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I’m Not A Charity, I Do Not Work For Free!

I Will Not Work For Free

As a secondary income outside of my job in rental home marketing, I am a real estate photographer. A friend of my wife, who is a realtor asked me if I would take some photos of one of the homes she has for sale. She asked how much I charge, so I told her it would cost $70 + mileage at $0.25 per mile.

The realtor thought that it was kinda expensive, which is far from true, this job would take up 5+ hours of my time, plus a 90-mile round trip. It would take 55 minutes to get to the property, one hour to shoot the home, 55 minutes to drive back, then 2+ hours of post processing in Lightroom / Photoshop.

The total cost to the realtor would be $92.50, which breaks down to $18.50/hr. If she thinks that is excessive, then she is in for a shock, I provide a professional service, I have invested in expensive camera equipment, which still has to be paid for as I used a credit card to purchase these items to move forward.

The realtor then asked if she could pay me when she closed on the house. Again, I do not work for free. If the house is not sold, I don’t get paid, which means I make a loss as I have to absorb the cost of fuel plus the intangible cost of my time. Photography is not a service payable upon on the client getting paid.

If this realtor is not willing to invest in her work to make money, then clearly she does not value her client or the home she is trying to sell. I spent thousands of dollars on high-quality camera equipment to provide the best service possible to my clients. If I turned up with a $50 point and shoot camera and expected to be paid $70 plus mileage, I’d expect the client to tell me to take a long walk off a short pier.

Plus, once you start doing favors for people, they will never pay for your services, they will expect it for free or on an “I’ll pay you when I get paid” basis. In business, you have to play hardball, you cannot let yourself be taken advantage of, this is a job, not a hobby where I do it because I enjoy photography.


Another Year, Another Job Loss

Unemployment

Tax time is a good time of the year for most people, as they often get some money back from the taxman. However, for us, it has been a terrible time for the past three years, with my wife being laid off each tax season since 2015, followed by a period of several months without an essential second income.

This time, the manager that she had previously worked under had moved to another property, and the new manager immediately laid off my wife, stating she wanted her own person as her assistant manager. Although we had a feeling it was coming, due to a bullshit situation that had arisen two months earlier.

Again, our tax refund is our saving grace which will tie us over until my wife can find another job. However, our financial situation is worse than 12 months ago, we have about $1,000 of credit card and loan payments, which accounts for 1/2 my income, the other 1/2 is taken up by rent. This means that if my wife can not find employment in the next 3 months, my income will no longer cover our outgoings.

I am not putting any faith in my wife getting unemployment benefits due to the way the system works, it took 10 weeks for her to get unemployment this time last year, which would have broken us if it were not for our tax refund. Our tax refund was earmarked for debt reduction, that’s now gone up in smoke.

We have an additional problem, my wife has fibromyalgia and requires a number of tier 3 drugs that cost thousands of dollars without medical insurance, and Obamacare is useless as that insurance won’t cover any drugs outside of tier 1 until the substantial deductible is satisfied, plus the ACA is not really affordable anymore. The cost of these medications is one of the major reasons why we have so much debt.

This job loss also means that our kids no longer have medical insurance, they were both on my wife’s workplace insurance. There is no way I can add them to my insurance, it’s too cost prohibitive, $944 for myself and the kids and $1,411 for the wife, kids and I and that’s the cheapest premium. To cover my family at the highest premium, it would result in me taking home less than $100, obviously not an option.

The wife and I have decided that apartment management is not for her. In my view, looking at the Wichita apartment management community, I wouldn’t be surprised to find out it’s a race issue, my wife being African American. The lack of diversity in the Wichita apartment management community is astonishing.

We’ll get through this, we have to, giving up is not an option, especially with two kids to support. But, why does life have to be so damn hard just to break even, in fact, we are not breaking even, our net worth is -$40,000+ due to debt, which is likely to increase, bills still keep coming in despite the lack of income.

On a personal opinion note; I hate the way that US employers are allowed to terminate your employment without any notice. You literally turn up for work and they tell you that your services are no longer required. Clearly, this particular situation was planned, and although I don’t know this for sure, I suspect my wife’s replacement was already hired and ready to start work. I can live with the manager wanting her own choice of assistant, but the way it was handled is bullshit, European law doesn’t allow for this kind of treatment. US citizens have very few employment rights, all the power lies with the employer.


Applebee’s: A Terrible Customer Service Experience

Applebee's 13th St & Greenwich, Wichita, KS

Today, my wife and I had an unexpected break as my mother-in-law offered to take the kids for an afternoon. We chose to use the time to dine out and see a movie, the movie, Hidden Figures was fantastic, however, our dining experience at Applebee’s on 13th & Greenwich, Wichita was disappointing.

We had allocated just under an hour to eat, which should have been enough time as the movie theater was just across the parking lot. My wife and I had arrived a little after 2:20pm, we were seated and our server collected our drinks order, which, incidentally she got wrong. My wife asked for an iced mango lemonade and a shot of Patron, what arrived at our table was an alcoholic margarita and a shot of Patron. My wife gracefully accepted the incorrect order before patiently waiting for our food order to be taken.

The wife and I are talking when I pull out my phone to check the time, it was now 2:49pm and our server had not returned to take our food order. At this point, we did not have time for food to be prepared and to eat it being just 20 minutes away from showtime. My wife walked up to the bar, where she went unacknowledged for a few minutes until after I joined her, we just wanted to pay and leave at that point.

Our server finally came out from the back to close out our check and made some excuse that she had to work the bar and wait tables. Which is a poor excuse given that there was one other couple in the restaurant, so they were not busy, no excuse for the tardiness of service? A 25-minute wait when its quiet is unacceptable. I don’t blame the server, there was no need for her to be tending bar and waiting tables, c’mon Applebee’s, staff your restaurants properly and give customers the service they deserve.

We asked to see the manager, who apologized but made zero effort to make it right. We explained the situation and that we had to leave for our movie, she just suggested we come back after our movie, no offer of a free meal or even a discount on the drinks my wife ordered and could not drink. We literally paid $17 for nothing as the drink was left on the table while we grabbed some food in the movie theater.

It’s a great shame that Applebee’s have such apathetic managers and staff at this location, normally service is good at this restaurant, albeit in the evenings, this was our first-afternoon visit. And sadly, it’s likely to be our last visit and will not recommend this specific restaurant to friends and family.

I tweeted out my displeasure and someone from their social media dept pointed me to their website to submit my complaints, which I did. We’ll see if they respond to me in 3 to 5 days like they claim. At least the movie was great, a real feel good story, taking away some of the sour taste left in my mouth.

UPDATE [Feb, 8 2017, 9:31]: This Wednesday morning, I did indeed receive a phone call from Applebee’s regional management office to follow up on my complaints. Their representative said that he would send us out a gift card to make up for the treatment we received during our visit. It’s good to see that Applebee’s as a corporation care about their image, I say image and not customers as in today’s connected world, customers can express their displeasure immediately, at their location. Anyway, I digress, this whole situation could have been avoided by better customer service at the location.

UPDATE [Feb, 10 2017, 16:34]: We received the gift cards, which totaled $20 and unfortunately, they are only valid in the offending location, so we probably won’t bother using them. Hopefully, the staff members that provided the poor service, who were talked to by regional management as claimed in the letter sent to me realize the error of their ways and provide better service to other patrons in future.


What Do We Have To Do To Get Our Son To Adjust His Behavior?

School Fail

Is steam coming out of my ears? I ask because my blood pressure has to be sky high due to stress caused by my son’s behavior in and out of school during the past two weeks. I am at my wit’s end; it’s taking all my energy to not strangle the boy (figure of speech, I’m not actually going to murder him… this time ;-) ).

I received a call from my son’s math teacher today telling me that he had been using the Chromebooks to play games instead of completing tasks assigned to him. When challenged, my son told him he doesn’t belong there and his former teacher was better. And when the Chromebook was taken away and worksheet handed to him instead, he just put his head on the desk refusing to complete any work.

When the same teacher looked at past scores on some online school tasks, there were zero attempts to answer questions, it was showing “0 of 0” which indicates that no questions were even attempted. If he had attempted to answer just one question, it of shown as “0 of 1”. My son tried to claim that there was a technical problem and that he had answered the questions, but no-one else had a problem that day.

I confronted my son while still sat in the school parking lot and he claimed that the teacher was lying. So, I called his bluff and went back to the school and spoke with the teacher in question. My son claimed that he wasn’t playing games, it was just a tab open from free-time, however, the teacher said the tab was active when he walked around the classroom, which, based on past behaviors, I believe this to be true.

My son has three assignments with zero scores in social studies, a subject where he has an F grade due to those zero scores. I suspect, again based upon past behaviors, that he simply is not doing the assignments. I’ve Emailed his social studies teacher asking if he has received them… and I’ve just received a reply from the teacher and as expected; my son has lied and not handed the assignments in.

The net result is that my son has lost his TV privileges, now he’s upset, he was fine before he found out that he has lost his TV. He is now claiming he has been feeling suicidal since starting middle school almost 18 months ago. We’ve heard this before, he has been assessed by the school psychiatrist and she believes it’s attention seeking and manipulative behavior. Which tallies up with my experiences at home, he also acts like this when he loses privileges, which he does often due to consistent behavior issues.

I gave him a huge incentive before the resumption of school, I told him I would buy him any games console he wanted for his birthday if he could go the remainder of the school year without another F. It took all of 7 school days for that offer to be void with the aforementioned social studies grade.

In regard to school, it doesn’t matter whether he is allowed to play video games, watch TV, listen to his mp3 player, his grades are poor because he does not want to put in the effort. And it does not bother him in the slightest, he does not get upset until the consequences enter his world, i.e. losing his privileges.

It truly baffles us as he knows the consequences, yet he won’t do what is required to keep those privileges. If he was struggling in school, we’d get him help, but that is not the case, he’s just disinterested. In fact, we have signed him up for after-school tutoring, we are waiting on confirmation.

All this is a continuation of last week’s behavioral issues, click here to read about it.

We have just received confirmation that our son has been accepted into the after school tutoring program and will attend Monday, Tuesday and Thursday from the end of school to 5:30 pm and can get additional help from the special education teachers during lunchtime on Wednesdays, lets see how it goes.

Update [Jan, 26 2017, 23:11]: After taking some time to calm down and collect my thoughts. I sat down with my son and explained why I am so angry and disappointed with his behavior and explained what I need him to do to regain his privileges. I expect him to achieve a minimum C grade in all subjects to get his TV back, then he needs to maintain that C grade until May to get his video game/internet privileges back for the summer break. This is to prove to my wife and I that he can maintain the grade and not work hard for a week or two to get his privileges back, then immediately fall back into the D & F group.

Update [Feb, 3 2017, 21:19]: Here we are; one week later and… my son has turned a single D and single F into two D’s and two F’s. He has been participating in extra study time after normal school hours, over 7.5 hours of extra time and he has done twice as bad as before. I will have to investigate what is happening in these extra study periods, to find out whether anyone is actually helping him or whether he is left to his own devices. If it is the latter, what’s the point of sending him to those extra study periods?

I know if my son is left alone, he’ll not do anything, despite the dangling carrot of being able to have his TV privileges back. I consistently reinforce that if he needs additional help at home, his mother and I can help, but he never asks for help. Ultimately, it is not possible to help some who does not want to help themselves. He has plenty of time at home to study and catch up as he has no TV, Internet or video game privileges due to his poor grades, but nope, he just sits there plugged into his mp3 player and sleeping.


Review: iHome iBT8080 Stereo Bluetooth Speakers

iHome iBT 8080

I have been in the market for some Bluetooth speakers for some time; however, I never took the plunge until now. I picked up a set of iHome iBT8080 Bluetooth speakers for $60 from Samsclub during our monthly grocery shopping trip and here are my thoughts on this soda can sized speaker set.

Starting with the appearance, they do look very nice with their sculpted cylindrical light shifting design which measures 5 1/2 inches tall and 3 inches in diameter. The speaker driver is a top firing design which I would estimate to be 2 1/2 inches in diameter. There are four buttons, volume up and down, color mode, which doubles up as battery check and call/answer button which doubles up as a Bluetooth pairing switch. Secondary functions can be accessed by pressing and holding the buttons for 2 seconds.

In the box were the speakers, charging cables (USB MicroB to USB A / 3.5mm jack for analog connections), carrying straps, product brochure and printed manual. Take note that a wall charger is not included in the package, you will need to charge them using a computer or cell phone charger. It would have been nice to have a dual USB wall charger included, but it’s forgivable at this price point.

Audio performance is solid for what they are. If you expect Hi-Fi sound you will be disappointed. However, if you want decent sound for your cell phone, tablet or mp3 player, the iBT8080 hits the mark at the $60 price point. The sound is relatively balanced with solid bass punch when the volume is cranked up;, however, the mix is very bright and a little harsh on the ears when near maximum volume.

I did notice some vibration of the unit when running at 100% volume on the device and my phone, especially when playing the blast beats from Metallica’s One. This vibration was clearly audible and was annoying enough for me to turn down the volume a notch or two. The 8080’s are loud enough to satisfy most people even in an outdoor environment, but not loud enough to piss off your neighbors.

Battery life is just OK, iHome claim 10 hours of listening at moderate volume, but my testing shows between 4 to 6 hours. I fully charged the 8080’s and watched Futurama on my Surface tablet for about 2 1/2 hours at 1/2 volume before going out for 3 hours leaving the speakers on. When I arrived back, the speaker batteries were dead, they died sometime in those three hours without any audio playing.

The operation of the 8080’s is very simple and intuitive, paring with my devices was simple, just press and hold the phone button for 2 seconds, search for “iHome iBT8080” on your phone, tablet or mp3 player and click on “pair”. The second speaker is recognized immediately when powered on and in range of the first speaker for stereo sound. Each speaker can be used independently of each other if you wish.

There are five different lighting modes accessible by the ” * ” button, slow color cycle, fast color cycle, solid color, sound reactive and off. These lighting effects are a gimmick and eventually will probably annoy you, but it’s sure pretty to look at and it can be turned off after the novelty does wear off. Turning the lighting effects off will more than likely help with battery life as well, how much, I have no idea.

I would still recommend the iBT8080’s despite its shortcomings. I like the design, sound quality and volume. Battery life does bring it down, you’d need a couple of portable battery banks if you wanted to use these speakers wirelessly for an extended period of time, for some that might be too much to carry.


Out Of The FA Cup; But Argyle Did Us Proud!

Lucas celebrates his goal against Plymouth, FA Cup, 2017

Plymouth Argyle has fallen victim to a rare Lucas goal and exited the FA Cup at the third round stage. Who would have thought the winning goal would be scored by Lucas and not Coutinho, Sturridge or Origi?

Despite the loss; to only lose by a single goal to a team of the caliber of Liverpool will go down as a great performance by the Greens. I, for one, am very, very proud of my hometown team to force a draw at Anfield to return to Home Park and only lose by a single goal and were denied an equalizer by the post.

I believe Plymouth were caught napping allowing Lucas to head into the net from Coutinho’s corner. However, you have to give massive respect to Argyle for the way they came out and pushed forward, they didn’t let their heads drop and half way through the second half, Jervis came so close to equalizing.

Liverpool had the chance to make it 0 – 2 from the penalty spot; Songo’o bringing down Moreno in the 18-yard box. Origi took the penalty kick and made a real hash of it, gifting Argyle keeper McCormick an easy save, keeping the Greens in the game; but, it just wasn’t going to go Argyle’s way today.

A moment that brought a tear to my eye was the banner being passed around the stands with a minute of applause for Daniel May who passed away during the first game while his father and Argyle fan, Kevin was in attendance at Anfield. The Plymouth fans did a similar thing in the first tie, leaving scarves and messages at the Hillsborough monument at Anfield. There are rivalries, but I love the football community and respect that transcends leagues and clubs, it somewhat restores my faith in human nature.

Daniel May You'll Never Walk Alone

Bottom line, I am proud of my hometown team for their fight and passion, but I am kinda happy Argyle have exited the cup, so they can concentrate on their league campaign and promotion to League 1.

At the same time, I kinda wanted the same for Liverpool; being a Reds fan too, obviously I’m Plymouth first, Liverpool second, but I’d like Liverpool to concentrate on the league without cup distractions.


When Will My Son Learn….

No Internet

…that he can not get away with anything behind my back. he seems to think he can outsmart me when it comes to technology. So, for Christmas, his grandmother bought him an Anki Cozmo smartphone-controlled robot. So we gave him an old Samsung Galaxy S4 that we have laying around to control the Cozmo, and subsequently completely forgot about him having it until a couple of days ago.

What tipped me off that he was getting up to no good was that he didn’t want to get up for school in the morning after the festive holidays. That’s when I remembered that he had the phone and given that he had been busted multiple times before for playing games and watching YouTube videos when he thought we have gone to bed, it didn’t take much to put 2 and 2 together to work out what was happening.

So, this morning after he had gone to school, I went into his room and took the phone, which was attached to my charger that had gone ‘missing’ and headphones. I clicked ‘home’ and was presented with a PIN locked screen; clearly an attempt to hide what he had been up to, unsuccessfully I might add.

My son does not have the password for his Google account, so I simply went into his account on my PC and could see everything he had been up to. Including the comments, he had made on other people’s YouTube videos, some of which were wholly inappropriate plus all the times and dates he was watching YouTube videos, some as late as 3am on school nights, 3am is too late any night, let alone school nights.

He literally just got his internet and game privileges back 3 weeks ago after the last time he decided to ignore our wishes and here we are again. Now, he has nothing, I have blocked Internet access to his ROKU box and Blu-ray player on the router level as both allow him to access YouTube. Obviously, there will be no access to his laptop either, I hope the extra hours he snuck was worth losing his privileges.

Update [Jan, 18 2017, 08:31]: In addition to his defiance described above, he also is back on the D & F list after just two weeks back at school. All his grades were reset for the 2nd semester and he clearly is not doing the work, he has an F because of overdue assignments. What can I do to persuade him that he needs to do the work? He complains about us getting on him about it, so maybe I shouldn’t? maybe I should just let him fail in life? I won’t reward him for being lazy, he can do the work standing on his head.

Update [Jan, 22 2017, 14:38]: But, wait there’s more, on Thursday I hear my son screaming and laughing like a crazy person, so I go to investigate. I find him with headphones on, listening to his mp3 player and when I tried to see what he was listening to, he blocked me, stopping playback. This was an immediate red flag, so I confiscated his mp3 player so I could listen to what he was listening to and what I found was disturbing, there was a lot of hateful speech, particularly homophobia and profanity.

I’m not sure whether he understands these words or not, these were videogame stream audio, however, I do not want him to be listening to this sort of intolerance and hate speech. Clearly, the wife and I need to do a better job of monitoring his activities, we do not believe or want our kids to be hateful, we believe in and want to teach inclusion for all, regardless of whether we agree or not with their lifestyle.


FA CUP: Liverpool 0 – 0 Plymouth Argyle

Liverpool V Plymouth Argyle, FA Cup 2017

It’s been many years since I wrote about domestic football on my blog, but it’s not every day that the two teams I support play each other, being three leagues apart. The last time my hometown team Plymouth Argyle and Liverpool met was in 1962 at Home Park when both clubs were in the old Division 2.

I have to admit that I expected Liverpool to win the game easily, even with Klopp’s young inexperienced team. But the first half gave me some hope that the Pilgrims could force a draw and earn a replay at Home Park. The home side, Liverpool had more than 80% of the possession, however, Argyle repelled all of Liverpool’s attacks and had a little luck with Origi’s goal being disallowed for a foul on Miller.

Clearly buoyed by the 0 – 0 scoreline at half-time, the Pilgrims pushed forward and even had a couple of chances on goal. The Liverpool manager decided to bring on Sturridge in the 63rd minute and Firmino and Lallana in the 74th minute. This put more pressure on my hometown team, but amazingly, Argyle held firm, throwing bodies in front of the ball while goalkeeper McCormick made some crucial claims.

When the 90 minutes were up; the fourth official held up a board that said six minutes of added time. These were some the nerviest minutes of my life. Before the game, I was unsure which side I would be rooting for; or whether I would be neutral; in those six minutes, it was very clear that Argyle was the team I was 100% behind. Thankfully, Plymouth blocked every attack and to Home Park we go for the replay.

I believe that Red’s manager Jurgen Klopp underestimated the Pilgrims, expecting the fourth tier club to crumble under pressure. Obviously, this did not happen, Argyle kept their discipline and shape despite the heavy pressure from the Reds. Speaking as a Liverpool fan, I think this has been an issue for Klopp’s Liverpool which has cost them points as proven by the 2 – 2 draws with Sunderland and West Ham.

I have to give a big shout out to the 8,500+ Pilgrims that traveled the 300 miles to Liverpool. I believe the visiting fans were louder than 45,000+ home fans, I’m sure the Argyle players really appreciated their vocal support and drove them on to get the result; which of course was to come away with a draw.

So it’s back to Home Park we go for the FA Cup 3rd round replay and man, how I wish I was back in Plymouth right now to see the Pilgrims host Liverpool. But sadly living in America, being more than 24 hours and thousands of dollars of travel away, I’ll just have to hope it’s shown on US TV.


Review: LG Electronics V20 Smartphone

LG V20 Smartphone

While standing in a T-Mobile store buying a new phone for my wife, I also ended up upgrading my LG V10 to the latest and greatest from LG, the V20. I was happy with my V10; however, as I was on JUMP! from T-Mobile and had not utilized the upgrade option, making the upgrade to the V20 made sense.

The LG V20 has the same basic functionality as it’s predecessor. The V20 has the same 5.7″ IPS QHD display with an auxiliary screen for displaying notifications, which appears brighter and clearer despite the resolution remaining the same as the V10 at 160 x 1040 pixels, however, the IPS light bleed is gone.

The CPU and GPU have been upgraded as you’d expect; the LG V20 sports a Snapdragon 820, 2.15Ghz with an Adreno 530 GPU. The V20 performance seems to be the same to me; I notice no speed increase in my day to day use compared to the V10. I do find it interesting that LG elected to move from the hexacore 808 to the quad core 820 processor; even if the overall clock speeds have increased.

The big selling point of the V20 is its photo and video functionality. And in general, I don’t see much difference from the V10; image quality is excellent with good sharpness and detail at low ISO settings, but gets noisy quickly when the ISO is pushed into the 600-800 range, i.e. indoor and lower light shots.

The biggest difference is the camera itself, the dual lens front “selfie” camera has been moved to the rear offering a 16 megapixel sensor with 29mm F/1.8 and 12mm F/2.4 lenses with optical image stabilization, while the front camera maintains it’s wide angle functionality despite having a single 5 megapixel sensor.

I took a selection of photos of my kids and wildlife at the Sedgwick County Zoo and image quality is good for static objects. However, capturing moving objects is very hard as the resulting images have significant motion blur. I do like the ultra-wide 12mm lens, it appears as wide as my Canon EF-S 10-22mm USM lens. I could use the LG V20 in a pinch for real estate photography as rooms tend to be static by nature.

Video recording seems to be on par with that of the V10; the imagery is sharp with good contrast and color using auto exposure mode. However, I believe the auto-focus mechanism to be too sensitive, it does not take much to get the camera to pull focus from the subject making the video blurry for a few seconds.

The camera has options for 4K, 1080p 60 fps, 1080p 30 fps and 720p 30 fps and does have a plethora of manual video settings for those creative types. However, on a cell phone I prefer the point and shoot experience, pull it out of my pocket and hit record, if I was doing serious videography I would use my Canon EOS 80D. I would suggest that the majority of cell phone users use the automatic modes.

Audio is still great with the same Hi-Fi DAC with headphones plugged in. However, unlike the V10; it does not stop playback if it deems that I have the volume set too high. I can play my music as loud as the device allows without interruption on the V20, which makes me immensely happy, to say the least.

Battery life has been hit or miss; I’ve had the V20 on battery for 14+ hours with 40% remaining. The next day, it barely managed 6 hours with similar usage to the previous 14 hour day. Another evening, I put the phone down with almost 50% battery life and left it for about 90 minutes before noticing the secondary display was off. I found that the battery had drained completely in that short time period without use.

For the record, I set my screen brightness to 50% and have all the same apps as I did on my V10. I don’t tend to install apps on a regular basis, I have my core apps and that’s it. I know I could use auto-brightness to conserve battery, but that does not work well for me, it tends to be too dark to my eye in most situations. I also used 50% brightness on my V10 and got more than 24 hours usage every day.

Ergonomically, not much has changed from the V10; with the exception of the volume buttons being moved from the back to the left-hand side. I do like my volume rocker on the side instead of the back, however, the power button/fingerprint scanner remains on the back. I’d prefer the fingerprint scanner to either be on the side or the front, so I don’t need to physically pick up the phone to unlock it.

Android 7.0 (Nougat) is pre-installed on the phone, which seems very much the same as 6.0 just with added security features. Finally, the charging input is USB 2.0 Type-C, which is great from my point of view, my family can not steal my fast charger anymore as they all have microUSB 2.0 chargers.

Would I recommend the LG V20? If it’s a brand new purchase and not an upgrade from the V10; I’d recommend it. However, if you already own a V10; save your money and keep it for another year. In my opinion, the V20 is not a big enough jump from the V10 to justify the hefty price tag of the LG V20.


Review: Mayflower Electronics O2 ODAC/Headphone Amplifier

Mayflower Electronics Objective 2 ODAC/Headphone Amplifier

Mayflower Electronics is a small US based company that handmake affordable “audiophile” equipment for connection to PC computers. I have been following the company through some of my favorite tech YouTubers and I’ve wanted one of their ODAC/headphone amplifiers for some time, but always talked myself out of buying one; there was always something more important to spend my money on. But, thanks to my mother-in-law buying me one for Christmas, I now have an O2 sat under my monitor.

The O2 did not come in a pretty box with glossy photos, but a standard USPS box with all the parts packaged inside. Inside the box was a power brick, high-quality USB to mini-USB cable and the Objective 2 itself. Setup was as simple as plugging in the USB, power brick and powering on, Windows 10 instantly found the O2 without a restart, I changed the audio output from the system tray and played some tunes.

The Mayflower Electronics Objective 2 is roughly 4.3″ (w) x 1.25″ (h) x 3.4″ (d) in size, made entirely of metal with four non-slip rubber feet on the bottom and is surprisingly heavy for such a small device. On the front panel of the unit, there is a power switch, 1/4″ headphone jack, red power LED, volume knob, gain switch and 1/8″ input jack while on the back there is a mini-USB input and DC power input.

I am using a pair of JVC HA-RX900 with the Objective 2 which produces a neutral sound with little to no colorization. However, I prefer a little colorization of my audio. I am using Equalizer APO with the PEACE GUI to customize the EQ curve to my liking. No complaints about the O2’s ability to drive my HA-RX900 cans, the volume is ear-bleedingly loud without the gain switch activated at 100% Windows volume.

I have personally set my Windows volume to 60%, activated the gain switch and run the Objective 2 at about 2/3 volume, which is about the maximum comfortable listening level for me. Although I am a former live sound technician, I don’t buy into the elitist “audiophile” mentality. What sounds good is subjective at best, what sounds good for one person may sound terrible to another person.

Clearly, I would recommend the Mayflower Objective 2 ODAC/Amp, the question is how important is high-quality headphone sound to you? if the sound you hear from your onboard/internal soundcard is adequate for you, don’t buy the O2. However, if you want to hear audio in a new light, get an O2 ODAC/Amp, the difference in audio quality is amazing, punchier bass, fuller mids and crisper highs.

I’ve been rediscovering my music since hooking up the Mayflower Electronics Objective 2. I have been noticing new elements in songs that I’ve heard a thousand times, bringing new life to my music collection.