All posts by Stiofan

Leverage – Reboot

Yesterday I found out Leverage, the television series produced by Dean Devlin, was being rebooted and I thought about the series I loved.

Leverage centres on a team of thieves who steal from, or have arrested usually due to , those who abuse their positions and take from, or somehow harm innocent people. Our team consists of Nathan Ford, leader of the group, Sophie Deveraux, Con Artist and aspiring actor, Eliot Spencer, retrieval specialist who is the team’s ‘hitter’, Parker, cat-thief and Alec Hardison, the hacker. These people do as they say in the intro: They provide leverage!

Throughout the series we see them thinking up ever more imaginative ways to teach the bad guys a lesson and help the victims to get past what has happened to them, whether it’s simply having the bad guys arrested or finding ways to profit from their cons and passing money or other assets gained to those wronged.

The reboot will see Dean Devlin return, and Nathan Ford will be replaced with a new character played by Noah Wyle, so if you have seen the other Dean Devlin show The Librarians then you should probably expect some Flynn Carsen craziness! Although nothing has really been written much about the character yet so I am only speculating based on similarities between both shows. We also get to see his fellow Librarian co-star Christian Kane returning to Leverage.

There are similar types of shows that exist such as Burn Notice, but what makes this series great is the way the team work together so well and do become a family by the end. The World is currently a mess, so just ignore everything else going on and have a Leverage marathon to prepare yourself for the reboot πŸ™‚

Tripleclicks – A Platform for Getting Something Back!

EBay, Amazon, Tripleclicks. You wouldn’t usually expect to hear these three mentioned together but Tripleclicks can do what the others do, and it’s also part of a larger business that exists to help you earn.

Tripleclicks is part of SFI, a multi level marketing business based in the USA but with members Worldwide, all working to improve their own standard of living and helping each other to do the same using the forums and various other methods of communication available to them. Members can even ask the founder questions in the Ask Gerry section!

I started with Tripleclicks because it makes it very easy to open a store on the site and you can connect with other store owners selling similar or any other products. It’s a very sociable platform in that way.

If you have things you want to sell, or you want to find another retail platform to search for bargains, check out Tripleclicks. It costs nothing to have a look through πŸ˜‰

Struggling Banks – Time To Nationalise Them?

Some retail banks have been complaining that they struggle to make a profit, even going so far as to keep the bail-out money during the worst of the 2008 economic crisis instead of lending it out as they were supposed to. The same thing happened during other crises where banks didn’t lend the money out so it didn’t help improve the economy much.

With the banks justifying this behaviour is it time to Nationalise (or part-Nationalise) all struggling retail banks and integrate them into the State’s Treasury? Having banks under State control would ensure no bank collapses, there would be no bank runs and liquidity won’t be an issue. This would also be a way to help everyone get a bank account so no one is left out.

A full Nationalisation of the banks would be expensive and the only major benefit would be convenience and ensuring long term stability. That may be enough for many of us but others would like to see something more. So that would be where a part-Nationalisation would be mentioned.

Part-Nationalisation would instead give the State, say, 75% of the shares of a bank (each one if kept as separate entities, otherwise of the whole banking network) but the other 25% would be owned by the public (as private holdings). This would be achieved by either giving shares to every adult (taxpayer or general public adult) in the Country free of charge with dividends attached and paid twice a year, or even yearly, or they could be sold on a stock exchange, but with a limit on the amount able to be purchased by each person (Natural person only, 1000 shares maximum) to avoid abuse of the system by financial institutions and corporate investors. This is to keep shares owned by people who can sell them to other people or they can hold them for the dividends as a long term investment. Whichever way it’s done, this would benefit anyone holding the shares as it’s unlikely they will decrease in value, given the fact they would be from a Government entity that is backed by the Treasury.

Uber – Technology Firm or Cab Firm?

We’ve all seen the news reports that various Governments are doing what they can to thwart Uber. They either refuse licences or they launch a competing service, but now the European Union is going to decide, once and for all, whether Uber is a platform provider (a tech company as they call themselves) or a transport company (a cab firm basically).

This is actually very simple, and I don’t need to have a lot of lawyers and politicians to explain this. Uber is a cab firm. When Uber started it may have been simply a platform provider, a marketplace, but the moment they took it upon themselves to acquire their own licences they became a cab firm.

The way to stay a tech company, a platform provider, would have been to only provide the space and bring together drivers and the public. Drivers would have to have an operator’s licence (O Licence) to work as an independent driver, or to work for an Uber supplier/partner company (a cab firm) that has it’s own O Licence. Uber would just earn commission on bookings completed and maybe have a membership fee payable by their partners for use of this marketplace. That would have kept Uber as a tech company and there wouldn’t be all of the legal challenges.

And if I can see this, then it should be ultra simple for legislators Worldwide to tell the difference..

Scams – International FIFA Lottery

Recently an envelope was delivered to my home which contained a letter informing us we had won the ‘International FIFA Lottery’. Great news you may think, except that doesn’t actually exist. It was clearly an attempt to deceive us into believing we had won money so we would pay them for access to it.

A Google search confirmed it was a scam and others had been caught out by it. If you receive anything telling you that you have won a lottery or other competition – here’s just one question for you. Did you actually enter this competition? If not, then it’s a scam and should be reported to the Police so they can take action.

Always be careful and never give money to people who say they require your cash to get you access to money you have supposedly won.

Gifthulk – Earn ‘Free’ Gift Cards

In April I posted about InstaGC, a platform that lets you earn points which can be redeemed for gift cards, today I am going to tell you about another such platform, this one is called Gifthulk.

Gifthulk is similar to the other reward sites, it rewards you for searching, as well as watching videos and undertaking various tasks such as surveys. And the amount of points required for gift cards is higher than some of the others, but this is a good, stable platform that has been around a while.

As a member you do have benefits such as competitions to earn you points. I regularly play the ‘guess the card’ competition, and have won a few times. I prefer the ‘guess the suit’ one because I seem to do better on that! You win 4 points when you guess correctly and that may not seem a lot but it costs you nothing to participate and you have a number of chances to win!

My prize goal is a Paypal gift card, they’re just like cash in the bank. Actually when you withdraw it from your Paypal account into your bank account that is exactly what it is!! But you’re not ‘limited’ to just Paypal gift cards, there are many others to choose from, some of which are for department stores so it’s worth having a good look through.

If this seems to be something you’re interested in, have a look at the site and decide from there


Steve πŸ˜‰

Customer Service – Why do companies fail so badly?

Why is it so many companies fail to do the most basic thing and treat their customers with the proper respect? Go on to any reviews website and you will see many negative reviews because of the way a business has treated their customers, sometimes customers don’t realise that they allow it to continue because they accept it. Even if they complain, or write a bad review, they may then still use the same firm later on, hoping it has improved the way it deals with people outside of the business. This only reinforces those behaviours and makes them feel as if it doesn’t matter because people will keep coming back to them so why spend money on training for staff or improving technology that could be used to create a better experience for their customers?

There are many businesses that see customer service as extremely important and they make the investments necessary to provide a great service for their customers but there are still too many who don’t see it as worthwhile to spend money on customer service improvements. Why do they fail, why don’t they care? do they take it for granted that people will still purchase their goods and/or services? “Build it and they will come”!!

Bad Behaviour – Case study 1

Recently I was working for a pizza delivery franchise, a franchise of one of the best known pizza brands in the World and one that has always believed in excellent customer service.

Working for this particular franchise though was disappointing, to say the least. Management considered customer service to be something they didn’t need to think about, it was at best an afterthought, but really it was to them an inconvenience – the cost of doing business.

I was a customer service representative, I took orders from customers on the phones and in-store, as well as dealing with queries from customers regarding their orders or about the products. It seemed instead of me being there to deal with the customers, I was really there to do the work no one else could be bothered to do – and that included the customer service stuff.

When some boxes needed to be labelled it was me that had to do it, even if there were customers in the store waiting to be served, the boxes took priority! Some people would look at this and think “of course they do, without the boxes the pizzas wouldn’t be packaged”, the problem with that logic is without the customers there would be no need for the boxes as the pizzas wouldn’t be ordered in the first place. And keeping the customer service representative from doing their job when a group of people are standing around chatting, including store management, isn’t setting a good example to employees and doesn’t instil confidence in the customer that their order will be taken correctly and the store is being managed to a high standard, particularly where the storage of food is concerned.

Years before working at this franchise I worked for another franchise representing the same brand, but their employees were always taught to ‘exceed the customer’s expectations’ and we were all treated as part of a team. Two different franchises and two very different ways of working.

Bad Behaviour – Case Study 2

From late 2014 until January 2015 I was working for a private hire (taxi) company located near my home. One thing that frustrated me during my employment here was the way drivers of wheelchair accessible vehicles were refusing to pick up people in wheelchairs. We would take bookings and the drivers would simply ignore the bookings. They knew where the regular pick ups were so they would drive outside of the areas at those times to avoid being given the bookings, this resulted in customers being left stranded as they couldn’t get back home and they had been expecting to be picked up. This continued until the company had to tell customers we couldn’t do the work and the local authority accounts for the work that was supposed to be undertaken were cancelled.

Good Behaviour – Case Study

I am a vegan. I have been a vegan for a number of years and before this I was ‘just’ a vegetarian from childhood until my early 30s. Until recently it was difficult to find good vegan food, it seemed as though you had to guess what was suitable and supply of any products that actually stated they were suitable for vegans was extremely limited.

And then I found a health food store called Holland & Barrett which changed everything for me.

Over the years I have been able to enjoy products such as ‘Jumbo Sos rolls’, steakless pies, soya cheese and blueberry ice cream. On top of being the supplier to the populace of these great products, this health food store, and the other stores since it’s expansion, also employ great sales associates who understand customer service. I don’t recall ever having a negative experience with any product or staff member in any of their stores and they have always been able to advise me on health related things or make sure I claim the points for my purchases (they always ask for the points card, and if you don’t have it on you, they will take your post code and it’s added to your account – just so you don’t miss out!).

Fantastic customer service isn’t about simply smiling at a customer, it’s about making their visit to your business something they would be happy telling their friends and relatives about, and recommending they also visit if they require health related products. They should have a positive experience and have felt important, not treated as if they’re in the way and the staff member cannot wait for them to leave.

Unfortunately firms like the bad behaviour case studies above aren’t concerned about customer service and tend to ignore concerns from employees which only makes things worse as those employees are more likely to take time off work, and when they’re at work and annoyed, others then suffer from lower morale too.

Reflective Film & Light Shield to Stop Lasers Affecting Pilots?

Over the years there have been many cases of people using lasers to annoy pilots and co-pilots and even try to force a plane to land. We should be wondering why there hasn’t been something done about this, apart from making it a criminal offence.

One solution would be the use of reflective films on cockpit windscreens to stop the laser being able to ‘access’ the cockpit and bother the flying crew. Using double-thickened glass with the reflective screen being inside it, as well as on the side within the cockpit acts as a double safety measure.

A secondary system, I’m not sure if this exists, could be an external light screen that would extend a light field (outside of human sight range) in front of the plane that would change the colours coming from the laser and possibly negate any affect, the light would be ‘bounced’ from the light field either above the plane, or back at the original location of the laser.

I like the idea of having safety systems in place to stop people coming to harm and being able to carry on with their work.

Net-Based Broadcasting – Is It Worth Paying For?

I love films. And television shows. My favourite show is The Originals, alongside Supernatural and I’m a big fan of Lucifer. Now we have many options to watch our favourite shows and films, but not that long ago it was difficult to find your favourites using anything other than a torrents site, and I don’t know about you but I don’t like having to download an application just so I can watch a film or show. Browser based is my preference, as it is for zillions of other people.

Being the type of person who loves films and tv shows, is it worth paying for membership of a site such as Netflix or Amazon Prime? I would say yes. I have been a member of Netflix and Amazon Prime and loved having access to their products. I also purchase shows, films, music and books through Google Play, I love it. It’s so convenient being able to download anything I’ve purchased onto my mobile phone.

Like so many other people, I use sites such as Amazon for various purchases, whether it’s for DVDs or for books, you know you can trust them to get your stuff to you. And they also provide a platform for watching the latest films and tv shows. It’s called Amazon Prime and is actually very good. With Amazon Prime you also get other benefits such as One Day Delivery (which is fantastic when you’ve ordered something and don’t want to wait a week for it). If you want to have a look at Amazon Prime, click the link below to go straight there and have a good look around at things to watch, or music to listen to. Enjoy πŸ˜€

Amazon Prime - sign up for the trial

Esperanto – An International Second Language?

We have a planet that holds billions of people, yet a large number of those people only speak one language – their own – and would find it difficult to communicate with others who don’t speak their language.

We’re seeing more people travelling around the World, whether it’s a short trip to a neighbouring Country, or a World cruise, the World is being explored and experienced first-hand so is it time we all learned a second language?

Esperanto is a constructed language, meaning it isn’t a natural language that has evolved over time in the same way English or French has, but was created for the purpose of giving the World a way to communicate that wouldn’t require having to learn a language that is, or perceived by a group to be, associated Β with a particular Nation or political system.

If every person on Earth could speak their own language as well as a common international language, then perhaps we could resolve many issues and possibly even avoid many of the conflicts that seem to be caused by lack of knowledge and understanding about other cultures.

Universal Esperanto Association

Information about Esperanto