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   EZPass website and Harbor Breeze remotes
Wednesday, May 27 2020
A package arrived via FedEx today from Crowley Nissan in Connecticut. It was the two New York State license plates (as well as various windshield stickers) for our Nissan Leaf. I'd thought we'd have to go to the DMV for that stuff, but evidently when one buys from a dealer, one avoids all that hassle. Now that the I had the plates, I thought I'd try to order an EZPass transponder (to make it so I wouldn't have to handle cash when crossing the Kingston-Rhinecliff Bridge). That was when I entered EZPass hell. I don't know who designed the EZPassNJ.com website back in 1997, but it was evidently a sadist. Every login requires you to come up with both a username and a password (no surprise there), but unbeknownst to you, the username is a long string of numbers you never remembered to save or write down. And, along with that login info, you have to type in a "security code," which appears to be their term for a CAPTCHA. I soon gave up on using the website and tried multiple times to gain access to the account via a telephone-based menu system. But the PIN code written in our book of secrets didn't match up with any of the tag IDs I tried. I was in a real rage by the time I went up to the laboratory to see if the website login credentials were stored in my Chrome browser on Woodchuck. They were, though they didn't work. Still, it gave me the info I needed: the long string of numbers that constitute my household's User ID. Combined with the password on Gretchen's computer, I was able to login. The toture was not yet over, however. In adding a new tag to my account, I was forced to choose a "Plan Name" from among "NYSBA," "ACE," "DRPADP," "GSPTRLR," "DRBACMTP," and "DRBAFTP," none of which were defined. Even Googling those terms proved mostly unhelpful, though I saw a reference to the Kingston-Rhinecliff bridge near a write-up that mentioned "NYSBA," so I went with that. One is never told that tags aren't initially associated with a specific vehicle and that vehicles are to be added separately. One is never told much at all except unhelpful things suich as "Important: Exterior tags, which require mounting on the front license plate bracket, are reserved for automobiles whose windshields contain metal oxides that prevent interior tags from reading. Motorcycle owners should order interior tags and keep them in a jacket pocket when entering the E-ZPass lanes. See Vehicles Requiring Exterior Tags." For the biggest provider of automatic toll-paying transponders, you would think EZPass would put more effort into their customer support. But this is probably another example of a monopoly deciding it doesn't need to worry about the happiness of customers.

Perhaps it was the kratom tea, but this afternoon I felt a rising rage as I dealt with a recurring issue that has infuriated me for years. We have a number of Harbor Breeze ceiling fans controlled by wireless remotes, and those remotes all require semi-proprietary A23 12-volt batteries. These batteries never last more than a single season, inevitably leading to frustration at this time of year (when the weather is turning hot and we're needing air circulation). Last night I'd managed to jury-rig a standard snap-topped 9 volt battery to the remote, which was a high enough voltage to make the remote turn on the fan and turn off the light. Today, though, I wanted a more permanent solution. After taking apart the remote (itself having an infuriatingly-bulbous teardrop shape), I tested out a 5-to-12 volt voltage pump connected to the 5 volts of an Arduino Micro (used only for its micro-USB connector). When this seemed sufficient to power the remote, I hacked away all the stupid plastic from around the little A23 battery holder and then rudely cut away the plastic at the pointy tip of the remote as the place for the micro-USB connector to protrude. Given that I was just using a pair of diagonal cutters, the plastic cutting wasn't as precise as I might usually have preferred, but something in me didn't care. I wanted to fuck that remote up and leave visible ugliness on it for all the pain it had caused me. The remote is now dependent on a USB cable connected to a wall wart, but this is much more convenient than having to replace an A23 battery every year, knowing we will only use it a couple dozen times over its year-long life.

There was a token round of gunfire from the bus turnaround a little after 5:00pm, but it didn't last. It was probably just somebody pulling over to register a "fuck you," to the person doing the megaphone beratement over the past few days (that is, me). My voice was so trashed by yelling into the megaphone that by the end there I'd been forced to use the megaphone's built-in siren. And throughout the day I've had trouble mustering enough of a voice to even talk on the phone. So it was good not to have to react to any persisting ammosexuals.

Gretchen returned from her bookstore shift in Woodstock today with carry-out from the Garden Café. This consisted of burgers for Powerful and me and a "garden bowl" for Gretchen. There was also cream-of-broccoli soup, but I ate an old cream-of-mushroom soup instead, a leftover from Gretchen's last order from The Garden. The most interesting of Gretchen's stories today concerned the table in the doorway of the Golden Notebook, across which employees engage with customers during the ongoing pandemic. Gretchen's young colleague Rachel was working in the bookstore the other day when some person on the street asked her about the books that were waiting on that table in the doorway for a customer to pick up. When Rachel told the person that they were there for another customer and to please not touch them, that person made a show of rubbing his hands all over them, just like Rudy Gobert, that idiotic basketball player who later tested positive for the Covid-19 coronavirus. Of course, 100,000 dead people later, such things aren't taken lightly at all. Had Rachel been able to snap a photo of this incident, that person probably would've had trouble suriving the resulting firestorm on social media. (Though he might've still had a chance of getting a job at Fox News, which is probably also Amy Cooper's only real career path available.)


The stupid Harbor Breeze remote, with USB modification.


Another view of the protruding Arduino Micro providing a micro-USB connector.


For linking purposes this article's URL is:
http://asecular.com/blog.php?200527

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