Geek Squad + Real Computers
January 8, 2006 5:21 PM   Subscribe

What would happen if you picked up an Alpha or VAX, called up the Geek Squad, heavily hyped as being a bunch of friendly geeks who will help you with your computer woes, and said you wanted them to install VMS on it?
posted by Captain_Tenille to Computers & Internet (21 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
You may need to install another 8K of wire wrapped memory for $4000.
posted by StickyCarpet at 5:29 PM on January 8, 2006

Well, I don't know, but I'm sure thinking about it now!
posted by NotMyselfRightNow at 5:35 PM on January 8, 2006

Why are you asking us? Why don't you ask them?
posted by nylon at 5:39 PM on January 8, 2006

If they choose to take the job (highly doubtful), I would assume they would just install OpenVMS.

Of course, that assumes the Alpha or VAX is up to challange, otherwise StickyCarpet might be right...
posted by toftflin at 5:43 PM on January 8, 2006

They would probably overcharge you a metric shit-ton, because that's what the Geek Squad does.

Also, people often find the skills and technical knowledge of your average Best Buy Geek Squad peon lacking.
posted by Derive the Hamiltonian of... at 5:43 PM on January 8, 2006

I have no idea if it is official policy, but I've always got the distinct impression that "Geek Squad" is implicitly "Windows Geek Squad," or at best, "PC Geek Squad."

I bet some of them would not even know what a Vax is, and majority would be like me: they'd have some vague notion of it being a mainframe, but had never used it.

(Well, I did use a Vax for a few years, so I guess I'd be an abnormal geek squad member).

But I wonder if this question isn't pushing the boundaries of acceptable for AskMeFi...
posted by teece at 5:50 PM on January 8, 2006

they had pretty decent documentation, so i can't imagine it would be that hard as long as you had the right hardware and media. of course, if it was really old (an 11/780 or something) then you also needed basic physical skills like threading tapes (unless you had one of those really cool automatic tape drives...)
posted by andrew cooke at 5:55 PM on January 8, 2006

Say you call your local Best Buy's Geek Squad and they send someone over. This person will (possibly incessantly) try to sell you or interest you in more expensive equipment. Geek Squad members are often jumped up store employees; high school kids with some knowledge who otherwise read out of a manual. A number of my friends in high school (not too long ago) worked at Best Buy, and I remember one of the Geek Squad kids wrecking his cool little Geek Squad Volkswagen Beatle four times before the store finally fired him. You will not be paying all that money for good or knowledgeable service.
posted by Derive the Hamiltonian of... at 5:59 PM on January 8, 2006

they will happily charge you their hourly rate until you are bankrupt.
posted by skatz at 6:07 PM on January 8, 2006

"they'd have some vague notion of it being a mainframe."

Neither Vaxen nor Alphas are mainframes. The VAX would be in the minicomputer class. I'd say Alpha-based boxes postdate the minicomputer - microcomputer distinction.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 6:20 PM on January 8, 2006

The last VMS install I went through in 1989 involved a field tech from DEC coming up to Lowell, MA from Maynard, with 14 tape cassettes in his breifcase. 4 days later, a 20 user system was ready for data load.

He spent about 20 hours answering console prompts, and doing various install script patches from the console, plus some post-installation application installs, and a full hardware diagnostic at the end. And came back 2 days later to resolve some performance problems with the RDBMS package by patching some disk firmware.

Bare metal VMS installs are gnarly.
posted by paulsc at 6:25 PM on January 8, 2006

Though this doesn't directly answer your question, I hope it will provide some advice -

I had a terrible experience with Geek Squad. I brought my laptop in to have everything backed up onto an external HD. They crashed the laptop hard drive beyond repair and then replaced it without asking me. They opened up the HD case to examine it, without my permission, thus destroying my Dell extended warranty. When I called to see if the laptop was ready, I was FINALLY (four days later, a day before it was supposed to be ready) told of what happened. After calmly asking for an explanation, I was told that Dell Inspiron HD's "frequently" crash on their system.

They should have called before they did any of this, as it was clearly outside of the defined service contract. I had to threaten to sue in order to get any action on their part, and in the end all they did was refund the cost of the HD replacement - they still made me pay for the backup, despite the fact that it wasn't done (the crash happened before any files were saved).

I would strongly caution anyone before using Geek Squad. Perhaps my experience is confined to the particular store I brought my laptop into, but either way, caution is prudent.

I apologize to anyone who thinks this is off-topic.
posted by MeetMegan at 6:29 PM on January 8, 2006

I don't think MeetMegan's experience is off the mark. These Geek Squad folks are not computer experts.

spleen: I was thinking it was not a mainframe as I wrote that, but a geek squader wouldn't know, so why look it up? And the mainframe/minicomputer distinction is pretty esoteric. They aren't even remotely mini by today's standards ;-p And everyone called 'em mainframes where I worked. Go figure.
posted by teece at 6:46 PM on January 8, 2006

They might recognize it if you filled it with liquor bottles
posted by Triode at 7:24 PM on January 8, 2006

It also depends on if you are getting a tech who actually has a degree in computers.

MeetMegan - Personally, I was told we (Best Buy) were an authorized service center, and thus breaking the warranty stickers did not void the warranty. But that may be just for computers, not hard drives. Still, if they opened it without your permission, you should have told Dell that. And if you didn't get a backup, you shouldn't have had to pay for it.

/ex Best Buy computer tech, pre-Geek-Squadification
posted by IndigoRain at 7:25 PM on January 8, 2006

Response by poster: andrew cooke: I wasn't worried about being able to install VMS myself -- I almost did once, but the Alpha board someone had given me died mysteriously and wouldn't post. I've done SYSGENs for MVS 3.8j under Hercules before (with handy instructions, of course). I'm pretty sure VMS can't be nearly as bad as that.

To MeetMegan, etc.: I wasn't actually planning on calling up the Geek Squad to install VMS; that would be stupid. I was just wondering what would happen if you did, and what hilarity might ensue is all.
posted by Captain_Tenille at 7:29 PM on January 8, 2006

Are you sure all the power cables are plugged in? Have you tried restarting your computer?
posted by evariste at 8:15 PM on January 8, 2006

The Geek Squad are strictly computer experts the way Apple Geniuses are geniuses. They'll suggest upgrading to Win XP, I think.
posted by johngoren at 9:25 PM on January 8, 2006

Geek Squad didn't hire me, but I think that was because of my driving record, not the fact that I actually know something about computers.

It's possible one of them has some distant VMS knowledge -- all techs know someone who's done whatever, it's in their blood -- but it's unlikely they have one of those persons on staff and available.

I think you'd get much more cost-effective help by poking around for a VMS/minicomputer user group in your area. There's probably someone who'd do it for free -- or at least pizza.
posted by dhartung at 12:10 AM on January 9, 2006

Hilarity would definetly ensue, especially is you played it well, revealing as little as possible very slowly towards the inevitable end, when the idiot realizes they can't just ghost windows xp onto the fucker, and says that they don't support your 'configuration' then refuse to pay, having taken up at least several hours of their tortured existence. Videotape the whole thing.

I've worked a help desk before, but our OpenVMS users were 'self-supporting,' we only had to unbox, test, and inventory their hardware.
posted by blasdelf at 6:02 AM on January 9, 2006

teece writes "I don't think MeetMegan's experience is off the mark. These Geek Squad folks are not computer experts."

They were hiring here about six months ago with a posted starting wage of a whole dollar above minimum, when even the 7-11 is paying more than that. That's probably indicative of the cluefulness of most of the techs.
posted by Mitheral at 10:51 AM on January 9, 2006

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