Review: Zagg InvisibleShield for Nexus One

I got a Google/HTC Nexus One cellphone recently.  I have scratched too many gadget screens in my time, and I told myself that I'd always get a decent screen protector in the future.  So when I got this, I got a screen protector as soon as possible.  I liked the thinness of the device, so I thought I'd also get as small a case as possible, too.  I did a little bit of research and decided that Zagg's InvisibleShield (which is a urethane film like the stuff people apply to their cars to protect from rock chips) looked like a good solution.

First, I ordered it on a Thursday and they didn't bother shipping it until the next Tuesday, and I finally got it that Saturday.  There's no reason that they couldn't have shipped it out sooner.

When I got it in, I discovered that the spray bottle of positioning lubricant described on their web site and videos was missing.  I realized that they'd shipped me a small heatsealed plastic basin with a sponge in it instead.  Odd, but I figured they knew what they were doing.  Boy, was I wrong.

The back side of the film is very sticky, so you need to cover it with as much of the lubricant as possible in order to make it slide around.  The great thing about a sponge is that it absorbs liquid.  It's not so great at applying liquid, though.  Try as I might, I had a nearly impossible time of getting enough of the lubricant on the back of the sheets to make them not immediately stick.  This means that the sheets would stick to the wrong area and I'd have to peel it off.  Peeling it off often deforms the plastic and sometimes makes the adhesive orangepeel.

You're supposed to be really careful about getting all of the lint off of the device and keeping it from getting on the back of the shield, for obvious reasons.  You know what else a sponge is good at?  Shedding little flakes of itself.  To be fair, it's not like it was a kitchen sponge; it's somewhat neoprene-like.  That doesn't keep little black pieces of foam rubber from flaking off, though.  So once I did get enough lubricant on the sheet to make it positionable, that means that I'd gone over it with the sponge so much that there were bound to be little flecks of black rubber caught underneath.  Which means I had to pull the sheet up again.  And getting those little black flecks off was near impossible.  I had to use something hard, like my fingernail or the "squeegee" (unpressed credit card) to get them off.  Which usually left the adhesive orangepeeled.

Also, you're supposed to apply one piece at a time, let it dry for at least 12 hours, then apply another.  Why is not exactly described in the instructions, but based on personal experience, it's because if you don't wait for one piece to adhere before applying the next, you will move it while trying to get the next one positioned.  If that's the case, an unresealable plastic basin is probably not the best storage device for a liquid.

All of these problems could have been resolved if they just included the spray bottle instead of the sponge.  But those are not all of the problems.

I think it probably makes sense for the protection for the screen to be separate from the rest.  And it definitely makes sense for the battery cover to be done separately.  It may make some sense for the front to be separate from the back.  That's four pieces.  Why, then, did Zagg separate it into ten distinct pieces?  There's one for the screen, one for the battery cover, one for the back below the "stripe", two for the stripe itself, one more for each side above the stripe, two for the trackball area, and one for the earpiece area.  The most egregious one of those is the two for the stripe.  It leaves a seam right across the middle of the stripe.  Why?



The answer may be part of the next problem.  The pieces simply don't fit well.  The battery cover and the screen protector seem to fit fine.  The two-piece stripe cover is too long, either going just past the seam between the screen and the body, or overlapping at the back.  It's also too narrow, leaving several millimeters of space unprotected.  The rear bottom piece has an overly complicated shape for the corners.  Before it's applied, it looks like maybe it's going to wrap around to seam up with itself.  Well, it doesn't, and it also leaves significant portions of the case unprotected.



The long thin stripes for the sides are incredibly fiddly, and there's no reason they shouldn't have been part of the whole stripe assembly, unless they were unsure about the fit, which is the impression I get from the product.  Honestly, at this point, I gave up.



Also, the pieces are diecut or laser cut or something.  But they had little isthmuses of plastic attaching them to the detritus, as if it was some sort of punch-out paper doll for an eight-year-old girl.  All this did was serve to stretch the plastic as I was trying to remove it, and help me get more fingerprints all over the sticky side.  Yes, I washed my hands, and, yes, I applied the lubricant to my fingers before I started manipulating the pieces, but you try snapping little pieces of intentionally really resilient plastic and see if you don't press the ridges of your fingerprints into the adhesive.  I suppose I should have used a knife.

So, in summary, The Zagg InvisibleShield is not shipped as advertised, but with inferior accessories, would take you at least five days to install if you followed the recommendations (ten pieces times 12 hours waiting time for each piece), is ill-fitting, and leaves the device unprotected.  I have requested a refund.  I'm not sure if I'm going to try someone else's urethane film, or if I'm going to get a silicone case.  I think I'll probably get a silicone case as a stopgap measure, anyway, not that the included protective sleeve does a bad job.

The Late BellSouth

A few moths back, BellSouth cancels my DSL supposedly because I'm late paying them. Of course, the due date isn't for another week or so. I called several times asking when they were going to turn it back on, going so far as to pay the bill early to ameliorate them. After calling back several times, each time being told that it'll just be a few hours, I call back again to be told that it won't be turned back on until after the weekend. I was furious that not only did they cancel my DSL for no reason, but they refused to fix their problem in anything approaching a timely manner. I told them several times during the few hours that I was on the phone trying to get this fixed that if I didn't get my DSL back up by Saturday that I was cancelling the service. Usually that's an idle threat, but this time I meant it.

So a few weeks later when I got everything sorted out, I ordered TimeWarner Cable Commercial Internet service, VoicePulse VoIP and cancelled my BellSouth DSL and POTS. I hope that I never have to deal with them again. In fact, when Teri tried to pay the final bill, they wouldn't let her give them money because she didn't know our PIN for the account. They'd already cancelled the ability to pay over the Internet. I had to call and give them my SSN to pay. Absurd. And the best part was when the operator tried to end the call with "Thanks for choosing BellSouth". I had to point out to her, for the like fifth time that call that I went out of my way to avoid choosing BellSouth. Because they suck. And they do.

Shrink

The shrink thing's going well. I seem to be less irritable in general, and I do seem to be learning how to cope with Teri more. Not completely, but more.

Estate business

My cousin decided to submit this half-written will of my father's to the courts. It turns out that NC law doesn't require that a will be signed, much less notarized, in order to be valid. The best part is that he barely gains anything from the will: $500 and some tools, which I would have been willing to give him anyway, and more, if he hadn't been such a jerk.

At some point, I had to take out a warrant for his arrest, as he was driving around in my dad's old car, without insurance, with an expired license plate, and wouldn't return it. Initially I was just going to let him have it, as I had no use for it. But since he submitted that pseudo-will that notion went out the window. The will left him some woodworking tools, too, because dad thought that it would help him in his business. He took those tools before any court appearance, though, and, as I found out later, pawned them.

After the court date, in which I agreed to most of the will's demands, as I most likely would have anyway, I agreed to sell him the car. Then he couldn't come up with the money. Then, of course, that warrant got served. I was mortified that he got arrested for something he shouldn't have. I'd tried to get the warrant revoked, but apparently that's not possible. After he was arrested, I contacted the DA, and swore that I intended to drop the charges in order to get him out of jail. A week later, I found out that he was still in jail for another charge altogether. And then I was told that he'd have to go back to jail later on for another child support thing. During all of this, his girlfriend (who would date this guy?) said she wanted to buy the car. Figuring that she was just buying it on his behalf, and I asked her that specifically, I went ahead with it.

Of course, I had to get the car out of lockup first. That was the first time I saw it. It's a piece of crap. Ten year old American sedan. The steering wheel wobbles around on the dash, not only up and down, but left-to-right, too. I turned on the A/C and cigarette ash came spewing out. The check engine light remained on all the time. Over 50 MPH, it shuddered, and not just like it needed a brake job. I wouldn't pay more than $100 for it. But when I got to the DMV to sell it to his girlfriend, she knew about all of that and was still happy to pay $1500 for it, the amount we had agreed on in court. After the title was transferred, she told me that he wasn't happy about her buying it, in contradiction to what she told me before. I hope I don't get in trouble for that.

Then I also had to deal with a church that the pseudo-will left the bulk of the estate to. They were awfully mercenary about it. Kinda confirms my opinion of churches in general. I ended up giving them a big chunk of the estate. Hopefully it won't be worth less than I promised.

Freakshow

I never got around to telling you about my freakshow cubiclemate. Now that he's been fired, I suppose I might as well give you the whole story, as I knew it, and as was told to me.

We were both Unix admins. He had been there quite a while before I arrived on the scene, and he seemed friendly enough at first. The first problematic encounter was when we got in a new computer to install. He asked for my help physically installing the machine in a rack, and it was a cheap rackmount kit, which meant, as usual, that there was a lot of fiddling to do with it. At some point during this, he suggests that we just put it on a shelf. Now, it's a 1U device, and putting it on a shelf would mean wasting at least one other unit just for the shelf itself, and would mean that the innards would be virtually inaccessible, so I convince him to try for another few minutes to get it installed properly. We figure out what needs to happen, and we get about halfway through and go home. I get in the next day earlier than he does, so I thought I'd finish off screwing down the rackmount kit. I didn't really have a lot to do on my own anyway, as this was my first week or so. He comes in a few minutes after I start doing this, and proceeds to yell at me for, as far as I can figure, stepping on his professional toes. And I mean yell. At some point I told him to calm down, and he yelled at me that he was calm. This was only the first of these such incidents. I was later to find out that it was the first only for me.

He was also a spaz. Sometimes he would just not shut up. After the second or so time that he yelled at me, I resigned myself to just minding my own business. But that's hard to do when we're the only pair of Unix admins. “Fortunately”, he decided that half the Unix machines would be his to administer and the other half would be mine. Of course, that makes no sense. Despite the fact that it meant that I would have to deal with him more, I had to nix that arrangement, as it just didn't work. Anyway, like I said, he was a spaz. This is probably best summarized in this verbal tic that he had. He would be moving so fast that when he was talking and his brain couldn't quite keep up with his mouth, he'd just repeat things. Like this: "We need to update the password file, the password file, password, you know, the password file?" It was annoying at best. It was worse on some days than other days. At some point, someone told me that he'd been using Ephedra to lose weight. I think he was still on it, but he denied it. Of course, I never asked, and denials of unasked questions would seem to be some sort fo sign. Also, very early on in my time with him, he arbitrarily went off on this rant about how he thinks that kids these days are overmedicated, a stance I generally agree with, but a few weeks later, I came to the conclusion that it's because he had been medicated as a kid. He should probably have still been on it. While Ritalin has that paradixical effect, I think that Ephedra probably doesn't.

Slowly, I came to the realization that our manager was looking for a reason to fire him. When I went to him and complained about the times that he yelled at me, he told me to make sure that I told him everything inappropriate that he did. I didn't really follow that direction too well. I didn't want to be the tattletale that got him fired, even if the decision had already been made. As the months went on, though, I got less and less inclined to humor him. I was out with some friends and him at lunch one day and we were making fun of him for using a straw, just general ribbing. So he gets ready to tell us something he saw that was disgusting that made him use a straw. So I get ready for some apocryphal tale about how waiters regularly licked glasses or something and then he tells us that he saw, get ready for this, waiters touch the side of pitchers to the lip of his glass. Oh. My. God. I did not stop making fun of him for that until he was fired.

During the latter months he was there, he was going through a divorce. He has some number of children. Two or three maybe? And I think they're less than 10 years old. I couldn't really tell you for certain, since, unlike every other father I've ever worked with, I don't think he mentioned them more than two times. He talked about his pet turtle more. Seriously; I'm not exaggerating in the least. Anyway, it seems that he was getting a divorce from his wife because she got fat. Of course, he was pretty chunky, too, before he started taking the Ephedra. And his rational excuse for divorcing her because she was fat was that she wasn't interested in her health. That's right; the guy taking Ephedra said that. Now, I get the impression that she was a basket case, too, but that was never a reason that he used until they stopped living together. Best of all, another coworker that I otherwise liked thought all this was funny, so would stop by our cubicle and ask him about it all the time. I heard enough about it without that, but that made it unbearable. I frequently just had to leave and wander around the building.

Then I started hearing about how he'd pissed off other folks. Like the time that, out of the blue, he demanded that one of our vendors take him out to lunch, not that he was buying anything from her. And he apparently demanded to the point that she wouldn't talk to him for a few months. There was something about him yelling at an executive in the company, too. I only got that complete story after he left.

It seems that when they started looking for somebody that culminated in hiring me, they were looking for a technical lead to be in charge of Unix and Windows folks. He was apparently upset by this. I'm not sure if he felt that he didn't need one, or if it should be him, or what. Apparently he was so upset that he stormed into a VP's office and started yelling at him. Based on my experiences, I imagine that this was a yelling, and not just strong words. I was told that he should have been fired then. I assume that the problem was that they had no other Unix folks, the other one having left a few months before. Then they decided to change the opening from a tech lead to another Unix admin. I think I was hired specifically to replace him. I think that that's the reason that he didn't like me much. And who could blame him, really? I can't. But there was more than enough other stuff to dislike him about, so I'm not exactly upset at his dismissal.

Math escapades

Okay, so Teri knows she's bad at math, and refuses to learn any, which is fine, until she starts acting as if she's better at it than I am.

We were moving the bedframe earlier today and I say that I think that it's not square. In order to fix it, I grab the tape measure and start to measure the diagonals. (If they're the same, then the bed frame is square.) I measure one diagonal and ask Teri to hold it the other way and she refuses. I'm kind of astounded, but before I can say anything she tells me to use the level. Uh, what? I tell her that levels don't work that way. She gets in a huff and I say "fine, here's the level" and had it to her. She huffs and says "no, the other level", so I hand her the laser level. She puts it flat on the ground and it won't shine a light and she gets frustrated. It won't shine a light because it just uses a weight to balance it to level and without the weight pointed down, it doesn't work. So I switch it over to straightedge mode and hand it back. She lines up the line with the two feet away from the wall and says something. I forget now what, exactly, but I point out that while that is a straight line, I turn it a little, and that's also a straight line. At some point during this I point out that levels only generate straight lines in parallel with the ground, not in parallel to some other arbitrary points. I didn't get around to pointing out that we know that the two lines are parallel and that we need to fix the angles, because by this point, she gets upset and says that we're done for the day.

I know that I should be past the fact that she's completely irrational, and I think I am, but it still confounds me that she refuses to allow me to be rational, and gets upset by it. I don't know whether to laugh or cry.

Up and Down

After a long haul, this morning the wife and I bought a house. (Townhome, really. Whatever.) Great news!

So on the way to work after closing at the lawyer's, I get a speeding ticket. Bad news! I got caught in a speed trap that I drove exactly the same way I've been driving it for the last four months. Hell, the last fifteen years. Well, that's not true. It used to be a yield. Now you have to come to a stop just over the crest of a hill, so you have to hope no one's coming and gun it instead of being able to see over the top of the hill as you approach. They had three motorcycle cops there this morning. They'd pulled another person before they finished writing my ticket. Quota time, I guess.

Of course, it was for 50 in a 35. Also of course, no one drives less than 45 on that road. It's four lanes wide, and a main thoroughfare that turns into an interstate. Now I'm going to have to hire a lawyer to contest it because I can't afford my insurance to go up because I just bought a house, doubling my monthly outlay. (That'll be three lawyers recently, BTW. Dad's estate, real estate lawyer for the house, and this one for the traffic offense.)

Urgh.

Of course, Teri thinks that “the rules don't not apply to me”. It's not like she doesn't drive that fast on that road, too, though.

Alright. That's it for this interlude. I'll get back to telling all of you about those other things later. Maybe tonight. I've got a slow software install in front of me.

My Dead Dad

Dad died a few months ago. I appreciate any sympathy you might be having, but he was a bastard and I hadn't spoken to him in a long time, so don't force it. I'd long thought about how I'd feel when he died -- if I'd be sad that I never talked to him again or that we never reconciled or what. Turns out I had basically no emotion about it at all. Other than vague surprise. I had an overseas trip planned during his funeral and I was glad that it gave me an excuse not to go.

That's only the beginning of the story.

He left no valid will. Or so I've been told. His nephew, who was living with him, called at some point about that and asked me to get involved, since I'm the only real heir. (My parents divorced about the same time I stopped talking to him, and I'm the only child.) I let it slide for a few weeks, which I shouldn't have, but when I called back, he didn't answer. That went on for weeks. Then the machine wouldn't pick up anymore, which means the power went out. After calling around on that side of my family for a while, I found out that he was in jail. Super.

So I found an attorney down there. (He lived about two hours away.) I gave him all the details I had and he said to just fax him a copy of the death certificate, which I had. So I did that, and waited. And waited. I called many times and he never returned my call. So I called back one day and told his secretary, who was the only person I'd spoken with past my initial consultation, that he was fired. I then immediately called another attorney down there and hired him. He had me come down for a day to explain to him what the situation was, and he was rather helpful, pulling real estate records on the spot. Meanwhile, the old lawyer had his secretary call me back to complain that he'd never received anything but the death certificate. Well, duh. That's all he ever asked for. I had called any number of times to find out what I needed to do. The answer was always “nothing”.

While I was down there, I went by Dad's house. It's inside a gated community, which I found odd. Dad was certainly not the kind of person to live in a gated community. As I looked in the windows, I saw that the house was not complete. Most of it was done, but there was no finished flooring or vents. The chimney was raw masonry. And so on. Wonderful. At least the lawyer said that there didn't appear to be a mortgage on it. But how am I going to sell an unfinished house?

Of course, that doesn't take into account the stuff that was packed from (sub-)floor to ceiling. It's not trash or junk, but it's in virtually no order. And there are papers there that date back to before I was born. That'll make it easy to find pertinent papers.

And where did his car go? I called the DMV and they didn't say that there was a lien on it, but suggested that I call the police and tell them that it had been stolen. Of course, I was pretty sure that his nephew had it. The fact that the DMV told me that the insurance had ben renewed after his death tipped me off.

Then the holiday season came up and I let it slide for a while. Now that that's over, I'm back on it. I called his nephew again. He claimed that he had the car at his place “for safe keeping”, because it might get stolen inside the gated community. Of course, he's just using it. I don't know what my libailites would be if it got used in a crime or was involved in an accident. But I'm letting it slide for now.

And now he's telling me that he has some handwritten will that he's trying to get validated. This is the same person that told me that there was no will and I had to take care of this stuff. Personally, I'd have been happy if there had been a will and I got nothing, but now it's my responsibility and I've expended a good deal of effort arguing with it. Anyway, I called his lawyer and she claims that she doesn't have a copy of the will, despite his claim that she should.

That's about how far I've gotten up to today. I'll keep you guys informed. Not that anyone is reading this.

New day rising

Phew, it's been a while. Lots of stuff changed.

My father (with whom I hadn't spoken in many years) died. My contract was not renewed at my old job. (That's another way of saying they fired me.) I got a new job. My new cubiclemate (does anyone have four, or even three and a half, walls to themselves any more?) is a complete freakshow. Uhh.... I'm sure there's more. Oh yeah. I'm seeing a shrink now.

You know, these deserve their own entries. Let's do that.

Incompetent management

At work, we recently got an online timesheet system (as part of a much larger management system, but that's the only part I deal with). It started out that we just had to record the number of hours that we worked each day, but it was promised that, sometime in the future, we'd be required to enter the number of hours each day we spent on each individual project.

Well, that future arrived two weeks ago. It was sent out from upper management to everyone that we'd start having to fill out a field that was previously just left blank and that our local management would tell us what to put in there. Quite a while goes by and we don't hear anything about it from the local management. Last Monday I come in and try to enter my hours for the prior week and am unable to do so because I have nothing to put in that now required field. So I ask one of my managers about it, telling him that if I don't get my timesheet to my contracting agency by that afternoon, I won't get paid. He says he'll get back to me. The day passes and I don't hear anything. I'm pissed, but not in a hurry because I can't get paid for that time until the following week at that point anyway.

Finally, Tuesday afternoon, he sends out an email that we're going to have a meeting on Friday about it. I knew what was to come.

Friday morning rolls around and I make sure to get to work early enough to attend the meeting. First off, he starts it half an hour earlier than he'd scheduled, so I show up quite late. The meeting continues and lasts for at least forty-five minutes, probably longer. In this meeting, it was established that we had to enter the code “ITTSVSUPPORT” in that field and that's it. No itemization of hours or any distinction amongst us as to what code to use. Just a single code for everyone in the department.

Apparently, that couldn't have been determined in an hour and sent out via email. That would have been much too efficient.

Fuck it. I don't care about this damn job, anyway. I would like to get paid, though.