One of the Problems with Smart Thermostats – ecobee3 Extra

Check out the video for a more in-depth description of the problem, but the short of it is that most smart thermostats (and a lot of smarthome devices) rely on someone else’s servers in order for them to be accessed remotely. And because of this, “remotely” doesn’t just mean when you’re out of the house, but inside the house as well. If the “smart” device company ever goes out of business or decides to stop supporting whatever you own, then you effectively will no longer have an internet-enabled thing.

This isn’t true for all devices. Some do not require servers-that-are-elsewhere (or “the cloud” as it’s known) so that they can operate. But a surprising amount do, and that’s something to consider when buying an appliance, thermostat, Echo, or full home automation system. Will the company running those servers still be around in 5 years? In 10 or 20 years? And even if they’re in business, will they support it? With something like the Amazon Echo, that’s not much of a concern. But with a $250 thermostat from a “new” company it could be a factor.

Amazon’s Customer Service and a Toilet Go Hand-in-Hand

Amazon Toilet Racer Man

Here’s the thing: I don’t need to contact Amazon’s customer service often, but when I do they’ve always been responsive and extremely helpful. So I’m not going to lambaste Amazon in this post, but I do want to tell a story of a horrible customer service experience that’s not just a result of a bad rep but is indicative of a deeper problem. The Toilet In an incident that was far less dramatic than you’d hope, my toilet tank cracked and was leaking slowly onto the floor. Obviously the ideal solution would be a new tank, but I had an Eljer triangle toilet that’s discontinued, and there aren’t a ton of options for a triangular corner toilet. Needing to have … Continue reading

JetBlue: Password Encryption is for Suckers

JetBlue: Encryption is for Suckers

The Background The Missus and I flew to Florida a couple of days ago, and as usual we took JetBlue. The only eventful part of the flight was a pleasant arrival 30 minutes ahead of schedule. The flight crew had mentioned that the satellite TV was out of commission, and that all in-flight movies would be free for the duration. I thought that was a good way of handling the issue, and figured that was then end of that. However, the next day we both received emails from JetBlue stating that we’d been signed up for their Travel Bank, and that a $15 credit had been applied to both of our Banks in exchange for the inconvenience of the malfunctioning … Continue reading

Vitality Air Joins the Pile: Selling American Air to China

Jurassic Park - One big pile of sh*t (I mean supplemental O2)

Air in a Can This is a follow-up of sorts to my Bullsh*t Product: Boost Oxygen video. If you don’t know what that is and you’re too lazy to click the link (is that click-baiting or just click-dicking?), Boost O2 sells oxygen in a can for various phony baloney health benefits. I mentioned in the video that Boost wasn’t the only company shilling this sort of thing, and indeed I was right: News stories about Vitality Air have been making the rounds on social media in the last few days. And the stories are on relatively legitimate websites like CNBC, Fortune, and CNN. Fortunately the stories have primarily been about how clever a business model it is to sell cans … Continue reading

Bullsh*t Product EXTRA – Boost Oxygen (Reviewing the Reviews)

I get it. At this point you’re probably thinking “What the hell is this guy’s problem? Two videos??

It’s not like I’m obsessed with Boost Oxygen. In fact, I’ve already moved on to my next fecal-laden product. But when I was shooting the Boost video I decided to go over some of the incoherent ramblings of idiots reviews on Amazon and Sports Authority that I found while doing research on this product. (Yes, I did a modicum of actual research believe it or not.)

Bullsh*t Product – Boost Oxygen (Supplemental O2 in a Can)

What is This Thing?

Hopefully you haven’t heard of Boost Oxygen. Hopefully you haven’t been tempted to plunk down your hard-earned cash on a useless tin can containing 95% pure nonsense.

Did I say “nonsense”? Sorry, I meant that’s it’s full of 95% pure oxygen. According to the manufacturer it’s the “source of life”, so you better go out and buy it now!

The manufacturer also loosely implies benefits to sports performance, general health and wellness, hangover recovery, and altitude sickness. That’s all bullsh*t, of course. Watch the video to find out why.

And Another Thing…

The video discusses two main reasons why this product is unadulterated B.S., but one thing I didn’t mention was the Food and Drug Administration.

You see, supplemental oxygen is used in medicine for all sorts of valid and useful reasons. In fact, it can save the life of someone if they’re ill. But medical oxygen requires a prescription, and Boost Oxygen, LLC is more than happy to point out that they can now sell oxygen in a convenient and practical manner — over the counter.

Yet they fail to mention that oxygen can be used to help you if you’re sick.

If they made a claim like that, then they would be selling a medical product and the FDA would be entirely up their ass about it. Instead, they can only make vague and unsubstantiated claims about the product’s benefits. The FDA exists for a good reason, and although they might be poorly funded and their enforcement powers may have been robustly castrated, they prevent companies like Boost Oxygen, LLC from promising life-saving effects that they can’t deliver. And that avoids killing the suckers that might buy it instead of their prescribed O2.

The bottom line here is this: Do your own research into any “health and wellness” product before you buy it. Hopefully that’s why you’re here, reading this post.

Don’t Forget the Links

I referenced some research papers, reviews, and websites in my video. You can find all of them here, which I’ll try to keep up to date when I get more information.

http://plr.io/1rb

And last of all, please let me know if I’ve made any mistakes or left anything out either in the comments below or on my YouTube video.

Bullsh*t Product – Defiant 6-Outlet Metal Surge Protector from Home Depot

Apparently I was so distressed by the non-metal “metal” Defiant power strip from Home Depot that I made a video about it.

If you hate videos but love text, then mosey on over to my previous post about this travesty of a product, and follow my adventures getting pissed off about their HDX Whatever Something Light.

How to Choose the Right “4K” (UHD) Monitor – Featuring the Crossover 404K

If you want to see a man in a basement ramble on about monitors for over an hour, this is the video for you!

I cover a wide variety of monitor specification-related topics, and how they all come together with the Crossover 404K. But don’t worry, even if the 404K is obsolete by the time you find this, it should still be helpful! (Maybe.)

Home Depot: Another Review Rejected (Defiant 6-Outlet Metal Surge Protector)

Home Depot Power Strip - Review Rejected

They’ve Rejected Another of My Fine Reviews As regular readers of s.co.tt already know (basically just me), Home Depot had previously rejected my valiant attempt to warn other consumers about the fire hazard posed by one of their crap lamps. Now, I’m publicly complaining about it being done yet again. This time they’ve rejected my upstanding and surely excellent review of their "Defiant Metal Surge with 4 ft. Cord". Two Days Ago… Before I present my review, let me take you back to a special and turbulent period of time in my life: Two days ago. I went to my local Home Depot to pick up a couple of power strips. Rather than go for the cheaply-made five dollar plastic … Continue reading

Google’s Project Fi – From 1996 to Nexus 6

Why Project Fi?

I’ve been a Verizon customer since back when they were called Bell Atlantic back in The Year 2000. Lately their service has been terrible in my area. When I’m lucky enough to get an LTE connection, it’s slow and high-latency.

Project Fi lets my phone choose the best of two providers for my data service: Sprint or T-Mobile. And so far, it’s just plain better.

I go on at some length about it in the video above.

The Intro

In a previous blog post and video I showed off my motion control slider project. I’ve been looking for excuses to use it in particularly “motion-controley” ways, and so I decided to composite a bunch of passes of the camera over my one Nexus 6 to make a wall of Nexus Sixes.

Please check out my new post about the intro!