The New Computer

I’m writing a second post tonight because I’m in the mood. It’s a fantastically cool evening and I’ve got the patio doors open as well as the one behind me, letting a nice breeze come rolling through.

So anyway, you might recall a post I wrote over a year ago about my being involved in a class action lawsuit that might yield me more than just a free month of service to [insert defendant here] or a measly five bucks. No, this class action lawsuit appeared to be much more fruitful which kind of made me a bit skeptical about the whole thing.

But as you will read in this post, it was anything but a scam.

About a few weeks ago, I received a letter from Lawsuit HQ informing me that a settlement had been reached and that I still had the option to take the $62.50 cash or redeem the voucher code on the letter at a certain website to get a brand-spanking-factory-refurbished item of my choice (up to $365 retail value): laptop, desktop, tablet, or monitor.

And being our computer had trouble mixing the ingredients and adding sugar while waiting for Candy Crush Saga to load, we opted for the computer.

Then the fun began.

The selection on that website is horrible to say the least. I literally spent hours at a time at the computer F5ing as often as possible in the hopes they’d get something better. Then one day, after refreshing umpteen times, one showed up that was most excellent. I added it to my cart and started the checkout process.

The item disappeared as I was at the last checkout step and I got a warning that the item was no longer available. Wait, how does that happen? Did someone really snag that thing out of my virtual cart and put it into theirs?

Grrr. It was gone and the mediocre selection of AMD-powered PCs returned but I didn’t want any of those. I wanted an Intel chip, more memory, and a bigger hard drive. The rest would be details.

So I spent another day – it’s a good thing I’m not working – hitting F5 and hoping for the best and once again, a decent model showed up. This time I ran with it like O.J. Simpson through an airport terminal getting to his Hertz Rent-A-Car.*

And it was mine – free of charge, no less.

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Then a couple of days ago, it arrived and I was so happy.

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That’s the new beast in all its refurbished glory. Can’t you just hear the angels and harps? But along with the euphoria I felt with opening the UPS-delivered box I also came to the realization all new computer owners face: setup and transferring.

But being I’m constantly backing up my stuff** to a 2TB external drive as well as Dropbox and MegaCloud, transferring this time around wasn’t that much of a task. Once I installed Dropbox and MegaCloud, all of the files uploaded to those respective clouds downloaded to the new computer. Boom. Done. Like nothing happened.

Then a few essential things had to be installed: Chrome, Photoshop, Office, iTunes, etc. Of course, along with installing came the removing of bloatware (surprisingly, not a lot).

I wasn’t too concerned about pictures yet since they are on the external drive as well as the old PC, but music was another issue. Today I was finally daring enough to transfer the folder on the external drive called Music and along with that came duplicate and sometimes triplicate mp3 files. There was a total of 70GB worth of music including 20GB of duplicate files which I deleted today, and I know there’s more.

Along with this “new” computer being fast (it would never give you an indication it was refurbished), it came equipped with Windows 8 which I was not fond of at first but am growing to really enjoy. On the surface (see what I did there?) you can tell that it’s strictly an OS designed to be touched but Microsoft did a good job in transitioning Windows 8 into a PC format OS that works almost flawlessly. It takes some time getting used to how it works but it functions amazingly well.

As for specs, here’s what’s under the hood.

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As you can see it’s got a whopping 1TB hard drive so between that and the 2TB external drive, I’ve got more storage than I know what to do with. I kind of like that feeling.

For now, I’m pretty much done with the basic setting up of the computer. I’ve got enough of my most frequently used programs on there to do whatever I need to do and then some. I know there will be more stuff down the road but for the moment, I’m very satisfied with its performance.

And all of this for free because of a faulty floppy disk drive that the computer I owned well over 10 years ago didn’t even have.

Not too shabby. I’d say I made out alright with this deal.

*For you younger folks
**It’s a terrible habit, I know

Right Up My Alley

I got this Captcha-style image the other day and thought my answer was the only logical choice.

cheese fries2

Blogging 365, Day 73: Google Reader Is Dead

There are a lot of Google services that my life has been perfectly fine without, some dead and some still living for whatever reason.

Google Wave was one of them and something that I (and a lot of other people) could never quite figure out. Much too complicated for something that was supposed to be a collaboration tool.

Then there’s Google+. I have a profile there but rarely check it. I may post something on there now and then but other than that, it’s completely useless to me and I find it hard to believe it has as many users Google claims it does. As per Wikipedia:

As of December 2012, it has a total of 500 million registered users of whom 235 million are active on a monthly basis

Meh. I still think it sucks.

I did, however, enjoy iGoogle which offered widgets to things like Gmail, Google Calendar, etc. I had it as my homepage for a years – until Google decided it would die on November 1, 2013.

One widget that I used all the time was for Google Reader which is where I keep all of my RSS feeds nice and tidy. All of the blogs I’m subscribed to, news feeds, etc. are all in there because it’s so darn easy.

Then today, I got this message when I logged in:

reader

Damn you, Google. Aside from Gmail, Reader is the only other service of yours I actually use and enjoy. Now I’ve got to go and find another way to get all of my news feeds. And so far, I’ve tried most of them and none of them have worked very well nor are free.

Thanks, guys. Maybe it’s just a ploy to get me to use Google+.

Nice try. But it’s not happening.

Blogging 365, Day 62: I Got Praise!

Don’t let this dog-and-pony show of a blog mislead you – I actually do have what it takes to create effective social media buzz that will drive customers to your door.

At least that’s what the people at Pizza Today have said. Here’s why.

Every now and then, I will write Facebook posts for my friend’s pizzeria advertising their current or upcoming specials and for the most part, they are written and forgotten. That’s not to say that they are worth forgetting, no. I collaborate with him, come up with a few ideas, then send him the draft to see if he likes it.

Then the agonizing begins over what sounds best and why, talk pricing if applicable, delivery or take-out, etc. There’s much more to it than what’s going on here at this blog, something I make no money from and pay into by means of annual domain mapping fees and name registration.

But I create the Facebook posts free of charge because I simply like to do them and love getting down and dirty with the details of what can’t be said and why. The blog? Oh, anything goes here as you can probably tell.

And apparently, it’s that kind of attention to detail that caught the eye of the people over at Pizza Today.

On Friday, I got a text from my buddy to let me know what he saw in the latest issue:

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It’s a little hard to see so here’s a clip from their website:

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We created this post to promote their 12/12/12 special, something that they also did on 10/10/10 but with results that were…well, they were beyond what we both expected. Let’s just say ovens are limited to their capacity and when you advertise a $10 pizza with no limits on quantity or size restrictions, things will get ugly.

But this was a good thing and something we both thought about for the 12/12/12 promotion (there was no 11/11/11 special). We got together and brainstormed to come up with an idea that would prove both beneficial to he as the owner and the customers as well.

The Facebook post you see about was the result and from what I know, it was not a bad day for his business.

It may be long gone and down at the bottom of their Facebook page now but according to Pizza Today, this post hit the marketing nail on the head in terms of everything – and I’m glad to have been a part of it.

Blogging 365, Day 51: The Last Virgin Mobile Post

UPDATE 2/21/13: In the midst of Virgin Mobile’s outage that they are now quietly acknowledging, I got this interesting text today:

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I clicked on the link and it took me here (click image to enlarge or go directly to site):

boost

Ahem. So I went ahead and called my voicemail and it told me exactly what this page reads. This seems very interesting to me since Virgin Mobile and Boost Mobile use Sprint’s network. I can’t be sure (nor do I have further proof) but if I had to guess, Virgin is going the way of the dodo and will soon be swallowed up by Boost Mobile.

All of this while they continue to sell phones and charge people for service they can’t use. I smell lawsuit or at least some sort of compensation, which is too bad since we’re moving on (read rest of post).

Has anyone else gotten this? Leave your notes/frustrations in the Comments section.

—–

vm logo

For as long as I’ve been a customer of theirs, I’ve always been happy to write about Virgin Mobile’s bargain pricing and decent selection of phones. After all, coming from Verizon where Ann and I were paying well over $100 for two lines, the lure of paying a mere $25 per line (then $35 after a phone upgrade) was just too much to pass up.

And it worked for us. No, their 3G connection (provided by Sprint) is definitely not the fastest out there but it was reliable and did the trick for upwards of 4 years. SMS and MMS messaging were also trusty and only had a few hiccups now and then but nothing that would make me want to leave.

All was well for the longest time and in fact, Ann and I were looking to upgrade to the Galaxy S II once our tax refund was in our hot little hands. Even better? It’s currently selling for $279.99. All we needed was some cash.

Flash-forward to February 16, 2013, the day Ann’s new month started. I get a text from her telling me she wanted to send me a picture but couldn’t for some reason. She tried again and the phone just refused to do it. Later that day she realized that she had no 3G connection and couldn’t get online unless she was using WiFi.

This prompted a call to Virgin Mobile’s Customer Care line and if you have never called them, be prepared because this is what’s in store for you.

I spoke with no less than 8 people with each person “elevating” my call so that it would get higher priority. Each person asked me for the same information and had me do the same things to the phone, which went a little something like this:

programming

I gave them full access to Ann’s account so that they could try to figure out what was going on. None of it helped and by the 8th person I was becoming utterly annoyed by the service and incompetence of Virgin Mobile’s outsourced call center employees.

The best part? I was disconnected by Person #8 who was supposed to be Tech Support. This after being on the phone for almost an hour. That’s when I became completely unglued and weaved a blanket of obscenities that is still lingering above the house.

Figuring I had nothing to lose, I took to social media in the hopes of getting my problem solved. I definitely got responses and emails from @VMUcare but none of them solved the connectivity problem. All they kept asking for was my ZIP code and which error message I was getting.

And for each time they asked, I told them that there was no connectivity or no error messages. All that led to was the resetting instructions you see above which, as you can imagine, didn’t do a thing. I finally threw my hands up after this tweet.

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Then I took to their Facebook page.

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You know, it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that if people are having problems connecting to their 3G network then there’s a good chance that the network is having issues. This is what was making me even more annoyed because as the complaints continued to roll in about no connectivity, there was not one mention of such an outage. It was only until recently that the word started to get out that there was indeed an outage.

So until things are back up and running, Virgin Mobile customers are getting screwed out of the 3G service that they have already paid for. I do realize that we are paying a dirt-cheap rate for service but it would have been nice if Virgin Mobile would have told us up front that they were experiencing an outage, rather than make us jump through hoops of fire by following useless instructions in the hopes of getting our phones back online.

And should I mention that my phone is fine? Ann’s is the one that does not have connectivity. I’m doing the calling and complaining because she can’t handle dealing with people who are completely clueless, which this situation has confirmed.

Network issues cannot generally be avoided nor can they be fixed in a timely manner. I truly understand that. But what I don’t get is why Virgin Mobile didn’t acknowledge this in the first place so that we, their paying customers, were left in the dark all this time. And if you think what I told you was bad, I’ve read posts from people with iPhones who have been without service for close to two weeks. I’d be twice as annoyed and pissed off if I were one of them considering the unsubsidized price of the phone.

So, all things considered including the way in which the matter has been handled and the way I was treated when contacting Customer Care, we have decided that we are through with Virgin Mobile for good. This situation has proven that when it comes handling an outage, they have no idea how to go about appeasing their customers and would rather lie to us and delay us by having us try pointless phone resetting.

We have already chosen MetroPCS as our new provider and will be making the switch within the week. Until then, our phones will still be active through Virgin Mobile as they have to be if we wish to port our current phone numbers to our new provider, one who offers unlimited everything for $35 per line (with a Family Plan). This beats Virgin’s $35 plan for 300 minutes.

There you go, Virgin Mobile. For your lack of truthfulness regarding the network outage, incompetent call center, and overall poor service over the course of the outage, you are losing two previously loyal customers.

And I get the feeling we won’t be the only ones.

This is indeed my last Virgin Mobile post. You can thank them for making it happen.