It’s Not the Gear, It’s You (Part 2)

Read Part 1 here.

Welcome, fellow vape-traveller, on a magical journey into the world of vaping stupidity. A trip into the disturbed minds of individuals who fail their Common Sense class when dealing with their vaping gear. We may all be equal, and due to our very nature, learn by making mistakes, but some people are “more equal” than others. And make more “of those stupid mistakes”. They’re the reason the Darwin Awards exist.

In case you’re one of them, and haven’t yet noticed, this is Part 2 of our joyful trip into Teh Vaping Stupidz. Thus, we won’t spend as much time explaining what, exactly, we mean by the term “stupid” in this case. For that, you can always check out the first part, the beginning of our journey. Here, instead, we’ll jump head-first into The Bottomless Pit Of Low IQ and let the darkness engulf us, hoping we’ll somehow learn from other peoples mistakes and surface just a bit smarter in the end.

Theoretically, there’s always hope. Practically, after watching Teh Problems Of Average Joe Vaper as posted online for around two years, I’m seriously contemplating the benefits of going full hermit.

Those are good batteries, right? RIGHT?

Dear Baal, the number of times people ask this question… In most cases it’s coming from people new to vaping. It’s an expected question. A reasonable one. So, why fuss over it? We don’t. I don’t. Usually.

There’s a specific subset of people, though, that keep asking this question again, and again, and again, expecting the answer to magically transmutate to something that suits their dream of What Vaping Should Be Like. They seriously expect the equivalent of a magical unicorn to appear in front of them out of thin air. How come?

The “conversation” usually goes like this:

– I bought these batteries at a local B&M. Are they good?

– Nope, those are low-Amp batteries. Those are the reason your mod is shutting o…

– But the B&M dude said they’re good! So, aren’t they good for my mod?

– As I said, nope. You need high-Amp batteries if you want to v…

– But they say 666 Amps on their wrap! And they’re glowing yellow when the lights are out!

– Anybody can print a number on a wrap. That doesn’t mean they’re actually… Wait, you said they’re glowing?

– Yes! I’m telling you, they’re awesome! They’re from this NukeFire company – they’re way better than the SizzlingHouse ones I used in my previous box.

– …

– They chuck fat cloudz!

– …

– Sick as titz dude! So, they’re good, right?

– …

– But why’s my mod turning off after each puff? Cheap Chinese Crap…

– …

And nope, I kid you not, the above may be a fictional conversation between two non-existing people but, like we made it clear in the first part of our Stupidity Trilogy, they’re based on actual conversations between existing people. Some might even think we’re talking specifically about something they posted yesterday. Don’t worry, Simon, we changed the names and tweaked the numbers to avoid publicly ridiculing you. But you know who you are.

For those that didn’t “get what’s wrong with all of this”, let’s make it simple: one of the first things people learn when they get into vaping is that you can’t just pick up and use any kind of battery in your device. The devices manual itself usually suggests “using High-Amp batteries”.

You can find high-Amp batteries, but they’ll “lose their charge” faster than longer-lasting batteries. You can use longer lasting batteries, with a higher mAh rating, but those can’t give you the highest possible Amp rating. It’s either one or the other. If you don’t want to choose between them, you can pick up some “middle ground” cells, that offer a more than acceptable amount of power combined with equally medium-level “uptime”. You’ve got those three choices. And no, no matter how many times you may ask, you won’t see a magical new cell appear out of thin air, offering both ultra-high Amps and tens of thousands of miliAmp hours (the “mAh” we mentioned). It’s just not feasible. It’s like asking for a huge truck with the speed of a Ferrari and the turning of a… Ford? Hey, I’m not into cars but I think you understand what I’m trying to say here. Right?

As evidenced by the totally made up (but Based On A True Story – and then some) conversation just above (and a bit to the left), there are always cases that emphatically refuse to accept that the batteries they already bought, with their hard-earned week’s allowance, are, to put it bluntly, crap. If your conversations with them were a Commodore 64 BASIC program, it would look like this:

10 Print “You: Your batteries are crap”

20 Print “Idiot: But they say they’re good for up to 666Amp AND have lots of thousands of Machs”

30 Print “You: Machs? Like… Nah, forget it. You mean mAhs? What’s on their label, exactly?”

40 Print “Idiot: LavaTech UberHot 18650, 666Amps, 6660 mAhs”

50 Print “You: Throw them away!”

60 Print “Idiot: But… why?”

70 GoTo 10

It’s safe to vape THIS, isn’t it? You suck, I’ll vape it anyway!

In a case that broke the Reddit frontiers (where it first appeared as far as I know) becoming infamous in the vaping world, a user visited a well-known vaping subreddit and asked if it was safe to build coils using soldering iron instead of some kind of wire deemed safe for vaping. He was warned that nope, that would actually be not just dangerous but outright hazardous. People explained the Hows and Whys. And yet, he did. Because he could.

To add insult to (actual) injury, he returned some time later, blaming (nobody knows “about what”) the people who warned him not to try it, while explaining that he’d practically destroyed his lungs in the process.

Since I love using alternative examples to drive the point home, a similar equivalent in a totally different field would be someone asking if he should try chewing “live” firecrackers. And returning, without a jaw, like Metal Gear’s Raiden but without any of the cool factor (or cybernetic enhancements, just missing a jaw). Some weeks later. Blaming for his own idiocy the people that told him not to try it in the first place. ‘Cause, hey, as we totally made it clear in the first part of our trip into vaping idiocy, it’s always the others – and the Cheap Chinese Crap – that’s at fault. It’s never the user. Nope.

And then, there was the teen that wanted to vape using shoe laces as wick instead of cotton. Here we are, talking about how bleached cotton isn’t safe and how boiling any kind of cotton can lead to unwanted bacteria finding their way into our vape, trying to be as safe as possible and minimize the risk factor – after all, vaping is “harm reduction”, right? And someone decides to vape on shoe laces. ‘Cause, hey, if it’s somewhat porous, it can be used as a wick. Right? Hello? Anyone? Ooh! A sponge!

The mod broke after a firmware upgrade – damn you, Chinese Crap Company!

We’ll not hide behind our fingers – we’ll name names: the Alien. By SMOK. That’s the mod we’re talking about here. That’s the mod that ended up getting a bad reputation after dozens of people rushed to “inform” others how updating its firmware “kills it”. You can find tens, if not hundreds of posts, from people saying you should only try updating its firmware if there really is a problem with your device, or else “you could break it”. Everyone makes it sound like the firmware update process itself is somehow destroying mods. Because, obviously, SMOK hate their customers and the products they make. And themselves. And they actively try to put themselves out of business. They’re obviously the masochists of the vaping world. It’s either that or – shock, horror – lots of people are, indeed, stupid. What could it be? Oh, the agony! You’re tearing me apart, Lisa!

The process of updating the Alien’s firmware is, indeed, somewhat complicated. If you’re one of the people who’s never updated any software on your PC and you only know how to click “OK, download the damn thing” on your gaming console when “it tells you there’s a new patch for Minecraft”. You have to follow some steps to actually do it. More than two. The process goes, more or less, somewhat like this:

* You download the updating software and the latest firmware for your device.

* You should download it from the official site.

* You run the updating software and “open” in it the firmware you downloaded.

* You check to see if a singular number in a singular box is correct. If not, something went wrong with your download and you’ll have to re-download the firmware.

* You keep the fire bar pressed on your mod.

* You connect it to your PC without letting go of the fire bar.

* You check one option and click an “update” button.

* You wait a bit.

* Done.

Does it sound too complicated? How can someone “fail” at this? Well, just search for it. Try not to lose your hope in humanity when you see messages like “I didn’t think that step was important, so I skipped it”, “I didn’t check the one number I should check”, “I didn’t follow the official instructions but Joe Stupid’s video on YouTube”, “I downloaded the file from a blog and it was the wrong one”. The most common of all being “I flashed the wrong firmware”.

No, none of them can be considered a proper excuse, when a search for “Alien firmware update” brings SMOK’s official page, with links to files and specific step-by-step instructions, as the very first result. You only have to read the instructions there and follow a bunch of steps to properly update your mod. And yet, people skip steps, try to force-flash the wrong firmware, let go of the fire-bar or disconnect the mod before the whole procedure finishes. And then they blame the mod or SMOK for not making the device fully idiot-proof.

SMOK is to blame, though, for making a simple mistake themselves: they released two versions of the Alien, two different hardware revisions. You can tell them apart by the letter “b”: when the first one is turning on, it shows a “V.x.x.x” number on its screen, where the “x”’s are the specific number of the installed firmware. The second version shows a “Vb.x.x.x”. Notice the “b”? Good for you! Most of the people who force-flashed the wrong firmware on theirs, didn’t.

But that is all for now. Remember to tune in next time, same vape-time, same vape-channel, for more vape-horrors.

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