Archive for the 'lists' Category

23
Dec
09

Stuff breaking

“When it rains, it pours” as the old saying goes.  That has been my experience recently with a few items I had bought.  They all seemed to die pretty close together so I’ve been trying to get the situations resolved with all of these items practically simultaneously.  Here’s a list of the stuff that’s getting replaced:

  • Koss SB49 computer headset (headphones + microphone): The microphone died.  Well, it doesn’t seem fully dead but on many devices it is so quiet that it’s basically useless.  Fortunately, Koss has a lifetime “no questions asked” repair or replacement warranty.  You ship it to them on your own dime and include $6 for return shipping.  They take care of the rest.  Hopefully, this will go out today and I’ll get it back sometime early in the new year.
  • Western Digital Caviar Blue 640GB hard drive: After the hassles I had with Windows 7 on my new Lenovo PC, I wasn’t expecting any further trouble for a while.  Unfortunately, one night last week my wife and I head a high pitched, very grating noise.  I finally tracked it down to my computer.  I hoped it was a fan but it wasn’t – it was the hard drive.  I shut down the machine and when I tried rebooting, it wouldn’t boot back into Windows.  So, the drive is shot.  I contacted Lenovo about it and they’re sending me a new drive, which should arrive tomorrow.  I’m always nervous about single drives being shipped.  Hopefully, it’ll work as intended.  I really don’t want to spend any more time fiddling with this computer.
  • Verilux 26W compact fluorescent light bulbs. These are great.  I ordered them over the summer.  They’re 26W, which, in terms of light output, is approximately equivalent to 150W incandescent bulbs.  However, rather than being a sickly yellow color, these are very clean white light – 6500K to be exact.  While the bulbs themselves are great, I’ve had a bunch of problems with the delivery.
    When I first ordered them, one of the 2 bulbs in the double pack arrived broken.  The company sent me a replacement, which arrived intact.  However, one of my original bulbs just burned out, well shy of the 10,000 hours they’re supposed to last.  So, I contacted the company about it and they sent me a replacement but it had the wrong connection type.  So, they sent me a double pack (very nice) of the correct connection.  However, when these arrived, they were both broken.
    The customer service rep I’ve been dealing with has been great – very helpful and very apologetic about the various problems that have occurred.  After I received the broken bulbs she said she would send me two packs of bulbs (that’s 4 bulbs) because of the all the hassle I’ve gone through and that she would personally package them herself to make sure they arrived intact.  A lot of companies would probably have just stopped responding to my emails but Verilux obviously puts a strong emphasis on customer service and it shows.

Update (12/23/09): I just received the bulbs.  None of them were broken.  Sweet.  I am all stocked up on these bulbs for a while.

My wife took the headphones to the post office, so they’re on their way back to Koss.

Update (12/24/09): I received the hard drive today from Lenovo.  I don’t think I’ll have time to deal with it for a few days, though.

Update (12/26/09): According to USPS delivery confirmation, my headphones were delivered to Koss today.  I wonder how long it’ll take for them to come back to me.

Update (01/05/10): I received the new hard drive on Christmas Eve but didn’t have time to deal with it until December 28th or so.  The new hard drive was partitioned but not formatted.  Since there wasn’t already a Windows installation on it, my upgrade version of Win 7 wouldn’t let me activate it.  So, I did the old double install trick.  I just shut the machine off and ran the installer again.  It detected the Windows installation I had just installed and let me activate it using my key for the upgrade media.  This only added like 20 minutes to the whole operation.

With the OS installed, I set up my awesome dual SATA HDD dock to copy data over from the hard drives that I pulled from our old machine.  So far, I’ve only copied over the really important stuff: photos, videos, and music.  Our documents and other stuff will come later.

Last night, I started preparing to send the defunct drive back to Lenovo.  I used Eraser to securely delete all the files on the data partition.  We basically only had family photos and music on there but they don’t need to see all that stuff.  Interestingly, the drive behaved itself and didn’t produce any grinding noises.  However, when I tried to delete things off the OS partition, it acted strangely, sometimes taking an extraordinarily long period of time to delete a single file.  So, I’m confident that the drive is not healthy and needs to be replaced.

Today, I boxed up the drive and stuck on the shipping label they sent me.  Now I just need to get it to Fed Ex or have them come and pick it up.

Update (01/11/10): I sent off the hard drive on the 5th or 6th.  I’m still waiting for my headphones.  In the meantime, I’ve gone back to using my old Sony MDR-D11 headphones.  They’re very compact for closed circumaural headphones, they sound pretty good, and they’re pretty comfortable.  They’re a little muddier than the Koss model I’m getting repaired and, of course, they don’t have a microphone.  Hopefully, I’ll get the Koss phones back soon – I’ve missed being able to use them for Skype conversations.

Update (01/11/10 #2): I received the headphones this afternoon.  As it turns out, they didn’t repair my old headphones; they simply sent me new ones.  This isn’t surprising at all to me.  In any case, it looks like I’m back in business.  The headphones sound good and the microphone works again.  I’m not thrilled that it cost me about $12 to get $30 headphones replaced, but it’s better than having to buy a brand new pair, so I can’t complain too much.

So, (knock on wood) it looks like I’ve got everything resolved.  My headset was replaced, my hard drive was replaced, and my light bulbs were replaced.  Hopefully, it will be a while before I have to deal with any further customer service people.  I can’t complain about any of the interactions with customer service reps or about the outcome of those interactions.  Everyone was pleasant and helpful but dealing with this stuff takes time and mental energy, not to mention the period of down time during which you’re without the item you bought and have grown to rely upon.

26
Feb
09

Photoblog Take 2

In September 2007, I set up my first photoblog.  After about a year and half of existence and very little activity, I decided to pull the plug.  In its place now stands a better one.  Instead of using a photoblogging plug-in on top of WordPress like the last one, the new one uses PixelPost, which is a dedicated photoblogging platform.  I’m excited about this new photoblog for a number of reasons: Continue reading ‘Photoblog Take 2’

14
Oct
08

On tying ties

When I was in high school, I had a mental block about tying ties. My dad was really good at it, so instead of putting forth effort myself to learn how to do it, I just had my dad tie my ties and then I kept them in my closet pre-tied. At some point during college, I had either gotten a new tie or I had accidentally untied one of my pre-tied ties while taking it off and I found myself needing to tie a tie myself. Naturally, I did a quick web search to see if there was anything online about tying ties. What I found is really interesting and has helped me a lot over the years, so I thought I would share it with you. Continue reading ‘On tying ties’

23
Apr
08

Potpourri

Ok, so this post isn’t actually about potpourri. Rather, it’s just a mix of a bunch of stuff that I’ve collected over the last two weeks.

  1. The Pirates won again tonight (2nd in a row) after losing 6 straight, including being swept again by the Cubs. Matt Morris and Adam LaRoche are officially terrible. Nate McLouth, Xavier Nady, and Ryan Doumit are awesome.
  2. I had thought about starting a new segment on my blog where I post a line from a song to see if people can figure out what song it’s from. Then, I realized that, in the age of the internet, that task is trivially easy. I had planned on using the line “Who put the shield around the ‘k’?”, from “K for Karnival” by Nothing Painted Blue but just typing the line into Google gives you the answer. Curse you, internet.
  3. I also thought about introducing a repeating segment in which I would post a picture as a RAW file and have people submit their take on it. I may still do this if people are interested.
  4. On Patriot’s Day our family had an outing to see the Boston Marathon. On our way home, I saw this:

     

    imgp2070.jpg

    That’s right, a “Wii Sports” jacket. Now, I like my Wii as much as the next guy, but I’m not about to wear something like this.  That said, the “Wii Sports” jacket is a step above the bowling pin costume I saw the same day:

    imgp2054.jpg

    Alright.  I think that’s enough for now.  I’ll post more when the mood strikes.

12
Feb
08

Things you don’t learn in German class

I was just going through some old papers of mine and I found a little scrap of paper in amongst all the other papers with 4 German words written on it. I’m not quite sure what I had in mind when I wrote them down, but they are a few of my favorite German words, so I thought I would write about them here. I first heard them while I lived in Germany and I came to like them and be very amused by them. I think when you learn words like this in a non-native tongue, you start to see the personality of the language and really enjoy speaking it. Anyway, without further ado:

  1. Zack!” (Interjection) This was used often by my coworkers as a sort of onomatopoeia when something happened quickly or unexpectedly, not unlike “Boom!” My German dictionary translates it as “just like that” or “before you knew it”, but “Zack!” is much succinct and expressive, so I like it much better.
  2. Ratzfatz” (Adverb) This word is used to denote that something is or should be done quickly. I like the fact that its two syllables rhyme.
  3. Schwuppdiwupp!” (also just “Schwupp”) (interjection) This is similar to “Zack!”, although it carries with it more of sense of the unexpected or out of control. So, while I could say “… and then I punched him in the face. Zack!”, “Schwuppdiwupp” would not be appropriate here. Instead, it could be used like this: “I stepped out the door and schwuppdiwupp, I was on the ground thanks to the ice on the step.”
  4. Dingsbums” (noun) This roughly means “thingamajiggy” or “doodad”. It’s a word you use when you can’t think of the correct name for something. This word is becoming less popular in polite society because of the “bums” part, which is reminiscent of the verb “bumsen” which literally means “to bump”, but which has become a vulgar slang word for sex. In order to get past this problem, people often use “Dingsda” instead.

Fellow German speakers, what are you favorite German words?

14
Nov
07

Looking for more photography-related tips

In addition to soliciting suggestions on techniques and products for cleaning DSLR CCD/CMOS sensors, I also have a couple of other things I’d like help with.

1) I bought Adobe Lightroom with money I got for my birthday. I’m trying to learn how to use it. Has anyone used it and/or can anyone recommend useful books or web resources about how to use it effectively. It seems like most books on the subject are already outdated (i.e. pertain to version 1.0; I have 1.2) or are not good.

2) Pinhole photography. I’m interested in trying this out. I asked for a couple of extra body caps for Christmas so I might try my hand at making a pinhole “lens” or two. Are there practical considerations regarding the construction of a pinhole “lens”? Is it worth buying a set of different diameter pinholes, like this?  What about practical considerations when taking a picture using a pinhole camera?

19
Jul
07

Crisis averted

I just finished downloading this month’s installment of songs from eMusic.  I wound up getting the following albums:

  • Andrew Bird “Armchair Apocrypha”
  • The National “Boxer”
  • Portastatic “Summer of the Shark”
  • Unwed Sailor “The White Ox”

Andrew Bird came on recommendation from a number of people, most recently Liz.  I got The National on recommendation from Adrian.  I’m not a big fan of the guy’s voice, but otherwise, it seems good.  I’m a Portastatic fan from way back and I think “Summer of the Shark” is the only full-length that I didn’t already have, so I remedied that.  Finally, Unwed Sailor is another instrumental rock/post-rock outfit that produces music good for listening to at work.  This is their latest, so I thought I would pick it up.  Maybe, once I get a chance to listen to these carefully, I’ll share my thoughts on them.  Or not.




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