I set up a new Dell Inspiron 518 desktop computer today – a nice home computer, a lovely case bristling with USB ports and shiny black plastic that will attract dust like nobody’s business, fast and well-equipped, shipped with the correct configuration and working out of the box, as usual with Dell.

dell-redirectorDell ships computers with less preinstalled software than most other manufacturers, even from the Home & Home Office division, so setup is easy. There were a handful of third party apps to take off – Google’s cluttered “Google Desktop” widget/search program and the rarely used Google Toolbar, one or two others. Dell is starting to load on more of its own homebrewed applications, though, so new Dell computers still have too many helpful startup screens and popup windows and balloons and taskbar icons. I remove most of them right away – in my experience, more people are annoyed than helped by the incessant notices from the “support center” and the well-meaning advertisements for services like Dell’s online backup and the rest.

Maybe it’s just me but I don’t like the “Browser Address Error Redirector,” licensed by Dell from Google. If you try to go to a nonexistent web page – a typo in the address, say – this redirects your web browser to keep you from seeing a “page not found” message. Instead, you’ll get suggestions for what you might have been looking for, along with lots and lots and lots of advertisements (sample on the right).

I’d rather see a “page not found” message. I uninstall it.

The latest Dell software was introduced a few months ago – a dock that parks itself at the top of the screen to fool you into thinking you bought a Mac by mistake.


Programs are grouped, so a click on the applications icon might provide access to Word, Excel and Powerpoint. (Umm – which one of those icons would that be again?) The dock is intended to scoop up the normal desktop icons so the rest of the desktop is pristine. Here’s a writeup with a few more details about the Dell dock. If you have a Dell computer running Vista and a dock would make your life complete, you can reportedly download and install it from this page.

Who uses things like this? Is there such a demand for an enhancement to Vista’s desktop and menus that this is a great addition to every home computer shipped by Dell? I don’t get it. I’m an old fogey. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not insensitive to how personal some of these choices are. You can use the Dell dock and I’ll be happy for you. Lots of people love their Macs and feed them special treats at dinner and put them to sleep on a little pillow and apparently nobody feels the same way I do – when I look at a Mac screen, I see a stupid, juvenile design that makes me so happy that I work in a PC world.


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