Archive for category rant

Smoke Detector Batteries

It’s the end of this year’s Daylight Saving Time this weekend and that means that it’s also “change the batteries in your smoke detector” weekend. I’m not sure how long this has been a tradition, but it’s not one I typically follow. Here’s why.

I have a repeating item on my (digital) todo list to test the smoke detectors. Now, I’m not sure what exactly is being tested, but I do know that quite often after the test the detector will start emitting periodic beeps to indicate a low battery. I normally use this to determine when to replace the batteries, thus not feeling the need to replace them on a set schedule.

However, over the last few years I’ve noticed that the beeps often subside after a few minutes. I’m uncertain what this means. I had previously decided that this indicated that the battery wasn’t all that low afterall and only registered as low immediately after being tested. So, I stopped changing them with the presumption that the warning would last longer as the battery got worse and it would become incessant enough to replace. After all, this has happened without the test.

I let this go for a while and it didn’t leave me feeling very confident. So, last DST change (I think), I (had the kids) replace all of the batteries. Several of the detectors immediately started chirping their battery warnings. Annoying.

I’ve decided this whole thing is a scam being perpetrated by some sort of collusion between the detector manufacturers and the battery manufacturers. The detectors are connected into the house’s power anyway (aren’t they? Those wires aren’t just for hooking with the alarm system, are they?), so why can’t they simply include a capacitor that will hold enough charge to run the detector during a power outage? Perhaps the power needed to actually sound the alarm is too much.

By the way, even though the 9-volt batteries required by the detectors are a bit expensive, it isn’t actually the cost that prevents me from simply changing them on a schedule (okay, there might be someone reading this who knows about my cheapness for non-entertainment, so let me say that the cost isn’t the only factor), but rather the trouble of actually changing them. Getting out the ladder, removing the detector from the ceiling, prying that dang battery cover off, detaching the battery from the overly tight coupling and then reversing all of that. Times nine. Not fun.

Oh, right — I can just have the kids do it. Problem solved! 🙂


Digital Copy Annoyances

I don’t complain much, at least not here. At least, I don’t think I do — a search for “complain” revealed 10 entries, but from the titles, most were not specific rants. This is.

A month or two ago, I bought a Blu-ray player (which I’m not yet quite convinced was a good purchase, but that’s another story). I haven’t, however, made much of an investment in movies. Primarily, I upgraded my Netflix subscription to Blu-ray. Until yesterday, I had only actually purchased two Blu-ray movies: The Rock, to replace the Criterion Collection DVD that has never worked correctly (and that I should have returned years ago), and Hancock, because I liked it well enough, it was fairly cheap, and — the point of this post — it included “Digital Copy”. I’ll get to that in a moment.

Last night, after being inspired by Kate, I decided to purchase Elf. Now, it wasn’t automatic that I would purchase the Blu-ray rather than the DVD, since this isn’t a particularly visual movie. However, the Blu-ray included a “Digital Copy” and was only $20. Done.

I expect many people don’t really care about “Digital Copy”. I, however, have been putting movies on iPods and my iPhone for a while now and I really like having movies there. I probably wouldn’t want to watch a movie for the first time that way, but for movies I’ve already seen and enjoy rewatching, it’s perfectly enjoyable. With DVDs, it’s a simple matter to copy them in to iTunes. Blu-rays are another matter entirely, but “Digital Copy” promises to be the perfect solution.

Problem #1: The “Digital Copy” on Hancock is Windows Media Player only and appears to be permenantly tied to a single computer with no ability to load on iPods. Complete fail.

Problem #2: The “Digital Copy” on Elf, while being iTunes compatible, expired in October. I didn’t discover this until I tried to activate the copy, though I subsequently found the date in the small print inside a little “Digital Copy” fold-out that was accessible without opening the packaging.

Note that the Hancock “Digital Copy” also expires, though I don’t recall the date. Also, the expiration is really of the authorization code — as long as you’ve already authorized your copy, it will keep working. Just be sure to keep a backup.

I simply don’t undersand the point of having these codes expire. It seems like it’s just going to cause an increasing amount of customer frustration. It also seems likely that the customers who want the digital copy are also the most likely to simply download a copy — which is presumably the behavior the studios are trying to prevent in the first place.

Now the question is, is it worth a slot in my Netflix rental queue to get the DVDs so that I can make my own digital copies? This would have the additional benefit that I could make a DVD copy as well so that, for example, the kids could watch in the car (though our car has appropriate inputs so that they can actually watch from the iPod) or on a DVD player in another room. While I am not in favor of copyright infringement, I have no issue with making copies to get content that I should already have.

I have submitted a support ticket to each of the studios for these two movies. Nothing useful came of the submission for Hancock and I don’t really expect much for Elf.

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