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A place to put random thoughts down.

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2017 Nissan Armada Opinion

So my 2013 Dodge RAM 3500 had an issue with the DEF pump and injector ($2500 in parts) so I had to get a rental since the repair was going to be roughly two weeks due to lack of parts.  At first enterprise gave me a Dodge Journey..  what a serious piece of crap that was.  I couldn't drive it more than a day and had to exchange it for something else, anything else.  I paid for an upgrade (spoil myself) on the Nissan Armada.  Never drove one before and figured this is the perfect opportunity to see what they are all about. This had more luxuries than anything I'm use to which included heated and air conditioned front and rear seats. It included a monitor in the back of the front passengers head rest for rear occupants to watch a video. It had 4 wheel drive and just about every option you can think of.  Was awesome in the snow. No problem getting up and going with the V8 and great traction for accelerating. The only cons I could come up with are It could never tow my 40' fifth wheel Very much disliked the rear camera (difficult to see, I like my RAM camera way better) Remote start was spotty (difficult to use) Vehicle is heavy so stopping on icy roads was more challenging then a lighter vehicle. Would I recommend the Nissan Armada to someone looking for a luxurious Full Size SUV.  Definitly! It's less expensive than the Toyota Sequoia and honestly I haven't driven the Toyota Full Size SUV and I really do like Toyota products.  Currently Nissan has hit it out of the park with this SUV.  It's small enough that it's easy to manuver in a busy parking lot and yet big enough 6 of us enjoyed plenty of room and creature comforts that the Nissan Armada offered for its passengers. Obviously everyone isn't the same.  I'm a 6'3" guy and I liked the ride height, I really liked driving it from Flint to Detroit and back for work and if I didn't have the requirement to tow a large fifth wheel I could see myself sliding into one of these for my very own.  A test drive might sell you on it...  or do what I did and rent one for a week and see if you want to keep driving one after your rental is done.

dennis

dennis

Time for a Wood Stove

My wife and I are freezing our asses off in our own home unless I crank the furnace up to 68 degrees which is crazy to think.  I remember as a kid we were never cold in the house but we always had a wood burner in the home (most of the homes it was in the basement).  It would get some warm in the house that windows had to be opened in the home in the middle of winter to let out some of the hot and let in some of the cool weather. So now I'm a grown up and freezing my ass off in this home that was built in the 60's I thought of applying the same thought process that worked when I was a kid.  Get a wood burner in the basement. I originally wanted to replace the wood stove upstairs that came with the home since it doesn't put out a lot (or really any) heat.  Especially since we spend most of our time in the living room upstairs but when they came out to look at what we have they pointed out that we should stop using it Immediately. Apparently whoever put the wood insert in trimmed the outside of it with wood trim which is charred on the back from burning from the heat of the wood stove.  So in short, its about to start on fire like charcoal.  To correct the hearth that is too short, all the wood trim, wood mantle, etc I'm looking close to $10,000 so probably not going to happen.  My thought was to pull it out and put a gas stove/insert in its place so I don't have to do as much work.  The company I talked to said they could pull the stove out for $400 but some serious cost to fix everything.  That will have to be maybe next year. Since upstairs is a bust, concentrating on the downstairs which uses the same chimney so its directly below the living room.  My thought is it would at least warm the wood floors in the winter and give the impression its warmer.  And we do know that warm air rises so there is a good chance it could heat most of the 1800 sq ft 1960 home on half basement and half crawl (the crawl space is below all the bedrooms) I was bouncing back and forth between a Lopi and a Blaze King for manufacturers of wood stove.  My parents has a Lopi wood stove and it was there favorite of all the brands they had but that was a long time ago before they started getting strict with emissions. Researching burn times and warranty information the Blaze King on paper is the clear winner so I chose a Blaze King Princess Insert which will get installed on the 23rd of January 2018 (brochure is attached along with manual)   OM-PI1010A-E.pdf BlazeKingInserts_Broch.pdf

dennis

dennis

 

Chevy Colorado Review

Occasionally I have to rent a vehicle and when you go to the Kansas City Airport and rent from National you get a pretty nice selection. This week I chose a new 2017 Chevy Colorado. My sister has one and she likes it. Video Coming Soon

dennis

dennis

 

What a POS

So for a year or two I have been looking for a Point of Sale system that accomodates all my needs which isn't alot but most POS's are focused on the restaurant business or retail and thats pretty much it.  We end up having to try and make one or the other work for events. I'll start off with the requirements then work give a review of each POS I've tried so far. Requirements Let's first start with my least liked POS but it didn't start that way... Mobi POS At the beginning this was a great little POS with some custom options but its really focused around a restaurant which I'm not but made it work.  A few years back they introduced the cloud version which I loved the idea of..  build everything in the cloud and push your changes down to your Terminals.  MOBI is not good at this at all.  Originally (and they still have) a peer network where you have one iPad acting as the server and another iPad can be a terminal but that extra terminal is very limited on what it can do. Pricing was okay but still pricey for what you get.  I found for the same price you can get into a nicer POS but MOBI was very easy to get up and going quickly if you have on one register.  They do offer a 14 day risk free trial at the time of this writing so give them a look, maybe they'll work for what you need.  Unfortunately MOBI isn't strong enough with features to do what we need a POS to do so they are now no longer a part of our infrastructure.   AirPOS This POS felt like a step up from MOBI but more so in the cloud aspect.  Getting multiple terminals up is easy as well as configuring your products but it felt still like the feature set was lacking.  For example there is no discount or coupon area to add pre-populated information or an ability to run reports on discounts.  When you log in via an assigned PIN there was a huge lag between each press of the number to where you would continue to enter the wrong number because the lag is so bad. Pricing I never got into but they are currently very generous with there trial period of 30days which I was blown away with.  Thank You!  Support wasn't horrible but needs improvement but that could be because airpos is headquartered in Northern Ireland.  I'm sure the time difference has something to do with it. Again, like MOBI if you have a simple setup then airpos may be fine for your needs but when you run into complicated environments like ours then it just won't do.   talech My next attempt was talech which was found off a google search for a Point of Sale system that would work on an iPad.  I have much frustration with talech for mainly they have  promise but I should of known I was in trouble right from the start.  Salesman did a nice demo of the system and showed what I could do.  My staff and I brought up questions to the salesman which was answered no problem, talech can do that.  SOLD!  Paid for the product but it took a days to get the login information and to process the purchase.  Once I received the information I learned that you don't get all the features as demonstrated without purchasing the upgraded premium package.  Also an odd thing but you cant apply discount coupon to one item.  It says you can but if you have 5 of the same product and you only want to discount 2 of them you can't, the system applies the discount to all 5 of the same item.  Weird.  Also trying to edit items on the backend in the browser the system would just spin.  Also I can not run the reports on discount/coupons used.  It took awhile but I learned that talech, yet more feature reach than the other two, wasn't going to be our Point of Sale system.   iConnect With the 7 day free trial of iConnect POS I thought I may of found a winner.  It is very feature rich and pretty easy to use.  In fact it had the most features of any POS I tested.  Also impressed with the support for iOS, Android and Web based.  So it sounds great right?  Nope, just a dress on a pig. You will get different features based on what operating system you use so since you have three possible ways to connect to iConnect you also get three different environments.  For example the Android and Web interface supports drop down discounts but the iPad does not.  The iPad will support USB Printer where the Android Tablets do not... just to name a few differences. Something I definitely did not like is if you apply a discount to an item it spreads the discount all over every items (like a percentage off).  It looks ugly and not sure who would want that. Finally a feature that I feel is a serious bug.  If you process a refund on a sale it doesn't mark it in the system that you refunded an item off that ticket so that customer can go back as many times as they want and get a refund on the same ticket.  That was the final straw that broke the iConnect POS back.  I can easily see this happening in our environment. I did love the ability to place an order on HOLD and pull it back up.  I could see the ladies in the office doing sales during the week enter all these sales in a HOLD pattern and finalize it on the weekend when they customer comes to the gate.   ShopKeep Thank goodness for shopkeep.  I have tried all these and lost alot of money in the process.  The staff is very friendly and helpful.  After introduction from Nick which handed me off to a specialist named Tim which showed me what I needed to see.  I was up and running in less than an hour. Now no one is perfect and I didn't see the ability to get a free trial of the system to play around.  I had to pay $138 for two terminals/month which is the most expensive of all that I tried but it works.  iConnect does have more features than shopkeep but Shopkeep just does what I need it to do.  Sometimes more isn't always better.  Unlike Revel we can shut down the terminals when not in use and I don't get billed the $69 for each terminal a month but if you want access to your reports still and keep all your products entered then you may a small price of $10/month.  When your season starts back up you pay the $69/terminal and it downloads what you need. For me its a no brainer and I'm still on my first day with the product but what I learned from using all the other POS systems, this product is really great.

dennis

dennis

 

Drop Satellite and Cable and be a Cord Cutter

I'm just like most people and want to find ways to save money.  For our family we don't watch that much TV and television now adays seem to be mostly commercials.  Got introduced to Netflix many years ago and still have a running membership today.  Now that Netflix has there own shows and movies with no commercials is pretty awesome.  They also have last season shows all included with no commercials so if you can wait a year, its great watching a show with no commercials.  I find commercials distract me from the show enough that when it comes back it refreshes my memory on what I was even watching. There is more than Netflix such as Hulu which I didn't like at all.  There is Amazon, which we have access to since we are Amazon Prime Members.It's not very much per year and as much as we order from Amazon that free shipping is nice as well as all the other goodies that come with it.  Unfortunately Prime isn't nearly as strong on TV Shows and Movies as Netflix but its still an option.  We also use an Apple TV since our house is mostly Apple products.  When you have a house full of Apple, the Apple TV is a great addon to your home since Apple works very very well with Apple.  If you don't have Apple I have and also like the Amazon Fire Stick.  Main reason is it supports an application I like to use called Kodi which Roku doesn't support neither does Apple TV. Alright so summary... Streaming Apps that I use Netflix Kodi DirectTV Now ($35/month) - gives a few channels, not sure its worth it. Hardware I suggest Amazon Firestick Now what you loose mainly is your local channels.  I didn't think this would be a big deal since we really don't watch much TV but when you want to watch local news, weather, etc. then it would come in handy.  Obviously getting hooked back up with a dish or cable provider just for local channels is silly to me so I found another solution.  It's a one time cost of $350 but its a strong antenna that connects outside your home which pulls in around 30-40 local channels.  It's the same thing the cable company does. Outside of a cable facility you will see a very large antenna outside to pull in those local channels and then they send to all of you via the coax connected to your home.  So once you pay the $350 to have someone install a strong Winnegard HD TV Antenna on your home they connect to your existing Coax and hopefully your TV is new enough to be able to Tune HD TV.   I'm now a happy cord cutter with the solution I need.   I kept our local cable provider for internet only service.  They have only one speed so the lowest cost for internet was fine.($50/month) I purchased an Amazon Firestick for every TV in our home ($35/each one time cost) I pay monthly for Netflix ($10/month) I purchased Winnegard HD TV antenna and had it installed on my home ($350 one time cost)

dennis

dennis

 

What cloud for storage

So I'll preface that I'm primarily a Mac user but that doesn't mean I am automatically onboard with putting all my documents on iCloud Drive. I have used Dropbox first, then Google Drive and iCloud Drive.  I have no interest in using Microsoft OneDrive solution since Microsoft has a hard enough time keeping there Azure network up, there Live and Hotmail accounts not hacked, they have just proven time and time again how unreliable Microsoft has been in the cloud environment so far.  My documents are important to me so we are going to automatically say no (for now) to OneDrive. Dropbox I liked dropbox and don't really have a whole lot of negative besides its blocked by just about any Enterprise.  The plus is its not favored with Apple which has iCloud and not favored with Google Chromebooks which has Google Drive and not favored by Microsoft which has OneDrive. So Dropbox is the universal drive that works on everything and is available on just about any app that has saving to a cloud drive. Google Drive So the negative is it favors using its own Google Docs format.  I learned recently that the excel spreadsheet I uploaded got converted when I used a Google Editor on my iPad.  I didn't realize it was Google Editing my document that was stored on Google Drive since it didn't display anything.  But as you edit your excel document it now becomes a google doc.  When I tried to launch that saved file back on my mac using Excel it didn't recognize it since it was now a Google Doc.  So I had to go into Google Doc and export as Excel and I had access to it again but now some of my formulas were all jacked. The positive is if you use Gmail (like I do) for your primary email client it obviously integrates with Google Drive very well.  So instead of sending the entire large attachment via email (especially since email attachments are limited to size) you can instead choose a link to the file on your google drive and give permissions.  It's pretty cool and very helpful but if you don't use Gmail, then probably not a big deal. Another pro is if you utilize Google Photos, Gmail, Google Drive, etc.. it all shares the same storage bucket and its not very pricey for all the data you can get from Google. iCloud Drive Obviously if you have Apple products (or an Apple ID) you automatically get 5GB of iCloud Drive for simple things like store your music, photos, Documents, Desktop, Safari Bookmarks, Saved Passwords, etc..  Which makes it nice when you log into any of your Apple devices with your Apple ID you now have access to those items.  So the negative is not everyone supports iCloud Drive as a saved destination like Dropbox, then Google Drive.  Also no ability to share files with anyone.  The website icloud.com is slow.  If you wanted to create or edit files on the website you need to your documents to be in Apple Docs format (pages, keynote, numbers, etc).   Conclusion I use both iCloud Drive for syncing all my day to day stuff with all my Apple products.  Its great when you get a new phone or laptop because either it got damaged, stolen or lost and you get all your important stuff back like it was never missing.  I have Google Drive for big files and anything I want to share with someone else.  No one else seems to do that better and integrate so well with your mail. 

dennis

dennis

 

New Macbook Pro

I ran into some fan issues on my 2012 Macbook Pro and I'm sure its because its been in some pretty dirty places.  Had the fan replaced at Apple for $100 but thought it may be time to upgrade.  Also it allowed me to give my wife a very nice laptop that is still working in great order.  She loves working with photos and thought she would enjoy using a laptop that doesn't limp along. So this very second my new Macbook Pro (2017) just arrived via UPS so I'm going to save and close this entry so I can open it up and get going.

dennis

dennis

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