Tuesday, December 31, 2013

A Christmas Present With Added Benefits

I have wanted a tablet for a while now but was still in research mode. There are so many to choose from and I was finding it all very confusing. iPads are popular, but I felt I wanted something with a USB port.  As even I  didn't really know what I was looking for yet, I certainly didn't ask for a tablet for Christmas, so I was totally surprised when I opened the package containing it. What I found was an Asus Memo Pad.  At first I didn't know what I was looking at as I was unfamiliar with that brand.  It was only after I actually opened the box itself that I got excited.  I've had a few of days to play with it now and find that it does everything but wash the dishes.

It also does a few unexpected things if a finger happens to touch something unintended, and I don't always know how to undo what it does. Tablets don't tend to come with instructions, so you learn by doing.

The first day I was testing out the camera and after a few successful pictures, I somehow slipped into video mode and every time I tried to take a picture, I ended up with a video instead. Each time I thought I had it straightened out, it produced another video. At least I had already learned how to delete these unwanted files. Finally a call was made to my son, as his wife has one, and he uses it a lot too.  Mine is a newer model, so they didn't really understand what buttons I was seeing on the screen here, but some things they said clued me in, and I suddenly realized that the red button that I had been pushing was the record button, but the camera icon on the screen (which I simply thought indicated I was on the right screen to take pictures) was actually the camera's shutter release. Duh....

I had accumulated a few new icons on my desktop, as I had downloaded a couple of apps and a game. They also appear among the app library on another page, so I assume the ones on the desktop are shortcuts. I didn't know how to eliminate them from there, but hoped I'd learn how to thin them out if the desktop got too cluttered over time. Somehow I also accumulated a language translator button, that I may never need. I have no idea how to get rid of that, and sometimes it's a bit of a nuisance.  Then suddenly, last night, the screen I am normally faced with when I turn the tablet on changed completely, and so did the one next to it as I scrolled backwards. I don't know how that happened, or how to undo it.  I'm not sure yet, if it's a good or a bad change, but I figure, if I screw things up too badly before I learn to use the tablet properly, I can go visit my son's house and learn some tricks. Happily he lives only twelve miles away. My grandsons (ages 5 and 9) each have an iPad and I figure if they can learn to work a tablet, so can I.  If all else fails I can hit the reset button and return it to the way it was when it came from the factory.

I used to say I learned something new on the computer everyday, and that it was good for my mind. Well, maybe I had gotten a little too comfortable with the computer lately. This tablet has put me back in learning mode.  I'm enjoying it greatly, and loving the experience of exploring all the possibilities this little gadget presents.  Already I believe the Asus Memo Pad was the right choice for me.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Merry Christmas To You All

Yes, I still say Merry Christmas. I even have a hat that clearly has Merry Christmas Eh embroidered on the front of it. Nobody seems to mind. In fact, I've even been thanked for showing my Christmas spirit.  I believe it's only the politicians who want us to switch to saying things like Happy Holidays.  I also think those politicians should learn to listen to the people, because, clearly, we don't agree.  Last time I checked, I lived in a country where we still had both freedom of speech and religion. 

Recently I painted two successful portraits, and then got over confident and tried to do one of someone I know in one of her many costumes. It is just a small painting and I discovered that if you are off by even the tiniest fraction of an inch on the features, you end up with someone else. I couldn't give it to her, as I had planned to. I liked the painting anyway, so I came up with this alternative use for it.  It makes a lovely card, don't you think?

Monday, December 16, 2013

A Christmas Present From President's Choice

Have you applied for your new PC Plus card yet?  They have been advertising it on TV a lot lately, so I got myself one.

The first time I asked for one they gave me a post card that had a web address on it. But that was meant to sign up a PC financial card to this new system, and was not the new points card itself.  While I have their financial card, I found I don't really like charging for groceries and getting a shock at the end of the month. I just wanted the points card.  The next time I went they gave me the right one, and they activated it right there, so I even went home with points from that day's purchase.

I looked online and discovered they have a very well designed website. Each week you "load" the products that earn points onto your card account from the website. The products offered will be more and more in line with the type of things you buy on a regular basis. Over time the system keeps track of your preferred products, so it can tailor the sales, and the site to you.  There are recipes on there, based either on what's on sale that week, or the products you tend to buy, or both. It's your choice. You can make out a meal plan, and have the site issue you a shopping list. I think it may become one of my favorite sites to visit. 

As for the points, they add up far more quickly than I would expect.  I have just gone on my third weekly shopping trip and already I had enough points to cash in for $20 off my grocery bill.   That was perfect timing, as we all know that Christmas extras add a lot to that bill. I feel like I got $20 off my turkey this year, and that feels like an early Christmas present from the President's Choice people.  I'm already a quarter of the way to being able to cash in more points.  You have to reach the $20 level before you can cash in, but you can wait and add more in $10 increments if you chose to.  Apparently you can even add other family and friend's cards to the same account so that you can pile up the points even faster. I'm not sure who would agree to that, unless several people within a family all do the shopping and this way no points would be missed out on. 

At this point I have to say, if you don't already have one of these PC Plus cards, go get one. 
And thank you Presidents Choice.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Cyber Week Adventures

In the past I have purchased various things on line, but I have shied away from clothing.  One never knows just how something will fit, and it's hard to judge the quality of something from a picture online.  I didn't want to be out the shipping costs if the item needed to be returned.

 I have a favorite store where I've bought a lot of my clothes for many years. It used to be in the mall that I frequent in Ottawa. It seems the mall decided it needed that space for something else so my store disappeared. There are still a couple of other outlets for this store where I can go, but I'd have to make a special trip to get to them. My shop decided to get in on Cyber Week this year.

The Cyber Week sales were too good to resist. I do, after all, know my size at that store, so I jumped in and tried to buy a pair of my favourite cords for just $19.99 on Dec 4th.  These cords are normally about $65, though I would never pay that much for them, and usually wait until they go on for half price, or something.  I had already decided I wanted another pair this winter and was willing to wait until the big sales after Christmas. The problem with that is the colour I want may be gone, or the size I fit into could very well be sold out.  This Cyber Week sale was too tempting to pass up.

It went smoothly. I picked out a colour, after a bit of hemming and hawing, then chose the correct size and went to cash out my purchase. There I discovered that they were deducting an additional 30%, so I went back in and picked out another pair in a different colour.  By the time I had cashed out, the total came to $40.41 including the shipping and the taxes.  That's just fantastic, and I was all ready to mark my calendar to go shopping on Cyber shopping at the same time next year.

Then the invoice came in my e-mail and my VISA was being charged at the full price.  The total came to over $111 so I fired off an e-mail saying that I'd just made the purchase at their sale price and they could either send me a corrected invoice or cancel the order.

I waited for a few hours and got no response.  I checked my banking and saw that the full charge had indeed showed up on my VISA account.  I decided to phone them. The lady was very apologetic. She said the computer had a glitch in it and she was recalculating my total, even as we spoke. The final total, she told me, was $54.16.  I mentioned that that was not what I had seen when I put the order through, and she said, "But there is shipping."  I knew the shipping had been included in my total, but was relieved to have her at least get the charge down to a  more manageable amount.

The lady mentioned during this conversation that my address was a postal box, and she wanted a street address. I gave that to her, grumbling to myself that now I'd have to be at home to receive the parcel.  All my other online purchases come by regular mail.  I really hate being held captive by delivery people.

I went back in to the site and investigated.  That's when I noticed the 30% off was just supposed to be on regularly priced items, so that was another computer glitch, and explained why her total was different from mine. I admit I had not been expecting that extra 30% off anyway, but it did cause me to go back in to get another pair, and I will be bringing that up to their attention when this is all finished.

I decided to recreate the purchase, and was prepared to capture screens along the way so I could prove the final total I had been originally shown.  I usually print that page, but saw the confirmation e-mail arrive and foolishly closed the site before I opened the e-mail. As it turned out, the deal was so good that my colours and size had already sold out so I couldn't duplicate the order after all. I guess a lot of other people liked that extra 30% off too.

I put that order in a week and a half ago, and I have been watching the VISA charges ever since.  They were very quick to put the charge through,  but it took them over a week to correct it.  I never did get a response to the e-mail I sent the first day.  No new invoice arrived in my mail at all.  I did get an e-mail that the parcel had been prepared for shipment and that I would receive a further e-mail from Purolator telling me the tracking number when they were ready to ship. 

I saw when Purolator put a label on my package on Dec 10th.  I waited for it to show up all the next day. When it didn't arrive by the end of the day, I tracked it down, and saw that it was returned to them with a notice "Attempted delivery - incomplete / incorrect address provided."  I had personally given the address to the online order lady when I called about the original invoice, since she wasn't happy with the post office box number. Could she have written it down wrong?  Now I had to contact Purolator and find out what the problem was. You do that by way of an online chat, and it was now too late in the day to reach them. I made note of the time that the office opened in the morning and made sure I got online with them early enough to get the parcel back on the road that day.

When I asked what the problem was,  I was told, "We need a unit number and a buzz number."

I had brain fog for a moment there. I had no idea what she was asking for, and stared blankly at the invoice. I was just about to ask her where I should be looking when it dawned on me, they thought I lived in an apartment!  That's silly.  If the truck had come down my street, it would see there are NO apartments in the area. I told her that, and once again gave my address, going so far as to tell her I was at the east end of the street.  She said she would send it out the following morning...Dec 13th.  So getting online with them first thing in the morning wasn't going to help after all.  I was going to have to wait another day. But at least I knew I was being allowed to escape from the house for one day.

I don't know why I looked later that day, but it appeared, by the end of that day, that a total of four attempts had been made to deliver my pants. I still had time to get someone on the chatline this time though, and I did that.  She assured me that there had only been one delivery attempt so far, and that the other reports were because the warehouse scans everything on a regular basis. She asked me a couple of questions and I explained, once again, that there are no apartments here. I live in a single family dwelling.

So the order I put in on Dec 4th took until Dec 13th to show up at my door. The label on the package indicated that they didn't know whether to go east or west on my street, even though I had told them (but the driver must have called that in as there was an additional label that had nothing but the word "East" on it).  This is also foolishness, since my street is exactly 3 blocks long, and there is only one block west of the main street,  so my house number could not possibly have been in that direction. I think some of these drivers are getting paid to joy ride, wasting gas without actually looking for the address on the lable.  How else would you explain all this?

I just looked at the tracking site again and I see that the driver has entered the fact that he has now delivered the package. He did spell my name wrong though.  It's a wonder he found the street, let alone the house!

My first internet purchase of clothing has been quite the adventure.  It cost me more than I intended, and was very hard on my nerves at times. Still, I got a good bargain in the end.... even if I did end up with two pairs of pants instead of just one. I'm not sure if I'll ever try this again though. We'll see how adventurous I feel next year at this time. In the meantime, I think I'll stick to the actual stores, even if I do have to make a special trip now and then.

Monday, December 2, 2013

A Technological Dinosaur

I started with a Commodore 64 and I used to type in games and other programs out of magazines. This was a great way to learn some Basic Programming as I would always make some typos, and while trying to find the problem, I often learned what various commands did.  I was able then to create a little program of my own, that enabled my hubby to shave hours off a monthly task he did at home as part of his job.  I was quite proud that I had learned enough to be able to help him in that way.

As time went on, I was able to help various friends do the things they wanted to be able to do on their computers, and even became a Newbie Helper on the 50Plus chat room. I was pretty good at that as I was able to get 80 year olds, who had never had a computer before, to understand and implement what I was telling them.  And all that was done online, though the chat window, or sometimes by private message.

Times have changed however, and the technology has been developing so quickly I have had trouble keeping up with it. I'm still working on an old Windows XP machine (which I will cling to as long as I possibly can). I also now have a second hand laptop, but I seldom use it as I find it awkward to type on, and often revert to the two fingered method (and I really don't want to do that).  My young grandsons both have  iPads, and I'd love one, but I'm not sure it would suit my needs. I want something with a USB port, so I can load geocaching way points on it if we find ourselves with some spare time while away from home.  Today there are so many different tablets, and I hear they don't all do the same things, so I'm leery about choosing the wrong one.

Recently my house phone got short circuited by a snow storm and I had to resort to using my cell phone.  I was on a pay as you go plan, which accumulated so much credit that Telus finally decided to let me use that credit if I switched over to a monthly plan instead. Now I don't have to top up every month. But when I turned the cell phone on the other day, I got an automated message from Telus saying I had to top up or I'd lose my balance. I started to reply to them, asking why I  needed to top up when I had already had a message from them recently that told me I didn't need to do that because I had over $......oh wait a minute, how do you type a number into a text message anyway?  I don't have a fancy phone with a built in keypad. I don't have a smart phone, or anything fancy at all.  My phone is the most basic model because, as I said, I don't use it for anything. My hubby uses it as a way to track me down when we get separated in a mall. He calls to ask me where I am.

While I fooled around trying to figure out how to text numbers, (and I still don't know) I got an incoming call from my hubby (he is the only one who has my number). He would have been calling to tell me when to expect the Bell Telephone guy who was supposed to come and string a new line from the pole to the house so I answered the call and immediately lost the text message I was labouring over.

When I finally got land line phone service restored, I immediately went online went online to the Telus site. I'd been without the internet for 3 days by that point, suffering, as one of my Facebook friends implied, from a severe case of withdrawal by that time.  I'm usually good at finding things online, but I discovered Telus are very good at hiding their contact information.  I finally found a chat box, and had a lovely chat with someone who assured me that the message I had received was just an automatic thing and that it would be the last one I got like that. I wasn't going to lose my balance after all. (Darn, what was that person's name in case the money disappears tomorrow and I have to get back to them?) 

I asked, since I had contact with a live person, if my new monthly plan (which gives me 50 messages or texts for the same $10 I've always paid) still included voice mail.  I was asking because I had spotted something on one of their web pages that said "Add Voice Mail" when I was hunting for some contact information.  I had earlier tried to retrieve some voice mail and couldn't get in. The phone was not recognizing the password I'm sure I've always used.  The nice person at the other end quickly decided to reset my password for me, and told me how to access it, and what to do when I did. I disconnected, thinking all was well.  I tried to get into my voice then, as I now had two messages to retrieve, but the password she had given me did not work either. Obviously she must have typed it in wrongly at her end, and I'm going to have to connect with Telus again to straighten that out.

This weekend I was at a party, and even though there where ten of us gathered at one table, several of those were busy socializing on their phones instead of with each other.  I have even seen people actually texting while jumping around on the dance floor, and for the life of me, I don't know how they managed that!  I have a hard enough time getting away from my computer as it is, so I'm pretty sure I'm better off not having such a gadget that kept me connected all the time. Not that I'd ever learn how to use it properly anyway.    

How I went from being so far ahead of others technologically, to being so far behind, is beyond me.  I doubt I'll ever get caught up now.   I've turned into a technological dinosaur.