$77,391.48 Of New Debt And Zero Money To Pay It Off!

New $77,391.48 Debt, I feel Hopeless!

Our story of debt has been long and well documented on my blog. I did have a plan to get everything paid off by the next, 2020 tax refund, then possibly use the 2021 tax refund to put down a deposit on a house, to finally get on the property ladder. That is now not going to happen, with this added $77,391.48 of student loan debt that my wife has accrued over the past 8 years. We cannot afford to make a $644.93 payment for the next 10 years, right now, we have $68.06 remaining in our checking account, with eight more days until the next payday, more than likely having to lean on a credit card to make it to next Friday.

I’m going to be honest and say that my relationship with my wife is severely strained right now. The majority of my debt is debt that I took on, getting personal loans to cover my wife’s credit card debt as her Discover card payment was out of control, each minimum payment was over 90% interest. The idea was to consolidate all the debt into a single payment, but one year later, in addition to the loan payment of $304.30, we have amassed another $9,615.89 in credit card debt, and I feel like there is no hope!

I am truly at the point where I feel I need to split from my wife, live as cheaply as I can, so I can get myself out of the $18,782.78 of debt I am personally liable for. I love my wife dearly, but these constant financial struggles and debt issues are having a very negative effect on me, personally and my relationship with my wife, and dare I say the kids feel the negativity too, this volatile situation is no good for anyone.

Moving back to the new $77,391.48 of Erin’s student debt, she has been working on this bachelor’s degree for six years, before seemingly giving up on it in 2018, and now the forbearance on the loan has expired, and she is on the hook for almost $80,000 of debt with a monthly payment of $645. And you know the worst thing, Erin has accrued all this debt and still does not have a degree, and with her deteriorating health is unlikely to ever earn enough income to cover these loan repayments.

I know that wage garnishment is likely, and any future tax refunds will be garnished. The only question is, can they garnish my income? as I did not sign anything personally in relation to Erin’s student loan.

Wage garnishment in Kansas is 15% of your disposable income for student loans in default. I thought that disposable income would be what you have leftover after paying all your bills. But, no, disposable income is considered anything left over after the government has taken their cut, i.e. taxes, social security, and Medicare, so in the simplest of terms, 100% of our net income is considered disposable income.

I think that I have answered my own question in regard to my liability for Erin’s student debt, I am not liable for her debt, unless I cosigned, which I did not. The only exception to this is if I lived in a community property or marital property state, which Kansas is not one of, at least not currently. If we moved to Texas, my wife’s home state, like Erin wanted to, I would be on the hook for the debt as much as Erin would be.

I have until the end of March to decide whether I want to renew our lease on the house we currently live in. The only decision is, do I stick with my wife, try to work through this together or do I split from her, to get myself in a better financial place for my own mental wellbeing, and work out a custody agreement for our kids. On this day, I don’t know which way I will turn, when that fork in the road comes.

Pixel 4 XL for Live Music Photography

Korn, 2020/02/16

I attended my first live gig since buying the Pixel 4 XL last Sunday, and the PIxel 4 was kinda hit or miss, I got some great photos, but the majority of them were blurry, the autofocus system, simply could not keep up with the flashing and moving lights, even when manually focusing on a member of the band.

My biggest annoyance was the zoom resetting every time I left the camera app and put the Pixel 4 in my pocket. It would reset back to the widest angle lens, which meant I missed a lot of shots, while I recomposed my shot. I could double-tap the screen to get back to 2x zoom relatively easily, but zooming past 2 times to 3 or 4 times was hard because of the zoom element onscreen being super sensitive.

Additionally, every time the camera app was launched, regardless of the previous setting, it would revert to the default camera mode. Delaying my next shot further while switching back to night sight mode.

Focus issues were the theme of the evening, the only times I could get a properly focused shot was when the lighting was static or not crossing the focus target, usually a member of the band. Of the 45 shots I took, half dozen were good. Some photos had horrific ghosting issues with the stage lighting being reflected in the lens, doubling, or ghosting the number of lights in the photograph, see below.

Korn, 2020/02/16, Ghosted Lights

Below is an example of a blurry, noisy shot caused by the Pixel 4 XL camera software reverting to the default camera mode, despite previously being set to use night sight mode.

Korn 2020/02/16 Blurry, Noisy Shot

I’m assuming that if I was closer to the stage, where much of the lighting would be going above the camera lens, the Pixel 4 would be able to better focus, taking sharper images. I shall reserve judgment on that for now, but from a medium distance live photography perspective, the Pixel AI misses the mark somewhat, seeming to get confused when there is a lot of fast-moving elements in the scene.

Google My Business; Dealing With Fake Reviews Is Hit Or Miss.

Google My Business, Support, Hit or Miss?

I work as a digital marketing specialist for a local property management company, which means I deal with Google a lot, and I find myself extremely disappointed with the lack of business friendliness. First of all, getting hold of someone at Google, on a scale of 1 to 10 is a 6 or 7, their product forums are a joke, I rarely find a thread, even remotely helpful, I found the best way to reach them is via Twitter.

Onto the background story, we have been having an issue with a former employee posting multiple 1-star reviews, some with review text, some without, some that are outright libelous. The first time I reached out to Google My Business on Twitter, after giving up on the product forum, the person I was conversing with, Liz escalated my case, and, of the 13 reviews, what I believed to be fake, 10 were removed.

Last week, I performed the same action for the latest batch of, again, what I consider to be fake reviews, one reviewer was even pissed that their previous review was removed. This time, a different Google My Business representative, Amie, responded after two days and said the following;

Thanks for reaching out! Our guidelines do allow users to leave a star rating without any text. Therefore, the review in question does not violate our policies and cannot be removed. Keep in mind, users are not required to use a real name when leaving reviews, so you may not recognize the name.

This looks like a stock canned response, without any escalation, anyway, Amie continued on to say;

Responding to reviews can help future customers see your approach to customer service and know that you actively reach out to resolve any issues.

We already do this, responding with something like, “we are unable to locate your name in our customer database, if you use a different name online, we’d like to learn more, please reach out to our corporate office on [phone number]…”, you know how many people reach out? exactly zero, none, nada…

So, the bottom line here, is, with Google My Business support, it depends on the representative you get, sometimes, you’ll get excellent service, from Liz, but a canned response from Amie.

To make it clear, I don’t report just bad reviews, I have also reported a number of 5-star reviews, which I knew were fake. There were some 1-star reviews that were posted by people, who also had reviewed other businesses with a mixture of star ratings, which I did not report. All the reviews I reported were the first and only review that user had made and one where they were upset a previous review was removed.

Some times, I read a review and I know it’s genuine, the only response is “We’re sorry”, we make mistakes, we’re human, we put our hands up and admit our mistake, and try to make amends. This is not about removing negative reviews, it’s about protecting our brands from unfair, often libelous reviews.

My issue is this; individuals can post whatever they want, seemingly without consequence, what some might call free speech, doing untold damage to a company. A good example of this is former residents that were evicted for a variety of reasons, being butt hurt, so they write a libelous review, and because of the anonymity of the Internet, no consequence for them, while our business suffers a drop in business.

Trump ‘Acquitted’ by Senate Republicans in Sham Impeachment Trial

Trump Impeachment Trial, Refuses To Convict

Today marks a dark day in American history where a partisan senate “acquitted”, or more accurately “refused to convict” on both articles of impeachment, sent over from the House of Representatives, despite the avalanche of evidence from the House inquiry before the turn of the decade.

The House Democrats have a lot to answer for as well, Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi failed to send articles of impeachment for Trump’s actual crimes, using the office of the President to withhold funds, then the quid pro quo, withholding the congressionally approved funds to get the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelensky to announce an investigation into Joe Biden’s son, Hunter, to benefit Trump’s re-election when he believed that former VP, Joe Biden was going to be his challenger in 2020.

Not to mention Pelosi’s failure to add articles for emoluments violations and the half dozen impeachable offenses in the Mueller report. Which, I believe was a deliberate action as Pelosi is weak and did not want to impeach Trump, she said many times before the Ukraine incident, that the voters should decide.

The lack of specificity in the articles of impeachment that were sent to the Senate allowed the Republicans a way out as there were no specific crimes listed. Abuse of power and obstruction of Congress is incredibly vague. The Senate Republicans are a national disgrace, firstly, not allowing witnesses and documents to be included in the, what we laughingly call, Senate trial, then voting down party lines, save, Mitt Romney, who voted to remove the President for abuse of power, to acquit President Trump.

So the vote went as expected, ARTICLE I: ABUSE OF POWER, 52 – 48 down party lines, except for Romney, who joined Democrats in voting for removal. And ARTICLE II: OBSTRUCTION OF CONGRESS, 53 – 47, with all Republicans voting not guilty. What does this mean? the Senate says Presidents are above the law.

Before the Trump era, Republicans at least tried to hide their corruption, now they basically say, yes, we’re corrupt, what are you going to do about it? Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell openly said he was working with The White House on the impeachment trial. In what world does a juror, which is what Senators are supposed to be, collude with the defendant? And, this sham trial, goes to show that Congress doesn’t represent the people, they represent their own interests and their donor’s interests.

So, we are back to what Nancy Pelosi wanted, for the voters to decide. Twenty Republicans are up for reelection in the 2020 election year, the people need to make their voices clear, “we will not allow Senators to actively cover up President Trump’s criminality”. The following Senators are up for reelection;

  • Martha McSally (AZ)
  • Cory Gardner (CO)
  • Kelly Loeffler (GA)
  • David Perdue (GA)
  • Joni Ernst (IA)
  • Mitch McConnell (KY)
  • Susan Collins (ME)
  • Cindy Hyde-Smith (MS)
  • Steve Daines (MT)
  • Thom Tillis (NC)
  • John Cornyn (TX)
  • Dan Sullivan (AK)
  • Tom Cotton (AR)
  • Jim Risch (ID)
  • Bill Cassidy (LA)
  • Ben Sasse (NE)
  • Jim Inhofe (OK)
  • Lindsey Graham (SC)
  • Mike Rounds (SD)
  • Shelley Capito (WV)

I truly hope, for the sake of all Americans, even the ones that vote Republican, against their own interests, that we can flip the Senate blue, with a good majority, else, should we have a President Sanders, nothing will get done, just like the Obama presidency where Leader McConnell and his band of criminals obstructed the president, going as far as blocking Obama’s Supreme Court pick for a whole year.

“On Track To Graduate”, while I see an F & Two D’s In His Grade Book

State Legislature & School Districts Are Failing Our Kids

The wife and I went to our son’s annual IEP meeting at West High School, and I find it concerning that a minimum passing grade to graduate seems to be all they are concerned about, with the IEP manager starting the meeting by saying “Conner is on track to graduate”, following that up with “he puts in the minimum effort to get a passing grade”, that passing grade being a D, that’s just 60 points out of 100.

As outlined before in my post about Conner stealing old phones from myself and his grandmother in the past year, and using them in class, connecting to the school’s WiFi network as the phones obviously did not have service. Again, it concerns me that, 1) he is allowed to have a cellphone in class, and 2) that they don’t notify us as parents that he is using a phone in class, instead of completing his assigned work.

It’s insane that students are not forced to keep electronic devices in their locker, as to not be a distraction in class. Especially, in today’s world where everything is Internet-connected and kids being obsessed with social and streaming media. I would support a move where teachers can confiscate such devices if it’s being used in class, requiring a parent to pick up the device from the school office at the end of the day.

Unfortunately, this is who our son is; he tried to justify his stealing, “as it wasn’t being used, I thought it was fine to take the phone”. He wrote an apology to his grandmother, which was “me, me, me”, not an apology in any way, shape or form. Writing about the personal consequences of his actions, rather than saying sorry for stealing from his grandmother, he does not have a single thought about other’s feelings.

And, doing the bare minimum possible is his mantra in everything he does. For example, when we ask him to do the dishes, he’ll refuse to rinse plates, putting the dishes straight into the dishwasher, and 1/4 of the time, not put a tablet into the dishwasher, meaning I have to do the dishes a second time.

I was not so concerned in previous years, thinking “he’ll snap out of it”, but he’ll be 16 this August, and if anything, this minimum effort, self-entitlement attitude has gotten worse. I fear for his future in the workplace, the employee pool is huge, and employers won’t keep someone who is not putting in their best effort. This is doubly troubling when autistic adults have a less than 20% employment rate already.

The bottom line, I think the Wichita Unified School District is failing our children, allowing our kids to basically do what they want in class, using phones and tablets, when they should be learning. I can’t speak for other parents, but when I see multiple D’s and F’s at any given time during the school year on our son’s grade book, I can’t just accept it. Part of it is on our son, but an equal part is teachers and staff failing our son, while keeping us, as parents out of the loop, until halfway through the school year.

To expand, this is a systematic problem, maybe, if our schools were funded properly by state legislatures, schools would not have such low expectations for their students. This is a big problem in Kansas, which is still suffering from the fallout from Gov. Sam Brownback’s tenure with block grants and the debunked trickle-down economics theory. Of course, lesser-educated kids are easier to control, knowledge is power.

Six Weeks Living With The Pixel 4 XL!

Pixel 4 Six Week Review

Six weeks ago, I received my new Pixel 4 XL; and despite the lack of 3.5mm headphone jack, fingerprint scanner, and replaceable battery, I find myself extremely happy with Google’s latest and greatest overall.

Despite it’s bigger screen size, compared to my LG V20, the Pixel 4 XL has an overall smaller footprint, which, for me, is a little too large to use comfortably one-handed, I wanted the XL version, so that’s an observation, not a complaint. I recommend a case for the Pixel 4 XL, it’s a slippery device with glass on the front and back, I bought a Tech 21 Evo Check case, which makes the device slightly bulkier, but it feels more secure in my hand, without a case, I felt I needed to handle it with kid gloves constantly.

Initially, I enabled the on-screen navigation buttons, disabling gesture-based navigation, but I had to reenable the gesture navigation as I could not use continuing conversation with the on-screen buttons. And, after taking a day to get used to it, the gesture-based navigation is quite intuitive, and I cannot imagine going back to the traditional on-screen buttons, but the option is there for those who prefer it.

Although I do lament the omission of a 3.5mm headphone jack, using a USB-C to 3.5mm jack adapter does allow me to use my favorite pair of earbuds. And, the sound is fantastic, good clarity overall, meaty midrange and clear highs with the lower frequencies being punchy, if not the deepest bass I’ve heard through my 4-year-old earbuds, and the volume is adequate for most situations with zero distortion. The main downside to this USB-C adapter arrangement is that I cannot charge and listen at the same time.

The camera, the reason I bought a Pixel this time, is surprisingly good, even without manual exposure control. Google’s AI photography is excellent in most situations, even when zooming past the optical 2x lens. The AI does a good job of reducing the blockiness you’d associate with digital zoom, although I’d rather move closer and use the 2x lenses for better clarity, it’s good, but not the same as optical zoom. I do however wish that Google would allow shooting in 3:2, in addition to 4:3 and 16:9 aspect ratios.

Photos get backed up to the cloud, i.e. Google Photos in high quality, not original quality like previous Pixel’s, but, I can live with that. The quality offered by Google Photos is high enough to keep me happy. I am a professional photographer, so I would never use a phone for my professional work, I’d use my Canon 5DmkIV or 6DmkII for that, so the high-quality backup from the Pixel 4 is great for me.

Video is the Pixel 4’s weak point, it’s fine for capturing family events and casual video, but this is not a filmmaker’s phone despite 4K30 recording. I recorded a 1080p60 video of my daughter singing in her recital, and the video seemed a little soft and grainy, in good indoor lighting. But, the worst part is the audio recording, it sounded muffled like all the higher frequencies had been rolled off. I could recover it in post-production, but straight out of the phone, it’s terrible while listening through full-range speakers.

The Google Assistant is amazing, it understands my UK westcountry ‘farmer’ accent just fine, rarely misunderstanding me, which is a massive improvement over the Google Assistant in my old LG V20. I feel like I can actually use the assistant to send text messages and initiate phone calls now without sending gobbledegook or calling someone, other than the intended person. The only inconsistency is sometimes, the response will be silent, instead of verbal confirmation, which could be a problem while driving.

Battery life, which seems to be a bone of contention for many reviewers of the Pixel 4 XL, for me, is fine. I’m no power user, by any stretch of the imagination, but in my use, I easily get two full days, with 15 to 25% remaining at the end of day 2. My average screen on time is 1 1/2 to 2 hours a day, sending texts, Email, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube viewing, and of course, phone calls, maybe 10 to 25 minutes a day.

Being a Google device, phone and security updates are frequent, in the six weeks, I’ve had the device, the Pixel 4 XL has updated twice, once mid-December and again, today, with a security patch update dated 1/1/2020. That said, both times I had to manually check for updates, I didn’t get a notification that a new update was available, but that might be a setting I have not enabled on the device.

After six weeks, I would definitely recommend a Pixel 4 XL; if that changes, I will update this review.

OMFG! Finally, A Breakthrough With My Son


Another blog about my 15-year-old son, Conner, but this time, it’s a positive story, and the wife and I feel so much lighter, mentally. Why do we feel mentally lighter, you ask? Well, we finally made a breakthrough yesterday in regards to why our son continuously struggles with his school grades.

Conner refuses to talk to us about anything, he is so secretive, trying to get any information out of him, is like trying to get blood from a stone, I feel like I know our cat better than I do our son. Last night while trying to prise information out of him, it occurred to me that all these issues with behavior and grades began in the transition from elementary to middle school. So I asked the question “what changed between elementary and middle school?” and bingo, he suddenly opened up, saying the following.

“In elementary, I only had one class, but when I went to middle school, there were suddenly lots of different classes in different rooms, with different teachers.”, he said. Which, makes perfect sense, as his autism diagnosis stated he has issues with transitioning. We further probed him to find out that he has a hard time letting go of the previous class/subject because he feels he hasn’t completed the work, which is massively detrimental to his next class/subject, as his mind is still on the previous class/subject.

Now, we feel like we have something to work with; we just wish he had said something 5 years ago, while in his first year of middle school, instead of keeping it inside. We have an IEP meeting at his school on January 22, 2020, we will be discussing this new discovery with his teachers and will advocate massively for him to get him the help he needs, even if we have to go directly to the Wichita school district.

We hope that this discovery and a better IEP plan for him in school will also curb the lying, cheating and stealing we have experienced in the past 18 months. Of course, knowing this new information about Conner’s struggles in school does not excuse his recent behaviors, stealing from his family and the consistent lying is not acceptable, he knows right from wrong. We’re also looking at out of school therapy for these behaviors, talking with a psychologist might help turn around these dishonest behaviors.

I’m going to be taking more of a backseat, letting his mother and grandmother take a more prominent role in his life, dealing with these behaviors. As, although I discuss consequential actions with my wife, I’m always the one to hand down the punishment, which I believe has caused Conner to resent me as an authoritarian figure. I will take a tech support role moving forward, as a smartphone is back on the table. We want parental control software installed on it, so we can track his usage and limit the hours of use. However, if he disables the tracking, or breaks the rules of usage, he will lose it for a short period of time.

There still has to be consequences, it would be a bad example if his actions have zero consequences, positive or negative, As an example of a positive consequence, I unblocked his ROKU from the network, so he can use Netflix, Hulu, Spotify, etc again because he opened up to us about his school struggles. Obviously, even with changes made to his IEP, he still has to put in the extra work to get his grades to where they need to be, which includes taking advantage of the extra 24 hours he has to hand work in.

After 5 years of negativity from him, it’s nice to see him actually smile, albeit briefly, let’s build on that!

My Son: The Thief & A Liar

My son, the serial thief and liar

Apparently, it’s my fault that my 15-year-old son is a thief and a liar, that is what Conner, my son claims, another example of this bullshit entitlement attitude he has, nothing is ever his fault!

Just 15 days ago, on Christmas eve, he got busted for stealing a phone from his grandmother’s house, a phone that we had planned to give him as a surprise on Christmas Day, despite his shitty behavior, attitude and poor grades throughout 2019. If he was honest and worked hard to improve his situation, I would not have to be writing this today, or any of the previous blogs about his self-entitled attitude.

Last night, I was in my router administration panel, when I noticed a ‘Samsung Android Device” connected to my network that I did not recognize. I immediately blocked the device from accessing my network and confronted our son, Conner this morning about it. I could see on his face that he knew he had been busted (again), so he immediately handed over the phone, which I discovered to be another one of his grandmother’s phones, her old Galaxy S4, which she recently replaced with a Galaxy S10e.

I’m kinda annoyed with my mother-in-law because she discovered the phone missing a few days ago, and did not say anything to us, despite what happened 2 weeks earlier. She must have known who took it, there is no-one else with access to her house to take it. Clearly, Conner has no remorse or respect for us, the fact that after being busted for stealing one phone, 3 days later, he stole another phone, on the 27th of December. We are at a loss as to why he continues to steal from us, he’s been busted four times.

Here’s Conner’s logic as to why it is my fault, in September 2018, I threw out his Android tablet as he had repeatedly been breaking the rules we set out for him, using the device outside of allowed hours, into the early hours of the morning, as late as 4am. Conner claims that I made him a thief and a liar because I threw out his tablet, and he could not say goodbye to his online friends. Of course, I call bullshit, he had plenty of time to say goodbye when he stole my old Galaxy S4 some time between losing the tablet, which was only loaned to him and March 2019, when he got busted for using my Galaxy S4 in school.

I feel he has zero respect for myself, my wife, his grandmother or his sister, as once is a mistake, twice is unfortunate, but four times is a pattern. Let’s call him what he is; a thief, and a liar. He has been lying to us for years before I disposed of the tablet. He seems to have this entitlement attitude, which he believes justifies stealing from his family. After he got busted today, he tried to justify his action by saying “it was an old phone MiMi was not using”, personal accountability does not seem to exist in his world.

The reason I feel he doesn’t care about anyone but himself is that, despite me saying “if you were smart, you would not connect to the home Wi-Fi where you know I can see all devices connected”, after the last time. The first time this stolen Galaxy S4 was connected to the network was December 28, 2019 and had transferred 29.9GB of data in that timeframe. Clearly, he knew the jig was up, as when he handed the phone back, he had wiped the device clean, once he could no longer access the home network.

I’m done with the boy, if I could, I would sling him out of the door, today! I don’t want a thief and a liar living under my roof, on my dime. Clearly, he is too far gone, he doesn’t even attempt to show any remorse, instead, he looks at us with disdain when he gets caught red-handed. It’s a harsh world out there, when I can legally throw him out, he will realize how good he actually had it with us.

Goodbye Corsair K70 MK.2, Hello Steelseries Apex 7

Steelseries Apex Pro

I’ll start with why I switched from Corsair to Steelseries for my keyboard needs. Despite the K70 MK.2 costing close to $200 including tax, it, at least the specific Corsair K70 MK.2 I have, has been beset with problems, within a few months of purchase. Within just 2 months, the LED’s started failing, not holding their color. I keep my backlighting set to white, but some keys had a yellow tint, others a blue tint, and some with less brightness than others, despite all keys being set to the same #FFFFFF white color.

Although annoying, I could live with the color shift of certain LED’s, it was the locking up of the keyboard randomly, that forced me to switch to Steelseries. Literally, sometimes while typing, the keyboard would stop registering keystrokes, the backlight remained on, however, the keyboard was not registering input. Initially, I thought that maybe I had a bad USB port on my motherboard, but after switching to multiple USB ports, both USB2 and USB3, the lights were now off, but still no input from the keys.

The only way I could get the K70 MK.2 to come back to life was to reboot my PC, then switch USB ports. If I just powered down my computer, the lights on the K70 MK.2 would remain on despite my computer being soft powered off, meaning I had to unplug both USB cables or flip the switch on the PSU to off.

The K70 MK.2 locking up is seemingly random, sometimes it’ll do it while typing, 2 to 3 times a day, or it will have stopped responding after it had been sitting idle for a few hours, or after a remote desktop session, connecting to my PC from another PC, then it will be fine for a few days, before locking up again.

I researched the issue online and it seems to be a problem with a number of Corsair keyboard models, going back about 3 years. The stock response from Corsair via their forums is to update USB drivers, iCue, keyboard firmware, and BIOS, I did all four of those things and the problem persists. I even disabled “USB Selective Suspend” in Windows 10 power options, which was another suggestion from Corsair via their forum, again, that did not resolve the issue of the K70 MK.2 locking up/stopping responding.

The final straw was the USB passthrough on the K70 MK.2 failing 2 weeks before I finally replaced it with the Steelseries Apex 7. No amount of USB input switching fixed the onboard USB passthrough issue.

After previously owning a Corsair Strafe RGB keyboard, which had a failure of seven keys on the bottom left of the keyboard after 2 years, in addition to the problems with the K70 MK.2, I was not going to give Corsair any more of my hard-earned money. So, I did some research and found the Steelseries Apex 7.

My first impressions of the Steelseries Apex 7, red switch version. Like the Corsair K70 MK.2 it replaced, it has a solid aluminum plate with surface mounted switches and raised keycaps. The keycaps themselves have a soft touch feel, with good lighting shining through them, although, the LED’s are not able to produce pure white, having a very slight aqua blue tint, but this seems to be par for the course for lighting on all RGB devices, the K70 MK.2, my Asus motherboard, and GPU have the same issue producing white.

There is a small OLED display above the 10-key pad, which I feel is a gimmick, but also kinda cool, working with certain apps and games, I doubt I will ever use it other than to display a logo, which can be customized with your own logo in the free downloadable Steelseries Engine software. To the right of the display is a clickable roller, which allows for menu navigation, and media controls, volume (roll), mute (click), and button allows for media play/pause (1 click), next track (2 clicks), and previous track (3 clicks).

The fixed USB cable is routable through left, center and right channels for better cable management. On the rear of the Apex 7 is a backlit USB passthrough port, which I use for my wireless headset dongle, which helps with reducing electrical interference, getting the receiver away from my PC tower.

Like everything, it’s not perfect, I have one minor gripe, there is no indicator for CAPS LOCK, NUM LOCK, and SCRL LOCK. Just for one moment, I thought the number pad was not working, some sort of indicator would be useful, maybe the key backlight changing to another color, to signify that those keys are active.

After 24 hours, I am happy with the Apex 7, but only time will tell if that remains the case.

Update [Jan, 1 2020, 21:49]: The CAPS LOCK, NUM LOCK, and SCRL LOCK keys do change color when activated, unfortunately for me, that color is white, which means, as I have chosen whole keyboard white backlighting, I cannot see the color change and I cannot see a way to change it in software.

What the f**k is wrong with this boy?

Parenting Hell

Every Christmas we have some issues with our now 15-year-old son and this year is no different. My mother-in-law was keeping a Tracfone smartphone for him, which she was given by another relative. I told our son that his grandmother has a phone for him back in September, which he could have with service if his grades improved to an average level, no D’s or F’s, something he is very capable of.

My wife and I had recently given up on C or above grades in all subjects, as we’ve had a 5-year battle with poor grades and a lack of effort by our son in correcting those poor grades. Giving him back his video games, which we had previously taken away because of his refusal to put in the effort to correct his grades or accept help to improve his situation, you can read about this in my blog from a few days ago.

We had decided to allow our son to also have the phone with service, so he would have a way to contact us when he stays at home while my wife, daughter and I go out, as he often does not want to participate in family activities; and we do not have a landline phone in our home. The plan was to surprise him on Christmas day with the phone, but he had made another bad choice, so this did not happen.

That bad choice was to steal the phone from the drawer in his grandmother’s dresser a month ago. We had tracked it back from Email’s in his linked Google account to November 23, as the first time he used the phone, which was the Saturday after the Friday, he had stayed over at his grandmother’s house.

This is a disturbing pattern of behavior in 2019, in which he stole my old Galaxy S4 from my office desk drawer in February, then later in the year, he stole his 9-year-old sister’s Galaxy tablet, which we thought she had misplaced, and now stealing from his grandmother. We are so incredibly disappointed as we never raised him to steal, he could have most things he wanted if he just pulled his weight in school, we don’t ask much, we want him to achieve all C’s or above, it’s not like we’re asking for straight A’s.

I don’t understand why he does it, he always gets busted, he might get away with it for a month or two, but eventually, I spot a device on my network that shouldn’t be there. In this case, I knew there should not be an LG device connected since I switched to a Pixel 4. When we noticed my mother-in-law’s phone was missing, I logged onto my network and there it was, LgElectr Android listed in connected devices.

I don’t know what he was thinking, the gig was clearly up, but after discovering the phone missing, while at my mother-in-law’s house, we asked him directly about whether he had the phone and he lied to me, his mother and grandmother, promising he did not take it. Which at this point we knew was a lie, either that or he had stolen my old LG V20, which I recently replaced, in either case he was in deep trouble.

The bottom line is he has lost all privileges at home, the Internet is cut off to his room, so no video games, television or streaming media, and no more treats like chips or soda’s, for an indefinite period of time. He is 15 years old, he does not get a pass, he tried the waterworks on his grandmother, which is a common tactic for him, to get out of trouble, I’ve seen it so much over the years, I’m not buying it, I put my foot down and told him to stop with the bullshit, he will have to suck it up and accept his punishment.

I’m seriously concerned with his actions, how long will it be before he starts stealing outside of the family? from friends in school or even from shops, because he feels he is entitled. This is literally what he told us when he got busted for stealing my old Galaxy S4. One thing is for sure, if he continues down this road, I’m not going to bail him out when the police are inevitably involved, due to his entitlement syndrome.