Toshiba, Kingston, and the Case of Useless RAM.

I’m an IT geek. IT flows through my veins – I couldn’t get rid of it if I wanted. I’m too old to be a digital native, but I’d like to think I’m pretty close.

I’m used to replacing my laptop every two years or so but I’ve been using the same laptop now since 2010. A Toshiba Tecra A11-S3540. It is a good machine boasting a powerful Intel Core i7 CPU, a dedicated 512 MB NVIDIA graphics adapter, 4 GB DDR3 RAM, gigabit ethernet, and 802.11n wireless. A while back I replaced the standard 7200 SATA hard drive with a 128 GB SSD – which made an incredible difference in system speed…but now, things are starting to drag again.

I’ve looked at purchasing a new system, but to get something just equivalent with what I currently have is fairly pricey, so I’m holding off as long as I can. There is really only one other upgrade I can make to stretch the life of this laptop – adding more RAM.

I’ve held off on buying the RAM for over a year – but finally decided that the decrease in productivity was costing me more than upgrading the RAM would cost.

I went on Toshiba’s site and looked up their memory recommendations. For this specific laptop model they recommended Kingston’s 4 GB DDR3 1333Mhz memory modules at $50 each.

Screenshot of Toshiba Direct Search Result Page

I shopped around a bit – seeing if I could find anyone else who was selling the memory for cheaper and double and triple checking whether it would work with this system. I supposed since it was the recommendation on Toshiba’s site it would, but I wanted to be sure.

I stumbled across a Kingston page which indicated what I was looking for was actually the KTT1066D3/4G but that it had been “replaced by” the KTT-S3B/4G.

Screenshot of Kingston Memory Page

To their credit, if I went through the System-Specific Memory portion of Kingston’s site and attempted to find my system, it wouldn’t appear as an option.

You can probably guess where this is going. I ordered the RAM from a seller off eBay. Damage was a little less than $110.

I (im)patiently waited for the memory to arrive and when it did I eagerly pulled the old 2 GB RAM chips and replaced them with the new 4 GB RAM chips. I powered it on, BIOS post went fine, but then Windows started to load. A message about a fatal error flashed on the screen and the system shut off…a few seconds later it powered itself back on and repeated the same steps…and so on.

I did some troubleshooting to make sure it wasn’t a bad RAM chip and eventually called Kingston, who informed me that the RAM wouldn’t work with my system. I’m not sure what “replaced by” means, but apparently it doesn’t mean “can be used instead of.”

The eBay seller offers a thirty day return policy, so I could return the chips, but over $10 was for S&H, I’d have to pay $10 for S&H, and then take a 15% hit for the restocking fee. In the end I’d get back around $75 out of the almost $110 I’d shelled out.

Moral of the story? I suppose there are two: (1) don’t rely too heavily on what Toshiba suggests are replacement parts for your system and (2) “replaced by” don’t mean what you think it mean, at least when it comes to Kingston…I’m not entirely sure what it does mean.

Light Therapy Lamps / Boxes.

I Blabber

I’ve had issues with sleep at least since I’ve been in high school. I wake up groggy,[1] feel tired throughout the day, experience overwhelming sleepiness at times throughout the day, and then have insomnia at night. Yes, it is as much fun as it sounds! 😛

Someone is struggling with insomnia. The image is thanks to the generosity of Jacob Stewart who placed the image under a Creative Commons license.
Someone is struggling with insomnia. The image is thanks to the generosity of Jacob Stewart who placed the image under a Creative Commons license.

In 2011-2012 I tried to get things figured out, went in for a sleep study, all that sort of good stuff, but came away with nothing conclusive – other than that I didn’t have sleep apnea (I didn’t think I did).

For the last two years I’ve lived with it – especially since numerous other health issues took precedence…but this year I’ve experienced significant relief from my other health issues[2] and sleep remains my greatest remaining obstacle…and probably a contributor to my other remaining health issues.

I saw a sleep specialist yesterday (Monday, 4/2). It went well. She did a thorough job and I felt like the office was run professionally. It did set me back $100 for the co-pay, which was painful…but I survived.

They scheduled me for a sleep study tonight which would then be continued tomorrow with a six hour daytime nap study…but this morning I was informed that they had spoken with my insurance company and the co-pay would be $1200. Not exactly what I was looking for, so we canceled the study for the time being.

Getting Down to Business

NatureBright SunTouch Plus Light and Ion Therapy Lamp
NatureBright SunTouch Plus Light and Ion Therapy Lamp

Honestly, if I could sleep at night and be wakeful during the day, $1200 would be a no-brainer…but there isn’t a guarantee that the sleep study will demonstrate anything…and it seems to me that the treatments for a number of sleep disorders are fairly similar – namely (a) stimulant medications, (b) light therapy, (c) melatonin supplementation, and/or (d) behavioral changes.

I’m already on (a) and this exacerbates my OCD symptoms…so I don’t really want to increase the dosage.

I’ve already been told about (d) innumerable times and have made significant modifications to my sleep hygiene…I don’t see room for much more improvement on this front.

Philips BLU Light Therapy Device
Philips BLU Light Therapy Device

Which leaves (b) and (c). I’ve used (c) at various times without significant positive effect, though my more recent research has raised some new elements regarding timing of dosing which I may try…but (b) has always fascinated me, so I’m going to pursue that first.

I searched Amazon for light therapy “lamps” or “boxes” and I eliminated all that lacked a four star or greater rating. There were several different companies represented in these results which had a fair slew of reviews: Verilux, Philips, NatureBright, Omega, and Sphere Gadget Technologies.

I eliminated Omega and Sphere Gadget Technologies b/c I refuse to buy products from companies that don’t have websites – especially companies selling products of this sort. Sorry folks.

Making a Decision

This left Verilux, Philips, and NatureBright. You can see a comparison chart I made of the various models offered by these companies here.

HappyLight Liberty Natural Spectrum Lamp
HappyLight Liberty Natural Spectrum Lamp

NatureBright had one unit that ranked high (4.5 stars) and Verilux had two, whereas all the Philips units where rated well (4 stars) but not high.

The most popular product out of those mentioned was the NatureBright SunTouch Plus Light and Ion Therapy Lamp which had 1,819 ratings – no one else came close, one of Philips trailing fare behind at 747 ratings.

The NatureBright products, in spite being so highly rated where also the lowest priced – so I bought (and am awaiting delivery of) the above mentioned unit.

As one can see on the comparison chart there are a few features this unit may lack (I won’t be sure until I get my hands on it) that some of the other units included – a rechargeable battery (this isn’t important to me), a dimmer (this is important), an alarm clock (not important). But with a 30 day return policy – I figure I can give it a try and always return it and replace it with another unit if I’m not happy…

My second choice at this point is probably the Verilux HappyLight Liberty Natural Spectrum lamp – the price is in the middle of the range across manufacturers, it has the 4.5 rating, and most importantly in comparison to the Philips products – the lamp is replaceable. Granted, the lamps should last for twenty-five or fifty years, but I still prefer to have the option to replace them.

 

  1. [1]Used to be depressed, which would dissipate 10 minutes into a shower…but that has gone away, now it is just groggy.
  2. [2]When you operate normally at say 40% health and you experience a boost to say 75% health, you still aren’t ‘healthy’ but it sure feels a heck of a lot better. :) Better enough that I can ‘live’ with the nuisances of the remaining 25%…

I Spent Too Much Time Researching Vacuums.

I can’t remember when but a few years back I bought a Hoover Nano-Lite[1] from Target. It has served me extremely well but recently broke down and died. I needed a new vacuum – and I like to research before I make these sorts of purchases. Not so much to save money as to find a really solid product. I don’t mind paying a little more, I do mind products and services that waste my time.

The Bissell CleanView 9595.
The Bissell CleanView 9595.

The first thing I did was see if the Hoover Nano-Lite was still available (it isn’t). My next step was to hop on over to Target and browse through their selection of vacuums. Why Target? Because Target tends to offer a decent range of the most popular products representative of the market as a whole – yet doesn’t offer anything. If I go onto Amazon I will give up researching – there are simply too many choices, so Target is a good way to narrow things down (and this is where I think places like Target still have a lead over Amazon).

Even using Target I ended up with a fairly vast list of potential vacuums. So I narrowed it down by seeing the features that the Nano-Lite had that I really liked and then finding the models that best matched or exceeded these features at a reasonable price point.[2]

In the end I came down to two models – the Bissell CleanView 9595 and the Hoover Sprint UH20040. I’ve included a table below comparing the two models.

 

Company Name Model Price Roller Tools Cord Hose Bag Washable
Filter
Capacity Weight Warranty Path Rated Handheld Amps
Hoover Nano-Lite U244-0900 $50 Y Y 20′ ? N Y ? 11 1 11″ N 10
Bissell CleanView 9595 $75 Y Y 25’ 6’ N Y 1.7 L 15.1 2 ? 4.5 N 10
Hoover Sprint UH20040 $53 Y Y 23’ 7’ N Y ? 12.5 1 12″ 4 N 10

The Bissell was slightly more expensive but had a 4.5 rating on Target as opposed to the Hoovers 4, its cord was 2′ longer than the Hoover, and it came with a 2 year warranty. On the other hand, the Hoover was less expensive, had a 1′ longer hose, and weighed 2.6 lbs less.

The Hoover Sprint QuickVac UH20040
The Hoover Sprint QuickVac UH20040

In the end I decided to go with the Sprint primarily because of the lower weight (though still higher than the Nano-Lite). For me, weight had been one of the biggest factors in buying the Nano-Lite – I really love a vacuum I can easily maneuver/carry. I’m also a sucker for system monitoring (where the device monitors its own health)…oh, and the lower price didn’t hurt.

The vacuum should arrive in the mail tomorrow and I’ll be sure to give an update to everyone if I decide I made a mistake. Before I close this post let me just highlight a few items about vacuums generally you might want to know:

  • Not all vacuums have roller bars. I saw several nice, less-expensive vacuums but they didn’t have roller bars. These work on hard floors but really aren’t great on carpet.
  • By “tools” I mean essentially the detachable hose – some of the less-expensive models, especially stick vacuums don’t have a detachable hose – which to me is silly. Why would I want a tiny vacuum if in order to clean I now need to use two devices?
  • Some vacuums are bagless (like all three above) while others have bags. I’m torn over which is better. The bagless are less expensive to maintain (no need to buy more bags) but I’m not a big fan of the way dust sprouts everywhere when you dump them out.
  • A washable filter is nice, but you probably aren’t talking about a HEPA quality filter. I made this trade-off, but it isn’t one everyone will want to make. If you have allergies you may want to pay more to get a true HEPA filter…just remember these will also cost more to replace.
  • Capacity is important. These lite little vacuums are great for mobility, but their waste area isn’t huge. If you are coming from a more traditional vacuum, I’d guess that the waste disposal is 1/3rd the size on one of these little guys. I never found this to be problematic (and I had four cats), but you may.
  • By “path” I mean how wide the area that sucks up waste is on the vacuum. This is important to note. Some vacuums have much smaller sucking areas – such as 8″. This means that you’ll have to do more passes to cover the entirety of a room. On the other hand, if the path is too wide it will make it difficult to fit into narrow areas and require more moving of furniture.
  • You’ll also notice that none of these units are handheld. One of the nice features of the stick vacuums (which didn’t usually have tools) was that they detached to become handheld units. I decided that this wasn’t as important as the tools…though I’d really like to see an affordable unit combine these two aspects.
  • Finally, you’ll note that the ampage on these units is 10 amps each. The amps are the power of the motor. Some of the smaller, cheaper vacuums have significantly lower ampage – like 1.25-2 amps. I haven’t used a unit with this little ampage but I have a hard time believing the motor will be able to suck up waste effectively with so little power behind it.

Here is hoping that my research may make someone else’s research a little less extensive. 🙂

  1. [1]For those who care, Model # was U2440-900.
  2. [2]A reasonable price point is always a compromise between feature set and quality versus cost for the feature set and quality. For example, one may only pay a few dollars extra to move from a flaky product to a good product, and a few more to move to a really good product – to move into the top echelon of great products there is a huge price premium – and so the price per feature/increase in quality becomes significantly greater than at lower levels.