Editor's note: CNET editor and Crave contributor Dong Ngo is spending part of December in his homeland of Vietnam. This is the last in his series of dispatches chronicling his impressions of how technology has permeated the culture there. Click here for more of Dong's stories from abroad.
HANOI, Vietnam--Prior to my trip to Vietnam, I bought a Dell Inspiron 530s desktop computer as a special American gift for my 11-year-old niece in Hanoi.
Despite the relatively light weight and small form factor of the PC, at San Francisco International Airport, I ended up having to pay a $60 overweight fee. This was mostly because the airline significantly lowered the allowed weight for checked-in luggage, and I wasn't aware of that.
Upon arriving in Hanoi, I personally delivered the gift and set it up for the little girl. Everybody gathered around with excitement as they waited for the moment of truth. As I plugged the power cord into the wall socket, we heard a "pop" sound and smoke came out of the tower. I was dumbfounded. "So much for American-standard quality!" I thought to myself.
But it was not America's fault, it was me. As it turned out, Vietnam uses a 220-voltage power standard, while America uses a 110-voltage one. Out of excitement and ignorance, I plugged the computer in without switching the power supply unit (PSU) of the computer to support 220 volts and, of course, it burned! It was pure physics.
What was hard to quantify was my niece's level of frustration and my own disappointment. I personally picked the specs and rebuilt the machine to run Windows XP (from its manufacturer-installed Windows Vista). Just one moment of negligence, and everything seemed ruined.… Read more