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!

Supercuts: Stick to Cutting Hair, and Get off the Internet

Supercut it Out

In the first place, it’s embarrassing just to admit that I get my hair cut at Supercuts. There’s a stigma associated with that brand: They call their locations “salons” (I wish there was something better than quotation marks to indicate derision), which is not manly enough for some men. And for women they’re seen as a bargain basement alternative to an actual salon. I guess it’s not a problem for the child demographic. But yeah, I get my hair cut at Supercuts. It’s not a considered choice but a matter of pure inconvenience. I’m about done with your brand Dear Supercuts: First let’s talk about your website. You redid it recently and added some interactive functionality. There’s now an “estimated … Continue reading

Amazon Echo – Unboxing and Review (Exasperation with Alexa)

Background

I should point out that I knew next to nothing about the Echo when I pre-ordered it. I knew next to nothing about it when it arrived. I figured I’d take the approach of someone that just got this thing as a gift or something.

Amazon Echo Unboxing

I unbox the Echo and spend some time setting it up. It did not go well.

Then I attempted to interact with Alexa. I suppose I’m just accustomed to Google, because I can ask it a variety of free-form questions and most of the time it comes up with the correct answer. Alexa seems to be far more finicky about phrasing and command syntax. Which is just what you want from a user-friendly tube that ominously glows at you from the center of your living room.

Then the Rest of the Review

I just don’t get the Echo. Fine, it can play music and it can control all of your lights a limited number of brands of lights.

For home automation though, I’d want something more discrete. Something integrated into the house, not an obvious cylinder that I have to explain to everyone.

For listening to music I’m fine with a Bluetooth speaker.

If I have extemporaneous questions for the internet I can always ask the Google that’s in my very pocket (or glued to my hand).

I am Hopeful

Amazon does publish an API for Alexa. After making the video I signed up for their developer program. It’s been about a week, and I still haven’t heard back.

However, I’m hoping that the community will come up with some killer apps, and that home automation compatibility will increase.

But in the meanwhile of my daily life, Alexa remains a novelty. My living room and my workstation in my basement already have better speakers than the Echo’s. So she doesn’t do me much good for music, and she still can’t answer questions better than my phone.

Amazon Echo (New in Box)

Oops, I FedExed Again!

FedEx SmartPost Logo - Grandma Delivers Packages with Tracking

Yes, FedEx again I’m waiting on yet another delivery from FedEx, and this time it’s arriving via their SmartPost service. And so I’m writing yet another tirade about their incomprehensibly incompetent approach to package delivery. As far as I understand, their “Smart”Post service works like this: The merchant from whom I ordered gives the package to FedEx and pays them. FedEx then brings the package to a post office near to the recipient, and lets the good ol’ USPS handle the “last mile” of delivery. I fail to understand the point of this service. I mean I get that it saves FedEx the cost of bringing a truck to my house because the mailman is stopping at my house anyway. … Continue reading

Verizon.com: Website Design by Kafka

Verizon - Password Release Bear

Logging into Verizon.com I log into Verizon’s Small Business portal once a month to pay my bills. Generally speaking, their site is atrocious. It’s clearly the product of committee thinking and their fractured corporate structure. They recently implemented a redesign of the login portion, and somehow they resurrected good ol’ Frank Kafka and put him on the committee. I may have buried the lede of this story. So unless you just enjoy reading my rants, skip right to it. The initial login screen As with many banking and commerce websites, Verizon has implemented a separate page for your username which precedes the password entry page. This is good security practice and so I have no problem with it in general. … Continue reading

Home Depot: Review Rejected – HDX 150-Watt Incandescent Clamp Light

HDX 150-Watt Incandescent Clamp Light Model CE-300PDQ - Hyperbolically Aflame

The Rejected Review I know that I tend to be harsh in my criticisms, but this is the most recent review that I tried to post to Home Depot’s site regarding their HDX 150-Watt Incandescent Clamp Light CE-300PDQ: Very rarely do I wish I could give a product a negative number of stars, but this is one of them. I know that for under ten bucks I shouldn’t expect an extremely high-quality, durable item. I know that at this price the light could fall apart completely after a bit of use and it wouldn’t be a huge deal. But what it absolutely shouldn’t do is cause a fire, which is what TWO out of the SIX of these I own … Continue reading

Newegg is no Amazon, Even if They Want to Be

Amazon vs NewEgg

Newegg was, and still is, the best online retailer of computer components in the US. I stand behind that statement. But they’re trying to be Amazon, and they’re not doing a very good job of it. The Good Just like Amazon, Newegg allows other merchants to list items for sale on their website. They take a cut of 8-15 percent of item sales and intermediate disputes between customers and third-party sellers. But here’s the thing: I always shopped on Newegg because I liked Newegg. Especially when they opened their distribution center in Edison, NJ and my ground shipments started arriving in under 24 hours. I also liked the responsiveness of their customer service and the clarity of their search results. … Continue reading

Deluxe Corp – Your Checks in 30 Days to Never

My Final Check Design

What, another rant? Yup! This is my style of catharsis, with the usual vain hope that Deluxe Corp. will read it in full. TL;DR I’m long-winded. I know that. Here’s a synopsis: Deluxe’s Chase-branded website is old, slow, and painful to use. The website doesn’t send out emails. No order confirmations, no shipment confirmations. Nothing. They also don’t provide any order tracking when logged in via Chase’s site. They screwed up my order and I never received it. It’s been a month. Their “newer” website’s feedback form is a Kafkaesque nightmare, and they don’t respond to customer inquiries. They don’t tell you how many checks you’re getting in an order (“a box”), so you can’t effectively comparison shop. I’m pretty … Continue reading

Cisco WebEx Customer Support: Blech.

webex_contact_support

I want to briefly describe a recent encounter I had with Cisco’s WebEx support. I do this only because this sort of script-based customer service is, while efficient when training new reps, grossly wasteful in situations not covered by the script. And by wasteful, I mean it pointlessly uses up hours of the customer’s time. So here’s the deal: After months and months of WebEx working flawlessly, the client application started crashing during the meeting setup process. This occurred on all of our users’ workstations. I knew that between the time it had been working and the time it stopped working I had pushed out no Windows updates and I made no changes to the network (firewalls, IP ranges, NATting, … Continue reading