i started working on replacing and upgrading my thermostat wire at 10:30 this morning and didn't finish until 2:00.

step 1. pulling out all the old fasteners for the old thermostat wire: not sure when the wire itself was installed. the old honeywell thermostat was from 1998, but the wire and fasteners seem to be a bit older. i used a large pair of pliers for the grunt work, and a smaller needle-nosed pliers to pry out some stubborn fasteners.

step 2. pull up the new thermostat wire: with the old thermostat wire now free, i attached the new wire onto the old wire with some electrical tape. the trick is by pulling up the old wire, i can piggyback the new wire as well. but when i went upstairs and pulled, it seemed like i was pulling for far too long without seeing the new wire. so i went back down into the basement and saw that there wasn't much left of the old wire, that i'd pulled most of it upstairs. i pulled the old wire down again (making sure not to yank it out completely) and reattached the new wire. on my second try i finally managed to pull up the new wire, the electrical tape in tatters from getting caught on something inside the wall.

step 3. strip the new thermostat cable: i'm not an expert at wire stripping and my greatest fear was accidentally cutting the wires themselves. i first removed the outer sheath, revealing 5 color wires on the inside. i gently cut the outer sheath of the color wires, shearing off the protective covering with a simple flick afterwards. it actually wasn't all that hard and kind of fun, i could strip wires all day!

step 4. plug hole in the wall: i used a crumpled up piece of brown paper bag.

step 5. reattach nest baseplate and attach wires: with wires properly stripped, i screwed the baseplate back onto the wall and attached the wires to their respective slots. W and R are for the heater, C is the common (the whole reason why i'm switching out the wires to begin with), and G is for the fan. i didn't attach the Y because it's for switching on an A/C unit which i don't have.

step 6. secure the new thermostat wire: back downstairs, i attached the new thermostat wire to the wooden beams of the basement ceiling with new staple fasteners. i didn't want to cut the 50 ft wire to length because i didn't know how long i needed, so when the wire had to go through or over pipes and other wires, i had to pull all 50 ft of wire.

step 7. strip the other end of the thermostat cable and install: since i already practiced upstairs, stripping this end of the cable was easier this time around, after first cutting the wire to the proper length. installing it into the circuit board of the furnace was easy too. there's actually a slot for a Y cooling wire, but like i said, since i don't have an A/C unit, it's pointless to attach it, so i left it loose.

step 8. turn on the thermostat to test: i attached the nest thermostat to the baseplate and tested out the new wiring. the thermostat recognized the new wiring configuration and asked me to verify the change. because i now have a fan wire, i can turn on the furnace fan by itself without activating the heat. i checked the technical info and confirmed that thanks to the new common wire the lin now has 100mA (instead of 20mA when it was power sharing). unfortunately, the common wire didn't seem to fix the high temperature issue. i decided to wait, but after half an hour the thermostat was still reading at least 2 degrees higher than actual temperature. well, actually, the thermostat temperature readings are very accurate, because the thermostat itself was heating up a few degrees higher than the surrounding, thereby skewing its temperature reading.

i took a break to eat some lunch (some leftover pork and rice my mother gave me from last friday and some sichuan paocai) before finally deciding to call nest technical support to ask them what was up. the guy i was with on the phone had some problems hearing me, and he didn't seem to be all that knowledgeable anyway. when he heard my problem, his solution was to just return the unit (to amazon) and get a replacement. i thought i'd have to send it back to nest but they only do that once the return grace period is over and then everything falls under their 2 year warranty.

fortunately amazon has a great return policy. the only catch was i had to reinstall my old honeywell thermostat. i went downstairs to turn off the power before removing the nest. back went the old honeywell: may not have any frills but at least i know it's reliable. i packaged up the nest (fortunately i was good about keeping all the original packaging, for fear of having to return it), threw it into a box, printed out the mailing slip, and sealed everything up.

the mailman was supposed to delivery my oneplus one phone, but he didn't knock on my door when he came by to drop off some letters at my house. i was going out to drop off the returning nest, but i tracked down the mailman and asked him if he had a package for me. "yes!" he said, and pulled a package from his van, which i signed for. this saved me from having to go down to the post office and ask them about my shipment. i went to the UPS store on mass ave to drop off the amazon return, then biked to belmont for dinner, with my unopened oneplus one in my bag.

i was imagining the oneplus one (OPO) arriving in a box, but it was just a shipping envelope. however, the box was inside. 2 boxes actually, one for the phone, and one for the charger. there was also a screen protector i'd purchased as well. the packaging the phone came in was a sealed cardboard box with a ripcord you'd pull to open it. inside, another box (white), which contained yet another box (red) which slid out. impressive packaging, although a bit wasteful.

the OPO wasn't as big as i'd imagined. at 5.5" it's bigger than my 5" phone, but it seems smaller because it's actually much thinner. i turned on the phone which still had more than 40% battery life. OPO runs cyanogenmod, which feels a lot like android's stock OS, just with a lot more customization. looking at phone, i realized i was unlucky enough to receive an OPO that had a slight yellow tint at the bottom of the screen. it doesn't bother me too much, it's only really noticeable when i pull up a webpage that uses a lot of white. the back has a nice sandpaper like finish. the phone had that new gadget smell. i was curious about the camera performance. photos seem very bright and sharp, but i think that has more to do with the larger and higher resolution screen. the gps seems to be very responsive, finding my position right away on google map (but this may also be just a functionality of the OS; compared this with my V975, which 99% of the time can't pinpoint my location).

after dinner i quickly hurried home so i could play with my new phone.

it's ironic i got a GSM phone when i can't even use it because verizon is my carrier. i'm actually under a family plan with my parents and sister and aunt. there was a time when we were no longer under contract, but my sister in her infinite wisdom mucked everything up when she decided to upgrade her blackberry to an iphone and signed a 2 year contract. that wouldn't be a big deal except her phone broke at one point so she signed another 2 year contract using my mother's name for a new iphone, and then last year she lost her iphone and used my aunt's name to sign another 2 year contract for yet another iphone (but she eventually found her lost phone). we may have to wait at least another year before we can switch to either AT&T or t-mobile, and the account is under my sister's name, but she doesn't want to switch because verizon has the best nationwide coverage (and the most expensive).

first thing i did when i got home was to test and see if the OPO worked with the HTC Re camera. the app was able to see the camera at least, but couldn't establish a connection after that point. so i have no choice but to return it, or maybe try to get an exchange if they can do that. i really like the camera, i just wish it'd work with my phones/tablets!

cyanogenmod's launcher - trebuchet - seemed a little boring, so i installed the google now launcher (GNL). i didn't have to jump through hoops like i did when i installed GNL on my hisense sero 7 pro or the teclast P89 G3. once i downloaded GNL, the OS gave me the option to choose which launcher i wanted to use as my default. the only real good reason to use GNL is the voice activated searching.

5.5in screen means less eye strain. i'm not actually getting anymore information on the screen, it's more like everything is scaled slightly larger. in a perfect world, maybe i would've gone with a 5in screen if they had that option.

the thing with OPO and cyanogenmod and GNL is that they're nothing new, i've already played with a lot of the features when i upgraded my sero 7 pro tablet to android 4.4.2. just that now i'm playing with it in a smaller but more portable size. my V975 phone is still on 4.2 and there doesn't seem to be anymore upgrade hopes for that device.

i decided to go back to the cyanogenmod trebuchet launcher, just to see if there was anything else i could play with. what i didn't realize this before, but there's a whole suite of customization options hidden on the wallpapers-widgets-themes panel. things like hiding the search bar, changing the scroll effects, removing icon labels, adjusting the grid layout, altering the icon size, etc. that's when i fell in love with cyanogenmod. and i couldn't believe that this was a free android distribution! it's so polished and functional, i'm really surprise it isn't already a part of google. once you've experienced cyanogen, you'll never want to go back to plain vanilla stock android ever again.

OPO has other fun things as well: in the built-in camera app, i can make the power button into a shutter button. unfortunately there doesn't seem to be any way to turn off the shutter sound, but it's an easy fix (just turn off the volume). speaking of the camera, it can also be activated when the phone is off by drawing a circle gesture on the screen. likewise, making a v-shape turns on the flashlight; photos are geotagged, not sure how i feel about that. cool when i'm out and about, but not so cool for strangers to find out where i live; the cyanogenmod camera app is très cool, but that doesn't mean i'm giving up the google camera. for one thing, the CM camera doesn't do panoramas as well as the google camera. google camera also has neat camera tricks like photo spheres; the OS comes with 2 themes (stock android and cyanogenmod), with the option to add more except none of them are free (is this a oneplus store?); customization options on CM is pretty sweet. i can pretty much tweak everything to my heart's content; the order of the physical navigation buttons on the OPO is reversed to what i'm used to - prefs-home-return - instead of return-home-prefs. i thought this would mess me up but i hardly even notice. besides, if it really bugs me, i can deactivate the physical buttons and enable on-screen buttons instead - in which case i can rearrange the navigation buttons in whichever order i want.

it was weird being back on a manual thermostat. i do miss the ability to adjust the temperature and to check my detailed heating history. i also had the nest thermostat long enough that it already learned my routine and was adjusting the temperature on its own. i really hope the replacement nest will work, but even if it doesn't, if it's off by just 2 degrees, i think i can live with it just for the convenience of having a wifi-enabled self-adjusting smart thermostat.