Amazon Prime Packing Fail
Business

Amazon Prime Packing Fail

In the box, a glass Malden Smartphone Picture Frame and a 11 pounds of liquid baby formula.

Who in their right mind thinks that a large glass picture frame is safe to ship with an 11 pounds of liquid baby formula? Some low wage packer at Amazon who most likely doesn’t care. The picture frame (a valentine’s day gift for my wife) was totally smashed with loose glass tinkling around inside the bubble wrap.

The box was half empty with only a little bit of crumpled paper as fill. With all that space, there’s no doubt the items were constantly being tossed back and forth during transit. No amount of bubble wrap could have protect the frame from damage.

America loves free shipping. As a consumer, I love free shipping. But shipping a product across the country is a real cost. So for Amazon to offer free shipping, costs are being cut in other places. Some of the savings can be made through efficiency but having low wage workers are definitely part of the equation.

Of course, Amazon is going to fix this for me by sending me a new frame and having me ship the old frame back. But, wouldn’t it be better to not have this problem in the first place? Amazon wants to be an aspirational brand, but having your final product being a poorly packed package reflects badly on the company.

Because of Amazon, it’s hard for a businesses to compete with the expectation of free shipping. But not all companies are willing to do because doing so would compromise service or forgo profit.

 

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Business

NYTimes.com: West Coast Labor Dispute Brings Crippling Delays to Seaports

NYTimes.com: West Coast Labor Dispute Brings Crippling Delays to Seaports

This is the first mainstream reference that I have seen to a growing problem that most people know nothing about that could threaten the U.S. economy. The labor dispute between the Port owners and the longshoreman is causing major delays in the unloading of containers all along the West Coast. The longshoreman have been working without an agreement since July of last year and now the Port owners are accusing them of a slow down and are locking them out sporadically because they don’t want to pay for slow work. This has caused major disruptions in the supply chain of almost every business that involves trade with Asia.

My company has been impacted with two containers stalled for weeks. One in Tacoma, the other in Los Angeles. We have two more containers about to arrive outside of Los Angeles where they’ll be sitting next to 30 other container vessels waiting to be unloaded. The question we have is how many containers can we afford to pay for without getting merchandise to sell?

It’s hard enough to run a business without having something that you have no control over totally casting a shadow over your business. As it is, a quick resolution will leave a several month backlog, a prolonged labor showdown could cripple the economy.

Technology

CNN.com: AT&T will pay $105 million for unauthorized charges on customer bills

CNN.com: AT&T will pay $105 million for unauthorized charges on customer bills

AT&T (TTech30)has agreed to pay $105 million for “cramming” unauthorized charges on the monthly bills of its wireless customers, federal and state regulators announced Wednesday.

I wrote about this pretty extensively in 2009 after experiencing an unauthorized charge by a third party on my AT&T cellular bill. The improper billing started after a company sent me a text SPAM which led me to be billed $9.95 for some “service”. I called AT&T to complain after seeing my bill and was refunded the charge.

Since most people don’t spend a lot of time looking at their bills, I’m sure there are a lot of people who have been charged improperly.

Now, AT&T is settling with the FTC and is offering refunds that are being processed through the FTC website. If you have been improperly charged or aren’t sure, fill out the form. It only takes a few minutes and basically asks for your phone account information. They’ll go through your account and determine if you are eligible for a refund. I’ve submitted mine just in case there is a charge that I missed in my bill.

The FTC notes that it may take over 9 months to get a refund.

 

 

Product Review, Technology

Costco: Excessive Packaging

CostcoSeagate

Just bought this Seagate 1TB Hard Drive from Costco and found the packaging to be ridiculously large and wasteful. The packaging is too hard to open by hand and if you end up cutting them open with scissors or a knife, you’ll very likely end up cutting up the instruction sheet like I did. No, I don’t read instruction sheets for a plug and play device, but if I did I would be out of luck.

Maybe hard drives in warehouse stores like Costco are too hard to find or too easily stolen, but I think this has gone too far.

 

Improvement, Main Menu, Product Review, Technology

Going Paperless with ScanSnap- Evernote Edition Scanner

ScanSnap_–_Evernote_Edition_Scanner

Messy offices and desks are something that many of us have problems with. Over the years my office has gone through cycles ranging from minor embarrassment to total disaster. Occasionally, when I have had enough of the mess, I try to organize things, but soon piles of paper build up, staking their claim to my desk. Chaos occurs because I don’t have a system to deal with daily organization.

Paper is my biggest problem, so I decided to tackle it first. Dealing with paper should be an easy thing, but problems occur when an item doesn’t neatly fall into one of my pre-existing folders. Sometimes I’ll create a new folder if I feel that it warrants one, but often times it just gets put into a pile to be sorted later. Instead of getting sorted out, the pile soon grows and grows. I decided to attack the problem directly by trying to go paperless.

My tool of choice for this is the ScanSnap- Evernote Edition Scanner. This scanner is the special branded Evernote edition of the Fujitsu ScanSnap iX500 Scanner. The software for the regular iX500 is more versatile and has a few more features than the Evernote edition, but the workflow with Evernote is what appealed to me most. The Evernote edition is designed to automatically scan in documents, business cards, photos, and receipts into Evernote. I have used Evernote daily to store little bits of information and clipped web pages, so managing scanned documents seemed pretty natural. The ScanSnap- Evernote Edition comes with one year of Evernote Premium- you’ll definitely need managing this amount of data.

Now, as soon as something new comes across my desk, I deal with it immediately, deciding if it’s worth scanning or not. The ScanSnap is a duplex scanner, able to quickly scan both sides of a document at once. Multipage documents placed into the document feeder are scanned as quickly as they can be pulled in. Unless it’s an important document where I need to keep the original, it gets tossed in the shredder.

Scanned items show up in Evernote in various notebooks that you can set. From there you can label the items and file them into other notebooks. You can have the same problem as physical filing, the proliferation of notebooks but it is a lot easier and quicker to create virtual ones. But if you have too many of them it’s a little bit awkward dragging and dropping documents to the correct notebook.

One of the big benefits of filing things digitally is that instead of being buried in a physical folder, each document that is scanned into Evernote becomes searchable. I don’t know how many times I’ve found information that would be impossible to find if I had to go to the file cabinet. Documents are no longer just documents, but useable information.

There are a few little quirks in the workflow. The ScanSnap- Evernote Edition uses size to automatically differentiate between business cards, receipts, and documents. If you have two different documents, you must scan them individually or they end up in one file. If you have different sized items, you have to set it manually to document to get everything to scan into one document. Sometimes things are scanned in and are upside down and need to be manually rotated. You would think with Evernote’s automatic OCR that it would take care of it 100% of the time. It doesn’t.

Note: There is a video on the Evernote site that shows a bunch of papers, photos, receipts, and business cards sitting in the document feed being scanned in and automatically sorted. I think it is somewhat misleading, because Evernote can not sort between two different documents, any letter sized documents that are together gets scanned into the same document. Evernote suggests putting a business card between each letter sized document to break things into separate documents. In reality this not very practical. I have gotten used to scanning things in one at a time and this works fine for me.

The ScanSnap- Evernote Edition at $495 is a little pricier than other scanners, but to me it has been worth every penny. The ScanSnap can be found in Evernote Market.

Product Review

Omega J8006 Nutrition Center Juicer on sale at Amazon

 

The Omega J8006 Nutrition Center Juicer – Black and Chrome is on sale at Amazon for $206.99. This is a great deal for a great juicer. It’s a masticating juicer where an auger basically presses the juice out. I’ve had this juicer for over a year and it’s great for juicing greens like Kale. It’ll take pretty much anything except for really soft items like berries.
 
I often use the Omega J8006 to make a juice of kale, celery, and an apple. It works especially well on greens and harder vegetables. Not so much for berries and softer fruit
 
Update: Sale is currently over and the price is back to $267.97. If you can get the Omega J8006 around $200 it’s a really good deal for a very good juicer.
Uncategorized

MagSafe to MagSafe 2 Converter

In November of last year I upgraded my laptop to a new Macbook Pro Retna 15″ from the first generation Macbook Pro from 2006.

The new Macbook Pro feels the same in all the good ways which is a testament to Apple’s design abilities. One thing that has changed is the shape of the MagSafe connector that connects the power supply to the computer. When I got my new Macbook Pro, the old one got boxed along with its power supply because it wasn’t compatible.
Last week I forgot to bring my power supply to work so I thought about running out to get a new one just to have one at the office, but then I discovered this: the MagSafe to MagSafe 2 Converter.
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This adapter is quite magnified in this picture. The actual adapter is about the size of a penny. This adapter magnetically clips on to the MagSafe old power supply and changes the shape to be compatible with the new Macbook Pros. It’s works great and it’s perfect for me since I think I had at least two of the old adapters around from the seven years I had my old Macbook Pro. Now, it’ll save me the time and trouble of unplugging my power supply from home and bringing it to work.
Uncategorized

Disabling Animations in OS X Mavericks Mail

I purchased a new Apple MacBook Pro 15.4-Inch Laptop with Retina Display late last year, to replace my EIGHT year old Macbook Pro 1,1. After using the new one for several months, I don’t know how I managed to tolerate using the old one for so long. Everything on my new Macbook Pro just flies. Well, almost everything.

Mail for OS X Mavericks always seems sluggish. For an app that I spend way too much time in, it’s frustrating to have to wait for it to keep up with simple things like replying to an email. Disabling animations helps a little. I downloaded this plugin that disable’s Mail animations and now Mail now feels a tad bit quicker.

I hope Apple gets to working on making Mail more responsive in future updates.

Update: July 8, 2014 Apple has released 10.9.4 which updates Mail to 7.3. Plugin has also been updated.
Uncategorized

Thirty Years of Mac

Apple has created a page celebrating 30 years of the Macintosh. Beautiful photographs of Macs in the way that only Apple can do.

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My first Mac was the Macintosh II shown above with only one floppy drive. No hard drive! To run a program like Microsoft Word, I had to alternate between the system disk and the Microsoft Word program disk. Lots of ejecting and inserting. It’s crazy to think about that now.