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Category: finances

Cancelling Cable TV

After putting it off for over a year, the whole time thinking that I might hook the service backup, I finally cancelled Cable TV service. This will decrease my monthly Wide Open West bill by ~$40/mo. As part of this I’ll need to return the multi-stream CableCARD (aka M-Card) seen above. This had previously been fitted in a TiVo HD to allow recording two encrypted digital CATV channels at the same time.

While I originally thought that something would demand Danielle and I to hook broadcast TV back up, all video watching that we do comes from legitimate streaming sources online. A mixture of Hulu, Netflix streaming, and BBC iPlayer has provided more than enough content to meet our limited entertainment needs. With a small Atom-based computer hooked to the television we’re able to stream anything to a TV, or (more typically) we watch things in a browser while doing other stuff.

Now I just have to handle returning the CableCARD. I can either drop it off at the Wide Open West office in Madison Heights or wait for a tech to show up on Saturday evening and collect it.


SDrive NUXX Ordering Begins 04-Aug-2011 @ 14:00 EDT

Orders for the second run of SDrive NUXX parts will be accepted beginning on Thursday, August 4th, 2011 beginning at 2:00pm EDT (2011-08-04 @ 14:00 GMT-4) via this page: SDrive NUXX Ordering Page.

Pricing is US$150 for an assembled and tested SDrive NUXX, US$40 for a PCB / End Panel / Microcontroller set. All prices include shipping within the United States, and shipping to international destinations require a US$10 surcharge for each assembled device and every five PCB/panel/uC set.

The ordering page is up, but is not currently live, with all order submissions going into a sandbox. At the date/time mentioned above the page will go live and orders will be expected up until items are sold out. There are 30 assembled SDrive NUXXs available and 20 PCB/panel/uC sets.

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Failing at Furnace Repair

For the last two or three winters my furnace would occasionally have a problem where it would fail to ignite and be left in a lockout state requiring the thermostat to be switched off then back to heat before it’d reattempt ignition. Since this was only a minor inconvenience and not repeatable I’d opted to fix it later. Suddenly this past weekend my furnace started seriously misfiring and failing to light, resulting in barely any heat on Saturday night and no heat at all on Sunday night.

Since I’ve done a bit of electronics work in the past I set about trying to troubleshoot this myself, and just after midnight this morning I was convinced that the problem was likely the main control board, Carrier part number CESO110018, as seen above in my furnace. Lacking a schematic it was difficult to troubleshoot, but I thought that it was not sending enough power to the ignition unit and thus the ignition was simply failing. So, this morning I rushed out to Behler-Young‘s Pontiac location and bought a drop-in replacement, ICM ControlsICM 271 (PDF) for $68.73 (after tax). Hurring home and installing it before work I found that I was wrong; it wasn’t the control board.

I then called Mike’s Heating and Cooling, the trusted local place which replaced my air conditioner five summers ago, scheduled a time for them to come by, and set off to work leaving Danielle home in the cold where she even had to pile a robe on top of Roxie to keep her warm. The repair person arrived later in the afternoon, checked the furnace, and $285 later ($166 in parts, $79 for the service call, $40 for half an hour of labor) the ignition unit was confirmed defective, replaced, and the furnace put back into operation.

It’s a bit disappointing to have failed to repair the furnace myself, but at least it’s up and running again. Overall it’s not terribly expensive, as in the 9.5 years I’ve owned this condo I’ve likely only spent $500 on furnace maintenance, including replacing the humidifier and periodic furnace filters, but I still wish that I would have solved the problem myself.

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Unsigned HSBC Cash Back Checks

At the end of last month I received a two standard $25 cash back rebate checks from HSBC, one of my credit card companies. Unfortunately they forgot to sign the checks and I didn’t notice before depositing them. This resulted in a phone call from my bank, account adjustment, letter from the bank formally rejecting the checks, etc. When I called HSBC about this I found out that they had a batch of these sent out and that they will immediately send me replacement checks.

The replacement check that I received looked completely different, so I’m figuring that their check printer screwed up, didn’t catch this, and thus HSBC went to another vendor.


Replacement NiteRider Pro 1400 Extension Cable

After contacting NiteRider about the ill-fitting extension cable which shipped with my Pro 1400 they sent a replacement. This one fits much, much better as it’s actually the right cable. The textured indicator will also make it easier to make blind connections, which are exactly what I have to do when getting ready to ride since one connection is made behind my head.

Amusingly, the package came with 34¢ of postage due, which I’ll happily pay to the mailman. More amusingly the postage due envelope (a 1996 vintage design) is stuck shut, likely from having sat around in a mail truck for years. I think I’ll just tape a quarter and dime to the envelope and see what happens to the extra penny.

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NiteRider TriNewt Wireless For Sale

Since I’ve acquired a NiteRider Pro 1400 my TriNewt Wireless (originally mentioned here) is up for sale. This light and battery are in great shape, I’m just selling it because I no longer have a need for it. It’s a great light for trail riding year round and had I not picked up a brighter light I’d still be using it.

This is the complete TriNewt Wireless package, which includes:

· Light Unit
· Battery
· Charger
· Helmet Mount
· Handle Bar Mount for Light
· Handle Bar Mount for Remote Control
· Frame Mounting Strap for Battery
· NiteRider Carrying Case

Asking price is $200, and I will ship domestically and internationally at buyer’s expense. Email me at if you are interested.

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Relay Failure Means Fridge Failure

Three days after defrosting my freezer to get the whole refrigerator working Danielle noticed that the fridge was no longer cold. The evening after Danielle rushed most of the food stores over to my parents house I set out to try and diagnose the fridge. After I’d spent a few hours fruitlessly looking it over without any documentation I decided that the best thing to do would be to call a repair person. I normally don’t like doing this, but not having a fridge makes things somewhat difficult, and it likely would have taken a few more days for me to figure out what was wrong.

Doc’s Appliance Service (warning: auto-playing video) came out to do the repair and $210.21 later the relay on the compressor was replaced with a new, compatible (but non drop-in) replacement that required cutting the wiring harness to install. As this was the only part the repair person had readily available it was the only choice to get the repair done at that time. While talking to the repair guy (who was quite friendly) afterward and detailing everything I’d looked into, he showed me that Maytag actually ships block diagrams and technical troubleshooting guides with each fridge, sticking them to the bottom of the fridge in a small plastic bag, folded up to about the same size as a deck of playing cards.

I wish that I’d known about this diagram before calling, because that would have allowed me to do all the troubleshooting myself, including finding the failed relay. It also would have saved me the time spent looking at the fridge’s main control board for issues, as the automatic diagnostics would have eliminated the control board and other items that I fiddled with. I would also have then been able to order part 67005560 from Sears for $27.33 and do the replacement myself for 13% of the cost.

In the end I suspect that the relay was failing, keeping the compressor on long after it should have, resulting in the coil freezing up. It’s even possible that the fridge had been running near non-stop for the last few weeks. Turning the fridge off for a while and then putting it back in normal duty cycle then likely caused the relay to fail completely, after which it no would cool. If you’d like to see more photos of the failed relay, part 3ARR65P4E3A6, they can be found here: Failed Fridge Relay (3ARR65P4E3A6).

$69.95 diagnostics charge, $80 labor, $56.85 in parts, and $3.41 in sales tax.


HSBC’s Fraud Accounting is Silly

Despite getting a new HSBC credit card after some fraudulent activity HSBC still has my old account listed and accessible on their website with a $0.01 balance. When I called a few minutes ago to inquire about this I was told to ignore this info as “some people can still see it” and the lingering $0.01 is “for accounting purposes” and “won’t affect my credit report”.

This seems very strange to me. I hope it doesn’t result in HSBC attempting to improperly collect on this Purchase Debit Adjustment. Then again, perhaps them doing so would be a good exercise in small claims court.

UPDATE: A second call to HSBC, this time answered by a more friendly man with an Indian accent (as opposed to a Southern-sounding woman the first time) resulted in him looking into the case, and saying that the account is closed, and despite the reflected amount owed of $0.01 that I should just ignore the account, as from HSBC’s perspective it is completely closed.

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SUNringlé 29er Sigle Speed Wheel Set For Sale

Up for sale is the single speed wheel set from my VooDoo Dambala. I recently picked up a new (to me) set of wheels with WTB hubs laced to Salsa rims, so I no longer need these. These are SUNringlé Equalizer 23 rims and DIRTY flea hubs with silver spokes and fresh Enduro bearings in the front hub. They are in very good shape and would make a great second / winter set of wheels, or a primary set if you are just building up a single speed.

Here’s all five photos that I’ve posted of the wheels: 1 · 2 · 3 · 4 · 5. You can also check out this post on the MMBA Forum where I have them for sale with a bit more information.

Asking price is US$150 or best offer. Email me if you are interested in these.

UPDATE: These are pending sale, and most likely sold.

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