My Dell Precision 5510 is getting old

I have had a few issues over the years with my Dell Precision 5510 notebook (

I bought the device specifically to do demos which required a VMs without access to the internet.  The machine has 32 GB of RAM, a 2 TB Samsung 970 NVMe, Amazing touch-screen display.  I had an issue last year and found that the motherboard was a problem.  It would not post – no a peep.  Dell allowed me to pay to have my warranty extended DESPITE the fact that it lapsed!  This saved me a lot of time and money.  Extended Motherboard replaced… moving right along… Until a few months ago…

I had been having some failed recoveries from Hibernation – the way that I keep my 63 browser tabs available to resume where I left off when I return to work… Yeah, I use History and the OneTab browser extension as well, but… I digress… Things hadn’t been going well for a little while, perhaps my last motherboard firmware update – I know, “don’t fix it if it ain’t broke” but, sometimes there is that “Gosh, THAT’s what’s been causing me that pain for SO long?” – So I generally update the firmware shortly after it has come out.  Recovery from Hibernation also started causing issues when waking from hibernation while docked.  My external monitors would sometimes not come on… Sure, I LOVE the WINDOWS + CTRL + SHIFT + B to give the Windows video subsystem a kick in the pants, but I ended up removing the USB C cable attached to my Dell WD 15 dock, unplug the power from the dock, wait, plug the power back in, wait, plug the dock into the PC, and wait… sometime that was enough, sometime opening and closing the lid on my laptop did the trick… I was sad because this just worked before, and then stopped working… 

So then a few weeks back…  WTF?!  My Delete key popped off and wouldn’t stay in place.  I lived with it… then one day… My machine would not POST… No Dell logo, not beep… no luck.  I know, people are quick to throw out ideas, and I know where I could start… But I had also recently receive paper mail (shocking isn’t it) from Dell, reminding me that my warranty was coming due soon.  So, this was my wake up call, I should get these issues fixed soon… and I should get Dell support involved early, if, for no other reason to get my Keyboard replaced.  So, I was on the right track:

  1. get out the anti-static mat & wrist strap (let’s keep it safe people)
  2. unplug power adapter
  3. unscrew bottom
  4. disconnect battery
  5. unplug SSD, RAM, WiFi Adapter
  6. replace bottom with just the 2 big screws
  7. turn over
  8. hold down power to discharge
  9. plug in (remember there is not battery)
  10. Hopefully it will reset the stuff and give you a not boot device error, if not Rinse and repeat by plugging the RAM back in.

This did the trick for me and I found out 2 days prior dell released a critical firmware update for my system, It was advised that I install it immediately – Yeah, thanks guys! 

now on Friday, UniSys comes to install my new keyboard.  When looking at the heat sink and motherboard, the tech noticed that 3 of the 4 thermal pads were not in place.  They must have been missed when the motherboard was switched out 10 months ago!  NICE.  Upon Rebooting, another frustration… Self test showed errors on the my SSD – non stock, not supported by Dell, Nice… So after that was dealt with (thermal pads on order, also new motherboard later approved too) I needed to deal with the SSD.

The error message detail I found were posted here: 

Recommended action

Replace Hard Drive.

The diagnostics indicate that you may be experiencing an issue with the Hard drive.

          • Please update BIOS.
          • Turn of the computer and Reseat the drives/cables/connections for the hard drive. Refer to the service manual for instructions.
          • Restart your computer and rerun the PSA diagnostics.

If you are unable to resolve the issue, please contact Dell Technical Support for additional assistance.

So what do YOU use to test the SMART system of your SSD?  I have a Samsung so it comes with Magician software for that… it said everything was fine.  I installed CrystalDiskInfo ( – It said everything was fine?! – WHAT?!  Okay, I have lots in the cloud, but it would be a pain if I didn’t have a bare metal restore available, so after considering Image backup with the Old Windows 7 app, i changed gears and decided that my Synology Active Backup for Business (…/active_backup_business) which came free with my Synology DS918+ NAS (…/DS918+) was likely a better solution, so I configured that.

Now my Firmware and drivers were updated, my machine seeming fine, I re-ran the ePSA this is the “Dell Enhanced Pre-Boot System Diagnostics (ePSA) – diagnostics that are built into the hardware of your system” …

I ran the quick test – no issues… none…

I ran the detailed test – not issues… Hmmm… I turn off ALL other tests but the Storage tests to be sure… PASS – No issues…

Well, where do I go from here…

Do you know of any other SSD test I might want to try…

For RAM I’ve used the open source project MemTest86 ( for YEARS and have found bad memory modules on servers and PCs…

Is there an INTENSIVE / Comprehensive testing tool for SSDs?



Configuring my new Surface Book 2 – random topic #2 – Removing Apps with PowerShell

I’ve been a consumer of great blog posts, and sometimes, it doesn’t make sense to re-create the wheel (or the blog post).  I have been a silent fan of How To Geek blogs for some time.  I don’t know the author(s).  I don’t know their story… I just like their posts.  So when I see them come up in search engine results, they are usually my 1st choice (<Right-Click>; Open in New Window)

I am bothered by a few of the Apps that Microsoft bundles with Windows, and wish they were a little easier to push aside.  Some of them just keep getting pushy Mail, Calendar… “Hey dude, I got Outlook installed, already!”

Looks like this one is by Chris Hoffman (@ChrisBHoffman

How to Uninstall Windows 10’s Built-in Apps (and How to Reinstall Them)

Side-by-side Twitter Profile & Post Header
Side-by-side Twitter Profile & Post Header

Thanks for the post, Chris! 



{This blog post is insurance against early onset dementia/alzheimer’s of the author.  But he hopes it helps you too, and hopes he will stop talking in the third person really soon… }

Configuring my new Surface Book 2 – random topic #1 – User Accounts

Love the User Experience of the Surface line
Love the User Experience of the Surface line

The life of an independent consultant as it relates to technology configuration can be murky at times.

In a large organization, it’s usually quite rigid,  IT provisions you a machine (that you may, or many not, have a choices in selecting), that they have configured, they’ve established policies and procedures that help guide you to what you can and cannot do (perhaps, “should, or should not, do?”)  You have standard software and you are told where and how to store information and collaborate with co-worker, partners and customers.  Your tech is monitored for activity (nefarious, or otherwise) and protected from theft with MDM solutions (No, not Master Data Management, but Mobile Device Management) to safe guard corporate IP and assets.

So what about when its just you? … What mood are you in today?  …  Do you feel like being consistent with where you store stuff?  …  How long has it been since you’ve backed up that PC?  When does my warranty expire for that business critical laptop?  Do I have drop protection?  Who do I call if I need on-site, next business day repairs? … Oh, I didn’t buy on-site this time?

So, as I have recently lost a machine, and fumbled to get my assets together, I have a great opportunity to be more consistent, establish and follow some of those best practices (that I KNOW will inevitably save me time in the future) and document some of my decision/commitments here… for all of you to chime in on, criticize, mock… no, but seriously, your input and suggestions will be appreciated.

So, here is one of those thing that has plagued me for some time.  Attaching a machine to an active directory domain.  There are new opportunities, especially as many of my clients have an Azure presence.  Some are “Federated,” others are synchronized, some are just on-prem and a few are just in the cloud.  How do I manage this with my singular machine?  Do I really want to connect my machine to an on-premises domain?  They will have control of my PC!  Who would actually trust my machine anyways?  How about Azure AD – does connecting to their Azure AD in this way conception let them “own” my PC? I don’t believe so… Can I have my machine connect to more that 1 Azure AD tenant without causing problems?

Last year I created a VM with VMware Workstation Pro on my PC for a customer I was working with.  This worked okay, but at the end of the day, they ended up hosting a “developer workstation” in their VMware infrastructure for me to jump onto to get work done, connecting via VPN first of course.

Should I then have local User Accounts, dedicate to each of my customers, on my machine?  Or should simply keep ALL of my customers in one profile?  

One thing I AM going to do, as voldemarz recommends doing in this Stack Exchange response:

and that is to create a local account FIRST with a name that I’d like reflected in my User home directory… For Example:


These will work fine… the 1st path above being my personal, local admin account for the machine.  The 2nd being my community Office 365 Tenant for doing Data Platform work for presentations and demos.  The remaining paths are for clients for whom I may or may not be able to connect to the Azure AD tenants (but certainly NOT for traditional, on-prem Active Directory) – If I am required to have a local machine to connect to their on-prem AD, I can set up a VM on my machine or on their VM infrastructure. 

Truly, I’d LOVE to hear how YOU have dealt with any of the topics that I’ve raised.  In particularly, if you have insight on pro/cons around multiple account on a single machine connecting to different Azure AD tenants – that would be TRULY helpful.

Somewhat related, I did read this for a second time last night… Bob does a great job, both ranting, and explaining the intricacies of Microsoft Person and  Work & School Accounts.

Understanding Microsoft Work And Personal Accounts

[disclaimer – I rely too much on spell check and grammar checking build into WordPress.  If something I typed makes you twitch uncontrollably, please let me know so that I can stop your pain 😉 ]

FREE Power BI Resources

This is just an assortment of learning resources for Power BI and associated technologies that I have found helpful.

  1. Power BI Guided Learning from Microsoft’s Power BI team
    Will brings you a huge video series and they’ve dropped it in YouTube to increase the exposure. Get started at 

    Your video tour guide is Will Thompson, a Program Manager on the Power BI team at Microsoft. There are a few guest guides too, a little later on in the course.
    Your video tour guide is Will Thompson, a Program Manager on the Power BI team at Microsoft. There are a few guest guides too, a little later on in the course.
  2. Guy in a Cube
    Adam & Patrick, both Microsoft Employees, deliver exceptional short videos on various BI and Data Platform topics.  These guys do a GREAT job of tackle some of the most complex architectural issues like Kerberos troubleshooting and just make it make sense.  Adam started things off and has even done some sessions on how he produces his videos.  They do Tech videos on Tuesday and Wednesdays, Wisdom Wednesdays and a weekly round up every Thursday.  Adam started posting videos to his YouTube channel almost 3 years ago!  Great work Guy In A Cube!

    Helping you, and your business, gain insights by learning and exploring Microsoft Business Intelligence
    Helping you, and your business, gain insights by learning and exploring Microsoft Business Intelligence

    Along with his YouTube Channel, they leverage Social Media to announce their new videos and, of course, have a fantastic website to complete the circle. 

There are more to come, so check back here!

There are paid resources that provide a more holistic perspective, and potentially help you to focus on putting other things aside while you focus on your learning… because, Hey… You paid for it!



Another 7 Things to Consider for #SQLSaturdayVancouver

Yesterday I sent a message entitled Six things to consider for #SQLSaturdayVancouver which I re-posted on my blog in case you couldn’t find it in your email…

But, here are 7 MORE things to consider!

  1. Sign up for “Power BI: Dashboard in an Hour!”
    1. Register on the Eventbrite site to reserve a seat –

  1. Bring your notebook
  2. Install Power BI Desktop


  1. Cellular Signal / Roaming / WiFi

WiFi at the venue is LEGENDARY!  Really, it is excellent.  Please don’t be a bandwidth hog though…  watch you Power BI YouTube videos at home or at the office. 😉


  1. Getting To #SQLSaturdayVancouver
    1. Additional info on Parking impark lot (0110)  $6.00 for the day  (6AM – 6 PM)  –
      1. Parkopedia:
      2. Impark site:,110
  • You can pay with cash by credit card or with the PayByPhone Mobile App
  1. You need to know your license plate when you park, not a stall, so nothing needs to go back on your dash
  2. Take elevator to lower Classroom level


  1. Floor Map for SQLSat at UBC Robson Square


  1. Bring a water bottle – there are watercoolers in most rooms – hydrate people!


  1. Bring a friend – Learning is more fun when you can share the experience with a friend or coworkers.  Get them to register too!  –


  1. There are plenty of Prizes – Make sure you visit the Sponsor booth and insert your SpeedPASS raffle tickets in the box.  You have to be there during the draw at the end of the day to win!

Want Lunch for SQLSaturdayVancouver?

I sent the following earlier this week:

Buy the Lunch – Invest in the lunch to feed your body while we feed your mind!
There will be conferences in town and 4 cruise ships – street food vendors will have line-ups and you will miss out.

  1. We have Lunch time vendor sessions!  AWS, Microsoft & CozyRoc
     – You don’t want to be out looking for something to eat and miss these sessions! 
  2. PayPal $15 – easy
  3. Boxed lunches include a Sandwich, Salad, Cookie and Drink
  4. We will send out a link to purchase if you initially chose not to purchase the lunch, but you changed your mind and would like to do so.


Soooo… In order to buy lunch, you will need to:

    1. Click this link –
    2. Log in
    3. Under Event Registration; Show Upcoming Events; SQL Saturday #635 – Vancouver 2017
    4. There will be a button at the bottom to “Pay Lunch Fee”
    5. You will be re-directed to PayPal to finish the transaction


Six things to consider for #SQLSaturdayVancouver

Six things to consider for #SQLSaturdayVancouver

  1. Register for the All-day Friday Power BI Pre-con
    1. Discount Offer – Save 10% with discount code! (Saturday is Free, Friday is paid)
    2. Further Details
    3. Register (make sure you use discount code SQLSAT) –
  2. Buy the Lunch – Invest in the lunch to feed your body while we feed your mind!
    There will be conferences in town and 4 cruise ships – street food vendors will have line-ups and you will miss out.

    1. We have Lunch time vendor sessions!  AWS, Microsoft & CozyRoc
       – You don’t want to be out looking for something to eat and miss these sessions! 
    2. PayPal $15 – easy
    3. Boxed lunches include Sandwich, Salad, Cookie and Drink
    4. We will send out a link to purchase if you initially chose not to purchase the lunch, but you changed your mind and would like to do so.
  3. Bring your SpeedPASS – This makes Registration a breeze! 
    We email you a link to a PDF file which contains a registration ticket, lunch ticket, raffle tickets and name badge for you badge and lanyard we provide to you at registration

    1. Download it, Print it out, cut it up, bring it along;
    2. “Scissors of Shame Table” is available if you’ve printed it but didn’t get around to cutting
    3. $2 donations to BC Children’s Hospital for having your SpeedPASS printed by us!
       – fee is optional, but MUCH appreciated.
    4. Link to your personal SpeedPASS will be mailed shortly
  4. Sign-up to Volunteer
    Give back to the community volunteer a little bit of time – Earn Karma Points!

  5. Plan your day; Build your schedule – on the day, check back for last minute changes.
    You can plan your day so that you won’t be racing around on the day!

  6. Download the PASS Events Mobile app (for IOS and Android; by Guidebook)
    You can see the schedule and plan which sessions to attend, display abstracts and speaker bios and more!

Master Your Data for Power BI – SQLSaturday Vancouver Pre-Con Session

One of the local Sponsors to SQLSaturday #635 – Vancouver, BC is Excelguru.

Ken, founder of Excelguru, will be delivering a “Pre-Conference” session on Power BI!  Here are some of the details, and a link to further details and a registration page.

Friday, August 25, 2017

The sad reality is that not all data we need for our reports is stored in nicely curated databases. While some of the data may be, the reality is that we also need to piece together data provided in text files, Excel files, web pages and even the body of emails in order to build the complete business intelligence solutions we need. Until now this has been a painful process with a great deal of cutting and pasting into Excel files. Updates have been tedious and error prone, if the solution isn’t abandoned outright. That stops today.

This course is about Data. It’s about getting, transforming, cleaning and reshaping your data. It’s about turning awkward data into shiny golden tables that are perfect for analysis.

You’ll learn how Power BI can clean up, reshape and combine your data with ease – no matter where it comes from. And the best part? While we’ll be focusing on these techniques in Power BI desktop, they are also 100% portable to Excel 2010 or higher via the Power Query add-in.

In this hands-on workshop, Ken will cover:

  • A quick review of Power BI report basis
  • Importing basic data
  • Appending and merging tables
  • Pivoting, un-pivoting, and transposing data
  • Conditional logic, and
  • Other techniques such as structuring and grouping queries, and understanding query folding and the formula firewall

Register Today and Save:

As an exclusive offer for the SQL Saturday Vancouver mailing list, register before 6:00pm on Friday, August 18, 2017 and save 10% on the registration price! Simply enter discount code SQLSAT at check-out to redeem this offer.

Full course details and registration at