Friday, February 26, 2016

Bryant and Stratton College Calls Me

An overly perky rep from Bryant and Stratton College called me yesterday. Bryant and Stratton College is a for-profit institution with campuses in a handful of states across the country. They have noted alumni such as John D. Rockefeller and Henry Ford. They must be eager to add Clovis to their list of distinguished alumni, as they've been spamming his inbox for nearly a year now.

The Bryant and Stratton College rep indicated that Clovis has requested information on March 5th. Clovis, of course, wondered if she was from the future, as it was still only February. The rep then backtracked and said that Clovis requested information on February 5th of last year. All this talk of fifths made Clovis eager for a fifth of Jack Daniels, which Clovis immediately took a swig of and ended up barfing back up. The rep didn't stick around in order to overhear the cleanup effort. So, it would appear that Clovis won't be attending Bryant and Stratton College anytime soon.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Nextbook 8 Tablet Review

We picked up the Nextbook 8 tablet (manufactured by E Fun INC) over Christmas for our pre-schooler. It's basically just something for him to use to play games during long car rides. For around $75, it's a decent entry-level tablet. I'm mostly geeked out about the HDMI interface which would come in handy for watching Netflix on a hotel's television. But, as I said, it's mostly used for playing games during long car rides, and, in that aspect, it works fine. With Android games being more and more memory intensive, the RAM on the Nextbook 8 tablet gets used up pretty quickly. Storage isn't really an issue, though, because the SD card slot allows for expansion when needed. There's no Bluetooth available, so that's a bit of a letdown as well. Where the Nextbook 8 tablet really fails epically is customer support.

After about a month, the touch screen on the Nextbook 8 went bad. I would have originally taken the tablet back to the store to exchange it, but it was past the 30 day return period. So, I called Nextbook customer support. I couldn't get through, so I went to their website and filled out a ticket asking for an RMA (return materials authorization). It took them over 24 hours to respond to me. I was given the typical rundown of troubleshooting techniques which I dutifully ran through and then responded that the screen was still dead. Another 24 hours after my response, I head back from Nextbook again and was told that, since I did not purchase the Nextbook 8 tablet from a national retailer (indeed, I purchased from what might be considered a small regional retailer) that they would not fix it. Period.

So, when faced with this situation, I backtracked and told the support representative that I had mis-spoke and that I had purchased the Nextbook 8 from Wal-Mart. I was then assured that they would fix the Nextbook 8 as long as I still had the receipt. Since I didn't have the receipt handy, and since I found it highly unusual that a manufacturer would require a receipt in order to fix a physical defect, especially since the Clickscreen Death on the Nextbook 8 is so widely known.  I asked for my request to be escalated up a tier. And this is where the stonewalling started. I kept getting asked for more and more information between 24 hour communication intervals. Finally, I was told that, since I had initially said that I had bought the Nextbook 8 from a regional retailer, rather than Wal-Mart, they would not process my RMA and that I would have to take up my case with the regional retailer.

At this point, I had come too far and I wasn't going to start this battle up again with another customer support team. Instead, I told the Nextbook 8 representative that I had indeed bought the tablet from Wal-Mart and could prove it with a receipt. The rep then sternly warned me that their Nextbook 8 techs would thoroughly inspect the unit and if it hadn't been purchased from Wal-Mart, they'd charge me for a new Nextbook 8 and for return shipping. Since I had never used my real name in any communication with them, I wasn't worried. I took my original receipt from the regional retailer, used Photoshop to make it look like it was from Wal-Mart and sent them a copy. They issued me a new Nextbook 8 tablet free-of-charge within two weeks.

So far, the new Nextbook 8 has been working pretty well. We'll see what happens, though.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Fallout 4: More Of My Greatest Kills

Several more hours into Fallout 4 and I've got another video compilation of my coolest kills. It almost seems that, the higher up in levels you are, the more glitches creep in to Fallout 4. I'm noticing more odd ragdoll effects, more frozen ghouls and other odd aggro glitches since passing Level 50.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

FDA Says ‘Parmesan’ Cheese Might Actually Be Cheddar or Wood Pulp

This situation has me feeling a little bleu. The FDA reports that some products described as "100 percent Parmesan" routinely have cut-rate substitutes such as cheddar, Swiss and mozzarella. That's no Gouda! Worse, some might even be composed entirely of wood pulp. The revelations came about as the result of a criminal investigation into Castle Cheese, supplier for the market brands at Target and some other stores. Castle Cheese had filed for bankruptcy in 2014 after a fired factory worker ratted the company out to the FDA. Substituting wood pulp for cheese? What Muensters!!!

One should note that the "wood pulp" that the FDA refers to isn't wood per se. It's not sawdust. It's cellulose. Plant fiber. It's a harmless ingredient that's added to the grated cheese to prevent clumping, so all of you thinking that it's some sort of toxic ingredient aren't being all that sharp. Still, people in the industry maintain that packs of grated Parmesan are full of fraud: One cheese-maker fighting for stricter labeling laws says 40 percent of what's out there isn't even a cheese product, and a Dairy Farmers of America subsidiary claims its tests showed only one-third of cheese labels are accurate. Bloomberg also ran some lab tests on brands of "100 percent" grated Parmesan to see how much wood pulp. they contained. The results were quite grating:

Essential Everyday 100% Grated Parmesan Cheese, from Jewel-Osco, was 8.8 percent cellulose. Wal-Mart Stores Inc.'s Great Value 100% Grated Parmesan Cheese registered 7.8 percent.
Whole Foods 365 brand didn't list cellulose as an ingredient on the label, but still tested at 0.3 percent. Kraft had 3.8 percent.

Now, it sounds like there are legitimate reasons to use cellulose, such as preventing clumping in shaker cheese. It probably comes down not so much to the fact that they use cellulose, since that appears to be an anti-clumping industry standard, but it's the percentage of cellulose used compared to the amount of real cheese that's the issue. It's essentially bait and switch to advertise 100% Parmesan and give the consumer anything less.