www.international-orders.com customer service is no good. In fact, it's bad.

When I ordered my iphone I ordered it from the USA via the site www.international-orders.com.While the actual delivery was speedy, the follow-up was not. When I ordered it I didn’t want to take any chances with customs and taxes, so I payed to have it shipped out to me including prepaid taxes and customs duties for the additional amount of 157,49 dollars extra.

However, 2 weeks after receiving my iphone, I received an additional invoice from fedex, asking me to pay another 27,99 euros. This turned out to be the invoice that was supposed to have been prepaid by International Orders. However, it was not prepaid. The Fedexbill clearly showed the tick marks that the recipient was to pay for the customs fee.

So I asked them to refund me the 157,49 dollars I had already payed. That’s 109 euros I paid them to pay a bill of 27,99 euros. Clearly they have a serious profit margin on pre-paid customs and duties…

At first they apologized, then they hemmed and hawed, and then only wanted to pay the additional bill and no refund IF I could show them proof of payment ! I wonder how I, a Belgian, can convince an American that yes, this piece of paper in Flemish that I sent to you is indeed proof of payment…

Really ! First you get a customer who pays you to send it prepaid, then by making a mistake you make him pay more and potentially a fine ( the iphone was undervalued on the form), and then you want to reimburse him only for the additional cost and then only if he has shown you proof of payment !

My advise : be careful when dealing with internet shops, and be especially careful with International Orders !

WordPress plugin : wp-slimstat-ex

Yesterday I upgraded to the latest version of WordPress and in the process I also disabled my bad-ass stats plugin.

The BA-Stats plugin was a good solution that worked for me and answered most of my needs. But it was becoming rather long in the tooth (almost two years now) and is, it seems, no longer supported.

Yesterday I found a new stats plugin that is state of the art : the WordPress plugin for slimstat (ex-panded). It’s based on the original WordPress slimstat plugin made by Mr. Coolman and has been expanded with Ajaxy goodness. That plugin, in turn, has been based on the php package slimstat, which has been based on oldstat.

Open Source at it’s best ! 🙂

The features are amazing : svg graphics, ip-to-country database, top hits, the whole shebang. It’s really nice to be able to find out who all came to visit and especially, what they were looking for. This helps me to find out if some posts are more popular than others, so that I can focus on providing more information about that subject.

For example, two posts are consistently on the top of most visited posts : how to setup a GPS in Windows Mobile and Tips and tricks for Windows Mobile 5.

Cool ! Easing phantom limb pain using Virtual Reality

This seems to be a great way for amputees to ease their phantom limb pain :

The research has focused on a small group of patients who had lost a limb between one and 40 years ago. Two were upper limb amputees and two had lost parts of their legs. They all used the virtual world between seven and 10 times over the course of three months. Each session lasted for 30 minutes.

The patients were fitted with special data gloves and sensors, and their head and arm movements were monitored. They donned virtual reality helmets and entered a world where they could see their missing limb restored.

In this virtual universe, patients can move their fingers, hands, arms, feet and legs. They also have hand eye co-ordination, and can use their virtual limb to play ball games, the researchers say.

The results shocked the researchers: four of the five patients reported improvements in the phantom limb pain, and much faster than the team had expected.

Project leader Dr Craig Murray said: “One patient felt that the fingers of her amputated hand were continually clenched into her palm, which was very painful for her. However, after just one session using the virtual system she began to feel movement in her fingers and the pain began to ease.”

If this actually can be applied for all amputees, this would be a great way to help these people and get rid of the phantom pain for all of them. Bio-feedback at its best.

Tips for forget-full people (aka cheese-hole brains)

(I’ve been meaning to write this post for a while, but I keep forgetting it 🙂 )

Have you ever thought of something that you needed to do as soon as you finish your current business, then promptly forgot about it only to recall it again when it is impractical to do it (like, for example late at night while lying in your bed) ?

Do you consistently think of things to do, but can’t seem to get them done ? And you keep reminding yourself and you keep postponing it until 3 months later you wonder what you scribbled on that post-it note ?

Do you have mental anguish and do you berate yourself for not doing all the things that just had to do ?

If you can answer ‘yes’ to one of the above questions, this post is for you !

This is my attempt to write up what I find usefull in dealing with forgetting details/stuff todo/meetings to make/books to read and whatelse in the hustle and bustle that I currently call my life.
I’ve got a variety of methods to deal with these problems, and I use all of them together, depending on where I am and what tools I can use.
Reminding yourself of things todo when they can’t be done at the time

Nothing is so frustrating as thinking of something to do next and then forgetting it when it is time to actually do it and recall it only after any possibility of doing it has gone (ie. in bed late a night). There are a variety of tools and ways to deal with this :

  • Don’t trust your brain to remember it. Write a reminder to yourself the second you think of things todo. Don’t wait, or you’ll lose that thought !
  • Whatever you choose to keep your reminders on, make it a part of your schedule. Even better, think of something you always carry with you and adapt it to fit your needs. For example, keep a pen and piece of paper with you all the time. Alternatively, use a phone with note taking capability or a pda to jot these down. In an emergency, I write things down on my hands (filthy habit, though).
  • If it’s a SIMPLE thing that you can do RIGHT NOW, then do it now. I’ve saved myself hundreds of scribbles and notes and more importantly, mental anguish by doing the thing immediately. It’s actually surprising how much you can procastinate

These 3 points are my guiding principles in trying to keep ontop of all my things-to-do.

Apparently others think about this as well, as I’ve just found this entry on getting impossible things done on Rands in Repose. Excellent food for thought article and a simply excellent site that I am adding to my worthy site list.

How Windows Mobile 5 gets developed

The Windows Mobile Team Blog is a great resource, I’ve found it very useful on occasion to get a glimpse into the developers mind.
In his “I’m just a feature” article, Mike Calligero explains what it takes for a feature request to get into a new Windows Mobile 5 build.

[If you are interested in knowing more about software development, head over to Joels site for lots of great, well-written articles on what a programmer needs to do to get a program released and get it stable]
It’s an eye-opener for those users who have never known or realised what it takes for an improvement or feature request to get through the build proces of a major application that is released in 25 languages and to millions of users.

What is a manager ?

I’m reading the Hackers Diet, and apart from being a free online weight loss book, it’s also chockfull of references and insights to other issues, some of which are pretty usefull for everybody.

Coming from one of the founders of Autodesk (John Walker) this is not suprising. The man has oodles and bags full of experience in managing a company and the people in it to share.

I just had to share this particular insight with you which is in the section “Managing Problems” :

The world of the manager is one of problems and opportunities. Problems are to be managed; one must understand the nature of the problem, amass resources adequate to deal with it, and “work the problem” on an ongoing basis. Opportunities are merely problems that promise to pay off after sufficient work.

Aaaah. A Good Definition, methinks. He continues though, stating that a manager does not fix a problem… Solving a problem requires a mix of both managing and fixing it.