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My Neighbor Charles

My Neighbor CharlesOne of my favourite TV programs from South Korea is “My Neighbor Charles”.

Currently, there is a lot of negativity towards immigrants that I have seen and heard particularly from the United States, this is due to the fear mongering from the current administration there. It is extremely refreshing to have such positive and constructive views of immigrants in this weekly reality TV show.

Every week the program explores the life of immigrants who have moved to South Korea.  A camera crew following the guests round for 2 weeks to learn about their new day-to-day life. They then go into a sit-down studio to discuss their life with four regular hosts.

Most of the guests have really inspiring stories of how successful they have been since landing in South Korea and how they have fit in with society. From the show, locals seem very welcoming to new visitors and keen to learn about new cultures.  The most rewarding part of immigration is that culture arrives in your neighbourhood and can learn many things from the people who have settled there. If only this happened everywhere.

Most of the episodes are placed on YouTube by the broadcaster the Korean Broadcasting System (KBS).

By |2019-01-11T05:06:34+00:00January 11th, 2019|Immigration, South Korea, Television|0 Comments

Pink Pearl

Pink Pearl LogoOne of the Chinese restaurants we go to quite frequently is Pink Pearl here in Vancouver, we recommend it for the following Dim Sum dishes:

  1. Baked Char Siu Bao (Baked BBQ Pork in a Bun)
  2. Char Siu Sow (BBQ Pork in Puff Pastry)
  3. Sui Mai (Pork and Shrimp Dumpling)
  4. Steamed Sticky Rice
  5. Pork and Corn in Rice Noodle

Photos for 1-3 and 5 shown below.

Quick Review

Staff in the restaurant are really friendly even though one or two might come across as being brusk this is just Chinese mannerisms.

The restaurant recently went through a refurbishment, therefore, look quite amazing inside.  Although it looks quite an upscale type of restaurant I wouldn’t call it overly posh food, it is all traditional and most of it tastes awesome.

They have Dim Sum carts plus a menu you can order most other items, we usually order a mix of both. The portions are of a very decent size and always end up taking food home, but order a little extra which will see us over two more lunches or dinners.

They have on-site parking but can fill up quickly depending on the day and time you go. There are streets in the area you can park but that is also limited in space. We do tend to go outside of busy times.

So I would say this restaurant is a must, hope you enjoy it as much as we do.

By |2019-01-10T23:22:15+00:00January 10th, 2019|Canada, Food|0 Comments

Circle Two Worlds Connected Review

Circle: Two Worlds Connected” was a sci-fi/mystery television show from South Korea created by broadcaster TvN which aired in 2017. We have just finished viewing all 12 episodes and I really recommend people watch it.

This sci-fi mystery was very unique and innovative, it was set in two time periods; 2017 and 2037. In 2017: It starts off with young twin brothers and their father witnessing an alien arrival, the family take in the woman although would rarely say a word. The twins grow up, while at college a number of suicides occur with fellow students which appear to be linked to one of the twins and possible sightings of the missing “alien”. In 2037: South Korea is divided into General Earth, a heavily polluted place where crimes are common and Smart Earth, a clean and beautiful city/island where no crimes occur until one day there is a murder.

Each episode is 60 minutes in duration with the first 30 minutes set in 2017 and the last 30 minutes in 2037.

Review

The storyline is quite complex in the first episodes and can be tough to keep up with the plot, however, one does become totally transfixed so it’s worth being patient with. There are many unexpected twists and turns that will continue to surprise the audience. The special effects and sets in the 2037 scenes are extremely well done and thought through, especially how technology might evolve by that time period. The acting is very good, the actors put a lot of effort into the production. In many other Korean shows you would see a lot of romance but there was very little of that at all. The music score was quite dramatic, probably too much so at points. There were quite a few unanswered questions which would lead into an interesting season 2, I’ve heard rumours about the studio wanting to make more episodes which I would really encourage them to do.

I really would like to have seen this drama shown in the west, I think it would be popular in the US, Canada and the UK, however, subtitles is not something those countries have the patience for.

DVD

Circle Two Worlds Connected is available in DVD format via YesAsia.

By |2019-01-09T21:53:54+00:00January 9th, 2019|South Korea, Television|0 Comments

Worst Customer Service 2018

Customer ServiceEvery year I have reported on my worst Customer Service experiences, this is a summary of my bad experiences in 2018.  I seem to report the same companies year in year out who aren’t able to get their act together or at least don’t learn lessons from previous experiences. I’m not sure why that is, maybe they just don’t want to listen to clients or they are too big to be able to pull themselves together.

When it comes to Customer Service my expectations are as follows:

  1. Preferably I can resolve any issues via self-service through a website/online account.
  2. If I have to reach out to a company I expect that:
    1. I only have to call them once
    2. I don’t have to keep chasing them for an answer
    3. I don’t have to escalate to social media, or even worse the Better Business Bureau, to get them to do something about the issue

Sounds easy huh? Not for some companies.

Kaiser Permanente

I stopped doing business with them 18 months ago when we moved from the US to Canada.  I had many awful experiences with them when I was a customer I was so pleased to be shot of them.  All of a sudden this year I started receiving sales emails from them despite telling them to never contact me again. Of course, they don’t have any business in Canada so I reached out to them to find out why they had started contacting me and asking them to take me off the mailing list.  This episode went on for many weeks trying to get an answer from them to the extent that I had to report them to the Better Business Bureau.  They finally responded to the BBB comment but not only did they lie but didn’t answer the questions I had. So, the issue was never resolved but hopefully, they got the message and won’t ever contact me again.

HSBC

Again, another company who we consistently having issues with, the UK is much better than Canada and the US.

We closed our accounts in the US as we experienced some racism from one of the Virginia branches. We tried for over a year to get a safety deposit box here in Canada.  We went to multiple HSBC branches, some had availability and some didn’t. No one ever seemed to be available to take us through the “sign up and approval” process, not sure why we had to go through that, didn’t have that workflow with any other banks. So, this went on and on with promises of a call back’s and more, it never happened. Finally, we escalated to a manager who we were dealing with about something else. She tried to be as helpful as she could but it took weeks for her to get something going too by which time we were so fed up and dragged down by the process we just had to say we’d take our business elsewhere.  This should have been the simplest thing to resolve and I’m not sure why it was so difficult for them.

Hostgator

I used to host my website with this company and had multiple problems, in particular with downtime. I had so much back and forth with them I was never getting really helpful answers. They charged me for something they shouldn’t have done but fortunately they did resolve that, not without a bit of aggravation, but it was thankfully put to rest.  I just think this company take on more than it can chew with the number of customers on shared hosting plans that many sites fall over despite not reach the limitations of the plan they signed up for.  I’ve never come across a friendly and helpful person in this company, I wonder what the work climate in there is like.

Telus

Earlier this year Telus tried to sign us up for their cable package but there was so much confusion over the plan they were offering we decided not to go ahead.  I believe this was mainly due to Telus agents, companies that act on Telus’ behalf to sell plans.  We wanted to see details of the plan in writing with terms and conditions, I thought this was reasonable before signing up to anything.  This was not forthcoming from anyone, even Telus told us this wouldn’t be available until after we had signed the contract.  I found all this terribly bizarre and they wouldn’t supply me with what I needed to make a decision so we didn’t go ahead. It could have gone better for them. We have encountered some of Telus’ own salespeople at various events, to say they are aggressive is an understatement, although I do appreciate the company sponsoring so many good community events. There was one issue I had with them which was resolved very quickly, maybe they are improving?

Summary

It could have been worse, I know many people who are going through far worse issues with companies that I have, so I am thankful most of these are just annoyances rather than something more serious.

By |2019-01-07T23:33:30+00:00January 7th, 2019|Customer Service|0 Comments

Vancouver Mountains

Below are some pictures I took between our home in Surrey and Richmond, British Columbia.  We were on our way to eat Chinese food which Richmond is very well known for and in fact one of the best outside of Asia itself.

Even though British Columbia doesn’t have the same sort of culture as London, Paris or New York, which I miss desperately, it does have outstanding scenery which makes the Province one of the best places to live in the world. Go to the HelloBC website to find out more about coast and mountain tourism here.

By |2019-01-07T22:58:27+00:00January 7th, 2019|Canada|0 Comments

Apple Products

Apple ComputerToday was a bad day on the stock market as Apple announced a slowdown for what it relates to the Trade War with China but generally, there is a slowdown in that sector. Consumers don’t appear to be buying as many iPhones as they used to, waiting for longer periods of time to update their technology, also, everyone who wants one probably has one by now.

I reflect on this relating to my opinion of Apple.

iPhones

I am still on the iPhone 6 and have no plans on upgrading as they are extremely expensive for something I don’t use that often, I am not a power user.  The latest iPhone’s can be anything from CAD$649 to CAD$1029 depending on whether you trade in your old model, that is way too pricey to make a frequent investment.  I don’t need to upgrade to use the latest camera or any of the built-in tool that the newer models come with as long as I can run the few apps I need on the device. I wouldn’t consider moving away from Apple right now because I don’t like the Android Operating System at all and have bought apps needed for my business that I don’t want to have to re-buy again for another OS.

iPad

I have a really old iPad which cannot install the latest apps now but I am happy with what I use it for.  Basically, I read comics, books and magazines on it in an app that doesn’t need upgrading for the time being. Because of the weight of an iPad I find it more enjoyable reading from my desktop computer than my heavy iPad so I feel, for such minimal use, it’s not worth upgrading. A new one would cost minimum CAD$999, eeek.

Mac

I have just bought a new Mac Desktop but that was thanks to our moving company destroying my old computer and the insurance providing the funds to buy a new one.  I had my old computer for 8 years. Compared with PCs they are horrendously expensive to replace.

Summary

So, for me, upgrading is all about price.  Apple is obviously better quality than PCs but there is a hefty price to pay for that luxury. So, I won’t upgrade that often.  Now, Apple could bring down its prices and I would be tempted to buy more frequently and maybe that would tempt other people to do the same which could be a boost for the company but right now they don’t make that possible for me.

By |2019-01-03T23:15:55+00:00January 3rd, 2019|Technology|0 Comments

US Health Care Saving Money

Health care companies in the US are commercial enterprises who want to make money off their patients.  Regular or hidden charges can build up or take you by surprise leaving you feeling ripped off and penniless. So, it’s really a good idea to be an “intelligent customer” to ensure you are getting your money’s worth.

Here are some tips about avoiding larger charges that I have learnt.

  1. Try to get an estimate for the services you are going to use.  There are two reasons for this: a) when your bill comes along and you think you have been overcharged you have a basis to question it, b) you can shop around to other places that will provide the same thing.  Sometimes it’s very difficult to get an estimate from administrative staff so go through your own general practice if you can, they tend to be more helpful/competent.
  2. Stay within the network.  Treatment outside of your insurance network will be much more expensive, obscenely so, ensure that whatever you are going to have done stays in-house.
  3. Always ask the price, whether you have got an estimate or not, prior to your treatment.  I have been caught out thinking the service should be free, as in preventative, when days later I receive a huge bill.
  4. If something looks odd on your invoice then question it with the company. By doing this I found out that some companies don’t charge for a service that is less than $5.
  5. Use telehealth services. Often seeing the doctor face to face can mean a deductible or other charge. Consider using the companies telehealth service, that means to speak to a nurse on the phone or online. Often you can upload pictures so nurses can see the ailment to be checked out. Telehealth services might be free, check with your provider.
  6. When going to a practice observe how many people come to attend to you. It doesn’t take 5 nurses to take your blood pressure. I have always questioned why they provide multiple staff when it’s possible for one person to perform that simple task.
  7. Do you really need to see your doctor? Often a nurse can provide the service you need, this saves the doctor time and lowers your cost, probably.
  8. Question the price of medications. Buying drugs at your local pharmacy with GoodRx coupons could be cheaper than charging it to your insurance.  This has been the case with all my medications. Often independent pharmacies are already linked to the GoodRx system.

I hope you find these tips useful. They may not be relevant for all occasions but when doing business with a company that is providing a service you want to make sure you are getting a fair price for a high standard. Don’t be shy. Question everything. You are the customer.

By |2018-12-08T21:51:08+00:00December 8th, 2018|Health Care, USA|0 Comments

Scam Amazon Emails

This is the time of year when email spam increases as criminals try their best to extort money from shoppers in search of deals.  It is definitely worth being careful with every email you receive, to scrutinize it accordingly.

Some of the ways you can do that are to ensure your email program or webmail doesn’t automatically download images.  An image is used in messages to ping back to those who sent it to confirm its been opened. Once they confirm it has been opened they will likely send you more spam, or your email address will go on a wider circulation to other spammers.

I will check my webmail before downloading into my email program. That way I not only address the spam I have received but also delete any other rubbish.

Do not be tempted to click on any of the links inside the message if it looks suspicious. For example, if you get an email from what looks like PayPal about your account then login through your browser to review any actions you need to take.

I am using an Amazon related email I have received this week to evaluate whether it’s spam or not:

primawards.com

You will not that this is a play on Amazon’s branded Prime Awards product, but the spammer has dropped an “e”.

Usually, just by looking at the low quality of the email received you should be able to tell that it’s spam, for example, bad English, terrible design. Amazon hires highly professional designers and marketers for its email marketing so just assess whether you think a manager there would signoff on such dodgy looking work. You can look up design quality and use of the English language without downloading images, which you souldn’t do unless you are sure it’s not spam.

Here are a couple of basic steps to assess whether the email is spam.

Step One: Lookup the domain’s WhoIs record

There are a number of WhoIs services to lookup a domain such as whois.com.

Initially, I will look up a legitimate Amazon company domain name first.  You can use this information to compare against the potential spam email domain.
WhoIs Record for Amazon.

Now, look up the above primawards domain’s WhoIs record (the domain I got from the email address it was sent from, so just use the portion in red info@primawards.com). You can see that the registrant has a gmail address, Amazon would not use Google Mail in their communication and definitely not as a technical contact. The address registered in the domain is clearly not an Amazon office, look it up in Google Maps to clarify that. Spammers will often use a false address or even a Post Office Box, that could even be false.
WhoIs Record for primawards.

You will see that the spammer used Namecheap to register their domain. You can double check with the provider that Amazon normally use (Mark Monitor) against what this spammer has used.  Now you have the domain provider you may contact them to do something about it, read NameCheap’s excellent blog on this subject, the company is very good at following up with these type of complaints. Please ensure you contact them only about NameCheap related domains.

Step Two: Look up addresses given in the email

To make themselves look more legit spammers will often provide 1 or more physical addresses in their emails.  Simply copy and paste them into Google Maps and you will find out they absolutely do not belong to an Amazon office.  Will use the addresses in the spam I received:

616 Corporate Way Ste.2-9092, Valley Cottage, NY 10989 – this looks like a USAMail facility, a company that redirects mail. Definitely not an address that Amazon would use.

3901 SW 47th Ave #405, Davie, FL 33314 – I can’t tell what is at this address, a small business park but definitely not registered to Amazon.

Another common theme with Spammers

One of the things that stick out for me is the TLD (top-level domain) spammers are using.  If anything has an .icu .bid .sport or others that are not .com .org .net then that will raise an alarm bell with me.  In fact, I have blocked all .icu domains all of which go to my Junk box automatically. Look for your internet service provides FAQ’s on how to do this.

Don’t be a victim of spam, take control of your Inbox

By |2018-11-16T00:33:26+00:00November 16th, 2018|Technology|0 Comments

Government Hospitality: My Collection Grows

The Government Hospitality Fund (GHF) was a British government quango responsible for organizing and paying for lunches, dinners, receptions and theatre suppers for Ministers and visiting foreign dignitaries to the United Kingdom. This also included functions during State Visits. The events ranged from small parties of around 10 but the largest event I organized was a reception for 400.  Buckingham Palace organized its own events but all government departments came under the responsibility of GHF even if The Royal Family was in attendance.

I used to work for Government Hospitality for five years and thoroughly enjoyed the job, best I have ever had with so many memories. I had to change jobs every 3-4 years but managed to stay in this position as long as I could. Whenever I see an item relating to GHF on a site like eBay I usually pick it up, if I can, to add to my collection.

I recently bought this envelope from eBay postmarked 3rd June 1974. This was before I joined the organization but it is pretty much how I was told to address envelopes, it was a matter of strict protocol.  Every full stop (period) and comma had to be correctly done.

GHF Envelope

The back of the envelope, shown below, had a red embossed Government Hospitality logo on the back.

GHF Logo

Professor Derek Diamond, whose name is on the envelope, is no longer with us unfortunately but he made a significant impact during his career.  Please read the following to find out more about him:

 

By |2018-11-05T23:25:49+00:00November 5th, 2018|Government Hospitality, United Kingdom|0 Comments

Epilepsy and Social Media

There is a trend on social media to post animations that are very “psychedelic” in nature but some of them can trigger an epileptic seizure or fit. In some cases, which have caused some media attention, people put those types of animations for the purpose of targeting specific users in order to make them sick.

Video AutoplayI feel those who upload these animations fall into the following categories:

  1. General users who think they are fun not realizing the consequences
  2. Social Media managers who think they are attention-grabbing not realizing the consequences
  3. Those who shamefully place them on social media with the sole purpose of doing harm.

Examples of the triggers of photosensitive epilepsy are described in this article by the Epilepsy Foundation. Some of the triggers they list are as follows:

  • Flickering light
  • Flashing
  • Intense strobe lights
  • Visual patterns with stripes

Hopefully, no one wants to do any harm to people and those with epilepsy do not want to get a seizure. Seizures are not amusing, feel uncomfortable for days, and can be fatal.  So, here are my suggestions on what can be done.

General Social Media Users

Simply review any animations you upload to social media to ensure it won’t do any harm to those who have taken the time and trouble to view your posts. If you think you have to upload the animation and there is a possibility it might cause harm please display a warning.

Social Media Managers

Before anything is uploaded to social media it should go through a QA process, not just the text but also any videos, graphics or animations.  You are probably checking to ensure it aligns with the company brand and goals, a company goal should be not to cause distress in your clients, potential or otherwise.  Please include the possibility of harmful animations in your workflow.

Those With Epilepsy

To safeguard yourself getting a seizure a fail-safe protection is to ensure animations do not load automatically, in other words, you need to click on a play button to run them. Every social media company should have this option in the settings of your account. Following is a rough guide for the most popular platforms:

  • Twitter Desktop: Profile and Settings > Settings and Privacy > Accessibility > Ensure “Video Autoplay” is unchecked. This will apply to videos and animated gifs.
  • Twitter App: Settings and Privacy > Scroll to Bottom and tap Video Autoplay > Choose Never
  • Tweetdeck: Settings > Settings > Turn Off “Autoplay GIFs”.
  • Instagram App: Click on Profile Icon (bottom right-hand corner) > Click on Menu icon (top right-hand corner) > Settings > Cellular Data Usage > Ensure Use Less Data is turned off.
  • Facebook Desktop: Settings > Videos (bottom left-hand side) > Auto-play Video’s should be set to Off.
  • Facebook App: Settings and Privacy > Settings > Videos and Photos > Autoplay > Tap Never Autoplay Videos
  • LinkedIn Desktop: Click on “Me” in top right menu > Settings and Privacy > Under Site Preference click on Autoplay Videos > Turn Autoplay to Off.
  • LinkedIn App: Tap on the icon where you place your image > Tap on Settings (wheel icon top-right) > Tap Autoplay videos > Check “Never Autoplay Videos.

British television generally provides a warning if an upcoming video contains flickering or flash photography. I think we can do the same over social media.

By |2018-09-21T21:22:20+00:00September 21st, 2018|Health Care, Technology|0 Comments