Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Maytag POS “2000 Series” Washer (Model MHWE201YW)

Friday, December 30th, 2016

Bought this washer about 5 years ago. A few years in, its water pump failed. Had to replace that myself. There’s always water sitting in the detergent cups after a load (probably a manufacturer defect). It has a bad door seal and leaks water, but that comes and goes. The worst problem is that the drum sits a bit too far away from the door and sometimes clothes get trapped and mangled/ripped/torn.


This happens once every few months. I’ve been able to avoid it recently by always overriding the spin cycle to high or medium (instead of extra-high). I also consciously fill the drum with fewer clothes. Fingers crossed that that continues to work. Of course, the downside is that I now waste more electricity drying wetter (and fewer) clothes.

What a POS.

Korky vs Fluidmaster

Friday, December 30th, 2016

Definitely Fluidmaster. Went through the trouble of swapping in a Korky toilet flapper. Construction seemed cheap and wobbled. Did the old “food coloring test” and water kept leaking. Swapped in a Fluidmaster flapper and my troubles disappeared. 🙂

Trick for crawling babies near door hinges

Saturday, February 6th, 2016

My toddler is always slamming the bathroom door. Freaks me out when his little sister is crawling nearby. She likes to stick her fingers in the space where the door hinges meet the frame. Note that the door opens outward, which is a little unusual for a bathroom door. (Don’t ask me, old house.) I opened the door as much as I could (so that the inner edge of the door and the frame are parallel). I then cut some foam rubber into a strip about 3″ wide and duct-taped it vertically against the inner edge of the door and the door frame (bridging the gap). When you close the door, it folds the foam rubber in half. The fold also slightly pops out of the crack between the door and the frame. This is what keeps curious fingers out of the gap. Hope this trick saves a few ER visits!


Epson XP-420: bad luck or bad printer?

Saturday, February 6th, 2016

Bought this printer at Staples recently. I’ve never owned an Epson so I wanted to try something new. I liked its small footprint. Had to ditch it after less than a week (after maybe 5 pages printed?) because of massive staining on every print. Bad luck … or did the engineers design it at “4:20”? Buh-bye!


Arbella Sucks

Friday, April 17th, 2015

In mid-February after one of our many blizzards, my wife was driving her sedan home. There was a pile of snow on our street that had hardened over. I guess she miscalculated its height (and hardness) and when she went over it, the car lurched up and she heard a loud grinding sound against the undercarriage. The engine started shaking immediately and within seconds died. She called me out and I took a look at the car. It was dead. I walked over to the ice and it was rock hard, so I tried to take a shovel to it and immediately emailed my neighbors to be careful of it. I am not mechanically-inclined, so when I googled what might’ve happened, I saw several comments that it could be as minor as a damaged oil pan that causes the engine to shut down. Figuring it might be something minor, I called AAA (had to wait a few days since their lines were down) and had the car towed down the street to a service station. I was not expecting the assessment from the mechanic: apparently during the collision, the timing belt slipped and caused the pistons to bend. This would cost several thousand to fix. Unfortunately, this car has an “interference” design which is prone to extensive damage when this happens. Not wanting it to sit at the service station for too long, I had the car towed back to our home. I reached out to Arbella and described the situation. I’d heard of others getting things like pothole damage covered, so I thought I’d give it a shot. Elizabeth Moran at Arbella said that it sounded like it would be coverable, but they couldn’t look at it at my house. I’d have to have it towed to a shop. So I had it towed back to the same shop. Well, an Arbella rep went to the shop and took a look at it and is now claiming it is not coverable, but “wear-and-tear”. I don’t understand how this could be considered a random event. My wife ran over an obstruction and the car died immediately. Now the car is sitting at the service station awaiting a follow-up by an Arbella engineer. I feel like they’re dragging their feet and giving me excuses.

If they don’t cover this claim, I’m ready to ditch Arbella. They are the worst insurance company. This is only the second auto claim we’ve made with them. The first one back in 2011 was from a hit-and-run when my car was parked on the street. There was rear body and tail light damage, but the car was driveable, so they had me drive it to one of their claim centers. The rep took a look at it and said they’d get back to me. A week later I got a letter with his itemized estimate: $510. But at the very end, $40 was deducted due to “betterments” since there were some scrapes on my bumper. “Sorry! That puts it $30 under your deductible!” How convenient. It irked me at the time, but I didn’t contest and had it fixed out-of-pocket. After this second run-in with them, I’m ready to ditch this lemon of an insurance company.

UPDATE: They didn’t cover me. We had to junk the car. And I switched to Plymouth Rock, which seems to have a much better complaint record than Arbella. We’ll see how it goes.

Mass RMV Scam

Friday, April 17th, 2015

A few months ago, I received a notice to renew my registration. I immediately mailed it to my insurance company to be stamped and they promised to send it over to the RMV. Time passed and my registration expired in September. Recently, I was parked in Boston and got a ticket for an expired registration. I’m religious about putting that sticker on my plate as soon as I get it in the mail. So at first I thought my insurance company had goofed, but then I looked back at my bank statement and sure enough, my registration fee check had been cashed by the RMV. I called them immediately and they told me they could send me another – for a fee. “I can’t send it for free, or I’ll get in trouble,” the sweet lady on the other end said to me. So I got dinged with a fee for a duplicate registration. As for the ticket, I’m going to fight it (I was technically registered, even though I didn’t have a sticker. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!) But some simple googling revealed several other people complaining about the same problem with the RMV: send in a renewal, forget about it, then get dinged with a ticket. As I told the sweet lady, this cannot all be the fault of the postal service. How often do letters get lost being sent across town? Not often I bet.

So if you can get the RMV to admit that they make mistakes sometimes and explain why they have to charge $25 to resend a registration when there’s a pretty good chance it’s their fault, I’d be impressed. (By the way, I was told they do have a grace period but I had just passed it.) Since the chances of them admitting fault are near zero, I have a suggestion: as soon as you fill out that renewal form, set up a reminder for yourself to check back on it in a few weeks. There’s a pretty good chance your sticker won’t arrive and you won’t realize it until you get dinged with a ticket!

Calling All Hipsters

Thursday, December 4th, 2014


Dryel will ruin your dryer

Sunday, November 30th, 2014


I decided to give Dryel a try for some dry-clean-only clothing. When they were finished, I noticed blue marks on the inside of my dryer. Tried cleaning them with everything from a Magic Eraser to spray cleaners; nothing worked. They’re their permanently. Where did they come from? I think they came from the Dryel bag! It’s not color-safe? WTF!

Wireless local backups for a PC and a Mac, Part II

Sunday, November 30th, 2014

This is part II of a post I wrote over a year ago about the Pogoplug Series 4. I’ve kept the original post up (with a huge “do not follow” banner) because I wanted to leave evidence of the hours I wasted trying to get this device to work as-is. Here are my new instructions:

1.) Wipe the existing OS and replace it with Arch Linux ARM.

2.) Install Samba.

3.) Install your favorite backup software capable of writing to a network drive (e.g. Cobian on the PC, GetBackup on the Mac).

Note that you will no longer be able to use the cloud. That’s fine, it’s junk. You’ll notice in my original instructions that I originally tried to install Samba on Pogoplug’s native busybox OS. For weeks, backups only half-worked because the drive would get corrupted so often. I’d have to disconnect the drive, attach it to my PC, reformat it, repair it, sometimes every other week. It was useless. I can tell you that after following the above simple instructions, I have not had to touch my Pogoplug at all. Good luck!

Time to Make the Donuts, er, Doughnuts…

Sunday, November 2nd, 2014