damnum absque injuria

July 2, 2010

iCrap Update

Filed under:   by Xrlq @ 10:57 pm

Seems the iPhone has a little-known defect: its bars tell you how strong Verizon’s signal is, but it actually runs on AT&T’s network. Who knew?

May 3, 2010

Got Droid?

Filed under:   by Xrlq @ 9:28 pm

I finally took the Droid plunge, which set me back a whopping $19.99 for a two-year contract. Today alone it paid for itself when I found a coffee maker I liked at Target, scanned the bar code, and zapped it to Amazon, who offers it for $30 less. So definitely money well spent, at an online store that offers discounts you won’t find anywhere else (that I know of, anyway). Two words of caution, though. First, anything you buy at Wirefly is subject to a deep “equipment discount” which can be recouped if you downgrade your service during the first 181 days that your phone is in service. That pitfall is best avoided by signing up for the cheapest plan that qualifies, as there is no penalty for upgrading your service, only downgrading. The other word of cautions is do not even THINK of purchasing the sad excuse for insurance they offer there. Either do without insurance or get the real thing through your carrier. The lame “insurance” Wirefly offers you from Mobile Device Protection Association excludes practically every kind of damage that can ever happen to your phone. It’s probably not even legal; at a glance it appears to be an illegal insurance contract offered by a company not licensed to transact insurance. Whatever it is, it’s a rip-off, so don’t buy it. Get your phone from Wirefly, order the cheapest plan that qualifies, and get everything else through your carrier from then on.

UPDATE: Per commenter Ben G. it seems I may have overpaid.

February 9, 2010


Filed under:   by Xrlq @ 9:45 pm

Experian is getting hit with a class action on the novel theory that false advertising in a domain name is false advertising. My heart bleeds.

February 3, 2010

On the Kindle Kerfluffle

Filed under:   by Xrlq @ 8:36 am

What he said.

August 30, 2009


Filed under:   by Xrlq @ 11:31 pm

Anyone tried it? I had VOIP with Packet8 and SunRocket in Cali, then had no choice but to revert to POTS in Virginia since neither cable nor DSL was available in the Land of Gooches at the time. I didn’t bother going back to VOIP upon moving to NC, as I got a pretty good deal on POTS, but $0 a month sounds like a better deal still. Any catch?

August 29, 2009

Ikean 101

IKEA has an annoying habit of being too lazy to write instruction manuals for their furniture, relying instead on a bunch of cutesy drawings that are supposed to tell you what you need to do. Recently I purchased a bookshelf (Expedit) and learned this lesson the hard way. For future reference, this:

means “on the off chance you are not clairvoyant enough to figure out from these cryptic drawings everything you could possibly need to know, but are clairvoyant enough to recognize that there’s something you don’t get from the pictures, and are also clairvoyant enough to know Ikea’s phone number off the top of your head, but are too stupid to know that it’s Ikea you should be calling for assistance, here’s what to do.

Also note that this:

means “Don’t even think of putting this bookshelf in an upright position until it is fully assembled or the damned thing will collapse under its own weight.”

Betcha didn’t know that.

UPDATE: To their credit, they took it back without incident. Heading home now with a new one, and one more opportunity to find my same butt with my same two hands and the same flashlight, but a slightly more detailed butt-map.

FINAL UPDATE: The butt-map makes all the difference. Once I knew what should have been in the instruction manual but wasn’t, assembling the next one, and the rest of Mrs. X’s new set, was easy.

July 31, 2009

iFought the Law and iWon

Filed under:   by Xrlq @ 12:36 pm

Apparently, many of those cool apps for the iPhone have more unlawful than lawful uses.

July 23, 2009

Title Insurance

Filed under:   by Xrlq @ 8:41 pm

Tuesday’s Wall Street Journal has an interesting article on title insurance, which some regard as a bit of a scam – enough so that one state, Iowa, prohibits it outright. OK, so maybe prohibit is the wrong word. Let’s just say they prohibit title insurance like most states that have lotteries prohibit gambling. Or given that their own title certificates are reinsured by the same eeeeeevil title insurers they forbid to issue policies in the state, maybe the better analogy would be to a hypothetical state that forbid gambling while maintaining a lottery and subcontracting that lottery out to Harrah’s. Something like that, I dunno.

The thing about title insurance is that it’s an odd bird that by all right really shouldn’t’ be called insurance. If I spent $20,000 on a new car, with $1,000 going to the manufacturing cost of the vehicle itself and the other $19,000 on its warranty, it might make sense to call my car an insurance policy, since after all, that’s where most of the price goes. But we don’t call cars insurance policies just because they carry warranties; we recognize that they are products that are primarily about doing something other than risk allocation. The element of the warranty is merely ancillary to that. Ditto for title insurance, where upwards of 80%, often more like 90%, is retained by the agent as commission that the insurer never sees. That’s because far more blood, sweat and tears is spent scouring public records for potential title defects, fixing such defects, etc. than in insuring against the relatively remote risk that the abstracter missed something. So calling the composite product “insurance” is a bit like calling a dog a tail.

That said, if you do think you’re paying too much for title insurance – the insurance part, not the abstracting – then it would seem that the most obvious solution would be to abolish the monoline laws in many states* that forbid title insurers to write other lines of insurance and vice-versa. If every property and casualty insurer could compete with your title insurer, the market wouldn’t be so damned concentrated, and the famous invisible hand would drive prices down, no?

Full disclosure: When I lived in Virginia I worked for what at the time was the fourth largest title insurer in the country. There’s no love lost between me and that particular title insurer, however, and I can’t say I shed a tear when they declared bankruptcy last year. Schadenfreude ist die schönste Freude.

*With ramifications for all states, since several of those monoline laws cover insurance written in other states, as well.

May 1, 2009

Gun Owners Agree: F*** Me Harder!

Filed under:   by Xrlq @ 8:39 pm

I’m long over my one-man boycott against Wal-Mart for doing the equivalent of handing someone a 12 caviar specimens for requesting a dozen eggs, but apparently, the gunnies are not done taking me to task for the same. What is it about gun owners that cause them to accept and even vigorously defend a craptastically low level of customer service no consumer would tolerate for anything else?

January 17, 2009

Wal-Mart and Ammo Redux

Filed under:   by Xrlq @ 11:11 am

Last fall I bitched about Wal-Mart’s policy of refusing to accept returns on firearm or ammo purchase, even when they were the ones who screwed up, and the customer’s sole error was in trusting a Wal-Mart employee to know WTF he is doing. The official policy is that you can’t return ammo. Apparently, that’s not quite true. I’d like to say I don’t condone what this guy did, and that the right thing to do in such cases is to expose a bad policy publicly rather than to take the law into your own hands, but then again, I took a lot more grief from Wal-Mart apologists for bitching about the policy than this guy will likely get for … well … returning his ammo contrary to store policy.


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