Category Archives: Rants & Ramblings of…..

Upwork … and Triple Dipping


Ever since E-lance and O-Desk merged, there has been a decline in how Upwork operates, especially for the Freelancer.

Here’s why in a nutshell:

Triple Dipping… Here’s why:

I am on Upwork as both a freelancer and an Employer. I have seen that although Upwork “States” that if a bid is lost or closed, you get the big credit replaced, they actually do nothing of the kind. So, here is how Upwork triple dips:

1: Bid Credits – You pay to place a bid on projects (some of them are scam – PROVEN – Go search groups on Facebook for this). Upwork states that it is based on “Employer history, amount of money they want to pay plus budget. Yet, 99% of these “so-called” gigs are ranked at 6 credits per bid. Does the freelancer get reimbursed these unsuccessful credits? No. I have waited 90 days and I still do not see any reimbursement of bids on “closed jobs”, even though I get a plethora of notifications that “X” job has been closed.

2. 20% fee on any gigs up to $500. – Most employers will “test the waters” to see how a freelancer performs. If the employer is satisfied, they will continue. If not, then the contract ends. Which leaves the Freelancer 20% down on their earnings. (not including the amount of credits that it cost to get the project).

3. Cost to withdraw funds – We all know that one. Upwork charges an additional fee when you withdraw funds to any payment source, regardless if it is Payoneer, Paypal or a Bank account.

On the flip side: What does the employer get charged?

As I said before I use Upwork for Freelancing plus hiring virtual staff. The ONLY fee an employer gets charged is the credit card fee, if they use a credit card. No fee to list a project, and no fee when hiring a person. (And believe me, I have hired a number of people over the years).

I agree with the fact that Upwork charges $0.15 per connect, but… when 99% of all gigs posted cost 6 connects to place a bid, that amount can cost in the long run. Lets look at it like this:

Old Model: 60 Free Credit Bids a month = 30 bids a month – no cost to Freelancer to bid.
NEW Model: 60 Credits a month = $9 cost per month for 10 bids a month! So to get the same amount of bids a month (that being 30), freelancer needs to spend $27 upfront.

Do you see the fucking math on how Upwork now operates?

But wait, you can avoid that by buying into Upworks “Premium Account” which gives you a grand total of 70 bid credits a month for the fee of $15 a month! (Most gigs are listed at a cost of 6 credits to bid!)

Hmmm… Seems that the writing is on the wall with Upwork, where it rips off the Freelancer, posts “fake gigs” (Proven), and tries to “upsell” freelancers to a higher fee for bidding.

So yes, triple dipping!

Upwork seems to be great at reporting everyone on TrustPilot who speaks the simple facts.

Yes, Upwork, you can go ahead and flag this review as you have done to so many others for speaking the facts on Trustpilot, but you cannot flag the same post for going up here!


It has been a while… again

It has been a while again since any postings. I know that I have heard it many times that to draw the people, one needs to post often. Something that I seem to be lacking to do. Infact, ordinary every life seems to get in the way all the time with one thing or another.

It has now been almost a month since we moved into a nice home in Ardeer. For those who do not know where that is (and dont feel bad as even people in the next suburb don’t know this area! lol), Ardeer is located next to Sunshine, a suburb in Melbourne, Victoria.

The area is quiet enough, apart from the soccer training which goes on every Friday night at the sports club across the street, which is usually followed by drinking til the wee hours in the morning 🙂 If I was a drinker I would be there with bells on, but I am not, so I tend to sometimes watch from a distance of the revelry 🙂

When we first looked at the house, we sensed an unusual aura about the place, as if there was an unearthly presence in the midst. Our suspicions may have been right, as it was not until we moved in that we found out that the house does have some spirit activity, at least on some level. It turns out that the house was last occupied over 6 months ago, and there has been no tenants since, despite it been looked at many times. For the amount of rent it costs a month, one would assume that it would have been snapped up, but for our favor, it had not been.

Now while one of the former owners (an elderly Polish woman) now lives in a nursing home, it does seem that the former male owner may have died in the house. The home has 2 bedrooms, 2 loungerooms, big kitchen, bar room, large laundry room, nice big bath (which I am yet to take advantage of), enclosed outdoor entertaining area, sunroom/enclosed patio, large front yard. The house also came fully furnished, complete with everything including the bedsheets of the elderly couple. Creepy.

The 6 months preceding us, the house was left empty, abandoned. Unwanted. Empty with the exception of the spiders that decided to make this their home. Spiders….. The scourge of the earth, disgusting on any level, and the only good thing for a spider is a size 9 shoe!  In the 4 weeks we have been here, we have found many spiders in the house, ranging from Huntsmen to Trapdoor spiders to Funnel Web spiders. One would think that with the amount of spray packs I have used on fumigating the house,  that would be enough to kill an elephant, but no. These pesky little phrats still make their appearance from time to time, now every other day. And what’s worse is the ones that are the same color as the carpet, and you don’t see them unless they start crawling up the wall. 😦

I could go on about spiders but I wont. I hate spiders with a passion. They scare me. Anna said to me the other day “You can face demons and ghosts with no fear but a little spider you are scared of.”. She asked me why I was scared of spiders, to which I still don’t know. Maybe it is the way those 8 legged freaks crawl along or the fact they are just like a predator, waiting to inject their venom.  Who knows. In any case, the worst thing that came from the fall of man was spiders. Yeech.

Getting back to our ghost… We do have a ghostly resident. There are times when our son, David, will be going to bed, and he will point to his bedroom window (which faces the enclosed patio), and say “there’s a man there” and he will smile. Other times he will be playing as though there is someone in the room playing with him. Other times we will wake the next morning to find the fridge door is open, or the dial in the fridge has been turned off, or things moved around. It could well be that we have a ghostly resident, which is all well and fine by me, as he is posing no drama for us, and in a way we do feel that our unearthly resident is watching over David during the night.

We’ll just have to see what else becomes of our ghost.

Things have changed in ways for us in film. Some of you know the big drama in Queensland regarding Telemarketers Show, and how that came to a halt after much bad drama and bad decisions. Yes, I made very bad decisions in the way it was done. For a start I should have had someone on board who knew how to effectively do PR for the show.

It is a shame there is a lot of bullying and backbiting in the film industry. The whole aspect of film making is about helping one another succeed in making a great story come to life. The world of film is a different game than writing. Being a writer, my first priority is to creating a great story that people will like. My other priority is to help other writers get published. That is why we set up ASJ Publishing. We have seen how hard the publishing game is, and we do strive to help new writers get published.

Some will think that being a writer is easy. Some people drop me a message on various social networks and still assume that because they have a great story to tell, that they will become an overnight sensation. Sad to say but that does not happen. To those I will say, if you choose to be a writer, don’t plan to give up your day job. And I say that with the greatest respect. It is good to have a dream, but if you plan to become the next Rowling or Meyers, then be prepared to put in the hard yards.

Even me, I have seen 4 books published and I still work as a freelancer.  There are times when I don’t like what I do, and would prefer the life that some writers have, but life is not like that 🙂 I wish it was, so I could spend more time on writing and on films. That is where my passion lies. But I do what I have to do in order to get by.

For now though, I strive on to make the dreams happen, whilst living here in a haunted house in Melbourne 🙂

One day at a time….

when things go bad

Hey folks!

Been a while since my last post but good reason for that. If you have been following my antics on facebook, you will have seen some photos posted for The Telemarketers Show, a series that we are planning to get on TV some time this year. While the pilot has been shot and out of the way, there is still alot of work to get done for the show. The location we had in Bowen Hills came to a halt for some reasons I cannot go into, but rest assured, our brilliant director has things under control and things looking for a go ahead in early 2012.

It can be very trying and frustrating when a dream gets stalled, and for those who know me personally will know that I am not one who has a lot of patience. Maybe this time is developing that, so I can focus on other things, such as family and work and also getting our E-Pub firm up and running in full swing.

Right now I am down in Melbourne. Voted one of the most livable cities to be! I can say that this is true. Getting around is as easy as 1-2-3, with transport every which way you look, and the choices of shopping an absolute dream for some.

Melbourne certainly has changed in the years since I was last here, but there is also a side that I discovered that is not all that peachy.

For those who don’t know what I do outside of writing, I work in freelance marketing. Something I have done for many many years. But recently, the work flow has dried up I have found, so to make ends meet, I went for a job that was posted by a recruiting company. Now the job stated that they wanted a TSR for investment property. The job also stated that is was $30 an hour. So taking the initiative, I flew down to Melbourne for the job. I met with the people last week, and guess what? The job is NOT $30 an hour as the ad on stated, but $20 an hour and is nothing remotely to do with Investment Property, but Financial Planning. I started none the less, on the basis that it “may” work. It did not.

But, I doubt that I will be looking long for work in my specialty. I have had 17 years in the industry, so picking something up will only be a matter of time.

In all this, there is a lesson I am sure. Patience? Perseverance? Fighting for what you believe in?

I will close today with what the Apostle Paul said, “I have fought the good fight. I have kept the faith.” I think that can apply to us all, don’t you think.


It is amazing how things change over the years…

When I was young, I grew up in the Brisbane suburb of Kedron. Life was simple, pleasant. The familiarity of the street was something I was comfortable with. Yes, there were times of stress in the house, but the place held a certain knowing that this was the place of my belonging, at least for a time..

I had always thought that Kedron would be a suburb that would remain the same, despite how things seem to change.

I had always thought that the old house I grew up in on Tenth Avenue would stand forever. Our house was a two level, 3 bedroom brick/weather board home what was painted this tacky color of creme, and the wrap around deck that was painted almost dark purple.

The old tin shed in the backyard, and the old homemade brick barbeque, where I would spend countless hours practicing my bowling techniques for cricket (such as Don Bradman would do when he was young… Hey, this was Aussie, and what boy didn’t wanna be like the Don!).

In our backyard we had 2 trees. A large mango tree that I would always climb and knock down the mangos, and fruitbats used to haunt at night, and some other eyesore of a tree that looked like it belonged in a swamp… Then came the front yard of our house. Our two gardens were nothing to look at, and I mean that LITERALLY. I mean, we had two L-shaped gardens, one on either side of the yard, and nothing grew in them.. period. It was like the gardens were a present reminder that they belonged in the wasteland! It was not that they were tended to, because they weren’t, except for maybe twice or three times a year when I was pretty much told to dig the garden… which always involved using a pick and a shovel, and pretty much most of the entire day… I can still remember when VCR’s first came out, and one needed finance to buy one! (yes folks, we had a salesman sit in our house and tried to sell us a BETA!)

I remember my next door neighbors, Jack and Emma.  There was their nephew, Steven W who would visit them on occasion, and whenever he visited, we would spend hours and hours playing cricket in Jack & Emma’s backyard. (The amount of times the tennisball went crashing through their window was countless… and priceless! )  Steven must have been 2 or 3 years younger than me maybe, and he had a younger sister, Edwina. Of course, we never allowed her to play cricket with us, as this was a man’s game 🙂

Next door to Jack and Emma lived Peter Glenn, who owned a Nursery/ Shadehouse business.  From the size of his house, and the massive shadehouse in his backyard, I figured at the time that he must have been a millionaire.

Across the street, lived a boy around my age, Stephen Amos. To this day I wonder how it was that one week we would be best friends then the next week the worst of enemies at the drop of a hat.

I remember one time when Stephen introduced me to the world of computers. This would have been back in around 1982, or maybe 1983. Apple computer I think he had, with those floppy, saggy disks that took hours to load anything, that ugly green screen, and the dot matrix printer which was so loud you didn’t need an alarm!

The school I went to, Kedron State. It was simple. We had a cricket pitch at one end of the front of the school, and the other end the pool. Those were the days when we were not allowed to use a calculator to figure out mathematics, and to urk everyone the teachers would scratch the chalk across the blackboard.

Once a year, a visiting dental van would come, and stay a week. Everytime they came meant two pretty dental nurses for us boys to stare at, while we tried ever so hard to look manly.  One boy in particular, Craig M, was always called out of class. At the time we thought he was lucky and teased him with that he had a girlfriend. Of course, we knew that was never the case… Still, one had to envy him, sitting in that dental chair with two pretty nurses while he got his teeth choked-full of fillings 🙂

The house I grew up in, the area, were all things I had once desired my own son to see. But somehow, things are not that simple.

You can imagine my surprise when I used Google Street view tonight to look at the street I grew up.

That old house I once lived in has changed; the school I attended at the top of the street was changed, Jack & Emma’s house was gone, replaced with a couple of Townhouses… Even the house where Vicki lived on Eighth Avenue was gone.


The last time I was in Kedron was in 1988, just before my father sold the house on Tenth Avenue and we moved to Albany Creek.

21 years. It is amazing how things so quickly change in the course of a lifetime.

Gone is the cricket pitch at my old school, gone are the Purcell’s, gone are the days when I would run amock in that neighborhood.

One cannot relive those glory days, but one can always hold some fond memories of those young years 🙂

Tribute to the King of Pop



Michael Jackson, the “King of Pop” who once moonwalked above the music world, died Thursday. He was 50.

Jackson died at UCLA Medical Center after being stricken at his rented home in Holmby Hills. Paramedics tried to resuscitate him at his home for nearly three-quarters of an hour, then rushed him to the hospital, where doctors continued to work on him.

One person can make a difference as we have seen in the life of Michael Jackson.

Michael Jackson meant many things to his family, friends and fans. He was a beloved entertainer, spokesperson, showman, father, friend, motivator, an artist who pushed the boundries of creativity.

Growing up in the 80’s and 90’s, I was one who was a die-hard fan of his music. People often underestimate the power of music, and the effect that it has on us. We sometimes forget how a great song with a feel-good message lifts us up, and makes us smile and remember the place we had the most fun dancing to it and with whom. There were times when his music brought joy, hope, inspiration to me when I needed it.

Michael Joseph Jackson was born Aug. 29, 1958, in Gary IN. He was 4 years old when he began singing with his brothers; Marlon, Jermaine, Jackie and Tito, in the Jackson 5. After his early success with bubblegum soul, he struck out on his own, generating innovative, explosive, unstoppable music.

His 1982 album “Thriller” which included the blockbuster hits “Beat It,” “Billie Jean” and “Thriller” is the best-selling album of all time, with an estimated 50 million copies sold worldwide.

Although Michael had experienced a level of success with the Jackson 5 and his solo album, Off The Wall, Thriller was the album that launched him into super-stardom, which not many of us can achieve.

Throughout the years, Michael had continued to push the boundries of creativity, with music videos such as Bad, Remember The Time, Liberian Girl, Ghosts, You Rock My World.

Jackson’s death brought a tragic end to a dazzling career, when he was popular music’s premier all-around performer, a uniter of black and white music who shattered the race barrier on MTV, dominated the charts and dazzled even more on stage.

At the time of his death, Jackson was rehearsing hard for what was to be his greatest comeback: He was scheduled for an unprecedented 50 shows at a London arena, with the first set for July 13.

He was the most exciting performer of this generation. Not since Fred Astaire had we seen such a brilliant entertainer.

Jackson ranked alongside Elvis Presley and the Beatles as the biggest pop sensations of all time. He united two of music’s biggest names when he was briefly married to Presley’s daughter, Lisa Marie, and Jackson’s death immediately evoked comparisons to that of Presley himself, who died at age 42 in 1977.

Billboard magazine editorial director Bill Werde said Jackson’s star power was unmatched. “The world just lost the biggest pop star in history, no matter how you cut it,” Werde said. “He’s literally the king of pop.”

Jackson’s 13 No. 1 one hits on the Billboard charts put him behind only Presley, the Beatles and Mariah Carey, Werde said.

Rest In Peace Michael.

The World Has Lost A Dazzling Light.omg-spacer-1.0.0

Facebook Vs MySpace Vs……

Okay this is the second version of my last post.. Unfortunately I had pressed the wrong button while I was typing and I lost all the stuff I had written (Doesn’t that just suck!!)

Okay this blog is well overdue, and although there are many posts on the web about this, I though I would add my two cents worth about the whole Facebok Vs MySpace Vs…

Lets start with the most common user interfaces:

MySpace: I discovered MS about a year or so ago, and at the time it seemed like a novelty, especially when I was receiving “add requests” from bands and rockstars, it sure can make a person feel like they are wanted on the Community. Dont get me wrong, I thought the idea of having every band requesting to add me was the best thing since sliced toast, but that novelty quickly wore off when I discovered how tedious using MySpace was.

MySpace is anything but “user-friendly” for anyone. Lets start with the Myspace’s admin screen. It is so full of useless bullshit it’s hard to comprehend. You have to scroll down to see if you have any new friend requests or messages. Then you have the “Comment Requests” from every new Rapper wanna-be who got some kind of deal from some fly-by-night record producer just because he has a rap song about life-in-da-hood-with-da-hoes. Seriously, who cares! I didn’t like rap music when Bobby Brown was popular, I didn’t like it when Vanilla-Ice sang “ice-Ice-baby“, and I still DON’T like it! And although I am willing to support your latest one hit wonder, please try and refrain from plastering a poster on my wall that is larger than my computer monitor! (You know the ones… Some rapper plasters a poster on your wall so large that you have to adjust your IE window to 25% just to see it!)

And who can forget those bulletins you see. Okay, I admit, I am guilty of reading alot of them as they can be great for a laugh, especially from the likes of some air-head blonde bimbo with 60DD silicon boobs who just has to post on the bulletin board”Add me and my sexie friends“, (she obviously has difficulty in spelling!), and who can possibly pass up the chance of getting “60,000 requests in your inbox in 48 hours“! Although I would be thrilled at the thought of having 60,000 people requesting to add me, I have enough trouble keeping up with the 20 or so requests I get a day from people I have no clue who they are, apart from the obvious fact that they are either rappers or goth wanna-be’s! Seriously, I dont think my inbox can handle 60,000 requests. Does that mean that I am going to be bombarded with 60,000 Poster Comments from every rapper on the planet, and 60,000 Notifications for Apps that I have no interest in? As much fun as it would be to sort through 60,000 Emails, I will pass on that idea thank you very much!

Not that I intend to slam anyone on MS, as I do have a small (note: SMALL) net of friends I chat to once or twice a year!

And who can forget those “Technical Errors!” You know the ones I mean here. 98% of the time when you are replying to an email, putting a post on a group, or writing your latest piece of work which is, without a doubt, the greatest thing in literature history, you get this error message “Sorry! an unexpected error has occured. This error has been forwarded to MySpace’s technical group” (Notice that grammer is NOT something the MySpace idiots are good at either!). Then you click back a page in the hope that somehow, your masterpiece has not been lost, but alas, the best thing you have ever written is gone… Doesn’t that just frustrate you! So then you have to spend the next hour re-writing your masterpiece, only to discover that all those fantastical cliches are now not as funny as you first thought! 🙂

And who can pass up those Captchas! Have you noticed that if you happen to try and add someone, put a post on a group, start a group, or pretty much do anything, you have to type in the Captcha code. Now, although I admit it is good to verify you are the owner of your account, but for the love of … , surely once you have verified you own your own account you DONT NEED to re-verify everytime you add someone!! It is annoying enough having to go through the hassle of typing in their code, not once, but at least three times on the one person/post, as MS doesn’t seem to recognize that their code and the code you have entered is the same!

Apart from the bulletin boards which can be a good way to waste time, MySpace is a definate waste of My Space.

Facebook: Fb is quickly becoming a juggernaut of the VR world. With fun apps and easier to use interface, it will not be long until Fb outshines MS. However… As easy to use as the new version is, Fb does still have alot of drawbacks. I came across Fb some time ago, when they were still running the old version, and of course, to view anyones profile, you had to wait at least an hour for their profile to load (That is, if they had every app available plastered all over their profile). But, then came “The New Facebook“. Okay, I admit, this version is easier to use, and is not cluttered with the crap that you see on MS.

As much as I do hate to disappoint you all, I am not interested in being a ninja, werewolf, vampire, zombie, pirate or anything else that will otherwise clutter my profile with useless crap that I will look at once and never look at again. And for the record, I am stunned that you think my photos are worth over $1Million, and thrilled to see that some chic is worth $500Trillion, but seriously, can I use that cash in the real world? If I thought for a second that I could use that money to buy real things, I wouldn’t be on here right now. I’d be sitting on a 46ft Bertram Yacht, sipping champagne and contemplating buying Hawaii! But that is not going to happen anytime soon, unless i can redeem those “Fb Dollars” for something tangible like gold or cash money..

Which brings me to my next point. Friend Me. It is wonderful to see that Jane wants to add me to her friend list, and since we haven’t spoken a word to each other since Second grade, you would think she would drop me an email asking how I am and what I have been doing? But does she? Heck No! She just “Friends” me because I happen to be on her “Friends you may know” list, and she thinks it would be a cool idea to collect my profile (Hmmm.. Maybe she can trade up my profile for Pogs or some kind of Japanese Anime collectable) :-). Then there are the other ones. Kirk. Kirk decides that he would “Friend” me since we haven’t seen each other since Junior High. Of course, we didn’t talk much then either. The only talking he seemed to do was with his fist.. Thanks Kirk but I will pass on that request. And as jealous as I would be to see my old high school crush, Ms Sterling, living the high life, I will pass on that one too!

With the downside to Fb, there are some cool features on the new Fb. You can easily block unwanted apps from showing up on your notifications. Another downside to Fb is what they call “overuse”. Okay, according to logic you can only email or add so many people a day. But, for a writer, the best way to connect to people is by getting the word out about their latest feature. But, Fb seems to see this as abuse, and tends to remove someone’s profile without hesitation.

And what’s with those groups? Seriously, there are more people interested in joining groups named “Ban the new Facebook“, “One Million against the new Facebook” and “Join this group because I’m a bimbo“, than what there are in artists. Groups like that have no real purpose other than to waste everyone’s time. If some put just as much energy into groups for those of us who are in the Arts, then people like me would not see 1 book sale for a month (YES. ONE). I have seen some othe authors have their account removed, and some who have given up the whole Fb thing because of the real lack of interest in books. It is sad to see that people would rather spend their time joining a group for Bimbos and adding Apps than connecting with real authors. That is why alot of us are on here. To connect.

Okay, that is my rant on Fb. Not to offend the friends I do have on Fb as I do like to chat with you all, and I have been able to meet lot of wonderful people. But still, one does have to wonder if Fb is going the same way as MS. is, without a doubt, the most popular place to buy books. The new Amazon Connect program aims to increase the connection between author and readers by providing an Amazon hosted ‘blog’. Unfortunately, no comments are allowed and no RSS feeds, and another drawback for Authors that I have experienced is that one cannot participate in the discussion forums unless they have made a purchase on (This is the message I got when i tried to add to a discussion: ** You must have purchased items from Amazon to post). How helpful is that to an Author? How is an Author meant to participate in Group Discussions if they can’t use the feature!

Another feature Amazon has for Authors is Kindle. This tool is supposedly great for authors who want to promote their book in Digital format. Yet, the BIG drawback to this lovely piece of brilliance is that in order to participate, you are required to have a US Bank Account and US SSN. A definate drawback for Authors who happen to live outside of North America! What about us Authors who happen to live elsewhere, like in the UK, Australia, Europe?

Hello Amazon!  There are other published authors OUTSIDE of the United States!

Blogspot: Definately an easy to use platform where you can post blogs and photos online and get your own custom domain if you want. I started to use Blogspot as a way to promote my novel, and although the features were easy to use, and adding Widgets was just as easy, I did find that Blogspot did lack one major functionality.. The ability to create more than one page. Granted, some will use Blogaspot once a week or less-so, but for authors, they need something a little more modern than “one page to show off their work”. Honestly, who will sit there reading through one blog at time to get to a particular blog they want? Although the sidebar offers a “Menu” of posts, I found the convenience just not what I was wanting.

WordPress: Without a doubt, this comes close to what I would want a website to look like, without having to build my own with Publisher or Frontpage. The benefit I find with WP is that it allows you to create multiple pages, remove/add features and connect with other WP members. For authors starting out, I would recommend WP. It has more templates than Blogspot, and in general an easier to use interface. An added feature is that you can import your blogs from other blogsites.

Paypal:  Yet another interface that is meant to be “User-Friendly“. Paypal is owned by the company E-Bay, and is a great way to buy and sell goods online without the hassle of setting up a CC-Biller option. However, there is a BIG drawback to using Paypal. As widespread as Paypal is, it is still not available for people in Brazil, China and Russia. Of course, if someone happens to live in one of these countries, they can still be a “paypal member”, but they can only SEND money NOT receive. That is a major downer for anyone. The only equivelant I have seen in Russia so far is WebMoney. Still researching options on this ….

Okay, that’s me done until I find something else to write about.

Happy Reading 🙂

A Day In The Life Of………

A Mystery Shopper and Recruiter

About a month ago now, my wife and I were hired to recruiting mystery shoppers in certain countries for the launch of the Apple IPhone.

My first thought of this project was that it would be easy. Of course, that was furtherest from the truth as we were met with one complication after another, whether it was technical problems with the website, to answering simple questions that were readily available online… (And of course, not to forget the person who liked to send a message every 5 minutes with questions like “where are you? I am waiting for you to come online!” and “Hurry up. I need to go out!”).

Recruiting is not an easy thing to do in any business, and this is no different. Now, dont get me wrong, I do not mind answering questions and replying to emails, but when one spends 12 to 15 hours a day recruiting, answering questions (to the likes of what I mentioned above) is not something that I particulary enjoy.. Especially when it cuts into time for myself and time for my writing and book promotion.. Both of which I have VERY little time for these days 😦

Still, virtual recruiting has advantages. I dont have to go to an office and fight traffic everyday, and I have got to meet some really nice people online. Both perks of the job..

One thing is for sure, Virtual Recruiting sure beats the days when I had to do telemarketing!!! (More on this later)

Which brings me to my next point. Mystery Shopping (Names below have been changed)

Mystery Shopping. Some have asked me what the heck is that? Well, to put it in the simplest terms as I can. Mystery Shopping is a research tool used by many businesses to measure customer service. It is designed to see if product placement is carried out at a level that is expected. Unfortunately this is not always done, as in the case of Apple IPhone.

Anna and I elected to do the assignments in Samara and Novokujbyshevsk. Doing both areas was a definate conflict of time.

The assignments in Samara were straight forward enough, although the placement for IPhone at the selected stores was not as the client would require. Here is the run down on what happened:

We would enter the selected store, and firstly look to see if the IPhone brand was displayed, either with a large wall poster or IPhone Display. In most cases, the best that the stores could offer was the product was either in a case display cabinet, unable to be used for demo purposes, or they have no product available at all. Worse yet, not one place we visited had any sales material of the IPhone, and most sales associates had no clue when it came to giving us a demo. (Although one individual, Retvek, showed the only professionalism we had seen all day!).

Our first stop was Megafon in the downtown. Walking into this store was the exact same as going to a bank. You stand in a queue and wait for a teller. I wont go into full details on each assignment, but let’s just say that of the 6 locations all over Samara, this took us all day to get done as we had to wait for a tram or buss to go to the area we needed.

Okay, onto day two of assignments. Our only assignment was in Novokujbyshevsk. Simple? Not really. Novokujbyshevsk is only about 50 kms from Samara, however, the best way to get there is by train. So off we went to the train station. Upon arriving at the station we had the joy of waiting an hour for the right train to go to Novokujbyshevsk. When it finally did come, we spend the next 90 minutes on the train, then once in Novokujbyshevsk, we had a 20 minute wait for a taxi-bus to go into town. Needless to day, travelling 3 hours for a 50 km trip I was not impressed with at all!

Well, what can I say about Novokujbyshevsk? I think with all due respect, and not to offend anyone, Novokujbyshevsk is a town that is on the borderline poverty, and for anyone in this town to be able to afford an IPhone would literally cost them 4 months salary (or more). (Granted, that is taking into account if an individual happened to forego the basic living expenses such as food, power, and rent). Obviously Apple did not think to much when it came to product placement. They should have targetted cities where people could afford such luxuries. Not small towns where the streets are pretty much deserted at 3 o’clock in the afternoon!

Novokujbyshevsk reminds me of a town that one would see in a b-grade horror flick… you know the one I mean here… Hardly anyone on the streets apart from the local teenagers, old buildings where blood sucking vampires lurk, and tumbleweeds rolling down the main street…. Now if you can imagine this, that is how I would describe Novokujbyshevsk. In Samara it is common to see homeless dogs, but not in that town. In Novokujbyshevsk it is common to see stray cats…. Hmmmm, makes one wonder just what they put in those hot dogs 🙂

Needless to say, we did our assignment and higtailed it out of there before the sun set (Who knows what could happen.. especially in my imagination 🙂

So for a simple assignment, the trip took 5 hours travelling time, there and back. And then when we got home, I had the fun of catching up on the dozens of emails I had not replied to the day before. (Not to count the ones for my book, which I Still have not managed to get around to replying to yet!)

Now for something completely different, I thought I would add my own review of a PS2 game I played recently, which is, a recent release (I think).

The Simpsons for PS2.

Okay, without adding the walkthrough details, this game is pretty cool. There are 16 levels in this game, with all characters based on the tv show. Each level has hidden objects and missions, and some levels have the added fun of a mission within a mission.

It takes a bit to figure out what you are meant to do in some levels, but in all this is a cool game for young and old alike.

Although this is not normally the type of game I would play in my down-time, I would recommend this for anyone who is a fan of the show. Watch for the Dance Off with God on level 16 and the cool end scene. There are cameo appearences by itchy, Scratchy and Matt Groening. Highly addictive, and the scenes are just like watching the tv series. The graphics are well down and alhough it makes numerous references to upcoming games and tv shows, I would play this again.

Bitten By Books Carnival Winners:
Bitten By Books Haunted Bloggy Carnival was a huge success with thousands of dollars in prizes given away to contestants by some great authors.

I want to thank the following people who have each won a copy of The Chosen:
Merici Habib
Rachael D.
Theresa Dell
Jennifer Savage
Amber Katze
Jean Delehant
Sena Sagani
Carrie Parker

Your copy of The Chosen is on its way!

Finally, to do my own take-off of Jerry Springer here, I will add my Final Thought:

Balancing life as a Husband, Recruiter, Mystery Shopper, and Writer certainly is a challenge. I have come to understand the challenges other recruiters would feel in similiar roles, and certainly, Performance Based Recruiting is something I should know already, considering I used to work for Lou Adler (And got to meet the guy on one occasion when he was in New Zealand), but alas it seems the older I get the more knowledge I seem to loose :-).

Must add a note to self : Learn to relax more and not feel responsible for the needs of a company when family needs come first 🙂

C.A. Milson in Japan

After a long flight from Sydney we arrived in Narita Japan. The whole process of arriving was almost without incident, as since Anna is from Russia, she did had a slight problem with customs in Japan, but that situation was quickly solved, thanks to the outstanding hospitality of the Japanese customs officers. Infact they were more than helpful in the situation. As it turned out, since Anna is a Russian citizen, she needed a visa to stay in Japan, which is somethign both Flight Center AND Aeroflot failed to mention when they ticket was booked.

We are staying at the Holiday inn in Narita, and although the food is overpriced in the hotel, the accomodations are great!

Day one: Tokyo. The weather was humid, but the place is awesome. After a light breakfast in the Holiday Inn dining room, we decided to head to Tokyo for some sight seeing. There is a complimentary shuttle which goes to Narita train station, and the trip to Tokyo took about an hour. To amuse myself, I decided to people watch.

We noticed in Japan, everything is very prompt. We decided to go on a walking tour around the city and Imperial Palace Gardens. There are a few shuttle services around Tokyo, but the one we found to be the best is the complimentary service which goes on a 30 minute tour around the city. The one down side to all the bus tour services is the one called Sky Bus Tours. They leave about every hour from several pick up points in Tokyo, but we found that when we tried to book tickets, they told us they were booked up. Not exactly true, unless the customers were of the invisible kind.

So Sky Bus Tours gets a rating of 1 out of 5 for their service.

Tokyo city is very clean. One of the cleanest cities I have seen in a long time. That, added to the Complimentary shuttle services that goes around the city, Tokyo is one the best cities I have seen in a long time and Sydney sure could learn from their example. As far as service, hospitality and overall rating, it is a great place to visit.

Dinner we had at a restaurant called OhSho. A nice little Japanese restaurant in Narita district. We had Wontons, Fried Rice and Shrimps in Chilli Sauce. Unlike alot of traditional restaurants you would see in Australia or elsewhere, the wait time to be served dinner was incredibly fast. The kitchen area can be seen from the table where we were sat, and it was impecibly clean. I highly recommend the Oh/Sho Restaurant in Narita. (Located about 5 minutes walk from Narita train station, and around the corner from McDonalds) OhSho restaurant gets a rating of 4 out of 5.

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