2014-2016 What's New
2013 and Prior What's New
Games I am looking for:
Ripley's Believe It Or Not
Apollo 13 - Maybe since their GI lighting is so hard to replace.
Twister - Maybe since their GI lighting is so hard to replace
Blue Avengers LE
Transformers Combo LE
Cirqus Voltaire - May be expensive and pretty but not sure
Theatre of Magic
Ghostbusters Premium or LE
Suzanne's mom passed away on Sunday 2/19/2017. Suzanne has been home with her mom since the beginning of the year almost every day. She came home on Monday, 2/13, to come home a few days when her mom was in hospice. We received the call on Sunday at 4pm. She flew back on Tuesday, 2/21. I flew in on Saturday 2/25. We stayed until 3/8/2017 to take care of everything. Suzanne did most of the leg work. If there is one piece of advice I can give you, it is to have a trust and ensure all money is in a bank account of the trust. We made 15 copies of the death certificate (which seems to be standard). I realize people need to make money. But there is someone sucking money out of you at every turn when you are dealing with a death in the family. Even with the "pre-paid funeral arrangements," it cost over $4,000. You would think this is not the first funeral the place did and would know all of the expenses associated with a funeral to get them covered. I realize there can be some expenses that are not known until the time of the death. But all of these expenses were known and could have been added in. It is so frustrating. Then we needed to talk to a lawyer (sorry lawyers, I don't like lawyers. I think they are out to charge you every millisecond they can). Luckily we did not need to go to probate, just file the will. The expenses go on and on.
I came back Wednesday evening. I did work most of the time there for my full time job due to the time difference. I fixed a pinball after work on Thursday. Then fixed another two after work on Friday. I fixed a pinball Saturday morning then again in the afternoon. Someone brought a pinball to my house to fix. I then rushed out and I bought a Last Action Hero on Sunday. Then looked at a Star Trek Data East that I did not want but helped him fix it. Luckily near the house so I didn't charge and didn't spend too much time.
I spend an hour or so last night on the Last Action Hero and another hour tonight. I still got to get the sound working but getting closer.
I was thinking about what I wrote yesterday and want to clarify. I want to get to the point that I have all the boards for the Gottlieb System 1 (and System 3 and System 80, etc), But this is a large outlay of money and I don't get many requests for these games. I have an extensive collection of boards for Bally 1977-1985, Bally/Williams WPC 1990 - 2000, Williams System 3 - 11C (except no MPU for System 11), and newer Stern. The real issue with this Cleopatra is the potential costs of the boards and the owner thinking that the total cost of boards and labor should be less, which means I should be lowering my rates (which I already did). [She owns a business... maybe I should ask for services and ask for a discounted rate.] By her putting forth the initiative and money to buy the boards, she has an investment in the repair. Now I can come for an hour or two and get the game working and my fee is separate than the costs of the parts.
A few days ago someone texted me through Yelp. I responded within two minutes. It is a Monday Night Football. I thought it was corrosion. But I think it just needs new batteries. I spoke to the person today and did Face-time. The audits and adjustments had garbage in the values. I told him to go through each setting and put a valid value in. We reset it to free play but it still comes up with credits. So hopefully after he resets all the values, the game will work. The right drop targets were not resetting. We lifted the game and the coil was dangling. The bracket came off. Luckily he has a right side drop target bank as a model. He has to find the bracket and screws and it would work. So I talked myself out of a service call.... again. Maybe he'll give me a good rating on Yelp.
Update on the video game at the dentist office I wrote about below. I decided to call my friend that does a much better job at video games than I do. I gave him the new board and he did the repair for the dentist. This was great since I am really busy at work and really didn't have the time for this repair. Plus I had the feeling that I would electrocute myself.
Did I ever say "no good deed goes unpunished?" I guess I just don't learn. I was asked to help put the head back on a Cleopatra solid state game and reconnect it since it was "working" before. I told the person I would do the work for a slightly discounted rate since it should not have taken longer than 30 minutes.
Guess what? The game did not work. The batteries were dead. (Which I guess is not surprising on a 40 year old game.) So I added 3 AA batteries with diode. The reset button did not work. I could not fix the game. I was there for two hours.
I came home and emailed a list to the owner that owner should buy, including the replacement MPU, driver board, power board, and the cable between the CPU and driver. I told her once she had the boards I would come back and install them all and the game would work. It also needs an A-5194 coil (which I did not have) and the green drop target was broken. I explained to the person that I am pretty sure the MPU is bad and needs to be fixed. But it is easier to buy a new one. Since I am being nickel'ed and dime'd on my fee, I want to ensure when I come back I can make it work. The only way is to replace all three boards. Do they need to be? Maybe. But since I don't have spare boards for this set of games since I don't fix that often, I am putting the burden on the owner to buy all the boards so I can fix it once and for all. Otherwise, I would go there and replace the CPU and something else would show up. Then we would to have them get the next board and come back, etc. This would make me lose so much time and money that it would not be worth my time. So for these types of games, I can have the owner ensure all parts are available or not even bother to fix them.
I also looked at a Buckley Slots (Mills Conversion). I determined that the game needed a section of the game cleaned. (It probably needs a lot more cleaned, but would want to ensure the component works before we do the whole thing.) So it should take an hour or so for the owner to clean the area. Two cotter pins and a spring need to be removed. I could have taken it home and cleaned it. But what if this didn't work and I have to go to the next area to clean? Then that doesn't solve the issue and go to the next area? Then I have 10-15 hours into the game and can only charge $300 or so.
I had the opportunity to visit the Spider Man 2008 I sold a few years ago. It needed some cleaning and adjusting. It was nice to see it again and reminded me that I actually do want one again.
I had the opportunity to buy a Dirty Harry last week. The game would be okay but not on the list above of what I want. So if I can't get it low enough to flip, it is not worth getting to restore. I have learned my lesson on restoring games. I don't make money and I am no longer willing to work for $5 an hour to do a restoration for someone else. I will do a restoration for myself for this amount and if I decide to sell in the future then at least I enjoyed the game for a while. Life is too short to waste my free time doing a restoration for someone else at poverty rates.
I showed my collection and the two games I had for sale to someone today. it was more of a teaching moment for him to learn and see flow vs stop and go. I enjoyed talking about the games knowing that nothing would be sold. I could probably sell my personal collection 10 times over as long as I wish to sell it for less than I paid before I do all my modifications.
I regretfully sold a brand new video game to a dentist's office back in 2012. I do not like video games but I sold it to them because they asked. As they say, no good deed goes unpunished. I assumed this game will work for a long long time. The video goes out. And oh, it is a CRT display right before they went to LCD screens. The cabinet is 3/4" too small to fit an LCD screen. So I had to go to the dentist office (without charging) to determine the issue. Luckily the production support person from the company was on the phone with me to isolate the problem to the video board and the little board stuck to the end of the CRT. I hate video games. (Did I say this yet?) I hate having to discharge the electricity in the CRT before it is safe to handle. I have to pry off the small board without breaking the CRT. Hopefully when I get the boards, I will be able to call the support guy and replace the boards and hopefully it will work. Did I say I hate video games?
I have been so busy on a new project at work that I finally have a few minutes to write. I am co-leading a project that will be code complete on 3/31. End to end integration testing done by 5/4 and in production 5/13. Hopefully we will be able to keep to this schedule. 48 applications are affected; 26 will need code changes; 22 will require testing only. It is amazing. In the 15 years I have worked for my company how we have gone from working on complete applications that may be linked with a few other applications but they were contained. Now, when we want to perform any modification, we have to do extensive analysis to see what is affected across the company. Then we have to orchestrate all of the application changes to go in at the same time. There has to be a better way. Other companies are doing it, hopefully mine will get there too.
Oh, if you didn't notice, I created a What's New page for my notes from 2014 - 2016. Now was a good time to create a new What's New page starting with 2017. I think there is a book or two in here if I had the time to organize and expand upon some items. Hopefully the combination of this page and my repair chronicles pages provide a really good list of problems and solutions. And my archives page showing detailed photos of my restorations should be useful as well.
It's the most wonderful time of the year.... at work. We are about to provide reviews, work on compensation, and then provide the comp statements. After 15 years I can truthfully state that compensation is a popularity contest. Ask HR and they are clueless. Tell HR and they will deny it and more importantly look down upon you. Do they really not know or are they living an illusion?
There is no consistency between teams. My worst performers could be better than the best performers in other teams. We do calibration within the group. We spend hours discussing person A vs person B to place them in the correct compensation bucket. As I stated, the popularity contest, or the person that is most vocal and condescending to others, usually wins out.
It is very frustrating when you are asked to build the best team you can and then you do. Then when it comes time for compensation you have to place them in a bell curve. Why should we have to? If we have the best people and they are all great, then why can't we recognize this?
My favorite comment, that has mostly been used against me (and I will NEVER do this to anyone), is "You did a great job last year which is exactly what I expect from you. You met my expectations." In a world where ratings that are "Exceeds Expectations," "Meets Expectations," and "Does Not Meet Expectations," this solidly states that no matter how great the work I do, I am expected to do great things and therefore I meet the expectations of my manager. Isn't this special?
Or better yet, "You moved into this team in the middle of the year, so you really can't get a high rating since you were only in this team for X months." Huh? You ASKED me to join the team. I was doing great work in my old team, which does not seem to count for anything. If I worked for a different company for 1/2 the year, I can understand this statement. But I have worked for the same company the whole year.
The variation on this statement is "You moved into this team in the middle of the year, so you really can't expect a high rating (or $$ that goes with it) since you were promoted to come over here." This makes sense. IF you are promoted, you normally would get a raise and then if you do your job you should be meets for the first year or year and half. However, the last few times, I moved, it was a lateral. No promotion. No raise. When you confront your manager on this itty bitty fact, then they say, "Well it is too late since comp is already recorded."
Here is another comment, "You did a great job last year but I need to give you a 'Meets expectataions' so that I can use the higher ratings on others to justify higher merit or bonus payments."
Here is one of my all time HR favorites (and every comment I have posted has been used on me). I moved from a group that did not do variable comp to one that did. At the last moment when I was ASKED to move, they said "Oh, your salary will go down by X%. Your bonus (Z%) will go down by 50%.[Lets use 10% and 5% as an example.] But you get this variable bonus of Y% (that is based on factors that are outside my control .)" I said then my bonus should be my higher salary for 3/4 of the year (since I started Oct 1) multiplied by 10% + my lower salary for 1/4 of the year multiplied by 5%." HR said "No. You get your new salary multiplied by your new bonus." So my bonus was based on my lower salary multiplied by the lower percentage.
Later I moved to another team and thankfully out of the variable comp group. My salary went back up as did my bonus. I said to HR "I should get my new salary multiplied by my new bonus." HR said "Why would you think that? You have not been in the position for the full year so you cannot expect this." Does anyone but me see the contradiction in this statement? When I confronted HR and the contradicting statements, they said "That is another HR team." No! We are one company (just ask the company they will tell you we are one).
I can go on but I won't. I may even remove this so if you get to see it, you are special.
I have always given 110-150% effort at work. Always have. Always will. I just am smart enough now to know that it will not convert into a better rating, more pay, or promotion opportunities. It simply allows me to do really good work at work.
In my younger days, I was delusional. I thought extra work, better work, etc would provide the raises, bonuses and promotions for me. I realize now that it provides the raises, bonuses and promotions for my management team since they look so great. In hindsight, while my son was younger, I wish I spent more time at home rather than at work trying to do things that do not equate to better things at work. I could have been a better father and better husband. I could have gone to one more soccer game or one more school event. In hindsight, I look at the way it was inferred that if you do great work there is a one to one correlation and I compare that to the lottery commercials. After watching a lottery commercial with all the happy, smiling faces, it just infers that if I go out and buy one, I will win and be rich!
I used to work an extra 1000 hours or so. When I did get rewarded for exceeding expectations, my reward equated to less than a dollar an hour for the extra hours I put in. It has only taken most of my life, but I think it has finally sunk in. I will do great work. I will work late when needed and weekends when needed. (I am doing that now on this project.) But I will not delude myself into thinking it will amount to anything but the opportunity to continue working.
It has taken almost as long to recognize that restoring a pinball is a labor of love but you do not get paid for the hours. As you can see by the lack of items I have for sale, I have decided not to sell many pinballs and slots. I have a few left to get rid of, but I will not be getting any more to resell.
I also realize that doing a pinball repair provides a 1:1 correlation of time to money. If I put in an extra hour at work, I have lost that extra hour forever. If I fix a pinball machine, I get paid for every hour I work. Also, having this hobby keeps me sane and is a great diversion from work. I believe because of this hobby, I do better work at work and better repairs for the pinball business.
I actually did an informal calculation of what my "potential" could be if I got the highest rating. Since this is mostly subjective and done by popularity contest, there is no guarantee that any amount of extra effort will result in a higher rating. I also figured that if I did about 50 repairs a year, I could make up the difference (obviously simplifying the assumptions.)
Virginia Sales Tax
Virginia sales tax is currently 6.0%. Sales tax for in-state orders applies to machines and parts. It does not apply to the delivery or repair services.
As of August 1, 2014, we will no longer provide a warranty with our pinballs unless you purchase a separate warranty from us. A 1 year warranty is $500 or pay as you go if you even need it. If you buy it directly from us and take it home yourself, you will be inspecting it to ensure it works. If we deliver, we will ensure that it works 100% when delivered.
Reasons You Should Let Us Deliver Your Pinball (or Another Machine)
- We will NOT provide a warranty for the machine since we cannot be assured that a problem did not happen when you transported the machine. (As of August 1, 2014, we will no longer provide a warranty with our pinballs unless you purchase a separate warranty from us. A 1 year warranty is $500 or pay as you go if you even need it. If you buy it directly from us and take it home yourself, you will be inspecting it to ensure it works. If we deliver, we will ensure that it works 100% when delivered.)
- We take responsibility for any damage that may occur during the delivery process.
- We professionally set up the machine, connect all the connectors, attach the legs, head, etc. and ensure that the pinball works properly. If anything is out of adjustment due to moving the machine, we can fix it in a few minutes as compared to having to come to your house later and charging you a trip fee and repair charge.
- If anything major is out of adjustment, we can order parts and repair. This hardly ever happens but it could and you and the machine are protected.
We are currently set up for local delivery only within the Northern Virginia, Washington DC, Maryland, and North-Eastern West Virginia area. If you are interested in shipping the pinball machine, we will contact a shipper. You will pay all crating and postage costs.
If you would like us to deliver and set up within 50 miles of Purcellville, the charge is $300; within 100 miles $475. The delivery charge includes delivery to a first floor or basement level if walk-out.
We will not sell you a game/deliver the game if the only entrance to your basement is an inside the house staircase. They are too narrow. Plus we have to ensure we don't mess up carpet or wood. It just isn't worth it.
You may also come and pick up the machine from our location.