Fleezle – Rants R Us

Now BVHE won’t honor 5 free Blu-Ray offer due to “missing” UPC code

by on Feb.01, 2008, under Rants

Just not my day today…after a lovely day at work which will end up with me working all night because a customer decided at the last second they don’t want to do any of the work, I come home to an envelope from Buena Vista Home Entertainment, the Disney arm that puts out DVD and Blu-Ray discs, and was offering 5 free BD discs (from a limited selection – only one of which I would have actually purchased, mind you) for buying a qualifying Blu-Ray player (like the Playstation 3). My 5 free Blu-Ray discs I’m supposed to get for buying my PS3 has been rejected because they claim I didn’t include the UPC symbol. I most definitely DID – I checked several times before sealing the envelope that it was in there, and all I have now is a hole in the box where it was. So what am I supposed to now? They are asking me to send them the UPC code, which I already did, and THEY lost. Sigh…

Update [2/5]: I e-mailed. They said to call. I called. They said to fax…we’ll see…

Update [2/23]: Called again today…they apparently “received my request into the system” last week. Only took them 10 days from when I faxed. Supposedly I’m qualified now, but it can be another 5 weeks to receive the discs. We’ll see…

Update [3/30]: 5 weeks TO THE DAY of my phone call, the movies arrived – even though a few days ago the web site still listed me as unqualified. At least now I have a couple movies I actually want to watch…


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Moving into the modern world – HDTV

by on Jan.28, 2008, under Geek Out

I forgot to mention this – back in October, just before the World Series, I finally broke down and got an HDTV – which would eventually result in the shutdown of my little DirecTV TiVo network, but moving me in to the wonderful world of High Definition.

I had thus far stayed away from HD because 1) I didn’t see a need – I had a 32″ behemoth Toshiba CRT and a big entertainment center that wouldn’t take a big flat panel, and I had DirecTV – which to get HD I’d probably have to cut down another tree to get the line to the satellites. Plus, I had three hacked DirecTV TiVos which gave me all the features I wanted. (continue reading…)


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CompUSA clearance sales – not exactly priced to clear

by on Jan.15, 2008, under Geek Out, Rants

I’ve dropped by the local CompUSA several times since it was announced that they were sold to a liquidating company, figuring I’d see some good deals. After over a month, most of the discounts are still around 15% – but look closely. It says its off the “original price”. Apparently the original price means the price it had over a year ago, in some cases.

For instance, I was looking for a MicroSD memory card for my new mobile phone. I looked a couple weeks ago, and they wanted $69.99 less 10% for a 2GB card. That didn’t sound right – I checked online, and the same exact card was $25. Well, I checked back today, and it was the SAME price – but the discount was now 15%. I went to Costco and paid $24.

I looked at a 4GB USB thumb drive. They wanted $99 less 20%! Costco had a 3-pack of 2GB thumb drives for something like $45. If they think these discounts are going to clear merchandise, they are sadly mistaken – but I don’t think that’s their intent. As I was there, they were taking all the recordable media, etc. and taking them off the shelves. I think their intent is to liquidate wholesale to other retailers, and not provide any real value to consumers any more.


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Maybe I don’t like Dell any more…

by on Oct.08, 2007, under Geek Out

I’ve always been a fan of Dell hardware – they have great warranties, and the prices are comparable to what it would cost me to build my own, which is what I’ve done in the past. I’m not a computer newb – I know them inside out. I’ve installed Linux on a couple thousand Dell servers for a large financial company (no lie). So why is it that I can’t convince Dell that there is a defect in this desktop? (continue reading…)


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Useless technologies – USB key to limit child’s computer access

by on Sep.05, 2007, under Geek Out, Rants

Japanese toy company Bandai has teamed up with network device maker Buffalo to develop a USB key that prevents children from accessing harmful websites, and limit their computer time. Branded with Disney characters and playing a Disney video when first plugged in, it also limits the programs a child can play. But I wonder if this conversation ever took place:

“So, you plug the USB key in, and the child can only use the computer for what we say they can.”

“Wow, that’s kind of neat. But what happens if the key isn’t plugged in?”

“Well, then the computer acts normally so the adults can access whatever they want.”

“So, what requires that the key be inserted if the child uses the computer?”

“Ummm…the parent?”

“And what if the child removes the key?”

“Ummm…”

Perhaps it would make more sense if the computer was limited UNLESS the key was inserted, and the parents keep them locked away with their guns and alcohol…


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Cool video – macorpc.org

by on Jun.27, 2007, under Geek Out

For those of you familiar with the Mac vs. PC wars and the commercials, check out this site for a cool rap song and video…


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Disney takes money, cancels program, goes silent (resolved)

by on Jun.06, 2007, under Rants

Anybody who knows me knows I am a Disney fan, enough to start my own web site about it. I couldn’t tell you why – perhaps watching old black-and-white reruns of The Mickey Mouse Club with my dad or something. I never went to Disneyland or Walt Disney World until I was an adult though, and I’m thoroughly hooked now. I just bought into the Disney Vacation Club, paying for trips for the next 50 years for my family. Imagine my delight when Disney re-opened a dormant project that I wanted to participate in. Imagine my disappointment when they abruptly canceled the program after taking my money, and won’t tell me what happened or when I’ll get my money back. Read the full article for more details and updates. (continue reading…)


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The DST Debacle – are you ready?

by on Mar.09, 2007, under Geek Out, Linux

It goes by many names – I use “Y2K7” and “The DST Debacle”. If you don’t know what it is, you are certain to be affected. Last year the U.S. Government passed a law to change Daylight Savings Time to start earlier and end later each year. This year it starts on March 11 (this Sunday). And all hell may break loose…

I work with computers. I managed hundreds of them. So I know what’s coming.

Back for “Y2K”, a.k.a. “The Big Fizzle”, I worked all night babysitting systems in case anything happened. Nothing did because people thought about it and prepared for it LONG in advance.

This time was a surprise. Congress actually wanted to change things last year, but many companies piped up and said there wasn’t time. So they silently pushed it back a year, and companies began to fix things…but they didn’t really tell customers that they had to do things until recently. Major computer OS vendors sent out announcements last month – a little over a month before the change, letting you know you needed to patch your systems. Microsoft had a patch for XP available, but it wasn’t marked “critical” so it would get installed automatically until a few weeks ago. And what about those who don’t have automatic updates turned on? All those spambots will be an hour late sending me the latest stock about to take off, and it will be too late to buy it…

I saw in one case a vendor told you how to patch your system – but forgot to tell you that for it to take effect, you had to reboot (or at least restart everything that needed to use timezone data, but if you don’t know what that is, you reboot). A later update added that.

What about all the ubiquitous electronics you have scattered around your house? Some of them keep track of time.

I’ve got a VCR that can handle DST changes. But it won’t work this year because there is no way to update it. So my VCR clock will be an hour off for three weeks. And then again in the fall…and next year. Fortunately for me, I’ve grown past VCRs – they are only there to play tape I haven’t re-bought as or converted to DVD.

I’ve got TiVos. Four to be precise – one original “Series 1” unit, and two DirecTV dual-tuner “Series 2” units. For quite a while people wondered what would happen. They run Linux, after all – and Linux needed to be patched. But the Linux installed doesn’t have the typical zoneinfo files. The application actually runs in GMT, so it isn’t affected by DST – but it displays the guide data in your local time zone, so it must be affected somehow. (Technically, only the display of the guide will be off an hour, and manual time recordings will be off – everything else would function normally).

The three DirecTV units are hacked, which means they have networking capabilities they don’t normally have and I can log into them. There is an update from TiVo/DirecTV to fix the DST problem, which is fixed in the application, not the OS – but none of my units received it. It could be because they are hacked – but others with hacked units (and hacked in funkier ways no less) got the update. Not everyone has though. I’ve manually updated my units through other means.

I JUST received e-mail from TiVo regarding my original Series 1 (which still works great). They can’t fix it. No explanation, just that the problem is “cosmetic”. Why they can’t update the application in it I have no idea, unless DST is somehow embedded in hardware – and that would just be plain silly.

What about your digital watch? Most now have the date in it, and can handle DST. Well, that’s not going to work unless it was made in the last year, AND the manufacturer thought to fix DST…

So, be prepared. I’m sure I will be losing more than one hour of sleep Sunday as I get paged about some customer’s system not reporting the time correctly…

Update 3/14: TiVo has a fix for the Series 1s. The thing is, it wasn’t their engineers who came up with it (they said there was no fix) – it was a customer with a hacked unit. So with egg on their face TiVo has taken the fix, reworked it a bit, and will begin sending out an update.


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Think about it…

by on Mar.08, 2007, under Rants

Why do I have a storage cabinet that has a sticker on the bottom of a drawer that says “STOP! Load bottom drawer first!” – on the BOTTOM drawer?


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My new old DirecTV TiVo Network – for now

by on Jan.10, 2007, under Geek Out, Rants

Almost 4 years ago I became a DirecTV subscriber. It was SOOO much better and cheaper than my local cable company, which became part of Comcast shortly before I canceled. Plus they offered a real dual-tuner integrated TiVo unit long before anyone else considered such a thing. My, how things have changed…

This is a combo Rant and Geek Out article… (continue reading…)


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