Skip to content
Home » receipt


Optimize Windows 10 for better performance

When I first installed it, I thought it was pretty pointless to try to optimize Windows 10. Of course, I installed it from scratch on a computer with an SSD and 16 gigs of RAM. Then I upgraded a couple of computers from Windows 7 to Windows 10, and I started to see why some people might not like Windows 10 all that much.

Upgraded systems almost always run slow, but I’d forgotten how much slower. And while you didn’t have to do much to Windows 7 to make it fast–that’s one reason people liked it–I find some Windows 10 optimization seems to be necessary. But don’t visit dodgy sites like Follow these tips for things that actually work.
Read More »Optimize Windows 10 for better performance

How to sell Lionel trains

Since I’ve covered other makes of trains, someone asked me how to sell Lionel trains. So I thought I would give similar advice on selling Lionel trains. Lionel is an iconic, legendary part of Americana, so there will always be some market for its products.

That said, don’t expect to get rich selling off your Lionel trains. But if you keep your expectations realistic, you’ll find an eager buyer, or ideally, at least two interested buyers so you’ll realize a good price at auction.

Read More »How to sell Lionel trains

Selling Marx trains

Since my advice on selling other makes of trains was popular, I thought I would give similar advice on selling Marx trains. Marx never got the respect that its competitors got, but its trains have built up a following over the years, and in the last decade as I’ve watched prices on competing trains slide, Marx has held its value.

Don’t expect to get rich selling off your Marx trains, but if you keep your expectations realistic, you’ll find an eager buyer, or ideally, at least two interested buyers so you’ll realize a good price at auction.

Read More »Selling Marx trains

Philips’ new LED bulbs are cheap but have caveats

Later this week, Philips will be releasing a new, cheap LED bulb at an introductory rate of $5 for a pack of two. They are 800 lumen bulbs, equivalent to a 60w incandescent in light output, use 8.5 watts to give off an impressive 94 lumens per watt, and have a color temperature of 2700K that’s comparable to a soft white incandescent.

Sound good? It ought to, but there’s a catch. Often there is.

Read More »Philips’ new LED bulbs are cheap but have caveats

Home Depot’s Ecosmart 40w replacement is a good $5 LED bulb

So I took the plunge and bought a package of the Ecosmart 40w equivalent soft white LED bulbs last week. As long as you’re aware that it’s not dimmable–let me repeat that, it’s not dimmable–it’s a really good bulb, especially at $10 for a package of two, assuming no local subsidies.

For $5 each, you get 450 lumens of soft white light while consuming only 6 watts of power.

Read More »Home Depot’s Ecosmart 40w replacement is a good $5 LED bulb

LED bulb longevity report

Now that I’ve had a couple of LED bulbs burn out, I can actually give an LED bulb longevity report.

I’ve been buying LED bulbs since 2010, and now I’ve lost three of them. It’s a little disappointing, but two of the bulbs were Philips 420240 bulbs, which are no longer on the market. The first 420240 failed completely within a couple of weeks of getting it, and I exchanged it for a Cree. The second 420240 lasted a shade over two years. Clearly the 420240 just wasn’t a very good bulb, and it accounted for my first LED bulb mortality.

My other failed bulb is one of the early 40W equivalents I bought at either Lowe’s or Home Depot in 2010 or early 2011. So I got about four years out of that one, which is better than Philips at least.

Read More »LED bulb longevity report

I got an LED bulb, and it is fabulous.

I half-heartedly checked Home Depot’s web site today, and saw they had 429-lumen, 8.6-watt (40W equivalent) LED bulbs at my local store. Finally!

So when I had a chance, I drove over, plunked down my 19 bucks, and brought one home.

It’s not perfect. But I like it an awful lot.I tried the bulb out in a lamp first, to test the light quality. It’s very similar to the last batch of CFLs I bought. Not quite as yellow as my remaining incandescent bulbs, but nice.

It’s not quite bright enough to use in a lamp, and it’s fairly directional. You’ll want at least a 60W equivalent for that, and probably more. Give it time.

In my son’s bedroom, the light worked great. It works nicely in overhead lights, and it’s dimmable. Dimmable CFLs are expensive and hard to find, so I might as well buy LED bulbs instead since they use less power and last 2-3 times as long.

In operation, I found the LED bulb never got uncomfortably hot to the touch.

LED bulbs produce no UV light, so they won’t attract bugs and they won’t cause the pictures on your walls to fade. That sounds like a plus to me.

And, believe it or not, they’re assembled in the USA. Presumably most of the components, if not all of them, are made in China, but LED bulbs are one of the few things you can buy that support manufacturing jobs here in the States.

The bulbs have a five-year warranty. I suggest saving the receipt and perhaps the packaging, and writing the date of purchase on the base of the bulb in pencil. That way if the bulb fails prematurely, you can do something about it.

The 46-year life expectancy claim sounds overly optimistic, but 15-20 years wouldn’t surprise me.

I suggest you “burn in” the bulb by leaving it on for 24 hours straight. Like any other electronic device, if it survives that first 24 hours of running continuously, it’s likely to last years.

If the bulb is going in a bedroom or someplace else where leaving it on for 24 hours is impractical, put it in a lamp and leave the lamp on for 24 hours, then install the bulb where you intend to use it.

At $19 a pop, I’m not going to run out to convert the whole house. But as old bulbs burn out, I’ll buy LEDs to replace them. As time goes on, they’ll only improve, and prices will come down. But these bulbs are good enough to be useful today.

The energy savings isn’t chump change–LED bulbs pay for themselves in a couple of years if they replace old-fashioned incandescent bulbs. Not only do you get more lumens per watt, but the less wattage you consume, the lower your cooling bills will be. I was an early adopter of CFLs–I have them everywhere but my kids’ rooms, and a seldom-used light in the shower of one bathroom. Between that, my thermal curtains, and a programmable thermostat, I haven’t had a $200 electric bill in years.

Energy isn’t going to get any cheaper, and we consume more of it per person than the rest of the world. We can voluntarily cut our energy usage, or we can wait for China and India to show up with guns and force the issue. I’d rather cut it voluntarily.

Incoming link: Absolutely not recommended

Don’t order from That was the outfit I got my NEC 19″ monitor from. I won’t call them a PriceWatch bottom-feeder, since I’m not sure if they advertise on PriceWatch, and they did actually ship product. I made the mistake of waiting out my slightly-damaged NEC FE950+ monitor to see if its defect was indeed only cosmetic. PCNation offers a so-called 30-day return policy, so I figured I’d give it about three weeks. Big mistake. I should have made them eat the monitor.
I suspected the monitor’s settings were drifting on me. But after I reset everything to 50%, which should theoretically give you an acceptable display on any new monitor, I indeed got an acceptable display. Not as brilliant as it could be, but better than any cheapie, certainly, and with little or no drift. But the flaw didn’t get any less annoying with time. So I called the customer service number on the Web site. I have no idea who the foreign-accented guy was I talked to, but his business sure didn’t have anything to do with computers. So, out of options, I e-mailed their customer service. Six days later, rather than getting a response to my query, I got their true customer service policy (which has a few clauses I didn’t see on the Web site when I ordered, and it also has a different phone number than the one listed on the Web site). The most important bit: All returns must be completed within 30 days of the invoice date. Not the date of receipt. And by completed, they mean the returned box is in their hands, delivered.

Let’s do the math. The order is shipped. The clock starts ticking. Five days later you receive it. You have a problem. It takes customer service a week to respond with their policy. You re-describe the problem. A week later you get an RMA. You ship the product. It takes them five days to receive it. Their 30-day return policy ends up having closer to six days’ usable time. Better hope you find your problem fast. (I found it and I didn’t act on it right away–so much for good faith. No good deed goes unpunished…)

And on top of that, if you order something from them, count on it taking two weeks for you to receive it. It took them more than a week to process my order. Then when they shipped it, there was no confirmation e-mail and their Web page didn’t provide a tracking number. The only way I knew the thing had been shipped was my incessant checking of my order status. Finally the order showed up, with no warning.

Seems to me your best bet would be to immediately start the ball rolling on getting a return the day you place the order. That way you’ll have 20-25 days to make sure everything’s OK.

So, what do they have going for them? Slow order processing and shipment. No way of tracking the shipment. Misleading policies. Lousy customer service. Mediocre selection. The only thing these chumps have going for them is price. I will assume that they didn’t deliberately ship a bum monitor to me. Unlike the very worst of the worst, they did at least ship something, and unlike the worst of the worst, it was what I ordered.

Looks like you have to know how to deal with them. You know what? You’re better off ordering from someplace reputable that takes care of their customers.’s prices are almost as good, they don’t play bait and switch with their policies or their phone number, their customer service is pretty quick, and more importantly, the people are courteous and reasonable. I knew better, and I did the dumb thing anyway.

In retrospect, I should have called them first, before I ordered anything. Not getting the right number would have tipped me off straight up that something wasn’t kosher. Hearing the real return policy would have been another tip-off. When dealing with a strange, new vendor, you can’t know too much. Learn what you can before plunking down your credit card. Check (that I did–they turned out OK there). It also wouldn’t hurt to do a Web search on them, and a Usenet search (DejaNews is your friend, and it’s back and better than ever).

But hey, let’s look at the bright side. Now you know not to order from them, and why. And I’ve got a slightly imperfect NEC monitor, but seeing as I’d rather have an NEC monitor that’s been run over by a bus than any other brand, I can live with that.

I get ripped off so you don’t have to. This time.