Friday, January 15, 2010

Counterpoint: Individual Responsibility

There is no "I" in "TEAM".

-- An enterprise employee

Accountability is key. If there is no accountability, there is total freedom to screw up, and screw up royally, without any thought of possible personal consequences.

-- Why Counter-Terrorism Is in Shambles

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Genie Is In The Detail

Suppose your garage door opener is suddenly gone (most common reason is that the teflon worm gear is now shredded into fine dust by its bronze counterpart).

Suppose you've done some homework and came to the same conclusion a lot of other people did - that Genie makes openers that are tangibly better than others (your arguments may differ from others, but they usually come to user feedback, screw drive, direct drive and the fact that there are fewer moving parts inside).

Suppose you have narrowed down your choice to Genie and now need to select the model.

Suppose you're meticulous, intelligent and patient enough to ignore the screaming SO and try to compare features offered by different models and see that you buy something that you really need.

You may not realize it yet, but you're screwed.

There's a conspiracy intended to trick you to buy a cheaper model. Nowhere (not on merchant sites, not on Genie product pages, not in product manuals) there is any information about the difference between products.

Not convinced? I dare you to find a difference between any two products other than sales talk, or even better, find a difference between product lines - say, DirectLift sold at Lowe's and PowerLift sold at Home Depot.

But enough acid, let's get to the point. Which is, if you care about quiet operation and your family's sleep, you should go for the most expensive model - the Excelerator. This is based on my personal experience and experience of one other person that, despite being one of the most intelligent, meticulous and patient people I know, nevertheless was unlucky enough to be so burnt out by sales talk that he took feature descriptions for upsell pitch and, having installed the PowerLift Plus under his master bedroom, ended up taking it off and installing Excelerator instead.

What they say and what it means

Here's some phrases from product descriptions and what they actually mean.

PowerLift Plus

  • direct drive motor system - remember those 30 year old A/C motors and how they bang your brains out on turning on and off, and drone louder than the rest of the world? Yep, that's it, for this particular model.
  • the screw drive is machined from one-piece of solid-steel - and it turns inside of aluminum rail without any insulation. Imagine the racket it makes.


  • super-duty DC motor easily opens large sized doors - they forgot to tell you (which I can't fathom why, for it is a major selling point) that DC motors are significantly quieter than AC motors used in other models
  • ideal for use near living areas and bedrooms - that's what that other person now swears by, having compared Excelerator to PowerLift Plus first hand.
  • screw drive available featuring a tough polymer rail liner which eliminates metal to metal contact - this is exactly the feature that makes it so quiet, in addition to using a DC motor. No racket.

What else they forgot to tell you about Excelerator

  • It employs soft start and soft stop. No more door banging against the floor or ceiling.
  • It opens at double speed. Somewhat mind-blowing, though, having lived with it and then without it, I can say that this feature is a bit overrated. As a matter of fact, it backfired for that other person because he frowned down upon it (it is mentioned on the box) and called it "marketing bullshit" (which it probably is, to some extent), and decided against buying something that he didn't need.

When can you safely ignore this advice?

If you have a detached garage, you probably won't care about all these nice things. Though, considering the price difference (about $40) and the fact that for this much you're getting a product that is a major step up - I'd go with it even then. The very sense of satisfaction of watching a well engineered product war is worth that much to me.

Mandatory Acid Drop

What pisses me off in this story is marketing and advertising folks at Genie that aren't doing their job good enough so us mere mortals can spend more money on their products. I wish they lose their bonus at least once for all that grief that they caused by not explaining product features properly.

This is not a shill

I have not been paid for writing this article, and the only motivation is the sense of commiseration with all those drowning in excess of sales pitches and at the same time dying of thirs for relevant information. In fact, to make it up, let me mention that the "vacation" button on the wall remote used to suck completely (was gone in a year for me back in 2000) but seems to be better now, and that Genie's customer service used to suck back then (spent hours on hold trying to get a warranty replacement for the above remote, never got a live person) but is hopefully better now.

Enjoy. And honk (comments button) if you found this useful.