Buying in NAPA Auto Part Stores Doesn’t Pay Off

April 21, 2013

The NAPA auto chain has been trying to capture some market share from the Autozone variety by attempting to provide competing offerings – or have they?

Recently, I purchased some parts from NAPA online under the premise that it can be returned at any NAPA auto parts store – per their web page.  Unexpectedly, I had to return a part so I drove over to my local San Diego NAPA store.  The clerk informed me that all of the San Diego NAPA stores are independently owned and therefore do not and will not  accept parts purchased online from NAPA – seriously?  And how are customers supposed to know which stores are independently owned?

So then I attempted to return the parts at a NAPA store that is corporately owned.  To my surprise, they had no clue how to process the return and once again, refused it – that’s a second strike.

Third strike happened when I attempted to return a part purchased from the independent NAPA store at the corporate NAPA store and discovered that the independent store charged me 50% more than the corporate store.  Apparently, independently owned NAPA stores can charge whatever they want – so buyer beware.

Restaurant DOT com Manipulates Customer Reviews

March 13, 2013

So two weeks ago we used Restaurant DOT com to purchase a voucher for a local restaurant.  The experience was poor and the same night we got an email from Restaurant DOT com asking us to leave a review.  We left a review which wasn’t very flattering.  A few days later we check the reviews on Restaurant DOT com and we surprised our review didn’t make it.  Tonight we check it again (two weeks after leaving the review) and discovered that people that left 4 and 5 star reviews AFTER us had their reviews posted.  So it’s pretty clear that Restaurant DOT com manipulates the reviews in order to generate more business.  Dishonesty sucks.

Never let a good crisis go to waste

December 15, 2012

It hasn’t been 24 hours since the Newtown CT massacre and Sara Brady is at it again – as usual.  Sara wants us all to live in a safer nation – a nation with no so called “gun violence” and no guns.  Sara wanted to make the Newtown school safe, she applauded it for being a  “gun free school” since having law abiding citizens carry firearms wasn’t acceptable.  Why would anyone need a gun when the police is just 10-40 minutes away?  The police is all we need for protection, isn’t it?

Well Sara, why don’t you explain to the parents of the 20 children slaughtered why their “gun free” school wasn’t safe?  Why don’t you look into the eyes of each and every parent and explain to them why the police wasn’t there to protect their children?

Sara Brady, you are delusional and the venom you spread  is costing this nation lives – too many lives.  The blood of those children is on your hands.

Why is Dan Gross Smiling?

July 26, 2012

It didn’t take but a few hours for the Brady Campaign to attempt to capitalize on the murder of innocents in Aurora Colorado.  It an urgent request for money, Dan Gross is smiling!  Why is he smiling?  12 people died and 58 people were injured?  Is that anything to smile about?  Dan Gross is smiling because he is happy, he is happy people died, he is happy people got hurt, he is happy because he has the opportunity to further his perverted political agenda.

In his mass email dated 7/22/2012, he doesn’t attempt to disguise the fact that he blames “the guns” for the massacre.   He makes no attempt to mention the sick individual the perpetrated the crime since in his perverted mind – it’s the guns that did it.  Dan Gross ignores the fact that the perpetrator didn’t need guns to commit his crime.  As a matter of fact, his master plan was a two part plan in which his explosives rigged apartment was supposed to kill many more people.

In his 7/24/2012 Dan Gross talks about “sensible solutions to reduce gun violence”.  We all know what Dan’s “sensible solutions” are – ban all guns since if guns are banned criminals won’t use them.  Here is a big LOL to that!  Dan Gross, there is no such thing as “gun violence” there is only “violence”.  The Brady campaign always throws numbers “every day 30 Americans die from guns”.  The Brady campaign counts every single death – even of a citizen or police officer defending life.  Let’s assume for a minute that 30 people a day die from the so called “gun violence”.  That would mean that on average 10,950 people die from gun violence every year.  Well, the US Department of Justice reported that last year 1.5 million people were saved by guns.  That means that for every person killed, 137 are saved.  I’ll take those odds every day.  But if we buy the Brady Campaign’s approach, shouldn’t we ban all cars since thousands of people die every day from car accidents?

The Brady Campaign’s logic fails at every level.  Bad people are bad people.  When bad people decide to do bad things, they disregard any law that stands in their way.  Killing is banned and illegal – did that prevent the Aurora shooting?  No it did not.

In today’s US News debate club Gene Hoffman brings up excellent points.  Dan Brady rebuttal is “The connection between gun violence and our abysmal gun laws is obvious”.  Can Dan Gross ever bring up a point that is backed by evidence?  Let’s look at the facts: Chicago and Washington D.C. which have the nation’s “best” gun control laws by Brady Campaign metrics also have the worst crime rates in the nation.  How does that sit with Dan’s rebuttal?  It does not for the argument for Brady style gun control is flat out wrong.

Keep smiling Dan Gross, at least the donations you will milk naive people for will pay for your salary for a while longer.

Win System Technical Advice – WTH?

April 20, 2012

I was listening to the Win System “tech net” on Friday evening (4/20/2012) while building a J-Pole in the garage.  A gentleman came on with a question to the net.  The question was: “I have a Yaesu FT-7X00 radio, and when I transmit, the back part of the radio near the antenna connector gets hot – should I be concerned about that?”.  Net control’s advice was nothing short of idiotic: “Your antenna is mismatched and RF power is reflecting back into your radio and heating it up.  You should cease transmissions at once and repair your antenna.”  WOW! A technical ham radio network spreading bullshit across the world!  Shame on you net control!

First, every transmitter dissipates energy in heat.  FM power amplifiers operate using Class C final stages.  Those are typically about 35%-45% efficient.  So if the RF power output is set to 10W output the radio will be dissipating about 25W in heat.  Let’s assume the mentioned radio is a Yaesu FT7800R.  Per the specifications, current draw is as follows: TX=8.5A, RX=0.5A at 13.8V.  So lets do the math.  If the radio is transmitting at 50W RF, the transmitter will draw 8.5-0.5 = 8A.  At 13.8V that’s 110W, which means that 60W must be dissipated in heat!  You know where the power amplifier resides in a transmitter?  Right next to the antenna connector!  Do you think 60W won’t heat up the radio and the antenna connector? Thing again!

Second, the comment about RF power reflecting, heating up the radio and damaging it is plain wrong.  Power amplifiers are not resistive – they don’t dissipate much power.  Their reverse impedance is NOT 50Ohm.  Reflected power from a non-resonant antenna comes into the radio and gets re-reflected back into the antenna where some or most of it will be radiated.  The only thing that can damage a radio is excessive voltage which causes component breakdown.  The excessive voltage is a result of a inductive (i.e. non resonant antenna).  It is important to understand that the power amplifier fails not because of heat dissipation – but due to voltage breakdown.

It’s time hams stop perpetuating false information!

Calibration of the Shenzhen Mastech HY3003-3 Power Supply

April 18, 2012

The Shenzhen Mastech HY3003-3 DC power supply is a linear triple output power supply with two adjustable 30V/3A outputs and one fixed 5V/3A output.  It has an LED panel meter for each supply for voltage and current readout.  Not surprising the calibration wasn’t perfect.  So In an unrelated attempt to repair the 5V banana jacks, I decided to figure out how to calibrate it.  It turns out it’s not too difficult.

WARNING – PROCEED AT YOUR OWN RISK. I am in no way liable for you hurting yourself or damaging your equipment.

Here is the procedure:

1) Remove the six sheet metal cover screws, three from each side and remove the top cover.

2) Power on the power supply and give it a few minutes to stabilize (thermally).

3) The LED seven segment displays are mounted on a green FR4 PCB with two WS7107CPL DMM chips – one for each supply.

4) Locate trimmer W1, it is located immediately adjacent to the WS7107.  Using a millivolt DMM, set the voltage across pin 36 with respect to pin 35 to 100mV.  Mine was 105mV prior to adjustment.

5) Set the power supply to maximum voltage – around 34V and plug a DMM into the output banana jacks.  Now, locate trimmer W2 and adjust it so the panel meter agrees with the DMM.

6) Repeat for the second power supply and your done!

Brady Campaign To Victimize The Victim!

April 10, 2012

Since the sad events that transpired on Feb 26, 2012 and ended with the killing of Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman the Brady campaign has been out in full force to denounce this “NRA style gun violence”.  The interesting part of this is that the Brady Campaign has tried and convicted – THE VICTIM.

At this point, Police reports and 3rd party evidence clearly demonstrate that Trayvon Martin attacked George Zimmerman, broke his nose, dropped him to the ground and was bashing his head into the ground.  As a result, George Zimmerman acted in self defense, shot and killed Trayvon Martin.  We will probably never know the exact circumstances that proceeded that, and it is clear that neither parties were making good decisions, but it is also clear that Trayvon Martin was the aggressor and George Zimmerman was the victim.

So it is only interesting that the Brady Campaign, an extremist organization that claims to be a strong proponent of constitutional rights including the right for self defense have already tried Zimmerman and found him guilty of self defense with a firearm.

Dan Gross writes “This is how the NRA wants it.  Guns in the hands of just about anybody, just about anywhere.  That’s their vision.”.  Dan, you are wrong, this isn’t how the NRA want’s it, it is how the American people want it for self defense is a right no person has the right to take away from another person.

Sara Brady writes ” If George Zimmerman had not had a gun with him, Travon Martin would still be alive today.” Indeed, Trayvon Martin may have been alive today, but based on THE EVIDENCE, there is an excellent chance that George Zimmerman would have been dead.

Of course, when it is ok to be victimized and killed per the Brady Campaign.  Aggressors have a g-d given right to be protected against a victim defending themselves?  How dare a victim turn the tables on their aggressor?

Sure enough, the Brady loonies show their real colors once again…

More about the Brady Campaigns lies can be read on this page.

Carbon Monoxide Law in California

February 21, 2012

As of July 1st 2011 all California homes must have Carbon Monoxide detectors installed when a home is built or when it is sold.  I thought this was an odd requirement for a fair weather state.  The CDC claims 400 people die every year in the USA of Carbon Monoxide poisoning.   The State of California accounts for 11% of the population of the US, so if we pro-rate with all other things being equal, that would amount to 47 victims in California every year.  The LA Times claims that up to 40 people die each year in California from Carbon Monoxide poisoning (but they fail to provide a credible reference to that statement.)  Regardless, it demonstrates my extrapolated number roughly agrees with their claim.  There are about 11 million homes in the state, and an average Carbon Monoxide detector costs $25 and lasts 5 years.  So this means that we have just created a  $55 million dollar per year revenue stream for Kidde and the likes for the foreseeable future.  This also means that we the tax payers need to shell out $1.375 million dollar per victim.

Now, Kidde and other interested groups tell us about the dangers of Carbon Monoxide poisoning but they forget to tell us that Carbon Monoxide poisoning is common in cold states where people operate gas fueled heaters in a closed home.  This is not common in the State of California.  Also they claim that Carbon Monoxide poisoning can happen from a malfunctioning gas burning appliance like a furnace but the overwhelming number of accidents is from someone stupidly operating a gas generator inside a home for power and heating.

So in reality, Carbon Monoxide related deaths due to malfunctions is insignificant and we have to ask ourselves why California State Senator Alan Lowenthal (D-Long Beach) pushed this bill through.  I wonder how much Kidde contributed to his campaign… This bill doesn’t make sense for California.

Sewing Machines Sales Practices

February 18, 2012

In the market for a sewing machine?  Think that it’s a competitive consumer market? WRONG!

Low end sewing machines can be purchased at your local discount store (Walmart/Target/Sears/etc.), but if you are looking for anything better, you’ll have to go to a local sewing machine store where you will meet your local franchise owner of brands like Brother/Bernina/Elna/Singer.  If you call around sewing stores to price shop, you’ll discover that the dealers will make statements such as:

1) “We’re not allowed to provide prices over the phone”  and they will tell you they can lose their license if they provide the price over the phone.  The only thing they will provide over the phone is the list price which is absurd.

2) “We don’t service machines that weren’t purchased here”.

3) “We don’t service machines that weren’t purchased through an authorized dealer”.

When you come to the store, you’ll hear about the “great sale” they are having and they will make sure they point out the list price.  Well, their sales never end, and the list prices are unrealistic.  In reality, the machine manufacturers have established sales territories where dealers have exclusivity and the franchising agreements are set up to protect those territories.  When we purchased our first sewing machine we got bitten.

Recently, we purchases a serger.  Once again no one would provide prices over the phone.  Everyone wanted us to come in since “hands on the wheel are sure to close a deal”.  Since we realized that sewing machines are sold like cars, we decided to purchase it like if we were purchasing a car.

Outcome?  We walked out with a brand new ELNA-745 serger for $575 out the door, list price $1,799 – LOL to that!

So, if you are in the market for a sewing machine, find the machine you like, and then haggle haggle haggle!  The dealers are scum balls and use the same tactics as used car salesmen.  They will force you into their store for a price, they try to convince you that if you don’t buy from them you won’t be able to service your machine, they will dazzle you with a “sale” price and make sure they show you the sticker list price to try to convince you that you are getting a good deal.  So don’t forget that you can easily bring the price down another 15% if you haggle a bit.

Gas prices and “excessive profits”

February 18, 2012

Recently I heard of an initiative to create a federal committee that aims to set the profit margins of gasoline producers due to what some call “excessive profits”.   Apparently, this “independent” and “just” committee will determine a “fair” profit that the gasoline producers will be allowed to keep.

That got me wondering just how much the State and Federal governments profit from gasoline sales and whether those were “fair” or “excessive” profits.

So when I stopped to gas up, I took a photo of the breakdown of taxes (included at the bottom) and did the following calculations:

Looking at the data, it comes as a bit of a surprise that 27.6% of the price we pay at the pump is taxes!  I am not sure I know of any other product on the market that is so heavily taxed by the government!  Of that, the State of California makes a whopping 20.7%.

So, if this committee ever becomes reality (probably won’t) I propose we create an equivalent citizen’s committee that will determine what a “fair” government tax is on gas 🙂

Picture taken at the gas station detailing the various State and Federal taxes: