Thursday, February 27, 2020

Robot Woes

While I'm still very distracted from my nature adventures I want to tell you the story of my vacuum cleaner misadventure. Let's get into it.

It started out wonderful. I bought a brand new robot vacuum cleaner to replace my old Roomba that wasn't quite as spry as it used to be. I told you about it here in this post. It was the Neato Botvac D4. And it ran wonderfully for the first 3 months.

Then one day it began acting kind of confused and was moving a little slowly. The main problem though was that it kept getting stuck and giving an error whenever it tried to return to its recharging base.

I have to admit that I panicked a little. I thought I had spent $500 on a lemon and it would never work right again. I needed that robot vacuum cleaner! I'm much too busy to vacuum the house every day myself. And it had been doing such a great job of cleaning up the dog hair! But not now. A house full of dog hair is a horrible thing.

After I calmed down a bit I followed the links to the chat with Neato Support. The guy was actually very helpful. He asked me to try a few tests, which I did, to see if the machine could fix itself. Which it didn't. At the end of the chat, there didn't seem to be a solution. I was not very happy.

But then the support person followed up on my case through email the next day. He asked me if the machine had improved. I said no. And after a little back and forth he set me up with the information to send my vacuum cleaner in for the company to look at.

I took my machine to FedEx where I paid them about $20 to package the machine securely for me. I could have done it myself for free, but I figured they'd do it better. And they knew exactly what to do. And so my precious investment was sent off for servicing.

After about a week I got a large package delivered to me by FedEx. It was my vacuum cleaner! The great thing was that I didn't have to pay a dime for them to fix it for me. I wasn't sure about that part when I began the process.

I got it all unboxed and took the time to charge it back up, and then I started it up on a good test run to make sure it was okay. It wasn't! The robot acted confused and then errored when it tried to return to the charging base. After a closer examination I saw that they had replaced the filter, and maybe the brush, but they had done absolutely no repair on it. Again, I was not happy. It was time to try the chat support again.

After quite a lot of time and frustration talking to this new person who seemed kind of skeptical about my situation, I finally got it through to them that this machine really needed to be repaired. I learned during the chat that they could monitor the machine over the internet. I'm not so sure how much I like that. But it was time to send the machine back to the company for them to service it one more time. Would they actually fix it this time?

This time I just packed it back into the box it came in. No extra charges for me. I made the trip back to Sioux City to the FedEx Store and sent it off again. Again, they knew exactly what to do. The woman there even knew right away when I walked in that I had a robot vacuum in the box. Impressive.

And so, after another week I got my machine back again. I wasn't exactly encouraged about a successful repair this time because of my previous experience, but I was still hopeful. So, what do you think happened when I was able to do the test run?

Success! It was working! My vacuum cleaner was repaired this time, and it was back to its old great working self. My dog still thinks this second robot is a jerk, but it works just fine now. My dog doesn't like this one because she was kinda best pals with the old one. She loved playing with it while it cleaned. She thinks this one stole its job.

In the end, (and after this long post), I'm happy with the support I received from the company. It took a little too long to figure out that the machine should get fixed, but they did fix it and they did it for free. Free is all I could ask for.

And that's my story. Maybe you don't want to read another one like this, but I think my next post is going to be about the new computer I just built. I'm going to whine a bit about that one too. I hope you can stand it.

I'll talk to you later.

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

My Internet Is Finally Back

It seems like circumstances and just my own laziness are conspiring to drive away any blog friends I have left here. The last update I gave was about my lack of internet. I'm glad to say that those problems have been finally solved. It actually only took about a week to get things settled. I really need to tell you about it. This might be a slightly longer story than usual. I hope you can last till the end.

On a Monday I had two appointments with my internet company to see about getting my internet sorted out.

The first appointment was to survey my situation to see about getting high-speed fiber optic cable put in here in the future. The government gave my service provider a lot of money to provide this new stuff for all of us in the surrounding rural area.

They only came out to assess the situation this time. They'll lay down the cable sometime around the middle of summer. Then hopefully by the end of the year, they'll connect everything up to the houses.

My internet speed at the time they came out was about 3mbps. Once they're finished they tell me my new speed will be 1gbps. That's well over 300 times as fast as my original speed. I'll finally be as fast as the modern civilized world when they're done.

But that's almost a year away from now. What happened in the second appointment?

The second appointment was so they could come out and replace my old non-working internet equipment with some new stuff that should fix me up just fine. They also said the new stuff will work with the fiber optic internet when it comes.

When the guys got there they came in and looked at the old box. The guy immediately told me that everyone who still had that old box was complaining. He also said that box was miserably outdated and they couldn't even update it anymore.

I wondered why they didn't send me a letter or something to upgrade me in the first place. They should have come out a long time ago. I should not have had to call them to tell them there was a problem. Even so, they were here now to fix it.

They did a quick unplug of the old box and plugged in the two new boxes that I have now. The guy said everything should be fine now.

As we were talking, the guy incidentally asked me about what I was currently paying for their service. I told him and, even though he tried to hide it, he looked a little shocked. He then assumed I was also getting phone service too. I told him no, that I was only getting internet. I was not happy. I now knew I was paying way too much and had been for years.

He then asked me what my internet speed was. I told him the 3mbps. He then informed me that I could get 10mbps right now. All I had to do is call and they would just flip a switch. Well, why didn't they just do it automatically? He said it would cost a little extra. That's fine. I'd just like to get out of the stone age!

Let me explain something. Before I moved here from Michigan, internet wasn't as fast as it is today anywhere. 10mbps is probably the fastest internet I've ever had. I was now as happy as can be and I forgot about my problem with them not taking care of this easier for me.

Then when I called them to get that switch flipped, they told me the cost would be different. Can you guess what the difference might be?

Not only did they upgrade my current internet speed, but I now pay only half the price I was paying before. I'm finally feeling good about my internet here. I can even watch HD video content now. And the only thing holding me back from posting new stuff here is my own laziness and the weather you see in today's pictures. I'll talk to you later, hopefully sooner.