Surface Support Rocks

Or, How Microsoft Decimates Nokia in Customer Service

I mentioned previously that I have a Surface Pro (1st edition model).  I also mentioned that at some point I would post a full review of it — but I’ve been exceedingly lazy about that in the recent past.  Don’t expect that to change today.  I will pass along quickly that I think the device is awesome, I use it as my daily driver for all of my work, and short of a slightly underpowered GPU and less battery life than I’d really prefer (about 6 hours), it’s an awesome device.

In any case, last week I was noodling with it and opened up the Camera app to find that my Surface Pro did not recognize the front-facing camera.  Having had the device for 7-8 months at this point, I was surprised I hadn’t noticed sooner.  I went to Microsoft’s Surface Pro support site (which is really, really well done) and within 5 minutes was able to create an RMA with an Advanced Replacement device being shipped overnight, a package to return the defective one, and a shipping label to make the entire process $0.00 for me.

As expected, the following day, a brand new Surface Pro arrived and I spent an hour or so with a tool called Reflect to image it with the content from my previous device.  It worked like a charm and when it booted off of my new image, the front facing camera worked.  I wiped my old Surface Pro back to factory, stuck it in the box, taped it up, slapped the included label on it and dropped it in a drop-off box.  Total turn-around time from me opening RMA to having a replacement device that was imaged and ready to go was less than 36 hours.

I’m mentioning this solely to point out the difference in behavior between Microsoft and Nokia.  You may remember in my previous Nokia rant that all they offered was for me to pay to ship my obviously defective device to them, wait 2-3 weeks, and then perhaps maybe if they decided that my battery life really was not as good as it had been promised (judging by the reaction on their forums, they seem to believe 3 hours of idle time on a fully charged battery to full discharge is OK), and maybe — JUST MAYBE — replace the phone.

The devices are closer in ‘true’ cost than you’d think.  Buying a Lumia 920 out of contract when it was new is a $500+tax+tag+title ordeal, and buying a Surface Pro (depending on model) is $700.

In short, fuck you again Nokia.  Dealing with (nearly) every other company in the world continually reminds me of how shitty your customer service is.  I hope you all rot and your stupid shitty phones don’t sell.  Dicks.

Ocubook Facerift

Or, watching the neckbeards collectively shit a house.

Last week, the tech world was upended as Mark Zuckerberg announced that he had purchased Oculus Rift for $2Bn in company stock and cash.  Pretty much every neckbeard on the internet (myself included) reacted via knee-jerk, talking about how Oculus was dead now, how the product was going to be covered in like and share buttons, and how the upcoming CV1 Rift would be saddled with Facebook login limitations, etc.

Unlike a lot of the internet, I went to bed that night and woke up the following day with an entirely different take on it.  My viewpoint on the matter isn’t extremely unique, nor is this article going to shed any additional light onto the topic, so I’ll be brief:

  1. $2.4M was never enough to get the CV1 hardware out the door.  If you’re one of the people involved in the intial kickstarter, thank you for proving the viability of the market — but you’re deluded if you ever thought that $2.4M was going to be enough to produce quality hardware at an affordable price.  Also, those of you who somehow think that kickstarting earned you equity in the company, you’re fucking idiots.  You were promised a DK1, you got it, that was it.  You are not a partner in the company because you gave them $350.  Just shut up with that nonsense.
  2. If you think Oculus taking money was selling out, then at least get your facts straight — by that logic, they sold out last year when they took the $90M in venture capital.  You remember last year, when you were all grassroots VR’ing all over the place and everyone was up in arms over the $90M of VC, right?  Wait…  No, you don’t, because it didn’t happen, because you’re not upset with this based on principle, you’re upset with this because of the word Facebook.
  3. VR is not a cheap thing.  It is not cheap to get the hardware working.  It is not cheap to get the right types of displays.  Until the Facebook acquisition, the Oculus Rift was a hodgepodge of cell phone parts craftily duct taped together to form a rudimentary VR device.  The acquisition by Facebook gives Oculus the capital required to custom manufacture new equipment (e.g., low persistence, low latency displays outside of standard cell phone pixel count or aspect ratio as one example) which will ultimately cause the production versions of the product to be notably better than they could have been if they were still built on hand me down hardware.
  4. Every single person involved has claimed that the specifics of the deal clearly indicate that Oculus maintains full control over the Oculus hardware and CV1, and that Facebook will be acting as an almost angel investor — seeding money into the project, knowing that the first launch will not be profitable, and accepting of that fact.  Yes, it’s true, companies will PR all over things like this and say these sorts of things when their userbase is shocked by news of this type — but I don’t think they’re blowing smoke here.  Facebook knows that if they want to tap into that sweet, sweet advertising revenue and gather all of those great use metrics about you using their product, you actually have to OWN the product first.  So, their comment that they were leaving the hardware alone and focusing on software does not seem to fall flat for me.

Anyways, my DK2 is on pre-order, so if you still think Facebook is “TEH GREAT EVIL OF OUR TIM3!!111!!111oneoneone!!!eleventyone”, don’t order one (or cancel your pre-order so mine ships sooner), and we will all have a good laugh when the CV1 comes out and Palmer and the Oculus team are proven to be telling the truth.

eCig Upgrades!

It has officially been 120 days since I smoked my last ‘analog’ cigarette, and boy oh boy do I feel a lot better because of it.

During the last 4 months, I’ve expanded my juice horizons, replaced my battery, and switched tanks — so here’s some new data!

The new battery is the iTazte VTR. I love my stick-style iTazte VV 3, but the 800mah capacity in it was sorely limiting. When I started vaping primarily at 11W, I could extinguish the battery in about 4-5 hours at best. It was a passthrough device, so I could just throw it on the charger, but that got to be a liability — now that I feel better, can breathe better, etc., I’m looking at doing some climbing camping trips in the near future and I will need to go more than a few days without access to USB or power. I wanted more capacity, but did not want the device to look like the huge boxes with an atomizer sticking out the top (like, say, the iTazte MVP2). The VTR met all of those requirements.

The iTazte VTR is effectively the same circuitry as the iTazte VV 3, including the variable voltage and wattage functionality (though it provides an increase in the available voltage and wattage range), but in a bigger, heftier package and built around replaceable, rechargeable 18650 cells. FastTech (aka SlowShip) had a deal on the device for about $70. I picked it up with 2x Panasonic 3400mAh 18650 cells and a Nitecore i2 charger for just at $100 shipped.

Another change with the VTR is that the primary threading on it is 510 threading — not eGo threading like the Kanger MT3S tanks and other tanks used. Instead of attaching to the external threads on the outside of the center post, it attaches to the center stalk and threading. As such, in order to use the Kanger MT3S tanks, I would need to use the extender tube included with the VTR which would make it the same form factor as the MVP2 — a large box with an atomizer sticking out of the top.

To address this, I purchased several of the Aspire Vivi Nova-S BDC Tanks. These are strikingly similar to the Aspire ET-S BDC tanks that I had been using (which are in turn strikingly similar to the Kanger MT3S tanks I had previously recommended), but are 510 threaded and have an ever so slightly increased capacity — about 3.5ml. They work almost identically to the previous tanks I had been using, they just socket right in to the VTR and the only thing exposed past the top of the battery is the drip tip.

Last but not least, due to a notable increase in shipping times from Ms. T’s bakery (20-30 business days, eek), I started shopping around for new juices and found a few that I really liked.

First is a replacement for Ms T’s Snickerdoodle — it’s by a company called Seduce Juice, and it goes by the name of Snickerdoodledoo. It’s not quite 100% as good as Ms T’s, but it’s half the price and ships the same day. That’s worth a lot when you’re fighting addiction, as far as I’m concerned.

Second was a new fruity vape I had tried. Historically I’ve liked blueberry and strawberry and such, and also had good luck with an orange juice flavor — but I wanted something a little lighter and preferably citrus-y. I found Mt. Baker Vapor’s Arnold Palmer flavoring and bought a small bottle with 2x flavor shots and was immediately impressed when I received it. As such, I bought 236ml of it the next week.

All in all, it’s been an interesting 4 months of vaping — I feel a whole lot better, my heart rate and blood pressure are WELL within healthy ranges, and this one time two weeks ago I had a dream where I smoked a real cigarette, and woke up in a cold sweat feeling like I had cheated on my wife or something.

Good times.