Anachostic

Another attempt

Tag Archives: buy buy buy

Where To Go, What To Do?

https://www.msn.com/en-us/money/companies/amazon-to-unleash-a-long-feared-purge-of-small-suppliers/ar-AAC1xhQ

For me, it’s the growing dawn of a new realization.  It’s not really anything revelatory; it’s a topic that has been bantered around for years.  Essentially, the thought is, Amazon is getting too big and too powerful, much like Walmart was before.

It sure is easy to be addicted to quick shipping, which is what Amazon is very good at.  I was disappointed by an online order from Lowes that took a week to arrive, and an item I ordered on Ebay just the other day is going to take a week to arrive (shipped from Canada, so, ok…).  Some other things, I’ve ordered recently have also taken time to arrive, like a new kitchen sink, or lights, or CDs.

But notice something, all of these items were not purchased from Amazon.  That realization is somewhat important to me.  Amazon is not the one-stop, end-all, be-all shopping destination for me.  And, with recent news like this, I feel I should wean myself from Amazon’s grasp further.

It’s not all bad.  There’s a lot of things that don’t need to be received in a couple of days (and there are some that do).  There are times I’ll use Amazon’s no-rush shipping option, and never claim the little reward they offer for doing so.  Price-wise, other places can be competitive and sometimes even much better.  Home Depot beat out Amazon by almost 50% on one item I needed.  When it comes to selection, not even Amazon can match a specialized online store, especially when it comes to furniture and other home goods.  And in a lot of those cases, Amazon’s selection is only much broader because they have a massive selection of cheap import products.  If that’s ok with you, EBay can be just as fruitful.

I’ll admit, sometimes, I find what I’m looking for on another site and will check it against Amazon.  If Amazon is close in price, I’ll usually order it from Amazon.  This is solely because I don’t want to have to go through the hassle of creating a new account on a new site.  But, with my planned dependency-reduction, I may begin doing so to spread the wealth a bit further.  For some people, this might not be as feasible, because if you are reusing your email address on many sites, you are increasing your risk of having your email harvested for spam.  Since I use a different email address for every site, I don’t have this worry.

This reliance on Amazon for a lot of things is sort of a downward spiral.  As we buy more stuff online, stores make fewer items available to purchase in-store, which forces us to buy more online.  I wish there was a way we could reverse it.  Some places have an in-stock check, like Lowes, Home Depot, and Staples for example.  So you can check to see if an item is there before driving to the store.  And if it’s not in stock, well, would you order it from there to be shipped or held for pickup, or would you just return to Amazon to buy it?  I know I’m going to have to be more proactive in that choice.

Why can’t someone with more business connections than I have make a website that tracks who sells what.  This should be easy as hell.  Any store that has an electronic point of sale system must have a list of products they sell, and that list of products would contain a UPC.  It should be trivial to upload a list of UPCs to a website to indicate what products your store sells.  The website allows someone to search by product and a list of who sells that product is displayed.  It could work the other way too, where manufacturers upload a list of UPCs and the retailers they distribute to.  The data is there, it just needs aggregated.

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Old And Desirable

Today, out thrift shopping, I happened across a couple of pieces of stereo equipment.  You know, that’s exactly what I need is more stereo stuff.  I must have a third stereo in my house.  Maybe it will go in the guest bathroom.

That’s not what I was thinking, exactly.  The thought I had was, “I’ve seen this before.”  I’d seen pictures of it in forum posts of people bragging about their systems and others drooling and praising those people’s stereos.  This was one of those stereos.  It was old, like older than me, old.  And it was neat looking in that retro way.  From pictures I’d seen, I knew what it would look like powered up.  The power level meters would have a beautiful, soft aqua glow.  But on the whole, it’s not my aesthetic.

BUT, it is one of those impossibly rare finds, and the price was reasonable.  Only $20 per piece, $40 out the door.  This is the same thrift shop at which I bought my other retro stereo.  That stereo only cost me $18.  So I walked swiftly back up front to get a shopping cart (because these components are easily 60 pounds together) and made off with my spoils.

Back at work and back online, I do a quick search on the eBay for the components.  Each one is selling for about $1000.  So, assuming these pieces work, I have a $2000 stereo for the price of $40.  But again, it’s not really my thing.  There seems something sacrilegious about running a CD player through a 60’s era stereo.  This system was made for vinyl, and that’s not what I do.

In fact, to give an idea of what the preamp is capable of, it has inputs for two turntables, three (3!) tape decks, radio tuner, and another input.  You can output to three different destinations including a monitor output.  It almost seems like a piece of equipment you’d find in a broadcasting studio.  It has a function called “expansion” that is supposed to work the opposite of a compressor: make quiet parts more quiet and loud parts louder.  Crazy.

So my initial plan is just to clean it up and flip it, assuming it works well.  Even if it doesn’t work well, the place I plan to sell to is a repair shop.

The New Retail

Here’s one of the ideas that could be extremely lucrative until the tide changes and the master takes control.  By that I’m referring to cases where the market fills a need until the need is fulfilled natively.  For example, a lot of add-ons, plug-ins, and utilities are written to work around shortcomings of software apps, either online or otherwise.  This is great, until the application developer writes the functionality into the main program, making all the plug-ins unnecessary.  The plug-in writers lose a potential large chunk of customers and if they aren’t on to the next big thing, they’re out of business.

My idea is one of those things that is probably going to be inevitable, so it’s really a matter of how quickly can someone implement this and can they bank enough and have a solid enough exit strategy to not lose it all when the hammer falls.  And I’m talking about an Amazon-sized hammer.

Enough teasing.  This is the idea: Create a showroom for Amazon products and provide ordering stations that use Amazon’s affiliate program to gain revenue.

So what does this take?  Lots of space and either enough money to buy floor samples or a really good salesperson to convince manufacturers to provide a free floor model for promotion.  Considering the current retail apocalypse, space is easy to come by.  But, I’m going to predict, Amazon is going to eventually do this themselves and no one is going to compete at the scale of which they are capable.

But let’s give some consideration to the idea in general.  We know that retail is dying and most all sales are moving online.  But there are some products that you really want to see and touch and experience before you purchase them.  Furniture is a strong example.  Appliances can also be in that category.  These are large purchases.  But to a lesser degree, electronics are also something people want to see in action.

What happens now is people go to a retailer and get their touchy-feely on, then go to Amazon and buy it for less, screwing the retailer.  So then, let’s just eliminate the retailer and use their space for what it was used for anyway – showrooming.  Wipe out all their back-room space for stock and open it up for more display.  Also, invite manufacturer representatives.  Schedule demonstrations.  Or even better, take it to the next level.

Schedule shootout demos.  Have three or more competing products and have a representative pitch their product to a crowd.  It’s totally different when you’re at a store that specializes in one brand; there’s no competition.  But put against each other, there has to be a more honest product placement strategy.  It’s not a battle royale with one winner.  It’s a legitimate selling point to say your vacuum cleaner doesn’t have the power of a Dyson because maybe you only have two rooms of carpet.  So why spend so much on a tool that would be used so little?  Record the show and put it on a video channel.

But, I digress.  This concept is about creating a showroom to sell Amazon products.  Now to make the money.  Every product would have a digital sign which would display the current price, availability, and a QR code to place an order.  The QR code would contain an affiliate code so the showroom gets a small portion of the sale.  There could also be kiosks around the store to place orders or look up more information on larger screens.

And that’s the income concept in a nutshell.  Maybe you could sell off floor models when they get discontinued for some extra income.  Maybe manufacturers would pay you to have a premium display.  So what would the expenses be?  Rent, utilities, a small amount of labor, typical things like insurance and licenses.  But rent would be the biggest expense.  Now, how much would you need to sell to make enough affiliate income to cover all those expenses?  Well, I don’t know.  I didn’t do any research to see if this idea was even feasible.  It’s just an idea.

And feasible or not, it’s only a matter of time before Amazon decides to do it themselves.  They could buy an entire mall and turn it into a massive showroom for their products, plus a Whole Foods.  They would have the clout to negotiate free samples from manufacturers, or just use customer returns.  They have the means to create closeout, as-is centers in their showrooms to sell off excess inventory.

Maybe the future of retail is stockless.  You never walk out with anything, it always gets shipped to you.

It Just Doesn’t Come Cheaply

In another blog of mine, I discussed improvements I was making to my house.  In some posts, I talked about making quality purchases and how we have all become conditioned to expect great stuff for low prices.  In reality, that doesn’t happen.  You might get good or ok stuff at low prices, but when you really want something good, something unique, something that will last and continue to look good all the while, you’re really going to have to pay for it.

Of course, I’m not talking about a $12,000 chandelier, although there may be a rationale for it, especially for uniqueness.  But I am talking about buying things 3-4 times more expensive than you might originally have in mind.  In my current situation, I want a chair.  Just one chair.

You might think, ok, go to Walmart and buy a $30 chair.  No, this is a listening chair for my music room.  Ok, go to Staples and get an office chair, maybe $150.  No, I really want something like a recliner.  Then go to Ashley Homestore and get a recliner, they can’t be more than $300.  I want leather.  Ok, $400.  I want a modern style.  (After searching modern leather recliners)  You’re not thinking of a $5,000 Herman Miller Eames, are you?  No, but you’re thinking the right way.  You have to see where you could end up so you feel better about where you actually end up.

So, I’m not planning on getting an iconic art piece of furniture for $5k.  More reasonable is another famous brand you might have heard of, Stressless by Ekornes.  I was surprised to see they’re almost in the $2k range.  But it seems you can get them just about anywhere.  Stressless is a very popular brand and that lends it to a lot of flattery in the form of imitation.  So yeah, you can get a chair that looks like a Stressless for $300.  Great, you say.  Cheap and done.  Looks the same, is the same.

Well, no.  Far from it actually.  First and foremost,  I’m not buying a piece of furniture my ass has to enjoy until my ass has given it the thumbs up.  So no blind internet ordering for this piece.  With that restriction in mind, I begin stopping at furniture stores in my surrounding area.  One thing I quickly learned is that my vision of “modern” is not the same as theirs.  If it doesn’t look like an overstuffed box with tufting and pillowtops on every edge, then it’s “modern”.

I began being more specific in what I was looking for.  I started with a half-apology because the question could rub a salesperson the wrong way.  “I hate using a brand as a description, but I am looking for a recliner in the style of Stressless.”  You might think I was just a cheap bastard – wants a Stressless, doesn’t want to pay for a Stressless.  One salesperson clearly had no idea what I was talking about and showed me a typical recliner, (as I’d begun referring to them) a box.  You’d think if he was selling furniture, he’d be knowledgeable about top brands.  I guess not.

So I looked on and on.  Of the six places I visited, only one had any recliners of the style I wanted.  So I guess they won by default.  But I didn’t just concede the win.  I went online and researched the chairs and found out who the manufacturer was and compared prices to Internet stores (it was comparable, actually).  And I went back to buy the chair the next day, while the store was having a 20% off sale.  The chair is on backorder for oh, about a month, so I have plenty of time to look forward to it.

And how much was this not-$5k chair?  $700 before discount.  I did see similar chairs online for $300, but during my research after finding this chair, I learned a lot about leather.  The key takeaway I got was that a lot of “leather” is of “bonded leather” construction, which is complete garbage.  What you want is top-grain or full-grain leather.  A lot of the lower-priced chairs were upholstered in bonded leather, which is why they were so cheap.  They wouldn’t last a few years before flaking apart.

The chair I bought is top-grain leather with a caveat.  It’s leather on all seating surfaces and vinyl everywhere else.  I’m actually ok with this design since I won’t be sitting on the back of the chair, nor on the sides.  It saves natural resources and keeps the cost down, but still has the durability wherever it will be used.

With my recent purchase of patio loungers, I will soon be able to nap just about anywhere in my house I want.

What Has Brown Done To You?

I mentioned in another post that I was expecting a package and got a solicitor instead.  So, now on to the story of that package.  I was at my computer at around 8:00 and an email came in saying, sorry we missed you.  Your package requires a signature and you weren’t home.  Bull. Shit.  I’ve been here all night.  I went to the front door and there was no post-it saying they had been there.  There was no doorbell ring (and I know it works because, solicitor dude).

I’m buying a box of wire from Amazon.  No shipping notification from either Amazon or UPS said the delivery would require a signature.  Why would a box of speaker wire require an adult signature, anyway?  I think someone ran late and decided to go home for the night.  I’m sure their tracking software doesn’t have an option for “Don’t feel like it”, so the driver flagged it as needing signed and no one home.  All done for the day!

Some part of me is annoyed by this, but another part of me isn’t.  It’s not like I needed that wire tonight.  But what if it was something I needed right away?  And this driver, he’s lying.  I’m not sure what sort of repercussions he could face if I should call him out on it.  He’s human, he’s a lazy American, just like the rest of us, he wants to go home after probably a 12-hr day.  And I can’t fault a person for not working hard at their job.  I’m a lot of things, but not a hypocrite.

Here’s how that one progressed.

I went to UPS’s site and changed the delivery to go to my nearby UPS Store.  I chose this for a couple of reasons.  If they were correct about the delivery needing a signature, I didn’t want to miss out again.  If they were lying about needing a signature, I wanted a person to confront about it.  I submitted the change and stewed about the situation for the night.

I had plenty of time to stew.  The missed delivery happened on Tuesday.  I got no notifications and the tracking showed no movement for the rest of the week.  The next Monday, I stopped by the UPS service center and asked if they could find my package.  The manager there took my phone number and said he’d call me with an update.  I told him, “I don’t care if it comes to the house, the UPS Store, or here.  I’ll get it.”  Oh, and I did ask about the signature required.  He said that the package probably came back and was scanned incorrectly.  So I guess, there is no commitment to deliver everything on the truck for the day.  Huh.

I did get a call later from the UPS manager who said the package could not be found and I would need to call the corporate office and “open an investigation”.  So I call their number and tell them I need to “open an investigation”.  The operator said I’d be transferred to the right department.  I ended up getting a voice menu of options that were way above my head, full of international shipper industry terms.  I heard “lost” in one of the options and chose that.  The person that answered, after hearing the full story, and probably expecting to be talking to a fellow UPS employee, said that Amazon has to initiate the claim, not me.  Ugh, fine.

So by this time, I could have re-ordered the speaker wire 3 times over and gotten it delivered.  An “investigation” doesn’t sound like it’s going to get me my package anytime soon, so I place a new order on Amazon for the same thing.  Then I research my options for filing a claim for the old order.  The option I was steered toward was contacting the shipper to file a claim.  Great.  No one wants to take responsibility here.  Eventually I found Amazon’s general chat help link and got a resolution.  They refunded my money.  But I wasn’t all that happy, because UPS should be paying for this, not Amazon.  I apologized that they were being hurt for this, and actually, it’s not them being hurt, it’s the small business seller on Amazon being hurt, because Amazon just won’t give them the money they refunded back to me.  It’s a shitty resolution.

I’d already received the replacement and finished my project when, two weeks later, I get an email.  My package is ready to pick up at the UPS Store.  I jump back on Amazon’s help chat and ask if I should just refuse the delivery and have it sent back to them.  The CSR says, the refund has already been issued, take the package as a gift from Amazon.

On one level, I get it.  The amount of money already spent on the package to ship it, then again to return it would be a waste of time and money, resulting in a net loss.  But that’s Amazon’s loss.  Or is it?  The seller still won’t see any money for the product lost.  UPS is getting off the hook and if I returned it, would be making more money of their fuckup. 

But really, we’re talking about a $10 purchase here.  This is nothing to a large business.  But multiply that by however many fuckups UPS can make, and it could be terrible for some smaller businesses along the way.

In the end, it didn’t matter.  I got an email from Amazon saying, “give us our shit back or you’re going to be charged for it.”

Hooking Up With A Previous Love

A recurring story on my blog is my relationship troubles with iced tea.  Maybe it deserves its own tag at this point.  To quickly recap, I had a very long relationship with Nestea mix, but it changed, so we had to break up.  I rebounded with Publix mix before settling down with Lipton, who was very good to me for a long time.  Then one day, Nestea completely disappeared and while that was a little upsetting, I found Te Bustelo, which made me dump Lipton immediately. Man, that makes me sound like a horrible person.

As in other relationships, the fickle one gets their due, and Te Bustelo ended production, leaving me a widower.  I had purchased a case of the mix – the last available – to get me through the next couple of years.  Well, it’s been almost three years now and I’m down to probably a few last servings in my last container.  I was probably avoiding the looming reality by not attempting to find a replacement.  Still mourning, maybe?  Today, I finally sucked it up and decided to find out what my options are.  Off to Amazon, source of everything.

Searching for iced tea mix, I got results dominated by Lipton, with a few other brands scattered here and there.  One of those brands was Nestea (trying to avoid eye contact).  You know, maybe I wasn’t completely with my head in the sand about my future tea product because at one point I did consider buying unsweetened tea mix and adding my own sugar.  And you know, Nestea does make an unsweetened mix…

This is what Nestea looks like today, the same it’s looked for many, many years.

Nestea Sweet Mix Iced Tea, 45.1 oz

As I’m working through the results, I see this.

Nestea Sweet Iced Tea Lemon Mix 90.3 Oz

Whoa, what is that?  That is a different package with a different logo.  And another thing – I am extremely sensitive to names, because of my trauma from “sugar sweetened tea mix” morphing to “sweet tea mix”.  This canister says “sweet iced tea mix”.  That is different.  That must mean it is different.  I click the link and look at the ingredient list on the package.

Sugar, Citric Acid, Instant Tea, Maltodextrin, Tricalcium Phosphate (prevents caking), Natural Lemon Flavor

Oh my god.  This mix changes out Sucralose with Tricalcium Phosphate, in the same way Sweet Tea Mix changed Fructose with Sucralose.  If I haven’t used the word enough yet, let me try some more.  Sucralose is why I had to stop drinking Nestea in the first place. It’s an artificial sweetener that hurts my stomach. Suckralose.

I actually couldn’t handle this revelation at the time, bordering between excitement and disbelief, so I return to my search results.  I scroll a little further down and I see this.

Nestea Original Canadian Lemon Iced Tea Mix Jumbo Can 2.2kg 122 Servings Imported from Canada

WHAT THE FUCK IS GOING ON, HERE?  I click this item and look at its ingredient list.

Sugar, Citric Acid, Instant Tea, Natural Flavour, Silicon Dioxide

This mix, I read, is the Canadian version of Nestea, named “Original Lemon Iced Tea”.  A second Nestea mix with no sucralose.  Where the hell has this stuff been for all these years? (Canada, apparently.)  And while I have no regrets over my special time with Te Bustelo, maybe it’s a sign that I should get back, even if it’s with the exotic, foreign cousin of my original love.

Still reeling a little from this sudden discovery, I make a fairly dumb decision to buy both of these items right away.  They’re not exactly cheap, since one is a giant container and the other is a giant container imported from a foreign country.  So, $60 in tea will be at my house on Tuesday so I can then see if there is still a spark between us.

Hope springs eternal.

Another Brick In The Closet

Last year, before the holidays, I found a nice, massive keyboard sitting unloved at a thrift store.  I assume it was still sitting there because anyone that tested it would have found it to be broken.  I, however, am foolish enough to buy things without any consideration of functionality.  So I brought this keyboard home, discovered it was broken, and proceeded to fix it up enough to make it work.  And it’s been sitting in my closet ever since, waiting for its moment of glory.

On this most recent holiday, I saw something else at a thrift shop – a nice, tiny keyboard.  The price was right, so I bought it – untested as is my way.  As soon as I got the device to the car, I realized it was broken.  One of the controller knobs was completely snapped off.  Oh well.  The price was right.  Let’s get it home and see if it even powers up and makes noise.

I got it home and it powered up and made no sound.  Well, it made a buzzing sound, sometimes.  I started doing some online research and learned that this particular synth has a well known issue with that control knob failing (not sure if being broken off is considered “failing”).  So replacements are generally easy to get.  At this point, I don’t even know if that’s the actual problem.  But let’s take a step back and look at this thing.

This little bugger is the Alesis Micron, which is an analog modeling synthesizer.  It originally sold for $400 back in 2004.  It still sells for about $200 on the used market.  I got it for $7.50, half-off the original $15 price.  So you see, it was worth the gamble.  I’ve spent far more on far less (which should be my life’s motto).

When I saw “analog modeling synthesizer” on it, I got really excited.  The only synth of that type I’d really known about before dropping out of the music scene was the Nord Modular, which I remember being a 4-figure keyboard.  These types of keyboards emulate the older synths of the 70s and 80s. and they typically do it very well.  They also have a lot of the features of older synths like arpeggiators (for playing Who Are You) and vocoders (for playing Mr. Blue Sky).  There is a video on Youtube of someone playing Mr. Mister’s Kyrie live and solo on the Micron. But before I can have that kind of fun, this device needs repair.

I have a couple of options.  I can just replace the knob (a potentiometer, if you want to sound cool), which requires some soldering work.  The part costs less than $2 (plus shipping), and of course, I’ll need a new knob button to cap it off.  Yeah, that’s one option, or I can buy a whole new control board with knob for $40.  That’s the plug and play option and the one I opted for.  That and the cap were about $50, so if this works out, I will have a really neat new synth for a little under $60.  And then, it can sit in my closet, too.  How stupid.

It is dumb, but I have a lot of fun rescuing junk and making it (or trying to make it) usable.  I should consider myself fortunate this desire is just for musical equipment and not, say, cats.

The parts are currently being shipped and I should have them next week.  Let’s hope I have as much success with this little Alesis as I did with the huge Alesis.

The (Sea) Eagle Has Landed

It was many years ago, in 2012, that I started the hobby of kayaking.  I was fresh into a new relationship and had experienced kayaking for the first time.  It was pretty clear that tandem kayaking was probably not going to work out for us.  That meant I needed my own kayak in which to isolate my terrible paddling technique.

As luck would have it, Woot was selling inflatable kayaks at a pretty good price, so I bought some.  Two is some, right?  I did the research and these kayaks, by Sea Eagle, were pretty well respected.  Obviously they had their detractors – those who would never use anything but a solid kayak.  But, there are a lot of conveniences to be had with these inflatables.  The most important is that I could transport it in my MX-5.  Not only that, but I could transport both of them.

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Years have gone by, and I’ve been wanting an upgraded version of the Sea Eagle.  I find it very odd they have such a good entry level model at a reasonable price, $200, but if you want the real deal, the model that really earns its keep, the price is over $1000.  There’s nothing you can do in-between?  Damn.

So I watched and waited.  Actually, I let CamelCamelCamel do the watching.  When I created the watch, the Sea Eagle model I wanted was a little over $1000.  I set my target price at $850.  And I got nothing, for almost a year.  I had nearly completely forgotten about the watch when I got an email notification that the kayak was now being sold for $822, and that was the cheapest it had ever been.

Part of me wanted to sit back and think about it.  The other part of me went to Amazon and saw there were only two left in stock.  There’s a lot of expenses that have suddenly crept up on me lately, so I couldn’t justify buying two of these, so I just bought one.  The next day, I went back and the price on the remaining one had gone up slightly to $835, so I guess I did the right thing.  A few days later, that one remaining kayak was up to $913, so, yes, I think I did do the right thing.  However, that’s not the cheapest I’ve ever seen them.  Woot, of all places, once sold the Fast Track model in the $600 range.  Now that’s a great deal.

The package arrived a couple of days earlier than the the initial tracking estimated.  The box was compact and heavy, just as I remember my other kayaks arriving.

I inflated it to get an idea of how it compared to my original Sea Eagles.  There is no comparison.

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Where the SE330 hugs your sides, the 385FT gives you plenty of width.  The floor in the FastTrack is firm and has little give.  The material on the FastTrack is substantial and much less pliant.  I left it inflated overnight to let it sort of stretch out.  And of course identify any potential leaks.  It was fine for days (because I’m lazy).

I have yet to take the craft out, but I am eager to try it out this year.

All Things Must Pass

It was a little over a year ago that I knew my phone was obsolete.  I was one of the few, brave Windows Phone users remaining and Microsoft had announced that there was a Samsung Android phone being sold as a “Microsoft Edition”.  That simply meant the phone was preloaded with all the MS Android apps and you could get assistance on using it at a Microsoft store.  Whee.

And this change was a surprise, but not really so, since there was a Microsoft division that was doing nothing but writing nice software for Android and iOS and not writing anything for Windows Phone.  The up-and-coming mobile powerhouse apps hadn’t been developing for Windows Phone for a very long time.  But none of that was a concern for me, since all I needed was a way to call, text, read email, and browse the web when I was bored.  And play Solitaire. A Windows Phone did all that just fine.  Until it didn’t.  And that became infuriating, because I don’t ask much from my phone.

Early in my WP days, I used to visit Yahoo’s news site, but then Yahoo changed something and the pages started locking up, where I couldn’t scroll anymore.  So, I switched to MSN and happily used their news site for many years.  Recently, though, an odd bug started happening.  After a minute or so on a page, the page would reload, sending me back to the top of the article.  And it would happen again a minute or so later.  And again.  Then the browser would literally give up.  It would display this message:

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Now, there’s a message to piss off your users.  “We’re having trouble so we’re not going to try anymore.”  And when you clicked Back, you didn’t return to the previous page, your history was wiped out and you went back to the Start page.  Keep in mind, this is a Microsoft device, using a Microsoft web browser on a Microsoft website.  And it doesn’t work.  I’ve determined the root cause of the bug is the advertisements injected into the page by script, but without any ad-blocker or other customizations, a fix is out of my control.

Another recent shutdown Microsoft did was of Zune>XBox Music>Groove Music.  I don’t use streaming services, so I didn’t think it was a big deal.  But I also didn’t think it was going to affect Cortana’s music search feature (which is like Shazam).  I searched for a song recently and I got:

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Good job finding that song.

So that’s it.  I made up my mind I’m going to do what Microsoft wants me to do, switch to Android.  Now, where before I had a few available models of Windows Phone, I now have a choice of probably thousands of phones.  Which one should I get?  As a creature of habit, I chose a new model from an old company.  The Nokia 6.1.

Soon, I’m going to be able to be up-to-date on all the apps.  I can start collecting rewards from stores and restaurants.  I can start tracking this and that through apps.  I can use any fitness tracker I want.  I can play games – all the games.  I won’t have to get all pissed off and feel left out when I see:

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And hopefully, I can browse a goddamn web site without the pages reloading until the browser just shits the bed.

I ordered the phone on Amazon for all of $287, which I think is pretty cheap.  What do current phones go for now?  A good place to buy Android phones is the Microsoft Store.  Let’s see.  5 models for sale:  1 Windows Phone (out of stock), 3 Android Samsungs, and 1 Android Razor.  They are priced from $699 to $929.  Nope, I will not be getting any of those.  I don’t need a $1000 Solitaire game device.

So, Are YOU A Collector? Clearly Not.

As I posted recently, I went on a CD safari and ended returning with 20 CDs.  15 of those were purchased from two flea market vendors, both of whom said they were collectors. 

In the first booth I went to, I felt I was in a hurry for time, so I scanned the discs very quickly, looking for smooth cases.  However, I saw one CD that I had scored on my last flea market trip that was a valuable find.  The CD wasn’t in a a smooth case (actually a shitty, flimsy case), so I was curious what a normal edition of that album looked like.  When I opened the case, I was surprised.  Similar to my previous reaction to finding gold, I said, “Oh, it’s a red-faced Polydor.  Nice.” 

Only a real geek would say “a red-faced Polydor”, right?  That’s a statement that would come out of the mouth of an orthinologist.  Like, you should log that in a bird-watching book along with the time and location.  But, I didn’t log it, I bought it.  WHY?  I already had one and it was a valuable one at that!  Sometimes, you can’t explain these things to collectors.  Different is good.

When I got home and cleaned the CDs all up, I researched what I had purchased.  Now you may recall the post about my $300 find for $3.  Well, this time, I paid $5, and wouldn’t you know it?  Someone has paid over $500 for this CD.

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I now have both of these CDs.  What’s the difference?  100% appearance.  These are the two CDs.  They have the same music.

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And when I say they have the same music, I checked.  They DO.  I posted this on Relative Waves.  It’s the same.

That’s two waveforms overlaid on each other.  There’s no green or white peeking out anywhere.  That means no differences. SAME SAME SAME.

Anyway.  So now I have a new most valuable CD.  Again, by a large margin.  In fact, my collection value went up by over $1000 from this last trip.  After all, I did find a bunch of other rarities.