Machine Learning for a Better Search

April 30, 2018 9:56pm
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I wanted to expand more on the comment I made earlier on my micro-blog about how to build a better search function because the more that I think about it, the more I believe that this addresses one of the Internet’s biggest problems right now.

We went from limited information before the digital age to endless information a few decades in, but now what we really need to focus on is putting the right information in front of people.

Or, as my micro example cited – it should be easier to find the source of a topic than it is to find commentary about that topic.

And as if grading your sources wasn’t difficult enough, I’m going to throw one more curveball into the mix – you can’t blacklist an article based on its publisher, with my thought process here being simply that sure, 95% of what places like Fox News and Breitbart post is absolute garbage, but…

  1. We want everyone to use and rely on this new search method and people aren’t as likely to jump onboard if their favorite sources, damned as they may be, are automatically excluded from the mix.
  2. But more importantly, even if 95% of what someone writers is pure drivel, we want to encourage that remaining 5% to rise above the rest because that’s how you change opinions.

Now most of this is well beyond my level of expertise, but I know that there are methods in use today to determine “the quality” of a body of text based on sentence structure, vocabulary, etc… The question is, how can we expand on that logic to categorize stories based both on quality as well as what they bring to the table. Because hey, there’s a lot of opinion on the Internet and I certainly don’t want to discount that – I’m just saying that when somebody searches for a topic, they should be presented with facts first and editorial second.

It gets even trickier when you don’t have a fairly clean example like the one I used – even with regards to the White House Correspondents’ Dinner, there were multiple videos that contained the full speeches from the dinner … some were censored, some were from different outlets … but what about when it’s not even that cut and dry?

A video of President Trump saying XYZ would be the most accurate source, but if instead you have news reports sharing what it was that he said – and possibly some with more/less context or fact correction in their articles – then that becomes very subjective to try and decide which one did the best job of reporting XYZ that then deserves to be at the top of the search results.

I kind of have a love/hate relationship with Google these days because I know that they’re trying to filter out the literally billions of pages on the Internet, and they do say that they look at things like user experience and reblogging to help rank their results, but at the same time I still see those hideous, clickbait ads from Taboola and Outbrain on some of the biggest websites seemingly without penalty.

How does a search engine remain independent while trying to sort relevancy as well as fact from fiction, alongside people constantly working to game the system to get their garbage to float to the top to make the ad bucks???

Maybe it’s time to learn a thing or two about machine learning and get to work on this… 😉

My Top 10 NES Games

April 25, 2018 8:23pm
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Inspired by this video from Billy of The Game Chasers citing his top 20 favorite NES games, I thought it might be fun to compile my own top 10 list.

…which was honestly hard for such a nostalgic system because there were just so many games that I wanted to include in the list just because they were classics – almost merely out of obligation!

But I tried to limit that wherever possible and instead focus on the games that I built up such incredible memories playing as a kid because I can still fire up just about any of these games today and be instantly transported back to my elementary school days where weekends were spent playing whatever NES game I had picked out to rent for $2 while my Mom went grocery shopping. 🙂

10. Megan Man 2
Admittedly this is one game that I’m just terrible at today, I was the master of this when I was, like, 8 years old! MM3 had more unique bosses and built on MM2, but this was the game that I cut my teeth on, for sure.

9. Base Wars
I’m not a sports fan at all, but baseball played by robots with guns and rocket launchers?! I would play entire leagues of this game set to two player with the second player empty just so that I could earn tons of money and build a team of the best robots available. The whole baseball part was just a backdrop. 😉

8. Excitebike
When I worked at summer camp, for some reason Excitebike was the go to game played in our cabin whenever any of us had five minutes of free time. It’s such a simple game, and it’s honestly not even that good, yet somehow that’s also what made it GREAT!

7. Battletoads
As Billy mentioned in his own video, Battletoads was ridiculously hard, but I loved how in the very first level there were little secrets like being able to ride the fire-breathing pigs. Plus, it was an added challenge to be able to hurt the other player whereas most other two player games before it had you invulnerable. Also – they’re toads, and they fight! It was by far one of the most unique, creative games of its time!!!

6. Super Mario Bros 3
This was kind of one of those classics, but it was also amazing and revolutionary and the commercial was beyond exciting. I remember we got the game by a friend of my Dad picking it up at a Toys ‘R Us downstate and mailing it to us because this was before video games were available everywhere. The game itself, of course … wow. Giant World. Cloud World. Bowser’s Kingdom. So many rich levels to explore – it’s really no surprise that it’s the #1 game by almost any standard … I honestly just threw it anywhere here to give the rest of my top 10 a fighting chance!

5. Final Fantasy
Final Fantasy 2 (IV) for the SNES is probably my favorite game of all-time, but the original Final Fantasy was one of my first introductions to RPGs. The grind was always tough trying to earn enough money for all of the weapons and armor and spells that you wanted/needed, but I loved as you got farther in the game and started getting items that keyed into special traits like Ice Armor vs fire creatures, etc… Plus, the class change was pretty cool.

4. Life Force
It’s like Contra, but in space! I was introduced to this game by one of my older cousins and it was cool because we could play together … plus, the Konami code made it a little easier when you didn’t know what you were doing. I’ve never really gotten into the rest of the Gradius series that this game technically fits into, but this is a personal classic for sure.

3. River City Ransom
I wasn’t big on beat ’em ups, but the way this game combined fighting + RPG elements was intriguing to me. I loved trying all of the different foods to see what they did to your stats, and the fighting power ups learned via lore were neat, too!

2. Crystalis
This is a fantastic game! Rich, expansive maps with a bunch of towns to explore, weapons and armor that have different abilities, and even the four elemental swords have their own power-ups. Even the soundtrack is really good – I remember getting chills as I would approach bosses or key story points because they would cue changes in the music. Crystalis was one of the more complex games that I played as a kid, but it really offered a great world to explore.

1. The Legend of Zelda
THE NES classic, at least for me! I still play this game on a whim all of the time – it’s great to play through while we’re sitting watching TV in the evening because I have most of the game memorized at this point, though admittedly I still need help once I finally get to Death Mountain. One of these days I want to try a swordless run or Zelda randomizer because I think either one would add a neat, new challenge to a game that I first played 30 years ago! Regardless, I can pick this game up just about any time and get lost in Hyrule all over again… 🙂

 

Honorable Mention – Super Mario Bros
And last but certainly not least … I can’t make a list of great NES games without including the very first NES game that I ever played.

The original Super Mario Bros is the game that started it all for so many retro gamers, and despite the levels being repetitious for the most part, it was still an incredible introduction to this new medium of entertainment on the TV.

Atari and the even more primitive consoles were a little before my time, but this plumber’s quest through the Mushroom Kingdom to rescue the princess kicked off a lifelong adoration for video games. I honestly don’t play this one very much anymore because I still don’t think I’ve ever beat it 100%, but it’s fun to play for a few levels here and there to warm up the old chops before moving on to something else! 😀

Whatever happened to RSS readers???

April 23, 2018 9:19pm
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I guess they just went away with the rise of social media and apps and notifications, though for what it’s worth I always found that a bit silly because I don’t want a dedicated app on my phone for every single website that I visit!

…not to mention, what about the ones that don’t have apps … like mine? 😯

In continuing with my hiatus from social media, this has been somewhat of a challenge for me because there are definitely sites that I still want to keep up with, but I might not necessarily want the rest of the chatter of following them on social media, and not for nothing but algorithmic sorting makes it harder and harder to see stuff that I actually want to see, anyways!

So I stumbled back across this feature built into WordPress.com for subscribing to blogs. It was originally designed specifically for blogs hosted on WP.com, but was eventually extended to all WordPress blogs via Jetpack and now it looks like you can follow just about any site with an RSS feed because I’ve setup follows with blogs on Blogger and Typepad, too!

It’ll be interesting to see if it scales out well if I want to add a couple dozen more sites to be able to include news outlets and whatnot in addition to my writer friends and folks I’ve come to admire online, but for now it’s honestly just nice to get a list of posts in the order that they were actually published as opposed to the order in which an algorithm thinks I want to read them … with plenty of targeted ads interspersed, no less!

Oops – no HTTP/2 today…

April 23, 2018 4:08am
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Note to Self: DON’T MAKE SERVER CHANGES WITHOUT WRITING DOWN WHAT YOU’RE CHANGING FIRST!!!!!

So … about 11 hours ago, I thought that I’d try to upgrade my web server to use HTTP/2.

It sounded like a great idea after reading this article from Yoast, so I spun up Easy Apache and found the mod_http2 option. It mentioned that I needed to switch from one MPM to another, but I didn’t really think much of it.

To make matters worse, I also used the same time to uncheck a few random Apache and PHP modules that I didn’t think I needed.

As soon as I restarted Apache, sites already started looking hosed. 

Some wouldn’t even render their CSS, others were missing random images. But I didn’t know enough about HTTP/2 yet to realize whether I had actually screwed something up or if I just needed to make some modifications to WordPress to get everything working correctly.

At one point I thought that maybe all I needed was this HTTP/2 Server Push plugin, as I started to understand that HTTP/2 handles requests a lot faster, so was it possible that the browser was just getting the CSS file and other images too late and didn’t know what to do with them?

No, not really.

I also dug deep into caching issues, which is always a mess because I run Varnish and some of my sites use W3 Total Cache, though it’s currently disabled on my multisite install due to weird config issues. I also cleared my own browser cache and tried other browsers, but no luck.

Eventually I started to dig into the whole some images loading but others weren’t thread, and even more peculiar – I run three WordPress installs on this server … two multisites and one standalone, and only my big multisite install had issues!

This got me thinking back to some of the permissions issues I’ve had with Apache and PHP while trying to get APC working (quick summary – APC is supposed to be wicked fast, but won’t run under the SuPHP handler, only DSO … which handles permissions for running Apache different than SuPHP). What was weird was that images I had uploaded recently were missing, but the older images were fine … and note that all of the files were still present on the file system itself.

I gradually conceded that I needed to give up on HTTP/2 for now and roll back to what I had before, though this was a giant pain because I’d run Easy Apache so many times that something got corrupted in the config and I ended up making the biggest changes using YUM via SSH.

I got moved back from mod_mpm_event and mod_http2 over to mod_mpm_prefork, though that didn’t seem to make a difference.

Then on a whim I reinstalled mod_ruid2 because of this helpful explanation – Run all httpd process under user’s access right.

AND BAM – MY SITES ALL STARTED RELOADING PERFECTLY AGAIN LIKE MAGIC!!!

Well, almost like magic. I still had a lot of plugins to reactivate and other troubleshooting steps that I’d taken to reverse, but now … as far as I can tell … my WordPress network is back to the way it was 11 hours ago before I decided to try and setup HTTP/2 “on a whim!”

Clearly I need to do a lot more research into it, and also probably spin up a test site or something, before I start monkeying with that hassle all over again. 😛

Consistency is Quality

April 18, 2018 5:03pm
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I have a problem with HoneyBaked Ham.

I love their sandwiches, but the shop closest to my house isn’t very good at making them.

…sometimes…

I used to grab lunch there all the time until I finally gave up because they were constantly making mistakes that I wouldn’t discover until I got to my desk and unwrapped something that wasn’t quite what I wanted to eat.

I think the final straw was when the person forgot to take the paper off of the cheese slices … an error that I found only halfway through my sandwich!

So I had stopped going there for a while and recently decided to give them another try, however the last couple of weeks our relationship has devolved into the same old series of errors again. Omitted ingredients included, requested ingredients forgotten. A few weeks ago they decided to put horseradish on my wife’s sandwich – one of those condiments that if you didn’t specifically ask for it, you probably don’t want it.

🙁

Today when I stopped in after picking my son up from school, I noted that they’d made a bunch of mistakes last time and if they could pay better attention when making my food, I’d appreciate it. And it honestly wasn’t as well received as I would’ve liked … they did hear my complaints, though they had a few excuses along the way, but there was also some eye-rolling when they asked who had waited on me and I replied.

…because I think the guy is the manager…

Regardless, a couple of big parts about how I judge customer service are as follows:

  • How you respond to mistakes
  • What you do to improve on them
  • How you make up for the inconvenience

The first one should be easy – “I’m really sorry about that – that’s not what we like to hear.”

I never really got that, or if I did, it was overshadowed by the excuses and eye-rolling over their boss.

Next – “Let’s go over your order to make sure that we get it right this time.”

They did this.

And lastly – “How about we pay for one of your sandwiches today to make up for last time?”

Hahahahaha!

That totally didn’t happen! In fact, when I questioned the high price for so little food that I was getting (because apparently they mark up their combos like crazy – an extra $2.50 for a soda and chips?!), she just quoted everything at full price like it was no big deal.

Even their clumsy manager who’d screwed up our order last time offered me a discount from the time before…

Now I don’t want this to sound like I’m just always cruising for a discount, however I do strongly believe that if a corporation doesn’t take some sort of financial penalty for its mistakes, it’s like they never really occurred in the first place. I mean, how many times have you called your cable or cell phone company and spent half an hour on the phone, only to have them try to upsell you while all you want is for them to fix the service that’s broken that you’re already paying for?!

I get that customer service is hard, however it’s not really a stretch of the imagination to suggest that I should be able to walk into the same store week after week and get the same sandwich every time. This is not sandwich art – there’s literally a big sign right there on the wall that explains how to make each one!

But that lack of consistency makes me not want to eat lunch at HoneyBaked as often because that sandwich I really like isn’t always the sandwich that I’m going to get. And that’s bad news for a company to hear because when you have a customer who’s eager to come back again and again, the last thing you want to do is disappoint them because you don’t deliver a consistent experience every time that they walk through your door.

And as a side note – the inconsistent sandwiches are what will make me think twice the next time I’m looking to grab lunch, but not being more receptive to criticism is what will send me to Panera or Firehouse instead.

When a customer is still willing to be a customer and walk through your door, you should listen carefully to what they have to say about your service. Because not everyone will come back to tell you when they’re disappointed.

Dream Journal : Hacker

April 18, 2018 9:56am
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I’ve had a couple of this sort of dream lately – not sure why, but for a guy who lives on computers they’re almost more scary than things that creep in the night!

Somebody had hacked my computer.

They knew exactly the moment that I logged in because they messaged me vague threats about being watched every single time. It made it hard to troubleshoot, particularly once I started getting comments about my family … did they somehow have access to more than just my computer after all???

At one point I tried digging into the problem at work, enlisting the consulting advice of a few co-workers, but somehow the result was the same regardless of where I plugged the computer in. I briefly contemplated the steps to changing all of my passwords simultaneously in hopes of somehow locking the hacker out of my accounts, though ultimately I didn’t really even know what they had gotten access to aside from my Windows account itself.

Eventually I decided to wage a trap and turned the PC on back at home, with a handful of friends and family, along with a police officer, all there for support. The hacker wanted to chat with me – namely to intimidate me again, making comments about the safety of my sons, to the point where I realized that they must somehow be nearby. We all stood at our posts around house looking out into the yard like sentries around a castle wall until someone saw a figure moving in the distance.

It was then that I killed the power to the house and reassured the kids that everything was going to be ok while another person ran out and tackled the person lurking in the yard.

Who turned out to be a girl who I’d worked with a few years prior.

She made a lot of excuses about how she never meant to hurt anyone, and how looking around it was clear that “we lived in luxury” and probably had this sort of thing happen to us all of the time.

Somehow she even gained a little pity from several of the family, who gave her food and whatnot while we waited for the officer to arrest her.

Before that took place, however, I walked to the front door and noticed a strange car waiting outside. Realizing it was her getaway car, I sent someone over to take a look and the car suddenly bolted.

It turns out that her mother, of all people, had been her accomplice in our harassment.

When the officer finally asked what I wanted to do, I considered all of the trauma that we’d been put through and insisted on pressing charges for blackmail and stalking.

Made in China

April 13, 2018 8:14pm
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The last couple of days I’ve been kind of fascinated by videos of people buying things in the gigantic, multi-story super malls in China. It started from revisiting this video of a guy who built his own iPhone from parts that he bought in Shenzhen!

Of course, it’s not so much about the economics, but more so just one of those things because he could that’s impressive to me. I’ve built plenty of my own computers in my days, but small enough to fit in your pocket is a whole new ballgame that I don’t think my own soldering ability is up for the task! 😉

But from there I started watching these videos from another guy shopping the same market – primarily for counterfeit goods because apparently they’re everywhere…

Although he’s shopping mostly for clothes instead of electronics, which I don’t really care about, it intrigues me nonetheless for so many reasons…

  • Despite everyone selling knockoffs of major brands, the brands themselves don’t really mean much in China simply because counterfeiting is so widespread that everyone knows that what everybody else is wearing is fake.
  • The price flexibility is ridiculous – to start at something like 4,000 Chinese Yen ($632 USD) and work your way down to 150 YEN ($24) … it’s always interesting to me to see where the margin that products sell for falls, but it’s particularly apparent when you have products here that they’re trying to sell for name brand prices that realistically cost pennies to make.
  • …or do they? Consider that how a lot of counterfeiting of clothing takes place is simply by the factory making it to leak the plans, or for all we know it could be happening in the exact same factory! If it looks just like the original, and it’s made in the same place as the original, how fake is it?
  • And of course, salesmanship continues to astound me because you have to be so persistent to do that kind of thing amid eye rolls and people walking away. It’s always surprised me when we go on a cruise and you have those kinds of sellers in Caribbean countries – no matter how good of a deal you think you’re getting, they’re no doubt still making money off of you.

It makes me wonder the extent of this same kind of counterfeiting in the electronics area – some things like full devices and iPhone backs make sense, but looking at the parts the guy bought in the first video, it begs the question of how many were counterfeits and how many were parts out of recycled phones and whatnot. I mean, I know that it exists to some extent – probably quite a bit, considering that there are entire counterfeit Apple stores that pop up around China, but to what level do they take it?

And then the ethical question to end on – when the west exploits so much of their cheap labor to make these devices and shoes and purses, can you really blame them for finding a way to get a leg up in this commerce game when otherwise their numbers are being bought and sold for next to nothing???

Ranking the Marvel Cinematic Universe

April 8, 2018 10:35pm
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This is a surprisingly difficult list to make!

It’s hard to believe that Marvel has put out eighteen superhero movies since we first got the Iron Man movie that set the stage back in 2008.

It’s equally hard to believe, though I suppose it shouldn’t be that surprising, that while some were just fantastic, others were pretty lackluster. I definitely found myself shuffling a few movies back and forth as I worked my way through the list from 2008 to present, and I hope that Infinity War ends up just blowing everything else out of the water, but we’ll see. 😉

I’m not going to say a lot for every one of these, but here’s how my ranking ended up along with a few notes here and there…

  1. Captain America: The First Avenger – My all-time favorite Marvel movie to date – first it was Iron Man, but I just loved the sincerity that Chris Evans brings to this character, and his early chats with Dr. Erskine about being a good man I think really speak to the heart of who Captain America is.
  2. The Avengers – The BIG blockbuster, back when The Avengers were only half a dozen kids trying to save the world! After the other Phase 1 movies all teased up to forming a team of heroes, Joss Whedon did an incredible job of making this movie HUGE, from the reveal of the first heli-carrier to the battle for New York itself!
  3. Iron Man – I honestly really loved the first movie, despite not caring for the character as much as he’s evolved in the MCU, but just watching Iron Man walk out of that cave for the first time or fly into the night sky will always be awesome!
  4. Black Panther – Wonderful.
  5. Iron Man 2 – I don’t really go back and watch this much, but for the most part it really is one of the better Marvel movies. I never cared for how they re-cast War Machine, but the chemistry was good and it was still early enough in the MCU that seeing all of those robots fighting was pretty impressive!
  6. Guardians of the Galaxy – A much different Marvel movie than I had been expecting, but the Guardians are a much different brand of heroes, so that’s why I think it really worked. Curious to see how they mesh together with the Avengers in Infinity War.
  7. Captain America: The Winter Soldier – This movie took a while to grow on me because I didn’t care for the Dr. Zola’s head in a computer act, but the rest is actually pretty solid. Plus we get to see more of Black Widow … why hasn’t she gotten her own movie yet???
  8. Thor: Ragnarok – I thought it was decent, but not as groundbreaking as a lot of other people thought it was.
  9. The Avengers: The Age of Ultron – The first Avengers movie was pretty tough to live up to, and adding more heroes to the mix was tricky. Plus, X-Men had already done Quicksilver way better, so that was a bit of a disappointment. 😛
  10. Thor – The rest of the movie really isn’t that bad, but I kind of hated Natalie Portman in it.
  11. Doctor Strange – So basically House gets in a bad car accident and ends up getting rewarded with superpowers for it. Huh.
  12. Ant-Man – No size-pun intended, but this kind of felt like half of a Marvel movie.
  13. Guardians of the Galaxy, vol. 2 – I feel like Mantis could’ve made this movie a whole lot shorter if she had really wanted to!
  14. Thor: The Dark World – *yawn*
  15. Captain America: Civil War – Can’t we all just get along?!
  16. Iron Man 3 – Me no like sad Tony Stark.
  17. The Incredible Hulk – I barely even remember this coming out. *shrug*
  18. Spider-Man: Homecoming – Tobey Macguire is my Spider-Man.

What’s your Top 3 look like in the Marvel Cinematic Universe???

movie thoughts … Black Panther

April 8, 2018 10:05pm
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I really ended up loving this movie, to the point where I think I would rank it among my all-time favorite Marvel movies, which is honestly a little harder to determine than you’d think!

Still, Top 5 ain’t nothing to be ashamed of in the MCU, as far as I’m concerned… 😉

A few of my own personal highlights:

  • Seeing Randall from This is Us as King T’Chaka’s brother was a bit of a surprise!
  • Having T’Challa’s sister in the Q from James Bond role was a little odd at first, but by the end surprisingly satisfying.
  • …and the Back to the Future reference was wonderful. 😉
  • Having to get stripped of the powers of the Black Panther every time someone challenges you for the throne seems like it would be a big pain in the ass…
  • And lastly, I ended up liking Agent Ross a lot more by the end of this movie … because I don’t know about you, but I really hated him by the end of Civil War.

It was kind of funny because I knew going into this movie that there were somehow multiple Black Panthers because I had seen a photo of the Erik Killmonger Funko Pop where he’s wearing the gold bedazzled panther suit and I was pretty sure that Killmonger wasn’t the name of the good version!

So it was certainly painful to see him reappear and steal the throne away from T’Challa, but of course deep down we knew that one way or another the real Black Panther would one day rise again. 😉

Another thing that I really liked about this movie was just how many inferences could be made to modern day politics if you wanted to look at it in that light, from debates about whether Wakanda’s resources should be used to help the rest of the world versus just keeping them for themselves to later wanting to weaponize those same resources to conquer the world. One quote stood out to me as more relevant than any – “In times of crisis, the wise build bridges while the foolish build barriers…”

…remind you of any wall-loving presidential figure in particular???

I wasn’t sure where this one was going to fall and we ended up going to see it very much on a whim when my visiting sister-in-law offered to stay home after the kids went to bed so we could sneak out – it ended up being a very well done film with plenty of emotion, rich characters who put a new spin on the usual agents and soldiers that we typically see in superhero movies, and I think it did a great job of filling us in on the backstory for Black Panther so we’ve got a little more to go by next month when we see him and the rest of the gang team up against Thanos in Infinity War!

Granted, that’s one thing I would’ve liked to see – even if just in the end credits scene – was another teaser for Infinity War, aside from the quick vignette with Bucky. I was kind of disappointed that the actual trailer didn’t run before this movie because we seemed to get lots of other great superhero and generic action movies in the mix.

Great movie. It’s definitely earned all of its box office recordsincluding more than $1 BILLION in gross worldwide ticket sales?! Wakanda Forever. 😀

Car Buying Frustrations

April 5, 2018 12:41pm
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I know that most car salesmen are slimy and tricky and generally not to be trusted, but it’s still hard for me when I’m putting down tens of thousands of dollars for a car that we’ll likely drive for the next 5-10 years, only to then have to deal with being lied to along the way.

It happened to me not once, but twice in the last couple of days, to the point where I’m honestly just done with our current car buying expedition. I need a break from the treachery and the dishonesty.

ALL I WANTED TO DO WAS BUY A FREAKING CAR FOR THE PRICE THAT WE’D ALREADY AGREED ON!!!

We’re currently working on getting a van to replace our SUV whose lease will be up next month. It’s an upgrade that we desperately need, despite my not being crazy about driving a van, but hey, when you’ve got three kids and strollers and other miscellaneous stuff to haul around, you’ve gotta do what you’ve gotta do…

So we decided that we want to get a Honda Odyssey. We’ve test driven a couple of different ones, and it’s far superior to other brands on the market. But the dealers are really digging in on the price, regardless of all of the research and bids that I’ve gathered around the area. I’d finally gotten one as low as I figured I was going to get, but when we packed up the entire family and went to the dealership, after moving all of the car seats over and doing another test drive…

They up and changed the price on us. By several thousand dollars.

Because apparently the “quote” I had been given didn’t account for the $1,600 worth of accessories that they’d installed on the car, nor did it account for them lowballing the hell out of our trade-in … which is admittedly a challenge because we’re over our miles on our lease, so we’re technically upside-down on its value.

Though for what it’s worth, I’m not looking for them to give me any positive equity on the thing – just looking for them to help soften the blow of the excess mileage by meeting me in the middle instead of paying the full amount back to Honda by just giving the car back.

Anyways… 😛

So dealer #1 tried to screw us – it was very much a bait and switch, and the salesman who had been super-friendly during our entire test drive pulled a two-face on us and was kind of a dick after I challenged the first set of numbers that he brought back to us.

We still haggled there for about an hour until I finally decided that they weren’t going to budge on their prices – they’d up the loan term to 84-months, but wouldn’t lower their price – so eventually I got on the phone with dealer #2 and asked if they’d honor the price that they’d given us if we came the next day.

They said, “Of course!” and agreed to follow-up in the morning…

…when they sent me a bill of sale for $1,000 more and said that the original offer was no longer valid.

W.T.F.

Just for the record, it takes a lot of nerve to tell someone, “Yeah, it’ll be $1,000 more!” and then follow up the customer’s disgust with, “So are you still coming down today?”

This is why I could never be a salesman – because if that’s the level of dishonesty required to do your day to day job, it’s just not for me. I mean, for the second guy, (allegedly) I had talked to him on the phone while he was feeding his two year-old son!

Who lies while they’re feeding a baby, for cryin’ out loud?!?!?!

So I’m done searching for now. I just don’t have the heart in me to deal with this stuff anymore right now, and I’m still getting over being sick, and we’ve got scads of family in town, and I can’t do it.

We’ll pick things up in a few weeks after I’ve had a chance to get over this garbage, and then we’ll start up all over again. I’ll put on yet another layer of thick skin and charge up my BS meter, and we’ll see if we can secure us a van to trudge this clan around Florida for the foreseeable future.

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