December 30, 2011

Work discussion...

Some variation of this discussion happens every so often.  This is a compilation that is not too far from an actual conversation"

Member: Why are you so expensive?  I can buy this same set across town for half the price.

Sales: Really, that is a huge value.  They have this exact model with the same warranty?

Member: Yup, I have the flyer right here.

Sales: (reading over the flyer).  Well they are a bit different,  our set is a Samsung and this flyer shows a Colby. Further, our Samsung has true high definition resolution at 1080progressive lines this Colby is a 720.

Member: What does that mean?

Sales: The resolution is the number of lines the set uses to make a picture.  The higher the number the sharper the image.  Think of thread counts in sheets, the higher the count the better the quality.  Also, this Colby has a 60hz refresh rate, while our Samsung is 240hz.  That refers to the number of times the TV redraws the image.  The higher the rate the more fluid the motion.

Member: So the higher number is better?

Sales: More-so on larger sets.  Anything over 37  inch diagonal you want a higher refresh rate.  For a 46" set like this 240hz is highly desirable.  Especially for action films and sports or video games.

Member:  I don't play video games, so that really is not that important.

Sales: Do you watch football?

Member: Yeah, all the time.

Sales: A higher refresh rate would be better for football.  I see here that the Colby is not LED back-lit.

Member: The Samsung says it is LCD and LED, so which is it?

Sales: Both sets are LCD or liquid crystal displays.  Like an old 35mm slide they need light behind them for you to see the picture.  An LCD does not produce its own light.  A standard LCD, like the Colby, has some light bulbs behind the screen across the back.  Those produce light and heat, so the sets are thicker to allow for cooling.

Sales (cont.): The Samsung has LED or Light Emitting Diodes, to light the screen.  They look similer to those old light bright crystals, but they are solid state and only produce light.  So you get a brighter picture and a thinner set that uses less electricity.

Member:  I see, but why are your prices for a 46" set so much higher...

Sales: ...........................Gosh, I don't know, you should go buy the cheaper one.....

December 25, 2011


Once upon a time, in a job with Dell, far, far away.  I purchased an Epson Photo Stylus RX500 printer.  It was an excellent Photo printer with a device for scanning film negatives and slides.  This Christmas it stopped printing and threw up an obtuse error.  I did quite a bit of reading on various Epson forums and discovered that there was an ink-flow counter.  After it reaches a certain amount of prints the system requires maintenance.

This does not take into consideration that the printer had been cleaned out the year before.  Further, the forums suggested that you need to remove a component and use a specific device to re-set the counter.  This draconian methodology might be great for the bottom line, it is annoying to those of us who then decide that maybe Epson is not wanting my patronage...

In the back of my mind this seems entirely too improbable.  Consider, Epson sells thousands and thousands of printers.  Even so they are number 3 after HP and Canon (I would argue that Canon makes the best printers).  So some engineer decides that a counter would be needed to insure the working of the printer and there is some kind of kit that can be purchase to clean up the printer and replace the various wore down bits.  This would be targeted at those authorized Epson repair shops.  A search shows three on the West coast, my older printer is not even in the look up page.

Who would drive hours to a major city or ship a thirty pound package with pre-paid return postage when you can head to Costco and purchase a new printer for less?  Maybe that is the goal, to sell new printers.  I can see Epson not being a brand to return too...

Anyways, yesterday I found an obscure thread at that had some good information.

HOLD all following buttons: Power, Load/Eject, Stop, B&W, Color. RELEASE BUTTONS. After this printer turns on, you'll see "Init eeprom" on printer screen. Press Color button to clear protection counter. Hit the power button and restart it.

This did the trick and my printer is back in service.  Still the printer is plagued with some problems, like no drivers for windows Vista (which Tina has on her computer).

December 23, 2011

Working the solutions.

My job is sales.  I approach our members (customers) and ask to assist them.  Sometimes it is pointing them in the right direction or researching a product we use-to-could sell.  Mostly, I am answering questions about electronics and computers.  I have skills in translating tech-speak to plain English.  Further, I can successfully drill down to what the person wants instead of what they ask for.

Case in point:
A couple came in looking for the "Smart Blu ray players"  Samsung uses the "Smart" name so I took them to the specific  Blu-ray player.  They started asking a series of questions that made me back up from the specific to the general.  They wanted to drop cable TV and get the shows they like from the Network websites.

The "smart TV's" will not do this.  While you can look at websites viewing streaming content requires additional, unsupported browser based software (read: Java, Flash, Divx etc.).

So the "Guy at Sear", fed them a line of BS.  I suggested they buy a VGA cable and plug it into the back of the TV.  Of course, they did not like the idea of a cable running across the floor.  I wondered, out loud, if their home PC was capable of WiDi  (wireless display).  The age of the 'clunker PC' made mooted the idea.

Which brought me around to the solution.  To do exactly what they wanted to do, they would need a Laptop computer, a WiDi box for the Television.  On the downside, they came in looking for a $100.00 DVD player and left with a $450.00 Laptop and $50.00 WiDi box.

On the plus side, now they can do exactly what they wanted.

Here is the fun part.  In discussing various options, a few other members came to listen.  One of them asked if I was the person they should talk to about tech stuff.  The folks I sold the lap-top too emphatically stated I was "The One".  Over the next 15min, I sold three more laptops, a Tablet PC and two Televisions.

You have to Love non-commission sales at Costco.  Our return policy is such that our buyers only bring in quality goods and sales is more interested in matching folks up to tech in order to achieve zero returns.

Near the end of the sales spree, one of the members asked if I get tired of all the stupid questions.  I never consider them stupid, rather they are a way to provide solutions to specific problems.

Yeah, love my job.

December 17, 2011


I find that I wake up with tight muscles during my work week.  I do a few sets of sit ups and push ups to get the blood flowing, then hit the shower (sometimes the shower is first).  During the first cup of coffee I am feeling pretty good.  By the time I ride my bike into work I am alert, awake and ready to tackle the day.

Today my shoulders are tight and there is a muscle\tendon on the outer right side of my lower right leg that feels pulled or strained or something.  At certain angles and taking certain steps I can definitively feel pain.

My head cold is trailing off with just a little congestion.  I really notice the lack of strength during this cold.  I felt fatigue after four hours of moving pallets and stacking Televisions.

I deduced a time-line, I believe I caught this germ around our open house, last Saturday.  I had some tummy issues Sunday, but dismissed that as indigestion.  By Monday night I was having post nasal drip and the sore throat.  Nyquil night was begun.  I like Alka seltzer cold, as it masks my symptoms well.  After five hours of stocking, I noted we had enough coverage for me to head home sick, which I did.

I spent the rest of Tuesday, most of Wednesday asleep.  I woke long enough on Wednesday to assess and call in sick to work.  The Second time this year  (arrgh!).  By Thursday Morning I had slept 40 hours or so and was feeling pretty good.

I made it through my Thursday morning okay, but I was not my usual self.  Friday I was better, however I headed south to work on my Brother-in-Laws computer and that took its toll.

My head was muddled enough that reading brought on a pretty good headache.  The three hour car drive did not help matters.  Still, after a good nap I felt up enough to go skating.

Again, I got fatigued way too fast.  Today we are driving up to Portlandia to get my daughter from the airport.

I plan on resting most of the trip and bring along some meds.

December 10, 2011


This is what I love about working for a Company like Costco.  We have this return policy that states the following:

  • We will refund your membership fee in full at any time if you are dissatisfied.
  • We guarantee your satisfaction on every product we sell with a full refund.
  • The following must be returned within 90 days of purchase for a refund: televisions, projectors, computers, cameras, camcorders, touch screen tablets, MP3 players and cellular phones.
Early on I asked a manager the following.  I purchase some eggs.  Six years later I decide to return the eggs for a refund.  What happens?  "You get a full refund," was his reply.

December 09, 2011


Last evening (Thursday).  We had our weekly TOPS meeting.  Tina had a later dentist appointment and that left me to my own devices to get to said meeting.  I abhor having two vehicles at the same location as it seems wasteful.  So my choice was to walk.  As walking seems so damn slow, I opted to run.

This availed me of the park walking\bike path.  About a mile into the run I had thought to stop and walk a bit, as I had not been running for a month or so.  As with any good run, my mind had gone off on its own and when it snapped back, I realized I had gone well past my "stopping point"  I shrugged and kept running.

This is when the weirdness kept into my thoughts.  I realized I had no idea about how far I could run. My breathing is steady, my pace is mechanical and the degree of difficulty in maintaining was nil.  This was just breathing more then walking. 

My thoughts crossed out to the distance thinking of what lies beyond.  Could I run all the way to the coast?  Could I make it over the Cascades?  Is the Canadian boarder attainable (given overnight sleep)?

I thought of ancient civilization that locomotion was THE travel option.  It was humbling and exhilarating. 

December 07, 2011


You cannot escape the news around ex-Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky.

The sex abuse charges are horrific for sure.  However, when this kind of news comes out I am reminded of the McMartin Preschool case.  While the media pandered to basic instinct, the trial ended in dismissal and acquittal.  After seven years and 15 million dollars.

Do I feel Mr. Sandusky is innocent?  Nope...  Do I suspect he is gulity?  Nope...  If I was a jurist he would be innocent until proven guilty.  As an unwilling voyeur, I just pray that justice will prevail.