Wednesday, August 27, 2014

I hate DHL Express Courier

So I am waiting for a package to be courier delivered via DHL Express.

They apparently tried to deliver twice in the last two days and left notes in my mailbox, the 2nd note indicating that I would need to pick up the package.

But the note doesn't say WHERE to pick it up.

Where being the most important factoid they should have on the note they left behind.

So I phone DHL and get a machine...

I go through the computer operated nonsense and all I get is a self repeating recording, which doesn't tell me WHERE the package is. When I press 0 to speak with someone the recording just starts over. When I press 0 multiple times the recording just starts over and over each time.

When I try the website it tells me that my package is in Toronto... But it does not say WHERE IN TORONTO. It is kind of a big city...

So finally I just say screw it, and I Google DHL locations in Toronto and I found a location that is near me.

I phone the location... And it is UPS. Which doesn't store packages for DHL, they only pick them up. They don't handle deliveries for DHL. So I ask the guy where the DHL depot is so I can pick up the package. He says he doesn't know and recommends I phone DHL or check their website...


Seriously. What good is a courier company that makes it so difficult to pick up a package by ignoring the WHERE to pick up the package.

I give DHL's website and automated phone system a flat ZERO for making it ridiculously impossible to FIND a package.

And I am not alone in my hatred of DHL. When I mentioned the company to a friend she said she once waited 18 months to deliver a passport from Africa - and by the time the passport was finally delivered a year and a half later, it had already expired.

And when I check other reviews of DHL I find the company is averaging 1 star out of 5 on many of the review websites. 1 star...

Got a horrific courier story to tell? Write your story in the comments.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

My Search for Old Archery Movies

Lately for fun I have been researching and browsing old movies that have archery in them. Sometimes even just brief archery clips in the films.

For example the photo on the right is a movie still from the Elvis movie "Tickle Me", during which Elvis briefly teaches an archery lesson.

But much better examples of old archery movies are films like:

The Flame and the Arrow - starring Burt Lancaster (who is frankly awesome in everything he does).


A Man Called Horse - starring Irish actor Richard Harris, whom you may recognize from his many other movies - including playing Dumbledore in the first 2 Harry Potter movies.


Deliverance - starring Burt Reynolds and Jon Voight (I don't care for Voight, but Burt Reynolds is again very awesome. What is it with actors named Burt being so awesome???)

Below is the movie trailer for Deliverance.

And of course there is also films like Rambo II, Rambo III and all the various Robin Hood films...

Robin Hood - 1938, starring Errol Flynn (with archery stunts by Howard Hill).

Robin Hood Prince of Thieves - 1991, starring Kevin Costner.

Robin Hood - 1973, Disney animated film.

Those are three of the more famous ones.

But there is actually many more Robin Hood films...

Robin Hood - 2010 with Russell Crowe

Robin Hood - 1991 with Patrick Bergin and Uma Thurman

Robin and Marian - 1976

Robin Hood Men in Tights - 1993

The Story of Robin Hood and his Merrie Men - 1952, Disney live action

The Men of Sherwood Forest - 1954

Rabbit Hood - 1949 with Bugs Bunny

Beyond Sherwood Forest - 2009

And a slew of other Robin Hood films...

During my research I have determined there hasn't been a lot of William Tell movies made (a planned one for 2012 starring Brendan Fraser was scrapped when the producers ran into financial difficulties getting funding for their film).

There is an old Austrian William Tell movie from 1960, in German of course. Good luck finding an English dubbed version.

And an older William Tell film from 1949 - and a 1998 TV series called "The Legend of William Tell" with 15 episodes (which looks gawd awful, like a cheap rip off of Xena Warrior Princess).

During my research I have determined there was a lot of archery films (especially Robin Hood or Robin Hood esque films) made during the 1940s and 1950s. It was part of an archery fad that started with enormous financial success of the Errol Flynn / Howard Hill film in 1938, and the fad continued until the early 1970s and included the 1972 film Deliverance starring Burt Reynolds.

There was a brief renewed interest in archery in the 1980s when 2nd and 3rd Rambo movies came out, and again in 1991 with Robin Hood Prince of Thieves - but it was nothing like the fad from 1940s to 1970s.

With the introduction of the Lord of the Rings trilogy in 2001 archery saw a bit of interest, but the fast shooting abilities of Legolas made archery look beyond the skill of the common man.

A couple years later however something interesting happened.

Alabama, at that point the fattest state in the USA, was trying to come to grips with an obesity epidemic and high schools were looking for ways to get teenagers outside and exercising. So someone came up with the idea of starting an archery club in one of the schools. The club took off in popularity, the model was spread to other schools in Alabama, and eventually the program was expanded to other states.

By the time films like the Hunger Games, Brave, The Avengers, Killing Season, Hanna and other archery films came out archery was already a growing phenomenon in the USA.

And when those films became popular it was partially because archery was growing as a fad. It was the fad fueling the films, not the other way around. (Although at this point it is more cyclical, archery fanatics are fueling the films and the films are creating new archery fanatics.)

Below is the movie trailer for Killing Season, starring Robert De Niro and John Travolta.

Hello Nomad USB Chargecard and I/O Magic Battery Charger

Above - Hello Nomad USB Chargecard : Below I/O Magic Battery Pack
By Charles Moffat

I am typing this product review at the beach on my tablet while my phone is charging thanks to three things.

1. The Hello Nomad USB Chargecard - which is a credit card shaped USB cord that fits nicely in my wallet.

2. The I/O Magic battery pack - which once charged provides roughly twice the battery juice of my cellphone battery.

3. And the portable wifi hotspot from my phone, which grants my tablet internet access.

Which means I can go on a 3-day vacation and charge my phone using these two handy devices and still have plenty of juice by the time I return on the 3rd night. (I am basing this on my normal battery consumption per day, which is about 66% of a full battery per day.)

I purchased the I/O Magic battery pack months ago and have been meaning to do a review on the topic. It works, it is handy when I am going to be using my phone often on a particular day.  It does exactly what it is supposed to do and having three times the battery charge is very handy for vacations.

When I purchased it it also came with a 2nd battery charger, so if I take both batteries I can go on a 5 day vacation and really not have to worry at all about my battery power.

Hello Nomad Chargekey
The Hello Nomad USB Chargecard also came with a Chargekey, which attaches to your keychain - which I misplaced and recently found again last night. I really should stick it on a keychain so I don't lose it again. Anyway, the Hello Nomad USB Chargecard is simply a tiny USB cord in the shape of a credit card. It can be used to charge your phone or other USB device whenever plugged into any USB power source - like the battery packs mentioned above.

Together these two products make it really easy to charge my phone. The Chargecard alone is handy because then I just need to find a power source and it takes up very little space in my wallet.

But in combination, they are handy little things to have on me for vacations, work, events, etc.

Sometimes I forget to charge my phone and they end up saving a lot of time too since I can just grab the battery pack and I already know I have the Chargecard in my wallet so I don't need to go searching for a cord to take with me. Very handy.

If you are the type of person who uses their phone a lot - and it runs low regularly - then these are two devices you will find very handy. I use both devices regularly.

UPDATE, July 2015

Earlier this week the Chargecard from Nomad broke. I have been using the product for almost a year now, regularly, and keeping it in my wallet for whenever I need it. The part that broke was the plastic around the Mini USB. It just snapped unexpectedly.

I have contacted Nomad to report the defect and to see if it is possible to get a replacement. Hopefully they will be willing to snail mail me a replacement Chargecard.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Expendables 3 - Movie Review

So if you enjoyed Expendables 1 and Expendables 2, then you will probably enjoy Expendables 3.

I give it 3.5 stars out of 5. A friend of mine gives it 3 stars.

Why? Because it was good, it was entertaining, but it wasn't spectacular.

The highlight of the movie was Antonio Banderas stealing the show.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Ragnarok Movie Trailer

Okay, this movie is officially on my list of things to watch.

"Ragnarok" is the Norse version of the Apocalypse, during which a giant immortal serpent grows so large that it eventually devours the earth.

Into The Storm, movie review + "Night of the Twisters"

So the remake of "Night of the Twisters" came out recently, with a name change and some plot changes - but it is essentially the same movie.

Don't believe me? Watch "Into The Storm" at the movie theatre and then watch "Night of the Twisters" on YouTube further below.

The biggest difference between the two movies is that "Into The Storm" has infinitely better graphics. Behind the tornadoes, the drama in both movies is an emphasis on the importance of family and perseverance/survival.

I give the graphics for Into The Storm 5 stars - but I only give the drama / plot 3 stars. Honestly, I would watch tornado movies just for the graphics if the movie was nothing but tornadoes and just skip the plot entirely. Just 2 hours of mind-blowing graphics and tornado carnage would be something I would love to watch.



Thursday, August 7, 2014

Battle of the Ginger Beers


Royalty Ginger Beer Vs Vita Malt Ginger Beer. Which is best?

If you are not familiar with ginger beer, it tastes like ginger ale but spicier. In case you were wondering, there is NO alcohol in ginger beer - it is basically just a really strong ginger ale. Sort of like "root beer" has no alcohol in it either.

Anyway, back to my taste test contest.

First up was the Vita Malt Ginger Beer - omidragon this stuff was horrible. I have good tasting ginger beers in the past, but this stuff was so strong and had a weird extra flavouring in it. Maybe it was the malt, but whatever it is the stuff tasted absolutely horrible. I do not recommend that stuff at all. I was tempted to throw it out after tasting it, but forced myself to drink all of it because I was hoping "maybe it is something you have to drink more of to appreciate". Well the answer is no, the stuff is horrid. Don't even try it.

And then there was yesterday. After the Vita Malt disaster, I had really low expectations for the Royalty Ginger Beer.

But then I tasted it and my mind was blown. It was spicy, not too much, but spicy, and it was also sweet - truth be told it was a little too sweet. But it was actually the best tasting ginger beer I have ever had.

So applause for Royalty Ginger Beer. That stuff is absolutely amazing. I am going to be buying more of it in the near future and even introducing friends to it. I am positive other people will love it too. I have already introduced one other friend to Royalty Ginger Beer and they also loved it.

Two thumbs way up for Royalty Ginger Beer. (And booooo to the makers of Vita Malt. They should be ashamed of themselves.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Sometimes the customer is a moron

Ever heard the phrase "The customer is always right."

You know who invented that phrased? Customers that complain a lot and always try to get their way. (And then whine about it when they don't get their way.)

Truth be told, if you've ever worked in the service industry (doesn't matter what sector, any kind of service will do) you eventually meet a customer who starts demanding freebies, exceptions to the rule, and complains very loudly.

We all do it sometimes, especially when the situation warrants it.

But when you are on the receiving end of a customer who is verbally abusive (and I would argue "crazy") and thinks that they are entitled to an exception to your company policy, well then you have one solution.

Tell the customer to leave and take their business elsewhere.

Why? Because sometimes dealing with crazy customers just isn't worth it.

True, bending over backwards for customers makes for great customer service relationships. But sometimes customers are just demanding things that they have no entitlement for.

Take for example a dentist who receives people on an appointment basis. What happens when you don't show up for your appointment?

Well, the dentist charges you a fee because you missed your appointment and didn't show up. (And this fee is not covered by insurance by the way. YOU pay the fee if you miss the appointment.)

So imagine for example if the dentist gets a crazy person who refuses to pay the fee for missing their appointment, what do you think the dentist will do?

Answer - Refuse to serve that person until they agree to pay the fee. Why? Because they have Term of Service agreement wherein if you agree to schedule a cleaning for your teeth, then you are automatically agreeing to a ToS that says you also agree to pay any fees if you miss your appointment.

And such Terms of Service are normal for many industries. Dentists, personal trainers, massage therapists, basically anyone who works on an appointment basis.

On the other hand some businesses are more products based - and products come with warranties.

So for example if you go to an Audiologist in Mississauga and you purchase a Clarity XL-30 Amplified Telephone (a special telephone for people who have hearing difficulties), well then it comes with an one year warranty from the manufacturer.

Which means as long as the warranty is still good, you're fine. The manufacturer covers the cost of replacing or fixing your telephone. Which means the hearing clinic in Mississauga will be fine with providing you with full service to help you to fix or replace your phone. If however your warranty has expired, then they just have to point to the warranty and give you two options:

1. Pay to have it sent to the manufacturer and have it repaired.

2. Buy a new telephone with a new warranty.

Places like the above mentioned audiologist / hearing clinic always have great records for customer service - largely because they have warranties, receipts, records of clients, and they don't work on an appointment basis. If someone is late for showing up to purchase hearing aids or special telephones for the hearing impaired, or if they forget to show up, do you know what happens? The customer shows up later eventually anyway and it changes nothing for the audiologist working there.

But for the poor dentist or anyone working on a strict appointment based schedule, they don't just have appointments - they have a freaking WAITING ROOM with magazines and other things to keep you occupied. So you go there for your appointment, and then you WAIT for the dentist to be ready for you.

And if you don't show up, well then you get charged a fee.

At which point you have to wonder, what percentage of dentist customers complain about the extra fee for missing their cleaning, because the vast majority of people just nod, realize they are in the wrong, and then pay the fee.

It is really just the 1% of customers out there who want to be "squeaky wheels who get the grease" who would refuse to pay the fee.

At which point the dentist - or more precisely, the secretary working for the dentist - points to the Terms of Service agreement in the Fine Print.

At which point only a very small percentage of crazy / cheap people will complain about it. The chances of meeting one of these people is multiplied by the number of cheap people out there, multiplied by the percentage of people who feel they are entitled, and multiplied again by the number of people who like to argue and complain loudly until they are blue in the face.

In other words (since we are dealing with small percentages) the final number is pretty small and very rare.

But when you meet one of those crazy customers you understand and realize the same thing:

Those people are freaking lunatics.

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