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Thursday, September 25, 2003

Today is Ritsu's Birthday!!! Finally she is 21 and can buy booze ... well .. yeah .. close to that :)

Anyways .. feel free to use the comment feature to send greetings ... I will not post her email address of phone # here :)

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Wednesday, September 24, 2003

And a new panorama picture ... this is a view from the Princess Road area (high up, lots of diplomats, ambassadors and high commisionars live there) over to Beqa Island (that gray blob in the distance. Left is basically Suva and to the right it goes to Lami and further on to Pacific Harbour. In the middle is the garbage dump which is located between Suva and Lami and from what I read, it is getting full there ... another story I heard is that some people actually try to scavange old restaurant food there. Yummy ...

anyways .. click on the picture below to get a big version

OR .. something very new: I created a Quicktime VR file, this you can open in Quicktime and then you can wander around in the picture, zoom in an out ... check it out !!!

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Haven't talked about food in a while ... so tonight we went to Daikoku and I found this interesting link, someone else's perspective .. we had spicy chicken and fillet steak and it was very good. For the first time we saw that there was actually one female teppan-yaki chef. After having seen only men performing the table cooking style, I was surprised that we had not seen any girls doing it before.

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Tuesday, September 23, 2003

Busted! My wife cought me sleeping with the cat :)

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Monday, September 22, 2003

How about some animated cats for today's blog entry ??

I brought Nietzsche (the new, male, dirty) cat to the vet since he was due for shots and also had a bad limp on one leg ... he is still full of scars, but seems to get better ... The vet says that she is happy to see a cat developing from feral (30 days ago) to semi-pet cat .. sure he was mad at me for sticking him in a box again and drive him around town ... but he seems ok now ... and the leg is getting better ...

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Sunday, September 21, 2003

I finally want to tell the tale of my latest videostore membership.

There are a bunch of video places here in Suva, most of them have a colorful mix of english and hindi titles, DVDs are replacing VHS tapes left and right. In many places you also find a mix of different region codes and the staff usually has no idea what that means. Most places also ask for a non-refundable membership fee (20 - 30$).

Now, then there is this place called IMDVD. I had not joined so far because it is a 12 km / 8 mile car ride from home, and they are also a bit more pricy than others. (ususally you pay 3$ for a DVD rental, but this place, cheapest overnight(new title) is 4$. The membership fee is a steep 100$ BUT is refundable).

But, this place is special! The guy behind it has taken organization of the DVD rental business to another level ... in fact there are so many rules, guidelines, incentive schemes that I bet some people have given up on fully understanding the whole thing.

First there is the great credit system, which educates the customers to return DVDs in time or even earlier ... e.g. you pay 5$ for the rental, but if you run home, watch the movie and return before 5 PM, you get 2 or 3$ credits. (next day is 1 or 2$ and so on)

Second there is the penalty scheme for improper disc handling. This shop has a disc doctor DVD repair machine (actually it looks like they have 2), which pretty much guarantees that all discs are scratch free. If you return a disc with a fingerprint, a smudge or dare say even a scratch, you have to pay for having it 'un-scratched' and if it happens to often, you are "locked" and can only rent 2 DVDs at once ... so, customer education on disc handling ... believe me, I treat those DVDs better than my own and more carefully than a raw egg.

I have yet to understand the pre-booking a reconfirmation thing ... but there is a 1$ fee if they have to call you on your mobile (cellphone) to reconfirm that you will actually pick up the DVD that you have booked.

There is also a "check out procedure" ... you first show your card (if you do not have that, its 1$ fee to look you up in the computer, customer education on not annoying the counter staff), then present the DVD covers of the titles you wish to rent, with their inventory numbers in descending order !!! (if not you probably get shot, I have not tried that yet)

What is pretty niffty is that there is a pretty well done database system implemented, and 5 or so macintosh computers are connected via airport so that customers can check availability, movie info, their account on one of the 2 'kiosks' (so far I have only spotted one) and even make reservations. This database also shows the nice "DVDs for sale" list ... after 4 or 6 months the titles become available for sale and I guess the price is based on how old it is, how popular it still is, things like that. I have seen titles as low as 10$ and up to 85$. And I am pretty sure that these discs are in fantastic condition. What just puzzled me is that this practice also weeds out the collection ... I was surprised that I could find neither "The Matrix" nor the more recent "The Animatrix" in the database. I still keep looking for the old Jack Nicholson version of "The Shining" ...

All in all, great collection, lots of new stuff and US TV shows, DVDs are in top quality. On the other hand, this perfectionism is sometimes a bit overwhelming and I know people have cancelled their membership because they found the whole thing too "nazi-esque", they did not feel being treated as customers, but rather as beggars asking "please please let me rent your DVDs".

I am just having a good chuckle about that "over the top" way, I think that places like blockbuster could learn one or two things from IMDVD and I am just going to sit back, relax and enjoy the DVDs.

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