Thursday, December 1, 2022

My Terrible Experience with CIT Bank 11 Month No Penalty CD

Over the past few months the interest rates for CDs have been going up so I started looking into some options for opening up a new account. I wanted a “No Penalty CD” which allows you to withdraw the money whenever you want as opposed to traditional CDs where you are expected to keep the money in the account for a certain period of time.

After researching the rates, one of the best I found was from CIT Bank so I decided to give them a try and open up a new account. Setting up and funding the account was ok. It wasn't until a few weeks later that there started to become some issues.

A few weeks after funding the account I began to look for the withdraw option just so I would know what to do if I wanted to take the money out. On the website, it has a “Transfer Money” section where supposedly you are able to transfer money. The problem is, it doesn't actually let you transfer money. Every time I clicked on it, it would just say I had to call them at their customer service number.

They have an option to send them a secure message on the website so I tried that first. I emailed them asking how to withdraw the money. Many days went by and I did not receive a reply so I decided to call them.

The first time I called, it said there was a 56 minute wait time. It had the option to call me back instead of waiting on hold, so I did that. When it finally called me back and said I was next in line, it disconnected the call before I even got to talk to someone.

I tried calling back the next day and waited about 25 minutes before I was connected to a representative. I told them I wanted to withdraw the money back to my account, but they said they could not do that by phone. They said I had to send a message to request it. I told them I did already and never got a reply. The representative said they would check on it. A few minutes later the call was disconnected.

I sent a 2nd email directly requesting the transfer. After 2 days I still did not receive a reply. At this point I was starting to get worried. I had money in this account and so far 3 different attempts to get it back had failed.

I looked into what other options I had at this point and one was to file a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau which is a government company that keeps an eye on financial institutions and helps with issues like this. So I filed a complaint with them and waited for a response.

2 weeks after sending my first message asking how to withdraw funds, they finally replied back and said I had to provide the routing numbers for the bank in order to do the transfer. I found this odd considering my account was already connected and on file, but I provided the information again anyway.

Another 2 weeks went by before I finally got a response saying that they would transfer the money back to my account.

In the end it took a full month to withdraw the money back to my account after first requesting it. Keep in mind, this was a no penalty CD which is supposed to allow you to withdraw the money at any time.

Overall it was a terrible experience and I am relieved to have been able to get my money out of that account.

Wednesday, October 26, 2022

My Experience Copying a Key: Minute Key vs KeyMe vs Key Hero

I needed to make a copy of a house key so I looked for a local place to get it done. I saw there were some self-serve kiosk options so I decided to try it out since I figured it would be pretty easy.

Minute Key:
First I tried Minute Key which was located in a Walmart. I started here because they seemed to have a lot of locations and I thought I might be able to use a promo code and maybe even get a free key.

So I find the machine in the Walmart and the screen is messed up. It was blurry so you couldn't read it. I tried to use it anyway but it ended up getting stuck halfway through the process. My key was stuck in the machine and nothing was working to cancel it.

I called over customer service but they were not much help. After about 5 minutes it was able to cancel and release the key so that was a relief, but overall bad experience and I was not able to make a copy of the key.

There was a Menards nearby and I saw they have a kiosk called KeyMe so I decided to try it out. This one seemed to work ok, the only problem was it said my key was uncommon so they would have to ship it to me. This was really disappointing because my key was as basic as they get.

I needed the key that day so I was not going to wait around for it to be shipped. So far 0 for 2.

Key Hero:
I decided to try one more, a kiosk called Key Hero which was in Home Depot. I go to the machine to start and immediately it says I need to call over an employee to do it. Again very disappointing. The whole point of the kiosk is so you can do it yourself and you don't have to find someone to do it for you.

After about 5 minutes I was able to get someone to help. I gave them the key and they were able to copy it. It was not that quick but they got it done. Also it was confirmed that it was a common key so I'm not sure why the other machine at Menards said it wasn't.

After trying Minute Key, KeyMe, and Key Hero, I was let down by all of them. I'm surprised that this seems to be such a difficult task. Maybe I just had some bad luck with the machines, but overall the experience was difficult and I had to go to 3 different stores just to make 1 copy of a basic house key.

If you are looking to make a duplicate of a key, you can try them out if you want to, but you might be better off just asking someone at the local hardware store to make a copy for you.

Wednesday, September 14, 2022

The Undateables - Show Recommendation

The Undateables is a documentary style show about people with disabilities and their search for finding love. These individuals usually have a condition that makes it difficult for them to find dates or get into relationships so this show helps them by matching them with others who may be compatible.

I am a fan of these kinds of shows, for example “Love on the Spectrum” and “Born This Way” so I was definitely look forward to watching The Undateables because it is very similar. The show is based in the UK and is currently available for streaming on Discovery+.

There are 11 seasons, each with about 5 episodes. I just finished the series and I loved it! There is a wide variety of participants and they very likable and memorable. It's great when there is a good match and they really hit it off and develop a long term relationship. I like how they also feature many of the cast members over several episodes and seasons as they continue their quest for love.

After finishing the series and looking for updates on what there are up to now, I was pleased to see many of them are still in relationships with the people they met on the show. Overall I highly recommend The Undateables. I hope they continue to make more seasons! 

Tuesday, September 6, 2022

TI-83 Missing Pixels Line - How To Fix?

It's hard to believe I've had my TI-83 calculator for about 25 years and I still use it quite often. It has been super reliable until today when I turned it on, I noticed it was missing a vertical line of pixels. It was low on battery so I figured that might be the issue.

I opened up the battery case and noticed there was some corrosion on one of the batteries. I took them out and cleaned it up as well as I could. Then I put in the new batteries. Unfortunately it still had the missing line.

So I did some research and found a video here showing how to do a display test on the calculator.

Here are the basic steps:

Press MODE
Press S
Press Enter
Press ON
Press Enter to cycle through the screen tests. 
Press ON a few more times to get back to the home screen.
I'm not sure if this will work for all screen issues, but somehow it worked for me and it fixed the missing line of pixels.
There are some tutorials out there instructing to open up the calculator to fix the internal components, but they looks pretty technical. If you are having screen issues, I recommend trying this method first to see if it fixes the problem. 

Friday, August 5, 2022

Beauty and the Geek Australia 2022 Review (No Spoilers)

Beauty and the Geek is one of my all time favorite shows. I've watched all the seasons from the US version as well as many of the international versions such as Beauty and the Geek Australia. The show had been off air for a while but then the Australian version came back last year and this year. 

Last year's season was amazing. It had everything you could ask for in a show from great casting to humor, to emotion. It's one of those feel good shows were even though it is a competition, everyone is supportive of each other. 

Having loved last season, of course I was looking forward to this new season, but also thinking that it would be pretty hard to top last year. So how did it turn out? I'm happy to report that it was very much on par with the same elements that made the previous season so great!

This season we have Sophie Monk back as host which is great because she is perfect for the show. There are also 10 new Beauties and 10 new Geeks. Each week they have challenges and one couple leaves the competition.

The challenges are usually pretty fun and have a theme that often involves dressing up in some sort of style. I thought this season's challenges were easier than last year, but there were definitely some difficult challenges this year as well. 

At the end of each episode, the two lowest scoring couple face an elimination quiz. My one critique of the show would be the format where it is first to buzz in. Many times couples would buzz in before the question was finished and then would get the point. I think it would be better if they each wrote down answers and then showed them. This way it would be a little more based on knowledge rather than first to buzz in. 

There is also the geek makeovers which is always one of the most exciting parts of the show. It's fun to see what a difference a new haircut and style can do to help them build confidence. 

Overall I thought they did a great job on casting. The thing that makes this show stand out is how kind and loving the contestants are to each other. The pairs support each other, but they also support other couples. Even in the short time of filming the show, you can see how strong the friendships become. This season there were even several romantic connections. 

Like last year, there were plenty of emotional moments throughout the show. I'm usually not too emotional but I cried several times throughout the series especially in the finale. 

If you have enjoyed any previous seasons of Beauty and the Geek, definitely check out this season. Even if you haven't seen it before, check it out if you can because it is a great show!

Wednesday, June 15, 2022

State Farm Review - Some gripes on this insurance company

I have had State Farm insurance for my car as well as my home for several years. Overall it has been ok and I think the costs have been reasonable which is why I have stayed with them, but I do have some issues with them as well.  

One thing that bothers me is they change my policy limits without permission. Every time they send the renewal, they bump up the coverage limits. I have asked them about this in the past and they said they do it automatically from what I remember, to cover things like inflation. That is fine, but it should be an option, not automatic. I don't want my coverage changed so every year they change it and every year I have to tell them to put it back how it was. 

Coverage information is hard to find. I just looked all over the website and it seems there is no way to see the actual coverage details. They tell you your coverage amounts, but it seems if you want to know the details or declarations of what is actually covered you have to request that they send it to you by mail. I have a copy of this from when they first sent it, but I would like to be able to see it online or at least be able to download a digital copy. This should not be that hard. 

Also when viewing your coverage on the website, some of the basic information is missing for descriptions of things like “Loss Assessment”, “Damage of Property to Others”, “Medical Payments to Others”. When you click on them to learn more about what it means, it just says “Sorry a description has not been created for that.” These are just the basic items and there are not that many of them. Someone needs to get on this.

Lastly, and this is just nitpicking, but every year they send me a bunch of address stickers with my name and address on them. It was ok the first time, but they keep sending them. I don't need hundreds of stickers with my name and address on them. It's a nice gesture, but there should be an opt out for something like this as well.

I know some of these may be minor issues, but they are things that could be easily fixed and would greatly improve the customer experience. Hopefully they can address some of these issues soon.

Wednesday, June 8, 2022

Kasa EC60 Camera Review - Testing the popular security camera by TP-Link

Recently I decided to look into getting an indoor security camera for my home. I wanted something that would be able to detect motion, have recording ability, and connect to wifi to view the live stream from your phone. I also wanted something simple and affordable. After doing a good amount of research I decided to get the Kasa EC60 Spot camera by TP-Link.

There is plenty of information out there about the specs so I will focus this review on my experience with the camera.

Set Up:
For set up, you first download the Kasa Smart app which allows you to connect the camera with your phone and access all the features. Then you plug in the camera and follow all the steps in the app such as making an account and connecting it to your wifi.

I noticed when plugging in the power adapter to the camera it did sound kind of “crunchy” which was not very assuring, but the camera powered up just fine. It did make some clicking noises while setting up which appear to be normal as I noticed it does this when switching to IR night vision mode. The setup process was ok and after a few minutes it was up and running.

The camera quality is acceptable. It's 1080p HD and has the option to go with a lower resolution if you want to use less storage space and have faster transfer of data. When you first view the camera in the app the screen is small, but you can maximize it to full screen. I think it would be better if it just defaulted to the full screen right away as it is pretty small on the first screen.

You are able to view the live feed from your phone which is great for checking in on what is going on when you are away. It also has the option to record if you add a micro SD card. I purchased a 32gb micro SD card to use with it, but so far I have not felt the need to install it.

The app lets you take screen caps of the feed if you give it access to your pictures on your phone. It can also record audio and has a speaker you can use to talk through it if you give the app access to your microphone. I'm pretty cautious with security so I did not use any of these features but they are there if you want it.

One thing I like is it has the option to easily turn the camera on or off using your phone. I did notice however that the camera stays warm even when it is turned off which I found to be odd. I did some research and I don't think it records or live streams when it is off but it's hard to be 100% trusting of things like this so I would recommend covering the lens physically or facing it away when you don't want it recording just to be on the safe side.

The motion detection seems to work pretty good and you can have it send a notification to your phone when it detects movement which is a good security feature.

The infrared night vision also works very well. I turned off all the lights and tested it out and you can see everything pretty clearly. It's pretty amazing how it can do that.

There are plenty of other settings to play around with so you can really customize it to fit your needs.

Overall I am satisfied with the camera and think it is a pretty good deal for $25. If you are looking for an affordable security camera that can record, stream, and detect motion, I would recommend the Kasa EC60 cam.