I got a phone call yesterday from the TV repair shop. I’m not sure what changed between a month ago when they said it was “unrepairable” and yesterday, but now the TV somehow “meets factory spec.” How does that work? It’s out of whack enough to warrant a new CRT, but when the problem doesn’t go away it becomes factory spec?

I fought with people for probably two hours on the phone yesterday. The warranty company won’t do anything for me if the repair shop claims it’s factory spec, and the repair shop isn’t budging on its new factory spec claim.

The ultra-fishy part is that several times the repair shop guy claimed that the “warranty company’s western district service representative agrees it’s in factory spec.” As far as I’m concerned, the warranty company should have NO SAY WHATSOEVER on whether the product is within spec, so the added information that some district rep agrees that everything’s kosher is alarming. Not unsurprising, though - it means they won’t actually have to make good on the warranty. “Factory spec means we won’t have to pay? Looks factory spec to me!”

So they’re delivering the TV back to me, in its current condition, this Tuesday. Anyone want a 40” Sony XBR CRT TV? Going cheap - any offer/best offer. Otherwise it’s probably going to be donated to Goodwill or the Salvation Army so I can get the tax write-off. Seriously - folks who aren’t as picky as I am may not notice what I’m seeing. Only caveat is that you have to arrange the transport of the thing. Any takers, email me or leave a comment. Contact information is in the left column at the bottom.

Beyond accepting delivery, there’s not much I can do. I could file a Better Business Bureau claim or report them to the state attorney general, but everyone is technically within the legal bounds of their contracts. All I’d end up looking like is a whiny customer who didn’t get their way. It all boils down to what Sony claims is “factory spec.”

As such, I propose instead an open letter to Sony:

Dear Sony:

At one time in my life, I had potentially the largest brand loyalty with Sony that anyone could have with an electronics manufacturer. I felt it was worth paying extra for the name and the inherent reliability of the Sony products. My original CD player was Sony and it lasted 10 years before giving up the ghost - that’s like seven years longer than the average/expected lifespan of a CD player. I couldn’t have been happier.

With that brand loyalty in mind, I purchased the KV40XBR800 - the largest tube on the market, and a beautiful set. I’m a video perfectionist, and it provided the perfect picture clarity and precision that I was looking for.

Two years after purchase, I moved. Within a year of the move, the TV started exhibiting strange behavior - odd color shifts, distorted images… out of the factory warranty, I used the extended warranty I had purchased.

Long story short, even after replacing the CRT in the television, the strange behavior persists. I learned that this behavior adheres to “Sony factory spec” and the television will not be repaired because it meets said spec.

It’s hard for me to believe that the “factory spec” for a high-end electronics product like my television is so low. Had the picture looked like this in the store, I’d never have purchased the set.

I’m now stuck with a 300 pound carpet weight and have to buy a new TV. I’m looking into the LCD models - models that won’t distort the way the CRT-based sets do - and I’ll be honest: Sony is not in the running. I can’t afford to pay the extra price and take the chance on the set again, particularly if factory spec is at the sub-par level it sounds like it is.

With that and the PSP debacle recently (units have to have 13 dead pixels to be out of factory spec? even a single dead pixel is absolutely unacceptable, particularly in a handheld unit at that price), I have lost faith in Sony. In all honesty, I’m not sure there’s a way back for me, beyond your making good on the promise of a high-end TV that I paid money for - a TV that lasted two years and now needs replacing. However, somehow I don’t see you sending me a new LCD TV.

Thanks for the good times, Sony. Too bad they’re over. -T

personal comments edit

A while ago I was looking at password management options and came across the Mandylion Labs password token/keychains. I thought they were pretty cool, but the price point on them was a little high for what I was hoping to spend at the time.

Recently, the president of the company (who left a comment on my previous blog entry) contacted me again and we started talking about the future of password management, what people today decide to trust (and what they don’t), and so forth, and he mentioned that, while their newer models are light-years better than the original/older versions, he happened to have one of the older ones he could send me to play with.

Mandylion Labs
ebpLiteEnter the Mandylion Labs ebpLite. Very simple five-button interface (just like the newer models), securely stores 20 passwords, has the ability to auto-generate passwords, remind you when passwords expire… Pretty slick, if I do say so myself.

Admittedly, the five button interface takes a bit of getting used to. Certain key combinations do certain things (navigate through menus, enter account data, etc.) and it takes a couple of seconds running through the quick start guide to really get it going. Once you’ve gotten over that hump, though, the benefits of the thing totally take over. Running a super-secure environment? Tell it to irretrievably destroy its contents when a user fails to unlock it correctly. Got certain password complexity requirements? Set up an auto-generation password schema so next time you need a new password it will generate one for you that meets all the requirements.

Pretty crazy the amount of stuff you can fit into such a small package. And this isn’t even the latest model.

They sell a newer model over at ThinkGeek, but the price point is still a little steep for the average end user. I’ve heard they’re going to have a more consumer-oriented model at a lower price point soon. Definitely something to look into if you’re still in the stone ages keeping your passwords written on sticky notes attached to your monitor or floating unsecured around your PDA.

downloads, vs, coderush comments edit

The new version has been released and provides the following updates:

Added logging to the DXCore “Messages” window.

Fixed bug where nested lists weren’t rendering correctly.

Optimized context menu creation.

Optimized handling of XmlDocuments for faster rendering in preview window.

Updated parser error handling to more accurately display information about the location of errors in XML comments. (Errors now show approximate line/character locations in relation to the source document as well as in relation to the XML comment begin/end.)

Fixed bug where attributes on unrecognized tags weren’t passing through to be rendered.

Go get it!

This past three-day weekend was a blast. Jenn, Stuart, Tiffany, and I all went up to Seattle on the train.

Clockwise from top left - Stuart, Travis, Jenn, and

Three days and two nights of chaos and mayhem. Among other things, we saw Pike Place Market, Experience Music Project, and the Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame.

EMP and the Sci-Fi Museum were my favorite stops. The two put together took us pretty much an entire day. EMP sucked us in with the tons of cool exhibits and hands-on demonstrations of musical concepts, and the Sci-Fi Museum was a blast with all sorts of science fiction paraphernalia. From movie props to original novels scripts, they had it all. I even got a picture of myself next to Gort. (For reference, I’m 6’2” tall; Gort dwarfs me.)

The Day Seattle Stood Still: Gort and

Honestly, normally I do the whole play-by-play of all the things we did, but it was so much I don’t even know where to begin. I’ll just say it was a lot of fun and a great weekend to decompress.

Only downside: too much walking. I think the next vacation’s gotta be lying on the beach drinking umbrella drinks. Give these tootsies a rest.