How Netgear and EyeFi have angered loyal customers

This past week, I’ve received “wonderful” news from EyeFi and NETGEAR:

  • EyeFi is discontinuing support and service for their Eye-Fi X2 and earlier generation wireless camera cards.
  • Netgear is shutting down the VueZone home wireless video surveillance system.

Both companies want to EOL the technology and associated services to put more resources into the newer products.

Basically, loyal customers are now left with junk.

Thanks.

Neither company is helping loyal customers transition to the new product offerings.

  • EyeFi is offering a discount on their newest generation of wi-fi camera cards, but I found a better price on Amazon.
  • Netgear is not offering any discount for Arlo, their newest wireless home video system.

I was quite happy with VueZone. I had two cameras outside (with weather enclosures and brackets), and five internal cameras. One was in night vision mode to monitor the sump pump. All together, I’ve spent about $600 on the system, not counting the $79 annual subscription fee for cloud storage. The VueZone service is only about five years old.

I get that old products need to go away so innovation can continue. I have no beef with that. However, when the transition leaves the consumer with junk, that’s a problem. Worse, the newer products often cost more, are less reliable, and have fewer features.

What should NETGEAR and Eye-Fi have done differently? It doesn’t take an MBA to figure it out that e-mail with false platitudes won’t keep the customers happy. Instead, offer an exchange program or at least a fifty percent discount off the newer products.

I’m not inclined to spend more money with either company. Eye-Fi and NETGEAR may pull the same stunt again.

Exhibit A, e-mail from Eye-Fi:

To Our Eye-Fi X2 and Earlier Generation Product Customers:

This message is for customers that purchased an Eye-Fi Pro X2 or earlier generation products prior to March 2015.  Effective today, June 30th 2016, we will no longer be offering support for our legacy product lines, a complete list of which appears below.  This notice formally begins the final stage of the “end-of-life” (EOL) process started in mid-2015 for the affected products.  It’s very important that customers cease using these products no later than September 16, 2016 as some key services these products rely on will be shut down at that time.    All customers who have a Mobi or Mobi Pro products purchased since 2013 are not affected by this announcement.

We began EOL on these product lines in 2015 largely driven by technological obsolescence of some of the key technologies included in these products.  The primary technologies relate to Internet security and authentication mechanisms that were state-of-the-art in 2007 when we built them into our products but have since proven to be vulnerable.  Since mid-2015 we have been offering migration services free of charge for Customers who have paid Eyefi Premium accounts.  We will continue to offer this service migrating your Eyefi View data to Eyefi Cloud. You can request a migration here. For those customers that wish to use an Eyefi Mobi Pro card in place of their earlier generation products, we have also made a limited quantity available at a deep discount, see details here if you wish to take advantage of this offer.

Please note that we will maintain our customer service Web site and content for all customers.  The support site includes detailed explanations for how to accomplish migration to Eyefi Mobi/Mobi Pro and Eyefi Cloud services.  We are grateful to all the customers around the world that used Eye-Fi products in the past as well as for our newest customers.  The EOL of a product line is always difficult and we have made every effort to minimize the impact of this change on our customers.  Thanks for your loyalty and understanding.

Exhibit B, e-mail from NETGEAR:

Dear Valued Customer,

This letter serves as formal notification that NETGEAR, Inc. will be discontinuing the VueZone Services on December 31, 2017. We will continue to support the VueZone Services until this date in order to allow for future planning by our VueZone customers.

After December 31, 2017, the following will apply:

–    All VueZone hardware products including base station and camera will cease to communicate with the VueZone back end

–    Any videos and photos you have saved in the VueZone cloud will not be retrievable

–    Access to the VueZone web application (my.vuezone.com) and to the VueZone mobile applications will be unavailable to all customers

–    VueZone service plans will no longer be supported and no service plan fees will be charged after this date

–    NETGEAR Customer Support will no longer provide technical support for VueZone products

For more information on the discontinuance of the VueZone Services, including a step-by-step guide on how to retrieve your videos and photos from the VueZone cloud, please visit our FAQ page.

We know this may come as disappointing news to our VueZone users, but discontinuing VueZone and allocating VueZone resources to our Arlo Smart Home Security System is consistent with NETGEAR’s practice of providing cutting-edge networking products that connect people, power businesses, and advance the way we live. NETGEAR appreciates and values our customers, and we are eager to supply your future product requirements with our world-class quality product lines.

Best Regards,
NETGEAR, Inc.
July 1, 2016

Why your fitness plan may be a losing game

Screen Shot 2015-06-17 at 8.06.28 PM

Employers are pushing fitness plans to lower insurance costs. Mine is no exception. Last year, I was invited to “invest in my health” by implementing a plan with a website that set health goals and recorded fitness activity.

I did so, and received an $1,000 discount off my family health insurance policy for achieving my goals.

This year, I’ve had to learn a new system. It has been a frustrating experience.

The trend in the health industry is to “gamify” fitness. That’s a good method to get people motivated, but this means implementation of arbitrary rules. Game theorists (i.e. a four-year old child) will tell you that arbitrary rules can be negative reinforcement to game participation.

This is what I am currently experiencing with this year’s effort.

Example: One goal is to “gradually lose weight.” I have lost 19 pounds. The standard for awarding points for the goal (set by the website) was to lose 20 pounds by a specific date. Unfortunately, nineteen pounds wasn’t good enough. There is no partial credit. There are no points awarded for the attempt. Once goals are set, they cannot be adjusted.

To truly be a fair game, the system should have awarded 95 percent of the total point value for the goal. 

[Read more…]

Cooking with Gadget Guy

rib
rib

Cooking Prime Rib on Christmas Day.

Two years ago I bought a Big Green Egg and started grilling. My first test was a disaster, but since I’ve gotten really good at burgers. My family now looks forward to my grilling escapades. Even my oldest stepson — who doesn’t like meat — likes my burgers.

This Christmas, I threw caution to the wind and decided to cook prime rib. It’s quite a leap from burgers, but these sources helped:

http://www.nibblemethis.com/2011/12/reverse-seared-prime-rib-roast.html
http://www.biggreeneggsperience.com/Standing_Rib_Roast.html
http://www.nibblemethis.com/2010/12/fire-roasted-beef-rib-roast-20-tips.html

My process

I bought a good boneless cut of meat from Lahody Meats in Muncie. I let it warm to room temperature for about an hour, then seasoned it with sea salt, pepper and rosemary. I placed the meat on a v-rack, and placed that rack in a drip pan filled with beef stock and a small amount of garlic. I used a place setter in my Big Green Egg for indirect heating.

The biggest challenge was getting the grill lid unfrozen. I didn’t anticipate that and had to light a fire through the top cap to unfreeze the hinge and gaskets. That set me back about an hour.

The roast was about five pounds, so I cooked at about 300f for about two hours. Occasionally, I poured some more beef stock over the roast to keep it moist.

At the end, I removed the place setter, added more charcoal and fired up the grill to 500f for a quick two-minute sear on the roast.

I like my prime rib a little more done than the usual rare, and this turned out awesome. Best prime rib I’ve ever had. The family and relatives were also extremely happy with it.

I monitored the grill from inside the house using the Stoker WiFi temperature control/monitoring system. The system has a basic web interface so I could set temperatures and alarm via a web browser or application on my iPhone with StokeMasteror BBQ Monitor. I even had my grill Tweeting my temperature numbers.

In addition to grilling the prime rib, I also deep-fried a turkey. That’s a future blog post. Stay tuned.

Cutting cable? Here’s some advice

Roku 3
Roku 3

Roku 3 is my pick for the best streaming box.

My friend Stephen wrote to me asking recommendations for cutting cable. Based on his description of his family’s viewing habits, he seems to be the ideal candidate. You also might be an ideal candidate. Besides viewing habits, location, services and technology are also considerations when deciding to tell the cable company to take a hike before it gives you a hike.

Viewing habits, of course, are the ultimate factor. If you don’t watch a lot of television, only popular shows and the main networks, you could be a prime candidate to cut the cord. This is especially true if you live in an urban area and can easily receive HDTV signals over the air.

Content services

Hulu Plus ($7.99 a month), Amazon Instant Video (prices vary on ala carte purchases), Netflix (streaming plan is $7.99 a month) are essential. You will find the latest popular TV episodes on Hulu and Amazon. Netflix still have the largest on-demand library, including past seasons of popular shows like Breaking Bad. Spring for Amazon Prime ($79 a year) for access to that company’s instant movie and TV library. Pay attention, though, to the number of devices you can connect and simultaneously stream from each service.

Technology

Popular streaming options are AppleTV, Roku, Xbox, “smart” TVs, internet-connected blu-ray players and TiVo DVRs. Indy Gadgetguy has had them all. I currently favor Roku and AppleTV. The family just acquired a Samsung SmartTV that is impressive. Roku (under $100) has the largest selection of streaming services and a slick interface. I also like my AppleTV ($99) because of the slick interface, movie rentals, and integration with my iTunes media and Apple devices. It lacks Amazon services, though. Bonus: Current Macs can stream to the AppleTV using AirPlay. My top recommendation is Roku.

Recording

The majority of streamers do not have digital video recording capabilities. You will need a TiVo for that. Prices are inexpensive, but there is a $20 monthly fee. The entry Tivo Premier (about $150) can be hooked to an antennae to snag analog and over the air HD signals. It also has Amazon, Netflix and Hulu services built-in. If you want one box to help you cut the cable, this is my top recommendation.

But not for my family

Our own family situation isn’t ideal for cutting cable. My wife is fond of HGTV shows and I like documentaries on The Science Channel. Both have sparse online content offerings, so we subscribe to DirectTV. The monthly bill runs around $170 a month, but that’s a good value for what we get. We’re too far away from Indianapolis to receive HDTV over-the-air signals without a large tower. We also enjoy the superior HD picture quality on our media room’s 120-inch LCD projector screen.

I’ve been impressed with DirecTV’s DVR technology (we have two networked together so we can watch anywhere) and have access to many movie channels. The DirectTV iPad/iPhone apps are especially nice for viewing content at home away from a TV. The sat service’s online web portal is great for finding and scheduling content and additional information in the forums. Nomad – DirectTV’s little box which allows recorded content to be place-shifted – needs more work to make it practical, though.

Conclusion

Still, $170 a month could fund a lot of streaming subscriptions and online movie and TV rentals and purchases.

Quick impressions of the iPhone 5

I’ve used the device for about three weeks and I am pretty happy. It’s the best iPhone I’ve had yet. On the Verizon network, it rocks.

Pros

  • Faster processing and better reception. Recent trips to Mammoth Cave and the Mojave Desert yielded good signal strength. No dropped calls yet.
  • LTE speeds. Zoom. Indy, Yorktown, and I-69 have it. I’m finding many areas with LTE coverage. Web pages and traffic apps load information faster.
  • iOS 6 is very polished. I’m glad Apple unburied the Bluetooth setting.
  • The camera is awesome. It did a better job of taking pictures than my Canon Elph 500 HS on recent trips.

Cons

  • New dock connector. Apple is slow on shipping out adapters and cables.
  • Form factor and size. Originally, I found it too light and I kept misplacing it. The old trick of lifting up the jacket to see if the phone was in it didn’t work. Incipio’s DualPro Hard Shell Case with Silicone Core solved that problem.

Gadget guy versus the Google

I recently bought a movie on YouTube from the GoDigital channel. It was the HD version of Atomic Filmmakers. The film was is a part of Peter Kuran’s impressive nuclear testing documentaries that began with Trinity and Beyond.

I settled down to watch the movie with my AppleTV and was irritated to find that one cannot view purchased YouTube videos through the device. Undaunted, I decided to use Airplay to stream the content from one of my Macs. Unfortunately, only my Macbook Air would work and that was charging. I wasn’t able to stream from my iPhone or iPad. I found a solution for my older iMac called AirParrot. This software enabled me to stream audio and video. I was impressed with the simple setup. Streaming quality was superb. The HD picture lost little detail when streaming. There was occasional minor pixelation. Buffering was fast and there were no stalls. AirParrot falls into the recommend category for me.

 

The winds of change are blowing

It’s been a busy several months filled with life changes since I last posted. My soulmate and I bought a new house. Next, we got married in a ceremony in the backyard. I’ve been lax on the blogging, but will have much more to say, especially regarding the new house. Stay tuned.

By the way, say hello to my new weather widget on the left. I finally mounted my Davis Vantage Vue weather station on a tripod in the new backyard. It is sending weather data to Weather Underground via Davis Weatherlink. I’m very impressed with the Vantage Vue. The Weatherlink software was an add-on, but it allows me to publish detail weather observations to the web.

Is Redbox new game rental service a value?

Redbox

Is Redbox video game rentals a bargain?

RedBox is trumpeting their new service of video game rentals. I assume they rent for $1 a night. – cost is difficult to find in their public relations materials. Will this be successful addition? At surface value, it would seem so. An average video game costs $49.95 or more these days. One could rent a game from Redbox for 10 nights and still come out ahead in the pocket book. Few video games can be played in a typical 24 hour period. A better solution is a mail video game rental service such as GameFly.

I’ve used GameFly for a few years awhile ago and found the service to be great, even though manuals were not included with the video games. The service works much like Netflix. Different membership levels allow you to have one, two or three games out at a time for a monthly fee. To have one game out at a time, it is currently $17 a month. Bottom line, if you believe you will have a rented videogame out for more 17 days or more, it’s better to do GameFly than Redbox.