Skip to main content

Best Buy #FAIL: snatching defeat from the jaws of victory

Sony, Samsung, HP, Gateway - take note. You spend billions of dollars on research, development, marketing and advertising only to hand the keys to the kingdom over to a retail store and cross your fingers that the stores' happy elves will help your products will fly off the shelves.

Oh dear.

I went to Best Buy on Sunday - looking for a monitor for my office at work. If it's been a while since you've bought a monitor let me just say that now is an incredible time to get a great monitor for a low price. You should think about upgrading your existing monitor for an energy efficient LED model, they're as slim as a credit card, save space, look great. (OK - not as slim as a credit card - but pretty close).
As with anything technical I'd done my research before I went to the store - had a specific size in mind, resolution, HDMI ports and I'd preselected a couple of manufacturers. I checked that the store had the monitors I'd selected, in stock. Should have been a quick job, into the store, check the image quality, crank up/down the brightness/contrast, pick the one I like and then out right? Wrong.

Unfortunately, Best Buy had chosen to use all the monitors on display to advertise their warranty products. (We all know that warranties are a total scam and a waste of money). The video was a white, grey and gaudy yellow display that kept playing over and over again. There was no way to view anything other than the warranty video.

Net effect: it was impossible to differentiate between each product.

A store rep came and asked if he could help me. I asked him to remove the video so that I could compare the monitors by looking at the native display and several high definition images. At such a high resolution I'm sure the eye couldn't notice the difference - but each monitor does look different. If I'd wanted to buy blind I could have just ordered the monitor from Amazon.  The store rep said there was no way to remove the video. Despite explaining why, the store rep said that they could not remove the video. So there really was no way to compare the three models that I had preselected. Buying a monitor without seeing the picture is as stupid as buying audio equipment without listening to it.

So I left the store without a monitor. No sale for Best Buy - but worse still - bad news for the manufacturers. Just imagine investing so much in your product and your brand only to end up displaying some cheap ad for a useless warranty product. That's like swimming the English Channel only to give up two feet from the shores of France.

I drove to Fry's Electronics down in Palo Alto. All the monitors were displaying high resolution images on a slideshow. I could play video from each monitor. It took a while to decide as the monitors were all good and Fry's had a greater selection of monitors (also at cheaper prices). I left with a monitor and managed to get a discount on the monitor I'd selected. And no - I didn't buy the warranty package.


Popular posts from this blog

How to get the BBC iPlayer running when you live outside of the UK

(subtext: Get the World's most famous detective on your favourite browser)

The new series of Sherlock has started on the BBC. If you live outside of the UK and you are too impatient to wait for your local TV content provider to host it for you - then fear not !! These simple instructions will get you up and running. In addition to the iPlayer you can access most of the other UK TV channels using the same method. Note: you can use the same method to access content in other countries - such as Hulu in the U.S.

How it works:  In simple terms, the BBC iPlayer, like other players, perform a check to determine whether your internet access is originating from the UK.  So the trick is to ensure that your access to the BBC website will originate from the UK.

First you are going to use a free piece of open source software that was designed to keep your internet access anonymous. You will add a setting that will ensure that the software makes use of servers in the UK whenever making requests…

Create an Alexa Skill for your Amazon Alexa or Echo Dot

So you've bought an Alexa Dot and you want to create your own voice app - but you are wondering how difficult is it to build, how do you build the app and how much will it cost to run?  If you have basic programming skills then building the application is really easy. If you have written a function or script in Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets - then you can build an Alexa voice app. I'm providing all the basic stuff you need to get started ...

Note: This post is not intended to give you an exhaustive guide to building a skill. Instead it aims to give you the overview to get up and running quickly. Amazon provides a build-it-yourself walkthrough (here), samples (here) and a free course on Udemy (here).  I recommend starting with the free course then following the walkthrough.

How much does it cost ? It costs nothing to build and run a simple Alexa app. $0 / £0 / €0.  Zero.  Furthermore the app is hosted on Amazon's cloud, it's secure, load balanced and managed for you …

Watch the BBC iPlayer and ITV Player when outside of the UK on Ubuntu

This is a follow up to my post of a year ago. The instructions are simpler than last year's post. If you want instructions for the Mac go here.

I re-imaged an old laptop last year with Ubuntu (12.04 LTS).  If you've never tried Ubuntu before, head over to  to try the latest version. The installation is straightforward and you can install it without affecting your Windows image (if that's what you're running). Not only is this fast (boots in seconds) it also has better support for a wider range of devices - specifically Wifi.

To run the BBC iPlayer on Ubuntu, do the following...

Step 1: Download tor from this site :  The download button should detect your operating system. For Linux the direct link is here. Alternatively you can use the command line and enter sudo apt-get install tor.

Step 2: Unpack the tor tar.gz file. Open the folder that was extracted. On my machine it's called 'tor-browser_en_US'.…