My Home Generator Review

Recently we had the necessity to get a home generator for our home near Chicago. When my mother-in-law moved in with us a few months ago, she brought along with her a respiratory device that absolutely needs to be able to function all the time. Which means it needs electrical power all the time. And that means, that we cannot lose our electric service even for a few minutes in an emergency situation.

The simple thing to do is to have a portable generator stationed just outside her window and if the power goes out, we just run a cord from her machine to the portable generator. It doesn’t draw too many watts so even a small portable generator would do the trick. It would cost maybe $300 to $400 for a generator that would provide enough power to get the job done.

The problem with that solution is that someone must be home to plug it in, and someone must be there all the time to make sure the generator doesn’t run out of gas. Even if we hooked it up to a propane tank, which was one option we considered, when that tank emptied, someone would have to replace it meaning that 1. someone would need to monitor the supply in the propane tank, and 2. someone would have to be able to replace that tank within minutes of it being empty. This is not always possible or quite frankly, practical.

If you live near Chicago, you know that the winters are brutal, the ice storms are famous, and summer storms fell trees and power lines with regularity. All of which cause massive power outages as all our utilities are above ground for the most part. That is, of course, unless you are talking about natural gas.

And that provided the solution to our problem. Natural gas around Chicago is reliable and it is underground. We don’t have to worry about a storm interrupting the supply or some truck hitting a power pole a mile from our house. We installed a standby home generator in our backyard next to our air conditioner condenser…they are about the same size and are a perfect pair. This unit turns on automatically once it senses that power is interrupted. It shuts itself off when power is restored. It works when we are home, and when we are not. And, most importantly, we had the circuits in my mother-in-law’s room directly wired to the generator system so that she, nor we, will ever have to worry about her machine not working. And that is peace of mind worth the price.


Customer Experience

There are two buzz-terms that are floating around that seem to be used indiscriminately by people who want to talk the talk, but have no idea how to walk the walk. These two terms are user experience and customer experience. They can be one and the same if you are talking about interaction with a web site, but they can also comprise two entirely different things if you are talking about a brick and mortar business or something that is both offline and online.

We will talk about both terms as if the business we are discussing is a physical business with an internet component. Customer experience starts when someone hears your name or knows your URL address. That’s when your relationship with that customer begins, or doesn’t begin as the case may be. Your brand reputation may precede any contact with that individual and they may have a predisposition to liking your company and its products, or not liking them depending on the perception of your brand, what they may have heard about your company or what a friend might have told them. So really, experience starts before you even think it does.

What about if your website is slow to load? That’s bad. Bad enough that the user might not want to come back to your site or might click off to a competitor’s site. You might have lost that particular customer for good. And don’t just think in terms of a customer sitting in their home and searching for you. A customer might actually be in your place of business and want to look up something online while they are there. In that case, your infrastructure better support the upload speed and navigation that they are looking for or else their customer experience might not be the best. A frustrated prospect usually doesn’t become a lifelong customer. Too many negative checkmarks next to your company’s name. So if you can, insist that your landlord upgrade your network cabling so that your internet service provider can actually deliver the bandwidth and speed that they promise to you. That will be the beginning of a positive customer experience and perhaps the beginning of a super long relationship with your business.

Kitchen Cabinet Selection Pointers and Tips

What differentiates one cabinet company from the next is the quality of construction and the durability of the finish.  Most companies will have your standard raised panel doors, your shaker type and your flat panel and quite a few options for each basic style.  There are hidden hinges and exposed hinges, and door hardware pulls of all shapes, sizes and finishes.  You could buy white cabinets from cabinet maker A and pretty much be able to duplicate the look from any of a number of other manufacturers including local mom and pop companies that say they are in the custom cabinet business.  The brand name may have a value at the sale of your home; but other than that, your cabinets don’t wear their labels on the outside like a Cadillac motor car or Coach handbag.


Kitchen Cabinets Chicago


So when you go to purchase cabinets for your kitchen, what makes one source better than another?  Most places that sell kitchen cabinets will have a range of products – in fact, you can usually see a selection of good, better and best cabinets.  Good will be good enough for lower end projects and for uses like in your basement or garage where a fine furniture finish isn’t necessary.  Better cabinets are priced at a midpoint and give you a solid cabinet box and usually a one or multi-step finish process.  Best encompasses the finest materials – both for the box and the materials and finish on the doors.  If you are putting heavy stone countertops on your cabinets you most likely will want to stick with better and best levels of cabinets as those boxes will be able to support the huge weight that accompanies most stone products.

Finish is very important.  Factory finishes are usually the most durable and can range from a few steps to a dozen steps to achieve the perfect glaze treatment or other faux look.  If the finish is not durable, scratches, paw marks and other abrasions will quickly ruin the look of your cabinets in very short time and they will not look good for the rest of their useful life.  Stick with the best quality finish you can afford as this will certainly extend your enjoyment of your kitchen cabinetry.

3D Reviews

Guest Post by Jim Louis

When writing a review of a company or a product, we like to think in terms of three dimensions.  Most reviews are one dimensional, aimed at a certain fact or experience.  Understandably, most people need just one thing to either make their day or send them packing.

But people are looking for more than just that one thing; they are looking for an overall experience. What may be important to you may only be part of what is important to another potential client or customer. So if the only negative thing you have to say about a company is that, for example, the front desk person was curt, but that your car was repaired perfectly, then you should also mention the quality of the repair. You most likely did not go into that auto repair place because their front desk person was personable or nice; you went there because they could fix your car. So blasting a company in a review for a secondary reason (a reason other than the main objective) without mentioning that you got what you paid for and were happy with the service, is not helpful to the management of the establishment nor to anyone else seeking help with an auto repair.

This is the basis for our 3D review system. There are three people that can benefit from a review. The first, of course, is you because you can express how you feel about a product or service. The second dimension is the management of the company or product you are reviewing. And the third dimension is comprised of others who may benefit from knowing about your entire experience, not just the very good or very bad parts. Having all three dimensions in your review will help all three parties by communicating the entirety of your experience. Remember, what is important to you may not be the most important criteria to someone else. Your reviews will become much more helpful by considering the needs of others as well as your need to praise or vent.