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So, let's talk turkey (again). My obsession with roasting turkeys comes from my favourite actress whom I'll persist in calling Felicia Day (it's not Felicia Day).

I've always hated turkey. It's cardboard protein. And when Felicia invited me to her annual turkey roast off competition, I was not keen. But my friend was in a competition. She asked me for my support. I never refuse to give that. I showed up, brought desserts, expected dinner by 7 PM and planned to head home by 10 PM as it was a work night.

We hit 8 PM and the turkeys still weren't ready, I let everyone at the gathering know that I would be leaving in two hours, but that it wasn't because I was bored or didn't like them -- they were all so nice to me and friendly -- but it was a work night. Felicia apologized to me, saying the turkey wouldn't be ready by the time I left. And I left the dinner party without dinner.

It was okay. I understood completely. I had observed that Felicia's competition had started late. Because she got out of work later than expected. It was clear to me from observing her efforts: turkeys were too damn big to be cooked inside a couple hours; that she had to repeatedly baste it every 20 minutes. Which loses heat from the oven. I could see that increasing the heat wouldn't cook the bird faster; it would simply burn and dry it when it needed to be cooked moderately and evenly.

When Felicia had time to speak to me, she explained the intricacies of defrosting a 20 pound turkey safely without killing anyone who ate it, the importance of adding moisture back into it as it cooked over the course of 6 - 8 hours, the desperate call for water-heavy vegetables, the critical need to have the turkey elevated -- I could see her struggling to get dinner together before I left; I could see her failing. I assured her that I understood.

And the evening wasn't wasted; I learned a lot from watching her roast a turkey and explain the process to me. I'm glad I was there. My niece is glad I was there; she thought my first Christmas turkey ever last year, inspired by Felicia, was splendid. My sisters are glad I was there; they said this year's Thanksgiving bird was perfectly cooked, moist and even throughout. No, I didn't get to enjoy any dinner at Felicia's turkey dinner competition. But it wasn't for lack of trying and there is no one I won't excuse from their failures if they tried.

Every year, I roast three turkeys, one for Thanksgiving, one for Christmas, one just because. It takes a week of preparation and I have to station myself by the oven from morning to evening to baste while referring back to the mental notes I made watching Felicia roast her bird (which are actual notes now as I wrote it all down the next morning). I make turkey to remind myself that trying counts.

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I'm not an anti-masker. Masks are important. I wear masks. I get angry when others don't. A few days ago, an unmasked man got into the elevator in my building and pressed the button for the eighth floor. Furious, I got off the elevator at the ground floor and then pressed the buttons for floors 2 - 7 before I left to be annoying and slow him down.

That said, I feel that these blue disposable surgical masks might be borderline useless. They are fine for containing droplets in the wearer and lowering the risk of them infecting others. But I doubt they protect the wearer. These masks sit rather loosely. They don't seal the area around the nose and mouth. The material is quite thin meaning they tear easily or dissolve if dampened and I suspect that droplets would pass through and get from the outside in. And I can easily rip just from taking them off.

I have a box of these by the door to my apartment as a backup to my backup, but I don't use them.

For reasons I never got to the bottom of, I found a small supply of N95 masks in my storage space. These rounded, thick masks are made of one for polypropylene plastic polymer with an electrostatic charge that can supposedly catch and filter out 95 per cent of airborne particles larger than 0.3 microns. They have a metal band that bends over the nose for the right fit. They also have double straps of yellow elastic form an extremely tight seal around the nose and mouth -- but they are so tight that the pressure to the back of my head from the elastics is actually quite painful.

The mask I prefer to use is a KN95 mask of the same material, but with a triangular design and earloops to make it seal firmly but not uncomfortably. The KN95 mask is a bit fragile, however, in that a few times, the earloop has torn off the mask itself. In addition, these masks are difficult to wash: laundering or spraying them with disinfectant will destroy the electrostatic charge. The solution is to let the mask sit unused for 72 hours after a wearing; I've been wearing one a day and putting it in a sealed plastic box for the three days before putting it back in the rotation. The material's thick enough for multiple wearings.

And the mask I have as a backup is a cloth mask. It seems like a small step up from a disposable surgical mask, made of cloth rather than the almost tissue like surgical mask material. But it concerns me that there is no metal band or elastic to form a firm seal over the nose and mouth. There's a slight gap and I have doubts about how much protection such a mask can offer. The advantage of this mask is that, unlike a disposable or a KN95, it can be washed in a laundry machine or sprayed with disinfectant and not lose what ever (scant) protective qualities it has.

These ones aren't ideal, but I keep two on hand by my front door, one in my shoulder bag and one in my car as they can be disinfected and reused quickly if I'm short on KN95s. I've also used double-sided tape to attach thin activated carbon filters to the interiors of these masks to add a little more protection -- and I've been adding them to my KN95s as well (because why not).

Anyway. I wouldn't go out without wearing one of these masks; I wouldn't go to a Biden celebration party in the streets even if I wore one of these masks, and I certainly wouldn't drink from any bottles being passed around.

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And now for Tech Talk, with Quinn Mallory:

For the longest time, my niece was understandably furious with me for buying what were essentially netbooks: little $200 tablet-laptops with 10.1 or 11.6 inch touchscreens that could detach from the keyboard and Atom or Celeron processors that could only be used for light office work and web browsing. I used them for word processing and messaging and spreadsheets and website maintenance when I didn't want to be at by (very powerful) desktop computer and wanted to work at the library or the living room or at a friend's house.

My niece would be mad because these machines always failed within a year: they would stop powering on. The charging ports would break. They would inexplicably get the display stuck upside down. Wifi wouldn't work when Bluetooth was on. The keyboard would start inputting random characters. The touchpads would fail. "Stop buying these pieces of junk and get a good laptop!" she'd shriek at me.

I'd protest, "I don't need a good laptop. I have a great desktop with an i7 processor and 32GB of RAM and two solid state drives -- " (really a laptop permanently plugged into a monitor and keyboard and mouse that's too heavy to move around much). "I just need a small laptop for work on the go."

"BUT YOU HAVE TO BUY ONE EVERY YEAR!" she howled at me. There was a long period where, after the last netbook failed, I simply got a keyboard for my iPad. And this past year, with all the work from home, I've come to depend on a Chromebook to tether me to work when wandering away from my desktop.

The Chromebook, a Samsung Chromebook 3 with a matte IPS screen (that I had to install myself) was great -- but with the shift to working from home, I realized that all the (limited) Chrome apps and (slow) Remote Desktop access didn't replace my need for a Windows 10 laptop that could run LibreOffice and Adobe Photoshop and InDesign. Despite working from home, I often had to go to different rooms for Reasons and I needed a small laptop to keep work with me. I didn't need anything fancy, just something light in hand and on the wallet -- preferably one that fell within the stipend that my job had granted me to buy some hardware for working from home. But how would I avoid all the previous pitfalls?

QUINN: "You know what your problem's been?"

ME: "Being a cheapskate when it comes to buying a secondary laptop? Being a weirdo who needs a secondary laptop?"

QUINN: "I'm not going to confirm or contradict that -- except to say you've bought laptops that were trying to be tablets and tablets that were trying to be laptops and it isn't working. I mean, look at the Egyptian timer: instead of just trying to be a tracker-trigger for the next window to open a gateway, it became a reverse homing beacon, a coordinate repository, a sacred object in a funeral ritual, an express train to Los Angeles -- and it kept glitching and seizing because the hardware got overstretched. Just choose one specific use-case. You need a laptop within a price point. So get a laptop within the price point. Don't try to get a laptop that's also a tablet."

I was reviewing all the laptop options at an electronics chain called Canada Computers where I'd bought all my previous one year wonder tablet-laptops (this was when they were still offering in-store purchasing amidst social distancing). I went over to their small and light laptops and noticed that, as always, there was a stack of 'open box' / 'refurbished' laptop boxes stacked under the display counter, as there had been every year that I'd bought a cheap laptop from them that lasted a year.

QUINN: "You know what this means?"

ME: "Discount prices from buying a refurbished item? Yes!"

QUINN: "No, you moron. There have to be like TWENTY of these open box laptops. That means people bought them, hated them and returned them. Pretty much every laptop in this store has at least four open box laptops; that means this shop is selling garbage that people just bring back. Did you buy all your old laptops here?"

ME: "Yeah."

QUINN: "This store is your problem. You need to go somewhere else."

ME: "But the refurbished discount! So entrancing!"

QUINN: "Stop! Back away from that pricetag! I swear to God, if you buy a computer from this disaster fire of a retailer, I will have to hate you. I will hate you on a physical level if you do this."

A Best Buy had opened up the road, so to review my options and went there, and noticed that the majority of the laptops were much more expensive than the ones at Canada Computers and where Canada Computers had 5 - 6 cheap little laptops (and numerous returns piled up on the floor), Best Buy had exactly ONE cheap little laptop for sale.

QUINN: "Now, Best Buy's not the be-all, end-all of computer hardware. If you want RAM or flash memory or solid state drives or enclosures or cases or fans, that's clearly Canada Computers' bread and butter. But Best Buy -- they sell consumer gear, not hobbyist hardware. Best Buy sells preassembled units and they're not going to stock lemons that they have to take back; they only have worthwhile merchandise because showroom space is valuable."

I bought the cheap little 11.6 laptop from Best Buy and it's been precisely what it needs to be. It's slow, but I've disabled all non-essential Windows services to keep it from freezing and but a secondary machine doesn't need to be a speed demon so long as it's capable of opening any and all Windows 10 applications. The battery lasts 10 hours. The wifi and bluetooth haven't glitched, the keyboard hasn't gone haywire, the touchpad works. I was getting bad laptops before because I was going to a bad store for laptops whereas Best Buy, having survived the Amazon apocalypse on retail through price matching and raising the scale of the Geek Squad and being hyperselective in what they show in their show room, has somehow survived and also thrived.

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I start a new job this week so I will probably not be around as much the next week or so. Just in case y’all get nervous about why I’m not here smile

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Incredible! It must be hard to get a new job in a pandemic. Congratulations!

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I was recruited for this job so it wasn't too hard.  But I'm sure it'll be busy.  First week was good, though.

Thank you!

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I'm still not back here yet for reasons of a migraine (ow ow ow) and my building being unable to repair its air conditioning system until the end of June (some Quinn Mallory-esque thinking is in order now to avoid death should a heat wave hit).

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*sigh* My condo management recently informed all owners: they are behind in repairing the air conditioning system and don't expect to have functioning air conditioning until the last week of June. My life for the last few days has been setting up a network of fans in each room of the homestead. My windows aren't going to support an exhaust hose for portable air conditioners, unfortunately. I've also learned that tower fans aren't really that great; I have three; the expensive one is great, but the mid-range ones are weak and narrow. The best fan I've found is a small seven inch air circulator fan; a room with two on the floor on either end and angled upwards provides a good breeze and good coverage.

There's a neat gimmick out there called evaporative coolers which are essentially cool mist humidifiers with a fan to offer cooling relief. Unfortunately, all the ones on the market seem to be total garbage: they have weak fans (because they need space for the humidifier), they have small water reservoirs (because they need space for the fan), they are difficult to clean and a breeding ground for mold (because the filters have to be tightly packed into a small unit). However, I like the concept and have set up fans with filter-free (and easily cleaned) cool mist humidifiers in front of the fans to create a breeze chilled water vapour in some of the hotter rooms. The fan and the humidifier have to be pointed directly at me and it won't work if I have company, but that won't happen for another 3 - 4 months.

Hopefully, I'll make it to the end of June this way without melting.

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A metal or glass bowl filled with ice in front of the fan works about as well

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I agree, but I picked out the Honeywell HUL535 cool mist humidifier. It stores 4.5 liters of water and can run for about 12 hours at full blast, so I only need to refill the tank twice a day.

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Howdy, howdy!

It's been a while.  I'm maintaining my promise tp myself that I wouldn't do any sort of extracurricular activities on my work computer with my new job.  The problem being that my personal laptop broke and is probably beyond fixing.  My wife and I want to get a new one to share, but we're terrible at making decisions for things we'll share.  So I have a laptop that won't close (trying to close it is ripping the screen off) and she has a super old one. With the baby and everything else, I only pull out the laptop once a week for our weekly budget.

But I think I'm going to start opening up a bit and using this site on my work computer.  Part of the problem is that I shared my screen during a meeting (a small unimportant meeting but still a meeting) and mindlessly traveled here.  Apparently no one saw my screen and only one person thought something was off but I didn't want to risk anything at my new job.  It's too good a job to risk anything like that.

The other hiccup is that we're having another baby.  Due next month.  So my life will probably end up more chaotic than it was. 

But I still love you guys and I'll keep trying to make it work.  Don't worry about me and be patient.  Quinn always shows back up smile

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Well, work is very important. Our employers are paying us, and if the renumeration is sufficient for our labour and a living wage, then we owe them our undivided attention for the hours in which they're paying us.

Is there a way for you to set up a separate user profile on your work laptop? One for Work and one for Leisure?

Failing that, could you have one browser exclusively for Personal Pursuits and confine any and all non-work activities to that browser alone?

I myself actually have three separate web browsers on my home computer: one for Work, one that's permanently logged into any retail and social media accounts, and one for Research (so that my searches can't be tracked to any accounts to which I'm logged in).

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I'm just going to break my rule.  It's been long enough, and hopefully I can be less careless.

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welcome back! and yes, be careful.

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I still think having one browser for Leisure and only Leisure is best.

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The other hiccup is that we're having another baby.  Due next month.  So my life will probably end up more chaotic than it was.

Congratulations, Slider_Quinn21!

I guess a good solution might be to clear your browser history after your done using the computer so no one sees your lesuire stuff.

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ireactions wrote:

Recently bought a Samsung Chromebook 3 for exactly $0. That's right, $0. It was very strange: I ordered a lightly used 32GB model on eBay and received a lightly used 16GB model. When I contacted the seller, she promptly replied, "It said no returns in my ad! You don't like it, too bad! No refund!" eBay promptly took the seller's funds out of her PayPal account and gave me a full refund and told me that as the seller refused to provide return shipping, I should keep the Chromebook and do what I liked with it.

RussianCabbie_Lotteryfan wrote:

She definitely handled it poorly but ebay could have at least given her a heads up as not everyone has the funds to lose a sale like that.

ireactions wrote:

I can assure you that I warned her and did so before asking eBay to intervene. I sent her a message quoting passages from eBay's specific policies, including:

  • "Even if you specify no returns accepted, under the eBay Money Back Guarantee, the buyer can still return an item if it doesn’t match the listing description"

  • "In some instances, we may not require that an item be returned to the seller"

  • "For example: if the return request was opened because the item was not as described"

  • "Or if the seller did not provide a return shipping label"

  • "This User Agreement, the Mobile Application Terms of Use, and all policies and additional terms posted on and in our sites, applications, tools and services (collectively "Services") set out the terms on which eBay offers you access to and use of our Services."

RussianCabbie_Lotteryfan wrote:

Sorry to hear that.  Some people are entirely unreasonable.  And though it's not common to run into them, you never know what you're gonna get with these sorts of things.

Last Christmas, I bought some Tiles off eBay. Or at least I thought I had; two weeks after payment, I still hadn't received them. I filed a concern with the seller. The seller told me that the post office had inexplicably returned the package to him and that he would resend it. One week later, I still hadn't received them, sent the seller another message -- and eBay simply refunded me. I didn't ask them to do that. I didn't ask them to do anything; I never asked eBay to get involved, but my message caused the transaction to be red-flagged.

A few days after that, the Tiles did arrive in the mail which I could of course have kept for free, but as I had received the Tiles, I contacted the seller and transferred his money back to him. I left him positive feedback. And I contacted eBay and asked that they remove any warning from his account as his item had arrived.

I feel safe buying anything off eBay because eBay clearly has zero support for sellers and is clearly eager to take any opportunity to refund buyers, but I can see how this system could be abused by buyers.

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I feel safe buying anything off eBay because eBay clearly has zero support for sellers and is clearly eager to take any opportunity to refund buyers, but I can see how this system could be abused by buyers.

Yea there as some abusive buyers from what I understand but it's probably a one percent or less incidence rate.

I once got screwed by a merchant as a buyer.  I never took it up with eBay support.  Waited too long.  I thought he'd act like a reasonable person but it's incredible the things people are willing to justify themselves.  I am sure that happens with buyers too who decide they don't want something.

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What happened?

I once lost $15 on a charging cable for an old netbook that didn't fit. I can't remember why I didn't get a refund; it's possible that eBay's guarantee wasn't what it used to be. It was back in 2008.

I can see how it would be easy to abuse the eBay Money Back Guarantee. I would like to tell you that I don't out of some moral objection, but the truth is that it doesn't make strategic sense.

I could have kept the Tiles and my refund. But it would have been shortsighted because this seller has other products I will want to purchase in the future at well below the retail price. If I'd kept his product and his money, he would likely have pre-emptively blocked me from ever purchasing anything from him again or been driven off the platform for supposedly failing to deliver.

I recently bought a laptop off eBay for pennies on the dollar. It arrived with a damaged E-key hanging loose off the keyboard. I photographed the issue filed for a return; the seller, a distributor of refurbished equipment, asked me to close the return at which point they would provide me with a prepaid shipping label to return their hardware at which point they'd refund me.

It's possible the seller misunderstands how returns work. If the buyer closes the return, they cannot reopen it and they are no longer protected by eBay's guarantee of a full refund should the item fail to match the description, and the return case being open does not in any way prevent the seller from issuing a prepaid shipping label. But it's also possible that the seller is trying to get me to close the return so that they can keep my money and I'm stuck with a laptop that has a broken keyboard.

It's also also possible that the seller has every intention of refunding me but will take any chance to get a return closed because eBay has proven to have a hair trigger with refunding buyers so that buyers keep buying.

I could likely manipulate the situation and protest that they are encouraging me to close the return before supplying shipping. Since they claim I need to close the return before they supply shipping, I could stall for three business days at which point eBay would refund me and allow me to keep the laptop (since the seller didn't provide shipping). I'd spend a little of that refund on getting the keyboard replaced at a local repair shop).

But this would be incredibly foolish because this seller has an incredible selection of refurbished hardware at shockingly low prices, a pretty decent reputation for issuing exchanges on damaged goods, and they clearly have additional quantities of the laptop I want.

Also, in both cases, these sellers have my home address and my name and phone number. It's not a great idea to rob people who literally know where you live. When buying things off eBay, I generally stick to items within my country (Canada) and there are a lot of eBay sellers selling refurbished electronics who are situated in or around my city, purchased from offices or retailers trying to get rid of returns.

I've told the refurbished laptop sellers that, since they're located in my city, we can meet at their retail store and do an exchange for an undamaged laptop and if the replacement is in good working order, I'll close the return.

However, I have the feeling that a lot of non-buyer buyers might use this advantage to buy goods, claim they're damaged, stall the return process, then keep the refund and the product. Of course, they might regret that if they ever want to buy anything from that seller in the future or if the seller is within driving distance of their homes or might conceivably have friends with baseball bats who live near them.

(But that Chromebook seller refused to pay for return shipping, she was a hopeless case.)

680 (edited by RussianCabbie_Lotteryfan 2021-10-24 12:10:32)

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ireactions wrote:

What happened?

the guy said he couldn't send me something yet  (it was some music that had delayed its release date) and i said i'd wait and then he never sent it months later, after i followed up to remind him of this.

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Got my COVID booster today!

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I would like a third dose, but my province is only giving them to people with serious health issues right now.

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I should be getting my covid booster and flu shot sometime tomorrow myself. Yay!

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Didja get 'em?

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ireactions wrote:

Didja get 'em?

Almost there. I found out at the last minute that the nearest pharmacy locations in my area don't have any appointments for the vaccines. (ugh). That kind of put a wrench in my plans.

And the new location I have to get to is quite a bit of a ways away.

Gonna have to plan logistically so I can do it this week during work. That and I have to plan to bring someone else along too. I really don't want to wait any longer.

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Can y'all recommend me a laptop for my wife and I?  It doesn't need to be anything fancy - all we'll use it for is standard web browsing, storing family photos, and using Microsoft Office.  No gaming, no streaming, nothing else.

My wife would prefer it not be a Mac, mostly because it's harder to use Excel on a Mac with the keyboard shortcuts being different.

I know nothing of computers - both our laptops are both old, and we just want a sensible replacement?  Something that will do what we need and not need to be replaced every couple years (mostly, for me at least, because I feel like it's a pain in the ass to move things over).

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What's your budget?

I'm glad you asked this question, I've been meaning to draft something about computers and calculated misery.

The Expensive Side of Cheap Computers: I spent a lot of my life buying 'cheap' computers thinking I didn't need anything fancy for web browsing and word processing and such, only to discover that these computers would break down and needed to be replaced at a rate of one a year and after buying three, I reached the point where I would have been better off putting the money spent on three bad laptops into buying one good one. An inexpensive computer can, through poor quality control or lousy manufacturing, cost you more than a pricier model or prove unusable.

Calculated Misery: Past cheap computers I've bought had quirks like dust getting under the screen. Or a touchpad that would become unresponsive every 4 - 5 minutes. Or a display that would get stuck in the upside down orientation. Or a spacebar that would stop producing spaces. Or wifi that would switch off if bluetooth were on. When manufacturers aim to hit a low price point, they don't bother to ensure that their hardware functions, thinking customers will be reluctant to refund something that cost so little and grudgingly tolerate it, or that the customer will even return it and buy a more expensive model from them. The term for this is "calculated misery," deliberately making a product difficult to use so that the customer will feel inclined to spend more money for basic functionality. There are entire lines of processors and storage drives and motherboards designed specifically for laptops intended to produce calculated misery.

Specifications: While you may consider your computing demands modest, the truth is that cheap computers can be too weak even for web browsing and word processing. I have thought as you have in the past, buying Intel Atom / Pentium / Core M processor computers with 4 GB of RAM and eMMC or spinning drives, thinking I didn't need better. Then I'd discover these machines would freeze up loading web pages. Or that when typing, there would be a 1/3 delay between my finger tapping the keyboard. Or they would crash when running word processing software because of poor driver support.

Minimums: Despite your humble intentions, nobody in 2021 should buiy a computer that isn't at the very least: an Intel i3 processor with 8GB of RAM and a solid state drive (SSD). Intel Core Ms, Pentiums and Atoms are not fast enough to run Windows properly. 4GB of RAM is not enough to run meet a web browser's memory demands reliably. A spinning hard drive or an eMMC drive (cheap flash memory) is not quick enough to load applications responsively.

You can get decent AMD processors, but I'm not sufficiently familiar with AMD's product line to know which ones are okay and which ones are designed for calculated misery.

Storage: The SSD should have at least 128GB. That's not a lot for all your family photos, but it's enough to store and run Windows programs and you can store personal files on an external drive (which can be spinning). Make sure it can run Windows 11 which is coming soon.

Refurbished Computers: I've had some good(ish) experiences with buying refurbished computers off eBay. One time, what I received wasn't what was advertised; I got a refund. It's guaranteed by eBay. Another time, I got a great deal on a business laptop that arrived with a broken keyboard; I got a guaranteed exchange, but the replacement had a severely worn battery that had to be replaced. It was still a great deal, but it was troublesome and might be difficult for someone who doesn't live near a trustworthy computer repair shop that can supply and install replacement laptop batteries. At full price, this model would have cost several thousand dollars; I was able to get it for a mid three figures -- but not everyone will go to maximum effort for maximum computing and minimum cost. Not everyone will take two weeks to get the laptop, another three to get it exchanged and another week to get the new battery.

Retailers: For the average person who knows nothing about computers, your best buy is likely a Best Buy. It's more expensive than buying refurbished, but that might be best because Best Buy is a retailer that's thrived in a retail apocalypse for two reasons: they do price matching to compete with online retailers. And due to the price of retail floorspace and the need to keep products going out, Best Buy does its very, very best to avoid selling brands and products that are prone to defects.

They don't want customers constantly returning items due to buyer's remorse over buying a low quality product at a low price; they try to only sell products that are likely to leave their stores and create such buyer satisfaction that the product will never come back. That said, Best Buy can't catch everything; my Fitbit watch went dead and one laptop I bought from them cracked open when I opened it. This brings us to our next subject --

Extended Warranties: The internet is filled with articles telling you that extended warranties from big box stores are not worth it, that it's cheaper to find independent repair services. However, this is highly situational and dependent on hardware. Best Buy's return policy is that you have 15 days to get a refund on your laptop. The manufacturer will generally offer a one year warranty, but Best Buy may not facilitate returns and exchanges after the 15 days, leaving you to the calculated misery of having to set up a delivery with the manufacturer and a lengthy period without your computer.

An extended warranty can get you up to three years where you can get a refund or exchange at the store. And it can cost several hundred dollars in addition to the cost of the laptop. This extended warranty is only for hardware failure, not accidental damage.

I find it grossly exploitative for any retailer to charge you for the right to get an exchange or refund for a defective item that they've sold to you. If it won't last, they shouldn't sell it; if they sell it and it fails, they should refund or exchange it within one year, not 15 days. But the reality is that sometimes, the extended warranty may be the best option for the product or the customer.

Repairability: Some laptops are modular and designed for easy replacement of storage drives, screens, keyboards, wifi and bluetooth modules, etc.. Some laptops have all the hardware soldered onto the motherboard and may be impossible to repair, only exchanged. Not every customer can tell the difference; not every customer lives near repair stores that would be cheaper than a Geek Squad plan; not every customer can identify a capable repair service and an inept and overpriced one.

Anyway. Here's the Best Buy listing for what meets my standards: … Categories

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Thank you!  That's super helpful!

My wife and I have a similar philosophy.  We are willing to pay a little bit more for something that will last longer.  We both drive 2010/2011 cars still, and our current laptops are at least 5-6 years old so we'd like something that won't be like a disposable computer.  We take care of the things that last long.

ireactions wrote:

What's your budget?

The ones you listed were the right range.  Do you have a preferred brand or something you've had success with?

ireactions wrote:

Storage: The SSD should have at least 128GB. That's not a lot for all your family photos, but it's enough to store and run Windows programs and you can store personal files on an external drive (which can be spinning). Make sure it can run Windows 11 which is coming soon.

The photos thing was a recent request she added, and it's not something I'm familiar with (I'm a computer dummy and happy to admit that). I have years worth of photos and videos on my phone and I think I have 63 GB of photos (I think, I'm a dummy).  So what would be "a lot" for all our family photos?  My phone is 256 GB, so is that enough?

Or is an external drive the better route?

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I have been mildly impressed with Microsoft's hardware. I had a Surface 3 for awhile. I had a Surface Pro 3 for awhile. My aunt has a Surface Pro 4.

I've never had a Surface Laptop Go laptop, but the reviews were modestly impressive, mostly taking issue with the original $900 USD price being way too much for an i5 processor and 8GB of RAM and a 128GB SSD. Those are specs for a budget performer, so the price was really more for the lightweight form factor. However, the $550 that Best Buy is charging for it now is pretty reasonable. That's probably the best value on the table here. … Id=6428996

The Geek Squad warranty for this item is also interesting: it actually covers accidental damage protection. The price is a bit high for that, but it looks like you could take it scuba diving and still be entitled to one replacement.

As for storage: if you boosted the Surface Laptop Go from 128GB to 256GB, it's another $150 USD. That seems unnecessary; you could just store your files on a $45 external hard drive with 1,204GB / 1TB. … Id=6406515

690 (edited by QuinnSlidr 2021-11-20 15:59:21)

Re: Personal Status Updates!

I've been pretty impressed with the LG Gram laptop I got 1.5 years ago. It's been quite long-lasting and has done really well for what it is. It's not top of the line but it's not el-cheapo either.

Nice, thin, lightweight, but also durable and very capable.

[EDIT to include specs]

It is the 17Z990-R.AAS8U1. Specs include:

17" 2560 x 1600 display
Intel 8th Gen Core i7 1.3 GHz
512 GB SSD
Up to 19.5 hour battery life

Re: Personal Status Updates!

Update: my vaccines are now scheduled. Yay! Both Covid booster and flu shot scheduled for this coming Wednesday.

Re: Personal Status Updates!

I have really been impressed by the reviews of the LG Gram, but I see it going anywhere from $1,000 - $1,700 USD even with the older models. That seems a bit much even for a 15 - 17 inch screen in a three pound laptop body.

Yay! Vaccination! Every time someone gets vaccinated, an anti-vaxxer has a nervous breakdown.

Re: Personal Status Updates!

For me, the plus about the LG Grams that I like is they do come with SSDs. And the quality of the screen is quite great for that kind of laptop. I guess there are always trade-offs in what you need/want/expect based on your specific situation. I wouldn't use it to play video games, but for daily work it suits me just fine.

Hehehehe re: anti-vaxxers. Let them all have nervous breakdowns.

694 (edited by ireactions 2021-11-21 20:40:28)

Re: Personal Status Updates!

QuinnSlidr wrote:

For me, the plus about the LG Grams that I like is they do come with SSDs. And the quality of the screen is quite great for that kind of laptop. I guess there are always trade-offs in what you need/want/expect based on your specific situation. I wouldn't use it to play video games, but for daily work it suits me just fine.

The reviews for your model are very impressive. The thought of an incredibly lightweight 17 inch laptop screen is amazing.

I find that the market these days is split between eMMC drives and SSDs. I buy most of my hardware at deep discounts from stores that offer refurbished items that were usually released 2 - 3 years ago and none of them have spinning hard drives except for the ones running Windows 8 (they're refurbished). eMMC is ghastly, though, so laggy and slow that a spinning HDD would actually be better. eMMC storage leads to slow startup, programs taking so long to load you wonder if they ever will.

I have two laptops. One is a heavy (and cheap) gaming laptop with an i7 processor, 32GB of RAM and a 1 GB graphics card. that used to have a 256GB SSD for the operating system and programs and a 1TB HDD for storing media. I ultimately replaced the HDD with another 1TB SSD so that I could install games on it and keep the 256GB SSD just for the OS and office programs. It's permanently plugged into my desktop monitor. It is my personal laptop and I use it for work, especially video and graphics editing.

It's great, but since getting it, it became clear that in addition to a desktop workstation, I needed a lightweight laptop that I could carry around from room to room. The search for this mobile companion took quite a few years. Failed candidates included:

The Asus Transformer T100 Chi, a 10.1 inch laptop that weighed 2.4 pounds. It had an Intel Atom processor with 2GB of RAM and a 64GB eMMC drive. This computer was a disaster: dust got under the screen, bluetooth would disable wifi, the touchpad would freeze up, the screen orientation would go upside down, the keyboard would disconnect and eventually, the charging port broke.

I got a Windows Surface 3 with the same specs. While I liked the 10.8 inch screen and 2 pound form factor, there came a point where I gave up on it; it was when I was typing in Notepad and noticed that there was half a second between me hitting the keys and the letters appeared on the screen. It was time to move on. I sold it.

I got a Windows Surface Pro 3 with a 12 inch screen, 2.1 pounds, an i7 processor, 8GB of RAM and 128GB of memory. I loved it. Greatest lightweight computer I'd ever owned. I banged it into a wall and twisted the speaker grill and it looked hideous. I sold it.

I had a Samsung Chromebook 3 for awhile, but there came a point when I needed Windows office productivity software.

I had an HP Elitebook 1030 G1, a 2.25 pounder with a 12.1 inch screen, an Intel Core M processor, 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage. While I was okay with it, the Core M processor was slow; websites always froze up for 2 - 3 seconds before loading, programs lagged before opening, etc.. Also, the touchpad didn't depress; there was no click. It was designed to have no tactile response, only a speaker-played click. The touchpad was odd, often reading a left click when I wanted a right click. There came a point when the battery was dead. I was told that the battery could be replaced for $150... and I just didn't think this Core M computer with its performance was worth $100 to get back into working order. I handed this model over to an electronics recycling service.

Anyway. My secondary laptop now is my work laptop, but I got to choose and customize it and will be able to pay the office to keep it if I so choose. It is a moderately lightweight 3 pound laptop with a 13 inch screen, a low-end Intel i5 processor, 16GB of RAM and a 255GB SSD. This one is more like your LG Gram and I use it solely for personal endeavours like typing all my emails and social media posts. I guess get more done with my personal laptop for work because it's plugged into an ultrawide monitor and I complete more projects when I have more screen space.

Re: Personal Status Updates!

Thank you!! I've had my fair share of hybrids. Whenever I've had a hybrid, there has always been at least one feature of Windows 10 that either 1. Doesn't work, or 2. is severely truncated beyond usability.

By hybrid, I mean a blend between a laptop device and another device (usually a tablet).

Before the pandemic, it was a fantastic work horse for work conferences. I am looking forward to being able to do conferences again   soon (hopefully we will see some end of this pandemic in 2022) and will be taking my LG laptop for sure.

Update: I am now fully boosted with my third Moderna shot. Yay! Also got my flu shot, so I am set for the winter season this year.

Re: Personal Status Updates!

QuinnSlidr wrote:

Thank you!! I've had my fair share of hybrids. Whenever I've had a hybrid, there has always been at least one feature of Windows 10 that either 1. Doesn't work, or 2. is severely truncated beyond usability.

By hybrid, I mean a blend between a laptop device and another device (usually a tablet).

I suspect the problem with Windows tablets is poor driver authoring and support. Windows is designed to work on the widest range of hardware possible and it's generally done well with keyboards, touchpads, external mouse control, microphones, wifi and such. However, I've found Bluetooth on Windows machines to be shaky and unreliable.

Windows tablets introduced a touchscreen and it all went to hell. Suddenly, Windows machines needed drivers for a gyroscope and a touch interface and, unlike keyboards and such, there was still way too much variability across manufacturers and no standards for these components and drivers. Even my Surface tablet had a tendency to crash at random times and the Microsoft Store's tablet-driven apps were constantly freezing up. Windows is a keyboard and mouse platform.

QuinnSlidr wrote:

Update: I am now fully boosted with my third Moderna shot. Yay! Also got my flu shot, so I am set for the winter season this year.

Yes! I don't qualify for one until December 15. It'll have been six months since my second dose. I did get my flu shot, though.

Re: Personal Status Updates!

Slider_Quinn21 wrote:

Can y'all recommend me a laptop for my wife and I?  It doesn't need to be anything fancy - all we'll use it for is standard web browsing, storing family photos, and using Microsoft Office.  No gaming, no streaming, nothing else.

My wife would prefer it not be a Mac, mostly because it's harder to use Excel on a Mac with the keyboard shortcuts being different.

I know nothing of computers - both our laptops are both old, and we just want a sensible replacement?  Something that will do what we need and not need to be replaced every couple years (mostly, for me at least, because I feel like it's a pain in the ass to move things over).

Is anyone as invested as I am (which is a lot) in which laptop Slider_Quinn21 ended up getting?

Re: Personal Status Updates!

It is 2:51 AM. I woke up in the middle of the night. I could not sleep. My mind consumed with the question: which laptop did Slider_Quinn21 buy?


Recently, the outer protective case cracked on my Samsung S7 phone. The Samsung S7, released in 2016, has limited accessories on sale these days. I ordered a new case off eBay. It should have arrived within one week. It took a month. During this month, I dropped my uncased Samsung S7 and promptly cracked open the Samsung S7, rendering it unusable and not worth the cost of fixing.

At this point, the protective case arrived in the mail. I informed the seller that I had destroyed my phone and that I would be mailing him his product back for a refund.

The seller told me he felt terrible about how his late delivery had left my phone unshielded. Undefended. And unguarded against all the damage incurred by gravity. He told me not to mail him back his item and he refunded me the $10 USD and begged his Maker for forgiveness for the suffering inflicted upon my treasured timer.

I mailed the case back anyway.

699 (edited by Slider_Quinn21 2022-05-04 14:47:36)

Re: Personal Status Updates!

ireactions wrote:

It is 2:51 AM. I woke up in the middle of the night. I could not sleep. My mind consumed with the question: which laptop did Slider_Quinn21 buy?

Dell Inspiron 3501.  It would've been on the list you sent.  My wife and I like it so far.  Thank you for your help!

700 (edited by QuinnSlidr 2022-05-14 12:24:01)

Re: Personal Status Updates!

Very glad you got a laptop that you can work with, Slider_Quinn21.

As for me - I am now fully vaxxed and double boosted for covid-19. Just got my second booster today as soon as I was eligible.

Yay!! Hope everyone continues to do well.

Re: Personal Status Updates!

I'm preparing an early Christmas dinner because my sister-in-law has to fly to England this year to visit her biological family. My turkey methods have evolved since we last talked. To summarize: turkeys are too big for ovens to cook evenly, so a turkey has to be severely overcooked to ensure that all portions are heated beyond what a microbial load can survive. Turkey is also a lean, low-fat bird. As a result, turkey is often dry.

One solution is to soak the turkey in a saltwater solution for about one hour per pound, absorbing moisture to make up for what's lost. I soak the turkey in room temperature chicken broth and put it in the fridge. This ensures the meat is moist throughout and avoids the dried-out texture of extended oven time. Some people prefer dry brining because it requires less time and can draw out the internal moisture of the turkey.

My take on it: Butterball turkeys are what I'm working with and they have been injected with a solution of salt and water before freezing. Upon defrosting, most of that solution and much of the internal moisture seems to drip out of the turkey. Dry brining might be great for a fresh turkey, but I doubt it's as effective for a frozen and thawed bird.

In addition, wet brining seems to do a better job of softening the meat because the muscle and protein absorb the saltwater and then the sodium and chloride ions in the water separate, pulling apart the meat fibers for a tenderized texture. I tend to brine in chicken broth.

However, I've come to see brining as just one part of pre-roasting turkey prep. Water is great, but the turkey is still a very lean, low fat bird that, even if softened up, is still a low fat, low flavour bird. Brining is actually not very effective at making the turkey absorb any flavour beyond salt. My method after taking the turkey out of the brine is to now fill a meat injector syringe with minced garlic, pepper, mustard, basil, oregano and liquid duck fat, and then inject this fluid into the meat and drumsticks of the turkey. This adds more fat and flavour to the bird within the meat itself.

I apply the dry seasoning on the exterior of the turkey after that along with some mixing powder for crispness and then I stuff the turkey with onions and lemons to add more moisture, and I think the combination of brining for moisture and injection for fat and flavour is probably the winning combination here.

It's possible that another method might be to directly inject brining solution into the bird followed by injecting fat and seasoning, but injections of saltwater might not reach every area of the bird and evapourate. In contrast, injected fat, even if not all-encompassing, will expand and spread throughout the turkey while it heats in the oven.

However, since some of the absorbed brine drips out of the turkey, I also inject that back into the turkey.

Injection also means that basting is no longer necessary. Basting has proven to be a liability because opening the oven every half hour to drip fat and chicken stock on the turkey causes the oven to lose heat and extends the cooking time. However, a turkey injected with fat and leftover brine will effectively baste itself in the oven and it means the turkey cooks faster; I can roast tonight's turkey in 4.5 hours instead of 6.5.

The best way to cook a turkey, however, might be to debone it and stuff it with a small and deboned high fat duck to make up for the lack of fat and avoid the need to overcook since removing the skeletal structures would compact the volume area to cook.

Re: Personal Status Updates!

-We'll need some drinks to go with that Duckurkey!-
Lets start with Robert Floyd's (Mallory) cocktail!**

Sliders Cocktail
by Rob Floyd

The Sliders Cocktail was created by Rob Floyd former scifi Sliders actor, now mixologist. The drink is
based off the season five episode, New Gods for Old. He adds in some nano-dust technology (edible
gold dust). In addition *liquid nitrogen, to make Dr. Geiger really proud of us and keep the
Kromaggs away.

• 1/2 ounce lime juice
• *4 ounces black charcoal tea (with a little bit of simple syrup)
• 1.5 to 2oz ounces Los Magos Sotol - (can substitute with ginger beer for nonalcoholic)
• 1/4 teaspoon edible gold dust
• *Liquid Nitrogen (can substitute with ice cubes)

1) Mix lime juice, black charcoal tea, Los Magos Sotol (or ginger beer) in your cocktail shaker.
2) Shake it just like in the Chandler Hotel.
3) Add a one eighth teaspoon of edible gold dust in your cocktail glass.
4) Pour your cocktail over the top and add touch of *liquid nitrogen (DO NOT drink it when it’s
bubbling) or substitute with ice cubes.

Activated Charcoal can interact with some medications. Certified professionals should only handle
liquid nitrogen.

Drink Responsibly
Go Sliders.

** recipe found at:

Re: Personal Status Updates!

Another reason I prefer wet to dry brining: my mother has some kidney issues, so I can't rub salt all over a turkey.

Yes, the chicken broth I soaked my turkey in has about 40,000 mg of sodium. However, the turkey only actually absorbs about 0.57 percent of that, so it's 228 mg of sodium distributed across a 15 pound turkey. Also, despite the low sodium content, the turkey absorbs enough of the flavour to taste lightly salted and it also opens the meat up to absorb garlic, mustard, pepper, basil, oregano, lemon and duck fat flavour.

However, in the spirit of making these advantages more accessible -- I guess you could inject a turkey with chicken broth throughout the body and let it sit for 2.5 hours per pound to absorb. That would be more salt staying in the bird than I'd want for my family meal, but others may have higher tolerance for sodium.

You could follow up with injecting fat into the bird anywhere from 12 - 2 hours before roasting. The fat doesn't have to be duck: it could be olive oil, butter (probably diluted with water to stay liquid, avocado oil -- it just has to be liquified and room temperature so that it's injectable and doesn't cook the turkey before it's in the oven.

I actually ran out of duck fat when injecting last night and had to make up the difference with bold olive oil mixed with minced garlic, poured into the injector. Probably fine, it just won't have the distinctive duck flavour of a fully duck fat infused turkey.

Re: Personal Status Updates!

I am in the market for a new tablet. Fast charging has messed up the battery on my old one.

I mostly use my tablet for media consumption. My sister recently had me carry two new televisions into her apartment. "The pandemic's not ending any time soon," she explained. I have a tablet for the same reason; I sometimes go months without turning on my actual TV.

I have gotten a lot out of my Samsung Tab A7 since 2021, a cheap Android tablet with a 10.4 inch screen and limited processing power (midrange processor, 3GB of RAM) that's adequate for movies and TV and ebooks -- but it's been having some issues. The main problem: the battery capacity has dropped severely in the last eight months. It used to last for ten hours of video playback; now it makes it to about three.

The reason: well, I've reviewed the battery logs and the battery capacity began to fall severely starting in March 2022. This is at the time I read an article saying that fast charging doesn't damage battery capacity because tablets can regulate the incoming electricity, so I enabled fast charging, happy to have my tablet go from 50 - 100 percent inside an hour.

And over the last eight months, my tablet went to 30 percent of its original longevity. It's pretty clear to me that just because a tablet *can* regulate fast charging doesn't mean it actually will; the increased heat of fast charging has damaged the battery. The heat also seems to have slightly warped the metal frame; when looked at the side, it looks like it's bent in the center.

The screen has also developed a peculiar fault where the left side has a strip of space that is brighter than the rest of the screen. The LCD backlight seems to have been damaged by the heat.

Anyway. I'm going to sell off the A7 for around a hundred bucks USD, take advantage of a Boxing Day sale, and buy a heavily discounted Samsung Tab S7 FE, a tablet with a massive 12.4 inch screen and 12 hours of video playback. If I switch on the charge limiter and keep it to slow charging, this tablet should last me at least five years for media consumption and ideally, a decade.

Even with a discount, this tablet cost a little more than what I think anyone should really spend on a tablet. I thought about spending less on the Samsung Tab A8, a 10.5 inch Android tablet, but I decided to get the S7 FE for a little more money because it's unlikely I'll ever look at a 12.4 inch tablet and feel tempted to upgrade to a bigger screen.

The new tablet arrives in the mail in two days along with a tempered glass screen protector. The case apparently has to be shipped from South Korea, so I'll probably keep the tablet confined to carpeted rooms until the armour arrives. This tablet has to last forever.

Let this be a lesson: fast charging is not as safe as all those fawning tech articles make it out to be.

Re: Personal Status Updates!

During lockdown in 2020, I bought myself an Oculus Go, the cheapest Oculus VR headset. I used it to watch movies and TV in a virtual reality cineplex. It was like watching a movie in IMAX from my living room. Recently, I decided to watch THOR: LOVE AND THUNDER on the VR headset. Except... I just kept not getting around to it for weeks. And months. Finally, on Friday, I had some time and put on the headset.

It sucked. The headset was just too heavy and uncomfortable to enjoy it for more than a few minutes. I was hyperaware of wearing a brick on my face. I put up with it during lockdown. But after two years, I've come to realize that I'd rather not wear a VR headset just to watch a movie and will settle for a 55 inch screen or a 12.4 inch tablet.

Putting the VR headset on sale tomorrow. Might get a few bucks out of it.

Re: Personal Status Updates!

Back in 2016, wireless earbuds were all the rage. People who hated wearing headphones with cables tethering to their pocket radios/MP3 players/phones had lived lives devoid of music or podcasts or radio. Then suddenly, there were wireless earbuds: 6 inch plastic bands that hung around your neck with the sound-emitting buds extending up to your ears. Your head no longer had to be tethered to your phone. Without wireless neckband earbuds, I would never have become so enthusiastic about THE REWATCH PODCAST with Tom and Cory.

Wireless neckband earbuds were a go-to gift for several Christmases. My favourite neckband earbuds were Skullcandy which were very affordable and had a very bass heavy sound design that was great for such small sound drivers. Of course, even in 2016, Skullcandy's neckband designs were being made somewhat obsolete as Apple released the first generation of its AirPods.

AirPods had Bluetooth earbud technology miniaturized with a more power efficient design that no neckband was needed: all the hardware could fit into each bud. But Airpods went for $160 USD for one set and had an 'open' design that let outside sounds in while whereas the Skullcandy Ink'd neckband cost $50 USD and you could replace the tips on the earbuds with any size that would fit and and seal it to your ear. Neckband earbuds (Skullcandy or not) were the better choice.

In 2018, Jabra had released a competitor: the Jabra Elite 65t "true wireless earbuds" which, like the AirPods, had all the technology in the individual buds, eartips that sealed to the ears, but these things cost $190 USD, even more than the $160 AirPods. However, in 2019, the the Jabra Elite 65t could be found discounted or open box for $40 USD and I found myself intensely tempted by the idea of being able to listen to a podcast in only one ear while outside and having the other ear free to catch any noise.

My lightly used Jabra 65t set started glitching after 18 months, randomly losing connection and not charging, but I was so enamoured with the form factor that I replaced it with the Jabra Elite 75t (which I bought lightly used for $40) in 2020 and these have lasted right up to today. I liked it so much that I bought another lightly used set: one to keep in my bag when out, one to keep at home for use. And my neckband earbuds?

I don't know. Recently, as I was getting back into the gym, I thought it'd be good to keep one set of wireless earbuds in my gym bag, exclusively for gym usage. I searched for my old neckband earbuds. They were nowhere to be found. I looked to see if neckband earbuds might still be sold in shops and expected that the prices would be very low since true wireless earbuds had made them a dated product. But neckband earbuds simply weren't to be found. And online, the Skullcandy neckband earbuds on sale are at absurd prices for being 'vintage'. These things aren't worth the price of $50 USD. They aren't even worth $20 USD.

I see a local eBay retailer selling what looks to me like Beats neckband earbuds that a factory in China is still making but without the branding, possibly to use up remaining component supply. They're going for $12 USD which is probably what these are worth now... assuming these even work. The era of neckband earbuds is over even as a cheap option for isolated use cases.

I'm still kind of curious about this $12 neckband set.

Re: Personal Status Updates!

I bought a set of $7 USD neckband earbuds. That seemed about right for such a dated form factor. They're the Rythflo Bluetooth Earbuds and... I'm reminded that neckband earbuds have some real advantages over true wireless earbuds like AirPods or the Jabra Elite line.

First, neckband earbuds sound fuller and richer with more bass. The Jabra Elite 75t and AirPods sound fine, but being small-sized devices, they never have the depth and bass of full fledged earbuds. They don't have the space for larger sound drivers since they need antennae and batteries. Neckband buds give volume to all the background noise of movies and TV that true wireless earbuds tend to leave out.

Second, neckband earbuds allow you to use your own choice in eartips. My memory foam eartips create a better seal to block out external noises which is preferable for a gym session when I don't want to hear other people around. Most true wireless earbuds need you to use the eartips that came with them in order to fit into the charging case. Neckband earbuds use a charging port. Admittedly, the Jabra Elite 75t comes with active noise cancellation, but ANC for me isn't going to be as effective as a tightly sealing eartip.

Third, have longer battery life. Yes, my Jabra Elite 75t can play for about five hours before it needs to go back in the charging case (which can charge the earbuds three times before needing a charge itself). But neckband earbuds using modern low power Bluetooth technology can last for 30 hours of use (unlike the 6 - 10 hours my old neckband earbuds had on Bluetooth 4.0). I can throw these neckband buds into my gym bag and only recharge them every few weeks.

I was surprised that this cheap neckband set had multipoint pairing (connecting to two devices at the same time), but they have it.

The only thing about these neckband earbuds that disappoint: the microphone is rather crackly. I left myself a voicemail to check the microphone and my voice was a bit staticky.

But I that's okay. I don't think I would ever wear my neckband earbuds outside of the gym; I don't feel safe walking the streets without at least one ear open to the world. I prefer the same when making phone calls. But this $7 purchase is great for the gym.