Liberation

Are you one of those people who pays hundreds of $$ every year for cable or satellite service just so you can watch the local news and a few favorite broadcast TV programs? You might be a candidate for liberation!

Today I liberated a client from Charter cable by installing a simple rooftop antenna. Not one of those old school monstrosities with the long metal rods, just a simple little dish, less than a foot in diameter. Total cost for labor and materials was less than the cost of a year of cable TV service. When I was done, my client could get all the major networks – ABC, CBS, NBC, PBS, and Fox Entertainment – and all the sub-channels that are now being broadcast because of the extra bandwidth that digital TV affords. 29 channels in all!

 

Not everyone’s results are that good, but you can contact StereoMan with your physical address and I will let you know what is possible where you live. If it won’t work for you, I will recommend you stay with what you have. But if you’re in a good location, like my client today on Fairview Rd. in Oakley, I’d be delighted to provide the tools and skills to liberate you from your monthly TV bill!

Bose Makes Waves

I’ve been working on Bose products for years and years, with some success despite their complete lack of support for field repair. No replacement parts, no service information, no tech support, nothing. Still, I can boast a better than 50% success rate, just knowing how to take them apart, what common problems to look for, and what replacement parts can and can’t be used to complete a repair. Due to their immense popularity – and high cost – I have at least one Bose unit in my shop at any given time.

Recently a customer bringing one in for repair told me they had found out about StereoMan on the Bose website! Imagine my surprise to learn that although they are doing absolutely nothing to support my efforts, they are happy to tell people that I am out here to support their products. The irony is not lost on me, but I take it in stride. I’m here to support my customers, and if they’re willing to take a chance on me repairing their Bose stereo, I’m going to give it my best shot.

Apparently my best shot is pretty good. Good enough to get mention on the Bose website. Huzzah!

Dog Day

Today I had three service calls, one install of two new tv’s, two consults. Each of the three households had at least one canine member. The first was a huge dog, some kind of Labrador mix, quiet and friendly but not overly. She followed her master everywhere. The second was a tiny ball of fluffy fur with endless energy, she never merely walked when bounding was possible. Two dogs in the third household, one border collie-ish, the other like a smallish Samoyed. The collie greeted me at the driveway and I gave her a cookie. She carried it around in her mouth, without biting it, for several minutes, then trotted over to a nearby hedge and buried it.

I love dogs and I feel like they tell me a lot about their human companions, what kind of people they are. All the dogs I met today, they all had good humans. Good people.

Happy Frigid New Year!

It’s 2018 and StereoMan is back at work, dealing with the frigid weather as best as possible.

On a day like today (25 mph winds, expected high temperature of 23) it’s impossible to work outside, so I have to call and cancel my appointments. I regret the inconvenience, but thankfully my customers are understanding and willing to take a time slot on another day.

I’m so grateful to be working inside today! Besides the warmth and comfort of the Great Indoors, I’ve been able to spend a few extra minutes with each phone caller, of which there have been a half dozen already today, and with each walk-in customer, of which there have been almost as many! Not getting much bench work done just yet, but there’s still six more hours to my work day.

What Price Happiness?

Ouch!

I can’t be happy if my customer is not happy, no matter how unreasonable his request(s) may be. So if a customer orders a $500 stereo and then after I order the radio changes his mind and wants a different model so he can have Apple Car Play, what the heck? I’ll sell that first radio to someone else at some point, right? Get the customer what he wants!

And, of course, if anything happens to my customer’s car while it’s in my shop, I must take responsibility for it. After installing thousands of car stereos over two decades, first time ever the customer’s dashboard cracks when I’m taking out the factory stereo. What can I do? I have to pay to have the dash replaced. It’s mighty expensive, but it’s a no brainer. I have to do it. But oh boy was the customer pissed!

So the dash work done and paid for, it’s time to put the radio in, and I get it all done, it looks great, works just like it should, but the customer isn’t at all happy about having to plug his phone into the USB in order to use Car Play. He’s mad at me for not telling him that. We discussed it all in advance! he insists. I don’t recall that, but it doesn’t matter, I show him online that there is only one radio available right now that does Car Play wirelessly, and it’s not a Pioneer. I offer to install it for him if he wants to buy it, and take back the one he ordered. But he’s so pissed at this point he doesn’t want me to do anything for him.

The job ended up costing me about half what I make in an entire month, but I would come out of it satisfied if my customer came out of it a happy customer. But he didn’t. So I didn’t either.

Update: Pioneer now offers wireless Apple Car Play and Android Auto. Not that it would have made any difference in this case.

The Perfect Gift (Certificate)

If you’re thinking a professionally installed car stereo would be the perfect gift for a friend or loved one, StereoMan can help! Come by my shop, pick out the product you want, and along with the stereo I will provide you with a gift certificate for the installation, with the recipient’s name on it. Then they can call and make an appointment and when the work is done, present the gift certificate as payment. Simple? Perfect! Ho! Ho! Ho!

Miracles

I try to commit at least one miracle each week, and this week I managed to get two. First one was a 15 year old Cadillac Escalade that someone had cut all of the wiring out of the console. It had a Bose sound system in it, and there was no information on the wiring anywhere on the internet. I figured out how to get an Apple Car Play stereo to work through the Bose system without the fancy interface some other shop had sold him that didn’t work in his car at all.

I got nearly to the end of my day today before I committed the second miracle. I repaired a factory car stereo cassette deck. Yes, a cassette deck. Took it out of the car, stripped it down (about 25 screws and three circuit boards thanks for asking), replaced the broken belt, reassembled, and reinstalled in the car. One hour, five minutes.

The punch line: the woman I did the work for was not the owner of the car. She had borrowed it from a friend and the stereo broke while she was using it.

Saturdays … gotta love ’em!

I’m often in the shop by 8 a.m. even though I’m not officially “open” until 10. Gives me time for coffee and a little breakfast, tidying up, finishing paperwork, that sort of thing. Plus if one of my customers needs to drop off a vehicle, it’s convenient for them to do so before their work day begins. But I never make a 9 a.m. appointment.

This morning I was puttering around, cleaning the bathroom, emptying trash, around 8:30 someone came in, said “I’m your 9:00 appointment, I’m here early.” Heh. I thought for a second, then I said “OK, let’s get ‘er done.” So I gathered the equipment for the job and by 9:30 I was finished. Meanwhile, around 9:15, my 10:00 appointment showed up early. “Hang in there for a few minutes,” I said, “while I finish with this one.” I was done with the second job by 10:15.

The down side is that my breakfast got cold. And it looks like maybe my microwave is crapping out. On the bright side, I am ready for the usual Saturday onslaught of walk-ins without having to feel all apprehensive about getting my scheduled work done while I’m fielding their questions and making appointments with them.

Saturdays. Gotta love ’em.

Delayed Voice Mails

Jan 26, 2017

It seemed odd to me that when I got back from my Monday hike, there were no voice mails on my phone. But then this morning, like magic, they turned up. An hour later, I’m finally finished returning the calls!

The 20 Degree Backup Camera

Jan 8, 2017

Yesterday was the coldest day by far in recent memory, with a high temperature of about 24 degrees. But I had made an obligation to an elderly lady with an older Toyota Sienna to get her backup camera working, and considering how heavy my current backlog is, it was an appointment I did not want to break. I had taken a cursory look at it a few weeks ago when I was at her home resolving an unrelated stereo problem, and determined that the camera itself might be defective, but I did not have a spare with me at the time, nor the proper equipment to make a sure diagnosis, nor for that matter enough time to do the work. So yesterday I spent an hour shoveling snow out of my driveway at home, drove the treacherous icy roads to the shop, and spent another hour clearing enough space in my parking lot to park my own car and work on her van, should she turn up at the appointed time.

She did. I advised her that the repair might be time consuming, because the camera had been installed by someone else and I might have to take a lot of interior body parts off to resolve the problem. She was content to wait, with her sister for company, as I proceeded to bundle up in my colder-than-the-coldest-cold attire and began to dismantle the interior of the van. It took about fifteen minutes for my fingertips to begin to freeze. I went inside to thaw them.

I had to removed the panel from the back hatch, and the trim around the back window and the driver side windows and doors to expose the wiring. I found that unlike every other aftermarket backup camera I’ve ever seen, there was no connection at the backup lamp in the rear hatch, even though it was only inches from the camera. Instead, the installer had spliced into the factory wiring in the front driver side footwell. Strange choice, but I confirmed that it was working, in other words that was not the problem. Again I had to retreat from the cold outdoors to thaw my fingertips.

I brought out my spare camera and hooked it up at that point, and connected it to the rear view mirror monitor, confirming that the monitor worked when the vehicle was shifted into reverse. I then hooked up my own monitor to her camera and confirmed that it was not working. I had examined the wiring and found no apparent fault, but it was still possible that there was a break. I cut the wire harness at the back hatch and tested each wire. Apparently there was a break somewhere, but I couldn’t see it. No matter, there was only one choice remaining – install a new wire harness, and by necessity the camera it was designed for. But first, back inside to thaw.

By this time I had spent two hours working on the van, but my customer was patient and understanding. I installed the new camera and wire harness, connecting it to her existing mirror monitor, and it worked like a charm. All that was left was reassembly of the interior trim. As soon as I thawed out my fingers.

In all it took me about three hours to complete the work. I charged her for 2.5, and she was happy to pay and grateful for the work under far less than ideal conditions. Before they left, her sister made an appointment with me to look at her conversion van.