Regarding the whip antenna, I've read horror stories about it not working or arriving broken and in general its low quality. I perhaps got lucky because mine worked well. I first checked continuity between the center post of the SMA and the whip to make sure there were no broken wires inside. Next I removed the sticker on the bottom of the antenna. It was a mistake to put one on there just for aesthetics. Then I verified continuity between the bottom metal and magnet with the housing of the SMA.
I then had to go through my wife's cookie sheets and pie pans to find one that was both A) ferrous enough to have the magnet hold on and B) low resistance. If it was high resistance across the sheet, then it would make a poor ground connection. Ultimately none of the ones I had available were both, so I used one with good low resistance and risked the antenna falling over.
I found the magnet was too far recessed into the housing to make contact with the cookie sheet, so I just put a paper clip under it to bridge the gap. Then I checked continuity between the cookie sheet and the housing of the SMA and it worked!
I was able to received good FM stations and voice air-traffic on my first attempt with SDR#. I then started RTL1090 to check ADS-B reception and was able to receive data from aircraft over 100 miles away without obstructions. This is from about 4 feet off the ground. However, in the opposite direction where I do have obstructions, I only get maybe 30 miles or so. That was much more than I expected given the negative stories about this antenna.