Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Cuisinart GR-4N 5-in-1 Griddler disappointment!

I've had an original first generation George Foreman Grill for years now and it's such a pain to clean after using it since the plates on it are permanently attached. Cleaning it usually takes so much longer than it does to cook and eat the food. So I've been waiting for a deal on Amazon for either the Next Grilleration George Foreman Grill or the Cuisinart Griddler since both have removable plates.

Finally, the Griddler came down in price and I had a gift card balance to use, so I ordered it. Thanks to Amazon Prime, it arrived two days later. I was so excited to get the Griddler out of the box and use it. Compared to my classic Foreman grill, the Cuisinart Griddler is massive! It comes with two removable and interchangeable plates, so that you can use it as a full grill, full griddle, half grill half griddle, or a panini press. Sweet, right?

Yeah, well it does sound great, but after almost a week of having it and using it, I'm super disappointed. Let's start with the pros (well, pretty much just one pro of the plates being removable):

The non-stick plates are quite nice, but I've only had it for 6 days, so I'm not sure what the durability of the non-stick surface is. This makes them really easy to clean, especially being removable since it's so much easier than my original Foreman.

That's really all there is for the pros.

Now for the bad...

The Griddler lid gets too hot to even touch once it's on, which is bad since you have to touch the lid if you want to swivel it because of the way it's designed to swivel. The only safe place to touch the Griddler when it's on is the base of it and the handle. Even my old Foreman's lid was better at staying cool to the touch when on.

The drip tray at the bottom of the Griddler is not very effective at all, especially since the plates aren't angled in any way to help the excess fat get drained into the tray. So, mostly the fat will just sit there with the food you're cooking... well, if your food even cooks at all, which brings me to the next con...

Okay, so you turn the Griddler on, wait for it to warm up and then you can start cooking. But from my experience with it, after the unit is warmed up to your desired setting and then you put your food on, it seems to start to cool itself down while you're still trying to cook, which makes it more like a warming plate than something that can actually cook. Because of this, it takes longer than my original Foreman did to cook.

Overall, I'm extremely disappointed and this'll be the first time I ever have to return a product to Amazon, which kind of sucks since now I'll have to pay return shipping.

Does anyone know if the Next Grilleration grill is any better? I'm planning on getting that once I get my refund for the Cuisinart. If you have any thoughts on the Cuisinart Griddler, the Foreman Next Grilleration, or any other alternative that I should know about (removable plates are a must!), please let me know in the comments.

Monday, August 08, 2011

Yes, I'm still here... (and a reflection on Coleman College / Coleman University)

for now. Still at the same house that I've been at for the past 18 years, but that might change. I guess we'll see what happens.

And, yes, I do take the time to read and approve comments on this blog. It might take me a while to approve them, but I do get to them eventually whenever I remember to log into Blogger. The ones that seem somewhat spammy won't get approved, but there have definitely been some good contributions from visitors, especially in regards to my posts about Coleman College / Coleman University. I approve comments whether they're good or bad. I think it's important for people to know the good and bad in order to make a better decision about something that could affect their future. Education isn't cheap and I want people to spend their money wisely. I think almost every post about Coleman has a comment, so definitely read the comments because I think some of them are even more helpful than what I wrote.

Here are the links for anyone that needs them:

A review of Coleman College's / Coleman University's CIS Program Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7

Since those are my most commented posts, I thought I'd revisit the subject and reflect a little more on the entrance process than on what happens once you're in (because I already wrote about that in the posts above).

My interests have somewhat changed from programming and are more along the lines of internet/affiliate marketing, social media, SEO, and whatnot. Still computer related, but not really anything that has much to do with creating software/scripts/apps.

If I were to go back to school for CS/CIS, I really don't think I would go to Coleman at all. I think I would take courses from UCSD Extension, as mentioned in one or more of the comments. Or even go back to a community college. At least I really felt like I was learning something when I went to Palomar. Whereas, when I went to Coleman, it just felt like with each mod, we'd start all the way at the basics again. I wanted the mods to get progressively challenging and build upon what I've learned, but that wasn't my experience at Coleman. You could probably even learn more from tutorials online, seriously.

Thinking back on the whole process on how I ended up there, it's pretty much just one big sales funnel. If you didn't realize it already, admissions officers = glorified salesmen. From working in the offices at Coleman (not in admissions, but in career services, but it was all pretty close quarters), the admissions officers do seem to have some sort of quota that they need to meet of appointments that they need to set to get potential students. I heard the same pitch that they gave to me told to other people over and over throughout my time working there... so much that I knew what they were gonna say and when.

So, they get you to come in for an interview and tell you more about the school then they give you their silly little logic test to see if you'd be a good fit for the program you want to go through. I think you get two chances at passing it, and they really want you to pass, otherwise their time would be wasted and they'd get no money. They even show you some questions from the test beforehand... probably the ones that are most missed so that you get the answers correct when you take it. It's pretty much the same as the ungraded quizzes before the test that give you the actual test questions - that's what makes it easy for anyone to pass and continue onto the next mod. I passed my math/logic test on the first time, but from working there, I know that there are some people who actually don't pass the first time and they do whatever they can to help you pass.

You passed the test? Great! You're one step closer. It's not really until then that they want to talk money. They don't want to scare you off by talking about that first, so they make you feel good about yourself by giving you a little ego boost from passing their test and then they hand you off to financial aid. They really pushed getting a loan with Wells Fargo. I don't know why, maybe that gets them more money? So I think most people end up getting loans whether they want one or not. After that, you're in... see you next mod!

Once you're in, they were really concerned about attendance. 6 or more absences and you'd fail. They want bodies in those chairs just so they don't lose whatever accreditation they have... because then I don't think they'd be able to call themselves a college/university without it. A former instructor who commented on part 2 of my review could give you more details about that.

Like I said, I don't feel like I really learned much until maybe mod 7, but even then it didn't seem like much.

Monday, May 23, 2011

A Review of the Schumacher SE-1-12S Onboard Battery Charger

I know I changed this blog to be about things that are in my home rather than just random blogging. So, here's a review of the Schumacher SE-1-12S Fully Automatic Onboard Battery Charger - 1.5 Amps. I figure, my garage is part of my home and this is in my garage, so there you go. Here's a picture of it:

Schumacher SE-1-12S Fully Automatic Onboard Battery Charger - 1.5 Amps

Anyway, I bought this back in April 2010 because I barely drive my car anywhere anymore, so my battery loses its charge often. Instead of having to buy a new car battery all the time, I thought I'd save myself some money and get myself a charger instead.

I found this on Amazon (waited a bit until the price went down to about $21.99) and decided to go for an onboard one because I figured I'd mount it somewhere under my hood and plug my car in when it needed charging. Well, I ended up not doing that because I have no clue where I can even fit the thing. Anywhere near my car's battery isn't gonna work because there's no room, but it kind of has to be close to the battery because the leads are so short. So, I use it unmounted and just have it sitting on top of my headlight when I have it plugged in.

I should have gotten just a normal charger with alligator style clamps instead... it'd be a whole lot easier than using the Schumacher in the way that I ended up using it. I'll probably pick up the Centech float charger for $4.99 from Harbor Freight (it gets pretty decent reviews) if they ever get the things in stock at my local store. They always seem to have the coupons for it, but the chargers are never on the shelves - probably because they want you to spend your money on something else. Since those are always out of stock, maybe I'll just forget about Harbor Freight and spend a little more on a Battery Tender 021-0123 Battery Tender Junior 12V Battery Charger - that one seems to have a nice long cord for my purposes and excellent reviews.

Anyway, as for the Schumacher charger itself, I've only had to use it twice since I bought it, but it's revived my battery nicely each time. It is sort of a hassle to get the leads connected to my battery each time since I don't have it mounted, but other than that, it works very well. It does make kind of a humming noise when it's charging, but since it's in the garage I don't really care and can't hear it when I'm not in the garage anyway.

The power cord on the charger itself is really short, so I have to get out an extension cord every time I need to use it. But that's really its intended design. It shouldn't have a long cord because it is meant to be mounted, so you wouldn't want to have it under your hood with the power cable dragging underneath your car as you drive it.

If you're looking for an onboard charger/maintainer that does what it's supposed to do, then this is a good choice. Just make sure that there's actually a place where you can mount it that's somewhat close to the battery itself.

If you're not really sure if you have a place it can be mounted or want something that's easier to connect and disconnect from your battery (if you plan on using it just every once in a while or for more than one car), then go with a charger that has clamps instead of ring terminals.

If I ever do end up buying a different charger, I'll make a post about that too.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Things aren't built to last these days...

Wow, things really aren't built to last as long as they used to. So far in the past month we've either replaced or repaired our TV (a Samsung LN46A650), our Microwave (a Panasonic NNSA647B), and our water heater.

We've had the TV for about two years, but it started doing this thing where when you turn it on, it would turn itself off and on a few times before ever showing any audio or video. At first it'd turn off/on about once or twice, but gradually got worse... I counted as much as 13 times once of it shutting itself off and coming back on again, but I'm sure there was a time when it did it even more, I just got tired of counting. Good thing we paid for the extended warranty from Fry's when we bought it, so we were able to get it fixed for free.

Our microwave was about three years old and then one day I noticed it wouldn't heat anything at all. A few days later, it would give an H97 error message. We ended up just buying a new one. Our previous microwave before the Panasonic lasted probably about 27 years... and still worked when we got rid of it, but just took longer to heat things up.

I'm not sure what was wrong with our water heater. It was leaking or something, but we got that fixed too.

Seems like something else will fall apart soon too - our washing machine. It is terribly loud and sounds like a jet about to take off. It wasn't so loud just a few months ago. We haven't had this washer and dryer for very long, probably just about three years as well. The dryer already had to be repaired after about a year because it made this loud banging noise and now it looks like the washer will have to get fixed next. Our previous washer and dryer probably lasted about 25+ years as well.

Just seems like things these days just aren't built as well as they used to be.