Fastlane Stained Stainless Steel handle – a small miracle

After a few months of going around with Endless Pools and the folks at DesJoyaux, the DesJoyaux folks hit upon a workaround if not a solution for my issue with the handle on my Fastlane turning a black color.

As you can see from this “Before” picture the handle (and portions of the stainless steel cage below that protects the impeller) was a murky black color. I was unable to wipe it off to any meaningful degree yet enough would come off if you touched it to get on your hands or your bathing suit.

Several weeks ago, Billy Fowler from DesJoyaux said he thought he had hit upon something that might be of use and suggested two cleaning agents to try. He very generously offered to take back any chemical left if I found them to be ineffective which tells me that he is standing behind his research.

Basically I dumped some of this “StainFree” product from “Natural Chemistry” into a bucket with about a quart of water, donned some rubber gloves and used a rag to wipe the handle. After two or three swipes I saw the stainless steel shining through! It’s much more of a chemical reaction than an elbow grease effort. If I soaked the rag and basically squeezed it around a discolored portion of the handle the improvement was immediate. A bit of rubbing helped a bit but as soon as the chemical was spent there was no amount of rubbing that would improve it any more.

 

Here is the after picture. I cleaned the handle, pulled the top off the unit and replaced the sacrificial anode (which was designed for  outboard engines) with a much smaller one but which was purchased from Endless Pools.

Now the question remains: Is this a permanent fix that resolves a one-off issue or will I need to periodically revisit my stainless steel pieces?

Posted under On the Home Front, Retail Experiences

This post was written by Marc
on April 7, 2013 at 7:34 pm

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Back in the saddle again

I kind of dropped out of much of the social network scene with the exception of trying out Yelp! and FourSquare’s “Check-in” features. Those proved to have some value by actually providing a free dessert here or a discount there.

As for the value of living one’s life online, I see great value on sharing your escapades, trials and tribulations with your family and friends – especially those who are geographically separated from you. But I balance that with the privacy and safety of those with whom I may share time and experiences.

Not to mention the challenge of being a professional in a large company and projecting an image that is consistent not only with my current career state but also with any and every other career movement that I may make both within and possibly outside of my current place of employment. Who knows what I’ll be doing in 15 years. The only thing I know for sure is that these posts will still be available in *some* form over which I can either wax nostalgic or cringe that I thought it would be a good idea to post that publicly.

That said, forgive some dummy posts I’ll be making shortly as I test some unifying software. While facebook seems to be the primary portal for communicating with folks, it is terrible for use as a repository. I can’t find anything I liked in there or anything in the newsfeed that I thought was interesting in the past to save my life. So I’m trying to make a two-way tie between FB and my personal blog where postings in one consistently end up in the other.

Posted under General

This post was written by Marc
on April 6, 2013 at 1:53 pm

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Message to Elan Financial (They Manage EmigrantDirect’s Visa)

I sent the following (in two parts) to Elan Financial. Am I being unreasonable?

I am writing to express my dissatisfaction thus far with Elan Financial services who are managing my EmigrantDirect Visa card.

1) When received my first statement in January I immediately went to the Elan Financial website and signed up to have my bill paid in full each month from my bank account. According to a recent exchange I had through this messaging system I apparently should have been aware that, even after having double checked that the payment date was showing as February 6 (two weeks in the future), Elan’s system would not actually make the withdrawal since, inexplicably, this is not enough time for a financial institution in the 21st century to set up such a connection.

I saw no indication on the website that I was to ignore the listed payment date and go ahead and send in what to me would seem to be a duplicate payment via snail mail.

I am astonished that a financial company, managing the credit card portfolio for an ONLINE ONLY Banking service, is incapable of both setting up a funds transfer in under 6 weeks and is further incapable of communicating that fact on the website through which the financial arrangements are being made.

2) A few days ago I received a letter from Elan welcoming me and letting me know that I should activate my card and that my reward rate would be at 1% – no mention of the 1 1/4% that I signed up for and am ostensibly receiving. This was a bit confusing since I have actually been using the card for a month and a half now. Has Elan reneged on the original offer? Is Elan unaware that I am using the credit card?
3) Coincident with the above welcome letter I received a notice from Elan’s collection department whining about my not having paid my first bill. This in spite of the fact that I have been in contact with Elan via this secure messaging system and had clearly set up my account to fully pay my bill fully two weeks prior to the first due date. Can it really be that Elan’s various departments have no contact with each other nor do they have access to my account records?
4) My first attempt at crafting this secure message on the Elan website was lost when the website timed out after 15 minutes of “inactivity” and did not even retain a draft of the message. I again emphasize the primitiveness of a system, in 2013, that would be so unyielding as to not allow the customer a chance to either confirm that they are still using the site or to at least provide a mechanism to retain the work in progress. The page literally vanishes and is replaced with one showing that the session has expired. Also Elan’s website limits these messages to 3500 characters but does not actually tell you this until you submit and then doesn’t tell you by how many characters you have exceeded the maximum.
5) My recent communication with Elan regarding the minimum amount of points required to obtain a statement credit resulted in the unhelpful response that I should phone the rewards department during business hours. Ignoring the fact that the reward website needs to actually say what the minimum rewards amount should be rather than simply responding “You do not have enough rewards points to purchase this item”, I emphasize again that it is no longer 1980 and that email is a common and acceptable way to communicate. One of the reasons I deal with an ONLINE BANK is so that I can communicate asynchronously and not waste my time on hold waiting for a representative to get around to working with me.
I need the following from you:
1) Acknowledgment that my bill will be paid by your online system as it currently indicates that it will on March 6
2) Acknowledgement that my rewards rate is at 1 1/4% as was agreed upon with my initial application
3) Acknowledgement that I will not be fined or assessed any fees as a result of my trusting Elan Financial’s website when it indicated it would withdraw funds through a system that I, in good faith, set up weeks ahead of the payment due date.
4) Confirmation of the number of reward points required to redeem a statement credit.
I await your reply,
Marc

Posted under Retail Experiences

This post was written by Marc
on March 2, 2013 at 6:20 pm

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Got a new Nexus 7 Tablet for work

I’m amazed that my new user experience with it has been night and day vs with my iPad or iPhone. Absolutely nowhere near as intuitive. And this after owning an HTC EVO for two years (jailbroken, using both HTC android and cyanogen mod). I’m no newbie to these things and I found the layout on the Nexus 7 gave me pause.

Maybe it’s a different paradigm? I have to imagine that the interface’s panels are meant to be somewhat Windows 8’ish and I haven’t even thought of touching that OS yet… Still learning the nuances of OS X…

Posted under Tech Stuff

This post was written by Marc
on February 22, 2013 at 9:34 pm

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Installed “The Nest” today…

I’ve named it “HAL”.

Nest Learning Thermostat – 2nd Generation T200577

It can definitely beat out regular thermostats and I’m pretty sure it can outdo your programmable thermostat if you’re relatively active (in and out, temperature up and down a lot) or even if your schedule varies day by day.

Between the “airwave” technology that should maximize cooling dollars and its built in intelligence to figure out how long it takes to heat/cool your place, I’m expecting HAL will be able to cut our costs a little bit (I had my previous thermostat fully programmed) and maximize comfort by tracking our real use patterns and setting itself accordingly rather than the broad patterns that I set on the previous thermostat.

Oh, and did I mention, there’s an app for that? You can check out and control your house HVAC from your smartphone or anywhere with web access.

If you’re looking for an otherwise excellent thermostat, I’ve got an American Standard Gold XM Control 803 thermostat that  I’m willing to let go cheap…

Posted under On the Home Front

This post was written by Marc
on December 22, 2012 at 3:18 pm

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High CPU with iTunes 10.7 – Resolved… Sort Of

** Updated 12/2/2012 **

Just upgraded to iTunes 11.0.0.163 and the issue has not improved at all. I reenabled my Wi-Fi sync and it seemed to take a while longer before the AppleMobileDeviceHelper.exe started consuming CPU like crazy (about 5-6 hours) but consume it did. Also the iPhone and iPad completely don’t see the server so Wi-Fi sync is still broken. I’ve disabled that mode of syncing again. I suppose it will have to be an iTunes 12 fix?

** End Update **

So, it turns out that disabling sync over Wi-Fi eliminates the high CPU consumption issues with both the AppleMobileDeviceHelper.exe and ATH.exe

This is relatively painless to do since the Wi-Fi sync stopped working with the 10.7 iTunes update on the Windows 7 (64 bit) release anyway.

I’ll leave this disabled until the next iTunes update. It’s a shame because the Wi-Fi sync is a pretty slick feature.

To disable, just plug your iDevice into your computer and, in iTunes on the Summary page, uncheck the “Sync with this computer over Wi-Fi” checkbox and click apply

Posted under Tech Stuff

This post was written by Marc
on November 19, 2012 at 9:01 am

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One Year of Credit Card Solicitations

You know how, through confirmation bias, you will believe something is true even though it objectively is not?

For myself, one of these beliefs was that I was receiving hundreds and hundreds of credit card solicitations a year. It seemed that every second day there were two or three of these pieces of junk mail plugging up my (physical) mailbox.

So, beginning October 24 of last year I started to count the number of credit card solicitations we receive in a single year. I set aside an old milk crate and took pictures as the solicitations arrived. And, even though I was slacking off a bit toward the end (the last few pictures were for multiple days worth of cards) I did manage to get through the year as of October 23 of this year. You can check it out here.

The final tally was a surprisingly small 87 solicitations to both myself and to Michelle (I found I had miscounted a piece of normal junk mail as a solicitation when I was tallying things up) . Don’t get me wrong, it is still silly to be receiving an average of over 1 1/2  of these solicitations per week. But it is what it is.

Broken down by sender the zealots are:

Solicitor Number of solicitations Percent of total
American Express 33 37.9%
Emigrant Direct 18 20.7%
SunTrust 8 9.2%
Citi 8 9.2%
Chase 7 8.0%
Capital One 5 5.7%
Discover 2 2.3%
Fifth Third Bank 2 2.3%
Barclays (Black Card) 1 1.1%
Williams Sonoma 1 1.1%
FIA 1 1.1%
Home Depot 1 1.1%
Total 87

So a little empirical evidence disabuses me of a misconception.

I actually have dealings with about a third of these institutions where they may think they have some kind of relationship with me, including American Express.

However, I think American Express deserves a sound raspberry  for their non-stop efforts in sending us an average of 1 solicitation every 11 days.

Posted under Photos, Skepticism

This post was written by Marc
on November 17, 2012 at 12:19 pm

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