Dell Hell, A Man Named Ken Musgrave, and No Concession to the Hated User

So I see from Jeff Jarvis (the documenter of Dell Hell) that Dell’s got a new blog. If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.

So I go and take a peek. And what I see makes me laugh and laugh and laugh.

There’s a post there by a person named Ken Musgrave. Whose job title is Director – Design & Usability.

I know a Ken Musgrave. A Dr. F. Kenton Musgrave. Sometimes referred to as “Doc Mojo.” (not to be confused with my Doc M, the nom de blog for my boyfriend who wishes to remain ablogymous) Now, Ken Musgrave worked under Benoit Mandelbrot (of whom Mandelbrot sets, fractals, and all that jazz), published papers on fractal-based landscapes, spoke at Siggraph, his talks attended by a certain software developer named Eric Wenger, who adapted Musgrave’s work to create a software application that was co-developed by Kai Krause and Phil Clevenger into a commercial software application called Bryce. I chanced to meet Ken Musgrave (he worked at Digital Domain for a time, and did some fancy stuff with turbulence and water for the movie Titanic), and we went to the offices of MetaCreations, where Ken eventually worked. On the drive there (or back), Ken told me his software philosophy:

“No concessions to the hated user.”

It’s a kind of academic darwinianism. Look it up. Figure it out. Work through the preliminaries before you come and take my class.
–So, Ken, what do you do if you want to alter the settings on your landscape world– the version you have on your own computer?
–Well, I just go in and change the parameters and recompile the code to make a new picture.

Ken left MetaCreations and founded a company —Pandromeda — to make his algorithmic spherical-based worlds, Mojoworld. Mojoworld does have a user interface. (Ah, the purist is compromised by the need to make a buck. So much for “No concessions to the hated user.”)

But oh, the unintended irony of it all!

Dell is a company that gets itself into trouble with its customers for shoddy customer support. Nonexistent customer support. Kafkaesque customer support. Runarounds. Non-solutions. If you buy a Dell, you might as well start banging your head against the wall right now. Dell’s customer support acts as though its mission statement is “No concession to the hated user!”

And what’s the name of their Director of Design & Usability? Ken Musgrave (albeit a different one), the person who coined that phrase.

Dell Hell: No concession to the hated user.

This is just too rich, way too rich.

So I’m glad they started a blog. I got a good laugh out of it.

3 responses to “Dell Hell, A Man Named Ken Musgrave, and No Concession to the Hated User”

  1. Richard L. Hess

    As the owner of eight Dell computers plus a printer, I have had generally good results with their customer support. I had a great laugh with the printer. They called me up saying that there may be a defect in my printer where the grounding conductor of the line cord wasn’t attached to the printer frame. I asked them if it was a case of not attached or poorly attached. They asked me to send the printer back. I said hold on a minute, got an ohm meter and checked it. ZERO ohms. Good connection. I told her I wouldn’t be sending my printer back as it was fine. She laughed and said this was the first time someone had done this. Much less hassle for me.



  2. Susan A. Kitchens

    That’s beautiful, Richard!

  3. Dell Lied

    “No concession to the hated user.” Hah, that’s great, but
    it looks like Dell is opening up concession stands in
    malls across America. Oh. Wait… Dell calls them Kiosks.

    That leads me to wonder, if there are no consessions to the
    hated user, are there any for the beloved, or emotionally
    indifferent users? Or is it all about doing it Dells way,
    yes Dells way, make all Dells dreams come true, for Dell and
    you… (someone might even get that imperfect reference)

    Still, speaking of imperfect, Dell still has to work on the
    (inadvertant?) bait and switch issues they have. What? You
    didn’t know? can read about it at (OK, so it’s a plug. Where
    would unsyndicated bloggers be without ’em?)