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HP Customer Service

OfficeJet Pro 9015This is just a random review of HP customer service as I thought I had an odd experience today.

My current printer died and it’s not worth updating given that it doesn’t have all the groovy features you would expect in 2020. So thought it was about time to buy a new 4 in 1 model. I struggled to find one that is compatible with the latest Mac OSX. HP still seemed to be the best for my needs but I did have a slight trauma in contacting them.

STEP 1

I wanted to find a list of Mojave compatible printers, the HP website had misleading information on that, so I attempted to contact customer support.

  1. Went onto the HP website to find the Canadian support homepage.
  2. Called the 1-800 Canadian number
  3. Got through to a representative very quickly, was pleased about that. I told her what I needed.
  4. I asked if HP had a list of Mojave compatible Inkjet printers similar to the LaserJet one on the website. She didn’t answer.
  5. She asked if I was in Canada. I said I was in Vancouver, British Colombia. She then asked again whether I was in Canada. It seemed she didn’t know where British Columbia was.
  6. I asked if I had been redirected to the US call centre, she didn’t want to answer. Thinking about it now I’m not sure if the rep was based even in North America or even if she worked for HP, maybe an outsourcing company?
  7. Basically, she had no idea what I was talking about, the call started to deteriorate.
  8. I decided to end the call as I wasn’t getting anywhere.

It was an extraordinarily odd call. I noticed the rep wanted to adhere very tightly to a script that was most likely on her call centre application.

STEP 2

I managed to reach out to someone on Twitter. They managed to redirect me to a page on their site that had a list of Mojave compatible printers but didn’t list the one I was considering.

The social media person said he didn’t know if it was compatible as there had been a lot of confusion over this issue. Well, the confusion seemed to be mainly with HP. The guy gave me a technical support number to call, I suspect it was in the US.

STEP 3

I called the technical support number as provided.

It was difficult to get through their telephone workflow as it kept wanting to direct me towards the “virtual assistant”. At this stage, I was not patient enough to speak to a computer. The first call was dropped as soon as it redirected me to a human. Sigh. I called again and finally managed to get through to someone.

That call started in an odd way, the rep first asked me for an issue number, I said I didn’t have one. Then she asked me if I was “such and such” person, I said I wasn’t, maybe she was expecting someone to call her back. Finally got to ask her the question I wanted answering and got an immediate “yes it is compatible, via an app in the Apple Store”. She tried to get me to order the printer from her but it would take up to 6 days via a courier and just couldn’t be dealing with that.

Finally got there in the end.

STEP 4

I wrote feedback to HP about the above so they were aware of the process in getting an answer to a question stating that it shouldn’t have taken that long.

I was impressed with an immediate call back soon after I write that email. That was nice of them.

STEP 5

The final step was buying the printer which we did from a very hard salesperson in Staples Canada, that was a bit troublesome too.

I bought an HP OfficeJet Pro 9015.  I got it fixed up at home and it works perfectly with Mojave, as they said, via the app.

Some features I like about the printer:

  • Nice bright design
  • Easy to read/touch front panel
  • Duplex printing and scanning. Two-sided scanning is a huge bonus for me.
  • Mobile friendly

Some bad points:

  • Seems a little noisy when printing
  • Doesn’t do larger size paper formats
By |2020-02-13T23:12:46+00:00February 11th, 2020|Customer Service, Technology|0 Comments

Yolk Man

Yolk Man (蛋黄人) is a Chinese television serial that was produced by iQiyi and broadcast between 16 August 2019 through 30 August 2019. It consists of 12 x 20-minute episodes.

What is it about?

Note: Spoilers Ahead
Yolk Man center’s around the main character of Li Zhi Yuan, a dysfunctional college student who not only loses the love of his life but is then diagnosed with cancer and has 3 months to live. An alien life form then inhabits his body, suppresses the cancer and gives him super human abilities. However, while the good alien inhabits Li Zhi Yuan an evil alien takes over another body that is controlled by a hive.

Main Character

Austin Lin plays Li Zhi Yuan. Austin is a Taiwanese actor whose career started on the singing competition “One Million Star” from 2007 and has appeared a quite a few TV and Movie productions since then. You don’t have to look to far on YouTube to find many shows that Austin has appeared in.

Review

Out of the box iQiyi provide English translation for the show embedded on the video. The translation text was very clear. However, I notice that the network gave English names to all the characters. For example, the main character of Li Zhi Yuan is now Jim.

Each of the actors gave brilliant performances and each character had their own form of “kick ass” opportunities.

China has marked this series as age group 15+. I’m not sure if it would have received the same rating in Canada, UK or US. Maybe lower.

The show is absolutely brilliant scifi with very high production values and some comedy thrown in. The special effects are excellent especially of the good alien who looks like an egg yolk, hence it being named Yolk Man. There is a decent amount of action so each episode is exciting, you are not likely to fall asleep during the show. The show is structured like an episodic scifi from the west with a brief intro, the theme music, a cliffhanger and closing theme. The final 2-3 episodes were the best with a showdown of the alien entity.

Like numerous Chinese shows right now there is a hint of a gay relationship. I notice networks are pushing the limits and including themes like these which, to me, gives a lot of hope that China is joining the rest of world. I really respect the producers for including this content.

There isn’t a particularly happy ending but there was a surprise after the closing theme of the last episode. This made me curious about the potential of a 2nd season although I haven’t seen any hints of one online. I hope so.

Score: 9/10

Where can I see this show?

Easy, the full 12 episodes are on YouTube, thanks to the network for putting it there.

By |2020-01-25T06:30:50+00:00January 25th, 2020|Television|0 Comments

MSNBC vs CNN vs BBC vs SkyNews vs France24 vs CBC

We now live in a technical age where we all have access to many news channels from around the world. This should give us a better perspective of what is happening globally.

Much of these news sources are commercial and often their main aim is to sell advertising space in order to survive, and that might give them a certain political slant. My preference is for these channels to present the news, not opinion, so I can make my own decisions. Few channels actually meet that bill.

These reviews are based on my opinion alone.

Tabloids

Firstly, the US cable networks which I class as “tabloid” journalism, more sensational and gossipy in style.

MSNBC

Out of all the channels I have access to this is the worst:

  • Not much news, focuses on US politics, mainly Trump.
  • Liberal-leaning content, don’t really relay the news from both sides.
  • Sensationalises the “news”, mainly speculation and editorialisation
  • Presenters either shout or the decibels on the broadcast is set to very high
  • Very repetitive repeating the same “news” time and time again
  • “Breaking News” can last for days when I consider it to be an old story
  • As they focus on the worst-case scenario for the world it’s very grim to watch the channel in the morning but any other time
  • Many of the hosts or guests have a Trump book to sell. Love him or loathe him, they are making money from him.

CNN

I don’t watch this channel much as the remit is very similar to MSNBC:

  • Sensationalism, speculation, editorialisation
  • Like MSNBC coverage is politically one-sided.
  • When there is real “breaking news” in the US, non-political, they have better coverage than MSNBC. I would prefer to watch PBS for this but they don’t have a 24/7 format.
  • Too many dancing graphics on the screen.
  • CNN is available globally whereas MSNBC isn’t.

Broadsheets

The following channels I class as more “broadsheet” in style; more real news and analysis, therefore, better-respected organizations.

BBC

The station has come under a lot of criticism in the past few years due to politically slanted news when the expectation of taxpayers, who partially fund the channel, expect more analysis of how both sides of the political spectrum.

  • Good coverage of “breaking news” from a UK perspective. Didn’t really care for their election coverage. Their Brexit news isn’t too bad
  • Presenters are generally calm, don’t shout, and intelligent. This is with possible exception to Aaron Heslehurst who I find loud, confusing and obnoxious
  • Often I find they cover less news in a half an hour slot than some other broadsheet style TV news channels

CBC

Even though CBC is classified as a public broadcaster it’s not the same as the BBC. It is commercial and feels like other channels. However, I do like its news presentation on both radio and TV.

  • Good balance of news and analysis. The analysis comes in the form of its program called The National.
  • Doesn’t appear to sensationalise the news too much
  • Not too many flying graphics during the broadcast
  • CBC Radio 1 has no commercials and the analysis type programming is very good
  • The other news channels in Canada are a bit more American in style and CBC News feels like a cross between BBC and ITN news in the UK

SkyNews

A UK news channel that is owned by Comcast in the US and is currently the Royal Television Society’s News Channel of the Year, as I write this, the 12th time it has held this award.

  • Appear to compress more news into their broadcasts than the BBC
  • Available on YouTube so the world can tune in to watch it
  • Pretty good on UK related news but often BBC has the edge on this
  • Sometimes sways into tabloid format but generally good all-round news presentation
  • Been watching SkyNews more than I have BBC News recently.

France24

Broadcasting English language news internationally over YouTube.

  • Excellent for world news and analysis
  • Of course, best from France related news, but don’t have access to any other English language French news channels
  • Good coverage of Africa and the Middle East, better than the BBC
  • Calm presenters providing a different perspective on the news
  • Good selection of 20 and 30-minute analysis type programming
  • Their app isn’t that great but I do get a good balance of breaking news from around the world, and they often beat many other news service providers.

Other News Outlets

There are other news outlets available here in Canada from home and around the world but don’t really watch them enough to assess them in too much detail but will give a quick overview:

  • Good Morning Britain is available in Canada but the show is tabloid garbage.
  • Fox News is the same but even worse than MSNBC, from a right-wing perspective.
  • Local stations from the US for CBS, NBC and ABC are available but feel their news shows showing what is happening in Seattle is not at all relevant to me.
  • PBS from the US is available here, they have a 6 pm news show, Newshour, which is very good.
  • We will sometimes watch Global News early in the morning, due to lack of CBC at that time of day, however, there are so many adverts splashed all over the screen they make it impossible to watch for any length greater than 10 minutes.
By |2020-01-18T21:55:43+00:00January 18th, 2020|Television|0 Comments

Asian Shows Currently Watching

There are so many Asian shows we are watching at the moment, all of them fantastic, so I thought I would compile a list of my recommendations for everyone.

Yolk Man
China

A student is dying of Cancer but an alien arrives on Earth, forming a symbiotic relationship with him, which saves his life. However, an evil alien soon follows to cause damage. Show is so well put together, special effects are brilliant, 12 x 25 minute episodes

Bromance
Taiwan

Pi Ya Nuo is a female but has to disguise herself as a male until her 26th birthday due to a superstitious omen. Then she meets Du Zi Feng, he thinks he is entering a same sex relationship with her little knowing that he is really a she. Will he still love her when the truth is revealed? Very funny yet touching series.

The Thunder
China

A more action-orientated police series from China that is pretty good, 48 x 45 minute episodes that aired Monday to Sunday in China. It has some notable stars inc Johnny Huang who is in 6 TV series in 2020, not sure how he has the time for them all. iQiyi produce some great series and I will watch out for anything that comes out of this studio.

Ossan’s Love
Japan

This series is one of my favourite so far. Set in a real estate office everyone seems to be falling in love with Haruta, except they are all people of the same sex and he is “supposedely” straight. This is a well acted comedy and I can see why this was so popular in Japan. Tanaka Kei and Yoshida Kotaro are brilliant in this. A must see. Preview is the movie of the show, DVD to be released Spring 2020.

The Untamed
China

We have just started watching this and it’s unexpectedly very good, some fans have described this as a masterpiece. Don’t watch the Netflix version, they often get the subtitles wrong or timing they appear is not working properly. This drama is by Tencent Video who have produced other dramas we have enjoyed too, worth discovering what else they have on offer.

Let’s Eat
South Korea

We are currently on the 2nd Season of Let’s Eat, three seasons produced. Each season has a different story has the same main actor appearing in all them, the popular Yoon Doo Joon. Apart from the drama/comedy theme they also eat a lot, and I mean a lot.  I’m not sure if they are going to make a third season, Yoon is currently doing his military service due to be released April 2020.

This is just a sample of what we are watching, we have many favourites that we have watched and a ton more that the plan to watch in the future.

By |2020-01-21T00:18:03+00:00January 5th, 2020|Television|0 Comments

Customer Service Review 2019

It certainly was an interesting year of odd customer service moments, some good, some bad, and some a mix. Here is my review on how 2019 went.

I can’t put companies in a good or bad bucket as some were a mix, so I will just list them.

Review

Capital One UK

  • I had an old account that I wanted to close, it wasn’t that simple. Lots of back and forth, messages, traumas and so on. Until, I came across one employee who said “oh sure, no problem, sorry to see you go” and it was sorted in a couple of days.
  • Companies like HSBC make it easier to deal with internationally but this wasn’t the case with Capital One. They are low tech and if you are living outside the UK for a while it’s extremely difficult to do business with them.

DHL Canada

  • I got my British passport renewed and DHL UK delivered to my place in Canada without any difficulty. I say this from the perspective that other delivery companies have been a complete nightmare to deal with.
  • There was a slight mix up with a parcel delivery but managed to sort it out quite quickly, instead of worrying their driver we decided to pick it up from their conveniently located depot, which is in a shopping center.
  • The company even sent us a gift basket to say “thanks for the business”. Last time I experienced that with a company was back in 1986. I was impressed.

HSBC Canada

  • Like some other companies getting to the right person was a challenge mainly tackling their call center telephone system workflow. There were, unfortunately, many questions that remained answered for which I just gave up.
  • Connecting with someone I could talk to on a daily basis was actually a very good experience and could settle matters very quickly without any fuss.

HSBC UK

  • HSBC UK and HSBC Canada have very little connectivity together despite them being the same brand, this I found to be a major challenge.
  • Finding a subject matter expert was quite painful. For example, the company wrote a letter to me and I needed to speak to someone about it. When I sent them a message I got the runaround. When I phoned no one was an expert in that subject. I eventually sent a snail-mail letter but no one has responded as yet, I guess I won’t know how that went until 2020, if at all.
  • Questions still remain unanswered with the bank, so I will just have to give up.

Shaw Communications

  • It’s easy to contact Shaw, by telephone or social media DM’s, however they lost track of some of the issues I registered. Maybe a ticketing system would help.
  • We were having this strange pop up appear on their cable system, I reported it 4 times but they never got back to me. An engineer came round and advised us it was totally normal, issue resolved. Not good that I had to reach out so many times to get an answer.
  • We had a lot of picture and sound break up on certain channels. At first they didn’t believe us. I then recorded the TV and sent them videos of the issue. Two times engineers came out, it improved a little as they fiddled with our cables, however, we still get the issue now and again. I am wondering if it’s nothing to do with Shaw but the feed they get from the US. Who knows.

Siteground

  • Siteground is my web hosting provider I’ve been on for just over a year now. They are awesome.
  • 3 minutes unplanned downtime since I’ve been with them (competitors are nowhere near this). Superfast connectivity to the website and CRM I store there. Customer service calls answered in a flash.
  • I am amazed how good this company is.

UPS

  • I ordered something from Wayfair and UPS was their chosen company for the delivery. Twice the company never appeared when they said they were supposed to deliver. I struggled through their telephone system and when I got someone he was actually in the US, not Canada.  He told me the parcel had been lost, I agreed with them if they ever find it to return it to Wayfair.  Wayfair kindly agreed to refund my money and give me a $75 gift certificate, that was really nice.
  • The next day UPS tried to delivery the item, maybe it hadn’t been lost after all. However, I didn’t accept deliver and the took it back to Wayfair.
  • If UPS is Wayfair’s chosen supplier then I cannot do business with them, our local delivery depot is not that good and consistently get poor reviews online, and not useful feedback from their Head Office.

Summary

The Best

Every company I didn’t have to call and could resolve issues on their self-service website.  I really don’t like wasting my time on the phone or in live chats.

The Not So Bad

Has to be DHL, they were helpful in fixing the issue and send us a gift! Well, it helps.

The Worst

It’s a toss up between HSBC and UPS. Misdelivery of items I can probably deal with but errors with my finances have a knock on effect down the line.

By |2020-01-01T06:18:33+00:00January 1st, 2020|Customer Service|0 Comments

Notion Productivity App

I had never heard of the productivity app Notion before this week but a video with an enthustiastic user appeared on my YouTube timeline so I thought I would look into it a bit further.

What is it?

For my perspective, it looks like an all-in-one productiving app to replace many others that are on the market. It has calenders, wiki’s, databases, tables, task management, and a growing range of templates you can use on your pages. It is set up in a similar way to a website, I guess, you have your front page and create other pages that drill down to tools that are various aspects of your personal and working life. It’s like a GTD (Getting Things Done) app on acid.

Why are people raving about it?

The community that are on Notion are extremely exicted about this app, they share their setup on videos and screen dumps around the internet. They are like kinds in a candy store, that have never tasted chocolate before.

I suspect people love it because it is an all-in-one solution of tools they already use but in this case you can integrate your work from section to section. For example, in one section you can have a database of books you want to read but in another section a calendar bring in one of the fields, say title, to record that you have read it on a particular day.

What stage am I with it?

I am at the AARRRGGGHHH stage with it as it’s quite consuming when first getting into it.

  • Created an account
  • Installed Mac Desktop application
  • Installed iPad version
  • Setup some pages and structure

Notion

What are the negatives?

I am finding the following:

  • When you create an account you basically have a blank sheet and don’t really know where to go from there. I hear it takes some people literally months to get to a place where they want to be with it.
  • There isn’t much integration with external tools, and I mean APIs.
  • There is a free account that has some limitations and most users will need to be on a subscription. The ‘personal subscription’ is only USD4.00 a month, not bad for what you get. However, I ask myself whether I want to get into another subscription, most people have enough of them already.
  • Where my data is stored is extremely important. I have 2 cloud services and a web hosting provider all of whom I feel confident with. The data on Notion is placed on their server with no backup to your own cloud. I understand they use Amazon Web Services. You can export each page, one at a time, into PDF or csv format, but haven’t found a feature that can back up all your dataset.
  • There are a couple of things in their Privacy Statement that made me a little bit nervous.
  • There is always a chance that people will become bored of Notion when the next toy comes along. So, what is the longevitity of the company/app? Once your data has been input I don’t think I want to re-enter it somewhere else.
  • I’m not that keen on the iPad app mainly due to responsive design, it has scalled down to look more like how the iPhone size screen might behave.
  • Can it compete with the other tools I have? I use a CRM all the time, I love it, it’s structured and disciplined as I am. The CRM is on my web host and I control it’s development plus look/feel. As I test Notion out that is what I will most likely be comparing it to.

Online Resources

The best resources I found are YouTube videos of champions of the product.

Keep Productive | YouTube Home | Website | Twitter

Ali Abdaal | YouTube Home | Website | Twitter

By |2019-12-21T06:37:32+00:00December 21st, 2019|Technology|0 Comments

Making The Christmas Pudding Part 2

The day finally came to steam my Christmas Pudding, and the truth would be revealed whether I am facing a culinary disaster never experienced before.

I didn’t follow the method of the pudding recipe exactly as there are various ingredients I just don’t like, and the same for the steaming process too. I know, I am taking a risk as I’m not in any way shape or form a chef.

So, I put butter and flour in some plastic basins I had hanging around. Placed the pudding, that had been sitting in the fridge for a week, into the basins, about 3/4 full. I then put a circle of parchment paper on top, then covered with foil and secured with an elastic band.  We have a large steamer we got from the Chinese store so I used that, it fit 3 small basins. I still have more pudding mix remaining so I will have to find more basins from somewhere and repeat this exercise another day.

The recipe says steam for 4 hours, but I slightly reduced that as I spread the pudding mix over 3 small basins.

I was completely gobsmacked when I tried the pudding, it actually tasted very good. I was stunned. I guess my previous experience with Christmas Pudding, being as hard as a brick, frightened me off making any more. Well, now I have tons of Christmas Pudding that will last me months, and I can make it anytime I want. I am very happy.

By |2019-12-07T16:45:45+00:00December 7th, 2019|Christmas Pudding, Food|0 Comments

Making My Christmas Pudding Part 1

It’s not really in my field of expertise to make my own Christmas Pudding, I have only done it once and that turned out to be rock hard. I am quite happy others making it for me as they can do a better job. However, this year I thought I would be brave and do my own.

I chose a recipe that didn’t include the incredients I dislike the most:

  • Dates
  • Peel
  • Large nuts
  • Beer

Actually the recipe I did choose did contain some of those but I put extra dried fruit or alcohol to compensate.

So Stir Up Sunday, this year on 24th November, was the traditional day to make your pudding. This pudding is in two chunks, stir the incredients, leave for a week, then steam the pudding/s.

Unless I made an error the stirring part was actually incredibly easy.  Mix the dry incredients, add the fruit, stir in the wet stuff. I felt drunk just smelling it, did I put in too much alcohol or is there such a thing as too much?

So, I wait until next Sunday to do the steaming. Below are pictures of my first session.

By |2019-11-26T05:52:57+00:00November 26th, 2019|Christmas Pudding, Food|0 Comments

Christmas Pudding News 2 Nov 2019

Part 2 of my special celebrating the Christmas Pudding.

Christmas In Australia
It seems that Christmas Pudding is just as popular in Australia as it is in the UK. The Australia Day Council of South Australia promotes the Christmas Puddings available from Kytons Bakery in Edwardstown, the ingredients of which are sourced mainly from local resources.
[link to article]

Gloria Estefan
This is the unlikely story of a Gloria Estefan fan who explains when he gave her a gift of a Christmas Pudding.
[link to article]

67 Year Old Steamer
Which device do you steam your Christmas Pudding in? Well, many people just buy one and then cook it in a microwave for as little as 50 seconds. However, someone makes their pudding in a 67-year-old steamer passed down to him by his Mother.
[link to article]

Christmas Pudding Bake Sale
This is not the first, and probably not the last, Christmas Pudding bake sale I’ve heard of. This time in Kitchener, Canada where the Pudding Factory is now in its 71st year as it makes Christmas Puddings to raise money for their Church and local charities.
[link to article]

Christmas Advertising Season Has Begun
Yes, it’s the beginning of November which means companies advertise early to attract customers to buy from them, they are reliant on this time of year for the majority of their sales. Allegedly, a Christmas Pudding features in this advert by very.co.uk, you have to be sharp-eyed to see it.
[link to article]

More Christmas Pudding articles coming soon!

By |2019-11-11T05:29:17+00:00November 11th, 2019|Christmas Pudding|0 Comments

When A Snail Falls in Love

We have just finished watching a Chinese television series called “When A Snail Falls in Love” (如果蜗牛有爱情), which we thoroughly recommend. This is my review.

The Story

A Chinese Detective, Ji Bai, played by actor Wang Kai (王凯) has to train new recruit Xu Xu, played by Olivia Wang (王子文). However, she might be excellent at psychology and profiling but doesn’t have the skillset to work in the field. They both become respectful of each other’s abilities and work together to solve a high profile case which takes them to Myanmar.

Review

The story has everything; action, romance, drama and comedy. There are a number of reasons why I believe this series is really good. It tackles the emotional effects of working the police force. Maybe it’s a Chinese cultural thing but the boss always took the blame for any mistakes of the team. The romantic scenes are touching and the action sequences are gripping. The script is complex but it is explained slowly and fits in well with the overall show. The photography is brilliant whether it’s in old fashioned markets, the docks, the countryside, the train going through Myanmar and more romantic locations. The show tackles issues that I’ve never seen in other Asian shows. On the negative side, I believe there are some parts of the story that are “lost in translation”, we didn’t understand some parts of the show which may have been down to the subtitles we saw.  It is often quite difficult to get a direct translation from Mandarin into English.

Snail Cartoon

Where To See The Show

You can watch the show on Viki, but not available in some locations (ie Canada), or the network has uploaded the show to YouTube where you can view various versions there.

By |2019-11-10T05:51:36+00:00November 10th, 2019|Television|0 Comments