Category Archives: Ramblings

Nandos – A experience not to be repeated

While out the other night, it was decided to go to Nandos. My girlfriend being South African decided it’d be good, and friend from the area agreed. They do chicken, so how could it really be bad?

Firstly, the restaurant works differently than others I’ve been to. You go in, get seated and the menu is explained. Yup, it even comes with a small section with instructions. In short, you choose what you want, then go up and order it, pay for it, then return to your seat. Little strange but hey, whatever works really.

The menu itself is simple enough, chicken, followed by more chicken, with more chicken. I will admit I was slightly worried about portion sizes. Prices are high enough and the menu did have options of 1/4 chicken, 1/2 chicken, and full chicken, so who knows. Playing it safe (sometimes we have to) I decided on the chicken burger and fries on the side. So far so good, nothing more than the usual “teething problems” with some Irish restaurants.

The turning point

Our food had been ordered and here it comes. Immediately it becomes obvious that portion size wasn’t going to be an issue. I’ve cooked some skinny chicken fillets, however this really was the skinniest I’ve seen, even after I’ve crushed mine in a George Foreman! But alas, if this was the only problem, the day would have passed off with nothing much else.

The real problems began when I started biting into the burger. I had taken two or three bites when I was abruptly stopped my girlfriend. Interrupting a man when he eats, how dare she! But it was with good reason, the far side had a lovely big hair in it. Being as I am, I was intent on removing it and continuing but I’d been convinced to go up and change it, so off I went. Pointed it out to the guy behind the counter who saw it, said ok and agreed to replace it. Back to the table to continue the meal and joke about it.

From bad to worse to what now?

I’m sure everyone has experienced something like this. Mistakes happen. It really isn’t anything big. What was big was the response. A few minutes after sitting down, the manager arrived over to ask had I removed the hair before giving the plate back up. Yup, I took it as a souvenir. Off she went again to look again with the staff while making comments that the chef was bald. She did greet us again shortly after saying they had found it and wanted to fill out a report. Alright, that works. Hell doing a report is probably a good thing. Keep track of such incidents. Having a form ready for it, maybe in McDonalds, and definitely not something to bother the customer about.

When the food did arrive the second time, some 10-15 minutes later, it was fine. Can’t say it was anything spectacular, but then I’m not one who’ll be over joyed by a chicken burger. Outback Steak House any day. It was sans-hair too this time.

My real issue with the repeated visits was that she almost had me doubting if the hair was mine or not and if I’d accidently gotten it into the burger somehow. It was a possibility. Lucky for me, at the end of the meal we were once again greeted by the manager to complete the form and given a refund for my part of the meal. Food only. (For the record, I wasn’t actually looking for a refund. Replace the food and I’d probably already have forgotten about it and only joked about it in passing.) The manager did run through the form again taking some of my details and explaining that the hair could have come from a supplier and they’d want to follow up on all of this. Being through, the hair was selo taped to the form too. This was my saving grace though, the hair – while not a long girls hair –  was too long to be mine, even a long hair from my arm!

1 + 1 = 17

I do take some issues with the story given to me. As above, I’d have been happy enough for meal to be replaced and that to have been the end of it. Repeated visits to the table and multiple questions, while it may seem through, it really isn’t. Except for the fact that the meal had been paid for, it would have been the time to walk away and go somewhere else. I doubt this is actually why they ask you to pay first, especially since the place did come recommended. What it did create is someone who won’t go back, and WILL give negative recommendations of Nandos. Don’t get me wrong, the manager isn’t so much at fault. She very much looked like she was following some procedure, and trying really hard to make sure everything was right, almost like she was in someway worried as to the outcome?

Could it have been that Nandos had some pre-existing health safety issues outstanding? Possibly.

  • The kitchen is out and exposed.
    While this really isn’t always an issue, just look at the Mongolian BBQ where you take your food up and they cook it in front of you, it is a bit of an issue when things are so closely packed and people don’t appear to be washing up between moving from the floor to the cooker area.
  • Gloves, what gloves.
    While I may have missed this, it really did appear they weren’t wearing gloves in the “kitchen”. I don’t wear gloves while cooking, but I do wash. I didn’t see washing but it doesn’t mean it didn’t happen.
  • Hair net hats.
    They did have them, but they didn’t cover all the hair. So really what is the point beyond looking the part?
  • Washing washing washing.
    I could be making more of an issue than there is here, but in the case of the hair, if it came from a supplier, in say the salad, then why weren’t you washing the salad before use? I’m not a salad eater so if washing salad before use isn’t the done thing, please someone explain why.

An end to end all ends?

While the food wasn’t all too bad, I really can’t see myself visiting Nandos again. Too expensive for not so much food. I’d rather go else where.

It does mark the end of my girlfriend picking restaurants. Last South African place she picked, Spur, ranks up there as the single worst meal ever, closely followed by the Eddie Rockets we went into straight afterwards. That really was just a bad night though and I was happy to get home and have some cereal. You can NOT burn cereal when using cold milk!

Acronis Backup – How not to do business

Acronis Backup, a great tool. Backs up files. Lets you set a real schedule (Windows take note). New one seems to compress your older backup files to save space. Forces you to buy new products with every new version. Does not reply to emails outside of maintenance contracts (which you can not renew). Makes it hard to upgrade.

What? Hold on a second. Maybe something is amiss here.

Some Background

I’m a user off Acronis Backup products for close on 18 months now. I’ve been using the TrueImage corporate product. And I’ve been reasonably happy with it, but then I haven’t used it to do any full restores. I did try to pull a large file from a backup in the past. But that didn’t work. it repeatedly crashed while trying to do so. Support, who responded at the time since my maintenance contract was in date, weren’t much help. If the file was critical, I’d have been pissed. Luckily it wasn’t, and a few days and another disk later, I managed a full disk restore, mounted the new disk as an external drive, and then copied the file off. Painful.

Wonderful Search…but only for home users

The lately problem with restoring came from me needing to find a folder on my desktop that I knew existing sometime 5 months ago. All fine I thought, I’ll do a search of the files and it’ll show up. The product doesn’t support searching? Oh your HOME product does but your business one does not. Fine so. I’ll “test” the home version and see if I can switch to that. So in goes the trail version on a blank machine. The initial search looks promising. Finds a few text files in the first backup. I’ll leave it search and see if it can find the files I’m after.

A day later, Windows is still searching, still reading files, sort of, but no results. Watching the accesses, it is bouncing through the individual files in sequence, but then repeating. The Windows search service had also crashed and was unable to index inside the TIB files.

How about Google? They can search everything! And yes, there is an iFilter for Google Desktop. But, and there always is a but, it won’t search the archives either. It craps out.

Again, luckily, I managed to find the files I needed by browsing through a few days in June looking at the desktop each time. Can’t say I’d like to do that for something that went missing randomly.

Upgrades

I don’t know if they make this purposefully hard or not, but finding an option to upgrade took time. Hell I can’t even remember where it was now. All I remember was that the upgrade from the old TrueImage to the new Backup10 costs MORE than buying the home version outright as a new customer. And to add insult, the Home Version has more features, not that you can be sure they work either.

Looking at the upgrades began due to the fact that TrueImage does not work on Windows 7. It has just been added to the DoNotExecute list that Microsoft have in the OS. And it was added by Acronis. There is a way around this list, and everyone who has bypassed it has had NO problems with the program. We can only guess that Acronis have had some reason as to why they did this. Of course it would have nothing to do with their new product coming out. A new product that may or may not actually support Windows 7. The Home one does, but I wanted business style products.

When I didn’t find the upgrade option or any mention of it, I did email Acronis via my customer area. They even replied with one of those auto replies to say the email had been received. All I wanted to know was if the product was supported on Windows 7 and if it could be fixed. If not, what was the upgrade path so I could do it.

Conclusions

Having to wait over a week and counting for a reply to upgrade has left a bad taste in my mouth. It reminded me of the past experiences of the product and it failing.  Also being unable to renew the maintenance support after the initial 12 months is worse. But more so since they operate in a 14-16 month product release cycle going on other people I’ve talked to. That would only be the case to case people to not get product updates under their maintenance agreement and be forced to upgrade or buy the brand new product each time.

It is the lack of support that as sealed the deal for me. TrueImage has been uninstalled from my laptop (not that it worked since I swapped to Windows 7). I’ve already begun searching for alternatives. The inBuilt Windows Backup may do the trick if I can get it to run on weekdays only. One I am itching to trial is inSync by a company called Druvaa. I’ve been testing their new Server backup tool and am VERY impressed with it. So something like this would be overkill for personal use, but it may work. Especially with the dedupe, it may make it a good option. Time will tell. All that is sure is Acronis will not be getting any more of my money, or any from any of the companies I work for. Their loss.

An industry out of control?

Through one of the feeds I watch I came across a story of a woman who sings to herself while working in a supermarket.

How could this make the news you ask? Well the Performing Right Society in the UK, the group who collects royalties, decided to contact her and threaten so sue her if she didn’t get a performance licence. She laughed thinking it was a joke. Funnily apparently it wasn’t. They were actually serious about wanting to sue her.

Where they see the gain is beyond me? Sue her for what exactly? She doesn’t make money from it. It isn’t even her job. But yet they tried…and then relented to public pressure once it became public knowledge.

Really you have to wonder what is going on in the music industry. Monopolies are a bad thing and I completely understand why even artists don’t like supporting the man!

Full article available here: //news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/scotland/tayside_and_central/8317952.stm

Customer support and the problems that never come back

For those who have never done a support job, it probably isn’t really very obviously. Even for those who have done phone support, it may not have occurred. Currently I’ve been dealing with a lot of support issues via email and via ticket system and a crazy pattern has come up.

For about 20% of the problems reported, they do not get fixed, and the user in question never comes back.

Think about this for a second, a person goes to the hassle of emailing a problem in, and then doesn’t want to get it fixed. Maybe in some cases, they just found it easier to ignore? Who knows? But the pattern is really showing itself every time I go clear off old open tickets. It is probably a good sign that we need a “awaiting customer” customer state like so many other systems.

Customer: Hi, I’m having a problem with X.
Me: Could you describe the problem so I can fix it please?
…..

Customer: Hi, my application is running strange.
Me: Please call me whenever suits you so I can dial into the computer to fix this.
…..

Customer: Hi, my Y isn’t working. It does Z.
Me: Can you tell me when is ok for me to test the fix?
…..

In the case of the last one, the user reported a problem with his phone. Very strange forward one too one I could run 2-3 test calls. However no reply when asking when it would be ok to fix.

So maybe we need a challenge on submitting a ticket to the system? Are you sure you really have this problem?

Or perhaps a disclaimer? Fixing this may require more than just this email?

Someday hopefully we can read peoples minds and understand what they want, although since they usually do not actually know what they want, that probably won’t help either.