Go Away, CRTC

Just. Go Away.

CRTC Issues Ultimatum To Netflix, Google

There never really was a need for the CRTC or for regulation of the airwaves and content programming. Why these regulators think they ought to control what I choose to watch, have streamed to me, or anything else is irrelevant. Their reasons are irrelevant. In fact, it is simply a sign of their psychopathy. A psychopathic need to control.

I don’t subscribe to Netflix. I don’t have cable TV (or satellite for that matter). And that is my choice. If I choose to subscribe to Netflix, why on earth would some psychopaths feel that they know what my choices should be?

 

 

Blackberry & Geocaching

geocache find

Our First Geocache Find

My son who is now 12 years old, has discovered a new hobby that he has been enjoying: Geocaching. For those who have never heard of it, it is one of the fastest growing hobbies in North America. Basically, it involves locating “caches” that have been hidden and then logging and recording your experience.

To find caches, you need to know approximately where they are. The person who hid the cache will provide coordinates which are then uploaded to a website. http://geocaching.com seems to be the most popular.

You can search for hidden caches at the above mentioned website but members who have registered for free will only get to see a limited number. You can subscribe for a modest fee of $29.99/year and then enjoy other benefits including the ability to see where all caches have been hidden. As a non-premium member, you will not have access to information about all caches and you will be limited in the number of caches you can get information about.

Geocaching Mobile Apps

There are also a variety of geocaching apps for the Iphone and Android mobile devices. My son has an Iphone and has installed a geocaching app which allows him to use the built in GPS to locate caches. One of his first discoveries was a cache that had been hidden about a minute walk from our house. And that was my first introduction to geocaching as well.

Unfortunately, Blackberries are not very well supported as far as the hobby of geocaching. When my son and I attended an introductory seminar about geocaching, I was laughed at when I asked about apps that might be available for my mobile device, and told “Get an Iphone or Android.” Well, being in a long term contract with my mobile provider doesn’t really make that an option for me at this time.

So I continued to research and came across “CacheSense,” an app for Geocaching that has been developed for a number of Blackberries including BB10, PlayBook and OS versions 4.x through 7.x. My own Blackberry is a Torch (9810) and is running Version 7.1. I was quite excited to discover CacheSense but at first, I thought that maybe I was not going to be able to get it to work.

I initially downloaded the software from the CacheSense website. However, after installing it and trying to run it, I received the error:”CacheSense: Module ‘CacheSense-2′ attempts to access a secure API.”

I was advised to delete the app, remove the battery from my Blackberry, reinstall the battery and turning my device on before trying to download the software and reinstalling it. However, I again ran into problems and when the Blackberry attempted to download, it would be interrupted with an error message of “Error 907 Invalid COD.”

At that point, I thought that I was doomed for now at being able to use my Blackberry on geocaching expeditions with my son. But on a hunch, I searched the Blackberry World from my Torch for “CacheSense” and found it there. Downloading and installing from Blackberry World went without a hitch.

At this point, I have not thoroughly explored the application and it does seem to be a bit “clunky” compared to what my son has on his Iphone – but that could be me. I find the Blackberry to be a bit “clunky” overall. In addition, without paying a $9.99 registration fee, the CacheSense application will only run for 30 days. After that in order to continue using it, you’ll need to pay the registration fee.

Maps

CacheSense supports both BlackBerry and Google maps. I have not played around enough to know if one is better than the other. And again with the BlackBerry, it can be difficult to locate the Google Maps application. For some reason, Google has removed the link for Blackberries and they are not available on BlackBerry World at the time of this writing.

However, I discovered that if you open your browser on your BlackBerry device and type in the URL:  http://google.com/mobile/other you will be able to download Google Maps.

So far, I have not used CacheSense to locate any caches yet, although the app has downloaded a small list of them that are in my vicinity. I’m going to wait until my son is available and then we can compare notes on each others Geocaching apps and see which one we prefer.

But at least there is an option for the BlackBerry!

 

Richter’s – Awesome Customer Service

I love vegetable gardening. When I was a child, my parents had a vegetable garden and although there were times I thought some of the work was not what I wanted to do – all that weeding – I enjoyed the fact that we could go to our garden and pick our own tomatoes, rhubarb, and even strawberries during the summer months.

Both my grandfather and my father were big influences on me; trying new and interesting crops, teaching me how to save seeds from the previous year, and having plants in our gardens that many would not think of. I used to have horseradish that was transplanted from my grandfather’s garden, as well as interesting things like “Egyptian Onions.”

Up until about 1999, I always had my own vegetable garden and at some point during the 1990’s, I discovered Richter’s Herbs, a mail order as well as bricks and mortar retailer of seeds of herbs and vegetables. Located in Goodwood, Ontario, I would sometimes drop in to their retail location to browse or purchase something new I wanted to try, on trips between Grand Valley and Ottawa.  Each spring, I would eagerly await their catalogue and pour over it, thinking about and wondering of the interesting herbs and vegetable varieties they had to offer.

In about 1999, I had some life experiences which meant I could no longer have either the time or the space for a garden, but I certainly missed it.

Last year, an opportunity came up for me to start a new vegetable garden. Being out of the habit for almost 15 years, it was both a joy and a frustration, having forgotten so much of what I had learned.  In addition, it was one of the smallest gardens I’d ever had, but nevertheless, it was a garden.

This year, being able to continue with the same garden, I fondly recalled years ago looking through the Richter’s catalogue years ago and decided to order some of their seed products.

I probably left it a bit late in the season, which is my fault, and partly because they have so many interesting varieties of herbs and seeds; how to try all that I wanted to try in such a small plot?

Finally though, a few weeks ago I submitted my order and anxiously awaited it’s arrival, which was shipped via Canada Post on April 14th, 2014.

Well, there were issues with Canada Post as I wrote about here.  I immediately got in touch with Richter’s, advising them of the delivery problems and their customer service was just awesome! They communicated with me in a timely manner, made arrangements to have another shipment to me via another courier company, and expressed their care and concern that I was a satisfied customer even if it cost them money.

And the day after I advised them of the delivery issues, I was thrilled to discover a replacement package arrive at my door. How amazing is that?

Both Kim and the founder of Richter’s, Conrad, emailed me and expressed their concerns as well as their desires of ensuring I was a satisfied customer.  Their attention to making sure I received what I ordered also meant that my plans to plant some seeds with my 11 year old son over the weekend including “Amish Paste Tomatoes,” was possible to carry through with. David and I had a lot of fun and some special time together planting our seeds, planning our garden this year, and sharing and learning together.

So not only was their attention to customer service important to me, it also made it possible that the plans my son and I had for this weekend together, were able to be carried out, and for that I am truly appreciative. I’m sure David and I would have found other fun things to do,  but it was nice to be able to do what we planned with the idea of also looking forward to working in our wee garden together, come this summer and also reap together, what we have sowed together.

If you are interested in some really interesting varieties of herbs and vegetables, I highly recommend that you take a look at the Richter’s catalogue yourself. I almost wish I lived in a zone and with enough property that I could try just about everything they have to offer!

While you can browse their offerings online, ordering a printed catalogue from them is also recommended. Their website is here.

 

 

Why I Won’t Use Canada Post (Attention Deepak Chopra)

Sometimes, one’s patience becomes worn out, and today, my patience with Canada Post has run out to the point I absolutely will not use them for packages or shipments where time is important.
I doubt Deepak Chopra will read my blog post, but if you do happen to come across it, I note that on the Canada Post website it says,

Mr. Chopra is responsible for running Canada Post Corporation. This
$7-billion group is the single largest enabler of remote trade and commerce in the country through its postal network and subsidiaries Purolator, SCI Group and Innovapost.

~Source

 

Well Mr Chopra, I hope you take some responsibility because very few other people at Canada Post seem to want to. Indeed your office has been extremely slow in responding to correspondence from me that was forwarded to you by my MP, David Tilson (Dufferin – Caledon), correspondence I sent back in December, 2013.

Let’s start with the litany of idiotic and crappy service beginning with today’s frustrating experience:

1. I ordered some garden supplies consisting of several packages of vegetable seeds and some other small items from Richter’s located in Goodwood, ON. A couple of days later, April 14th, 2014 to be exact, that my order had been shipped via “Expedited Parcel” with the tracking number of: ‘TG114243495CA‘.

I had hoped it would have arrived before today, April 22nd, 2014 but I did realize that Good Friday and Easter Monday are Holidays for Canada Post employees. However, the package was received by Canada Post on the 14th of April in Newmarket. Orangeville is a 45 minute drive from Newmarket. Yes, I realize there are other considerations; Canada Post may not have a major sorting centre in Newmarket, but even still – getting it to Mississauga should not be that difficult, and then directly north to Orangeville, right?

Here’s a screen shot of the Tracking as of today’s date at 7:20PM:

canada post tracking from newmarket

 

Well Mr. Chopra, your Canada Post employee lied. The package was NOT successfully delivered. Furthermore, there was zero attempt to deliver it to my address at 12:27 PM. I had checked the tracking earlier in the morning and noted that it was apparently “out for delivery” and I made sure my door was open, and I had my son sit in our living room in such a way that he could watch the door. During my morning, I watched as a UPS truck made a delivery next door, then a Purolator truck, and later in the afternoon, another major courier firm went down my street and made a delivery. But no Canada Post trucks.

In addition, I was in my office, watching frequently from my window which has a view of the street and walkway up to my door.  In the late morning, a letter carrier walking her normal route did put some advertising flyers through my mail slot. She did not knock on my door; left no card advising of the availability of picking up the package, and so I assumed a Canada Post delivery truck would be at my door with the package.

At approximately 12:45PM, I happened to recheck the tracking status and that is when I noticed it had been updated to “successfully delivered.”  But it had not been.

I immediately called Canada Post’s customer service 1-800 number to find out what could be going on. The lady that I spoke with stated that it was common practice for carriers to pre-scan packages before going out on their delivery route, knowing that at some point during the day the package would be delivered. She indicated this practice would cause a tracked item to appear to have been delivered successfully when it had not yet been.

As far as I’m concerned, this is B.S. And indeed, a friend of mine who is a “Route Measurement Officer” for Canada Post also advised me that this is “B.S.” What other business could ever claim a job was completed when it’s not been completed? If this is a standard practice, it’s a very dishonest practice, and while your corporation’s tracking system claims a package has been delivered, it most certainly has not. Perhaps it makes for better stats or something, but it is simply false and is a lie.

No one can tell me where the package is. No one can take responsibility to let me know what has become of my package. Did the postal carrier steal it? Has it been mis-delivered?

So that is today’s frustration with your Corporation which has become as far as I’m concerned, an utterly useless and undependable organization. Let’s carry on:

2. Express Post To Brockville – What Happened?

On April 8th, 2014, I arrived at the Orangeville Post Office on Broadway with an envelope I wanted to send to Brockville by Express Post. I was advised that the envelope, which contained birthday cards and small gifts for my son, would arrive by 11th of April, 3 days later.
I was quite pleased to see during the day on the 11th, when I tracked the package, that it had apparently arrived. But later, when I had communication with my son, he advised me that it had not arrived.

I logged back onto the Canada Post website only to discover that in the evening, the Express Post envelope was being returned!  Check it out:

canada post tracking to brockvilleThe address written on the envelope is legible and easy to read. It is the correct address, and is the residence of my son. And yet, the item was returned to me with the word “Moved” on it. My son has not moved. The only explanation we can come up with is that Canada Post did not deliver the item or the notification card to the correct address.  It is just sheer incompetence and a lack of ensuring a job gets done correctly.

Yes, I have requested a refund and am to receive it, but it’s not just the money, but the disappointment as well as the time that I had to spend (walking 20 minutes each way to pick it up at a retail outlet when it was returned), because of incompetency of Canada Post.

The Day I Canada Post Refused To Sell Me Postage Stamps:

How utterly idiotic is that one would walk into a Canada Post Office (not a retail outlet, but an official Post Office) and be refused the ability to purchase stamps? This must be one of the most idiotic management decisions ever made and there ought to be an award for it with the words “STUPID” written across it.

On December 11th, 2013, I walked to the Canada Post Office on Broadway in Orangeville, and one of the bits of business I wanted to conduct was the purchase of official Canadian stamps so I could send out Christmas cards and other items in the mail to clients, family and friends. I was stunned at being told by the clerk behind the counter, “I’m sorry Ian, but we’ve been told to take the stamps off the shelves and have been threatened with our jobs if we sell them today.”

Huh??

What Canada Post Management team or person made the moronic decision to stop sales of postage stamps in December, at the height of Christmas Card season, just because some new denomination stamps were not ready in time and had not been delivered to postal outlets? I was told that I could purchase the stamps if I had Christmas cards that were addressed, at the post office counter, but that I could not buy a roll of stamps to take back to my office and stick them onto my envelopes when I was ready to do that.

Seriously Mr. Chopra, this must have been one of the most idiotic decisions your Corporation has ever made. Who is taking responsibility for that? Christmas time, and Canada Post needs to ration postage stamps?  But it wasn’t even as is there was a need to ration them; your management ordered clerks to not sell the ones they had. You know, there’s a word for people like that where I’m originally from in Ireland: Gobshites. I really can’t think of a better word to describe someone or some people that would cut off postage stamp sales at Christmas time.

I was told to return the next day when the new stamps were expected to be in. Guess what? I did return. No new stamps. Again I was refused the ability to purchase them.

Do you understand why this decision deserves the “Award Of Being Utterly Stupid?”

But there’s more, Mr. Chopra! After I had that experience, I emailed a letter to my MP and to Ms Lisa Raitt, Minister of Transportation who’s office overlooks Canada Post.  My MP forwarded my letter onto you in January. Your office did not bother to respond to me until close to the end of March!  It was a pretty lousy response which did not recognize the stupidity of Canada Post’s decision, nor acknowledge the major inconvenience it caused to your customers. I will say that although your office took it’s time in sending me a response, Ms Raitt was even worse, not replying until April 8th.
Next Day Delivery To Aliston That Took Almost A Week:

In December, around the same time as the above debacle over postage stamps (it may have been the same day), I was assured I could send a package “Next Day Delivery” from Orangeville to Aliston, Ontario. The contents of my shipment were very time sensitive and were to be a surprise for the recipient.

Guess what? It did not arrive the next day. I called Canada Post, they acknowledged the fact it had not arrived and promised to send me a refund cheque (which took about a month). I was advised though that when the package did arrive at it’s destination, it would not be delivered to the door, but instead to the recipient’s “community mailbox.” My original intent was to have it delivered to their door; that was what I was expecting.  But while discussing the complaint with Canada Post, I learned that even with expedited packages that are guaranteed “next day” delivery, that only means they will get a notification card in their “community mailbox” and a key is supposed to be left for a larger compartment where they can pick the package up.

But even that did not happen! The package too five business days (a full week) before the recipient received the notification card – with information that the package was available at a postal outlet at a Shopper’s Drug Mart. Your Corporation cannot even get delivery right, into a community mailbox.

By the time it had arrived, there was no point in it being picked up as the contents would have gone past an expiry date. In addition, the recipient does not have a vehicle to go across town.

The Wild West Where Packages Sit & Sit… & Sit.. & Wait For The Pony Express Return Trip

Approximately a year and a half ago, I sent another time sensitive package to Whitecourt, AB via Express Post (Three Day Service). I don’t recall the full details now at this point, but for whatever reason, it could not be picked up at the retail outlet where it was.

Although it was time sensitive, the contents were still valuable, and should have been returned to me. Do you know how long it sat out there? OVER 6 WEEKS before it was finally returned, and then Canada Post expected me to pay for Express Post shipping back to me!

Attempted Delivery Notice Lies

Canada Post is a lying Corporation. There have been numerous other times when I’ve been sent packages during your watch over Canada Post, Mr. Chopra, and have discovered an “Attempt to Deliver” notice in with my mail. There was no attempt to deliver whatsoever. How do I know? I work out of my home. I am here.  My little Boston Terrier barks when someone knocks on the door.  What seems to happen is that instead of an attempted delivery, the packages will get dropped off at the retail outlet and then the next day, a notice is sent asking me to go pick it up.

This is pathetic. It is also dishonest. It’s not what the shipper paid for. With that said, it’s actually fraudulent for Canada Post to claim an attempt at delivery when none was made.

The above are all issues that have occurred under the watch of Mr. Deepak Chopra. But Canada Post issues go even further back, and you may as well be aware of them:

Purolator Sucks

Some years ago, I ordered a vital and important piece of equipment for my business from the USA. Although I was not expecting it, the shipper thought he would do me a favour by sending it via USPS Expedited or Express (or whatever the term they use for “getting the mail somewhere fast”).  What we didn’t know is that once such mail crosses the border, Purolator deals with it. Of course, Purolator is owned by Canada Post and was at the time I write of, as well. For a variety of reasons, my official business address was a Canada Post Office Box number (one of the reasons was that Canada Post could never seem to figure out how to correctly deliver my mail to my office at that time and a P.O. Box just meant I got my mail more efficiently).

So what happens when Purolator takes over from the USPS, as contracted by Canada Post? Well, at that time, (perhaps they have improved now), if the address recipient was a PO Box, they’d just return the shipment to the shipper! No attempt to deliver, no attempt at making contact with the receiver.

This particular case, it was brought to the shipper’s attention that the shipment was being returned to him. After some research, is when I learned that Purolator had taken over the shipment. It had arrived in Ontario, and then was marked “Return To Sender” by them. When I discovered this, the shipment was actually in Vancouver, and yet Purolator REFUSED to allow me to provide them with a physical address!  So here’s Purolator admitting that they are not set up in any way to deal with shipments marked with a PO Address.. but guess what UPS does?

Ahh.. UPS has customer service in mind – they will send a postcard to the PO box asking the recipient to contact them to provide a physical address.  But even though Purolator was/is connected with Canada Post, they can’t do that… something is bizarre.

Canada Post Steals Other People’s Business:

I say “steal,” because indeed that is what it is. Canada Post Corporation is a monopoly that has also been protected from competition. It is illegal for me to start up my own mail business.

I started my business with sweat and tears, asked for no grants, government loans, or any other such thing, and between myself and my business partner, built a business that was providing internet related services including e-commerce enabled websites to businesses in Canada and the USA.  Canada Post was difficult to work with in regard to getting shipping cost plugins for Canadian online retailers. I had made many inquiries and was refused any type of assistance in helping my clients estimate shipping costs via Canada Post.

Subsequently, Canada Post, who holds a monopoly on mail, decides to compete with me in the web development business!  Sending out glossy postcards to businesses, with promises of wonderful e-commerce sites and Canada Post rates all built in for easy calculation of final charges to customers.

I lost clients to Canada Post because of this one feature, that Canada Post would not provide to others – being able to calculate shipping costs based on Canada Post rates.

Well.. a couple of those clients returned to my business after experiencing horrible service as far as their web development needs were concerned… but still, the nerve of Canada Post management to pull the stunt they did, and literally steal business away from other businesses and refuse to support small business, and compete against them, while having their own legal protections for the business of mail.

If you are reading this, and you are a Canada Post employee, I don’t want you to take this personally that I think you are an inefficient person. Or a bad person. However, you ought to know you work with some real boneheads, and that lack of service, their lack of honest, their lack of integrity, as well as the boneheaded decisions of some managers, have meant that I am now no longer going to use Canada Post for packages that I want or need to arrive quickly. I realize I will have perhaps have to pay more for the use of a reliable service such as UPS, but the unreliability and absolute insane decisions made by Canada Post have left me in a position of not having any other choice.

While there is much that can be done about some of the dumb decisions made by managers, you should realize that your own peers that are dishonest are part of this problem as well, and protecting them is stupid for your own long term job security. Whoever scanned my package that I was supposed to receive, and marked it as “Successfully Delivered,” lied today.  I don’t know if it was stolen, or delivered to the wrong address, but whatever happened, it’s caused me inconvenience, and I paid money to have that shipped to me via Canada Post.

Whoever didn’t properly deliver or ensure delivery of my “next day delivery” to Aliston back in December is responsible for part of my dissatisfaction with Canada Post.  Whoever allowed my package to sit on some floor or shelf in Alberta for six weeks did not do their job.  Whoever is putting “Attempted Delivery Notifications” through my mail slot without actually ensuring an attempted delivery is lying.

And while you may have your own gripes about your employer, your conduct in either acting in this way, or protecting a fellow employee acting in this way, is causing waste of time and money to others.

And finally to Mr. Deepak Chopra, I’ll repeat how I started: The Canada Post website says YOU are responsible. So take some damned responsibility. As far as I’m concerned, UPS, with their reliability have won me as a customer. I was your customer to lose, and today, you finally lost me to the point I’m going to recommend to others that they suck it up and move to UPS for their on time and reliable delivery needs.

It has simply been years worth of a litany of errors, stupid and idiotic decisions and service that no one in the private sector would ever survive in offering.  Today was the last straw.

Ironically, when I emailed the shipper of my package that Canada Post claims was successfully delivered, to let them know it was a lie; that it had not been delivered, this was the response I received:

I am going to forward a copy of your e-mail to our Canada Post Rep. too
We are also very frustrated with the services being provided – so much so that Conrad Richter has launched a web-site entitled “whats wrong with Canada Post” .

I did a quick Google search – here is Mr. Richter’s website: http://www.whatswrongwithcanadapost.ca/

(Addendum: I KNOW there are good people at Canada Post, and I would like to thank those of you who DO care and have taken an interest, especially to Stacey who has offered her sincere apologies for my experiences and has tried to assist. The 2 clerks who work at my local Post Office are great people as well – and I can see their own frustration when they roll their eyes as I recount experiences to them. This “rant” is not meant and should not be taken by all Canada Post employees as something against you. At the same time, there are occasions, I need dependable service and your employer is just not providing that, along with idiotic decisions as I reported, above. I trust you will read this, in that light).

“Ben Young” Iplanetpro – Another Internet Marketing Leech

I don’t mind exposing people for what they are, and truly invite anyone who wants to “expose” me, to do so as well. We’ve exposed some other internet scams including emails from so called SEO “experts” to unsuspecting businesses, that make wild claims and this evening, we’re going to expose another one.  There truly are some leeches out there that have absolutely no morals, no true concerns, and use methods that are simply quite disgusting.

Recently, we registered a domain name on behalf of a client; it’s basically “brand new” and development is going on as I write this. Most of the work has been done,  When I register domain names on behalf of clients, I always put the registrant information such that it shows legally that the client owns it, but I also include my own email address as a contact so that I can deal with any issues on behalf of the client, quickly.

This means that I often get spam. Tonight was no exception. Earlier this evening, while checking my inbox, I received an email from a “Ben Young” with the subject line of: “We found a problem with xxxxx.org.” (The “xxxxx” represent the actual domain name).

Inside the body of the email, I read:

We found some major issues while running our Speed Test report on xxxxxx.org

Please click here to view the results:

http://quote.gamedayassist.com/xxxxxxx

Thanks,
Ben Young

Site Speed Rankings, LLC
Account Manager
EMT Group, LLC | 3846 Herbert Road, Mogadore OH 44260

To someone who is naive, this may appear “scary.” Indeed, there is a site speed component to Google’s and other search engine’s algorithm; how much of an influence it has is not really known. Regardless of that fact, it is important to ensure a site is optimized as much as possible for speed issues. One of the biggest things we find are images that are far to large in file size.  We’ve managed to help clients that have images that are over 200 kb each, to reduce this substantially, which affects site speed positively. As well, there are occasions when a site might be hosted on a very slow server, but today, that’s not the norm.

Let’s get back to the site in question that I received the email about. It’s simple, it’s not meant to be a site that is marketed all over, and it has nothing fancy on it. Indeed, it contains all of one single image, that weighs in at a whopping 3.4 Kb. (I’m being sarcastic.. 3.4 Kb is very small).

It’s hosted on a very fast server. The CSS is optimized. In summary, there is zero speed issues with the website. If you’re on a dial up ISP, this site is going to be as quick as any other. Yet Ben Young would send out some alarming email about “speed issues” that are “major.”

Ben Young’s full email address, by the way is:

rchsfatk-t2iyjwk@natural.iplanetpro.com

I haven’t bothered to look at his website, or clicked on his link that leads to some supposed “speed test results”; I have no need to do so. All I know is that Ben Young and his ilk are mongering upon fears that many have, and as a result, likely can’t actually do anything to really help you; Ben Young probably did not even look at the website in question before sending what is probably an automated email sent to many registrants of new domain names.

Ben Young is the type of Internet Marketer that attempts to feed off fears of others, and make a quick buck, even if nothing is wrong.

And yes, people like Ben Young need to be called out for what they are. Leeches. It’s quite possible that Ben Young will now change his email address, or even his name (as other illegitimate jerks often do), but please be aware of these types of emails. Quite often, there ARE legitimate issues with websites and speed; you’re better off talking to someone that has been around for awhile and that can sift through the wheat from the chaff.

Be careful out there. Don’t trust the Ben Youngs of this world.