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Verizon FiOS at 1 Gb/s for $70? Really‽

Jessica: Hi! I am a Verizon specialist, can I help you today?

You (that would be me = Ed): Verizon has announced gigabit Internet service for $70/month. That isn’t listed as one of the my “upgrade” options. Is it available in this area? If not, why do the 25 and 50 Mb/s services cost 90 and $100/month?

Jessica: By chatting with us, you grant us permission to review your services during the chat to offer the best value. Refusing to chat will not affect your current services. It is your right and our duty to protect your account information. For quality, we may monitor and/or review this chat.

Jessica: Hey there! My name is Jessica. Happy to help!

Jessica: Thank you for being a valued Verizon customer, I will be glad to check the information for you.

Jessica: For security and protection of your account records, please provide your first and last name as it appears on your account, plus one of the following pieces of information. Either your:

[redacted]

You: [redacted]

Jessica: Thank you for the information, Edward Nisley!

Jessica: Please give me few minutes to check the information.

Jessica: I appreciate your patience.

Jessica: Thank you for safeguarding the account.

Jessica: Thank you for your years of loyalty to Verizon!

Jessica: It looks like you currently have just Verizon Fios Internet up to 25/25 Mbps plan.
Just to confirm, are you looking to make upgrade for just Fios Gigabit Connection?

You: That’s correct: I do /not/ want phone or TV service.

Jessica: I have checked the information and it looks like Verizon Fios Gigabit Connection is not available for your location.

However, you can make the upgrade for Verizon Fios Internet up to 100/100 Mbps and above speed plan.

You: Which gives me the opportunity to pay twice as much for 10% of the bandwidth: definitely an unattractive offer.

Jessica: We are offering different speed plan with different prices and great discounts.

Jessica: It looks like you are currently paying just $45.99/mo. for your Verizon Fios Internet upto 25/25 Mbps plan.

Jessica: Just to confirm, are you looking to make any upgrade?

You: I was interested in 1 Gb/s for $70. I’m uninterested in bait-and-switch tactics for lower bandwith at higher prices. Based on the gigabit price, I should be getting 25 Mb/s for $1.75/month … what sort of discount can you offer to make up for that sort of overcharge?

Jessica: I understand how you feel.

Jessica: The availability of speed and price vary from location to location.

You can get our Verizon Fios Internet up to 50/50 Mbps plan at just $59.99/mo. before taxes with new 2 year agreement.

Jessica: The base price of this plan is $99.99/mo. before taxes. However, you will be getting $40 OFF for 24 months with new 2 year agreement plan.

Jessica: So, its just $59.99/mo. before taxes.

The estimated price would be just $62.48/mo. including taxes and fees.

Jessica: Just to confirm, would you like to go ahead and make the upgrade for this speed plan?

Jessica: I haven’t heard from you for a few moments. Would you like to continue chatting?

You: That’s the bait-and-switch tactic I’m /not/ interested in; DO NOT change my service. Verizon tacks on a few bucks a month for a “Municipal Construction Charge” without actually building anything. Let me know when you can offer me a gigabit for $70, then we can talk. Before then, DO NOT CHANGE ANYTHING. Thanks …

We are sorry, but the agent was disconnected, please wait for the agent to reconnect..

We apologize for the unexpected delay, an agent should be with you very soon.

Agent Carl enters chat

Carl: Hi there! You have reached Carl. How may I help you today?

You: Do you have access to the previous half hour of chat before Agent Jessica was mysteriously disconnected?

Carl: It seems that the previous agent lost connection.

Carl: I am sorry for the inconvenience caused to you. She might have faced some technical issues.

Carl: Pleasure assured no changes will be made on your account without your consent.

Carl: I read that you wish to check the availability of Gigabit speeds for your home. Correct?

You: That’s what I asked, half an hour ago, and was told it’s not available, but I /can/ pay more than that (minus a teaser discount) for 10% of the bandwidth. If that’s still the best you can do, it’s not what I want.

Carl: The availability of services and plans is address specific. I see that the previous agent informed the Gigabit speed is not available.

Carl: The prices and promotions are time specific.

Carl: You get discounts and promotions available at the time of signing up for new services.

Carl: When you signed up for services 2 year back, you get the promotions available at that time.

You: OK, we’re going in circles. Let me know when you can deliver what Verizon offers to other FiOS customers. Thanks …

Carl: Right now, the customer who sign up for new service on a new account for 1st time, they get the offers available right now.

Carl: You’re welcome.

Carl: Is there anything else I can help you online today?

You: Nope, we’re off to a concert. Have a good rest of the evening!

Carl: You too have a great evening.

Carl: If you need assistance in the future, visit us anytime on the My Fios App or at Verizon.com. Thank you for chatting with Verizon.

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Garage Door Openers: Pity the Color Blind

The small garage door opener I tote around in the Tour Easy’s underseat bag failed after many years of exposure to the elements, so I paid a few bucks more for a cheap replacement in order to get fast delivery from a (US!) eBay supplier:

Garage door opener remote controls

Garage door opener remote controls

For whatever it’s worth, before buying the replacement I tried:

  • Cleaning the battery contacts
  • Installing a new CR2032 battery
  • Programming the hitherto-unused buttons to open the door

The remote control would occasionally work, but none of the “repairs” made much difference; I suspect corrosion hidden under the components or cracked solder joints.

The eBay item description clearly, if inarticulately, specifies the compatibility requirement:

key chain remote control
compatible for purple learn button

So I trotted out to the garage and inspected the button:

Sears Garage Door Opener - purple button

Sears Garage Door Opener – purple button

Looks purple to me, but, being that type of guy, I also read the adjacent instruction sticker:

Sears Garage Door Opener - instructions

Sears Garage Door Opener – instructions

Nobody, nobody, maintains the documentation. [sigh]

I figured if they went to all the trouble of ordering a bazillion switches with purple caps, then the PCB surely holds the corresponding RF filters & firmware & whatever else that button signifies.

Seeing as how we have exactly one garage door opener and no lights or other doodads, I told the opener to obey both the 1 and 2 buttons, thereby dramatically reducing the dexterity required to open the door while pedaling up the driveway. The opener can remember an unspecified number of transmitters, so I didn’t go for all four buttons.

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Some Things Last: 100 W Incandescent Bulb

The light switch for our attic turns on a single ceramic socket at the top of the stairs. The bulb burned out a few days ago:

Long-lasting 100 W Incandescent Bulb

Long-lasting 100 W Incandescent Bulb

To the best of my knowledge, that bulb has been in service since we moved in almost two decades ago. Most likely, it was installed when the house was built in 1955, because it matches several new-old-stock bulbs in a battered box that Came With The House™.

To be fair, the attic light doesn’t see much service, but … it’s been a great cost-performer!

The attic temperatures range from well below 0 °F in the winter to well above 120 °F in the summer, so it’s no place for CFL or LED bulbs. I swapped in a 60 W bulb from my heap, although I doubt it’ll be good for another half-century.

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Amazon EK3211 Kitchen Scale

An unfortunate incident put enough water inside our kitchen scale to, ummm, render it inoperative. After a day of drying proved unavailing, I had nothing to lose by disassembling it.

The central label on the back conceals two screws holding the platform to the aluminum beam:

Amazon EK3211 Scale - platform underside

Amazon EK3211 Scale – platform underside

The metal plate twist-locks into the plastic platform. The hot-melt glue holding it in position suggests my construction techniques aren’t all that far off the mark.

The beam cantilevers from a metal structure spreading the load across the plastic base:

Amazon EK3211 Scale - interior overview

Amazon EK3211 Scale – interior overview

These are “after” pictures. Suffice it to say the interior was wet, including water droplets between the LCD panel and its plastic cover. Everything came apart easily, including the LCD with its attached zebra connector, and dried out thoroughly over the next day; I parked the panel atop my monitor for some gentle heating.

After reassembly, it still didn’t work, which turned out to be due to both wires from the battery snapping off at their PCB solder joints. I didn’t think I’d handled it that roughly, but ya never know.

With the wires soldered in place, the scale lit right up again:

Amazon EK3211 Scale - display PCB switches

Amazon EK3211 Scale – display PCB switches

The display flashed CAL at one point during the proceedings, although the rather thin manual had nothing to say about recalibration and the PCB didn’t have any obvious test points / jumpers / labels to that effect.

Two days of relentless spelunking produced my test weights:

Amazon EK3211 Scale - test weights

Amazon EK3211 Scale – test weights

Given the provenance of those weights, a 0.2% error might not be the scale’s fault, even if it cost barely 10 bucks.

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Form Letter With That Special Touch

For reasons not relevant here, my middle name is Edward and, on some semi-formal documents, I appear as E. Edward.

Which leads to personal greetings that make me feel so special:

Form Letter Salutation

Form Letter Salutation

I’d be satisfied if they’d stop pretending they care …

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Monthly Science: Sonicare Recharge Intervals

After replacing the NiMH cells in my Sonicare toothbrush in July 2012, they delivered about 21 days = 21 brushings between charges. After a year, I laid a sheet of Geek Scratch Paper on the windowsill (*) and noted pretty nearly every recharge:

Sonicare recharge - 2013-10 - 2017-01

Sonicare recharge – 2013-10 – 2017-01

Anyhow, the original cells crapped out after 2-½ years, when these still delivered 13 days. After 4-½ years, they’re lasting 12 days between charges.

Color me surprised, because they’re 600 mA·h NiMH cells. The originals were 2000 mA·h cells, which you’d expect would last longer, but noooo.

No reason to change them yet, which is good news.

FWIW, I recently bought some cheap brush heads from the usual low-end eBay seller. The OEM brushes have colored bristles which fade to tell you when to change brushes, although I run ’em quite a bit longer than that. The cheap replacements have never-fading colored bristles and, I suspect, all the bristles are much too stiff. The dental hygienist says I’m doing great, so it’s all good.

Sonicare brush heads - cheap vs OEM

Sonicare brush heads – cheap vs OEM

High truth: at best, you get what you pay for.

(*) Being that type of guy has some advantages, if you’re that guy. Otherwise, it’s a nasty character flaw.

 

,

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Kitchen Sink Faucet Deck Sealing

I had to replace the faucet on a kitchen sink (not our own, for reasons not relevant here) after the steel nuts & washers holding the base to the sink deck rotted completely away. Why faucet manufacturers used plain steel in that location remains a mystery; I’m sure it has something to do with cost reduction and damn the consequences after a few years.

Of course, the new faucet didn’t sit quite flat on the sink deck, due to the raised rim around the perimeter. Installing it like that would prevent the (hard plastic) gasket from sealing against the deck, with the inevitable water leak below the sink; we started this project by scrapping a water-soaked shelf under the sink due to the previous faucet’s wrecked seal. Sliding the oval base forward enough to clear the rim would expose the two holes on each side, with similar results.

You can see the problem if you squint hard enough:

Kitchen Sink Faucet - gasket mask

Kitchen Sink Faucet – gasket mask

I decided raising the back of the base by maybe two millimeters wouldn’t be particularly visible, particularly if I filled the space with silicone snot (almost) matching the gasket to provide a solid foundation.

The blue tape masks the sink surface around the gasket to prevent silicone mishaps and simplify cleanup. I held the gasket in place, traced around it with new Xacto knife blade, and peeled the inside out just like I knew what I was doing.

Generous beads of snot around all the holes and across the back will provide a firm base and a good seal:

Kitchen Sink Faucet - gasket in place

Kitchen Sink Faucet – gasket in place

With that in place, I aligned the faucet over the gasket, gently tightened the nuts holding the base to the deck, and waited a day for the silicone to start curing before completing the plumbing. It’ll take a while to finish, due to the limited area exposed around the edges.

The water lines now have shutoff ball valves, which the next person to work on it will surely appreciate.

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