For the many of us who ripped a substantial CD collection years ago and didn’t originally buy them all on Amazon.com, this is a very valid question. Continue reading
For the many of us who ripped a substantial CD collection years ago and didn’t originally buy them all on Amazon.com, this is a very valid question. Continue reading →
A high-level initial analysis of the Ashley Madison credit card transactions with a text editor and Excel revealed interesting geographical differences. I saw that the total amount spent in my town of roughly 12,000 residents surpassed the total spending of much larger towns in the region with 30,000 or 40,000 residents. This made me curious. I wanted to visualize the per-capita spending on a map. It took a new, more powerful computer until I was ready for this, and here are the results. Continue reading →
Over the past 4 or 5 years I spent thousands of dollars on replacing tires on our cars because of drywall screws in the sidewall or bolts stuck in the tread. Usually, a tire that was damaged in this way cannot be repaired, and unless the tires are very new, it is necessary to replace at least two of them, sometimes all four. This started to happen after we finished our basement, and for some time I used to find screws in the driveway. But the driveway is short and clean and screws get noticed, so I never believed that screws managed to lurk in the driveway for months until they were able to attach themselves to a tire. I much rather believed that someone was placing them there. Continue reading →
We are on the 3rd power switch on our Miele Titan S2181 vacuum cleaner. As an electrical engineer who did a good amount of research work with switches and relays as part of my thesis, I figured that there might be value in summarizing why these switches fail and how they can easily be replaced. I believe that the problem is not necessarily with the quality of the component. These switches are standard components and are in use in many other models by different manufacturers, but more about that later. I believe that the way they are actuated in the S2181 – by stepping on a large wobbly plastic button – is the issue. It is easy to step on the button a bit sideways and not push it down all the way. When the switch is not fully depressed, it draws an arc, overheats, and the contact tab gets pushed down into the soft plastic. Once this happens (look at the right contact in the picture below), the switch no longer closes the circuit when in the On position and needs to be replaced.
A short-term fix is to short the switch by removing it and connecting the two wires directly. I usually cut off one of the switch’s contact tabs and connect one shoe on each end. The vacuum cleaner will then run as soon as it gets plugged in, but at least it is usable until the replacement part arrives.
Last year when I needed a replacement switch, it was relatively easy to find. I just googled the vacuum model number along with “power switch”, and the results contained countless inexpensive sources. I ended up ordering from a vacuum cleaner outlet for about $8 and free shipping. This year, I figured I’d go back to the same source. I found the order confirmation email, went to the website, and typed in the SKU. There were no hits, nor were there any hits for my original search that included the Miele model. Google still found the part for me, and it is also available on Amazon, but for around $40-$50 per piece. Clearly, this is inacceptable, and I did not order from any of these sources.
Instead, I called the vendor that I had ordered from the last time. After a bit of back and forth, they said that “this part is no longer available to them”.
Honi soit qui mal y pense. Could it be that Miele is forcing parts suppliers and distributors to no longer sell aftermarket parts for their appliances? I have had a very similar experience with my Miele washing machine not so long ago. I find it remarkable that a single company gets away with this type of arm-twisting in this country today. You should consider that Miele parts will cost 5x-10x of what comparable parts for other appliances cost before you buy one of their products.
I did not want to give up so easily, though. Even though the part Miele Canister Vacuum Cleaner Replacement On / Off Power Switch, Fits Miele Part 04366462 04367102 was no longer sold by this particular vendor, I got lucky when I googled the SKU of the part: 10-9200-05. This returned a number of hits, even on Amazon, for a part that looks amazingly similar to the Miele S48i power switch that sells for $48 on eBay – except that it costs a fraction. It is listed as a Dyson switch, and I even found one that looks much better made (Dyson Switch #DY-910971-01).
This switch has the same overall dimensions but turned out to not be a 100% mechanically compatible replacement. It fits into the space but is not held properly by the clips. The picture clearly shows that the enclosure is molded differently. I had to use a cable tie to fasten it to the plastic cover. Also, the tabs point downwards and not sideways. It is probably ok to carefully bend them once, but they will break off if bent repeatedly.
I was able to use the BÄR switch without bending the tabs. It remains to be seen if it lasts longer – it seems to be very similarly constructed. I cannot fully recommend the 3292 as a replacement for the Miele part, but with the addition of a cable tie it is a workable solution. If it lasts longer, it could be more than that. Out of curiosity I opened one of the 3292s that I ordered. They mechanical principle is the same as in the original – a spring-loaded contact bar creates a connection between two contact points when the button is depressed. The mechanical on/off function is similar to what you find in a ball point pen. The $50 price tag for the OEM part is ridiculous and customers should boycott Miele parts whenever possible, or Miele appliances altogether.
or: How to prevent your Prime Membership from renewing at the end of the current term
When I subscribed to Prime in 2012, the service had already been in existence for many years. I had doubts about whether I would be able to get enough value out of my membership to justify the $80 flat fee for shipping per year, but I was curious enough to try it. I subsequently placed 108 orders in 2013 alone (vs. 90 orders in 2012). Arguably, having Prime made me order more from Amazon, which is exactly why they are offering it in the first place. But rarely am I in a rush, and almost never would I have used 2-day shipping on any of these orders had I not had Prime. So there isn’t really a quantifiable benefit for me – it is just the peace of mind that you get your stuff faster without paying extra. As a Netflix subscriber, I surely did not use the Amazon Prime streaming service enough to justify the cost, either.
So when I received the email about the fee increase to $100, it was clear that I did not want to continue with the program. By the way, Amazon will charge sales tax in Massachusetts on the Prime Membership fee, but regular shipping fees are not taxable in Massachusetts,
But how does one cancel? There is an option to cancel on the Manage Prime Membership page, but there is a warning in bold letters that you will lose your benefits. I still have 6 months left for the current year. Amazon will only refund the fee to those who have not used Prime shipping on any orders. No worries, though, because Amazon gives you the option to let the membership expire at the end of the current term only after clicking on the “End Membership” button:
Many people who engage in a discussion about the value of a Prime membership and the backlash that Amazon is seeing do not understand what is at the core. The issue is not about the cost of shipping vs. free shipping. The issue is about the value of 2 day shipping vs. regular free shipping. Because I don’t need everything that I order within 2 (business) days, and because so many items that I order are not offered with Prime shipping anyway, I am not willing to pay $100-plus for a service that may save me a few dollars once in blue moon but for most orders does not.
We took my son’s GoPro Hero 3 Black Edition skiing for the first time this Christmas. The camera was an Easter present from last March, but it took him a while to find interest in using it. It had not seen much use at all. So here we are in <10°F temps and the camera freezes after 2-3 minutes of recording. It just stopped recording or responding to button presses, and the only way to turn it off was by removing the battery.
Back at the inn I researched the issue and found that other people saw an improvement of these symptoms after a firmware update. So I downloaded the latest firmware (3.03), put it on the (Sandisk Ultra) SD card, and turned the thing on. That was the end of it. Since then all it ever does is turn itself on and off again after 3 beeps, forever.
The camera is technically still under warranty, but based on the chatter in the support forum and the reviews on Amazon.com I expect the worst from here on, i.e. support being slow to respond (so far I have not heard anything back), being sent equally defective replacement units and this becoming a bottomless time sink without us ever having a working camera again.
I tried different cards, I reformatted the card on my PC, and I downloaded the firmware again. Same results. It does not start up properly anymore, whether I am doing a firmware update or just in normal operation.
While it worked, it took great pictures.
There are now hundreds and hundreds of negative reviews on Amazon with complaints about a variety of unresolved issues with this camera. The GoPro support staff must be hopelessly overwhelmed with requests for an exchange like mine, and there must be a serious impact to their bottom line by now. Clearly, replacing frustrated customers’ broken and returned cameras with someone else’s broken and returned camera will in the long run not be a viable business model. This has been going on for at least a year now, and I am wondering if GoPro will be the next action camera manufacturer of the past.
I recently booked a rental car on Priceline.com, thinking I had saved a few dollars. I always make sure I uncheck any obscure checkboxes during the checkout process so that I don’t inadvertently provide legitimation for sending me unwanted emails.
Today, hardly a week later, I got several hundreds of emails from Priceline. Continue reading →
Over 11 Million views in two days is quite a feat.
Continue reading →
A data breach at a little-known entity that affected companies from J.P. Morgan ChaseJPM -0.02% & Co. to TiVo Inc. TIVO -2.79% is shining a light on the outsourcing of email marketing campaigns, a practice that has grown steadily over the past decade as consumers become less responsive to commercial pitches.
Continue reading →
Nothing good can come of the proposed acquisition of T-Mobile USA by AT&T. This will lead to essentially a 2-player cell phone market (Verizon and AT&T).
Some quotes taken from various news articles:
“We know the results of arrangements like this — higher prices, fewer choices, less innovation.” (Public Knowledge president Gigi Sohn).
“AT&T will look hard at keeping T-Mobile’s no-contract plans.” (AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson)
T-Mobile currently has the only 3G network in the US that is compatible with European carriers (i.e. that uses the 1700/2100 MHz frequency-band). Only T-Mobile phones can be used on non-US 3G networks. AT&T phones do not work on European 3G networks. It can be expected that T-Mobiles phones will at some point no longer work on the AT&T network and that we will be forced to switch to devices that do not work abroad. What a shame. This deal must be stopped
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