Monday, October 30, 2006

Retraction: The Two-Hour Vancouver Run

I've said to many people over the past year that the fabled two hour run to Vancouver is impossible. 2:30 maybe? Three hours easily, even in realistic traffic conditions. But two? No way, not without risking serious injury and death.

Lownewulf, on behalf of would like to issue a retraction.

1:40 to the border.
< 20m to the edge of Burnaby.

This is a Saturday morning run - it's not even comparable to the Friday afternoon runs. Less than HALF the time of my four hour marathon the previous weekend. And daylight no less, which is actually kinda nice.

Now, the observant will call me out, saying Burnaby is a poor man's Vancouver run! But, one must admit, if *I* can do 2hrs to Burnaby, someone with some guts could easily do Vancouver. But, just to prove my worth: TOTAL TIME - North Vancouver to Kirkland, door to door. 2:15. Yes, including the border. A mere 1:25 on the US side! That's at least as much a trek as Vancouver downtown core. So I conclude, that with a bit more confidence in speeding, one could easily approach the two hour mark.

Sadly, I doubt I'll do better, at least not without high-grade radar detection and laser jamming. And, realistically, traffic will still limit me.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Lawsuit against UPS over Brokerage fees

HOOOORAY! What a wonderful day!

A (hopefully) class action lawsuit against UPS in B.C. (and potentially Ontario too), because of the brokerage fees they like to charge receivers in Canada. Having been dinged by this crap many times, I look forward to seeing how this goes. I wouldn't horribly mind being included in the class too if they make it that far and I'm eligible.
(I'll update the post if I find they're actually ready to form a class)

Basically, UPS provides a brokerage service which handles all the quirks of getting your package through customs. Of course, with free trade to the US, this is nothing more than 7% GST and maybe $5.00 in admin fees. Which I'm cool with. However, unlike other couriers who may just ask you to pay the actual cost plus some small admin fee, UPS charges an all-encompassing brokerage fee (and often the acutal GST on top of their all-encompassing fee), which can at the worst case, reach 50% of the item's value! They even have the gall to charge you for the convenience of charging you (the COD charge)!

Of course, the same problem doesn't exist for US receivers. Probably because Americans would just shoot a delivery person who tried to feed them crap like that.

My worst story was when I rejected a package (an ebay retailer had sent me something by mistake). UPS then MAILED me a bill telling them I owed them the brokerage charge anyways. Needless to say, I told them where they could shove that bill. Just goes to show how ridiculous their process is.

I hope they burn.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Life and Some Links

300 Miles of driving: $425 (*)
All-you-can-drink beer: Free.
Trip to Scrape Records: $120
Weekend in Vancouver with the Irishman and Popple: Priceless

(*) It's a lengthy calculation. Take my word for it.

Oh yea, and don't forget: Valid H-1B status through August 2009: Priceless!!1!

That's right, travel lockdown is officially over. USCIS gave me one of those RFID I-94 cards, so now I just wave my passport at the sensor, and enter the US with minimal hassle. I may have a couple of questions coming back from Singapore, but for trips to Canada, I'm golden.

I intend to make full use of this privilege - I'll be in Vancouver at least twice between now and Christmas. Perhaps again for New Years too!

As for post content:

An interesting 'rebuttal' (well not really, it more just presents the positive side of the same points) by another officer of the guild featured in my previous post; this highlights how it is indeed possible to achieve balance between the game and life, and the benefits being involved in an MMO can bring.

And finally, try this - it's quite amusing:

check out YouTube after you've played a bit, and see what talented people actually did with it.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Warcraft Destroys Lives... or do YOU?

hey all! Post #50! (well... 49.... one post never quite saw the light of day)

And yes, I'm alive, though you'd not know it from this blog. For those following along, my travel lockdown is nearly done! I've obtained the keys from the lawyers of Microsoft, and I'm ready to fight the final instance boss - the Archduke USCIS. If all goes well, I'll be in Vancouver by Friday, and by Monday I'll be back in the US on a newly-activated H-1B visa.

But I digress. On to my point.

An interesting article today on another blog, about the destructive soul-sucking nature of World of Warcraft. And why we still play.... often.... for hours.... DAYS... at a time.

... and already a follow-on (Slashdot makes you popular enough that you get to do followons).

This article interests me for a few reasons reasons. First, it highlights the destructively addictive nature of WoW, while highlighting the escape of one soul. It acknowledges the role of the player in the sad consequences. Finally, it brings up some interesting design questions in gameplay in general - one must ask about the things he describes in WoW, and wonder if those are the right ways to do things.

I won't rant, you can draw your own conclusions. Give it a read.