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Facebook Alternatives 2020

FacebookMany users have been asking themselves whether they should remain on Facebook due to the number of controversies surrounding the company and subsequently looking at alternatives.

I don’t want to recommend any alternatives to anyone, most can discover those on their own, but I will run through what I currently use.

The last straw for many people was Facebook willfully allowing misinformation and divisive content to proliferate on its platform leading to walkouts from staff [Business Insider – 2nd June 2020]. A group of civil rights organizations are asking big brands to boycott advertising on the platform during July 2020 because Facebook allowed incitement to violence against protestors fighting for racial justice in America [Mashable – 17 June 2020]. These are a mere drop in the ocean of controversies Facebook has been involved in. As a result, the majority of friends have stopped posting on Facebook to see how these pan out until the US election is over.

So what are the alternatives I use?

Twitter
Keeping in touch with people and experts

Far from perfect, lots of fake accounts, people tweeting before engaging brain first, and way too much politics.

However, this is how I organize my account:

  • Add subject matter experts to Lists
  • Place those lists into streams in TweetDeck and/or Hootsuite
  • Only view/engage with those in the lists as this keeps your account on message and for a large percentage avoids toxic political messages

I rarely engage with those who are not identifiable as a real person or company/organization. Identifying oneself adds a layer of credibility.

Telegram and Skype
Replacements for Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp

I was getting a huge amount of spam on Messenger, including adverts from companies I didn’t know and fake users.

Telegram has a better layer of security, although nothing is 100% secure, journalists are known to use the platform as well as activists around the globe.  Nothing is 100% secure and the negative thing about Telegram is the lack of my own contacts on there.

As I have Office 365 I use Skype quite frequently but mainly for business. Now and again I do receive spam invites but they are easy to detect and block.

Groups

I haven’t really found an alternative to groups although many online applications do have them.  In Facebook I belong to a couple of technical groups that are not emulated anywhere else, which is a shame. Google+ was the best forum for groups but that met it’s demise over a year ago. MeWe was one of the replacements but didn’t impress me at all, I left.

LinkedIn has some groups but I have noticed the level of engagement on the ones I subscribe to have considerably dropped, it’s hardly worth going back to see if there is any new content there.

RSS Feeds
Replacement for following news organizations in Facebook

I was following a couple of media companies but not for long, I quickly deleted them. I didn’t like the comments that came along with them and the offensiveness of the engagement on there.

I’ve been using RSS readers for as far back as I can remember and will follow news organizations there. Many news websites do have RSS feeds even though they may not advertise them so it’s worth playing with URLs in a reader.

There are many RSS readers on the market, I use the following:

News Blur is the best if you want to read your feeds on a device as well as on a desktop, however, there is a subscription if you exceed a certain number.

Instagram

I haven’t found an alternative for Instagram either although there are quite a few tools out there.

I was on Flickr for a while but no one else I knew was and they have a subscription model if you go over a limit.

I am still on Ello, I joined in its infancy but it seems to have died a death with exception to some artists. It’s certainly not for the every day person in the street kind of tool.

What I could do is start to increase the number of photos on this website which I have been thinking about for some time.

2020-06-21T05:02:45+00:0021 June 2020|Social Media|0 Comments

10,000 Miles Review

Every Sunday we watch a different Asian movie and this past weekend it was Taiwanese film 10,000 Miles.

About

Kevin is from a rough neighbourhood in Taiwan and his dream is to become a champion runner. He is connected to a coach named Ellie, a former runner, who he falls in love with. He competes in the Silk Road Marathon to win her heart however she is hiding the truth about her health.

Celebrities

Darren Wang (Wang Da Lu | 王大陸) plays Kevin. Darren is a very much in demand Taiwanese actor who is most famous for his role in the 2015 film Our Times, playing the character Xu Tai Yu. [IMDB]

Megan Lai (Lai Ya Yan | 賴雅妍) plays Ellie. We are more familiar with Megan’s work through the iconic TV Shows Two Fathers and Bromance, one of the reasons we wanted to see this movie. Megan is a Taiwanese actress, singer and model. [IMDB]

Chun Liao (Liao Zi Yuan | 廖峻). I’m not sure of the name of the role he plays, but the owner of a store. He has a long career going back as far as 1979 and has played many roles over the years, he is more familiar to us in the Taiwanese TV Show Two Fathers, he played the stage Dad to Megan Lai. [IMDB]

Review

First off it was so good to seem some familiar faces in this film, playing other characters than we have seen before on the TV screen.

The story was promising, two brothers stuck in the slums trying to make something of themselves. There were some great scenes, even some CGI, but there were also some not so good scenes. The plot was a little confusing at times, maybe parts of it went by too fast to catch what was going on in the storyline.  Maybe the direction could have improved. The action scenes seemed a little far fetched as well as the evil doctor otherwise it could have been a little bit more realistic.

Most of the actors gave a really good performance especially Darren Wang and Megan Lai.

The cinematrography was really good especially the outdoor scenes, some of them did look like a tourist brochure wich was good.

Despite the highs and lows it was a good movie to watch with a mixed ending of happy and sad.

Out of 5:

2020-05-26T21:41:21+00:0026 May 2020|Film|0 Comments

Tiger Cubs Season 1 Review

Tiger Cubs is a TV series from Hong Kong that was broadcast between June and August of 2012.

Background

Tiger CubsThe show follows the lives of the Special Duties Unit (SDU) branch of the Hong Kong police department, as known as The Flying Tigers. Although the main focus is on solving high profile crimes the show also covers the love life and other drama around the characters.

Actors

Oscar Leung: The reason why we watched this show was because of Oscar as we have followed some other shows he has been in, such as K9 Cop. He was born in Hong Kong on 26 March 1979 and appears to have been in demand since his TV career started in 2004. He seems to be more of a character actor as his personality is quite adaptable to numerous rolls; serious, comical, evil, camp and so on.

Other significant cast members include:

Joe Ma: Joe was a member of the G4 prior to his acting job. The G4 is the Hong Kong VIP protection police. Following a modelling gig, at the suggestion of G4 colleagues, his acting career began in 1994 and seems to have been busy ever since. Joe plays the trainer and leader of the SDU team.

Jessica Hsuan: Like Joe Ma she played a significant role in Tiger Cubs with much of the storyline centred around the troubles of her character. As she a very sought after actress in Hong Kong, and moved on from her contract with TVB, she only appears in one season of Tiger Cubs.

Review

The first season was very well produced with lots of action done in the typical Hong Kong fashion. The production company must have put a lot of effort into the action sequences as they were very exciting and on-the-edge-of-your-seat with a gripping music score to boot. Most of the characters were developed really well and there wasn’t any of them to dislike. Even some of the criminals one felt sorry for. The continuing storyline of Jessica Hsuan’s character, and how it interacted with the sub-plots, was very well outlined from the start to the penultimate episode ending the season on an interesting yet comical note.

Summary

This is an absolute must-see Hong Kong drama, especially if you’ve never seen any others before.

Marks out of 5:

2020-05-20T05:11:43+00:0020 May 2020|Television|0 Comments

The Enchanting Phantom Review

Enchanting PhantomEvery Sunday night is Asian Movie Night for us and this week we saw a Chinese Ghost story called The Enchanting Phantom.

Background

A scholar, Ning Cai Chen, falls in love with a female ghost, he tries to free her from marrying a demon. The ghost, Nie Xiao Qian seduces men to absorb their life essence as an offering to Lao Lao, one of the head demons. Lao Lao orders Nie Zia Quian to get the life force of Ning Cai Chen, will she be able to do that to the man she has fallen in love with?

Actors

Oliver Chen [陈星旭] is the lead actor playing scholar Ning Cai Chen. He is a Chinese born actor, only 24 years old, and has appeared in many TV and movie productions. His character in the movie was very cowardly and somewhat over the top.

Eleanor Lee [李凯馨] is the co-lead playing female ghost Nie Xiao Qian. She is a Singapore born actress, only 20 years old, and has been appearing in TV shows since 2017. As far as I can find out Enchanting Phantom is her first film production.

Review

I heard such bad things about this movie I had really low expectations, however, I should remember than western sites generally review Asian movies pretty badly. Internet Movie Database reviewed it as 5.6/10 but some Asian sites scored it as much as 9.0. It was actually pretty good.

It was a little thin on the storyline but made up for that through other aspects of the movie. It was very artistically done. The acting was pretty good, although a little over the top in the Ning Cai Chen character. The two demon slayer characters were my favourite, they added some more comedy to the script, it would have been interesting to include more about them in the movie. The special effects, I would say, were the best element of the movie. China has really kept up to date with the latest technology in putting these special effects out and of course, they do it in their own style.

I would definitely recommend this movie and don’t take any notice of any review sites.

Score out of 5:

2020-05-18T04:43:52+00:0018 May 2020|Film|0 Comments

Bulldog Shave Gel Review

Bulldog is a brand of British skincare products ranging from moisturisers, face scrub, lip balm, shave gel among others. The company was created in 2005 but I have been using the product range since it was available in the North American market. I’ve had better luck with British products on my skin type than I have those which are made in America so I was pleased when these arrived here.

Bulldog Shave GelI have used the following products which I would recommend:

I noticed in Shoppers Drug Mart that the Bulldog Shave Gel was on sale at CAD $8.95 so I bought one to try out.

Review

Day 1

I thought I was doing something wrong when I used this product.  Other Shave Gel products I have used in the past I have just applied to the skin and it froths up nicely, however, this product barely produced anything but remained kind of slick. When I shaved it was ok but my shaver (Schick/Wilkinson Sword) didn’t glide across my skin as it does with other products.

Day 2

I watched a review (positive) of the product on YouTube and this bloke placed some gell in a dish and built the lather up with a shaving brush. Duh! Maybe I should have done this the day before. However, when I tried it this method it still didn’t foam up that much, if at all.

Day 3

I placed more of the gel on my face to see if I could get more of a lather, just a little, but kind of vanished within seconds.

Summary

The product did give me an adequate shave but didn’t feel as good as Proraso other others I have used. I will of course finish off the tube I got but would most likely won’t buy any more. No matter, I still love their other products.

One note, the price is higher than other skincare products on the market, not the most expensive but I always stock up when there is a sale on. Of course, now, I have enough to last me for quite some time to come.

Overall Score of the Shave Gel:

2020-05-17T21:11:50+00:0017 May 2020|Review|0 Comments

Dealing with Spam Email

Spam EmailI have written a few times on my struggles in dealing with spam email and trying to prevent it hitting my account.

Once a spammer has your email address it is circulated widely among bad actors and those companies who sell hosting or domains to them aren’t really going to do much about it, not that they can anyhow. These companies are reactionary to problems rather than put in place something pro-active to stop them from buying their resources in the first place.

At the end of the day, if you want to get rid of the spam, the only solution is to delete your email address and start from scratch again.

The main email address that received spam I’ve had for many years. I had previously used it on social media platforms. In 2012 LinkedIn had a data breach for which many emails and passwords were sold on to Russian crime syndicates, and most likely went further afield than that.

The email was based on a domain I owned, here is the process I went through in deleting it:

  • Gather information on all those people/companies that had that email address, so I could update my details
  • Delete the email address
  • Deleting the email address took some time as it cleared the internet to truly become deactivated. In other words, for a couple of weeks I still saw messages go into SpamExperts until it was truly gone

The worst part was updating my details with companies for which the process was difficult or impossible:

  • Before deleting the email I needed to log into the account then change the email to my new one. Some systems send a message to your old email account before you can update it to a new one. This is a bit of a nuisance if someone loses the email without any prior warning, in which case they will have to call the company to have it updated that way.
  • Some systems use the email address in their database as the primary key, therefore totally impossible to change it. Most companies will use a username in which case it’s easier to change the email. So, for some companies I had to delete the account and create another one, part of me just couldn’t be bothered doing that so they have potentially lost a customer just because their system isn’t designed that well.

Going through this process was painful but totally worth it:

  • I could review all the information the company held on me, and some I noticed had an old address.
  • I could decide whether I wanted to hear from the company, many times I didn’t so I decided to delete the account
  • Then, I could change the email according to where I want their information sent to. So, if it was a general email list I would rather send it a gmail account than my own business account.
  • Even if I wasn’t deleting my email account I might have gone through the process for some of the reasons stated above.

I just hope criminals don’t get my current email address but I fear it’s just a matter of time.

2020-05-18T04:45:39+00:0015 May 2020|Technology|0 Comments

The Bros Review

The BrosThe Bros is a South Korean film released in 2017 which I wanted to see as it starred Lee Dong Hwi who played Mr Moon from Pegasus Market, which I enjoyed very much.

Storyline

Two brothers, leading their own lives, come back together after they hear the passing of their Father and are determined to find a priceless heirloom. On their way to the Father’s home they have an argument in their car which leads to knocking over a mysterious female named Aurora.

Review

I would say the story is rather “quirky” and the sense of humour seemed a bit odd in places some of which I didn’t understand. There were two major twists in the story which I wasn’t expecting at all and it turned the film into a completely different direction, not just being a comedy but touching the grounds of a fantasy. It wasn’t comedy from start to finish, there were touching scenes at the end.

The acting by all the cast was good, I’m not sure if they were trying their best to save a fairly bad drama or just being professional as they could be. They all did a good job but wasn’t enough to save the script.

I see on other sites it did receive a positive review with a score in the region of 7.1, so not too bad. Not in the top list of Asian movies we have seen.

Where to See It

The movie is on Netflix but we saw it via another Asian online service.

Score Out of 5:

2020-05-15T04:05:29+00:0015 May 2020|Film|0 Comments

Pegasus Market Review

Pegasus MarketPegasus Market is a South Korean TV show made by tvN which aired between 20 Sep thru 6 Dec 2019. Excluding the advertising breaks the length of each episode was about 1 hour 5 minutes.

The Story

A shabby supermarket where employees normally go to if they have misbehaved and as seen as their next step to being fired. The manager, Moon Suk Goo, continues to make the store a success but a new Director arrives, demoted from headquarters, intend on destroying it along with the whole corporation.  Luckily, the Director continues to experience failures where each opportunity to destroy the place ends up in being a huge success. To try and make matters worse the Director hires many misfits who turn out to be really appreciative of the job and throw themselves into their career to ensure success for the company.

The Cast

What an amazing cast, I had never heard of these actors before but each of them was so perfect for the role especially the Director and Manager.

Kim Byung Chul played Jung Bok Dong, the Director. He is a character actor with a long successful career and amazingly talented. His character went from serious to hilarious to dancing the next, I can’t imagine anyone else who could handle this role. I must find out what other shows he is in.

Lee Dong Hwi plays Moon Suk Goo, the long-suffering Manager. Also, a very good performance calling for a variety of skills. Towards the second half of the season there is a twist in the story for Mr Moon calling for a very emotional performance and this was one of the most memorable of any South Korean drama’s I have seen.

All the cast were brilliant.

Review

Anything can happen in Pegasus Market, and it did, each episode continued to entertain from start to finish. I was so looking forward to seeing this show and it felt it was made especially for my taste.

It had a good consistent story line throughout the series keeping the viewers hooked on what might happen next. Each character was lovable in the own way, there wasn’t anyone I really disliked, even those playing the evil people. From the drama one minute, to humour the next, and then to a scene where you would need several boxes of tissues to get through it.

I would absolutely recommend this show, it’s in my top South Korean drama’s list along with Rooftop Prince and Circle.

2020-05-12T22:39:29+00:0012 May 2020|Television|0 Comments

COVID19 Update May 9

In The News

There is good news for British Columbia, slowly but surely, with some possibility of lockdown rules being loosened up in the near future.

The statistics to date show:

  • Total Cases: 2,330
  • Total Recoveries: 1,659
  • Active Cases: 542
  • Total Deaths: 129

The number of new cases per day continues to decrease. 71% of people who caught the virus have recovered.

During the week we tuned in to hear British Columbia’s Restart Plan and it looked pretty impresive despite receiving the news that complete re-opening seems a long way off, understandable really. These are the slides they presented during the Press Conference:

I kind of feel stressed when I think of the other things happening in the world, such as:

  • Continuing failures by the Trump administration
  • The ping pong of insult throwing between the US and China
  • People in the US and UK ignoring physical distancing rules

We are currently celebrating the 75th anniversary of Victory in Europe (VE Day) where we think about the struggles people had during World War 1 and 2 then compare society’s reaction to a little bit of discomfort in the 2020’s.

Her Majesty The Queen delivered this speech for VE Day 75, many look to her during times like these:

My Diary

MasksI don’t really have much news, life has pretty much been going on as normal.

The weather has heated up a bit, today was 25c with tomorrow reaching 26c. Quite uncomfortable going for a long walk but nice to sit outside under the shade when having lunch.

Don made some masks for us and they look pretty fantastic. Picture to the right.

As usual we went out shopping on Friday, it does appear to be getting more crowded out there. Since we only needed a little we only went to T&T. We managed to pick up some medical masks, made in China, which we were very pleased about even though they were quite expensive at 50 for CAD$30.00. Store like T&T are requiring customers to wear masks and have their temperature checked at the door, which we thought was very good, just like they do in China. Very wise indeed.

All the talk of VE Day 75 made me feel homesick but I guess no one else can enjoy it much apart from indoors or in their gardens.

A neighbour made and posted a video of other members in our communities work on their gardens, it’s pretty nice around here, we are very lucky.

2020-05-11T04:23:52+00:0010 May 2020|Canada, Coronavirus, Health Care|0 Comments

Customer Service During COVID19

Costco Blown UpDuring the lockdown, relating to COVID-19, I’ve put my customer service needs on hold, just stop going forward until life gets back to normal so I don’t bother many companies whose staff I am sure are having a tough time. Here is a review on how things have been going.

GoDaddy

I personally don’t use this domain and web hosting company but my clients do. It’s not the worst company but it’s not the best either, I have never been a customer with them as I was warned off for the following reasons:

  1. Customer service tries to sell you useless things you don’t need.
  2. Once you are a customer they make it as difficult as possible for you to leave.

The only time I try to reach out to them is when my clients have downtime on their websites, which has been significant of late. There was nothing about outages on their status page but checking out Twitter many customers seemed to be experiencing the same issues. Someone on twitter tried to reach out to them on Live Chat but the waiting time was 14 hours, which is quite scary. GoDaddy has never responded to any of the messages I sent them.

I don’t know what their staff are going through especially when there is an outage, maybe they are finding hard to coordinate with technicians, but it leaves many customers in the dark.

Costco

I don’t enjoy going in Costco on a normal day but have always had good experiences with staff either in stores or their administration offices over the years. Recently it seems to have gone in the other direction, the result of which will be me keeping away from them unless I have a dire need to use them.

There were two incidents I was kind of disturbed about recently.

Incident 1

Went into Costco for a prescription with the hubby.
Staff: Keep 6ft away from him.
Me: I’m married to him.
Staff: You still need to keep 6ft away.[Sees straight couples together, none of which were told to stay 6ft away from each other] Me Shouting: I go to bed with him, and not caught anything yet.
15 mins later staff member apologizes, but if I had left the store I wouldn’t have heard that apology.

Hopefully, the member of staff isn’t homophobic and just over-thinking his job right now, he could have started the conversation by saying “are you two together” then it wouldn’t have got out of hand.

Incident 2

Goes online to try and amend an address in the My Account area of the Costco website.
System wouldn’t let me change the postcode.
Wrote an email to Costco asking them to make the amendment.
They wrote back with the message “you have to go into the My Account area to change your address”.

Obviously they never read my email properly. Maybe they are just inundated with issues to handle right now but I would have thought that one is a synch to fix.

NameSilo

Namecheap is a well known company for letting scammers buy domains in bulk for various evil purposes, I thought they were ‘leaders’ in the market but now a new company has appeared on the scene. I had never heard of NameSilo before, the reviews I have seen of the company appear to be good, however, it seems that they are allowing scammers buy domains in bulk too. All of a sudden I started to receive a huge amount of spam, I looked up domains and discovered they were purchased via NameSilo.

It might be the case that no one is hosting via NameSilo but have bought domains via another company, in another country. I noticed that all domains in my spam have very similar format; three letters followed by four numbers, mostly .com tld’s. I would have thought this would have generated some suspicion at the company. Anyway, like Namecheap, NameSilo get an F rating at the Better Business Bureau because they fail to respond to customer complaints that are escalated there.

Summary

There are some companies I deal with that are known to have poor customer service but I just assume I am not going to get anything done during this period, so I have left them alone.

Compainies I don’t usually have issues with haven’t been doing that well during the lockdown but I just put that down to these chaotic times.

We’ve gone to some stores where staff are clearly unhappy but I can’t blame them really, on the whole we’ve had a brilliant experience with other places. So, it’s hit and miss during these times.

2020-05-06T22:01:50+00:006 May 2020|Coronavirus, Customer Service|0 Comments