February 18, 2024

The detritus of life……

Firstly, apologies.

The blog has gotten left by the wayside of late. No good reason other than lack of desire. That’s pretty pathetic if’n you ask me.

We’re still in “transition” at this juncture in the new house, which we are coming up on 5 months of occupation. Life has been full of honey doo’s of late.

Most of the general moving in, getting settled stuff is complete at this juncture. We finally got the last of the blinds installed last week and now, pretty much I’m tweaking things. I’ve replaced three light switches with motion sensing switches, in the garage, laundry room and stairwell.

After instantiating Home-Assistant, I realized our wiz bang absurdly expensive fireplace did not have wi-fi connectivity. Doing some spelunking around the web, it’s a simple add-on module and to buy it was about $200. Contacting Hearth and Home, their installed price is the same so I paid them to do it. The problem with them is they are very short handed and it takes 2-3 weeks for a tech to come out. He was here for about 10 minutes and done.

We did this because the remote that was supplied with the fireplace is, to be kind, clunky. At least it’s a great deal more physically robust than the POS remote we had in Reston in which I broke the PCB the first time the batteries needed to be changed. But operationally it’s significantly less than optimal. The wi-fi module allows for operation from a phone, but more importantly there is already an integration in Home-Assistant.

The amusing thing is I’ve already had to force my Ubiquiti UDM-SE to reconnect to the wi-fi module as it had lost it’s way. Not exactly awe-inspiring. I had contacted H&H about it and their answer was to schedule a tech to come out in a couple of weeks. No mention was made of re-connecting or anything else for that matter. H’mmm.

The latest activity has been centered around using 2 Samsung Galaxy Tab A8 tablets to act as media players for Melanie to listen to music in the utility room and master bedroom. Thought is, at this juncture, that I’ll build a dashboard in Home Assistant to act as a media server, but for now I installed the Square Home launcher and built simple touch screens to turn on Amazon Music, iHeart Radio, Spotify, etc, etc, etc.

I had bought two wall mounts for the tablets and while they are a bit underwhelming, they will do the job. Additionally I had bought two usb wall outlets to power the tablets. When I went to mount the tablets, it’s clear the existing wall boxes stick way too far out and either a recessed box is required or a spacer. The problem with the recessed box is it’s ginormous. It’s about twice the size as a normal box, and 4 1/4″ deep which I don’t have. So for now I’m going to make spacers out of 1/2″ plywood and paint them black and see how that works out.

We had bought a fairly expensive Nutone Doorbell from Amazon back in the summer to install in the house. It was a fairly interesting ordeal, and I don’t know if the thing was defective from the get-go or the electrician buggered it up, but it never worked right. When I took it down, the wiring was decidedly not per the diagram on the front of the thing.

I had bought another power supply as the electrician told me the originally one had died, which reinforced my thought about him being the causing factor in the problem. Hooking the doorbell to the power supply per the schematic indicated that the chime was as desired, but one of the big power resistors got very hot and charred the board. I immediately removed power. The resistor got so hot that the marking are no longer readable.

So, I called Nutone. That was amusing. The first question was “where did you get that?”. They indicated the doorbell had been obsoleted some 2 years ago. Looking at my order on Amazon the seller was “Merchandise Mecca”, the agent said, oh, we do a lot of business with them. She said they didn’t have any units to replace my defective one with. She gave me a phone number for Merchandise Mecca and sent me on my way.

Calling M-M, they said they didn’t typically answer the phone but provided an e-mail address to contact them. So I sent them an e-mail about a warranty replacement and of course no response was forthcoming. I then sent them two messages via Amazon about it with the same result.

So last night, I found a way to do a “chat” with an Amazon rep about the issue. I didn’t have much optimism about the whole thing, but after about 20 minutes they said I could return the thing for a full refund. To be honest, I was gobsmacked. Then sent a QR code, so I have to get the thing in a box and bring it to UPS.

When we moved in the house we were presented with this jewel in the front flower bed:

I asked one of the neighbors about it and he commented that it had been there as long as they had been in the house which was 10+ years.

The only indication on it was it was owned by Verizon. Trying to figure out who to call was interesting, but at the end of the day dialing “611” on the phone put me in contact with an entity from the state who kept all these secrets. The nice lady gave me a phone number for Verizon. I went through several operators before getting the the right department. I explained the thing was sitting on it’s side and exposed to the weather.

She indicated that she would schedule an appointment for someone to come look at it. A day or so later I got a plethora of e-mail and text messages announcing the appointment but only within a 4 hour window.

So the tech comes out and he laughs. He picks the thing upright having to wiggle it around to make certain it didn’t fall over again and takes a bunch of photos. He says he’s not allowed to dig without call “Miss Utility”.

So, as you would expect nothing happened. We had a big wind storm which blew the thing over again, so I called Verizon again. This time I talked to a nice lady in New Jersey (with a very pronounced New Jersey accent) who was very flustered that nothing had happened. It was a Friday afternoon but she said someone would be in touch on Monday about someone coming out.

So on Monday we went through the same e-mail/texting evolution about somebody coming out in the afternoon. I was busy doing something when I got an e-mail from them asking how my appointment went. What?

So I go downstairs and this is what I see:

Woo-hoo! It’s gone. The tech cut the wire flush with the surface and took the junction box. Well done Verizon!

That’s all for now.

Next time we’ll talk about the annual Fairfax Labor Day Car Show.

written by Chris - Posted in Yapping