27 March 2017

Review: restaurant delivery

grubhub
-

doordash
- multiple problems, but always resolved it easily
- wider selection

caviar
- never had a problem with the delivery
- set delivery price + service charge
- smaller selection, but "curated"

postmates
- service fee + delivery fee + tip
- doesn't know what customer service is

uber eats
- don't come to the door
- cheap delivery if no surge
- owned by the uber asshats

10 March 2017

Review: Nextdoor, letgo, OfferUp, and Close5

In my effort to speed up the process of getting rid of the stuff in the garage, I decided to take a foray into all the local selling apps that are appearing everywhere. I chose Nextdoor, letgo, OfferUp, and Close5. There are many other apps, so I narrowed my choices down to the four that seemed the most popular. I listed the washer and dryer on all of them, as well as on Craigslist.

Nextdoor

Nextdoor is more of a social network based on proving you live in a specific neighborhood. Aside from their annoying verification system, posting a classified was easy. I had no problem using existing pictures, even in the app. The only real downside is that it is similar to Facebook's news feed - as new posts are created and responded to, your post gets pushed down. Though I created my listing through their app, I had no problems editing anything through their full-featured website.

The big drawback to Nextdoor was finding my post. There is no option anywhere to just get a page of your posts. Their help page even says to just search through your feed to find it! If there is a lot of action, this is obviously annoying. The best way I found was to search through only the classifieds section, which had fewer posts.

Nextdoor is all down to business - everything you need to know arranged in a logical order.

letgo

letgo's approach is SELL YOUR EVERYTHING! The app is dead simple to use, which unintentionally also makes it frustrating. Every page has some sort of new listing button, often taking up otherwise valuable screen real estate on a phone. Clicking any of these buttons allows you to take a picture or select one existing picture. Once selected, your post is live. That's it. Perhaps you'd like to include a price or a title? Now you have to go back and edit your listing. Don't bother with the categories; they are too vague to matter. Does my vacuum fall in "electronics" or "home and garden?" Meh.

Why was I searching for something when I could be selling my stuff instead?

They want everything to be done from within the app, but they have a website. I don't recommend visiting unless you want to lose brain function. letgo also sent a "helpful" email informing me that my item was listed. I made the mistake of clicking the link to my item; it only ever showed an error page. The worst part is the website has the same issue with new listing buttons. All of them just give you a popup saying to use the app. Even the mark as sold button doesn't do squat. Web design 101 - if you have a giant button, it damn well better work.

Both streets are a random street near me. I think they were supposed to be my city.

The listings themselves were tenuous at best. Sometimes they appeared in search results, and sometimes they disappeared from my account entirely. My personal favorite was the pictures randomly changing order until the least useful picture became the main picture. I had to delete and reupload that picture. When the listings did appear, they were listed as being in <streetname>, CA. Everyone's listings had this problem.

The one thing letgo did right was alerting me when prospective buyers made contact. Of course, the entire city was alerted by the disturbingly loud and annoying notification sound. And the entire city continued to be traumatized as notifications had to be on for everything or nothing.

Note the title they "helpfully" inserted for me. At least they got the object correct this time.

I have no idea of to where in the aether my description ran.


Offerup

OfferUp's app feels a lot more pleasant to use. Creating a listing takes a few more steps than with letgo, but I felt like I created a much better listing when I was done. You take pictures, pick a price, pick a condition, and write a description. While I was happy to see condition options, they were overly broad.

My listings didn't appear immediately, but they eventually did in both searches and my online profile. Again, I couldn't edit anything on the website, but everything could be easily edited in the app.

OfferUp clearly had the same person in charge of notifications as letgo. This time it was an absurdly loud cash register sound. I desperately wanted to turn off notifications for everything but activity on my listings, but I either had to turn them off for everything or nothing. Not cool.

The cutesy tag is totally necessary.

The pictures are larger, so you have to scroll down to get further info.


close5

After using the other apps, close5 felt like a school project that hadn't been finished, but needed to be turned in. It insisted that my location was Redwood City, CA, no matter how many times I changed it. You can pick multiple pictures at once, instead of one at a time like the other apps, but you can't remove them or change the order. Postings just have a short description, no title, and don't always appear in search results. Make sure your listing is perfect the first time, as there is no way to edit the description. close5 did let me delete postings instead of marking them as sold, which felt more correct since the items weren't sold via close5.

close5 barely has a website. It offers a basic search and nothing else. Don't even bother checking it, and definitely don't bother trying to use their search.

Why must they ruin an otherwise acceptable layout by overlaying the price? WHY?

tl;dr

Just stick with Craigslist. Their search actually works, posts aren't transient, you can access it easily from a computer or mobile device, and, most importantly, it is easy to update or remove an existing post. If you really feel you must get more attention for an item, then venture into the apps. But until they stop spending all of their venture capital funds on advertising and start making their apps and websites work properly, they are not worth the headache.

06 March 2017

OCD vs My House

We bought our house and spent an imperial buttload of money renovating it to our exacting standards. It's been done for nearly two years, and yet I can't simply enjoy living there. Instead, I focus on the tiny little things that aren't perfect. Some are minuscule mistakes that anyone normal person wouldn't even notice. Some are game-day decisions to get around construction obstacles. Some are things we just plain didn't think about until after they were already done. The only thing they all have in common is they make me uncomfortable in my own house.

One of the major offenders is the living room ramp. There are three stairs between the dining room and living room area. Code requires that the risers are the same height across every stair. To accomplish this, there is a slight ramp at the bottom of the stairs.
There go my dreams of being a graphic designer.
The rest of the lower area (living room, powder room, and office) is all the same level. If we knew about this problem, and I convinced Matt to spend an extra five thousand on subfloor, we could have slightly raised the entire area. But we didn't, and now I have to live with it. Except I can't.

Every time I feel the slight incline under my feet, I get upset. Rationally, I know this isn't a big deal. I even measured the angle once, and it's only 0.2°. A negligible angle that most people don't even notice, while I spend hours ruminating over its existence.

Avoidance is a characteristic response of OCD. I, being the queen of avoidance, take a larger step at the bottom of the stairs to avoid treading on the offending ramp. I've done it so often that I don't even notice the altered gait going either up or down. Long term, such avoidance only perpetuates the cycle. For right now, it gets me through the day and through my house.

20 February 2017

Double stuft garage

Our garage is filled with crap. Lot of different varieties of crap. Millions of files, old golf clubs, random stuff from Matt's parents, and who knows what else. Aside from my tools and our current golf clubs, we pretty much don't want any of it. We considered "fixing" the problem via fire, but that seemed like a bad idea during a major drought. Sorting through everything and having a giant garage sale was a much better solution, and one much less likely to end with being captured by a bail bondsman. So we started going through everything. That was in October.

Somehow we managed to get through nearly every box. The few things we actually wanted mostly made it inside. Everything else was either marked for selling or tossed. We realized we had so many extra files of paper that shredding it ourselves was a losing proposition. Hiring a shredding company to make it disappear was a much better solution. We had a plan for everything, and everything was going well. Then the water came.

Now, with the garage being an Official Mold Zone(TM), our lovely plans all went to hell. We can't have a garage sale with moldy water dripping down the walls. And we can't tear apart the garage with all sorts of stuff inside. Time for a new plan.

Calling a paper shredding company is still viable. But how to get rid of everything else? Craigslist! Anything with any real value (translation: worth over $40) gets listed. Everything else gets shoved in cardboard boxes for Goodwill to retrieve.

We spent the weekend curating the best items. I cleaned and photgraphed everything, while Matt researched prices. For now, we have seven excellent posts, with items ranging from luggage to a washer and dryer set. Buyers can contact me via Craigslist's awesome email relay or by text or phone. I have a burner number set up on my cell phone, so no crazy people have my real number.

I quickly got a lot of responses. Unfortunately, nearly have been from scammers. Scammers are the scum of the earth, and they all deserve to crash into trees at high speeds. Preferably on a rainy night in the middle of nowhere. Without wearing a seatbelt. Did I mention that I truly hate scammers?

The scammers all follow nearly the same script. Broken English, with the entire post title in the first message. No real person is going to bother typing out the entire post title into a text message. But, just in case it is the one in a million real person who does things differently, I always reply at least once. They either accept the price straight away, or haggle the exact same way. They want "to purchase it asap." Then they mention that "i won't be chanced to come around for check up due to the nature of my job." Perhaps that's because their job is to cheat people out of their money? Needless to say, I stop bothering at that point.

Of course, there are some real people who actually want to buy things. About half of them are idiots who clearly failed remedial reading. What color is the suitcase? Gee, perhaps it's red, as clearly shown in all the photos and written in the listing? Or can I buy just one speaker from the set you listed? Why on earth would I agree to that? I would never be able to sell the rest of the system, as a 5.1 speaker system needs five freaking speakers!

There are still more things to list, and hopefully everything gets sold eventually. Eventually had just better be sooner rather than later.

15 February 2017

In which the garage of dooooom gets worse

As previously mentioned, the garage has slightly way more water inside than out. I called a mold inspector to come admire the disaster, and guess what he found? Two kinds of mold! Thankfully, they are both in the garage. There is a damp wall in the house from the roof leak, but no mold there. Yay for small miracles.

The weird red dots on the back wall are one kind of mold, while the rest of the dark green blobs are the second. It's like the world's worst Christmas decorations! Actual mushrooms are sprouting from the green blobs as they spread out. I guess those are the ornaments on the mold garlands. Every time we dare enter the mold zone, more mold and mushrooms are visible.

As a stopgap, Matt suggested caulking around the outside. Armed with three tubes of silicone caulk and a caulk gun, I proceeded to shove as much caulk into the outside cracks as I could. The worst crack was more of a hole, and the silicone kept falling out. I ended up wedging a small rock in the hole, the caulking the hell out of the whole thing. I'm just going to assume that the rock is nonporous.

Now you may be wondering how I reached these high up cracks. Well, it involved a stepladder, bricks for leveling said stepladder, and Matt using his body weight to hold everything steady. Not exactly the ideal circumstances, especially since we were working quickly to finish before the rain started again. The worst part was using a utility knife to chop off mushrooms that were peaking out through the cracks. The only saving grace was the caulk claiming to be watertight in 30 minutes, which is about how much time it had before the rain started again. Needless to say, the caulking job is not going to win any awards for neatness.

The next step was to call the insurance companies. Not knowing which to call first, I just guessed and called home owner's insurance. I explained the situation to them and opened a claim. I didn't bother mentioning the roof leak, which will come in at maybe ten percent of the deductable. The phone agent wasn't able to tell me what, if anything, would be covered. I'd have to wait for the adjuster. Oh, and due to all the rain, the assignment of adjusters is backed up, so it would take a few days before one was assigned.

Luck me, an adjuster called the next day. He said he would send an inspector out to survey the damage, after which they could determine what was covered. He also said I should call my flood insurance company.

The flood insurance phone agent started a claim for me. Because Mercury was in retrograde, the claim system automatically rejected my claim since the garage is detached. Um, what the fuck? I asked the agent to wait while Matt and I rechecked our policy. Not only does the included FEMA brochure specifically mention that detached garages are covered, the policy specifically mentions that it is covered as well.

The phone agent offered to put through the claim despite the rejection, but she wasn't sure it would get anywhere. Clearly something in the system got fixed as an adjuster was assigned and called me the very next day. They, too, would be sending out an inspector.

The flood inspector came first to look at the damage caused by ground water. He looked at everything around both the house and garage, including the water under the raised foundation part of the house. He found even more spots growing mold in the garage ceiling. However, the flood insurance doesn't cover mold remediation. You would think that if anything, flood insurance would cover mold. What they do cover is just ripping everything out and replacing it. Now here's where it gets really fun. They fix the water and mold damaged areas, but they don't fix the cause of the water damage. Instead, they'd rather keep fixing the same issue over and over. For us, this means they will cover their portion of the garage, but not any digging to put in French drains or regrading of the yard. How freaking stupid is that?

The home owner's inspector came the very next day. He was very unsure as to how much, if any, that insurance would cover. They don't cover cracks caused by normal wear of a building, but they may cover the damage caused by them. Also, he was very displeased by the entire garage. He kept asking if we pulled permits and used a reputable builder. We did both, so we'll see what happens. Just for funsies, they also don't cover fixing the root cause. I declared them to also be stupid.

As of now, I'm waiting to hear back from both adjusters. There is basically no chance of anyone but ourselves paying to put in the necessary waterproofing and drains. The flood inspector confirmed that the entire rooftop deck needs to be ripped off and redone. The cracks were possibly caused by ground water moving dirt around underneath the garage, causing the garage to sink/settle and crack. This possibly makes the cracks and that damage fall under flood insurance, but since it wasn't ground water directly, that damage may fall under home owner's. The only obvious part is the ground water coming through the cinder blocks. In other words, the entire thing is a giant clusterfuck. And while everything gets sorted out, the mold continues to flourish. Maybe we can start a penicillin farm?