Friday, September 29, 2017

Seeing Red with Blue Sky

I ordered two (2) "USB IR Infrared Remote Extender Emitter Receiver Repeater Adapter TV Top Box" via Walmart.com from a third-party vendor named "Blue Sky." The item (cables) is supposed to enable the user to operate their remote control device without being in line-of-sight to the TV cable box, so that you can "hide" the cable box behind the TV or in a cabinet, etc. My problem - - which I had hoped this device would solve - - is that both cable boxes (in different rooms for different TVs) are off to the side of the TVs, making it difficult to properly aim the remote control (i.e., we can't place the boxes line-of-sight).

I am a computer programmer and handyman, with more than enough experience with electronics. Furthermore, I had researched the two different cable boxes on the mfr's websites for instructions on how to mount the emitters. Despite all that, neither of the two cables worked. I tried every contortion of cable and attachment to the boxes I could think of to no avail. That was bad enough, but, okay, not everything works as advertised and/or on every device.

I attempted to return it per the vendor's 30-day return policy, but Walmart.com said they wouldn't accept it at my local store (if they offer it for sale, third-party or not, they should accept all such returns; not everyone who orders online realizes they are, sometimes, not dealing with the given website; this is also true of Amazon.com, Target.com, HomeDepot.com, et al., as well). So, I contacted Blue Sky (aka, Sunny Sky) via the Walmart "relay" system, which appears when you click "Contact " for the specific item in your online account order list.

I gave  extraordinary details in my initial and subsequent e-mails via the "relay" system (I could have used my own e-mail, but Walmart's relay page said not to do so), requesting return instructions and a subsequent refund. Blue Sky's rep responded at 2:30am ET (according to the e-mail send-time) with exceedingly poor (and seemingly phony) English, asking for even more detail! I copy-pasted my more-than-adequate original details, and stated that I repacked the cables, ready to return them for a full refund, but that still wasn't good enough for them. They reiterated their request for me to give more details in their SECOND e-mail. In their THIRD e-mail (rec'd TWO days later)
in response to my second e-mail, they requested that I try to re-connect the devices AND FOR ME TO VIDEOTAPE MY EFFORT, THE CONNECTIONS, AND THE USAGE!!!

Incredulous, I, politely, refused
(even if I wanted to do it, what in the world makes them think that everyone has a smartphone or other video equipment?).  Equally politely, I re-reiterated my request for return instructions and a refund. Their FOURTH e-mail (rcv'd the next day) INSISTED that I videotape my efforts!!!

That was the straw that broke the virtual camel's back! I complained via  Walmart.com's chat, which, although it took about 15 minutes all told, resolved the problem to my satisfaction (I won't go into details, because not every such problem may be resolved the same way).

Blue Sky's toll-free number isn't listed anywhere on the web (I wish I had checked that before making my purchase), which is very unusual (I did not call them, because I did not want them to have my phone number). They do not seem to have any online presence, which makes me believe that they are dealing out of their own home. As of this posting, Walmart.com still shows the item online, but, you cannot order it (presumably, at least, until they contact Blue Sky for an explanation), nor can I post a zero-rating review for Blue Sky.

DO NOT TRUST BLUE SKY OR WHATEVER NAME BY WHICH THEY REFER TO THEMSELVES. Given just their atrocious and outlandish customer service I truly believe they are scammers (why they even bother with customer service is beyond me!).



P.S. I decided that it isn't worth the effort to try any different company's similar device. I'll just have to do with my TV cable box setup the way it is.

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Too Chicken to be Original

I truly loathe the latest rash of KFC commercials, which show a disrespectable and ever-changing actor portraying the "Colonel" giving inane sales pitches. But, tonight, I saw a new one that is truly loathesome: The "Colonel" says something to the effect that they will not make/serve/eat chicken because it is easy, but because it is hard. Sound familiar? On the 100th anniversary of JFK's birth no less. I haven't been in KFC in years, because they are WAY too expensive and give WAY too little, and, like Burger King, seem incapable of running intelligent and/or likeable commercials. They say that commercials have to be targeted to the teen/twenty-something crowd. It says something about the retailers that they think that (or any) target group believes that creepy mascots/characters and inexcusably bad patter is attractive to that target group. Perhaps, it also says something about that target group.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

ALT-Enter Failure in Excel

I was having trouble using the ALT-ENTER key combination to enter line breaks into MS Word and Excel. It used to work, then, one day, it just stopped working!

After checking the web, and eliminating the various issues they described (e.g., word wrap on, macros off, foreign keyboard setting, date/time not set correctly, etc., none of which applied to me), I started in "Safe Mode" (or what passes for such in Win 10), and had no problems!

I then went back into regular Windows, and tried a controlled test bringing up one program at a time. The only one that caused the problem was Facebook Gameroom (fortunately, it was just the second app I ran, so I didn't bother running any others). I clicked the 'X' to close it, but ALT-ENTER would still not work. I then discovered that it was still running in background, so I "exited" it from the taskbar's up-arrow widget (i.e., where some "hidden" apps, such as the anti-virus program, are running (see photo, below)), tried ALT-ENTER in Excel, and it worked just fine! I repeated the test, and it did exactly the same thing!

So, for whatever reason, Gameroom is preventing the ALT key from working in Excel, Word, and, possibly, other apps, as well. I sent them a bug report; they're pretty good about fixing things like this, so, hopefully, an updated version of Gameroom will be coming our way, soon! And, no, I didn't make the connection between the failure and installing Gameroom, because I didn't do one right after the other; I don't recall when it first happened, but, it might have occurred after a Gameroom update, not the initial installation.

Of course, there may be other apps/programs that may cause such problems, so, you may need to do some controlled testing of your own. Start with the most common thing that you run (e.g., web browser), then the next (e.g., text editor), etc., making sure to test ALT-Enter (or whatever) in your affected software (in my case, Excel and Word)  before you run the app being tested, while it's running (do nothing else with that test app), and after immediately closing the test app. If it works before and after, but not while, the test app is running, then you found your culprit! I was able to keep Excel up and running through the entire test; the failure was immediate, but, in some cases, you may need to restart your affected app after bringing up and knocking down each test app, to be certain that it's "clear" of any negative affects.

Click the "up" arrow (shown above my overlapping red line),
then right-click Gameroom (circled),
then click 'Exit'