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Dell Fixes Ultrabook That Smelled of Cat Urine

Unknown Lamer posted about 10 months ago | from the catbert's-revenge dept.

Hardware 133

Sockatume writes "The BBC is reporting that Dell's Latitude 6430u Ultrabooks have an interesting characteristic you won't find in any Macbook Air: the palm rest emits an odor like cat urine. An issue with a manufacturing process is thought to be to blame. Although Dell has assured potential customers that the issue has been fixed, reports in the Dell support forum indicate that units with the novel fragrance continue to ship out to users. Dell staff state that the palm rest will be replaced by Dell at no cost, but only if the unit is still under warranty."

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Stands to reason (4, Funny)

Doug Otto (2821601) | about 10 months ago | (#45281545)

Runs like shit, smells like piss.

Re:Stands to reason (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45281563)

Catchy, but I doubt Dell with go with that slogan.

Re:Stands to reason (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45281577)

Dude, you're taking a piss.

Re: Stands to reason (1)

lbanting (780910) | about 10 months ago | (#45283649)

All crazy cat ladies unite!

Re:Stands to reason (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45281653)

How about "Latitude 6430u: Your Cat Will Do More Than Just Sleep On The Keyboard"?

Re:Stands to reason (1)

denzacar (181829) | about 10 months ago | (#45281705)

The Dell smell. Not even your cat will know the difference.

Re:Stands to reason (4, Funny)

TheGratefulNet (143330) | about 10 months ago | (#45281571)

dell has a 'drug free workplace' policy and insists all employees be piss tested.

now, FINALLY, I understand why.

they were looking for materials suppliers, of a sort...

Re:Stands to reason (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45282797)

Just Michael Dell marking his territory.

Re:Stands to reason (3, Funny)

skids (119237) | about 10 months ago | (#45283187)

Actually meth labs also smell like cat urine. So it might be that all the tiny elves that live inside the device were "overclocked" so to speak.

Re:Stands to reason (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45281635)

What do you think the "u" in 6430u stands for?

Re:Stands to reason (2)

Sockatume (732728) | about 10 months ago | (#45281821)

"U won't believe how much it smells like cat pee."

Re:Stands to reason (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45282201)

"Runs like shit, .."

Mine has a piss-poor performance.

Re:Stands to reason (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45282443)

Still tastes like chicken...

Well (1)

Osgeld (1900440) | about 10 months ago | (#45281555)

Least it was representative of the overall product before the fix

Re:Well (2)

i kan reed (749298) | about 10 months ago | (#45281667)

Hey, maybe with Dell going private, all the quarterly-earnings-seeking cost-cutting will go away. Maybe they'll not have support that causes tooth pain and manufacture custom computers of some basic quality again.

Also maybe they'll make that pig-jet I designed.

Re:Well (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45281753)

sounds like they're moving away from consumer tech and going towards enterprise services.

Re:Well (2)

scottbomb (1290580) | about 10 months ago | (#45281931)

Sorry to say, but the business model at Dell is changing and they no longer offer much in the way of customization. They are actually moving away from Just In Time.

how is Dell going with its privates??? (1)

swschrad (312009) | about 10 months ago | (#45282747)

we're starting to find out ;)

Dude! You're getting a Smell! (5, Funny)

swschrad (312009) | about 10 months ago | (#45281557)

obviously this is why they don't ship mice with laptops, they were all eaten.

Re:Dude! You're getting a Smell! (1)

Doug Otto (2821601) | about 10 months ago | (#45281615)

Winner!

Re:Dude! You're getting a Smell! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45281763)

Naw, you have to feed a cat, that gets expensive. Much cheaper to just spray the laptops with cat urine to keep the mice out.

I have two helpers to do that for me, thanks (1)

swschrad (312009) | about 10 months ago | (#45281897)

they purr when they're doing it, too.

Re:I have two helpers to do that for me, thanks (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45282351)

I want to party with you.

OK, Dell (2, Insightful)

mbone (558574) | about 10 months ago | (#45281569)

My basement also smells of cat urine. When are you going to come and fix it?

Re:OK, Dell (1)

rubycodez (864176) | about 10 months ago | (#45281703)

when I was a kid we had our cat fixed, but the liter box area still smelled like urine

Re:OK, Dell (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45281899)

when I was a kid we had our cat fixed, but the liter box area still smelled like urine

Well, maybe you should have used a pint box instead. ;-)

Re:OK, Dell (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45281981)

My cat was never broken.

Re:OK, Dell (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45282161)

My basement also smells of cat urine. When are you going to come and fix it?

Be honest, I think we all know that it's your Mom's basement.

Re:OK, Dell (1)

sharknado (3217097) | about 10 months ago | (#45283363)

Is it under warranty?

Do not meddle in the affairs of cats... (4, Funny)

uncle slacky (1125953) | about 10 months ago | (#45281597)

...for they are subtle and will piss on your computer.

A Feature! (2)

mythosaz (572040) | about 10 months ago | (#45281605)

Now that Dell is private again, they can continue to provide these innovative features without pressure from their stockholders.

Re:A Feature! (0, Troll)

omnichad (1198475) | about 10 months ago | (#45281737)

Hey, but at least they're not ignoring customers like Apple would have done.

Re:A Feature! (2, Informative)

Silvrmane (773720) | about 10 months ago | (#45281991)

Dude, really? Show me an issue with Apple products that in the end WASN'T fixed by the company. I'll bet you'll have a hard time finding an example. Sure, in the short term they may deny there is a problem, but they do customer service at an exemplary level, sometimes fixing or replacing products they don't even make to help their customers have the best consumer experience possible.

Re:A Feature! (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45282343)

How about the issue with the BGAs of the NVIDIA (M650?) GPUs in the MacBook Pros of 2008? Even though it was a manufacturing defect (Apple pointed the finger at NVIDIA and NVIDIA pointed the finger at Apple), as the system integrator, Apple should have made things right right from the start. If I remember correctly, it wasn't until a class action lawsuit that Apple finally did something, which was to replace those computers that had actually gone bad. What Apple should have done was issue a recall and replace the boards of every MacBook Pro in that run.

I had a MacBook Pro from that period and it didn't really exhibit any real problems so I did not qualify for any replacement parts. In December of last year, the computer went kaput -- totally dead. Pressing the power button does nothing: the hard drive doesn't spin up, the CPU fan doesn't spin up, nothing. And of course, the entire thing is out of warranty.

In all my years of using computers, I have never had a computer totally fail as the MacBook Pro did. Perhaps things will change with Tim Cook at the helm but at the time, Apple was a reflection of Jobs' psychopathic way of dealing with people and money.

Re:A Feature! (0, Flamebait)

narcc (412956) | about 10 months ago | (#45282413)

sometimes fixing or replacing products they don't even make

Go home, Silvrmane. You're drunk.

Re:A Feature! (1)

Silvrmane (773720) | about 10 months ago | (#45282577)

Re:A Feature! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45283241)

We will ensure that these adapters are disposed of in an environmentally friendly way... [Y]ou can purchase one Apple USB power adapter at a special price — $11 CAD.

Translation: "You buy a cheaper cable from someone else, even if it is better than ours, we'll throw it away for you and then you can buy our cord for the low low price of $11 CAD"

Here's a better idea: Use traditional standard cables and connectors when designing your products that are way less expensive then $11 CAD.

Re:A Feature! (1)

narcc (412956) | about 10 months ago | (#45283589)

Wow! Apple will throw away my old third-party cable and allow me to buy a new one from them!? Why, that's just like repairing or replacing hardware not made by them!

Let me call you a cab. You're too far gone to even stumble home safely.

Re:A Feature! (1)

Wookact (2804191) | about 10 months ago | (#45282471)

You're holding it wrong!

Re:A Feature! (2)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 10 months ago | (#45282509)

Apple's support model is (with the exception of prosaic stuff like 'hard drive is dead, sounds like coffee-grinder', where the ability to get retail support from somebody other than the geek squad is quite a blessing for people without corporate support contracts):

1. Deny that a problem exists. Reports of the problem will silently disappear from their message boards, CSRs will either emit cluelessness, or (if challeged) suggest that customer misuse was the cause.

2. Wait. Despite the outward appearance of not giving a fuck, Apple clearly isn't oblivious to the level of buzz, and apparent frequency with which a problem is occuring.

3. One of two options: if the buzz level of step 2 was low enough, continue to insist that product N is absolutely without fault, until it's time to release revision N+1, where the problem will silently be fixed, with absolutely no acknowledgement that the change was made to address any particular issue. If the buzz level of step 2 is high enough, Apple will then offer repair replacement, sometimes even for otherwise-out-of-warranty hardware.

Re:A Feature! (4, Interesting)

Dahamma (304068) | about 10 months ago | (#45282969)

Actually, my experiences with Apple's (in store, at least) support has been extremely positive.

#1: yes, this is somewhat true. Though it's more like "deny it's a widespread or manufacturing defect".

#2: not really relevant to in-person support. If you ware just going to whine anonymously on a forum good luck anyway.

#3: My girlfriend is on her 4th iPhone 4S now. First she dropped (finally overpriced AppleCare comes in handy), second the mic went bad, 3rd wouldn't charge. Clearly some manufacturing issues on the last two but at least they replaced them with new phones (not refurbs... I guess another advantage of AppleCare) with no questions asked. Further, she brought in a 5+ year old Macbook (one of those white plastic ones) that had a (literal) battery meltdown. They replaced the whole case, battery, and even the keyboard (damaged by our cat ripping off a key). Again, no questions asked, no charge. Finally, they actually replaced the glass on my iPad a while back after my cat knocked it off a table (yeah, what's with my cats and Apple products... though it is ironic the original article is about Dell and cat piss...) at no charge. Guess my sob story was good, because I was expecting they'd charge ~$200 (in which case I would probably have done it myself).

Moral of the story is, yes, Apple will NEVER admit they do anything (in design or manufacturing) wrong, but they DO tend to stand behind their products...

Re:A Feature! (1)

sootman (158191) | about 10 months ago | (#45282981)

> if the buzz level of step 2 was low enough, continue to insist that
> product N is absolutely without fault, until it's time to release
> revision N+1, where the problem will silently be fixed, with
> absolutely no acknowledgement that the change was made to
> address any particular issue. If the buzz level of step 2 is high
> enough, Apple will then offer repair replacement, sometimes
> even for otherwise-out-of-warranty hardware.

"A new car built by my company leaves somewhere traveling at 60 mph. The rear differential locks up. The car crashes and burns with everyone trapped inside. Now, should we initiate a recall? Take the number of vehicles in the field, A, multiply by the probable rate of failure, B, multiply by the average out-of-court settlement, C. A times B times C equals X. If X is less than the cost of a recall, we don't do one."

Re:A Feature! (1)

Beardo the Bearded (321478) | about 10 months ago | (#45283655)

Which company did you say you work for?

Re:A Feature! (1)

afidel (530433) | about 10 months ago | (#45282703)

WiFi breaking after upgrading to iOS 7 is the latest one, in fact they are actively censoring any discussion of the issue.

Re:A Feature! (1)

Tridus (79566) | about 10 months ago | (#45282135)

I'm pretty sure that with how much Apple cares about branding, "our stuff smells like cat piss" is a problem they would fix pretty quickly.

Nobody wants to be seen holding a smelly device.

Re:A Feature! (4, Funny)

omnichad (1198475) | about 10 months ago | (#45282649)

Are you kidding? They would delete the comments on the community discussion board and tell the users they're smelling it wrong.

Re:A Feature! (1)

Dahamma (304068) | about 10 months ago | (#45282993)

Or admit no fault but offer a free cover lined with Febreeze...

Re:A Feature! (1)

Beardo the Bearded (321478) | about 10 months ago | (#45283667)

Thanks man, you almost made me choke on an apple, which is ironically what I'm eating as a snack right now.

Pissed off customers (1)

SpaceManFlip (2720507) | about 10 months ago | (#45281623)

Man if I bought a new laptop and it smelled like cat piss, I would definitely be pissed off. Piss.

What a piss-poor excuse for a product launch. Don't these piss-ant Dell people have noses in their quality control department.

ETC

Re:Pissed off customers (4, Funny)

rubycodez (864176) | about 10 months ago | (#45281721)

and I thought only IBM sold a Pee-series

Re:Pissed off customers (3, Funny)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | about 10 months ago | (#45281771)

I was disappointed to not find any Frosty Cat Piss posts down at -1.

Re:Pissed off customers (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45282373)

They're just taking the piss out of their customers.

Where can I get one? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45281651)

Great feature for people living in rodent-infested city apartments.

I'll level with you (5, Informative)

Sockatume (732728) | about 10 months ago | (#45281659)

Seeing this on the front page is not exactly my proudest submission.

oh, how catty... (1)

swschrad (312009) | about 10 months ago | (#45281707)

the obvious product upgrade at this point is to rename the line the Dell Attitude, and piss on ya if you don't buy the extended warranty. so you have done the cyberworld a favor in pointing this out.

Re:I'll level with you (1)

Joining Yet Again (2992179) | about 10 months ago | (#45281749)

In the long run, we're all dead.

We can pretend we're something special, or we can just enjoy the ride. Here's to the ride!

Re:I'll level with you (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45283527)

Cheers yourself, I'm getting frozen!

Re:I'll level with you (1)

rwa2 (4391) | about 10 months ago | (#45281871)

Actually, this sounds like a pretty good breakthrough... I thought someone had intentionally made a keyboard with bobcat pheromones or something in order to scare away cats and eliminate cat-like typing from keyboards everywhere.

http://cheezburger.com/4046581760 [cheezburger.com]

Patent this.

Re:I'll level with you (1)

Wookact (2804191) | about 10 months ago | (#45282493)

I actually figured that the guys from Anchorman were messing with the cologne collection again.

Re:I'll level with you (3, Insightful)

c (8461) | about 10 months ago | (#45281887)

It's still better than a SlashBI or Slashdot TV submission.

Granted, it's a low bar.

Re:I'll level with you (1)

Big Hairy Ian (1155547) | about 10 months ago | (#45281893)

I don't know you have made the phrase "It stinks" work on even more levels when referring to Dell

Re:I'll level with you (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45282241)

Considering the amount of utter garbage you submit....

Macs had a similar issue not long ago (5, Interesting)

RiscIt (95258) | about 10 months ago | (#45281739)

It's ironic that the story would say you won't find this issue with a Mac Book air.

It wasn't too many years ago that iBooks had an issue where they would smell like body odor after the case had begun to oxidize.

We still have one. It still stinks.

I guess they were thinking most nerds wouldn't notice?

Re:Macs had a similar issue not long ago (3, Funny)

Sockatume (732728) | about 10 months ago | (#45281801)

Well obviously Apple patented human BO and Dell had to look elsewhere.

Re:Macs had a similar issue not long ago (2)

oji-sama (1151023) | about 10 months ago | (#45282009)

It's ironic that the story would say you won't find this issue with a Mac Book air.

Not really, that seems to be a non-article related Macbook Air promotion. "The BBC is reporting that Dell's Latitude 6430u Ultrabooks have an interesting characteristic you won't find in any Macbook Air". Surprisingly the words Macbook and Apple seem to be missing from the article.

Re:Macs had a similar issue not long ago (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45283291)

In fairness, the BBC's main tech correspondent Rory "seriously dude how many Apple shares do you own" Cellan-Jones usually finds a way to incorporate pro-Apple references into every one of their stories, so maybe the submitter felt uneasy that it was missing in this case.

Re:Macs had a similar issue not long ago (1)

Silvrmane (773720) | about 10 months ago | (#45282063)

We had one of those. It was nick-named "Stinky" and we tried like hell to get rid of the smell, even sending it out for a thorough detailing inside and out. To no avail - stinky stank anyway. We blamed it on the fact that the boss had taken it on a trip and left the macbook locked in the trunk of his car with some used hockey equipment and it got left in the equipment bag for a couple of weeks while he was away. Never thought it was the computer itself that was the source of the problem.

Surprise! (3, Funny)

Pagey123 (1278182) | about 10 months ago | (#45281745)

"Urine" for a surprise!

Hating cats... (1)

Skiron (735617) | about 10 months ago | (#45281955)

... and not been near one in years, how would you know it smells of cat's piss if you don't know what cat's piss smells of?

I would have blamed windows 8.1 and all the other crap they pre-install - perhaps it's the smell of crap.

Re:Hating cats... (1)

GodfatherofSoul (174979) | about 10 months ago | (#45282297)

I don't know, but I would like to echo your hatred of cats.

Re:Hating cats... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45282415)

Ceiling cat watches you masturbate.

Re:Hating cats... (1)

GodfatherofSoul (174979) | about 10 months ago | (#45282631)

He's lucky I can't shoot that high.

Re:Hating cats... (1)

3.5 stripes (578410) | about 10 months ago | (#45282531)

It smells like ammonia. Most people associate the smell of ammonia with cat piss, instead of the other way round..

Re:Hating cats... (1)

Jeff Flanagan (2981883) | about 10 months ago | (#45283297)

Ammonia is just one part of the cat urine smell. If it's just ammonia, this isn't nearly as bad as implied. It's other substances that create the ongoing odor in a house with a problem cat.

Re:Hating cats... (1)

Rob the Bold (788862) | about 10 months ago | (#45283387)

... and not been near one in years, how would you know it smells of cat's piss if you don't know what cat's piss smells of?

You don't need to like cats or have one to know what cat pee smells like, since they seem recognize people like that when looking for a garden to pee in -- and worse.

But even being lucky enough to have no idea, you'd still have said "My God, this thing smells horrible? What is that awful smell?"

runs OSX (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45282007)

Shh. the secret got out early but the product was late. This thing was intended to run OSX, but apple found out and changed their naming scheme just in the nick of time.

No, you won't find that in any MacBook, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45282033)

MacBooks are cages for Lions and Leopards, not just puny house cats....

Gender? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45282133)

Does it smeel like Male or Female?

Experience cat videos in a whole new way! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45282183)

A new feature no doubt

Rest Assured (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45282211)

This is why Dell went private.

This isn't normal? (1)

Lumpy (12016) | about 10 months ago | (#45282383)

I though all Dell's had that smell lately. Honestly their quality has gone way down hill....

Re:This isn't normal? (1)

Lithdren (605362) | about 10 months ago | (#45282537)

Well...seeing as liquid runs down hill, it only stands to reason.

Another Dell service (1)

TheloniousToady (3343045) | about 10 months ago | (#45282533)

I wonder how much they'd charge to fix my cat's smell? (She's out of warranty.)

All joking aside... (2)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 10 months ago | (#45282585)

Are there any manufacturing/polymer types (or even armchair chemists) around who would want to hazard a guess as to why a PC component would have that smell?

My understanding is that chassis materials don't differ wildly from laptop to laptop (ABS or ABS+PC seem to the the typical plastics, Aluminum or coated magnesium-alloy the usual metals, with some assorted adhesives and things). Is there some plasticizer, or mould-release agent, or incomplete-polymerization impurity, or particularly malodorous-if-the-proportions-aren't-right two-part adhesive out there?

Re:All joking aside... (1)

Tailhook (98486) | about 10 months ago | (#45282835)

IANA manufacturing/polymer type....

About two weeks ago I briefly fired up a carefully stored old Dell PE2650 that hadn't been run in about 8 years. It immediately smelled strongly of ammonia and I shut it down. Googling around indicates that it may be burning insolation. Some component has decayed and is creating too much heat. I'll figure it out at some point when I start caring again.

WRT these laptops, I suspect there is some bit of insulation or other, possibly excess, material in contact with or too close to some hot component like a VR heatsink or whatever. It's burning the material slightly and would probably cease to emit the smell at some point.

the malodorous is usually sulfur compounds (1)

swschrad (312009) | about 10 months ago | (#45282861)

from perfume to... not... our friend sulfur is usually there.

which could lead to a side discussion, instead of snide discussions, about how well the electrothingies inside the case will fare being cooped up with the palm rest in a laptop carrier after a few years.

I'd look up sulfoxones, as an example, if my lunch break wasn't over.

cat urine & meth (1)

unixisc (2429386) | about 10 months ago | (#45282975)

Meth tends to have the cat urine smell as well, from what I heard. Maybe there were some such banned substances in those laptops?

Re:All joking aside... (2)

Gryle (933382) | about 10 months ago | (#45283011)

Armchair chemist (but I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night...) armed with wikipedia. Ammonia has a related smell to cat urine so perhaps they don't entirely dry the components after rinsing them with an amide-based solvent. My other guess would be some kind of thiol-reaction somewhere in the casing triggered by the heat of the circuits. If you're really curious Wikipedia has an entry on the actual chemical responsible for cat-urine-odor here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cat_pheromone#Cat_urine_odorants [wikipedia.org] . Looks like something that could polymerize or be formed by excess sulfur or alcohol in the plastics mix.

Obligatory Big Lebowski quote... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45282763)

So every time--I just want to understand this, sir-- every time a laptop is micturated upon in this fair city, I have to compensate the owner?

Love the obvious bias in TFA. (1)

Requiem18th (742389) | about 10 months ago | (#45282971)

The BBC is reporting that Dell's Latitude 6430u Ultrabooks have an interesting characteristic you won't find in any Macbook Air

You won't find it in a Macbook! You also won't find it in a Toshiba, Acer or an HP. But that's not the cock we are trying to suck.

Dell littertude 6430urine (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45283323)

next time, just look before you press the order now button.

No more Chinese plastic for this one (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45283473)

I've bought products made in China that contained evil-smelling plastics.

A slashdot post relevant to my life? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45283605)

I own said ultrabook. It is fantastic aside from the video resolution.
Now I'm sniffing the touchpad, and it has no such odor.

Yea... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45283899)

The issue in the process was that it was made in China. That is the only issue here.

I remember the yellowing iBooks/MacBooks (1)

droptop (558616) | about 10 months ago | (#45283993)

Quite a few of our white iBooks and then the white MacBooks would yellow on the palm rest. It seemed to be happening to the same people. I never told them it was "just them" but they were embarrassed anyway... They weren't "dirty" hands or anything like that, it must have been some unique protein or oils or something, it was really strange. Happy when the black MacBooks came out!

Interesting (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45284007)

I guess dell let the cat out of the bag.

FUÇK DELL = Design Defect (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45284009)

"Replaced by Dell at no cost, but only if the unit is still under warranty"

Can you say "Design Defect"? Dell sold a product that they now freely admit was defective. Small Claims Court will remedy that fiasco. Spend $25 and you will get a new computer. www.ebay.com

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