Lending A Hand, It’s What We’re Good At


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Job losses.

Everyone’s talking about them.

You can sit around all day and talk, but until you do action the talking, that’s all it will be – talk. The chains are closing down. Zavvi. Land of Leather. Woolworths. I heard M&S was in trouble recently. Retail is taking a hit.

Crafts and technology are taking a hit too. Dell are on the way out. 1,900 job losses announced to be phased up to January 2010 then it’s off to Poland with them. Waterford Wedgewood are going, going, gone.

For some people, it’s the end of a working life. Maybe redundancy is an option, early retirement. Some people simply have to work. Mortgages to pay off, pension funds to keep up, children to put through school, families to feed.

We’re great at coming up with ideas. We’re an entrepreneurial nation. We’re also great at lending a hand when times get tough. Through Open Coffee Club Limerick, Evert Bopp has followed a lead from Chris Byrne and is offering free startup advice to those impacted by the recent job losses at Dell. While a redundancy payment might help with the bills, when the money runs out, what does one do? More specifically, what does one do with the skills, knowledge and training they now have? One option, is to look towards going into business for yourself and indeed, turning a bad thing around.

BarCamps, CreativeCamps, PodCamps, Open Coffee Club mornings, meetups, tweetups and more. All of these free-to-attend events boast an incredible number of people who are giving up their time, their knowledge, their expertise for the benefit of others. We’ve recently set about getting Kilkenny Open Coffee off the ground as well, something that we hope will grow over time and again increase the knowledge sharing. The offer from Evert to those who have recently lost their jobs from Dell (or are about to) to attend Open Coffee Limerick and connected with those who can provide you with startup advice and support is one that should strongly be considered.

But, as I said, we’re good at lending a hand when it counts and so conversation on Wednesday morning turned to what each of us would or could do for people in that position.

Krishna announced recently that she’s going to give over six hours of her time between now and the end of February, three to the US and three to Irish people (one hour for each person). That time can be used for career coaching and job search support. You can look at your resumé, your online profile, your networking strategy – anything you want – on a one hour call via Skype or landline.

Bernie, in conjunction with Tipperary Institute will look at LinkedIn.com enhancements for your online profile and networking opportunities.

When quizzed on what I would consider doing myself I also looked to the web. For those considering starting their own business I’m happy to discuss options and provide assistance in getting you up and running online. Let’s get your logo in place, lets get you up and running with a website or blog (or both) and lets get you seen and heard. I’ve gone through the startup process myself for a number of different ventures over the past 3-4 years, all of which are currently active and currently generating income. All of which rely on the web and the visibility it can provide in order to succeed.

I’m sure too that these aren’t the only offers on the table to people. Everyone is feeling a pinch at the moment but that doesn’t mean you sit down and do nothing. You stand up, work your way through it and if you can, you lend a hand to those around you at the same time.

If you want to get connected, you can also join me at LinkedIn here. Come meet me and the network of people I’m connected to. Maybe they can help as well.

D-Day For Dell?

Update: Following the action on Twitter and again via RTE, Dell are to cut 1900 employees from the Limerick plant with job losses phased between April 2009 and January 2010. That’s a serious casualty for jobs both in Limerick and technology in general in Ireland.

I was listening to Newstalk on the way into work earlier this morning, and have it on here in the office but it looks like it’s D-Day for Dell. Or, on the official line, workers in the Limerick plant have been called in to a meeting due to start a few minutes ago.

The possible closure and loss of jobs in four figures has long been whispered. I knew that Dell were manufacturing in Poland but didn’t realise that Irish orders through Dell.ie, which I thought were being manufactured in Limerick, were actually coming from Eastern Europe.

This goes back to one of the deliveries I was waiting on (which kept me in Kilkenny a few days longer than anticipated at Christmas) with my brother awaiting a delivery of a laptop from Dell, out for delivery on the morning of the 18th of December. Knowing Interlink carry the Dell deliveries coming this direction I had thought I’d be able to collect the laptop on the 19th (Friday) and get on the road. Nothing on the 19th, nothing the following Monday and you should have seen the look of surprise on my face when I rang Dell only to find out they were waiting on the delivery to come in from Poland before it hit the road in Ireland.

I still found it incredible that given it’s a manufacturing plant in Limerick, they’ve got to send all the way to Poland and back for an order that’s only going two hours up the road. Do laptops ordered for delivery in Limerick go to Poland as well?

RTE reports that the manufacturing staff are meeting first, with the IT, legal and marketing meeting at 10am.

Looks like today we’ll know the true reality of the situation in the Limerick plant.

Unmountable Boot Volume (Dell, Fix)

Recovery Console

So you’re using your Dell laptop (in this case a Dell Inspiron 1501 running Windows XP Professional) with no problems, turn it on one day and you get that gorgeous blue screen of death telling you that you’ve an unmountable boot volume. You call Dell support and they take you through diagnostic tests, get you to boot in safe mode (which won’t work by the way) and then they tell you to launch the recovery console or reinstall Windows.

Reinstall? No sirree!

Getting around this problem today (see previous post) here’s what I did (not my laptop as the MacBook Pro doesn’t throw up those kind of errors)…

  • With the laptop on the blue screen, grab your Windows XP CD (might be branded as a Dell Reinstallation CD), pop it into the CD drive and reboot the laptop.
  • When prompted, press any key to boot from CD, allowing a minute or so for drivers to load in the background.
  • From the first menu you see, press ‘R’ to launch the recovery console. This will launch a dos-prompt driven recovery console allowing some basic disk commands.
  • Enter your first command: “chkdsk /r” (give about 20-30 minutes to run).
  • When completed, follow up with “chkdsk /p” (give about 2 minutes to run).
  • Finally, follow up with “fixboot c:”. This will quickly test the boot sector and prompt you to write a new one. It is likely that the boot sector on your drive has become corrupt, once you agree to write a new bootsector, allow a half minute or so for the task to run until prompted with a success message.
  • Type ‘EXIT’ to quit the recovery console and restart the laptop.

That… should be that. It helps to have the original Dell XP disc though. A standalone version wouldn’t display the recovery console menu on launch but the Dell OEM version does (purple coloured CD including Service Pack 1a – it’s been a while). Of course, if the disc doesn’t boot when you restart the computer it may be possible that you’re BIOS is looking to the hard drive before the CD. In that case you’ll need to enter the Dell BIOS (pressing F2 for setup on immediate restart). See here (Dell support) for specific details.