NOT a good day for electronics! I bought a Seagate "FreeAgent" portable hard-disk to get stuff off my workstation at my "day job", and it was DOA out-of-the-box. They said the dreaded "Reduction In Force" words last week at our All Hands meeting, so I've been bringing home personal tools, books, and other junk since then. I figured I'd better get my music and mission pictures off my workstation while I have the chance, since the "layoff" protocol is to hustle you out the door the day before payday with about 10 minutes warning if you've been released. A bit of Googling revealed that these things are JUNK. When I first plugged it in, it popped up as an "Unknown Device" in Windows. Not only did windows not know what it was, but it declared the device to be a "Malfunctioning USB Device", an error message I've never seen before, and I've seen most of them. After screwing around trying different USB ports, getting the software directly from Seagate, and searching the Web, I gave up, and packed it back up. I took it back to Best Buy, got a store credit, and bought a Western Digital unit. Got back home, turned on the home theater, and was just about to open the box and look at the new drive, and WHAM! My entire home theater system shut down, accompanied by a strange whistling noise. Turns out the batteries in the UPS I run it on finally gave up the ghost, and the UPS shut down. I guess I deserved that one because it's been squawking at me for a couple of weeks to replace the batteries. I farted around trying to decide if I wanted to buy the battery pack from APC (serious bucks!), from a different online vendor (much better pricing, but shipping LEAD-acid gel cells kills you!), or just get replacement batteries from good old Torrance Electronics down the street.
Since T.E. was closed for the day, I went back to Best Buy for a new UPS. It's not a pure sine wave UPS, but since all the stuff plugged into it has switching power supplies, it shouldn't hurt anything. I'll swap out the new one with the original one after I get new batteries, and give the one I bought tonight to my girlfriend who is just using good surge protectors for now.