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The Microsoft difference

Office 365 Small Business Premium

2014-09-30 11_12_30-Microsoft Office 365 Small Business Software - Microsoft Store - Microsoft Store

We’re the company that build Windows and Office.

This just came across as awkward.  Microsoft felt like it needed to remind people that they are the ones who created Windows, and Office.

So, wait, what do I need again?


Amateur detective tracks down Kijiji scammer — Montreal Gazette

Amateur detective tracks down Kijiji scammer–TheMontrealGazette

He contacted the seller and agreed to buy the phone, but not before doing his due diligence. After verifying the phone’s serial number, Laleyan met the young man on St-Jean Blvd

At first everything seemed to check out: the phone worked, and it came in its factory-issued box with the instruction manual and all the necessary bells and whistles.

The serial verification part I don’t quite understand since I don’t know the procedure of serial verification of a Samsung phone.  I guess the phone must have had the serial of an actual S4 printed on the shell, and coded in the software as well…

But when Laleyan went home and tried to perform a factory reset on the device, an error message kept resurfacing. That’s when he realized he’d just been sold a knock-off.

I guess when you make cheap plastic phones that are easy to replicate, it’s not that hard to dupe the look and feel of a Samsung phone.

Worse thing you can hear from a manager

Worse thing you can hear from a manager

We’ve done this for this many years, that’s why it’s the right.

That gets me fired up and just ready to go off on a rant about everything wrong with that.

But I don’t, because I understand change is scary, unfamiliar and usually uncomfortable in the beginning. Baby steps will eventually surmount to a big change. Hopefully.

Foursquare – come again?

Just when I started getting into Foursquare, just when I started seeing the value of the app and it’s ecosystem–they change up the game completely.

I’m still struggling to see how these changes are improvements.

To me, Foursquare was an app that I could rely to find local gems.  Places where local people are actually going to.  After understanding that the metrics were build on “likes”, and check-ins I’ve built a rapport with Foursquare.

The old Foursquare

Ratings, check-ins, tips, reviews, and likes, all contained within the same app.  All that information gave me a pretty good idea of what to expect from whatever establishment I was looking at.

Having those key features integrated also made it convenient for any Foursquare user contribute to the database.  If you were a Foursquare user, chances are you’ve checked-in, or left a tip for someone at one point in time.

My old workflow 

  • Open Foursquare
  • Find the place
  • Tap check-in
  • Finish whatever I’m doing
  • Leave a tip / review

All of the above in the same app.


The new Foursquare

Check-in feature, and all the whole gamification system have been off-loaded to their new app, Swarm.

My new workflow if I am to stay with Foursquare

Find a place

  • Open Foursquare
  • Find the place


  • Hit “check-in”
  • Launches you into Swarm (or prompts for download if you don’t have it)
  • Hit “check-in” — AGAIN

Want to leave a tip / review at this point?

  • Go back to Foursquare (the tips & review features stayed in Foursquare)
  • After checking-in using Swarm, you should see a red notification bar on the top, prompting you to tap it to return to Foursquare.  Tap it.
  • Tap on the leave a tip button.


Judging from the reviews of Swarm on the AppStore, it’s probably safe to say most users either didn’t bother downloading Swarm, or downloaded it and then deleted it.

If check-ins contributions shrink, will their database slowly become outdated?  I’m worried, because I’ve really grown to like Foursquare and it’s helped me discover a lot of great places both at home and on vacations.




Xiaomi Overtakes Samsung — And I think this is just the beginning.

Xiaomi Over Takes Samsung — WSJ

John Gruber’s Comment–Daringfireball

 When you compete on quality, “almost the best” will often still do pretty well. When you compete on price, “almost the cheapest” always loses.

Agreed.  The only thing I have to add is that, Xiaomi is in a special situation at the moment.  

  1. They are so much more shameless at ripping off Apple than Samsung.
  2. They do business in places where patent lawsuits won’t stop or impede copyright infringement.  
  3. Their build quality, is literally “almost the best” for hardware and software alike.
  4. The general pricing is almost the cheapest, when you compare phones of the same spec.

So at the end of the day, Xiaomi is both almost the best, and almost the cheapest option.  To an everyday consumer that’s a win, whether or not it’s sustainable for these companies, we’ll have to see.

Side Note Regarding phones in China

If I lived in China and if I had to buy an android phone, there is absolutely no reason to buy a Samsung, Lenovo, LG or HTC, when you have brands like, Oppo, Oneplus, Meizu, and Xiaomi.  

They’re fractions of the cost, build quality is now the same if not better than the big brands, and a lot of them come out of the box running Cyanogenmod.

(In China, having stock Google would be the worst thing possible, because you wont’ be able to use any of the Google Apps.)

I can’t think of a single reason not to buy the cheaper option.

Expensify — New pricing structure is confusing.

I’m a long time user of Expensify.  It is less complicated than most, and the reports are good enough.


But, recently, I’ve found features (that rely on day-in day-out), suddenly disabled.When I tried to use them I am bombarded with pop-ups and slide down banners, in various shades of red, asking for my billing information.

I figured they must have changed their pricing structure, so I emailed their support team and it was confirmed to be true.

I am annoyed that I was give no notice, no heads-up, no email blast.

My first reaction was to check the new pricing structure to see if I can restore the features I lost.   I couldn’t find it on the website–so I sent an email to support to see if they could explain the pricing.

They sent me here: Realtime Expenses Start with a Simpler, Smaller Price

Example: Your company has 100 people, 50 of who submit expense reports every month, and 10 who approve them.

Before: 50 submitters x $6/submitter = $300

Now: 50 submitters + 10 approvers = 60 active seats x $5/seat = $300

This is the example under their first bullet point of how they have simplified the pricing.

Example: You invoice 1-2 clients a month (the common case), and they approve and pay online via credit card.

Before: You paid a flat $15/mo.

Now: On the Team plan you pay $5 for yourself, and $5 for each recipient, for a total of $10-15/mo

So before, $15/mo gave me unlimited invoicing.  Now, my cost depends on the # of recipients I have.  Not small business friendly.

Example: You own two policies, a Team and a Corporate.  Alice submits to you on a Team policy, and Bob submits to you on a Corporate policy.  Cathy submits two reports, one on Team, and one on Corporate.  You approve all four reports.  The active seats you are billed for are:

Alice: $5 (Team)

Bob: $9 (Corporate)

Cathy: $9 (Team and Corporate, but Corporate pricing wins)

You: $9 (same as Cathy, because you’re active on both)

Total: $32

Sorry–do not comprehend.

Example: You are a company with 50 submitters and 10 approvers.  You were previously on Team, but have been auto-upgraded to Corporate — and you choose not to downgrade back to Team.  The cost of Expensify with the old and new pricing plan would be:

Old: 50 submitters x $6 / Team submitter + 17% for SmartScan + $15 for invoicing = $366

New: (50 submitters + 10 approvers) x $9 / Corporate submitter = $540

To avoid any pricing disruption, this example company would be given a 32% discount, which will be gradually reduced over 12 months.  This means that were every month to have exactly the same number of active users, you would pay:

2014/6/1 – $366 (old price)

2014/7/1 – $540 – 32% = $366 (discounted to be same as old price)

2014/8/1 – $540 – 30% = $380 (discount is gradually reduced every month)

2014/9/1 – $540 – 27% = $395

2015/6/1 – $540 – 3% = $525

2015/7/1 – $540 – 0% = $540 (standard price in 12 months)

No, just NO… please stop, my brain… gaaaaaaahhh

Before I wrap things up, there is one thing they did make simpler:

Example: You SmartScan 50 receipts a month.

Before: The first 10 are free, and you pay $0.20 x 40 = $8/mo

Now: You pay $5/mo for a single active user (you) on the Team plan.

If the pricing was straightforward, and I thought it was reasonable for the way I use it, then it’s likely I would have paid to upgrade.  

After reading through that monstrous blog post, I am even more confused as to what the hell it is that I am suppose to do in order to restore functionality.

I guess the only way forward is out.  So I’ll have to find another way or another app(s).

I sing; when I have to

I think I’m good at it–meaning I can perform, I can stay on key, and the crowds seem to enjoy my performances so far.

But I’m struggling to figure out whether I actually enjoy it or not.  If you ask me any day of the week, whether I’d rather sing for an audience or do something else, I’d always choose something else.

If I am backed into a corner and I have to sing, (like at a karaoke party, it’s a friends birthday and they requested it) I would oblige and sing.  When I do sing, I can get lost in it, I can escape and it feels great.  Once I am back, however, I really don’t want to do it again unless I am backed into another corner.

So I like singing, but I don’t like to sing.

I’m thinking maybe I like singing, but I don’t like the feeling of nervousness, butterflies, and potential of being caught un-prepared to sing.  The latter may need some explanation.

Most people that know me probably don’t know that I sing or perform.  I almost never talk about it.  The ones that do know, saw me from performances where I spent months doing nothing but prepare–everyday–even weekends.

I am no where at that level of professionalism any more and I am sure that no one really can tell the difference.  But I can, and I don’t like to perform when I don’t have time to prepare.

Some singers are so relaxed about it.  They’ll sing anywhere, any time, and with anyone.  How they’ve let go in their minds is something I’m struggling to learn.

If I spent everyday singing, I don’t think I’ll be that nervous about singing.

If I think back to the days where I was singing and teaching singing everyday, I was less nervous about singing, but if you asked me to perform, I’d still rather do something else.