Capital One® Spark® Cash for Business

Well, I tried to leave a review here:
https://www.nerdwallet.com/card-details/card-name/Capital-One-Spark-Cash#cardholder-reviews

They want to be able to pull vast amounts of social data if I post from google+, facebook, twitter, etc. WordPress and blogger functions simply don’t work. Even if they login, they just take you to your admin page… so here is my review:

3/5 stars

Poor Business Card Practices

We have an account with several cards for our business and a primary user. We had an employee go to another city for a trade show. The charges from that card were deemed fraud and shut down ALL OF OUR OTHER CARDS. This was unexpected and we had to deal with a lot of vendor phone calls that day as we straightened the situation out. There was no fraud and shutting down and entire business credit line for one card number is a poor practice.

In a separate incident, we had actual fraud on one card. We made sure Cap One locked only that one card. They went to re-issue it and for some reason also canceled another card on our account without any notification. When we started getting calls from vendors we called and found that Cap One had canceled the other card by mistake. They also re-issued the card in their standard process rather than the expedited process appropriate for a business our size. 4-6 day handling, then shipping. Issues like this in the past had a replacement card in our hand the NEXT DAY with our competing Amex cards. Cap One expedited the process but could provide no other resolution. Reinstating the old card would have been ideal and saved us time as it was valid, with no fraud, and was already entered into our vendors recurring billing systems.

Lastly, the rewards are poorly managed. We like to take the rewards and put them in a separate account. The only way they offer to do this is by check. We get checks at $200, so we receive several per month. Some have not arrived, we have to keep careful track of these checks mailed by first class mail and this adds unnecessary overhead. ACH or some form of transfer would be an obvious improvement.

We only stay because of the benefits compared to other cards in our purchasing practices. Their poor business handling practices make this hard though as Amex is worlds better at every level other than the rewards offered.

TDK A33 Bluetooth Speaker

TDK A33 Bluetooth Wireless Speaker

I selected a TDK A33 for family a year ago.  Before wrapping it up as a Christmas gift, I connected it and used it to validate this choice.  I was amazed at the sound quality for this small speaker.  I wondered if this was now common and listened to other similar units at Best Buy and over time listened to other friends speakers.  The TDK A33 crushed the equivalent Bose unit with far better mid & high notes while maintaining crisp, clear base.  The Bose was muddy and sounded like something trying to emulate bass.

NOTE:  The A33 is currently for sale for $79.99, an amazing price!

The TDK A34 is now available.  Apparently, it adds longer battery life and improved sound quality.  It is still cheap at $119 currently.

TDK A34 Bluetooth Wireless Speaker

I highly recommend both products while the A33 is currently a great bargain.  When compared to other market options, it is stellar and I highly recommend it.

Quickbooks unrecoverable error in Quickbooks Enterprise 2014

My company used Quickbooks Enterprise (QBE) 2011 until our support was deprecated in May 2014.  We ran the 2011 version as long as possible because we know the upgrade process with Quickbooks is often a huge time sink.   We also understood that QBE 2012 and 2013 suffered from some serious problems and performance issues based on research.  So, when we moved to QBE 2014, we moved carefully with backups and trepidation.  Still, we encountered a major bug which we have not seen listed or resolved after 6 months.  I am blogging about the process to bring attention to this bug with hope for a resolution.  I also hope that QBE support will improve and generally QC at intuit will dramatically improve.  The bug I am highlighting was dramatically worsened by another issue, which is that QBW32.exe rarely closes successfully when closing the software and QBE crashes too frequently.

The bug report we sent to Intuit is below:

Hello,

 We recently upgraded to QB Enterprise 2014. We have been having recurring issues where quickbooks gives us an unrecoverable error when logging in. We went through QuickBooks tech support and were then forwarded on to the Data Services Group to restore our files to working condition.

 The explanation we were given for the nature of this unrecoverable error that locks us out of our company file is that a window or window(s) were being left open when we closed our file and that this somehow was causing quickbooks to have an unrecoverable error. It turns out the “fix” for this is to hold down the alt key while logging into quickbooks.

 We were told that this was in fact not a bug several times by the person in data services group; however, being locked out of your company file and being presented with a completely vague “unrecoverable error” that the first tier of tech support was clueless about for the “mistake” of “leaving a window open” seems ridiculous at best. This is not an uncommon or rare behavior at all and is certainly not an issue we ever ran into in years of using quickbooks prior to upgrading to 2011. Since receiving our working file back this issue has cropped up once again.

 Please understand that this is a bug. Throwing an unrecoverable error with no details and that your first tier tech support cannot answer because a window is left open (which I again don’t understand how this qualifies as a mistake) certainly seems to fit the description of a bug to me and the software developers on our staff.

 This has caused us to waste an enormous amount of our staffs time this week.

 Please see to it that this is filed as a bug and is resolved going forward. We are aware of the “alt key trick” to get back into the file now but the person we spoke to seemed to think that this was OK to leave as is.

Here is what happened:

Unrecoverable error when trying to login to our file as soon as the interface for quickbooks began loading after logging into the file.

Quickbooks Unrecoverable Error: 14664 59300 is the error we most frequently ran into.  The issue occurred when a user either closed their session or Quickbooks crashed or did not close properly.  So, under either condition we would have major data corruption that locked us out of Quickbooks which is wholly unacceptable.

Our long term resolution to this problem follows:

The process is outlined here. You will want to use the “Don’t save the desktop” option once you get to the correct settings form.

http://support.quickbooks.intuit.com/support/pages/inproducthelp/Core/QB2K13/ContentPackage/Core/Customize_Quickbooks/task_desktop.html

Effectively you go to Edit -> Preferences -> Desktop View (left column of prefs) -> Don’t save the desktop. This will return you to an empty desktop each time you open the company file.

The short term resolution was just to hold the alt key while opening the offending file and close any windows.

We have stayed on the R5 release due to major bugs in an R6 update that persist in R7.  There has been no resolution after 6 months to those existing issues.  Our QBE2014 was a bug riddled time soak.  The labor time spent to resolve the problem far exceeded the software cost and we were forced to upgrade due to payroll and general support deprecation.

QBE support was poorly informed, had a poor process and it took us dozens of hours before we were informed of the basic problem, ability to open an unwindowed file with the alt key and a preferences change.  Our resolution is currently effective and we are once again working effectively.  We will be evaluating other software options prior to our forced 2017 upgrade (3 year support cycle).

The Blogger image circle of death

I went to one of my blogs on Blogger today to pull up an image only to be greeted with the Blogger image circle of death.

IMG_6322.JPG

My first reaction was WTF?  I check and all my blogs are affected.  I Google search for broken Blogger images and removed Blogger images without much luck.  I did happen to come across a google forum here that helped: https://productforums.google.com/forum/#!topic/picasa/9ttGjFI6GS4[1-25-false] .  I went to Google Photos under one of my google usernames and did not see the images.  I went into the trash to find them there.  I was able to select and restore all the relevant images.  Luckily, I caught the issue before the trash was automatically removed.

So, why did this happen?  I was purging my phone of images, which I do every 6-12 months, and making sure I had archives on Dropbox.  It turns out the deletion process I selected on my phone removed images “everywhere” including my blog which had never been directly associated with Google Photos.

Bad Google, Bad.  This tenuous connection is having my phone delete blog images I created long before I had “Google Photos” or any associated service?  My desire to declutter my phone breaks my years old Blogger postings?  This should not be.

On the upside it didn’t take too long to figure out, I was lucky, and I lost nothing.  I won’t be using Blogger for any future projects and will note to take care with this silliness.

 

 

 

Comodo marketing for SSL certificates

I have some wildcard ssl certificates with Godaddy on a 3 year interval.  My renewal is two months from now and I have started to receive calls weekly for each individual domain from Comodo offering me savings.  Their pitch is basically to tell me how much it costs to renew ($269.99/yr) and that they will save me a few bucks, something on the order of $50.

I asked them to take me off their call list and explained that Godaddy has inflated pricing and right off the bat will mark down 35% with coupon codes, bringing this number down to $202.49/yr.

Comodo is using domain records to solicit you with persistent, annoying calls that don’t save you money!

River City Racing VIR 24 hour Classic Race Recap

This recap is from the August 9 – 10, 2014 ChumpCar 24 hour race in the #301 River City Racing Nissan 240SX.
The week before the race, many of us were up to 2-3am in the morning each night while going about our normal 9-5 jobs during the week trying to finish the car. A special thanks to Joey for all the effort put in to get us on track!On Thursday night, we stopped working to take the car around the block around 2am. Around 3am the car was loaded on the trailer and the gear was mostly packed. We met at 7am Friday and left with the car and two trailers around 8am after finishing our packing. We arrived at VIR, went through registration and unloaded in the paddock around noon. We went through a pre-race checklist developed for team Biohazard and were able to get the car ready enough for us to feel comfortable for some test laps. Morgan took the car out and soon found high air fuel ratios and saw our temperature quickly rise.

Upon inspection, the engine was clattering heavily and after removing the cam cover to inspect the valvetrain, a bad cam chain tensioner was found. The closest replacement part was 1.5 hours away and David drove to Greensboro and back to retrieve the required part. The part was installed the same night and validated as functioning but our practice time plus engine and clutch break-in time was lost. New air ducting was installed to improve cooling across our tiny oem radiator. As most of the team was new to ChumpCar, most members had to to through gear check-in. Some of the team had never put in hot laps at any racetrack, let alone the very technical and challenging VIR Grand course!

On Saturday morning, the team met around 8am and began to prepare for the event. It was raining heavily and ours was one of the later cars to enter the track. This was good however, as the pace could be kept low to work with a completely new car with many new parts that had never been run before. While the team did think about defogging, thanks to teams Racing Strong Motorsports & Biohazard, a squeegee was the only solution that could be arranged in time for the race start.

The first session in any ChumpCar race is filled with incidents and the consistent rain and green track made this start especially attrition filled. James started the race and took it easy to keep everything together and to debug the car in the mess of the first session. After running for a few, laps it became evident that the fog could not be cleaned fast enough for safely racing at speed! The rear brakes were also found to be FAR to aggressive, leading to lockup in nearly every braking event. A pit stop was taken to install ducting to bring airflow to the rear of the windshield and replace the rear pads. The team did an amazing job and had the pads replaced in just minutes!

The fog solution was completely resolved, unfortunately now, water entered the ducting to the window and on the straightaways, the water spray onto the window leading to visibility problems. Another pitstop later and holes were punched to drain the ducting and a cover was made. The cover later had to be modified to increase airflow but our fogging solution was now resolved and the car was handling well.

Drew was next in the car and did an amazing job. This was Drew’s first time in a racecar on a race course and this was in the rain with a new car in wheel to wheel racing! Drew immediately showed good pace and kept the car together. Each pit stop was slow, around 12 minutes, compared to the 5 minute stops of well practiced teams. This was our first race and modifications were being done each pit stop to improve the car and check on basics like oil level, pad wear, tire pressure, tire temperature, etc.

Kevin was next in the car and was also able to show immediate pace. Kevin is an accomplished autocrosser and this showed through at his first wheel to wheel racing event on a full road course! The course began to dry and Kevin’s times dropped with the conditions. Our clutch began showing slippage through Kevin’s session.

Alex was next in the car and also showed immediate pace. As the course continued to dry out, Alex picked up the pace and continued to set times we weren’t sure the car was capable of. The clutch condition worsened through this session and we found that the closest replacement clutch was hours away. Another cooperative team, #777 Wood is Wonderful, from the Lake Gaston area was able to provide a spare clutch. The team decided to employ a comically unique approach Morgan found. The solution was to mix Coke & flour and put this directly onto the clutch! We joked that if this solution worked, we would have to publish it and tell it to everyone.

David went in at the next pit stop and while the clutch felt better initially, it did continue to slip. David quickly found the pace and with the continually improving conditions, set our fastest time of the day! Another car gave David a bump but only smeared some rubber on our drivers side door, allowing the car to continue. Conditions began to worsen once again as our wet weekend started to get dark, requiring our driving lights be installed at the next pit stop.

Morgan was next in the car and quickly found our lighting solution to be inadequate. Fortunately, Morgan’s skill as a driver enabled him to set excellent times through the difficult and dark conditions which were difficult to see through.

At the end of Morgan’s session, we were happy to have achieved the lofty goal of getting every member of the team a full stint in this wheel to wheel endurance racing series. Luckily, all team members but Morgan were able to drive a full two hours to learn the course before the dark conditions, so we were able to work around our lighting problems.

Through the remainder of the event, the brakes warped heavily due to lack of cooling but later improved. The clutch worsened dramatically to a point of functioning like a CVT and only holding about ¼ throttle on the straights only to come back to full function by the end of the race. Whether by good fortune or a functional coke & flour solution, we will never know.

The car overheated and was brought in by Alex before any serious damage was done! Another bullet dodged by driver awareness from our amazing group. The problem was found, resolved as rapidly as possible and Alex was sent back out on track to complete his session. The remaining sessions saw improving conditions and corresponding lap times where a new fastest time was set by David in the morning and then Morgan during the last session with a forming dry line.

The team managed to get the car put together just in time for the event. The team sailed through technical inspection. The drivers demonstrated excellence across the board in pace, driving in inclement conditions, and especially keeping the driving clean and safe to keep the car in one piece. We received excellent support from friends and family, including Gretchen without whom we would not have had our defogging solution or clutch solution.

Congratulations to everyone involved with River City Racing! The team exceeded every possible expectation and surprised veteran teams across the board by finishing 38th of nearly 100 cars in difficult conditions with no incidents!

Dropbox made a poor choice with their newest Android version

I switched from Verizon to Straightalk on AT&T and reset my phone in the process.  I reinstalled my apps and everything worked fine except Dropbox.  Specifically, the automatic camera upload feature did not work.

So, I look into this in the settings and only find the option to connect to a personal Dropbox.  I have a business / team account with my company. I try to connect this to my Dropbox account and I am told I cannot connect it to the same account.  Crap.  I find this relevant article -> https://www.dropbox.com/help/307/en .  The summary is that Business users now need to create their own personal accounts or manually upload the photos.  I contact Dropbox support for a workaround and get the same information.

Here is where it breaks down for me.  I don’t need or want a personal account that makes file management more difficult and obfuscates my data further.  Do I need another email and password and login to access the information I could previously access in one location?  No.  I understand the use case here and I think only having camera upload on by default for personal accounts is wise for the majority.  Allowing a connection from business to personal accounts is also wise for those who want this capability.  However, completely disallowing a business user from using a previously available feature with their higher cost plan is a problem.  There are business users who have legitimate business needs for their cameras with their business Dropbox accounts.  Why completely prevent those users from selecting this option?

Generally, Dropbox is fantastic and it has made a huge improvement at work, at home and for my data management in general.  File revisions are a life saver as well as being able to easily sync between a mix of devices.  This is one of the few times Dropbox has made a design choice that is a genuine disappointment.  I hope they will hear from more business users to understand that this feature should not be specifically and wholly excluded from the business accounts.

Update:  I found a short term resolution.  The version I had installed with this frustrating limitation was v2.4.2 of the Dropbox Android App.  I looked for older versions and found them here: http://dropbox.en.uptodown.com/android/old .  I tried v2.4.1 which had the same issue.  I then went back to v2.3.12.10 and was able to restore full function!  I turned off auto-update on this version and will be keeping this version until Dropbox resolves this problem.

 

 

 

Finally winning the Ant war

I moved to a property in 2012 that has a lot of ants.  Local pest control companies wanted $250+ for the first visit and $65 or so for followup visits.  I have a rental property where they charge far less but for whatever reason they are classified differently.  The ants are coming into the home, trees, planters, gardens, garage, shed, etc.  I started with Ortho Home Defense MAX Indoor and Perimeter Insect Killer RTU Wand, 1.1-Gallon which partially effective for exterior perimeter but I would not recommend.  Perhaps it would be better indoors than out.

Next, I started to use these little traps TERRO PreFilled Liquid Ant Killer II Baits 6 Pack T300.  While they were more effective, they usually did not kill the colony.  I used several other products which were less effective and then decided to step  up the war with the larger traps TERRO Outdoor Liquid Ant Bait 6 pack T1806.  While more effective, these were only a solution for closed environments like planters or raised gardens.  I would recommend a combination fo the little and bigger bait traps for a garden where you don’t want to spray chemicals.

The final ingredient I was missing was a way to prevent the small group of remaining ants from reaching the house, tree, shed etc. TERRO 600 1-Pound Ant Killer Dust did the job and them some.  At this point, the pest issue is under control for the ants I can see.

 

Dog Chews

I have  a Shiba Inu who develops plaque on his teeth consistently.  My vet years ago told me to provide him with rawhide chews to help clean his teeth.  While this did keep his teeth cleaner, he would vomit a whitish liquid after chewing on one for 15 minutes or more.  I tried several different brands and types with the same result.

Naturally, I stopped giving him the chews as they made him vomit.  I could not find another good method to clean his teeth and daily brushing was only moderately effective.  I did have him cleaned at the vet periodically but as he is older now, I didn’t want to have him put under for this any longer.

After talking with a different vet about the issue, he suggested that I try USA made rawhides because the products from Asia, Mexico, Brazil, etc used arsenic and other chemicals in the hide processing & drying.  I tried a brand called Wholesome Hide Chewsthat I purchased from Cherrybrook Pet Supplies.

The chews work, his teeth are cleaner, all is well.  I relate this to pet owner friends often and as I am re-ordering just realized this would be a helpful blog post for many dog owners.

Verizon Motorola Razr MAXX

My Verizon based Motorola Razr MAXX phone has slowed down substantially over the years and is currently at a point where it will take 30 seconds or more to respond to user inputs.  I chose to clean off most of the applications I had accumulated over the years which had a positive effect but was not fully restorative.  I also removed 1000s of images held on the camera and synced to Dropbox which further improved the phone but still did not bring the phone back to original form.

Last night, I chose to perform a factory reset on my Razr MAXX to bring the phone back to its original performance.  After the factory restore, I was faced with a large list of bloatware and applications I didn’t necessarily want re-installed immediately.  I use two Google accounts with the phone so they each come with their own applications.

Here is a list of the applications I chose to freeze or disable:

  • Android Live Wallpapers
  • Stop & Clear Data & Clear Cache on Backup Assistant Plus, Backup Assistant+ Contacts Client, Backup Assistant+ Media
  • com.motorola.huxvmm.setting
  • Face Unlock
  • Forest Wallpaper
  • Help Center
  • How to Videos
  • Home Screen Tips
  • Let’s Golf 2
  • Magic Smoke Wallpapers
  • Movie Studio
  • My Verizon Mobile
  • Music Visualization Wallpapers
  • newbayservice (runs backup assistant)
  • NFL Mobile
  • Rescue Security
  • Setup Wizard
  • Slacker Radio
  • Swype
  • Verizon Login
  • Verizon Tones
  • Video Calling
  • VZ Navigator

A fantastic list of applications you can freeze or disable is here:
http://www.droidrzr.com/index.php/topic/6181-safely-frozen-apps-jelly-bean-98728/

The summary is that the phone is now far better than it was and is much closer to original condition.  I still have many Apps installed such as Dropbox, Facebook, two email accounts, etc that keep the phone from performing like the first day I owned it.  I tried a MotoX with Republic Wireless for a brief period and while the phone was fantastic, the service was not.

Update:  I ended up getting a MotoX to replace my Motorola Razr MAXX as I continued to have issues on the newest Android OS.