Cardboard bags from Woolies, with Christmas decorations, and presents wrapped in the same paper at the bottom of the Christmas tree

Woolies Christmas-themed paper grocery bags

Woolies in Australia has been offering paper bags to pack groceries for a while. Those are great to reuse as liners for the recycling bins, or in the compost. Comes the Christmas season, they are also decorated with festive patterns, which works great as wrappers for presents. More reuse, and less wrap-once, tear-once wrapping paper in the house!

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Eaton 5E 850i UPS: belated sign of life; avoid

tl;dr: If you’re looking for a functional UPS, avoid the Eaton 5E series. And if you want customer service, avoid Eaton.

In an attempt to make my network infrastructure more resilient, I decided to get an uninterruptible power supply, to keep the Wi-Fi on during power cuts. After some comparisons, I settled for the Eaton 5E 850i. It was a mistake.

UPDATE (2022-12-08): After a phone call, and another follow-up message, I finally got the support escalated to a product manager, who was quick to confirm that, indeed, the UPS was defective. It took another follow-up email to get a replacement actually sent to me. Fortunately, this time, it was detected.

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Cadbury Roses Sadness

Dear Mr. Cadbury,

I’m writing regarding the updated flavours in your Roses line, which are disappointing.

A friend told me about a year ago that you had changed them, and that they were not very good, so I subsequently did not buy them again. However, they were on special this week, and I had forgotten about my friend’s warning, so bought a box.

The new flavours are indeed disappointing, and I am horrified to note that some of my old favourites are gone:

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Product Reviews: Smart Home

A bit more than a year ago, I finally fell onto the Smart Home and automation bandwagon. I wanted to monitor temperature and humidity in a few spots of the house. I ended up using Aqara Temperature & Humidity Zigbee sensors. I set up Home Assistant to keep everything local, and used a Nortek HUSBZB-1 Zigbee/Z-Wave adapter (affiliate link).

It didn’t take long until I frantically was adding more stuff: Mirabella Genio and Kogan Smart Bulb light globes, a Genio Power Plug with 2 USB ports and a Davis AirLink air quality sensor.

The rest of this post reviews all those products, with pros and cons. All in all, they are generally positive.

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Netatmo Smart Home Weather Station: not as local as they say

Due to heavy fire smoke in the area, we recently needed a way to monitor the outside air quality. Amongst the few devices that caught our eye, the Netatmo Smart Home Weather Station stood out as a decent compromise between features and price.

Until it turns out half the features (including outside air quality) aren’t measured locally, and instead obtained from other data sources.

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Jimmy Stuart: weird smell, poor quality, and terrible customer service

A few months ago, I received a fancy shirt from Jimmy Stuart for my birthday. I had confirmed with the gifter that it was the pattern I wanted, but we were both quite disappointed with what we found, and smelled, in the box.

We decided to request a return for a full refund but the company refused. Not even the intervention of an NSW Fair Trading mediator helped, and we find ourselves having paid ~$115 in total (with return postage) for a ~$80 shirt (due to second postage), that we probably would not have paid more than $30. Also, the smell is still there.

Lesson learned: don’t buy clothes online without making sure you can get a refund if dissatisfied, as Fair Trading mediators bear little weight against bad-faith vendors.

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HP: Vendor lock-in as a standard, and deprivation of consumer choices

So I was in the market for printers. Having had good experiences with HP for printing in the past, I looked at their offering.

But then, something struck me.

Cartridges using a non-HP chip may not work, and those that work today may not work in the future.

I feel like, to future-proof my printer purchases, I now need to strike HP from the list of decent manufacturers.

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As Van Badham wrote this week, the people who have gone plastic free have all had some breaking point. After months of trying to be mindful of our plastic use, but accepting that for some things, it was inescapable, I was finally pushed to the edge by an article which reported that micro-plastic had been found in ice in the Arctic. THE ARCTIC. That, and finally internalising that recycling isn’t really a thing – it is just a distraction from solving the real problem of masses and masses of plastic that doesn’t need to be made.

So, now our household doesn’t get to eat strawberries, or blueberries, because of the little plastic punnets that they come in.[Update: now growing our own plants] Polyester is out, natural fibres, bamboo in particular is in. Milk in plastic bottles is out, waxed cardboard is in. The roll of Glad wrap that we have in the drawer is the last one I’ll ever buy, ditto for the garbage bin liners. Pasta in a plastic package is out, cardboard boxes are in.

Lush have a good range of solid shampoos (this one is particularly good – makes my hair fresh, and scalp non-itchy), and I’ll try their face-wash this week.

I’m struggling with inescapables: toothpaste, medicine, bread and cheese packaging.

I know on some level that our small family isn’t going to make a huge amount of difference in the scheme of things. There is already too much plastic. Some companies are trying to do the right thing, by offering corn-based plastics, but, it seems like there are a lot of problems with that too.

Anyway, we will continue to minimise our plastic waste, and, in doing so, we get to create a whole new category of complaint letters – emails to companies to complain about their plastic use.

Here is our first, probably of many, to Carman’s. Well, many emails in general, not specifically to Carman’s.

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