a client and we have to replace the 3 year old PowerEdge 1000s with something new and under warranty.

The Dell Poweredge R210 is an ultra compact 1U Rackmountable server it is customisable on purchase and for my mind it suits a Small to Medium Sized business of upto 50 workstations for File and Network services. These purchases  two  Ubuntu and Redhat Servers which are running on virtual instances under VirtualBox ( more on that another time ) .


IMG_8077What knocked this purchase out of the park for me was the mounting kit. Seriously the mounting kit was a work of engineering genius. It was a no tools , no fiddle , no scrapped knuckles mounting rail that meant the servers were installed in the cabinet in less than 5 minutes. I could hug the designer that made those rails.






Those little pegs replace the need for the nuts, bolts, pliers and screw driver combination that traditionally welcomes the unsuspecting system admin.







It is not easy to make out but the side of the R210 has two pegs into which the spars from the rail mount kit slip over and lock down by way of the tension spring which clips under the peg when flush.


The external rails are clearly labelled LEFT and RIGHT and the front and rear are clearly marked. The rails fit into the mounting points on the cabinet post and a small retaining hook stops them moving back out. The spars fitted to the case of the R210 are slid onto the rails and everything slips back and cleanly ‘clicks’ into place. It feels like your cheating to use these rails but if this is cutting corners then I say look the other way. Dell you rock for this creation, thank you.


Thanks for reading.

Day 30 : Dell Vostro v130 – End of Line.

How apt that I am posting this final entry whilst on the Gatwick Express heading out of London. The Vostro has travelled a hundred miles but at the end of the day the Battery life is not up to the job. This is a terrible shame because the Laptop in every other regard is a playful and creative object that wants you to keep it open and paying attention to it. Meanwhile my Mac Air has been with me all day and even though it is after 11pm there is still the best part of two hours battery life to go.

In many ways it fits the role of a damned useful windows box and is far more suitable for the presentationally challenged or portable coder who will not mind that they need to keep their power supply nearby.


My advice for verson 2 of this laptop is make the battery replaceable or make the charging universal.

Thanks for reading.



Day 29 : Dell Vostro v130–Playing Up.

This blog entry is a twofer , I had a Windows Phone 7 to play with last year and was asked to create a suitable Christmas list using my Zune software. It looks like I did terribly enough that I have been asked to create a playlist suitable for the Royal Wedding.

Given the HDMI and Audio out capabilities of the Vostro v130 along with the 500gb of disk storage the possibilities of keeping your Video and Audio collection on here are straight forward enough. Add a Zune monthly pass to that collection and you will be watching Videos or being the life and soul of the party with Zune.

The Zune software itself is a huge step up on interface and interactivity compared to Apples own product for the PC and it has rapidly usurped iTunes on my own workstation Desktop and it is the primary playback software for my Vostro v130.

So here are my suggestions for Wedding day tunes.


If that text proves to small to read the suggested play list is:

  • Band of Gold – Bonnie Tyler
  • Fat Bottomed Girls – Queen
  • I Would Do Anything for Love – Meatloaf
  • If I were the man you wanted – Lyle Lovett
  • Suspicious Minds – Elvis
  • Laid – From Friday night at the movies
  • No More I Love Yous – Annie Lennox
  • Total Eclipse of the Heart – Bonnie Tyler
  • The Long Day Is Over – From Friday night at the movies
  • Another Suitcase in another hall – From Evita
  • D.I.V.O.R.C.E – Tammy Wynette


Thanks for reading ( and listening )