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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

Brightest Flower of them All

Now and again I create some artwork then place it online for sale.

This picture was taken as we were driving halfway across the US in desert conditions only to find a small side road to stop and stretch our legs. To our surprise we found a gorgeous array of flowers, we were surprised they could flower in such heat like conditions but they did look gorgeous. This is one of the pictures I gook.

Flower

Of course, the picture has been digitally enhanced so everyone could appreciate the flower a little more.

A range of products bearing this picture is available at Redbubble.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I had fun taking a picture of it.

By |2019-02-27T00:27:40+00:00February 27th, 2019|Art|0 Comments

Peaceful Restaurant

Peaceful LogoPeaceful Restaurant first opened in Vancouver in 1997 specialising in Northern Chinese cuisine. I remember the first branch, which wasn’t very big, always had long lines outside waiting to get in.  Whenever the in-laws visited Vancouver this was the number one destination for them to go.

The restaurant increased it’s popularity when it was showcased on the Food Network’s Diners Drive-Ins and Dives television show:

Now we extremely lucky to have a new branch of the restaurant chain open right here in Newton, Surrey, British Columbia. When we saw the signage the other day we asked ourselves whether it could be the same chain that we have known and loved for 10 years.  Today we found out that it was!

We were thinking of a nice restaurant to go to for Valentine’s day lunch so we thought we’d try it out. We didn’t realize it was their first day of business at that location and we were, in fact, their first customers.  As in typical Chinese tradition, they had an open ceremony with Lion Dancers.  The restaurant was crowded attended by and in celebration of, the suppliers and stakeholders of the chain.

The food was amazing as usual, as good as all the other Peaceful restaurants. We had all our favourite food. It was a fantastic treat for Valentines.

Since the restaurant is very near where we live we’ll be visiting them frequently. I hope everyone else will be too.

By |2019-02-15T06:16:50+00:00February 15th, 2019|General|0 Comments

Shreddies vs Shreddies vs Chex

One of my favourite cereals that I must have is Shreddies. Over the years I haven’t noticed a change in the taste, at least since I’ve been eating them which is probably for almost 50 years now.  I only eat Shreddies in hot milk, I know some people like to mix it up with dried fruit and other cereal with cold milk but this isn’t for me.

So who has the better Shreddies?

Shreddies UKUnited Kingdom

Production of Shreddies in the United Kingdom began in 1953, much later than in Canada. They were first manufactured by Nabisco until they were taken over by Nestle.  This is probably the best of all the Shreddies, as in better quality and flavour profile.  I enjoy two of their products, both Original and Frosted.  I don’t care for the Coco flavour but haven’t had the chance to try their Shreddies Max product. The price of Shreddies is GBP£2.00 for 415g, at least this is the current price from Tesco, the cost is very reasonable. [Shreddies UK]

Shreddies CanadaCanada

Production of Shreddies in Canada began before that of the United Kingdom, in 1939, by Nabisco.  Post Cereal went on to buy them out. This hasn’t got the same taste as the UK version but its pretty close, however, I still enjoy this product very much.  I only like their Original Flavour, they don’t do the Frosted variety in Canada as much as I have lobbied them to introduce it into this market. The price of Shreddies in Canada is around CAD$3.97 for 100g but depends where you buy it from, there are always deals and sales. [Shreddies Canada]

Wheat ChexUnited States

Shreddies isn’t sold in the United States so when I lived there the closest I could find was Wheat Chex, this is manufactured by General Mills. The taste is very different, more bitter, is harder and just not as enjoyable.  I don’t enjoy any of the other Chex products.  I bought Wheat Chex when it was on sale and would eat it occasionally. Some Chex products are available in Canada but not the Wheat brand.  Chex isn’t available in the United Kingdom.  I’m not sure of the price of Chex in the US. [Wheat Chex]

So, who wins in this contest?  Yes, British Shreddies. Canadian Shreddies coming in as a close second. US Chex is third.

By |2019-02-12T01:16:54+00:00February 12th, 2019|Canada, Food, United Kingdom, USA|0 Comments

Oliver – The Comic

OliverOliver Twist was Charles Dicken’s second novel written between 1837-39 originally sold in monthly installments. It told the story of an orphan born in a workhouse as an apprentice to an Undertaker. Oliver escaped heading for London where he met The Artful Dodger who was part of a gang of child pickpockets headed by the evil Fagin.

WARNING: SPOILERS

Image Comics has recently released the first issue of their Oliver series, re-telling the story in a different context. Set in the aftermath of World War III in London this version of Oliver is born into a gang of super humans made in a factory to replace the many who had died as a result of the war. These men are resilient to the post-war atmosphere in London and it’s questionable if Oliver, who is naturally born, can survive it too.

This is my review of the comic.

Artwork

Cannot fault the art at all, especially that of London post disaster.   Every page is dark with tints of blue or brown which gives the brilliant effect of a world without colour.

Story

The introduction of the story is pretty intriguing, pulls you in wanting more. I can see how Oliver is going to be the hope that the human race needs to be able to continue. I would say the story could have been written, so far at least, without the parallel to Oliver Twist, to me it doesn’t really have the same feel. Charles Dickens certainly wrote the book not pulling any punches against the criminal element of Fagin and others but those near Oliver at the moment I can see are potentially good and some potentially very evil characters. Oliver might have some super abilities as he was able to jump from one building to another without much effort. There was a part of the story when Oliver had just been born but then “3 years later” it appears he was more like a 8 year old, did he grow at super-speed?  So far we know, when the child was born, there was a reference saying “that’s not normal” but we don’t know what that is as yet, there is a secret yet to be revealed.  The story is excellent and maybe I didn’t grasp the flow of it.

Talent

The comic book has many talented people behind it including:

Resources

Image Comics website for Oliver Comic

Score

So far I score the comic as 4/5. Recommended.

By |2019-02-09T22:56:23+00:00February 9th, 2019|Comics|0 Comments