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Monthly Archives: November 2012

All I Want For Christmas is… New Underwear!

Published November 30, 2012 - 1 Comment

With only 3 weeks left until Christmas I thought that it would be a good idea to start my All I Want For Christmas is… series again!  Every couple of days I’ll post something that I REALLY want for Christmas… and most likely will never ever receive…  I’m still waiting for my Lexus and Scarlett Johansson to show up in my driveway.. preferably together… still… waiting…

So what’s first on my list of desirables this season?  I thought that I’d start with something a little more realistic than Scarlett… still.. waiting…   New underwear!

While it’s true that I continually break every of rule of fashion sense on a regular basis, sometimes a guy just has to be comfy.  Is it possible to be too comfy?  I didn’t think so… but apparently some of my favourite “man panties” (as Jess loves to call them… grrrr) are a little worse for wear.  What I consider built-in aeration,  she considers holy irritation.

So fine.  I give in.  I have begun to slowly cycle through some of my more comfy “manties” (as I prefer to call them!) in anticipation of Christmas morning… when I tiptoe into the living room and see that Santa has kept me off his naughty list again this year!  (Ahh.. blackmail is a wonderful thing…)

Ho! Ho! Ho!

Oh iTunes… Don’t Let Me Down Now…

Published November 29, 2012 - 0 Comments

I’ve written before about my love affair with iTunes.  While it’s not perfect, I think that it’s still the best damn solution for organizing and playing my media files… music, movies, tv shows, audio books… even e-books.  It’s convenient, it syncs well with my iPhone and iPad… I just love it.

But lately I’ve begun to notice something in the iTunes store that is really starting to piss me off.  Bundled-only music videos.

I download a lot of music videos.  Some of them I get from torrents.  Some of them I pay for through iTunes.  It just depends on my mood at the time.  Last night I decided that I wanted to download an iTunes copy of My Immortal by Evanescence.  I already have a very nice copy that I downloaded years ago from torrents, but I wanted to have the iTunes version so I could stream it anywhere.

Turns out that the video in question is in the iTunes store…  but they won’t sell it to you.  Instead you have to buy a collection of songs, and then receive a half dozen of their older videos “for free”…  So what should be a $2.29 purchase is now $24.99?  Umm.. I don’t think so!  I have no interest in any of the other videos, and certainly none of the songs!

This isn’t the first time that I’ve encountered this.  Last week I decided that I wanted to download Sexy Back (don’t ask)… the edited version was available for the standard price, but the explicit version was only available as part of a package that I wasn’t willing to buy.  So now I have to deal with the annoyance of sound that disappears for a split second while JT curses.  Not cool.

What’s going on at Apple?  If they want to be a content provider then they have to PROVIDE the content… not make it more difficult for the consumer.  If they want to bundle a few goodies to make a collection look more attractive, great.  But don’t prohibit us from being able to purchase the music we want.  Not when it’s so easy to obtain through other means…

Sealed With a Kiss

Published November 27, 2012 - 7 Comments

“We have tickets to dinner theatre!”

Wonderful… not only was this going to be my first meeting of “The Mum” and “The Grand Mum” … I was also going to be dragged off to a dinner theatre.  This’ll be fun…  Just keep dumping the unpleasantries on me.

Well…

First of all, The Mum and The Grand Mum are awesome.  Any awkward nervousness that I might have had (oh, and there was plenty!) was quickly dispelled by their warm smiles and abundance of hugs.

And the dinner theatre?

Broadway Productions in Grand Falls puts on an amazing show.  This was centred around a 50s-60s diner with plenty of great music from that period.  And funny… Oh my…  yes!  I was really blown away, and felt more than a little foolish at my initial reluctance.

Throw in a great turkey dinner, and it was a perfect night of food, fun and festivities… and one that I can definitely see us driving back to Grand Falls for next year.

Justin Bieber is a Punk

Published November 26, 2012 - 7 Comments

I’m known to be pretty hard on The Biebs… and for good reason (I think).  I still say that he’s a talentless hack… a product of marketing… a pretty face to drive teenage girls crazy until the next teen heart throb comes along.  And I guess that’s fine.  That’s what the music industry produces now, so that’s what we’re stuck with.

But what’s not fine is the punk attitude that oozes from his pores.  He acts like a larger than life caricature, when in reality he’s simply lucky enough to have been plucked from YouTube obscurity and given everything that he could ever desire.

Need proof?  How’s this?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Justin Bieber received a Diamond Jubilee medal from Prime Minister Stephen Harper on Friday.

Now I’m no fan of Stephen Harper in the least, but I AM a traditionalist when it comes to respecting the authority that is granted to him by the office he holds.  If I was receiving an honour from the Prime Minister, I’m pretty sure that his staff wouldn’t let me anywhere near him if I was wearing my ballcap and hoodie!  If MY son attended a ceremony with the Prime Minister and he showed up looking like an idiot, I’d be embarrassed to the point of wanting to rip that stupid backward ballcap off his head.  I don’t care if Bieber had a concert that night or not… these people can change from one outfit into another completely new one in less time than it takes me to find a pair of socks without holes.  It’s ridiculous.

Show some respect, you ungrateful little punk.

Punk, I say.

Follow up: UPS Fail

Published November 23, 2012 - 2 Comments

It’s time for another update!  In case you missed it, I’ve been having a bit of a spat with UPS over their delivery of some items that I had ordered from Apple.  You can read all about that here.

Well, it didn’t take long to receive a reply from UPS.

Hi Stephen,

Thank you for the additional information. This package should have been held for five business days and was instead returned to the shipper in error. I have contacted your local team regarding the error. They will contact you by the end of the next business day to discuss this further. I’m so sorry that you never received this package and for the frustration that you went through.

This was good!  This made me happy.  Someone finally told me that they messed up, and apologized   That’s all I wanted.  Unfortunately it didn’t turn out to be that simple.  Later that day I received a follow-up call, and during that call I was told:

  • UPS has an agreement with Apple to NOT hold onto a package for 5 days if undeliverable, due to the high volume and price of Apple shipments.  Well isn’t that nice?  That’s fine if they want to make an exception, but they need to stop telling people that their package will be available for 5 days.  No other phone representative seemed to be aware of that policy.  I was assured that my package would still be there.  It wasn’t.
  • I could have arranged to have signed for the package at the UPS depot.  When I mentioned that I work until 5pm, I was told that the customer desk at UPS is open until 7:30PM.  HUH?!  That was news to me!  I’d been told repeatedly that it was open until 5PM.  You’re sure that Saint John, NB is open until 7:30PM?  OK…

So that evening I went for a little drive.  I was bound and determined to find that UPS depot, and see whether I could get through the door and stand inside without the security alarms going off.  Simple enough concept except that I couldn’t even find the depot.  Expansion Ave.  I drove up and down that short street a few times.  No UPS signs or trucks anywhere.

I give up.

I see UPS trucks driving around the city, and I’m tempted to follow one of them… all day if necessary…  just to see where it goes at the end of the day.  I don’t believe that they’re delivering anything.  I think they’re mobile crystal meth labs, criss crossing the city under the pretence of making parcel deliveries.  It’s the perfect front.

Or maybe I’m just going through Breaking Bad withdrawal.

Follow up: Kia’s Inflated Mileage Claims

Published November 21, 2012 - 0 Comments

Last week I wrote about Kia’s Inflated Mileage Claims. After taking my Sportage to the dealership yesterday, I thought it only fair that I post a follow up.

First, I had omitted the fact that some Hyundai vehicles were also affected by inflated mileage claims.  This makes sense, as Hyundai owns Kia.

Second… and most important… apparently this reimbursement is a yearly occurrence!  I had assumed that it was merely a one time only adjustment.  Well.. you know what happens when you assume.  I was wrong.

I should be receiving my gas card for almost $40 in the mail sometime over the next couple of weeks.  Not too bad for only having 8432 kms on the car.  This time next year I will have considerably more… and that will be reflected in the next gas card.  And every year for as long as I own the car!  And if I sell the car to someone else, that transfers with the car, so it’s pretty sweet.

Aaaaaiiiiiiiieeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee

How Good is Your Data Backup?

Published November 19, 2012 - 0 Comments

If you’re a fan of Apple’s iMessage instant message service, you probably noticed that yesterday was not a good day for iMessage users.  Apple reported that “some users” experienced an outage that lasted several hours through the afternoon and evening.  I’d be willing to bet that it was a little more than “some” because I couldn’t seem to find anyone who had iMessage working.  But that’s fine.. this isn’t about the failure… It’s about what happens after the failure.  It’s about the backup.

To be more accurate the backup actually takes place before the failure, and then the restore comes after.

It’s pure speculation on my part, but I imagine that at least one of Apple’s servers took a dive yesterday and had to be replaced.  Then the tedious process of recovering data from backups had to be completed.  Network administrators generally like to bring hardware back online gradually, rather than a single flick of the switch, so this would have taken time.  Imagine the sheer amount of data flowing through Apple, and the backlog of messages that might have made it into the queue before everything went down.

Now think of your own data.  Whether you have a single laptop that you carry from room to room, or an elaborate home or office network, undoubtedly you have plenty of data files that are precious to you.  Those movies of the baby’s first steps.  Pictures you scanned from your late grandfather’s collection.  Financial spreadsheets from the last 10 years.  And don’t forget the music..  oh the music…  Hours, no..  days of your life spent inserting CD after CD, ripping your favourite tracks to your hard drive  and cataloguing  them into precise mood-reflecting playlists.  Are you backing up this data?  Of course you are.  Are you sure?  How good is your backup?

It’s ironic timing, but I had actually planned yesterday as a test of one of my backup solutions.  All Apple computers come with Time Machine backup capabilities built-in.  Simply plug in an external hard drive, and your Mac will ask whether you want to use that drive for Time Machine backups.  Once you accept, Time Machine will automatically back up all your files (or only some, if you don’t want a full backup).  It’s a very slick system, but I’d never done a complete restore from backup.  Yesterday I decided to try that.

I wiped my Macbook Air clean of all data.. not even an operating system… I wanted to simulate a complete and total loss of data on my laptop.  After rebooting my OS X installation USB drive and plugging in the external Time Machine drive, I had a fully functioning laptop back up and running in 15 mins… with no personal data missing.  You can’t ask for much better than that!

I would never suggest that this full blown test is right for everyone.  I had minimized the risk by ensuring that my laptop wasn’t holding any critical files to begin with.  But I think we should all consider from time to time just how we’re backing up our most important files, and whether those files are really going to be there for us if we need them.  Computers are unpredictable, and failures do happen.  It happened to Apple.  It can happen to you too.

Artists Against Bullying – True Colors

Published November 16, 2012 - 1 Comment

Bullying certainly is nothing new, but in the wake of Amanda Todd’s YouTube post and subsequent suicide, it has finally been thrust into the national spotlight.

A group of Canadian music artists have gotten together to record their version of Cyndi Lauper’s True Colors , and it’s not hard to see Amanda Todd’s direct influence in how the song’s video was produced.

It really is time for everyone to stand up and say “no” to bullying in all its forms.

Pepsi Launches “Fat Blocker” Cola! Why Didn’t I Think of That? Oh Wait.. I Did!

Published November 15, 2012 - 5 Comments

I’ve been saying for years that they need to come out with a way of making Coke healthy.  I don’t mean “less sugar”… I mean healthy!  Just slip some vitamins, or special ingredient (other than dark rum) into it, and market it as a health drink.

Well apparently I wasn’t far off.

Pepsi has introduced Pepsi Special in Japan, which is marketed as a “fat blocker”, by including something called dextrin (a little too close to Dexter for my liking!).  Near as I can tell, dextrins are some sort of fibre that the body can’t digest, which also attract fat to bond with them, before getting vacated from the body.  No wonder the marketing people went with “fat blocker”.

Are you listening, Coca-Cola?!  Are you listening?!

Unfortunately the chances of ever seeing Pepsi Special on North American shelves are slim to none

*groan*

Sorry.. I had to!  🙂

UPS Fail

Published November 14, 2012 - 0 Comments
The following is a copy of the email that I have sent to twitter@ups.com.  I know that it seems strange, but after venting in Twitter last week, I was immediately contacted and asked to provide details to that email address.  I’ve looked on the UPS website, and there really isn’t a spot there for feedback, so I’m hoping that the Twitter address is a legitimate funnel for this type of correspondence.  Many companies are now actively watching social media feeds for conversations regarding their brands, so who knows… maybe someone at the company will respond to this.
******************************
Hello,
I recently suffered an extremely frustrating experience with my UPS delivery… or lack of delivery in this case.  Rather than go off on a rant, I’ve taken a few days to compile my thoughts.  At this point there’s nothing that can be done about my delivery, but perhaps in the future others may not have to experience the same level of frustration.
November 3 I was notified that my Apple order had been placed with UPS for delivery.  Over the next few days I tracked its progress from China to Canada, until it arrived at my local office in Saint John, NB on November 6.
 
My regular work hours are Monday-Friday 8am-5pm, so I was fully aware that I would be unavailable to sign for this order at my residence, but anticipated that I could make alternative arrangements.  Surely this is not a unique situation.
 
November 6 – Called UPS to ask what the hours of operation are at the local office.  Was told 8-5.  I’m not sure how customers are expected to be able to retrieve their orders if UPS is only open during these hours.  Even an evening option until 6PM only one night through the week would be a huge help, but nonetheless… this UPS office is open 8-5.  I was told that after 3 failed attempts the order would remain at the UPS office for 5 days, and I could make arrangements to sign for it there.  That was perfectly fine with me.  I can not take time off work to wait for a delivery that may or may not be on time that particular day, but I can leave to head out to the UPS office if my order is there.  I just needed to wait for the package to be left at the UPS office, which would automatically happen after 3 failed delivery attempts.
 
November 7 – After a second delivery attempt I called UPS to see whether I could have the delivery address changed to my parents’ house.  I was told that because the order originated from Apple, that it was their policy to not allow the shipping address to be changed after it had shipped.  I don’t necessarily disagree with this policy.  I only mention it to keep the timeline as complete as possible.  Again I was told that the UPS office was open 8-5, but that they would try one more time to deliver my order.  If that was unsuccessful (and I knew it would be) then they would hold it for 5 days.
 
November 8 – Third and final attempt.  
 
November 9 – I left work during my lunch break and attempted to locate the local UPS office, which apparently was in the process of moving locations.  When I called to confirm the new address I was told that my order had already been shipped back to the sender!  Where was the 5 day holding policy that I had been told of each time I called?  Why had someone not contacted me before sending it back?  I had called UPS twice about this order.  Surely that information is recorded somewhere. Clearly I WANTED the order.  I’m not sure what more I could have done to receive it.  Staying home from work is not an option.  Having a neighbour sign for it is not an option.  And even though the local store has incredibly inconvenient hours, I was perfectly willing to take time out of my own busy day and drive there to sign for it.  If only I had the chance to do so.
 
I’ve since cancelled a second order from Apple and will no longer purchase anything that is shipped UPS because I can’t be guaranteed that it will actually reach me.  To be able to track a package 24/7 from China to USA to Canada is an incredible thing.  To then see the breakdown happen so close to home… that is incredibly frustrating.  
 
I would very much like to know why my order was not held for the 5 days as I had been told, and what can be done to ensure that this does not happen again in the future.
 
Thank you,
 
Stephen Belyea
Saint John, NB
Canada
Location Date Local Time Activity
Saint John, NB, Canada 11/08/2012 19:19 The customer was not available on 3rd attempt / Returned to shipper
11/08/2012 10:03 The customer was not available on 3rd attempt.
Saint John, NB, Canada 11/07/2012 9:55 The customer was not available on the 2nd attempt. A 3rd delivery attempt will be made
Saint John, NB, Canada 11/06/2012 9:43 The customer was not available on the 1st attempt. A 2nd delivery attempt will be made
11/06/2012 8:11 Destination Scan
11/06/2012 6:55 Arrival Scan
Dieppe, NB, Canada 11/06/2012 4:55 Departure Scan
11/06/2012 3:31 Arrival Scan
Mount Hope, ON, Canada 11/06/2012 0:50 Departure Scan
Buffalo, NY, United States 11/05/2012 1:02 Departure Scan
11/05/2012 0:36 Arrival Scan
Louisville, KY, United States 11/04/2012 16:00 Departure Scan
11/04/2012 15:47 Departure Scan
11/04/2012 8:14 Arrival Scan
Anchorage, AK, United States 11/03/2012 22:28 Departure Scan
11/03/2012 16:54 Arrival Scan
Chek Lap Kok, Hong Kong 11/04/2012 2:48 Departure Scan
Chek Lap Kok, Hong Kong 11/03/2012 16:35 Arrival Scan
Shenzhen, China 11/03/2012 15:30 Departure Scan
11/03/2012 10:34 Origin Scan
China 11/03/2012 22:42 Order Processed: Ready for UPS