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Review Canadian Kit Kat

KitKatI’m not too bothered with the KitKat chocolate bar, it’s not something I eat on a regular basis but thought I would review the Canadian version of the product since it was on sale.

Each country appears to have its own quality of chocolate they use in their recipes and Canada is no exception. Whenever I used to visit Paris or Brussels friends used to ask me to buy KitKat there as the quality of chocolate appeared to be better than the UK.   So, how does the Canadian version pair up to its European counterpart?

Review

  1. The quality of the chocolate isn’t too bad at all, certainly wasn’t gross, I had the milk chocolate variety.
  2. Either my hands have got bigger or the bars have become significantly reduced in size and the price has increased.
  3. I couldn’t eat the whole bar in one go, it lasted me two days. I just don’t eat as much chocolate any more.
  4. The packaging has changed since the last KitKat I had in the UK, many years ago. It had an inner foil wrapper and an outer paper wrapper.  I actually prefer that compared to the one wrapper they provide today which I found fiddly to open, but not a big issue I guess.
  5. The chocolate melted quite quickly and I had it on a fairly cold day, I don’t recall that happening before.
  6. There was no bad after taste in my mouth.
  7. The wafer didn’t feel as crunchy as I remember it to be in Europe.

Summary

It was just….ok, but not something I would buy on a regular basis.  I would save up my money and buy chocolate from independent stores or small businesses.

Last Word

The KitKat website displays a range of products that I have never seen before, at least they aren’t available at any of the locations I shop at.  I often see a couple of different varieties in Asian supermarkets not available from Canadian retailers.  Some of the products listed on the KitKat Canada website link to Amazon, London Drugs etc but some I have no idea where you would purchase. Maybe they want to devoted fan to go out there and hunt for them but don’t have the energy for that.

Websites

By |2019-05-30T18:01:35+00:00May 30th, 2019|Food|0 Comments

Chat Applications

I use quite a few chat applications mainly because I have friends who use a wide variety of them. So, I thought I would review the ones I do use.

I started using chat type apps many years ago the first ones being:

  • ICQ – originally created by an Israeli company then bought by AOL it was finally sold to a Russian entity, it was at that stage I decided to stop using it.
  • Yahoo Messenger – many of my friends were on this application probably because there was no other choice, but it closed in 2018.

My current favourites:

Skype

Skype LogoI wasn’t on Skype until Microsoft bought the company and it was amalgamated into its product line. I start using Skype for Business but didn’t have it for personal reasons.  I guess I got used to using the program and now it is my most used chat type app.  Of course, it is multi-functional so I have the ability to a) make international phone calls, b) chair online client meetings by video and screen sharing.  Companies are reaching out/finding me more over Skype than they are over LinkedIn.  Skype is my preferred chat type app to use. The only thing I will add about the Desktop version, it is a little confusing to get around, as there is so much there, compared to the other basic chat apps.

Telegram

Telegram LogoI’ve been using Telegram for a few weeks for personal use and like the simplicity of the design. It does seem to be working out very well although it would be better if more of my connections used it.  The company suggests they are the best for security but there are reviews for and against this, they are most likely they are the best on the market today, everyone needs to make up their mind.

My not so favourites:

Google Hangout

I have found the interface not as easy to use as the other apps, or at least I am not that familiar with it as I’ve only used it a few times. In my experience startups and agencies use it as they prefer the general Google Suite of applications.  I am also quite concerned about privacy on Google so I generally avoid it and don’t promote that I am on it.

WhatsApp

Since WhatsApp is owned by the Facebook family of products I rarely use it due to privacy concerns and well, I don’t trust the company. I only have one friend on the app but when I have used it, always on a Desktop, it performs well.  I have tried to encourage my friend to try out Telegram.

Worst chat apps:

WeChat

As soon as I registered I was told that there was something wrong with my account and was locked out. I tried to resolve it with them but they were pretty non-responsive not only via Twitter but also but logging a ticket on their system. Therefore I abandoned trying to use this application. It might have been useful in China but alas it wasn’t to be. I only had one friend who tried to encourage me to use the application so all is ok.

Facebook Messenger

When I started receiving adverts through Facebook Messenger and encouraged by companies to use [FAQ] bots through it (rather than speak to live human beings) that was my last straw. Of course, there is also the privacy issue with Facebook too. There are some humans behind companies on Facebook Messenger, for example:

  • Shaw Cable – able to answer some basic questions on a certain subject quickly even though the initial response was incorrect
  • London Transport – took them about 48 hours to respond to a message but not with enough detail in order to resolve the situation

Summary

With so many chat type products on the market and a number of friends scattered around them it’s tough to stop using certain ones but often I have to consider privacy and online safety as my number one priority.

By |2019-05-30T16:09:17+00:00May 30th, 2019|Technology|0 Comments

Review Being King Is Not Easy

King Not EasyWe have recently finished watching another Chinese TV show called “Being King Is Not Easy”, also known as “King Is Not Easy”, “Not Easy Being King” or by its native title “大王不容易”. The show is a historical costume drama which we enjoyed very much.

About the Show

The show is about a lady, Da Xi, who runs a popular food stand who falls in love with Shao Yong, a Royal Guard. In order to be closer to him, she becomes a maid at the Palace. Through some other uncontrollable events her soul is switched with Ji Man, the Emperor, which is when the hilarity begins.

The show had 20 episodes and was broadcast Wednesday through Saturday between 30 August to 28 September 2017 in China.

Review

Chinese humour isn’t that much different than the British variety and this show also tends to be quite slapstick.  I would say this is one of those shows that is quite a gay-friendly as we are seeing a lot of on Chinese TV right now.  Da Xi, whose soul is inside the Kings, is besotted with Shao Yong, so you see some touchy-feely encounters between the two.  In one of the episodes there is a discussion which goes along the lines of “there is nothing wrong with two men being together”, this I believe is the general Chinese view of homosexuality but the conflict is they are encouraged to have a more traditional family.

So 75% of the show is focused on the body switch situation but towards the end, it goes into another interesting direction to wrap the story up.  I won’t give anything away here.

I am also surprised by the extravagance of Chinese drama’s, for a 20 episode drama they seemed to have spent quite a bit of money on it, for example, the scale of the palace, interior palace sets, costumes and special effects.

Summary

Despite recommending the show to a number of people I think people in the west don’t want to give Chinese dramas a chance. Maybe people are put off by sub-titles or they have certain views about China, I don’t know.  I think the show would suit a younger adult type of audience and hope you give it a chance.

By |2019-05-23T17:04:27+00:00May 23rd, 2019|Television|0 Comments

Heathrow Express Review

Heathrow ExpressHeathrow Express is a train service from Heathrow International Airport to Paddington Station in the heart of London. I prefer flying into Heathrow rather than Gatwick because I find it less stressful and more convenient due to good access to Paddington. The train takes about 15 minutes and although more expensive than other routes it’s still worth it for the convenience. I’ve also been happy with the performance in the past, never had a problem, that is until now.

This is a review of my journey on Heathrow Express in March 2019.

Online Booking

Booking was easy enough, no issues online.

When printing off the tickets a QR code was split over 2 pages. This is because they are designed for A4 paper and not for US letter size, therefore I added them to Apple Wallet (as I discovered later that may have been a mistake).

8th March

They didn’t have a gate into the train service before and appeared to be causing customers some issues, including me.  I had 4 QR codes in Apple Wallet, 2 each for my partner and I, scanned the first one in without problems, my partner went through, swiped to scan the next one in which was rejected. The customer service rep at the gate seemed disinterested in helping out as he was talking to his colleagues.  Eventually got him to scan me in.

The journey was ok but crowded, but enough room for us to sit down, not enough room to store luggage. Some senior passengers were having issues so we helped them out.

At Paddington had problems getting out of the gate, one rep was extremely rude and wouldn’t help, he was shouting obscenities at customers, and another was just slumping against a wall with her eyes half shut pretending not to notice the chaos going on.  Eventually, she responded, with a very bad attitude, making me out to be a criminal who hadn’t paid my fare but eventually let me out. Part of me, at that point, wanted to cancel my return journey and just organize a taxi back to the airport.

14th March

At Paddington, there was only one member of staff and the gates were open. Maybe a sign that they weren’t working out due to the multiple reports of chaos on other occasions.

Plenty of room on the train and the journey was pleasant. Someone came round a read our ticket.

At Heathrow, the gates were operational, a little bizarre if they were checking tickets in the train. I had no problems using the gates but I decided to use the paper tickets, I came to the conclusion that the QR codes in my Apple Wallet would not work.

Summary

Due to the number of errors, and bad attitude, on the Heathrow to Paddington trip, my view of Heathrow Express has somewhat changed. When people arrive at the airport they are tired and want a seamless, and polite, journey to their destination. For me, Heathrow Express failed to deliver that experience.

Hopefully, they have learnt from feedback provided by customers, especially on the gates, and reviewing the situation in order to improve the journey and experience for all.  By the time I am reading this hopefully all is well.

By |2019-05-21T16:49:28+00:00May 21st, 2019|Review|0 Comments

Air Canada Review

Air CanadaWe recently took a trip back home to the UK and decided to go on Air Canada this time.

Booking The Flights

There was no issue booking our flights online but had some difficulties with their system entering other information they were asking for. Air Canada is known for its website and computer systems not quite working very well.  However, when we called they were able to fix the issue quickly.

YVR to LHR AC854 7/8 March 2019

At YVR

  • Check in was very easy, there were more agents then there were customers, machines were easy to understand, staff very friendly.
  • Boarding the flight was crazy with a sea of passengers all over the place, couldn’t hear what agents were saying, staff checking tickets were friendly though

On the plane

  • In the age of very expensive checked luggage many people try to cram in their stuff in the cabin, this caused the usual chaos on this flight which is not fair for staff as they already have quite a lot to resolve with many passengers on this flight.
  • The flight was delayed due to de-icing of the hull and they hadn’t emptied the toilet tanks, all this could have been done earlier if they had organized themselves properly.
  • On the surface, the aircraft looked ok but the seats in economy were extremely tight and very uncomfortable especially for someone who has a bad back. A 9 hours flight was quite painful.
  • The food was awful, quite inedible, probably the worst airline meal I’ve had in many years.
  • There was a wide gap in-between the seats in front which meant you were a victim of the flashing TV screen in front. No chance of falling asleep, even when closing your eyes you could see the flashing of the TV. Also, if the TV in front had adult orientated content a child would clearly be able to see that. A very poor design issue between Air Canada and Boeing.
  • There was an overdose issue on the plane, obviously, someone had over-enjoyed themselves in Vancouver, the staff handled this quite well and luckily there was a health care professional on the flight.

LHR to YVR AC855 14 March 2019

Issues with check in because the process wouldn’t complete its workflow. Spent 3 hours trying to resolve it and ended up paying CAD $49 in phone charges.  We were not impressed.

At LHR

No problems at Heathrow check-in. Much easier boarding process than in Vancouver.

On the plane

  • Much nicer flight than the YVR to LHR journey.
  • Freezing cold for part of the flight.
  • No problems with tv screen of person in front as no one was there.
  • The main meal was still inedible but luckily we had come prepared and ate well prior to the flight, we’ll remember that next time we fly via Air Canada.
  • Ice cream and cookies being served at the mid-point of the flight was a very nice surprise.

Other Issues

I tried using their iPhone app. However, as many reviewers report it really doesn’t work well.  Air Canada does seem to have quite a few IT issues, unfortunately.

Summary

Air Canada isn’t really my airline of choice, I’ve had previous issues with the airline but this was the right schedule and the right price, but overall uncomfortable.

By |2019-05-20T15:26:36+00:00May 20th, 2019|Review|0 Comments

When Advertisers Over-Advertise

IJunk don’t have anything against advertising and have used it in various jobs myself, however, some companies appear to over-advertise which starts to feel quite intimidating. The photo of junk feels like the advertising I see every single day.

Adverts these days are everywhere.  Whatever you do and where ever you go they are very hard to avoid; on social media, websites, television, on the bus, public toilets, public spaces, text messages, train stations, newspapers – it’s tough to shut them out of your life.

So, what happens when someone continuously sees the same, or a particularly bad, advert:

  1. Become burned out so much they numb to the content
  2. Turn off the TV losing viewers to a certain program or even channel
  3. On social media hide any future advertising from that company
  4. Block the company on social media sites
  5. Provide public angry feedback to the company creating a risk to their reputation or loss of potential customers

Companies control the rate of advertising that goes out, they should fine-tune it so customers don’t feel bullied into purchasing the products. Companies also control, somewhat, who their target audience is such as on Social Media.  Hopefully, a company targets advertising to a cross-section of people who can benefit from their product, but you wouldn’t bombard someone who is in the senior age group for a product that is for teenagers. On a daily basis, I see many examples of mistargeted ads.

Who are the main culprits of over-advertising? Here are some examples:

  • Wayfair – first time I saw the TV commercial I thought “moderately ok” but since they push that out every break I have to either mute the sound or turn the TV off.
  • Smile Direct Club – the cheesy childlike branding is not only annoying but their social media team bombard people with a never-ending supply of copy and paste hard sell messages that feel like spam beating people into submission
  • Pharmaceuticals – multiple commercials every break with annoying music and messages
  • Conservative Party of Canada – really draining negative messages on the Space Channel which people watch to avoid politics
  • Mattresses – for some reason, on the west coast of the US, advertisers think there is a huge market for bed mattresses for which we see multiple adverts in the same break

Many companies that over-advertise push so much income into the marketing department but fail to beef up customer service staff which is why you see so many negative experiences with the ones I mention above.

The reason why Ad Blocker type plugins have become so successful is partly due to the continuous bombardment of adverts we are all seeing these days. We shouldn’t need to use these plugins if companies moderate themselves.

By |2019-05-19T22:10:25+00:00May 19th, 2019|General|0 Comments

Moonshine and Valentine

Moonshine and ValentineWe have just finished watching a Chinese TV Series called “Moonshine and Valentine”, this is my review.

The original Chinese name for the series is 结爱·千岁大人的初恋, the English title the show uses is “Moonshine and Valentine” but is also known as “The Love Knot: His Excellency’s First Love”. The show was made in 2018 and its 25 x 45-minute episodes were broadcast in China from 9 May to 13 June 2018.  The only actor I knew from the series was Johnny Huang who I had previously seen in the low budget but internationally popular show “Addicted Heroin”, which isn’t about drugs but a gay relationship.

The storyline can be a little complex. 900 years ago a race of hybrid foxes escaped from their collapsing planet and made home on Earth. Those aliens evolved on Earth taking human form and fit into society although over the years became secretive to whom they are. Many years ago one of the Fox Clan (Helan Xi) fell in love with a woman which never worked out but she was beset with a curse. So, Helan waited through the generations, he doesn’t age, for her resurrection who is in this era is known as Guan Pipi, a journalist. In addition to this, the Foxes split up into a South and North Clans for which there is friction between them both. In the show, there is some supernatural, super hero, sci-fi element to the story but the relationship between Helan and Pipi is at the forefront.

The first noticeable thing about the show is its pace, some people online say it’s very slow but for me, this was something that drew me to it, it did have some pockets of action but not many. The story line was pretty complex but they did well-explaining things, maybe the series could have been longer to explore it a little more. There was one episode that completely went off script and away from the current timeline, at first I was a little confused and wondered if I had missed an episode, but it actually turned out to be the best of the series, wait for episode 24. My two favourites on the show were actors Li Shen (Xiu Xian) and Leo Li (Kuan Yong) whose relationship was amusing and engaging, I’m pleased as support cast they had a lot of air time. Many people complained about the ending and although it’s not how I would have finished the show I’m not sure how they could have re-written it, I doubt if there could have been a second season which is not that common in China anyhow. The best part of the show was the opening title sequence which is a work of art, like a sophisticated comic.

Because the pace of the show is slow this makes the English subtitles more readable.  In many Chinese slow, they speak very quickly and often miss some of what they are saying. I would recommend it and hope you enjoy it.

By |2019-05-10T23:43:29+00:00May 10th, 2019|Television|0 Comments

PayPal Minimum Withdrawal Amount

PayPalI would say most people know about the maximum withdrawal amounts that PayPal has but they also set minimum withdrawal amounts too and the company doesn’t want you to know why they have them set so high, at least that is my experience. Asking why they have set these amounts so high has made me realise their customer service isn’t so great.

Backstory

I bought a subscription on behalf of a client which came to CAD$12, the client paid me back via PayPal.  So, I then attempted to withdraw that money to my bank account but received an error message stating I had exceeded the limits, didn’t mention “minimum”, but had to figure it out by groping around their system.  I reached out to the company to find out why they have the minimum withdrawal amounts, why they are so high and why it differs greatly from country to country (ie GBP£6 in the UK, CAD$15 in Canada).

  • Call 1: nobody knew about the minimum withdrawal amount so they decided to hang up on me
  • Call 2: nobody knew about the minimum withdrawal amount and they got into such a pickle over the phone I just said goodbye
  • Call 3: had problems with their phone system and got through to fraud for some reason, finally got someone who knew about the limits, told me to move money into PayPal to then withdraw $15. I told them this creates unnecessary red tape for a client and asked why they had the minimum withdraw amount, the only answer got was “those are the rules”
  • Email 1: didn’t answer the question
  • Email 2: replied with a lot of copy/paste messaging about irrelevant stuff I already knew but did say the minimum amount related to “integrity of our system”, didn’t know what that was supposed to mean, not really an answer.
  • Email 3: again didn’t answer my question and told me to phone in, however, given that most staff don’t know there is even a minimum withdrawal amount I thought this would be a futile effort and there is no reason why they can’t tell me over email.
  • Email 4: again didn’t anser my question, copied and pasted some fluff from their system
  • Email 5: yet again didn’t answer my question, copied and pasted even more fluff from their system.

Conclusions

  • There could be a perfectly legitimate reason why they have set this amount, even though the majority of PayPal’s competitors have set it at $1, but I can’t get that answer from the company, or more likely they don’t want to tell customers.
  • It actually takes 10+ days to transfer money into PayPal Canada in order for me to withdraw the $15 out, which is a nightmare really. Other platforms have faster “deposit from bank account” process.
  • If PayPal customer service cannot answer this simple question how are they going to perform at other, probably more important, questions?
  • People will, rightfully or wrongfully, assume they are holding onto these smaller amounts to maximise their profits
  • PayPal might be a great company with a good product and hard dedicated workers but these frustrating issues override any worthwhile things they might want to achieve.
  • There are many other companies that provide similar services to PayPal so it’s worth looking around for one that meets your needs.

Final Say

PayPal might be ok to deal if:

  • Any transactions you may want to withdraw quickly into your bank account are over the minimum withdrawal limit, the platform is not good for small amounts (as is often advertised).
  • You are not reliant on moving funds into them from your bank account quickly,
  • You don’t have to deal with customer service as they don’t appear to be particularly helpful in resolving matters.
  • PayPal have had a lot of media attention through their dodgy practices, been the subject of class action law suits and many unhappy people can be found online. Here is one frightening incident involving PayPal I picked up on:
By |2019-04-28T23:55:20+00:00April 24th, 2019|Customer Service|0 Comments

Weetabix vs Weetabix

When you travel around or have lived in 3 different countries as I have, you realise international brands aren’t the same everywhere.  This is definitely the case for breakfast cereal Weetabix. This is a comparison against Weetabix UK and Weetabix Canada.

What are the brand differences?

WeetabixIn the picture to the right, the Weetabix on top is Canadian and below is a box I bought from Tesco in the UK.

The UK is going for a more minimalist branding on Weetabix boxes with plenty of blank space at the moment, at least on the one I picked up. I have seen better designs in recent years and personally prefer it when they are busier.

Canada suggests their 12 size Weetabix product as their introductory first-timer marketing solution, at least that’s how it looks.  Rarely do I see boxes of 12 in Canada apart from in this format and I’ve only found them in London Drugs. They always have a $1 off coupon for their 24 size boxes, definitely worth picking up.

In the US Weetabix product placement usually goes in the “healthy cereal” area not among the American-style cereals which are generally full of sugar and other rubbish.  In Canada, I notice they are mingled in with the American cereals and aren’t so noticeable as generally, they don’t place them to sell well, usually in the uppermost shelf and only a 1 box row. There is an exception at London Drugs who often display them in the aisle rather than on the shelf or in a prominent position on the selves.

Here is one of the Weetabix UK commercials which I recall seeing before:

I don’t actually recall seeing any Weetabix commericals in Canada but there has at least been one:

Pricing

12 size

In Canada, London Drugs usually sell 1 box for $1.69 (GBP £0.95) or alternatively, 2 boxes or more for $1.50 each (GBP £0.85). In the UK, based on Tesco pricing, a box of 12 is currently £1.50.  So, based on a box of 12, Weetabix is cheaper in Canada.

24 size

In Canada, this ranges in pricing significantly from store to store. In Walmart, I’ve seen it at $3.97, in Real Canadian Superstore at $4.05 but in other stores can be as much as $6.00. In the UK, based on Sainsbury pricing, a box of 24 is currently £2.80, that is CAD $4.96.  Compared to its lowest prices a 24 pack of Weetabix is also cheaper in Canada.

Other sizes

I have not seen larger size boxes of Weetabix in Canada (ie 48 and 72) to do a comparison against the UK. I would prefer to buy larger boxes if I can assuming it would be a bargain for me to do so.

Taste Differences

Many might think that Weetabix tastes the same no matter where you buy it, but this is not the case.

The Canadian box states that it is manufactured in Canada. The UK box doesn’t say where it’s manufactured but does state it contains 100% British wholegrain wheat. It’s difficult to assess if the nutritional facts are the same due to how differently each country displays them on the packaging.

Getting right down to it, I actually prefer the British Weetabix.  The texture of the British product seems crunchier and rougher compared to the Canadian equivalent, I think I must have got used to that over the years. Yes, and there is a slight taste difference, I do prefer the UK taste over the Canadian. The British product is better when I put hot milk on it too.

I would pay a higher price for the British product. Some specialist stores in Canada do sell the British version of the product, just like they sell other products that have Canadian equivalents, however, they are very expensive to buy, as though I have paid full price for them to be shipped all the way from the UK.  I guess British people know the difference between UK products and their Canadian equivalents.

I wish I had bought more British Weetabix back with me from my trip. Oh well. Where ever you buy Weetabix it’s still a great product and recommend you try it if you haven’t done so already.

Resources

Weetabix UK: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

Weetabix Canada: Post Website (No Dedicated Canadian Site)

Weetabix USA: Website | Facebook (was a US site redirects to Weetabix International) | Twitter (hasn’t been updated since 2015)

By |2019-03-27T15:05:59+00:00March 27th, 2019|Canada, Food, UK|0 Comments

Google Tag Manager – Getting Started

Google Tag ManagerGoogle Tag Manager has been around for a little while now but I notice many people or companies are kind of nervous about getting into it. Up until 1-2 years ago, there weren’t many easy-to-understand resources on the web to explain the tool concisely, however, this is not so much the case today.

Rather than me go through an explain what it is I will refer you to these great resources around the internet.

About Google Tag Manager

The first video by Jason Whaling explains what Tag Manager is and why you should be using it.

Getting Started/Setup

The second video is by Loves Data, Benjamin explains how to get started with Google Tag Manager from when you sign up, find the code to place on your website and connect to Google Analytics.

WordPress Installation

During the sign up on Google Tag Manager, you will need to place some code on your website.  For those using WordPress there are plugin’s to help you do that but if you are using the Avada Theme, as many people do, you can follow the instructions that are described in the following useful video:

I hope these simple Google Tag Manager tips are helpful in setting it up on your website.

If you aren’t used to the Google Tag Manager interface and want to learn more there are many resources over YouTube and on other websites. Generous experts will often share their ‘recipes” which you can use inside your own Tag Manager account, these are always super useful.

Good luck and enjoy.

By |2019-02-27T21:45:56+00:00February 27th, 2019|Technology|0 Comments