LitMobile: Crappy Hardware, Crappy Customer Service

Consumer warning: I bought a Wireless Lit Solar Powerbank from LitMobile. It never worked properly. Even after more than 15 hours of solar-charging, the battery never got above 50%.

I emailed them to exchange it for another unit (or possibly request a refund). They referred me to RMA@LitMobile.us, which I then emailed. Never heard back from them. That was two weeks ago.

Caveat emptor: litmobile.us/products/wireless-lit-solar-powerbank

The Crap Shifts Once Again

We have decided to move the Crappy Software blog once again.

For the past five years, we have been irregularly posting rants about crappy software on a self-hosted WordPress site at crappysoftware.tvcrit.com, to which we had moved after Blogger became intolerably crappy. Don’t get us wrong, we still like WordPress, but–good gawd!–it’s become such a target for hackers that plugging security holes has become a full-time occupation.

So, we’ve decided to make our new home on WordPress.com–where hopefully the security vulnerabilities are immediately fixed. Our new URL is clunky: crappysoftware.home.blog. And we’re too cheap to pay for an ad-free version of the blog. That’s why you’ll see some click-bait-y ads popping up every once in a while.

We started the Crappy Software Blog on August 24, 2005. In the intervening years, software has definitely not gotten any less crappy. And so we soldier on…

What Is It With This High “Efficiency” Crap? (Maytag Clothes Washer Edition)

When I moved into my first home in 1987, I partially did so to have my own clothes washer and dryer and escape the monotony and tyranny of the laundromat. I bought what would now be considered a “low efficiency,” top-loading washer that worked flawlessly for me for 14 years.

Then, my wife and I bought our first washer together–a “high efficiency” (what a load of crap), front-loading machine, by Frigidaire (the Affinity model). Since then it’s been one problem after another. (See my previous post about it.)

The washer soon developed a mildew stain on the rubber gasket on the front-loading door–despite our care with drying it out after each load and running its cleaning cycles. Turns out, this is a known issue that has affected hundreds of thousands of front-loading HE machines. There was even a class-action lawsuit about it.

To repair it is a major, expensive proposition. If you hire a pro to do it, it costs more than a new washer.

So, we bit the bullet and bought a new washer, donating the old one to a friend. We stuck with HE (big mistake), but got a top loader. Specifically, we spent about $600 at Lowe’s on a Maytag 5.3-cu ft high-efficiency top-load washer (model # MVWB835DW0). It had thousands of positive reviews and an average of 4.5 stars.

The Maytag MVWB835DW in our laundry room.

What a mistake.

From the start, my wife had trouble with lint gathering on her clothes if she hung them up to dry and did not run them through the dryer.

Then, after about a year, it began having a rotten-eggs smell after washing a load. No number of cleaning cycles would get rid of it. Online message boards are filled with complaints about this.

Final straw: This week, 14 months into our ownership of it, the machine began getting stuck in the rinse mode. Won’t go from there to spin without pausing the machine, raising the lid, and re-starting it.

And we’ve never felt that it effectively cleaned our clothes either.

All in all, a piece of crap, and an expensive piece of crap, too.

iTunes: The Crap Just Keeps A-comin’!

Oh, iTunes! Your crappiness knows no bounds!

First, a recent attempt to update you failed. Now, EVERY time I boot my computer I get this error message about APSDaemon failing. A quick Googling reveals that MANY folks are afflicted with this error.

Image missing due to crappy behavior by Blogger, which deleted dozens of my images.

Do I bother trying to troubleshoot this, or do I just uninstall iTunes on this computer–on which I seldom use iTunes anyway because my iPad and iPod are synced to another computer and iTunes does not like us to share accounts among computers.

If computer software could be a dickhead, iTunes would be a dickhead.

Crappy DoubleTwist Installation

DoubleTwist
Holy crap, DoubleTwist!
Not only do you encourage users to install a useless toolbar and a video game (Angry Birds), but you make your installation screen look as if there’s no way to avoid that crap!
As you can see in the screen shot below, the “Custom Installation (Advanced)” choice, which is the only way to get out of the crappy toolbar, appears to be greyed out!

Oh, my, but that’s a crappy trick!

What’s Up with This Crap, Blogger?

Today, whenever I try to do anything on Blogger, I get this error message:

We’re sorry, but we were unable to complete your request.
When reporting this error to Blogger Support or on the Blogger Help Group, please:
Describe what you were doing when you got this error.
Provide the following error code.
bX-kn464r

Weird thing is, whatever I was trying to do (start a new post, publish a post) WORKS, despite the error message.

Crappy Training Software

At the end of my crappy, mandatory, 90-minute, obviously lawyer-induced, the University-covering-its-ass training course in (1) reporting child abuse (how many younger-than-18 students do I encounter?) and (2) handling hazardous materials (which I never do), there was a box for comments. So I wrote:

“Very poorly designed training course. Should NOT rely on browser pop-ups and should NOT be written in Java (a computer language with numerous security holes).”

(The training platform was so poorly implemented that the College tech support had to configure special computers in a lab for faculty and staff to use. Most folks could not get it to run on their own computers.)

Today I got a response from Skillsoft customer support that said, “Thank you for sending in feedback. We appreciate it when subscribers take the time to tell us how they are finding the service. Our courses are designed to work on as many configurations as possible.”

Ah ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha.

Adobe Flash Tries to Pull Some Crap

Y’know what really burns my bacon? When a software update tries to scam you into INSTALLING some other piece of crap.

Looking at you, Adobe Flash Player, and your DEFAULT setting of installing McAfee Security Scan Plus.

And the thing is, Flash has few friends these days and is a dying, decaying platform. So why is Adobe irritating and alienating the few users Flash has left by trying to pull crap like this?

Crappy, Misleading Marketing by Pioneer Electronics: The AVIC-X940BT

I guess I should be accustomed to the marketing of electronics products being full of crap, but it’s still disappointing when you get tripped up by it when purchasing an expensive device that is virtually unreturnable. Here is my story of my latest encounter with crappy, misleading marketing:

I enjoy Pandora radio and I’d worked out a clunky system for getting it to play through my car stereo. It involved a gizmo plugged in to my car’s aux input and the manual control of Pandora on my Droid Incredible 2 phone. So, when I had a little extra cash from a textbook royalty check, I thought I’d splurge on a car receiver that handled Pandora without the extra gizmo. And then my tech fever escalated and I decided to go for a unit that also incorporated GPS and phone features.

This drew me to the Pioneer AVIC-X940BT (who names these things? former rocket scientists?), which seemed to have everything I needed and, the Mobile Electronics salesman told me, would display Pandora data and allow me to control Pandora right through the device’s interface–connecting to my phone via Bluetooth.

But I was worried about compatibility so I checked Pioneer’s Website, where it says,

Compatible with Apple iOS, as well as Android devices that support the Bluetooth Serial Port Profile (SPP). Simply download the free Pandora Radio app to your iPhone or Android device and connect to the AVIC-X940BT and take your music to the next level.

The Droid Incredible 2 does indeed support Bluetooth Serial Port Profile so I thought I was all set.

Image missing due to crappy behavior by Blogger, which deleted dozens of my images.

I poked around everywhere I could on the Pioneer Website, but nowhere could I find a specific list of compatible devices. All I found were displays like the one below that seem to confirm compatibility with Android.

Image missing due to crappy behavior by Blogger, which deleted dozens of my images.

And so I bit. I paid too much money to have the unit installed by Mobile Electronics.

Everything seemed to be fine with pairing my phone, via Bluetooth, with the AVIC-X940BT until I tried to get Pandora to work. Then I began encountering error messages about the inability to connect:

Bluetooth connection is disconnected. Press “Connect” to connect.

This message appeared while I was already connected. I scoured the PDF manual (of course they don’t give you a real paper manual anymore) for an answer.When I found the following fine print (“Compatibility with all Android devices is not guaranteed.”) buried in the 240-page manual, I suspected I was in trouble.

Then I went back to Mobile Electronics to ask about it. An installer dude checked it out and declared that it wasn’t supposed to work with Pandora. That Pandora only works via a wired connection to an iPhone.
I knew that wasn’t right, but the installer dude couldn’t be convinced otherwise. So I called Pioneer’s tech support–after Googling around turned up no solid info. There I had it confirmed: the AVIC-X940BT is not compatible with the Droid Incredible 2–an Android 2.2+ phone that’s less than a year old and supports Bluetooth SPP. In fact, the tech guy tried to replicate my situation using his own Droid phone and his model didn’t work either. He found a list that states that only 12 specific Android phones work with Pandora and this Pioneer unit.
Sigh.
I told the guy to please tell his supervisor that I am extremely disappointed about this and that the marketing of the AVIC-X940BT as compatible with Android phones supporting Bluetooth SPP is very misleading and should be corrected. The tech guy said he would “capture that feedback” and pass it along.
Sigh.
Ah well, at least this unit does, like, 70% of what I bought it for. And, who knows, maybe a firmware update will solve my problem? Or maybe my next smartphone will be one of the compatible ones.
But still it’s sad to have the crappiness of electronics marketing confirmed. Again.

Posted by Picasa

Update 3:50, Thursday:
 
Well, get this. In his NY Times column today, David Pogue is dealing with the same Pandora issues as me–although in his Toyota Prius! See “Pogue’s Posts: The Prius V and Its Entune System”, in the May 3 NY Times. Turns out that Pandora in the Prius does not work wirelessly with the iPhone, but does with Android!
But probably not the Droid Incredible 2, I’d wager.

Fine-Print Crap From Farmers Insurance Group

So, Farmers Insurance Group tells me that by paying my premium I am acknowledging that I “understand and
agree to all the terms and conditions of the Subscription Agreement.”
And here’s how the Agreement, which I must acknowledge understanding, begins. This is all one sentence (I have put a line break at each comma):

For and in consideration of the benefits to be derived therefrom the subscriber covenants and agrees with Farmers Insurance Exchange and other subscribers thereto through their and each of their attorney-in-fact,
the Farmers Underwriters Association,
to exchange with all other subscribers’ policies of insurance or reinsurance containing such terms and conditions therein as may be specified by said attorney-in-fact and approved by the Board of Governors or its Executive Committee for any loss insured against,
and subscriber hereby designates,
constitutes and appoints Farmers Underwriters Association to be attorney-in-fact for subscriber,
granting to it power to substitute another in its place,
and in subscriber’s name,
place and stead to do all things which the subscriber or subscribers might or could do severally or jointly with reference to all policies issued,
including cancellation thereof,
collection and receipt of all monies due the Exchange from whatever source and disbursement of all loss and expense payments,
effect reinsurance and all other acts incidental to the management of the Exchange and the business of interinsurance;
subscriber further agrees that there shall be paid to said Association, as compensation for its becoming and acting as attorney-in-fact,
the membership fees and twenty per centum of the Premium Deposit for the insurance provided and twenty per centum of the premiums required for continuance thereof.

And insurance companies wonder why they have a reputation for obfuscation.