Lego Generosity

This is not a photography post. It is a post on great customer service. Something I find to be very important. It is about the Lego Group.

My son is into robots and Legos. Big time.

My wife mentioned this to a co-worker and he said he had a Lego Mindstorm NXT kit he hasn’t used in years and would like to sell it. It was a kit from 2008, but still in excellent condition. If you know about these, you know they are quite expensive. He let her bring it home for my son to play with to see if he liked it.

The heart and mind of a Lego Mindstorm NXT robot is the “brick.” It is the computer portion of the kit that you send programming to via laptop and USB cable. They are the most expensive item in a Mindstorm set. The one we had worked fine, but the screen did not work. After a little searching on the web, we found that the screen issue was happening in it’s early days but is easily fixable (make a note of the word “easily” for future reference). We could still plug it directly into a laptop and it worked just fine, we just could not see on the display or connect it via Bluetooth. Still worth purchasing if Cal approved.

As we expected, Cal approved. We were building a robot and running it around the living room floor via an old laptop in no time.

We purchased it and I was assigned the task to fix the brick screen. Many webpages read and YouTube videos were watched and I was ready to attempt the fix and hopefully not destroy it.

During my search, I did find a site that said there was a recall on the model brick we had. Since this kit was from 2008 and we were not the original owner, the warranty and recall was most certainly null and void. Every company on the planet would never think of extending a recall 9 years. But out of curiosity, I contacted Lego anyway. Doesn’t hurt to ask.

I talked to a customer service person via their chat option and told them our story. I asked if there was a repair service that I could send it into and pay for the repairs. I let them know I would gladly pay a fee to get it fixed. I never asked about having it replaced due to the recall because of it’s age and I was already committed to paying. I didn’t even save the chat because I knew the outcome, so I didn’t get the name of the person I was chatting with.

The customer service person said there was no such repair service. They also said that since the age of the item was almost 9 years old, they could not help us out. They were friendly and apologized, but said it was too old to have it repaired. Just as I suspected. I totally understood and thanked them for trying.

I then went back to trying to fix this brick. If you are in the IT world, you know “Brick” has it’s own meaning. Dead. It is bricked. It is dead. This thing became dead after a few attempts reapplying the ribbon tape. I put it aside for a week. I saw there was a way to solder it but that needed time and a quiet environment to concentrate.

That time was last Sunday. Unfortunately, I found out that my soldering skills were not up to par in getting this thing to ever show the display again. But that was okay since it worked via computer and long USB cable. All was still good in the NXT robot building world in the household.

Monday morning, I got an email from Lego to my personal business email address. I thought for sure it was a phishing attempt and that this address was starting to get spam. The email did have my complete name and address in it though. It stated that my order has been shipped and there was a part number and order number. Odd.

This is all too weird. I did not give my address to the person I chatted with, so this has got to be fake. Spammers are getting smarter each day I thought.

But there was something going on here, so I did a search. The first dozen links in my Google Search for the part number was for an NXT brick. Same one we had. Okay, this is getting interesting. I went to the Lego site and their check order status and pulled up the order via the order number. OK, this is a legit order. So, did my wife order one saving me the pain of trying to fix this? That would be great! That can’t be I thought. We were under the impression that they did not build it anymore. Hmmm. And why would she use my email address and not the email address we specifically use for internet orders. Very strange.

Tuesday, the area where the Lego offices are located were hit by a snow storm, so Lego was basically offline. Yesterday, I did not have time to chat with them. But this morning, I did.

A customer service person named Daniel was assigned my chat. I gave him the order number. While he was checking it out, I typed up what I thought was going on. Daniel confirmed that a new NXT brick with the recall fix was shipped out to us.

WOW. I am stunned.

That is amazing! And much too kind. But why? How?

I did not give any mailing address in my original chat, I know I didn’t. But I must have used my personal email during the chat. So how did this person end up tracking me down? Did they go over to the Lego Store database and find me? They must have. But in our Lego store account, we used a different email address. How many Brian Dykes’ are there in the USA? They must have taken some serious time and effort to put 2 and 2 together, right? But they did and that is amazing to me. And that is amazing customer service. Whomever did that must love their gig and definitely puts the customer first.

A company as large as Lego could have just brushed it off and not skip a beat. Replacing a 9 year old computer that is 8 years out of warranty and owned by someone other than the original owner is unheard of in the world of customer service. That is going above and beyond on an epic level. Unheard of in this day and age. Except for at Lego apparently. Lego can truly say they care about their customers. More so than I have ever seen.

There is a Lego customer service agent and supervisor(?) that decided to do something extremely nice on February 27th. They went out of the way to track my information down and replace a pricy piece of equipment for free when they could have just let it go. Especially when our chat ended with me thinking there was nothing they could do.  A small act of kindness is a huge thing to some people. Hence this long winded post. 🙂 In a few days when the new brick arrives, Lego will be making an 8 year old extremely happy. It will make his parents extremely happy as well. Lego has scored a customer for life with these actions. Well, they had one anyway because they are so darn cool, but this little act of kindness just tipped it in for me. Bravo Lego. Bravo.

Thank you Lego and especially to the person(s) that decided to go that extra mile to help out a customer. If anyone at Lego reads this, and you find out who was responsible, please let them know I said thank you. Such a small act on their part, but so grateful and large on ours. Cal thanks them as well. Oh and, thank you Lego for creating a product that helps fuel my son’s passion for all things Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. Lego rocks! The toys AND the company!

Peace,

Bry

Sawyer Michigan

Photos for the last week in March are from Sawyer Michigan. We go there often. We stay in New Buffalo (which is a pretty awesome little town as well) then trek the grueling 9 mile and three stoplight drive on the Red Arrow Highway to Sawyer. It is our getaway.

One photo I have taken before. It is on my 500px page. It is called Chairs. Why am I repeating a shot from a few years ago? 1st off, I love it, but 2nd and more importantly, I lost the original file. Due to a hard drive failure, I lost about 400 photographs and that was one of them.

The other photos are of Warren Dunes State Park and also a cool little store in Sawyer called Sawyer Home and Garden Center. They have everything. From plants and garden supplies, to beer, wine and food. Extra bonus: they are right next to Greenbush Brewery. In the summer, Sawyer has a few other neat shops to stop in at. The downtown is less than a city block long, but we are drawn to it.

We normally spend most of the day on the beach at Warren Dunes State Park. It is a great beach with great scenery. We collect cool rocks and lake glass and get in about 5 miles of walking in a day. We go at least once a month, even in the winter. Mild winter weekends? We are there.

Hope you enjoy the photos so far. Chat me up via the email or Twitter link below.

Peace,

Bry

Post processing.

I used to spend hours going through photos with Adobe Lightroom. Lightroom was a great product for photographers. It still may be for some, but it is not adapting to changes in the art for most. It is using something called a catalog file to store photos and edits. It is basically a database. Great idea until you get up to about 200k photos in it. An import of 300 or so photos takes forever with a large catalog, unless one purchases the biggest and fastest machine every year. No thank you.

I like a simpler approach now. Get it right in the field and you do not have to post process was always a goal of mine, but now more than ever. Some photographers use post processing as a crutch unfortunately. Especially when you can remove an entire person in Lightroom. Not me anymore. No time to sit in front of a computer and adjust a photo, then another, and another… So, GIRITF is one of the rules I have with this new site. No editing, no post processing. No cropping.

Proof in point: the photograph in the post Barb Loves Orange. A nice photo of an orange tulip. It was a shot focusing on one flower that was in a bunch of 6. If you look at the photo, look at the right side. Do you see another flower? Yes. Yes you do. Just the smallest sliver of the flower next to it.

My camera’s viewfinder shows 97% of the  sensor. That little sliver of orange was in the 3% I did not see in the viewfinder. Since I am downloading the photographs wirelessly to my phone then directly uploading it to my site, I did not see that little sliver. Pre 2016 would have gone crazy I posted that without looking at it. Pre 2016 would have cropped that out. I would have then adjusted the colors or rotates slightly, or whatever until I tweaked the photo to my liking. 15 minutes later, I would have posted it.

This is the new me. I saw it after I posted it and said to myself “GIRITF Bry. Too late now, you posted it. No editing.” And I am okay with that. All part of the learning process. Does it take away from the photograph? Depends on the viewer I guess. A photographer will rail me endlessly about not cropping that out. I would get three “3s” in any photo club. But for others, they will just see a nice photo of a flower. I see it as an opportunity to learn more about my camera, about setting up a shot, and about learning the art more. Learning is key. I have a lot to learn and want to push to be a better photographer. Learn from mistakes. Learn that you need to be aware of that 3%. I did, so today’s shot.

Hope all of you have a nice Easter. Thanks for reading.

Peace,

Bry

My photographic Style

So, if you have viewed the first few photographs on the new site, or seen my previous work, you have probably wondered “What is that?” or “Why so dark?”

To better explain my “style” of photography, I should tell you about my major influences in the art. They are:

  1. Edward Weston. If you have seen Edward’s work, you know his genius. He is a pioneer of the art. He took a photo of a toilet and a green pepper and it changed the art of Photography forever. His influence on me is so important, my son’s middle name is Weston.
  2. Walt Anderson. Walt is by far the most influential photographer to me. He is a nature photographer and works mainly in color. He teaches nature photography, he takes people on tours of famous parks and teaches them how to shoot. He is all about nature photography. But his best class he taught was “Abstract Photography.” We put flowers in jello and took photos. We took photos of gas leaking out of car on asphalt. We put hair in club soda and took photos. He pushed us to look at not the norm. Find art in everything. Walt also pushed me to keep going to Garfield Park Conservatory and talking to them. Thanks to him, my photos are on permanent display there and still being sold in their gift shop. Not bad for my first photo gig. Thanks Walt.
  3. Jon Balke. He is a film guy and only shoots Black and White. He lugs around this big heavy box with a large format camera in it and takes maybe 3 shots in 2 hours of exploring. But those 3 shots show how colorful Black and White Photography is. They are also perfectly shot and enjoyable to look at. His use of lighting to show you 1000 shades of gray is amazing. His photos explode with “color.” And he also sends out original photos as Christmas cards. The most personal of personal touches. Every one is developed in his dark room. Who pays that much personal detail anymore? He is amazing.
  4. Paul Kozal. Paul is a master of the camera. His use of light and long exposures is amazing. I met him once. I didn’t know it was him. I was looking at his work at an exhibit and a gentleman walked up and asked if I liked this. I raved about his work for a good minute or two. He laughed and said “Thanks. I am Paul Kozal.” I turned red, but he said it was a wonderful compliment to meet someone so moved by his work. Do a Google search for him and be amazed.
  5. My Father. He didn’t take photos. But he asked me to. I bought an SLR camera at age 11 to take photographs for him. I did it often. I had no idea what I was doing, but he always asked me to keep taking photos for him.

I love Black and White Photography. I love looking at something and looking for a pattern, a chaotic area, a line askew, a circle misplaced, or something else that others would just pass on by. A dead flower is just as beautiful as one in bloom. At least in my eyes. A birth in life is just as important as a death. Walt Anderson mentioned something to me once. He would get the class together, and as he excused us to go take photos, I would always walk the opposite way as everyone else. We would bring our work to class the next week to have everyone critique and mine always broke differently than the rest of the class. Walt pulled me aside and said to keep doing something different.

I love high contrast photos. Canon cameras have Picture Styles built in, and mine is always set to high contrast monochrome. When I look for something to photograph, I seem to look at the object in black and white. Thank you Jon for unearthing that brain cell in my noggin that held that info. I also like going “small.” Instead of taking a photo of a majestic tree in full, I walk up to the trunk and take a photo of the pattern in the bark.

My style is not for everyone. Maybe not for anyone? But it is for me. And that is why I do it, because I love looking at things different and it makes me happy.

I appreciate you stopping by and reading. If you like, please share with friends and/or follow on Twitter at @AlohaBry or @BlueEchoesPhoto.

Peace,

Bry

New Website.

Out with the old, in with the new.

Time to get back on the horse and ride again. Time to knock off the rust, put the iPhone down, and spin that mode dial to other settings. Time to shoot f1.4 and f64 and all in between. Time to start creating and sharing photography.  Time to move forward and push myself. And time to simplify.

I will try to post a photograph every day. Maybe that happens, maybe it doesn’t. The photos I do upload will be unedited. They will be shot with a Canon 70d using the built in Picture Styles, then downloaded wirelessly to my iPhone and uploaded to the site. No edits. What I shoot is what will be uploaded.

Hope you follow and share.

Peace,

Bry