I Switched From VideoPress to YouTube

Several weeks ago I decided to stop using VideoPress (an Automattic video service) for video uploads and switched to YouTube. Here’s a quick list of reasons why:

  • Larger uploads.
  • Fewer upload failures (none yet).
  • Easier sharing.
  • Privacy options.
  • Better quality.
  • Descriptions with links and comments.
  • The channel and playlists.

The only thing I can think of that I’m losing is direct access to the original file. I couldn’t think of a single instance where I needed to go back and get my original video file though. I haven’t actually checked on YouTube, so it might be there.

Review: My Golf Locker

I decided to try out a new service, My Golf Locker, which sends you golf clothing and accessories matching a schedule and budget you select in your account. It looked neat.

It was not.

Their terrible web site should have tipped me off. Whenever you log in or visit your account page, you get a popup informing you of your successful log in, even if you were already logged in! Click out to another page, then click to access your account… “You’ve successfully logged in!” Talk about annoying.

The service lets you browse items on the site and select something if you want it included in your next shipment. Problem was, another piece of the service, would email you each day reminding you of an item you liked. It did this even after a box, which included the item they were relentlessly reminding me about, had been shipped.

When I looked at the contents of that first box, it included the rain pants I had selected and only 1 other item. A Nike golf shirt for $110! I don’t know who pays that much for a shirt, but definitely not me! If it was guaranteed to take 10 strokes off my score I might consider it.

I ended up finding a similar pair of rain pants at the Under Armor outlet in Birch Run for much cheaper so I returned the entire box. When the refund showed up on my credit card, I closed my account.

Don’t waste your time or money on My Golf Locker.

Update on Living Without Cable TV

It’s been a few more months since I cancelled Charter’s TV service and everything has worked out great. I’m still loving Playstation Vue and it was even excellent for watching March Madness. I still haven’t adjusted my HD antenna either, which should tell you how much I watch live TV on the local channels. With Vue having On Demand for ABC, CBS, and NBC, I didn’t even need to use the Tablo to record any of my shows on those channels, so adjusting the antenna hasn’t bumped up my priority list. I added everything to the My Shows list in my Playstation Vue account and it’s easy to watch everything there. With so much great content on Netflix as well, it’s hard to start watching any new shows on traditional TV. I won’t be going back to cable TV anytime soon.

HackerBox #0018 – Circuit Circus

It’s not often an online ad catches my eye, but when I saw one for HackerBoxes, I clicked through. I’ve enjoyed Adafruit’s quarterly subscription service AdaBox and wondered if this was similar.

The HackerBoxes look lower quality, but are cheaper ($44 compared to $60, both with free shipping) and ship monthly instead of quarterly. The previous boxes listed on the site looked neat and sell for $59 before shipping so it seemed like a pretty good deal. I really like the idea of having something new to tinker with each month instead of only 4 times a year. I signed up and was surprised to get a shipment notification for the most recent box.

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This box is based around a little Transistor Tester kit you build. It also comes with a variety of extra electronic components that help go through a series of tutorials and aid in experimenting with circuits and the tester. If this box is any indication, I’m going to enjoy these each month.

It took me a couple of hours to assemble and solder the tester kit. I recorded it (had to stop twice to recharge the GoPro battery) and ended up with over 100 minutes of video! Nobody wants to watch all of that, so I cut out some empty space and sped it up to 20x.

Now I have a cool test device built by hand…

H&R Block Knows the Value of a Customer

I usually do my own taxes, but with the sale of pokerchiptricks.com and all of the other miscellaneous income from web sites this year, I was more than a little confused. I started with the free TaxCut federal version from H&R Block. Once I got to the part for State taxes, I went ahead and purchased the Michigan version for $24.95. My credit card ended up being charged twice for some reason.

After completing my taxes to the best of my ability I figured it was probably a smart idea to have a tax professional do them. I called H&R Block on Wednesday of last week and made an appointment for Thursday after work. I stopped in with my stack of receipts and records. An hour and a half later I was walking out the door with some homework. I forgot about some of the home business use deductions/expenses I could take. I called back the next day, giving the amounts I came up with. She said everything would be done and I could stop in after work.

So I stopped back in and spent nearly another hour having her explain everything to me. She said it was one of the larger piles of paper she had seen for a tax return. If I had gone with my TaxCut run through I would have had quite a few mistakes, so I’m glad I had a pro take care of it. After a $40 coupon, it cost me $625 which I think is a bit high, but H&R Block has their Guarantee thing which is part of that total price, so if they made a mistake, they pay for it, not me. They charge according to the number of forms and everything too, so with a complicated return, the cost goes way up.

The tax professional I worked with and the woman working the front desk were both very courteous to me each time I came in or talked to them on the phone. Overall I had a very good experience at their office and was surprised how friendly they were considering it was the last couple of days of tax season.

This weekend I jumped online and sent an email to customer support explaining my position with the double charge for the state version of their software and also asking if I could get refunded for both charges since I went in to one of their offices and paid a pretty penny to get my taxes prepared. A day later I received a message explaining I would be refunded for both charges and they didn’t ask me anything. Not a single question about what office I visited (they may have looked it up on their own) or anything. I don’t know how many other times I’ve had bad customer service experiences where the company didn’t realize the value of a customer and word of mouth. I’ll highly recommend using H&R Block to anyone in the future.

Free DNS from OpenDNS

I’m testing out OpenDNS here at work on my main computer. I’ll try out any service to replace something on our network. In testing the past couple of minutes some web pages seem to load faster and some slower. I’ll also be setting it up at home to see how it performs. Time will tell. (via Matt)