Entries Tagged as 'Home'

The Media Home

It may come as a shock to you, but computers are here to stay, and there’s at least one in almost every home in the country.

Computers in the home are becoming a “fabric” around which we build and manage our lives, our communications, and our entertainment to enumerate just a few critical areas.

But, almost nothing plays nicely together… and that’s a real problem for the average consumer who’s never figured out how to set the clock on their microwave oven!

A sleepy little company in Redmond, Washington introduced a product they call “Windows Home Server”… it’s really not a revolutionary product, it’s more just a repackaging of technology they already had — it’s just designed to be easy to install and maintain; and it’s targeted at the home market (much like Small Business Server was to the small business without an IT staff).

Why has Microsoft targeted a product like this at the home market?

Easy — he who defines the fabric of the home network is most likely to reap the rewards in controlling the devices the consumer buys for them.

Microsoft has tried for years to get low end versions of Windows into just about everything (Windows CE, Windows Mobile, etc)… and the Microsoft Home Server is another attempt at that.

Now since we have cell phones, music players, video players, navigation systems, and a host of other things built on top of Windows, Microsoft is making the move to make everything work together — well, at least sort of work together (I can’t tell you how many times I’ve deleted the partnership between my phone and my PC to get them to sync).

But the key is here, they will target the consumer, and the consumer will most likely purchase additional hardware and software that is “certified” to work.

Certainly Microsoft isn’t the only company chasing after control of the infrastructure; but they are one of the biggest… and certainly wisdom would suggest that you not put yourself firmly in the cross hairs of a market segment Microsoft is targeting.

Bottom line is, keep your eyes open for a host of products for the home that leverage off of Microsoft core technology that attempt to bring the average consumer into the digital media era.

Originally posted 2008-06-05 01:10:52.

Andersen Windows Doors

I decided I wanted a full view storm door for my front door to help reduce the energy loss, and I wanted to buy it this year to take advantage of the Energy Tax Credit… I looked at both Pella (Lowes) and Andersen (Home Depot)… no one in the area carries Peachtree (and I’m not sure they make storm doors).

I liked the Pella, but a couple of the features of the Andersen (screen / glass user interchangeable panel) seemed slightly more appealing.

To say I was disappointed by the perceived quality of the door is an understatement.

Below is a message I posted to Andersen via their web site.

Let me preface this by saying I’ve renovated four homes now; and I’ve always used Peachtree, Pella, or Andersen products in them — and I’ve always been extremely happy with the quality.
When I purchased a storm door for my home in Florida I looked at the Pella product at Lowes as well as the Series 4000 and 3000 at Home Depot; and I elected the Series 3000 since I was price sensitive for resale.
While I cannot complain with the overall appearance of the door I was less than happy with the quality of the construction of the door during the installation — it seemed “cheap” to put it simply.
The way the glass/screen section installs/removes (obviously far superior on the 4000, but I’m not sure I wouldn’t have been happier with the fixed window in the Pella at the same price to avoid the concern in how well the plastic clips are going to hold up in the first hurricane); also I found the door closure mechanism to have too short a throw for the door to open any where near 90 degrees (the travel only allows about 80 degrees).
Additionally, the Home Depot employee informed me that the Kwikset lock set for the door would run around $25 — while I haven’t called either Home Depot to check on a special order or Andersen to confirm the price yet, I just find that price point to be totally ridiculous.
I can’t say I won’t consider Andersen products in the future — but this door doesn’t even slightly resemble the quality I expected (and enjoyed in the past) from Andersen…
The only positive thing I find about the door is the lifetime warranty — something I (unfortunately) expect will be used over and over and over.
I’m sure that disappointing customers isn’t your goal; but I felt it was important to share my experience and my lack of satisfaction.

Andersen Corporation
100 Fourth Avenue North
Bayport, MN 55003-1096



Originally posted 2010-11-11 02:00:00.

Lowes Ceiling Fan Followup

I got two calls from the local Lowes store regarding my ceiling fan issue, and I have to say I was quite impressed by how efficiently the local store handled the issue.

They had a replacement fan ready for me when I stopped by, and they actually had no problem just putting the purchase price of the fan onto a gift card so that I could select a different model.

I would say the greatest failing of Lowes in this entire incident is that the corporate offices has put together an online system that poorly reflects on the ability of local Lowes management to handle problems; perhaps the best thing for Lowes to do is simply forward online request to local management and not ever try and resolve issues at a corporate level…

NOTE:  I actually purchased a Hunter ceiling fan at The Home Depot since Lowes didn’t have a suitable replacement fan in a brand I trusted.  The Hunter fan’s motor is easily three times the weight of the Harbor Breeze’s motor, and like the other Hunter fans I have (and have had in the past) it’s totally silent (and was much easier to install).

Originally posted 2009-10-28 01:00:12.

Lowes “We Care” LOL

I purchased an inexpensive ceiling fan from Lowe’s in July — I needed something small, something that would be close to the ceiling, and since I didn’t really care for anything I had to choose from, something that wasn’t expensive.

I ended up with a:

Harbor Breeze,  30″ White Breezeway Ceiling Fan
Item #: 20006 / Model: 0020006

For about $30…

I found the fan a little noisy from the start, and originally it wobbled quite a bit on the ceiling (that I took care of by taking it down, and putting it back up using some felt spacers to help cushion it against the outlet box).

Last week, it finally got cool enough here that I didn’t need the fan circulating air in my office… so I turned it off.  Yesterday it got warm enough that I felt like it was a good idea to turn it on to circulate the air to keep the office as cool as possible.

To my surprise, a ceiling fan less than three months old appears to have bearing that are going bad (certainly I don’t class this fan as inexpensive any longer, I classify it as CHEAP).

I figured, I’d contact Lowe’s and find out what the warranty was and how painful it would be to get service… so I clicked on their web site, send off a message to customer service (with all the information on the fan, model, etc) and went about my business doing other thing.

Submitting online requests are great; they very low impact on a person’s time — you send in the request when you have time, you deal with the response when you have time — it’s the next best thing to not needing to contact support… that is when you actually get customer service.

I got a message fairly early this morning — they needed the item and / or model number in order to provide me with the information I ask for.  Hmm — can you say careless, incompetent, and not really interested in providing service — all that information was in the web request AND embarrassingly enough, the entire web request (including that information was sent to me).

I replied that I had provided the information already… and if there was something more they needed they’d have to be more specific.

The next note came back that they couldn’t access the original web request; yes — you got it, all the previous information was once again copied onto the request.

Enough was enough… I picked up the phone and called.

The woman who I spoke with (after going through the obligatory maze of voice prompts and responses — a good sign a company doesn’t really care about it customers) seemed concerned, but she immediately needed to put me on hold (wasting more of my time) to research the problem.  Then all she had to come back with was that the local store would call me.  When I told her I’d like to speak with her manager, she immediately apologized and told me that the local store would be calling to help me (yeah — like I was deaf, dumb, or stupid — she obviously had been dealing with Lowe’s customer service people too much).

I was a little “rough” on her… and got a manager.

The manager was equally ineffective — but in fact confirmed that all the information that would have been needed to resolve this had been entered into the original message; but since it had been turned over to the store they would need to handle it.

As I pointed out to him; I did an online request for information because I didn’t want to spend the time chasing this down on phone calls — had I wanted to make a phone call originally I would have been able to, and that all they had really done was to waste my time and encourage me to shop elsewhere.

I received a voice mail this afternoon from one of the local Lowe’s store — apparently they’ve pulled a replacement for me and it’s ready for me to pick it up at my convenience.

I’ve got news for Lowe’s — it will NEVER be at my convenience, and I certainly don’t intend on wasting more of my time to take down this POS fan, drive to Lowe’s, pickup another POS fan, and install the same POS fan — I’d much rather invest a little more of my money and less of my time in acquiring and replacing this fan with something that provides better service than either this POS fan or Lowe’s!

Originally posted 2009-10-23 01:00:11.

Big toys for big boys…

I did some major tree trimming this past weekend, and rented a “Nifty Lifty” lift to do the job.

First I “topped” a tree in the back corner of the yard that the top had died.  The tree itself was in pretty good shape, but for some reason (I’m guessing that the roots were being choked out by a lot of the vegetation that I’d cleared) the top 30 feet had died.  This was easy, plenty of open space around it, and fairly easy to get the lift into position.  And I did what appeared to be the easiest tree first to get used to operating the lift.

Second, I took out one tree near the front of the house that the top had died.  It would have been a very easy tree to take out, except that it was leaning precariously close to the house and almost over the power lines.  It had to be taken out a few small sections at a time until the tree was well below the roof line of the house.

Third, I trimmed a number of branches from another tree in the front of the house that were over-hanging the power lines.  These proved to be a little bit of a challenge because of the height and weight of the branches.  One of the branches was almost 6 inches in diameter, the other was about 4 inches in diameter and the larger branch needed about 25 feet trimmed, the smaller branch needed about 30 feet trimmed.  With the life extended to it’s full height, it was a little shaky, and definitely a slow process taking out the sections of the limbs.

Fourth, I trimmed a few limbs that were over the house from a tree in the side yard.  Except for one of the branches this proved to be straight forward (after the experience from the tree in the front yard hanging over the power lines this was a piece of cake).  However, the last limb was about 40 feet above the ground and extended well past the ridge of the house — there seemed to be no way to trim this without potentially damaging the roof since there was just no way to get to end of the branch to lighten it.  My brother-in-law came up with the idea of using a very long pole saw from the life to cut off small sections of the limb.  It was slow go, and a little uncomfortable working that far off the ground with a 18 foot pole saw; but it worked, and the limb came down section by section without damaging anything.

Of course, the work just started after getting the trees and branches down.  There was an unbelievable amount of small limbs and leaves to haul away, and there’s still lots of fire wood to cut and haul away.

Originally posted 2009-08-14 01:00:16.

Fall Harvest

I just finished up a little yard work — more than anything I needed to get some fresh air, the weather hasn’t been very conducive to early morning bicycling, and with the road construction on one of the semi-major roads between me and the trail I ride I haven’t been too motivated to risk my life to go out most week days (they are getting close to finishing up — though it’ll be mid-day rides for now).

Pruning some rose bushes and rooting the cuttings — hopefully next spring I have a few dozen more rose bushes to plant in my rose beds.

Trimming dead branches from the fruit trees and getting them in shape for the winter / spring.

Bagging up yard clipping for the green pickup on Tuesday — my recycle bins are too full to add more clipping right now, but they should have space if there’s another mowing this year.

And… picking the last five limes.  I’ve now had this tree for four years, the first winter it was in the back yard nearly killed it, so I moved it and an orange tree to the front (I’ve since planted two more orange trees in the front I grew from seed).  The orange tree produced literally hundreds of oranges the first summer, but only a handful since then.  The lime tree produced two limes last summer, this summer it produced over twenty (I lost count).  I probably could have left some of these limes on the tree a little longer, but the nights are getting cooler, and realistically the days are too short to really nurture much growth on a citrus tree… so I figured just put them inside where I’ll use them (they’re great when I bake boneless/skinless chicken in the convection oven).

Hard to say whether we’ll have a mild winter or a rough one this year, but as long as there’s a good amount of rain in the spring I expect my fruit trees to do well again (which makes the squirrels and birds very happy as well).