What’s up with Dell lately? The last few computers I’ve ordered from Dell have been unusually slow to ship and slow to arrive. I had gotten used to seeing computers ship instantly, frequently the next day, and shipping was typically running 2-3 days. When I ordered a new system in September, it took three weeks for it to leave Dell and another full week to arrive. Several other recent orders have taken more than two weeks to ship. It might be a temporary glitch caused by shortages of the new Intel Core 2 Duo processors but I’m guessing – I haven’t seen any news suggesting those chips are in short supply.

While I’m grumbling about Dell, let me add a gripe about the divergence between the home division and the small business division. For a long time, the two divisions offered virtually identical lines at virtually identical prices, which may not have made any sense but at least made it easy to shop. Now the two divisions are renaming and renumbering their respective models with wild abandon, making it increasingly difficult to compare.

A specific example: I studied pictures and specs for twenty minutes before I could be sure that my new Dimension 9200 from the Small Business division is identical to a Dimension XPS 410 from the home line – literally the only difference is the little nameplate on the front. Why?