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Bostitch BT200-2 Brad Nailer


A while ago when I was beginning my “I’m a carpenter now” phase, I decided to get a brad nailer, mostly because all those fuckers on TV have them. I went to my favorite source for tool reviews and read an article on nailers. Originally, it was a close call between the Bostitch BT200K-2 (the gun is the BT200, this part number is for the kit—which I think means a case and some “free” brads) and the Ridgid R213BNA. Having experienced the Ridgid WD14500, I wasn’t too keen on the brand, but at the time I figured the dirigible exhaust port would come in handy so I don’t get shot in the fucking face with compressor air. I liked the Bostitch because it had a magnet in the magazine to hold the brads in while the door was open; I figured this would be handy. I chose the Ridgid, but ended up buying the Bostitch because I needed it one weekend and hadn’t had time to order the Ridgid, but the Bostitch was available at my local OSH store. Bostitch can’t be that bad, right, that’s all they do!

My first impression was good. The case is nice, though as usual, they could have wasted a little less space. There’s room for one pack of 2″ brads and one pack of 1″ brads, then a compartment of random brads you’ll never be able to shoot in the gun anyway, because I have a theory that if the “sheet” of brads you stick in this thing is too short, the spring can’t push them into the chamber hard enough and it becomes a crapshoot.

Your gun may end up looking like this after you throw it on the floor and stomp on it a few times.

Your gun may end up looking like this after you throw it on the floor and stomp on it a few times.

Check out the exploded view (also included here). So, on to using it, then. Not having a swivel on the hose connection is not a problem; after all, you can always buy a swivel to put on your hose. The gun is very comfortable to use, but I am always worried about just putting it down, thinking scrap wood combined with something pushing in the safety (which protrudes from 26) could cause it to easily fire. Also, even though it’s not supposed to be a “rapid fire” gun—the kind where you can hold the trigger and just tap the gun on the wood to fire a brad—there have been times where it’s fired a couple in succession.

The adjustable depth control (44) doesn’t seem to do jack and shit. Judging by the tiny size of the adjusting knob, I’d say it’s not even connected to anything. The default depth seems to be “slam into my fucking workpiece”. As other reviews have mentioned, the gun is not very consistent (though I wasn’t stupid enough to buy a “shitty gun” and then use “good brads” with it; I’m sticking to Bostitch brads). It seems that one way you can tell if it actually shot a brad is to watch for sparks flying out of the nozzle—this happens pretty often. Don’t use it near a pool of varnish? I guess? Fucking shit. Anyway, my first project went okay, even though, due to operator error, I’m sure, brads go wherever the fuck they want. Trying to nail 1/2″ plywood into a sheet? Good fucking luck, my friend.

The magazine has a bunch of grooves on it (34). It’s not clear how to load the brads from the manual; it says to “push them all the way to the front”, but if you do that, the heads end up right next to one of the grooves, so I figured instead the heads should go into the grooves (which leaves a bit of room between the magazine’s edge and the tip of the brad). This seems to work for longer brads, but not for the shorter ones for some reason—or maybe the gun just misfired a bunch of times in a row, I don’t know.

When you load a fresh “sheet” of brads, straight out of the pack, there’s really no way to close the magazine door (54) other than slamming the fuck out of it, because of the length that the feeding spring (52) must compress. In my opinion the spring was not sized properly, because when you have very few brads left, it’s not pushing very hard, and many times I’ve found the gun has stopped firing brads only to find three or four left in the magazine that are just not getting pushed into the chamber. The spring should have been much longer, perhaps wrapped around a pulley, so that the relative extension is much less. When the spring does manage to push all the brads into the chamber, you’ll see a little red “indicator” (49) telling you you’re out of brads. Couldn’t make the indicator longer, so I have more than three brads left when I see it? No, thanks, I’d rather find out when I’m on top of a fucking two story ladder.

Then the other day, with the gun in storage for a couple of months in the garage, I went to use it. I opened the magazine to change to longer brads, and the magnet (51) came out with the brads. Nice one, fucktards. God forbid that adhesive be able to take more than 100 Fahrenheit—who the fuck would keep their tool in such a hellish climate? Fuck if I was going to epoxy the fucking thing before I used it, so I pressed down on it and it seemed to stick reasonably well, so I went to use it. I refuse to take the magnet out since it was the only strong point of this model.

Well, at some point the gun starts shooting blanks, and I have to manhandle the magazine open, because the fucking magnet got out of its socket and was travelling up with the brads and just jammed the whole fucking thing. That was annoying, but easy enough to fix once I got the magazine open (which I really had to pry as if I didn’t care if it got destroyed). Then sometime down the line the gun shot a brad and the next one was half-shot; the hammer got jammed sticking out of the tip of the gun with a brad pinched between it and the edge of the magazine. This took quite a bit of time to pry out, and I did mangle some of the plastic bits.


1. Don’t expect anything from anything that costs $100 and has a magnesium body.

2. It’s still better than driving nails by hand—kudos to any one-handed tool, in my book.

I’ll keep using it. Maybe I’ll glue the magnet on; maybe I’ll just chuck it. I bet if I take it out, the brads will feed better because there will be less friction.

Ridgid WD14500 14-Gallon Wet/Dry Vac….


This one was close. From the point of view of a shop vac, it works well. It provides a considerable amount of suction, even from the 2-inch-diameter hose. Sure, you can’t change the direction the exhaust points to, and sure, it’s noisy, even though it has “Scroll Marketing Technology” noise reduction. But the truth is that it’s missing a few critical usability features that 90% of products out there are missing.

Exploded view of the Ridgid WD 14500

Exploded view of the Ridgid WD 14500.

Refer to this exploded view (also included here as a backup). See the castors, #16? Do they look small to you? That’s because they are. Assuming you are trying to vacuum from a dirty place, the tiniest of wood chips will jam one of these wheels. Not only that, but they just set into the mostly hollow feet of the bucket, #13 and #15 (there are two of each). On one of these, the socket into which the caster pivot fits is already worn and that wheel is rubbing up against the foot and effectively jammed. Keep in mind I’ve tossed this thing around a bit, but this means that if you’re trying to carry 14 gallons worth of wet muck over an asphalt driveway (like mine) you won’t be able to (because the wheels are too small) and if you’re carrying that much weight and drop it you can kiss those four feet goodbye.

The clips that hold the motor up to the bucket—#4 (there are two of them)—can be latched with a swift palm-punch. But unlatching them requires a claw hammer. This is completely unnecessary; the detent is just too big. That’s kind of a pain in the ass. Also, it is easy to try to put the top on backwards—there is only one direction in which it will actually fit.

Along those lines:

1. Horrible cord management. There are two tabs on the handle that invite you to roll the cord up there. The plug side has a notch to clip the plug to a piece of the cord. The notch requires too much pressure to latch on, and neither tab turns to release the loop of cord—you have to unroll it. Whatever happend to spring-return cord reels in vacuum cleaners?

2. The way you’re supposed to store the attachments (nozzles) is in a stupid canvas bag on a stupid frame #10 that fits right under the exhaust port. The attachments don’t really fit in there well, especially if you buy another one (it doesn’t come with one that has a brush on it). Oh, and what happens to the storage capacity of a bag when you wrap it partially around a cylinder? Can you guess? Maybe that’s why nothing fits in there.

3. It comes with two rigid tubes and a flexible hose. The rigid tubes are meant to be stored by putting on end of the tube on feet #13. Unfortunately, the end of the tube that fits there is also the end that attaches to the hose, so the free end of the hose has nowhere to go. Trying to wrap the hose around the body of the vac, between the bucket and the tubes, makes the tubes fall off, because the nub on the foot they are meant to stay on isn’t enough to hold them unless you’ve already put the vac away and aren’t going to touch it until you are going to need the tubes anyway.

So unless you are willing to have this thing occupy most of your garage while “put away”, you’ll have to hang several hooks on the walls to hold the hose and tubes, and you’ll likely have to detach the hose from the bucket anyway, because the bend radius is pretty big. Then you may as well hang the cord on the wall, too, since there’s no use for a vacuum without the hose. Feel free to nail the attachment bag to the wall underneath all this shit somwhere. In all, it should only occupy about a 3-foot-wide section of wall and some 3 feet of depth for the unit itself. Who needs that space anyway?

This all sounds pretty negative. But in an uncluttered garage, the thing will suck up garbage and will more-or-less follow where its hose pulls it. So I can’t say it’s all that bad; I just wish designers in general paid more attention to the “minor details” of ownership. I bet they miss these things because the prototyping stage is overlooked; if they built 10 prototypes and took them home for a month they would have been fed up well before we had to be.

Commie—errr—Converter Boxes


Want evidence that Communism doesn’t work? Go buy an HD converter box.

Step 1: lobbyists get enough lobster and champagne into the FCC that they decide there’s definitely better uses for the UHF and VHF bands.

Step 2: some stupid congressperson “fights for the people” and gets the fucking digital converter coupon program started: up to two $40 coupons per household, which must be received before going and buying your converter box.

Step 3: some other joker gets every nearly defunct electronics company, and anyone whose willing and knows what an LED is, to make the boxes.

Step 4: retailers team up with Voxovision and Deloxywave and whoever the fuck else is making these boxes out of whatever parts they find in the janitors’ bins at the end of the day and decide to charge no less than $10 over what the coupon is for.

Result: converter boxes have a maximum of $5 in parts, and cost $50 or more. The government puts in for the huge margin these assholes get. And the boxes are pieces of shit.

I bought a $50 and a $60 at Target. I can’t remember the models, and it doesn’t matter. The $50 one didn’t work at all. The $60 one would freeze after about 3 hours or so.  HD is a lot of fucking data, the electronics are not simple, and this type of “for the people” plan isn’t ever going to work in a free economy.

If you have a tube TV, do yourself a favor: either stop watching it altogether, or give in and get yourself an HD setup.

The TiVo HD: What a Piece of Craptastism


After some four years of successful, albeit it at times frustrating, television viewing with my Series 2 TiVo, a power outtage and then a 70-Volt brown-out finally made it kick the bucket.

For years now the monthly fee just to get TV schedules (everything else TiVo offers is completely useless) has felt like an army of nerdy little crabs have been chewing on my scrotum. So when it died, I decomissioned my mini-ITX experiment, ordered a tuner card, and tried to make a MythTV box (via Mythbuntu). Unfortunately one of the recommended tuners costs almost as much as a TiVo, and knowing Linux I figured something wouldn’t work so I bought a TiVo HD also.

Yeah. What the fuck indeed. I got a few other places you could point those arrows....

Yeah. What the fuck indeed. I got a few other places you could point those arrows....

Thanks, TiVo, for making it impossible to buy a box from your website without bleeding another 50% on top of the monthly fee for the right to “enjoy” more than one TV at home. Luckily Amazon was selling new TiVo’s for about 20% more than the price of the refurbished ones.

This new TiVo is a huge step “forward”, since it has dual tuners (my old one has only one), and, having been developed later, I figured it wouldn’t be slower than mole-asses. Not so. It’s clear the core processor on this turd fucker is the same shit they had in the Series 2. At first, changing channels was even slower than the Series 2 connected via IR emitter to a cable box. I know, how could that be! By the miracles of software it’s sped up since then. I figure the initial setup was consuming 90% of its TI-85 brain and so it couldn’t handle the tuners? I don’t know.

So it’s been a couple of months. In the mean time, my mini-ITX board has the one SiS chip that doesn’t work with the default Linux driver, and evidently the Intel version of the driver likes to fuck the newest version of Xorg in the shit. Eventually I realized I’d need a new board anyway, because I have an old tube TV and this board doesn’t have a TV out, and, apparently, it requires a chip that was optional (even though I’ve never seen that version of the D201GLY2 offered anywhere). Sure, I could just give up and buy an HD TV, but I doubt the board can handle it and hell if I’m going to pay those dick-lickers at Charter for the HD version of the shit they feed me. And I can’t get anything here with a set-top antenna so fuck it all to hell. I still want to finish a MythTV box, but I have better things to spend money on than new computer parts when I already have two carcasses (the mini-fucker and the power-hungry-mother-fucker) here.

Once already the TiVo has gone black. I know it’s not the signal, it just gets stuck. So I had to flip channels around to unstick it, but because it has dual tuners, you have to force one of the tuners to record something random so you can flip around with the other one, too. What if it does this while it’s recording a show that you actually want to see? Well my friends, you are fucked in the shit, because if you flip to the channel that is recording it will switch to that tuner.

Then one Thursday—one of the two weekdays where three of the five shows I record are on—the TiVo couldn’t get past the first half second or so of video in either tuner, and required a reboot. So all those shows were missed. Then when it comes to the off-season, it’s really hard to justify having the fucking thing. Maybe I should get rid of it, wait two years and just Netflix everything.

Speaking of Netflix. I bought the Roku box. Hot damn is that thing good. It’s tiny, has a small AC adapter, and is completely painless. I bought it because I had previously bought their music streamer and found that nearly flawless, too. Anyway, setup is easy, and when you’re watching TV shows, it defaults to going to the next episode after the one you last watched as you’re browsing through the list. Great for stuff like the A-Team, because I don’t pay attention to the titles anyway, and 10 minutes after watching an episode I have no fucking clue what it was about.

Anyway, I bought the Roku box before the old TiVo died, so now all of a sudden with the TiVo HD I could also stream from Netflix—what a great chance to do a comparison.

For starters, the dick wankers over at TiVo didn’t bother making a 4:3 version of the Netflix menu screen. Also, it took me a while to find where the hell it was, because it’s not under “downloadable shit”, it’s under “now playing, or, now you better hope I didn’t fuck it up when I recorded it”. As opposed to Roku’s neat “cover flow” style interface, the TiVo has a list as the main item on the screen, and it’s nearly unreadable on my 30″ TV. When you watch a TV show, the TiVo does not remember what episode you last watched. The default is to stretch the video to fit your screen (mind you I’m watching old shit that probably doesn’t even exist in HD), even if you have set it all over the place to 4:3. Then when you dig through the options to find the “don’t warp the fucking shot” setting, the blank bars default to a light grey color. Are you fucking kidding me? How many movies are mostly light colored most of the time? Why don’t you put a stock ticker there and the weather while you’re at it, you fucking whore?

I tried streaming Eddie Murphy’s Raw. The TiVo refused to not stretch it, and it was hiccuping and losing sound sync often. I tried it on the Roku box, and it had problems, too, but at least the image wasn’t stretched.

It can all be summarized by this: when you delete a selection from the queue in the TiVo, you get taken to a screen that—no, it’s not a confirmation—it says “so and so has been deleted” and requires you to press okay. Gee, thanks for telling me. Either have a confirmation screen, or don’t have anything at all. Geez.


1. The TiVo is still a slow piece of crap.

2. More bells and whistles doesn’t make up for the fact that your basic service is expensive and you are assholes for charging to have more than one TiVo in the same household.

3. It’s clear Netflix has defined the framework for streaming boxes very carefully, but TiVo still managed to fuck it up.

4. Is somebody out there selling MythTV boxes?

So yeah—you guessed it—this TiVo is definitely fucking me in the shit. And so is HD TV, for that matter. What a fucking scam. Don’t get me started on those converter boxes….

HP Photosmart Premium Fax (C309) After Lunch


Right before I went to lunch today I counted; it takes several clicks and two Hp Scan splash screens to get the document scanned.

Oh, and as I suspected, the auto-crop mangled the documents I was scanning. One of the five was cropped correctly, the rest were ruined. The auto-rotate rotated it “the wrong way”, although there’s really no way for it to know…or is there?

I come back after lunch determined to scan these damn things. I notice in my computer the scanner shows up, so I double click on that, select the Microsoft Office Document Scanner (part of Office 2007, I suppose), and in a couple of clicks I have the forms scanned on the screen, and presumably, OCR’ed. It defaults to TIFF and I didn’t see an option to separate the pages, so I printed the individual pages to PDF, which is what I want.

Then I threw in the three checks. Incredibly, once scanned they were rotated in the right direction—whereas the HP software would have left them at 90 degrees or upside down (depending on, if by chance, I put them in with the “wrong” edge first), the Microsoft utility, presumably because it was doing OCR to it, rotated them correctly. Of course, it could have been coincidence; whatever it was, I wasn’t asked any questions, and the result was close to what I wanted.

That’s what I am talking about! Either give me full control, or give me something mindless and easy. Don’t try to do both, and certainly don’t ask me a fuck ton of questions if it’s supposed to be “easy”!

HP Photosmart Premium Fax (C309)


I was tired of scanning documents by lifting a lid, so I wanted to get something with a document feeder. Then I figured I may as well get a “photo printer”.

First I verified this thing had XP x64 drivers, because evidently I’m the only fucking donkey shitter that wants to use every-day devices and software (thanks, stupid-ass iTunes) on this OS.

So I buy the thing. First surprise is that it’s the size of two desktop computers stacked atop one another, and still comes with an external “power brick” AC adapter. What a fucking crock. I hook it up via Ethernet, and install the “software” to my surprise, there was no software, just a driver. Now I realize that HP offers the full software only for XP 32 bit (and possibly Vista, but I don’t give a flying fuck). No worries, I figured, this fucking ass shit printer has a control panel with LCD screen and three trillion buttons.

So I stick a slim piece of paper (a check) in the feeder. Thankfully, the paper-guiding fences don’t adjust past about a large envelope’s height, so my printed check is going to go through there like a drunken bitch on his way to find a toilet to puke in. Whatever, I say, it’ll be fine. So I use the clickedy clackedys to “scan to computer” on the LCD screen. “Go to the computer and start the scan software”, says the fuck-tard ass shithole. Thanks bitch, I like going to the printer so it can tell me to go back to my fucking computer.

I stick a USB jump drive and tell it to scan to USB. That works, but it slower than shit. It’s like a fucking mouse is sitting in there fucking drawing that shit. Still, everything comes out fine, but it defaults to JPEG, which I don’t want, and because the checks I’m scanning are going in short end first, they are rotated 90 degrees in the images.

So I fire up my XP 32bit virtual machine. Of course I had the network set to NAT, so I have to change it to IF, because even though the HP software installation will find the printer on another subnet, it refuses to let you use it. Then I have to cancel the installation, which takes about 5 hours, so I can shut down the virtual machine, because if you just “save its state” with Virtual Box you can’t change any of the settings. It’s been about an hour by now. The first thing I uninstall is another “add all your pictures to my library so I can fuck you later” piece of software. Thanks for reinventing the wheel into a cracked square, HP.

If you press up, down, up, down, left, left, ok, print, copy, you get this picture in vivid color.

If you press up, down, up, down, left, left, ok, print, copy, you get this picture in vivid color.

Finally I get all the software installed. It’s nagging the shit out of me, popping windows out of nowhere. Then I finally go to use it. I stick 3 checks on the feeder, and try to scan them. The software is nice and pretty, but confusing as hell. Before fucking around with any settings, I just go to scan to PDF, and it opens up the HP scan utility, with another fucking splash screen. Then it lets me pick where to save the files, etc., and of course it has stupid defaults, like color scanning, and saving to the “My Scans” folder. Anyway, it scans the things, and it works; they’re all wavy because there’s no guides to feed them in correctly, but whatever.

I start going through the options, because I noticed that it doesn’t remember that I don’t want them saved to “My Scans”, and that I want separate files, not multiple pages in one file. There’s all this shit that implies I can “send new shortcuts to the device”, but I don’t know where the hell they are, because they are not in the scanning menu of the ass-fuck.

Finally I find a place where you can change the defaults like whether or not to save to “My Scans” or somewhere else. I change a few of them, like making picture scans save to TIFF instead of JPEG, etc. I go to close the window and it says I need to save the individual changes. Thanks assmunch. I go to save, and I can’t overwrite the “shortcuts”. I’m not going to fucking rename this shit you fucking dick willow. So I cancel it all.

I start getting annoyed with the time-sinking window fades and animations and stupid splash creens that appear, so somewhere else I find some options where scanning a document doesn’t ask any questions, it just does it. But then I can’t pick where it saves them (goes to “My Scans” again) and it fucking irks me. God damn it.

At this point a couple of scans have ended with the last check stuck in the machine, the printer saying it’s scanning, but not actually doing anything, the software saying it can’t scan because another computer has control of the thing, and me having to power it off, which takes some 10 seconds, and power it on, which takes some 20 seconds before the PC recognizes it again.

I tried scanning the checks the other way, so they wouldn’t be 90 degrees, though at some point I saw an option to “auto rotate” and “straighten” (surely neither of which work; we’ll see). Once you could tell the first one almost didn’t make it to the second drive roller because there’s a long streak in the scan (the paper wasn’t moving but the rollers were), and then it sucked two checks in at once. The second time, one got stuck deep in the rollers and I had to carefully yank it back. They are simply too short to reliably go through.

This prompted me to install WordPress and write this.

To summarize:

1. This thing didn’t solve my problem at all. Document feeder/easy scanner my ass. The software has made it a pain in the ass to do anything; forcing you to open the “HP Solution Center” instead of just the HP scanner utility, making you watch 8 fucking splash screens go by, only to have the stupid thing get stuck in a loop or eat your fucking paper for lunch.

2. I don’t think the hardware is bad, but the software is a great example of marketing ass donkeys asking for easy software and the engineers having their heads up their ass or simply refusing to do a good, integrated job out of spite. Either way, the customer gets fucked.

3. I think this is also an example of putting in too many things into one device, and ending up with everything at a mediocre level. Ethernet, USB, Wifi, Bluetooth, LCD screen, keyboard, fax, scanner, printer, document feeder, and I can’t just walk up to the damn thing, put my originals in, scan to a file, and go to work. It’s supposed to work, as far as I can see from the vague manual, but it doesn’t.

4. The two pieces of 5×7 photo paper it comes with yielded some incredible prints. One was from a 10-megapixel high-end point-and-shoot, and it came out like a high-quality lab print (though I’ve never had digital photos printed anywhere). I also printed a 180 MB TIFF scan from medium-format slide film and it came out great.

Overall, I give this a fuck-me-in-the-shit rating. Had I known the scanning was going to be such a fucking bitch, I would have spent a bit more on their new large-format photo printer (printer only) and enjoyed some presumably great 13×19 prints. For “scanning” small things I will still have to lift the fucking lid and put them in. At least other papers I can drop in the feeder—though I can’t tell right now how often it will jam or suck in too many sheets at once.