Archive for March, 2008

Acer Black Screen of Death

 | March 31, 2008 10:00 PM

On my beloved Acer laptop the screen becomes black every once in awhile.

Turns out this is a known issue as you can see in this article (search for black screen).

To fix it I downloaded a BIOS update from Acer’s FTP site but you can download it here.

To run the BIOS unzip the v116.zip file. Then go into the v1.16 folder and unzip the HIB116WW1.zip file. Then go into HIB116WW1/ATI folder, right click on POM116 and select “Run as administrator”. If you just try running POM116 you will get an error saying it cannot open flash.sys (this forum discussion, Help on Extensa 5620 Bio’s upgrade, talks about exactly this issue). In my case running POM116 upgraded my BIOS from v1.14 to v1.16.

Hopefully no more black screen of death.

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Here is the long version of a letter I sent to Best Buy.

My terrible experience with Best Buy began on March 28, 2003. I was buying a camcorder and the sales representative convinced me to buy a service plan which normally I never do. She convinced us with these arguments.

  1. She does not receive a sales commission.
  2. If I buy the service plan I can get a free annual cleaning.
  3. The camcorder has many fragile parts that are not covered by the warranty including the LCD screen.
  4. She bought one for her own camcorder.

I purchased the service plan, which cost between $200 and $300, and now realized I had been duped.

  1. There is no free annual cleaning. When I brought the camcorder in for a cleaning Best Buy said they don’t do such a service.
  2. Though the sales woman was truthful about not receiving a commission she failed to mention that there are rewards programs to encourage sales representatives to sell service plans and that sales representatives who do not sell enough are encouraged to leave the company.

Fast forward to December 31, 2007. I purchased an Acer Extensa 5420 laptop for over $500 plus $29 for a computer optimization which was not done as advertised, I still had to install many Windows updates when I got home. I did not purchase an extended warranty because of my poor experience with my last extended warranty from Best Buy.

On January 23, just three weeks after purchasing it, the Acer laptop stopped working. I contacted the Best Buy where I purchased it (2460 E Charleston Rd, Mountain View, CA) and they said they could not fix it or accept it for return since it was past the 14 day return period but they could ship it to Acer for me. I asked if we could come in to speak to them and they said yes.

When my father and I arrived we spoke with Richard. We spoke to Richard as politely and cheerfully as we could but Richard became increasingly hostile. He started saying things like “Before you interrupted me.” and was noticeably angry with us. I was honestly quite taken aback, I felt it was completely unwarranted. My father, who was doing most of the speaking, was smiling the whole time and did not deserve such treatment.

Richard’s main point was that since we did not buy the extended warranty we had “communicated to Best Buy that we did not want Best Buy to support the product and that only the manufacturer can.” Aferwards we asked to speak to Richard’s manager and Richard rolled his eyes and said angrily “Gladly!” before getting his manager.

We then spoke with Wilson who was much more polite but he said the same thing as Richard. We asked if we could return it or at least get a replacement since it is so unusual for a laptop to die so quickly but he said he could not do it. We then asked if Best Buy could at least ship it to Acer as we were told on the phone they would and he said Best Buy does not have the shipping address so he cannot even do that.

Since this time I have had Acer repair this laptop twice, both times because of catastrophic failures. Each time I asked Acer if they would replace it or give me my money back and they said only Best Buy would do that.

My biggest frustration is with the fact that Best Buy sells products they know will fail and refuse to accept any responsibility for these products. They try to sell you overpriced extended warranties that don’t even cover what they claim and if you don’t they refuse to support you at all. This kind of customer service is terrible which is why I will never purchase from Best Buy again.

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Opening Day

 | 8:22 AM

There have been already three MLB games played but today is the real opening day, lots of games.

Every season I hope the Blue Jays win the World Series but in reality the Blue Jays management is poor. They have a weak farm system and dishonest management. I miss Pat Gillick.

These are my predictions for this season.

AL East

  1. Boston Red Sox – best in the AL
  2. New York Yankees – inexperienced or hurt starting pitching except Chien-Mien Wang and Pettitte
  3. Toronto Blue Jays – if everyone stays healthy though Rolen has already screwed that up
  4. Tampa Bay Devil Rays – would not be surprised if they finished 2nd, maybe even wild card
  5. Baltimore Orioles – big step back this season but it’ll be fun to watch Adam Jones

AL Central

  1. Cleveland Indians – great pitching and hitting, Hafner bounces back, CC and Fausto need to duplicate last season though
  2. Detroit Tigers – fantastic hitting but besides Verlander who else can pitch? Bonderman is too up and down, he keeps reminding me more and more of Jeff Weaver. They’ll get the wild card.
  3. Minnesota Twins – great management
  4. Chicago White Sox – they weren’t as bad as last season and they made some good offseason moves
  5. Kansas City Royals – getting better

AL West

I have no idea who will win this division. The LA Angels should have run away with it but Lackey and Escobar being injured really hurts their chances. The Mariners overachieved last season so even though they acquired Bedard I don’t see them improving on last season’s record. The Rangers made some improvements but I still don’t like them a lot. So I’ll just pick the Oakland A’s, assuming Harden stays healthy and wins the Cy Young.

NL

I think the New York Mets are overrated. I think Pat Gillick is a fantastic GM and I predict the Phillies to win the NL East.

In the NL Central I’m going to pick the Brewers. They have Braun and Gallardo for the full season and if Sheets stays healthy they’ll be good. Everyone else is picking the Cubs but I never liked Lou Pinella. The rest of the central is pretty weak.

In the NL West I’m going to pick the Diamondbacks because they’re going to keep getting better with their fantastic young players. Randy Johnson needs to be healthy but he’s already on the DL. I’ll pick the Rockies to get the wild card.

Fantasy Notes

Rauch was a popular pickup yesterday because he is going to be the closer while Cordero is hurt and that could be for at least a few weeks.

But I think people should be picking up Nick Johnson. His 2006 numbers were amazing and I think he still has it in him. He may not steal much because of his leg injuries but the new Nationals park is going to be a far better hitter’s park than the old one so expect better power numbers.

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Fantasy Baseball 2008

 | March 28, 2008 9:14 AM

This season is the first season in awhile that I won’t be doing fantasy baseball. I am bummed but time did not permit.

Since I cannot play I thought I’d come up with a list of whom I wanted to draft this year and whom I planned on avoiding.

Love

  1. Ryan Braun – love that guy
  2. Daric Barton – walks like crazy, bats 3rd, the sweet spot of the lineup
  3. Yovani Gallardo – stud kid
  4. Matt Cain – takes next step into top ten of NL
  5. Tim Lincecum – not far behind Cain though might hit adjustment period this season, reminds me of David Cone
  6. A.J. Burnett – so talented, so fragile but he learned a lot last season
  7. Joey Hamilton – hits 30 HR’s, bats 3rd
  8. Rich Harden – so talented, so fragile, I don’t know if he learned anything last season
  9. Ben Sheets – used to love him more
  10. Joe Mauer – still love him
  11. Johnny Damon – don’t like Yankees but Girardi wants to give him 600 AB’s
  12. Nick Swisher – bats 3rd
  13. Miguel Cabrera – wow!
  14. Billy Butler – bats 3rd
  15. Mike Lamb – for deeper leagues
  16. Hank Blalock – finally healthy
  17. Jeremy Hermida – he’s really good, bats 3rd
  18. Wily Mo Pena – new park, monster power
  19. Ryan Zimmerman – new park, bats 3rd
  20. Miguel Tejada – resurgence
  21. Troy Glaus – he’s better than we think but
  22. Mark Prior – still love him
  23. Randy Johnson – still throws it
  24. Dustin McGowan – better than Halladay
  25. Corey Hart- steals, power, sunglasses at night
  26. Nick Markakis – another Corey Hart, bats 3rd
  27. Bobby Abreu – runs more under Girardi, bats 3rd
  28. Randy Winn – does everything, just not great, bats 3rd
  29. James Loney – he was more productive than Pujols in September 2007
  30. Matt Kemp – he’s amazing, 30/30
  31. Rick Ankiel – serious power, I’m sure he’s shooting up
  32. Frank Thomas – 25 HR’s, 100 RBI’s at least
  33. Ryan Howard – 50 HR’s, 150 RBI’s, the MVP

Avoid

  1. Albert Pujols – hurt but he’s dropped so much that he’s almost at a point where he moves back to the Love list where he’s always been
  2. Josh Beckett – overvalued
  3. C.C. Sabathia – overvalued
  4. Dan Haren – overvalued
  5. B.J. Ryan – probably hiding something bad
  6. Roy Halladay – best years are behind, hate to say it
  7. most closers – job security and reliability is low
  8. Daisuke Matsuzaka – I used to believe
  9. Francisco Liriano – wait one more year
  10. Evan Longoria – already sent down, why are people drafting him?
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Logitech ClearChat wireless headsetCurrently I use the Logitech USB Desktop Microphone with Skype and it works very well but sometimes people complain of feedback. It would be better to have a headset with the microphone right by my mouth. I don’t actually care for the headphones, I prefer listening through the computer speakers. What’s neat about this headset which wasn’t around when I was looking at headsets is that the microphone glows red when you are muted.  Wonder why they didn’t choose to use Bluetooth?

Circuits
Wireless Headset for Internet Phone Calls
By ROY FURCHGOTT
Published: March 27, 2008

The Logitech ClearChat wireless headset broadcasts over the 2.4-gigahertz band, just like many portable phones.

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Maximizing Interest

 | March 23, 2008 7:30 AM

Over the years I have been pursuing the best way to manage my finances that maximizes interest without too much inconvenience.

This is my current setup.

Washington Mutual for free business checking, free personal checking, free personal savings. The checking accounts have zero interest and the savings account as of today has an interest rate of 0.25% APY. I use these accounts for depositing checks and keeping a very small amount of cash on hand, less than $500.

Most of my long term savings are with Countrywide Bank which is 4.05% APY.

I used to use ING Direct but their rates have become less competitive. The current APY rates for Electric Orange are:

$0-$49,999.99 1.75%
$50,000.00-$99,999.99 3.20%
$100,000.00 or more 3.40%

The current rate for Orange Savings is 3.00% APY.

Most of my mid-term money is in my GE Interest Plus Checking Account with the following APY.

$0-$14,999.99 3.04%
$15,000.00-$49,999.99 3.20%
$50,000.00 or more 3.35%

On February 4, 2008 I learned thanks to this blog article that I can get a savings account with Washington Mutual that has a 3.55% APY interest rate. Such an account will both maximize interest and make things easier in terms of transferring.

I attempted to open this account following these instructions.  I also tried to open an online savings account directly.  Unfortunately after trying for several weeks I’ve given up. It looks like they have my incorrect credit information. In fact because of this I ordered my free credit reports to make sure my information was not incorrect.

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Considering Homeschooling

 | March 20, 2008 9:01 PM

I have been considering homeschooling for awhile.  Recently we talked to the third homeschooling family we know and they suggested some books to read.  Based on those books I actually ended up borrowing a few others from the library and began reading “The Homeschooling Book of Answers.”

One of my biggest concerns is socialization.  Here is how one of the authors in the aforementioned book addressed this issue.

I define a socialized child as one who easily and cooperatively fits in with other humans, someone who has the skills to live in society…  Do children learn to be social beings in a confined, same-age group of other children?  Studies have shown that children learn to socialize in a positive way by spending time with people who love them and have a compelling interest in helping them learn to be a part of society.  They learn this skill by being with people of all ages and by following the models of the adults around them in a healthy way…  My experience has shown that children who have been with their families as their primary teachers are truly socialized.
– Michelle Barone

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I am not sure who first came up with these rules but they seem pretty good for children and even adults.  This site claims Ann Landers thought of them.

  1. If you open it, close it. 
  2. If you turn it on, turn it off. 
  3. If you unlock it, lock it up. 
  4. If you break it, admit it. 
  5. If you can’t fix it, call someone who can. 
  6. If you borrow it, return it. 
  7. If you value it, take care of it. 
  8. If you make a mess, clean it up. 
  9. If you move it, put it back.
  10. If it belongs to someone else, get permission to use it. 
  11. If you don’t know how to operate it, leave it alone. 
  12. If it’s none of your business, don’t ask questions.

You can get a PDF of these rules here for printing out.

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My mom has been staying with us since the end of January and it has been really great having her around. She’s great with the kids and helps out so much. Plus it’s nice to see her enjoying the weather instead of the cold of Toronto.

Isaac especially likes my mom. He calls her hal-muh-nee (할머니) and enjoys spending time with her.

In fact it’s reached a point where he’s preferring my mom over us! Recently I asked Isaac “Do you love 할머니?” He replied “Yes!” Then I asked him to “Do you love 아빠 (daddy)?” He said “Ummm. No.” 🙂

Another day Isaac came out of his room after taking a nap. Ji Seon, my mom and I were all in the hallway. We all greeted him but he walked by me and Ji Seon and straight into my mom’s arms. 🙂

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