Isaac's Blog

March 27, 2006

From the wtf/idiots dept.  

Craigslist and people who think its 'new' items.

So I found a good looking L shape desk on craigslist. I called the guy 13 mins after he listed it. Its 9pm, baby in tow, I go see the desk. mind you, its taken aprt in half, standing on their side. Their drawers look good, top has some minor scratches due to normal use. ok, whatever. I ask if i can give him money now and come back w/ a trailor. He offers to let me use his truck. I didnt feel all that comfy w/ that arrangment. For all i know he knows its about to die and wants me to kill it for him.

So we arrange for him to drop it off for like 20 bucks... no skin off my back, the whole desk is up to 100 bucks. he gets to my place we unload into my garage and he leaves.

I begin to disassemble it so I can get it upstairs, when I realize "I need to measure and figure stuff out". Turns out this thing is like 6 inches too big for my room. so I have it disassembled in my garage... what to do, what to do... I turn the drawers to face forward, lean the backing into place, and put the top over it to show it off. I go to craigslist to relist the item. This time I list it at my cost, 100 bucks.

I get a call from various ppl, one comes by to look, didnt like the style, the second guy never shows. this last guy likes it. he has a car, so he tried to talk me down to 80, i say "100 and ill drive it to your house if you help me load and unload". good, deal done. we trade numbers so if i get lost following him i can call him.... boy was that a mistake

Around 10:30 last night, the guy tries calling. he tried the original cell phone on the ad, my cell phone, AND he tried from 3 diff numbers. talk about a frigging stalker. So we finally get an email from the CL ad. He says he cant get it to work.

I email him back telling him I'm out of town and to sit tight until next monday when I get back into town. He replies telling me im a bad man and hes gonna drop it off at my doorway.

this morning my phone starts ringing from 2 OTHER numbers. Like im not gonna screen my calls after the night before? I now have 5 "do not answer" antries in my phonebook. rediculous. I finally reply to his email during a meeting and tell him we got it from CL a couple days before. I dissassemebled it for transport, and I know it "works". I get a reply back basicly telling me the same stuff, but upping the ante, he wants me to return his money AND go pick it up. I even drew instructions on how to reassemble the unit and emailed it to him. After counltes emails (and him trying to call from yet ANOTHER number) I basicly have him 4 options:

1) relist it on CL for yourself
2) put it in my yard, let it soak the rain while im out of town, and dont get any money back
3) wait until monday when I get back and we can arrage to split the cost $50/$50 and I take it off his hands and dispose of it (or half of it, since its 50/50)
4) he can keep it, i give him 30 bucks for the trouble and to shut up, relist it for all I care.

I bet you cant guess the reply to that. "I wont take less than 40" to which i said "Classified ad/garage sale items are AS-IS. I've gone more than out of my way to try and satisfy you when I could have easily ignored you and called the cops for harrasment. Pick one of the FOUR compromises and we'll get this over with."

His latest response is "I will deliver it on monday and ask for a full refund." After ALL this headache? gimme a friggin break. Heres my reply...

So you either want the desk for 60 bucks, or you want a full refund. I would not have sold you this desk for 60 bucks to begin with.

You entered this agreement for 100 dollars. I have been more the courteous and helpful in trying to help you out. As I've said before, classified ads and garage sale items are AS-IS. I didn't even have to try and help you this much. Did I call up the guy I bought it from and harass him when it didn't work out for me? No, I said "oh well, doesn't work for me, I'll relist and let someone else have it"

You do realize by attempting to call me from various numbers, KNOWING I can't answer them because I'm out of town on business is borderline harassment. The simple fact that I've tried to come to various compromises to resolve this issue, and you keep low balling EACH ONE shows me who is trying to rip who off. If I gave you the $30 to go away, you can easily turn around and sell this for as little as $70 on craigslist and break even.

If you did not want the item to begin with, why are we even having this dance?

Can't believe I'm trying to pay a guy to shut up and he wont take it, ugh.

So while i'm writing the above email, I get a new email:

I will see you around 8:00 on Monday. I will humbly ask for full refund less whatever you think is reasonable for delivering.

Wait, so now he's gonna CHARGE me to return in? the friggin nerve. This doesn't even warrant a reply after my previous email.

So I get back into town on sunday night to an email telling me his check posted, give him money. However MY bank hadnt posted it yet. I emailed him telling him once MY bank posts it in MY account, he'll have his money. It didnt post until Tuesday around 4pm. This guy emailed me about 6 times in that timeframe.

Thank god for paypal, I swear If i had to go see this guy face to face to give him cash I would prolly get arrested. After negotiating a "shut up price" (what im calling his "refund"), he wanted 60, i offered 20. we ended up around 35. I paypaled it on tuesday night, emailed him to tell him thank you for the drama, and thats all folks.

If I get anotehr email from this freak, I'm definately reporting the bastid.

March 26, 2006

From the g33k/audiovideo dept.  


My current CRT projection tv has the classic tivo burnin problem. The thing is, this is a NEW tube, not 4 montha old. The previous factory rube took 3 years. figure that one out. So im shopping for a enw TV so when the warranty company buys out my warranty, I can be set. Then I have the question, "which is better, LCD or DLP" After some googling, I found a great post by someone that nails all the aspects, and here it is....

HDTV's fall in to one of several catagories: Tube, CRT-RP, Plasma, LCD, LCP-RP, DLP-RP, and the new exotics.

Tubes are just like the sets we know and love. They have a giant picture tube in them. The tube makes them very heavy and they don't usually come in sizes > about 40". You can burn in pictures but it's generally very difficult.

CRT-RP's are what people usually think of when they think of big Tv's. They have three small CRT's in them and use a mirror to project the image on to the screen from behind (the -RP stands for Rear Projection.) The sets are HUGE and weigh a TON. They burn in "easily." They are also amoung the most inexpensive of large screen sets.

Plasmas are flat and don't generally burn in easily. True HD plasma in large sizes is still very expesive: more than DLP-RP and lots more than CRT-RP.

LCD's are flat like plasma but are, at heart, digital. They have pixels, not weirdo strange analog plasma gas. LCD panels are expensive to manufacture in large sizes. They can't burn in.

LCD-RP. What if you have a small (~9"), high quality LCD and then used a mirror to project the image on to the back of a screen just lke CRT-RP does? Then you'd have LCD-RP. Like LCD, it can't burn in. They are light (~100# for a 50") and are 'tabletop' sets. Not really wall mountable like plasma or LCD, but not huge hulking sets like CRT-RP. More like the size of a traditional tube set. They are more expensive than a CRT-RP but less than a DLP-RP or Plasma. Like LCD it is a digital set with the concept of pixels. I own a 50" Panasonic LCD-RP; for me it hit the sweet spot between price and quality.

DLP-RP uses a ball with thousands of individually controlled mirrors to produce a picture. Sounds wacky but works VERY well. It uses a mirror to project the image on to the back of a screen (all RP's do this, hence the term Rear Projection. ;) It can't burn in. It's digital. It costs more than a LCD-RP and less than a Plasma. Tabletop just like LCD-RP. I tried like hell to buy one of these; they were very backordered, so I got a 50" LCD-RP for about $1000 less than the 50" DLP-RP I wanted.

ExoticS: D-ILA, LCOS, etc: Very similiar to LCD-RP and DLP-RP in that they are digital, don't burn in and are tabletop setsl. The first and sewcond generations are just coming out so I'm not sure I would completely trust these yet.

In terms of picture quality, CRT-RP (adjusted) is best, followed by the exotics, plasma, LCD, DLP-RP, LCD-RP (non-adjusted). LCD-RP may be the worst but that's relative in the HDTV field: if you're not a videophile then you probabally won't notice. If you like to watch HDTV and DVDs you are not a videophile, you're a normal person. If you have $200,000 home theater you're a videophile (why are you reading this?) CRT-RP is the best when properally adjusted. Proper adjustment is something you can't do yourself, you have to call in a specialst. It costs at least $500 and you have to have it redone every 6 months. If you don't do that then you have a non-adjusted set and a picture quality that's worse than LCD-RP. In short: don't worry about picture quality. You'll like them all. be careful when looking at these sets in stores. The salespeople in most stores don't set them up so they don't look tht great. 10 minutes of setup gets you a lot of improvement. Some stores will adjust the sets that cost a lot and 'degrade' the settings of the cheap sets to stear you towards the expensive ones. Don't fall for it. Most new/current model sets look very good these days.

CRT-RP is the worse, followed by Plasma and Tube. The exotics, LCD, LCD-RP and DLP-RP can't burn in. Their technology doesn't allow for it. Don't believe that "sets are better these days' stuff. They are better, but they still burn in. Do you want to stretch out all of your 4:3 content to 16:9 (yech!) all the time? Do you want to only play video games for 1-hour at a time? Do you want to not watch ESPN, CNN, and other stations that have 'bugs' and scrollers at the bottom of the screen? Do you want to live in paranoia for the rest of your Tv's life? Do you want your Tv to tell you how to watch it? I don't, so I got a set that can't burn in. I like to turn on my XBOX and hit pause, then I go on a 3 day vacation just to spite the CRT-RP owners. Don't buy a Tv that will burn in: it's a waste of money unless you have enough money to buy a replacement every few years or if you're ONLY going to use it to watch movies in your home theater room.

We live in an age of wonder: the digital era. I don't think most people realize how disruptive (in a good way) digital is. Analog loses quality as soon as it leaves the source. In analog you have to worry about interferance. The signal at the destination is never what you sent, it's only the best thing given the loss and interferance it encountered. It's fuzzy, blurry, and wishy-washy. A $10,000 piece of electronics is really better than a $300 piece because it has less interferance. Digital is different. What you send is EXACTLY what you get. You either get the 0/1 or you don't. A digital set (Digital is different than HDTV. Digital is LCD, DLP-RP, LCD-RP, some exotics. NOT PLASMA) can take advantage of that by doing something called '1-to-1 pixel mapping.' What is sent by your DVD player/HDTV box is EXACTLY what is displayed on your set. Every pixel on the source is displayed EXACTLY the same way on your set. To do this you need more than a digital set. You need a digital source (DVD player, HDTV set top box from your Sat or cable provider.) The digital source needs to have a DVI or HDMI output. These are DIGITAL ouputs. All of the other output, component, composite, s-video, those are all ANALOG. Your Tv will need a digital input, DVI or HDMI. Finally, your Tv needs to actually be digital: it needs to understand and display nativly the concept of a pixel: LCD, LCD-RP, DLP-RP, and some exotics. Taken together you get EXACTLY what the source is, the best possible picture. (Even in my eyes, a layman, I can easily tell the difference in an all digital system and one that's not. It really is that much better.) If you have an analog signal, or an analog cable or your set is analog (Tube, CRT-RP, Plasma, some exotics) or you don't have DVI/MDI inputs or outputs, then you can never have 1-1 pixel mapping and you're picture will be less than perfect. It will still look good, but. why settle for less than perfection?

LCD-RP, DLP-RP and some exotics have an interesting 'drawback': they have a consumable. Eventually there is a part in the set that will have to be replaced: a special light-bulb inside the set will eventually grow dim and burn out. These little (uh, medium size, actually) buggers cost about $300. You will need to replace it every 3-5 years. My Tv is on from 6am to midnight every day (not counting my 3-day 'pause the xbox' weekends. ;), 18 hours a day. I'll need to replace the bulb in a little less than 3 years. I'm ok with that.

Digital sets have a drawback: there is space between the pixels. For example: Think of a pixel as a circle. Bunch the pixels up as close as can in a box ,one at each corner. Right in the middle will be some black space that no pixel touches. Repeat a lot (say, the size of a typical 50" HDTV screen) and you get something known as the screen-door effect (SDE). Imagine you are lookng through a screen door. You can see through it (the pixels) but you also see the black grid lines ot the screen (the space between the pixels.) If you sit close (~2-3 feet) to a digital set you will see the SDE. If you sit farther back you will not see it. Analog doesn't have this problem since there's no space to speak of between the scan lines. Image you drew a straight line with an extra-sharp pencil. Draw another one 1 cm under it. You could see the paper between the lines pretty clearly. Now image you did the same thing with a fat ragged marker. The ragged edges and dye would cause the lines to bleed in to each other. The color may be lighter in the center, but it won't be like the pencil. BTW: Most people agree you should sit about 8-9 feet away from an HDTV set, so this shouldn't be an issue in any case. I usually sit 3-4 feet away when XBOXing, and I don't notice it. I see it sometimes about 3-4 feet away when I'm watching 'normal' analog Tv.

Once last thing, all Tv's are plagued by viewing angles. All technology gets dimmer when you're off angle horozontially (remember the old LCD computer monitors) and/or vertically. For the best picture you need to be in front of the Tv (maybe off horozontal axis about 30 degrees) with the center of the Tv at your eye level. Higher, lower, or off to the side the picture will get dimmer. The height issues can be solved by basing your Tv stand purchase so it puts the Tv at eye level when you're on the couch/bed/floor (whereever you expcet to view it more.) When looking at Tv's in stores I would suggest you move around a btit and see how the picture brightens/dims as you move off to the sides and above/below eye level. That will help you see how it will fit in to your room, and there's little the sales driods can do setting-wise, posative or negative, to change that factor.
If I were purchasing today I'd get a 50" LCD-RP or DLP-RP with at least 1 DVI and/or HDMI input. That should run between $2500 and $3500.

Thanks gcbrowni for the info! original post is here, so a page find on "09-17-2004, 08:23 PM" and you'll skip right to his post.

Looks like I'm gonna get a DLP eh. I wonder where 3-LCD comes into play?

March 25, 2006

From the g33k/hardware dept.  

WMR968 back in stock? come on.

[email protected] to me 1:30 am (14 minutes ago)

We just wanted to let you know the product you requested notification for (Model#WMR968 Complete Wireless Weather Station) is now in stock and available for purchase. Please feel free to click the following link to read more and place your order.

Thank you for visiting Oregon Scientific and we appreciate your business.

The Oregon Scientific Team

Which makes me wonder WTF those people are smoking.

March 23, 2006

From the g33k/hardware dept.  

Oregon Scientific WMR968 Backorder

So I call OS to get a date on when THEIR supplier will have them shipping out to the retail suppliers. After getting put on hold a couple times, I'm initially told april, but after some more holds im told "End of may".


So i then ask "i've been doing my research about OS and backorder issues. There seems to be a trend that you have alot of things on backorder, and for extended periods of time. After all these years of being a good and profitable company, why cant you figure out this supply issue?" All I got was "Our supplier is in Hong Kong, and they send us what they have when they have it". NICE. so some guy in hong kong controls your company.


So I call for a refund. turns out they dont bill until the unit ships. I asked for free 2-day shipping for my troubles. So i go online and call 3 more places that say they have em in stock. 2 of em say "no, thats a drop ship item" and one goes "we have 6 left". I submit my order, get an email saying "this is on backorder" turns out their computer didnt update. canceled that order. this is getting old.

From the wtf dept. update

So i called back again today and spoke to a real american. his notes showed the supplier never got back to them, so he put me on hold and called them. after about 10-15 mins, he told me the supplier is waiting on the manufacturer to ship new units. They said the whole market is dry and waiting on these units from oregon scientific.

So I do a lil research on this, apparently OS has this backorder probelm on alot of their products. Are they uber popular, or is their production line take months of time NOT doing anything. Its friggin rediculous.

so I end up at the OS website, and Im gonan call them tomorrow. I also see the WMR968 product page, and it says "out of stock" and a "email me" link when they get back into stock. Hopefully when I call i'll get a date.

March 22, 2006

From the misc dept.  

Round Rock/Austin Metro gutters

So after years of dealing with splashing rain from my roof, I finally decided to get some quotes on gutters. I called about 11 companies, and only 6 kept their appointments. I even rescheduled the other ones. If they dont want my business, fine. I asked for 2 quotes, full wrap vs over the garage and just the back. Here's a table of what I ended up with. All are 5" gutters w/ 3"x4" downspouts.

CompanyFront/back (flashing)Full (flashing)labor/material warranty
Anytime Gutters320 (n/a)804 (n/a)n/a
Freeman Company**500(60)920(110)20/50***
Gutter Tech** 584 (n/a)1152 (n/a) 5/20
Austin Gutter King618(78)1036(176)10/50
Austin Gutterman633(112)1134(112)10/50
LeafGuard**870*(inc)1905* (inc)10/50

*AFTER 10% discount.
** provided color match samples
*** provided occupational/liability insurance documentation

I'm leaning on Freeman Company because of the high warranties, and the estimator guy was very professional. all the other guys just seemed like sales slime. We'll see how things so, I have to sleep on it.

UPDATE: So I ended up getting the gutters from the Freeman Company. They guy installed them perfectly, even asked where I'd like each downsout to end up. It took him about two hours and they look great.

March 21, 2006

From the wtf dept. customer service numbers

Let me begin with... I've used previously with no issues, and loved dealing with them for years. But heres my story..

I'm on ebay, shopping for the best deal on a WMR968. So i "buyitnow" from a guy who states he has 170 items. 2 days later i get an email saying he's out of stock. Long story short ...

we exchanged heated emails, I got my refund, he ended up stopping the auction early.

Thats where comes in. I go to the website and the inventory check states they still have some in. Knowing they have decent inventory controls, i place my order and have the warm and fuzzies of tracking the order. This was last thursday. Every day I check the status "sent to warehouse". ok, cool, they have to drop ship it, no biggie. every day i reload the product page, still in stock. So then its monday morning "out of stock" and still "sent to warehouse". After looking for a friggin number all day, i find an 800 number hidden in some guys blog.


You will end up in an India call center with people who actually do a pretty good job sounding american. I'm not talking the obvious guy who isnt named "Joe" saying hes "Joe" either. After about 2 hours of the run around with this number, I left the call with the corp mailing address. All I wanted was three questions asked. 1) what is the ETA on the new shipments from the supplier, 2) why wasnt I notified of this backorder status, 3) and why cant you put me on hold and find this information for me? The answers i ended up with was 1) "it could take 3 hours, it could take 3 days" to which my response was "using that logic, it could take 3 weeks or 3 months, give me an estimated time, not your formletter answer". 2) "we normlly send out notifications, i dont know why you didnt get one, maybe it got lost" to which i asked "who do i contact to verify this information" and i got "I cannot give you that information" 3) "i've answered every question you asked, i have been very helpful".

So anyways, I google the street address for, I end up at this page where a guy has basicly run into the same issue, but he gives up the corp number! You know that angelic sound you hear on shows when something good goes right? Im hearing it in my head.

THE CORP NUMBER IS 949-389-2000

So today, I call up this number, the operator asks who i wanna talk to "Fulfillment manager please" "are you a suplier or a customer" "a customer wanting to know real information on a backorder". So i end up talking to a REAL guy named doug. I tell him the india call center is worthless and a waste of my time. I give him my order number. without even asking he goes "there seems to have been a problem in the inventory reporting on this item from the supplier. they state they ran out on thursday, but didnt report that to us for a website update until monday morning. Can I get your number and i will call the supplier and get an estimated date on the new shipment" omFg, a real guy reading my friggin mind. so i pretty much go "thank you, thats all I ever wanted to hear, that customer service number gave me a headache in what you just solved in 10 mins."

So now we wait for the call back...

March 20, 2006

From the g33k/hacks dept.  

Save RAM with config.trim_on_minimize

OMFG, Firefox 1.5.X has HUGE memory issues. And then you have the people out there who say "its not a leak, its a feature" is bullshit. Try readig the page About the Firefox "memory leak", then setting it to 0, and notice you still have a nice leak. Sure, it reduces your footprint slightly, but its still a friggin leak! So then I came across "config.trim_on_minimize", and ever since, its so much nicer to minimize every once in awhile than to restart 2-5 times a day. In short, make a new config name "config.trim_on_minimize" of type boolean, set to true.