Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Windshield wiper solution

It looks like I may have a solution to my windshield wiper dilemma, thanks to a guy named Joe.

Yesterday I received an email from Joe. He also owns a 2008 Ford Escape and had the exact same troubles that I did in finding windshield wipers for the truck. In fact, he also had the same problem with the Armor All EDGE Silicone Wiper Blades that we both purchased as replacements.

Fortunately, he found a possible solution. He came across my blog and was kind enough to share the info with me: Trico NeoForm blade (part #16-2013)

I had read about them in a forum as I was searching for wiper blades, but didn't know where I could find them. Joe found them at Parts Source and said they seem to work fine. What's even better is that they are $24.99 each, compared to Ford's one and only replacement wipers -- the same as what came with the truck -- that cost $30 each.

My wife returned the Armor All wiper blades to Canadian Tire this evening. The girl at the Customer Service counter mentioned that they've had quite a few returns of the Armor All wiper blades. Not surprising.

Oddly enough, there are now two good reviews and two bad reviews of these wipers on the Canadian Tire web site. One of the bad ones is mine.

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Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Real Xmas trees are thirsty!

With the holiday season upon us, here's an important reminder for those who have a real Xmas tree: DON'T FORGET TO WATER THE TREE!

In the 13 years that I've been married, we never bought a real Xmas tree. Until this year. This is the first year that our kids go to see a real tree in the living room. The same can be said for my wife. She said they never had a real tree when she was younger. We often had a real tree when I was growing up.

So, we went out on Saturday and cut down our own tree. I love the smell of a real tree at Christmas. One thing I don't remember growing up is just how thirsty a real tree is.

Our tree stand holds a lot of water. After we set it up, I filled it up. The next day, I reached under the tree and stuck my fingers in the reservoir. I couldn't feel any water. I got a large plastic cup and topped it up, and then checked it again. Still no water.

It took four large cups to get it to a level that I could feel the water. It must be the equivalent of about 2 litres!

I checked it again the next day and the same thing happened.

I thought... either this tree drinks a hell of a lot of water, or the stand is leaking into the floor. I had to check the basement ceiling to make sure there were no water stains. :)

Be sure to check your real Xmas tree on a daily basis so it doesn't dry out!
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Stupid Drivers

The highway off-ramp that we take every morning has a large shoulder, and as the line of traffic slowly crawls along, people often drive on the shoulder. I don't know if they're just stupid and they they actually think it's a lane or what... but, at some point, it does get narrow and they eventually move back into the lane.

This morning, I noticed the guy behind me (maybe ~60yrs old) was one of these stupid people. But he was different. This guy graduated at the top of the stupid class, with honours.

He started to pull up beside us on the shoulder. He then backed off a little. And then he pulled up alongside again, passed us, and drove beside the vehicle in front of us!

I laid on the horn.

He slowed down and pulled back in behind us.

We were stunned.

Now, let's pretend for a moment that the shoulder was actually a lane. There's a solid white line between our lane and his imaginary lane. I don't know how this guy got his licence, but when I took Driver's Ed, they taught me that a solid white line = DO NOT CROSS.

What the hell was this guy thinking? Big balls or big stupid?
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Monday, December 15, 2008

I'm going to Disney World!

Ok, I'm not, but they think I am. :) Click the play button if it doesn't start.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Ford strong-arms online communities?

Ford Motor CompanyImage via WikipediaI was poking around the web and Twitter during my lunch break and came across this:

Ford Goes After Online Communities For Trademark Infringemnt

The summarize: Ford wants their domain names and payment for the infringement.

Some of these web sites have been around for years, and never heard a peep from any of Ford's legal council.

Why the change now? Is Ford so desperate for money, that they have to squeeze it out of their loyal followers? They certainly aren't blowing their cash on designing and manufacturing 2008 Ford Escape winter wiper blades. :) Sorry, had to throw that in there.

A Ford rep has commented on the article and is looking into it.

Update: the official response from Ford. Seems fair enough.
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Malware headache

Malware: Short for malicious software, a program or file that is designed to specifically damage or disrupt a system, such as a virus, worm, or a Trojan horse.

At some point on the weekend, my son installed malware on his PC. It seems to have come from one of those fake pop up "your infected" ads, advising the user that they need to install a virus scanner update or registry cleaner.

I run the free version of AVG Free Anti-virus on all our PCs and, for the most part, they've been protected well enough. This sucker got past it.

A few of the symptoms were:
  • being redirected, at random, to other sites while surfing the web
  • pop-ups advising you that there's a problem you need to address with an update
  • general sluggishness of the PC
AVG did identify the trojan as the " trojan" and attempted to clean it. Yet, after rebooting, it would reappear. I'd scan it again, clean it again, reboot... and it would be back every time.

After 4 hours of trying to clean it using AVG and manually deleting what didn't seem like it belonged, I did a search on one of the pop-ups. One that told me to install "Registry Defender".

I came across a forum posting where someone had a similar problem, and the suggestions were to install a freeware program called Malwarebytes Anti-Malware.

I gave it a try. Although it probably wasn't necessary, I decided to reboot into Safemode first before running it. It found 36 infected areas. Files and registry entries.

I let it do its thing and rebooted. Then I scanned it again. It found 4 more entries. Again, cleaned, rebooted. Another 4 found. Repeat. 2 more. Repeat. Clean. Reboot. Still clean.

Don't put all your trust in your anti-virus software.
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Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Ford (Motorcraft) does NOT make winter wiper blades for the 2008 Ford Escape

I decided to see how the Armor All EDGE Silicone Wiper Blades performed for the snowy drive home. In one word: garbage.

I was a little surprised, considering there is one user review on the Canadian Tire web site that gave them a good rating. I suppose a different size for a different make and model of vehicle might be the difference.

While I was stuck in traffic on the highway, I called my wife and asked her if she could call our Ford Dealership and ask them if they had any winter blades for our 2008 Escape. If they did, I would remain on the highway and go buy some from them.

She called me back. According to the guy she spoke with, they don't make winter wiper blades for the 2008 Ford Escape. The only wiper blades they have for it are like the ones that came with it, for around $30 per blade.

I guess the Ford Parts and Service page is wrong. Listed under The Advantages of Motorcraft® Wiper Blades is "Components to fit every Ford, Lincoln vehicle". If there's tiny print anywhere on there that says "Except the 2008 Ford Escape", I couldn't find it.

I stopped for gas close to home and put the old OE blades back on the truck. They may not be the best at the moment, but they worked a hell of a lot better than the new Armor All ones.

When I got home, I had a closer look at the Armor All blades. These are a flex style blade. When I straightened them out, I could clearly see that the center, where the arm attaches, won't straighten out enough to make contact with a surface. It doesn't appear to be a defective blade, in this case, just a poor design.

So, two thumbs down: one to Armor All EDGE Silicon Wiper Blades and yet another for Ford. But, I will give a thumbs up to Scott Monty for taking notice of my original tweet on Twitter and not simply ignoring it. At least someone there is taking notice.

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Ranting at Ford -- again -- and crappy wiper blades

I had a terribly slow drive in to work this morning due to the snow coming down. My usual 20-30 minute drive turned into over 1½ hours.

Anyway, unless I had the heat cranked and directed at the windshield, the snow was building up on the wiper blades and then icing up. This didn't help to keep the visibility. I've been meaning to get winter wiper blades since last winter, and today I decided would be a good day to finally get around to that.

After sitting down at my desk, I did a quick Google on "winter wiper blades 2008 ford escape" to get an idea of what's available. I had plans to walk over to the nearby Canadian Tire at lunch and pick some up.

Much to my dismay, I found message threads that seemed to indicate that such a thing does not exist, for the 2008 Ford Escape.

What the hell? No winter wiper blades for an SUV sold in Canada?

I continued to read more threads from people who said they even contacted Ford, and were told that they don't exist. In fact, aftermarket wiper blades in general are difficult to find.

One thread did indicate that there was a Trico brand winter blade available. I checked out their web site and found that Canadian Tire sells that brand, but not the particular "winter blade" required for my truck.

So, I hopped onto Twitter and post a quick rant:

"How is it possible that winter wiper blades don't exist for a 2008 Ford Escape, or any vehicle for that matter, sold in Canada? Hello? Snow?"
A few minutes later, I get a reply on Twitter:
@twister65 Let me see if I can get an answer for you.
I was puzzled. Who was this guy?

I clicked his name. "Head of social media at Ford..."

Interesting. Whoodathunkit. Ford is actually involved in social media and monitoring it? I sent him a quick thanks. We'll see what he can find out -- but I'm not holding my breath.

I walked over to Canadian Tire at lunch to see if they had anything. I looked up Ford Escape 2008 in their little wiper blade catalog. Out of the eight or so brands that they carry, there was ONE for a 2008 Ford Escape. One. Armor All EDGE Silicone Wiper Blades. $25 per blade. Ouch. Although they weren't specifically "winter" wiper blades, they did indicate that they were good for snow and sleet, etc.

What other choice did I have? None. One of the workers there asked me if I was in a hurry for them. He said that they were going to go on sale next week or the week after. He couldn't tell me how much they were going to sell for though. I thanked him, but said I couldn't wait.

So back to work I walked, in this crappy weather, and down into the underground parking to put them on. It was easy enough. They included 3 different adapters.

I hopped into the truck and turned on the wipers, then sprayed the windshield with windshield wash.

Streaks. Two large, unwiped, streaks. Right in the center of the driver and passenger side windshield. WTF?

I took them off and double-checked to make sure I had them installed correctly. Yep, they were. Turned on the wipers again. They cleaned the unwiped part off. Sprayed the windshield again. Streaks... again.

I'm hoping that there's some kind of settling while they press against my windshield up until I leave to go home. I kept the old wipers just in case. I really don't want to have to pull over on my way home to switch them back.

At $25 per blade, you can bet that they'll be going back if they don't work.

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Thursday, December 4, 2008

My Dad : 1938-1998

My Dad passed away on this day 10 years ago. The exact date is somewhat debatable. The death certificate says December 3rd, at 11:35 pm which is December 4th, 12:35am where I live, so I was always treat it as the 4th.

Anyway, although we weren't exactly on very good terms when he passed away (long story), I do think about him every year around this time. Tiny memory snapshots of the past come to mind. I could sit for hours trying to focus on them and dig deeper.

Here's a few...

Around my late pre-teens, I remember we visited some friends of the family. My Dad and I were out in the backyard playing frisbee or throwing a ball around. He did something to annoy me. I tried to kick him. He grabbed my foot and lifted my leg up, causing me to fall over. I never tried to kick him again.

Many years before that, I remember waking up for breakfast and my Mother telling my sister and I that something had happened to my Dad the night before. He had been downtown at the pub with his friends. As he left, he saw some guys trying to get into a car. Whether he was being a smart-ass or not, he approached them and spoke to them. For being nosy, he got punched in the face, leaving him with a cut over his eye that requires stitches, and broken dentures. For the next few weeks, he had to eat soft food that didn't need much chewing. I remember my Mother would cut the toast into three strips and he'd get the center strip because it was less crunchy. He called that his "wallopy" piece.

My Father was my best man at my wedding. I remember decorating the rented Cadillac on the morning of my wedding and then sitting on the curb to take a smoke break. My Dad came out and asked me how I was doing. I guess I was nervous, and he could tell. He said "Here..." and handed me a beer. Good timing. He sat down beside me. He assured me that everything would be fine and the day would go off without a hitch.

Later that morning, I was at the church and waiting in the Minister's office. My Dad was nowhere to be found. It seems that in all the commotion of who was driving who to the church, my Dad was forgotten? The ceremony was beginning to run late. The door opened and in walked my Dad, wiping the sweat from his forehead with his handkerchief. The first words out of his mouth were "Jesus, it's hot out there!" He then noticed the Minister was also in the room. Looking a little embarrassed, he immediately apologized. The Minister replied, "That's ok, we say that a lot around here."
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Rock Band & Country Music?

Still on a musical roll here...

I read over here, that Rock Band will be getting a few country music songs in the download content next Tuesday.

This is a first. Feedback has been mixed. Some say country music has no place in Rock Band and it should get its own game to play in. Others don't seem to mind.

I'm not fan of country music, but I'd certainly rather play it than some of the death metal stuff that came with Rock Band 2 -- songs like "Visions" that sound worse than rocks in a blender. Country music is closer to "rock" than that crap, IMHO.
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Fleetwood Mac coming to Ottawa

Stevie en Lindsey ( Oberhausen 2003) - eigendo...Image via WikipediaWhile on the topic of concerts, I heard that Fleetwood Mac will be coming to Ottawa on March 24th. My first thought was "Hey, I wouldn't mind going to that..." Being younger than I am, my wife said she wasn't sure that she knew many of their songs. I found a whole bunch, burned them to a CD and we listened to them on the way to work this morning. As it turned out, she knew more than she realized. She then added that although she liked them, she wasn't sure she could watch them in a concert setting.

As I listened more during my drive to work, I started thinking the same thing. The songs are a little too mellow for an entire show. Not a good Pink Floyd kind of mellow, just... mellow.
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Trans-Siberian Orchestra tonight!

My wife and I are going to see the Trans-Siberian Orchestra tonight. I won some tickets from a local radio station a couple of months ago.

I first heard of the TSO a few years ago after seeing the famed Carson Williams Christmas light display video on YouTube, borrowing their "Wizard in Winter" song synchronized with the light display. Mr. Williams now apparently runs a custom animation lighting business called ConsarLights.

Everyone I know who has seen the TSO say that the show is awesome. I don't doubt it.
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