Saturday, September 10, 2005

Stardate 59691.57 - Stuff That Just Doesn't Work

One thing that pisses me off more than anything else (well, maybe not more than anything else but it is absolutly in my top 5...maybe even my top 3) is when things just don't work. I had this issue with the first couple of DVRs that we got through our cable company, Time Warner. They would work for 3-6 months and would then start to get choppy video, and what appeared to be bad sectors on the hard drives. Some shows would lock up when playing back and would force the system to re-boot. Highly, highly annoying...Especially since we were paying (at the time) $7 or $8 per month for the thing. Finally, we are now on our third box and it seems to be working alright for the long term. At first, I was told it was because we had an analog splitter on the line and not a digital splitter, so I fixed that. Then I read from forums that people needed to periodically reboot the things, so I would do that every month or two. I also though that maybe (since I live in an apartment building) that the signal was really weak by the time it got up here to the 14th floor and had spit off God knows how many times, so I purchased an amplifier and put that on the line. All these solutions seemed to fix things for a few months, and then it would go right back to mis-behaving. Finally, the last guy who put in the last box said that the cables were mixed around, which I think is crap because if the cables were mixed up I wouldn't get any signal at all, would I? But I haven't had any problems at all this time. So perhaps there was a bad cable in the mix and him shuffling things around ended up removing the cable from the mix. Or maybe this box is just finally one that works.

But this type of thing pisses me off.

I want things to work. I don't think that is too much to ask. I want to purchase an item and plug it in and have it work. Cameras are like that. TVs are like that. Stereo equipment is like that (mostly, as you will see below). But some things seems to constantly not work. I have two devices in my life right now that I am ready to throw out the window and have them crash 14 floors below on the sidewalk.

First, my cell phone. I've been griping about my phone for almost 2 years as Cheryl will attest to. I have a NEC 515 that I have had problems with since I first purchased it. The issue is that the problems come and go, so I've tolerated it for so long. I am about to get rid of it, however, as the damn 2-year contract is almost up and I can get a new phone. Thinking about the Motorola 551...Cheryl's aunt Janice recommended it. The phone (could be the service, but I blame the phone) loses the network. The entire network. The signal will suddenly go from 4 bars to zero, the call will drop, and 3 seconds later I have 4 bars again. Sometimes, the signal will stay at 4 bars and it will think the call is still on, but the connection has dropped. When this happens, I have to re-boot the phone. I strongly urge people to stay away from this phone. If anyone cares, I had AT&T service, but I've "rolled over" to Cingular. I have not changed my phone or plan since Cingular took over. I've had these problems under both, although it seems to have decreased in frequency since Cingular took over. But it still happens.

Second, a recent purchase I just made was a set of wireless speakers. RCA WSP150 900 MHz Wireless Speaker System. It sucks. I have screwed around with them for over an hour and still cannot get one of the speakers to work at all, and the other one only after 30-minutes of screwing with it. I get lots of static, if I move it at all I have to re-adjust the tuning knob as it loses the signal, and the set-up took way longer than it should have. I understand that you need to have it be adjustable as there are lots of 900 MHz devices out there, but all my stuff operates at the GHz range. I am in an apartment building, but one with very think walls. And EVEN IF I PUT THE DAMN SPEAKERS 10 FEET FROM THE TRANSMITTER I still have problems. So I think I am going to have to return them. For $100, the f***ing things should work out of the box.

Companies that make products that don't work should be sued out of existence. You simply should not be permitted to sell something that doesn't work.

ARGH! It is do damn frustrating. And don't tell me to read product reviews because I have NEVER found a product that everyone universally loves. There are ALWAYS dissenters on everything. People told me back when I bought my first Pentium 50MHz that the chips overheated and I was going to have lots of problems. I never had a problem with it, I used it for a few years, then I gave it to our neighbors when we moved to NYC and as far as I know they are still using it. All you can do is look at the average score and if it is pretty high you go for it. Of course, using that strategy got me the NEC cell phone and these damn speakers.

1 comment:

JamesF said...

Interesting about your phone. I don't think your phone is at fault though, I believe it's the provider. Ginger and I both have the same phone, and we had ATT&T Wireless service also. Everything was fine, we used to have 4 bars at home with no problem, even after the merger between Cingular and AT&T Wireless. Then, about 4 months ago, we just stopped getting any bars at all on both phones (which is why I suspect the phone itself isn't the problem). When we contacted Cingular about the problem, we were informed that they're upgrading their networks and we (along with anyone else that had been an AT&T Wireless customer) were on the old network. We were told we could switch to the new network, but that would require a new phone and a new contract (and of course they no longer have the low cost limited contract that we both currently have anymore). At some point in the future though, the old network will simply stop being supported and you'll be forced to switch phones / contracts. My Mom (who didn't know she had an option) had recently been forced to 'upgrade' to the new network and when she's at our house, she always has 4 bars even though we get none.

So my belief is that they've disabled a bunch of the old towers and switched them to running the new infrastructure, making coverage for those of us on the older network spotty (read crappy) at best.

Short story turned long, I feel your pain.