Saturday, August 11, 2018

If you see something, say something. When to report things that are not right?

There have been some news articles recently about people calling the police for trivial reasons. It's true sometimes people call the police for little things that don't really need a police response, but I think more often the case happens when people do not call in an issue that probably should be reported.

This issue of taking an initiative when something is not right applies in many situations, not just with issues where police are needed. Depending on the situation, it may be another person or group that should be contacted when something is not right, for example a manager or a someone in charge of a situation.

A lot of the time when people see something that is not right, they just ignore it. Maybe they think it is not their responsibility. Maybe they do not want to get involved. Maybe they think it is none of their business. These thoughts are understandable, but in order to make a positive difference, one should make the effort to speak up when they see something that is not right.

Sometimes an issue may arise where you are not sure if it is important enough to report. You might think, maybe it is not a big deal. In some cases, a judgment can be made to leave it alone if it does not seem to be a big issue. If you are unsure about it, I think it is best to play it safe and make a report about it. It's better to report something and have it turn out to be nothing rather than not report something and it turns out to be an issue that should have been reported.

Shows like ABC's “What Would You Do” present a lot of situations like this to see how people respond. They create a situation where something is wrong or someone is doing something inappropriate and they see if anyone will step up and address the issue. Some people stay out of it while others get involved to try to correct the situation. It is always the ones who step in who are praised as the heroes for doing the right thing and trying to make a difference.

Some people are good about this and are fearless when it comes to stepping up and even confronting people when they think they are doing something wrong. Not everyone is this brave, but I think we should all keep this in mind and make more of an effort to speak up when we see something that is not right.

Sunday, August 5, 2018

Should Retail Stores Have Background Music?

You may notice when you are in a store whether it be a grocery store, clothing store, or just about any other kind of store, often times they will have background music. Usually it is some predetermined playlist or station that the store partners with to provide background music with the goal of creating a better experience for the customer. But does music always equal a better store experience?

In my opinion, sometimes it can help while other times it can actually make the experience worse. A lot of it depends on what kind of music is playing, how loud it is, and what kind of mood the customer is in. I will explain how these factors play into how the music is perceived by the customer.

Music is very subjective. Take any song and you can find someone who loves it while another person may hate it. Some people like loud intense music while others like quiet peaceful music. Because of this, it becomes a challenge to pick music and songs that will appeal to most of the people in the store.

The problem is, you can't please all the people all the time. Even when songs are specifically chosen to be generally likable by most, there are still going to be people who don't like the music that is picked and this may in turn cause a less than desirable experience for these customers.

Also frequency of the songs played has an effect on the experience as well, particularity for the people who work in the stores. Since many of the retail stores have a set list of songs on repeat, these songs quickly get old for those who are in the store a lot (employees and frequent customers). What started as a song you liked or didn't mind soon becomes a song you do not like or in fact despise because you have heard it so many times.

The volume of the music also can play a big part on the experience as a customer. I generally prefer the music to be very soft so it does not draw attention or become invasive. There have been times where I have been in a store and the music is loud enough to become an annoyance and even a distraction. It becomes worse when a song you don't like pops into the rotation and you can't get away from it. When this happens, it can put customers in a bad mood and make them want to leave the store sooner than they had planned.

The mood of the customer can also affect how they perceive the music in the store. For a customer who is relaxed and has plenty of time to shop at a leisurely pace, they may be more accepting of the music. They are at ease so a little extra stimulus in the way of music is welcome. On the other hand, someone who is feeling stressed out or trying to concentrate on their shopping may become irritated by the music especially if it is loud or happens to be a kind of music they do not like.

Then there are stores that do not play any background music at all. At these stores, the atmosphere might seem less lively or welcoming, but on the other hand, they avoid the risk of annoying customers with unwanted music. It's hard to say which is better since again it comes down to the old saying, you can't please all the people all the time.”

What are your thoughts on this issue? Should stores have music in the background or is is better without music? Feel free to post your thoughts in the comments below.

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Being Funny vs Having a Sense of Humor – Are they the same thing?

We hear the phrase “sense of humor” a lot when describing people. People might ask if someone has a sense of humor or they might say someone who is funny has a good sense of humor. But is having a sense of humor the same thing as being funny? I would say that it is not and that they are two different things.

Having a sense of humor means you are able to understand and have an appreciation for humorous things. People who have a sense of humor may appreciate comedy and jokes and tend to look for the funny things in life. While these people enjoy humor, it does not necessarily mean they themselves are funny.

On the other hand, there are people who are considered funny. They are usually the people who are always trying to tell jokes and make people laugh. Funny people usually have a good sense of humor as it is necessary to come up with things that make people laugh. The only exception would be if someone did not have a sense of humor but was unintentionally funny, but this would be a rare situation.

To sum it up, funny people usually have a sense of humor, but people with a sense of humor are not necessarily funny. You can describe yourself as having a sense of humor even if you are not the kind of person to go out of your way to make people laugh.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

The topic of finding someone to date and asking people out on dates

I have never really been the kind of guy who attracts a lot of girls, but over the years, there have been a few times where girls did ask me out on a date. Since they were rare occurrences and I still remember them, I thought I would write about what happened in these cases.

One day back when I was in 6th grade, a girl in my class approached me and asked if I wanted to go out with her. I was surprised by the question as “going out” with someone was definitely something new to me and not really something I was ready for. Looking back on it as an adult, I was just a young kid at that time but I guess that is around the age when people start to develop those kinds of feelings.

When she asked, I felt kind of awkward and just said something like “I don't know.” or “I don't know if my parents will let me.” This was true and I wasn't even sure I was ready to jump into something like that at the time. Plus I did not really have any particular interest in this girl. I think she might have inquired about it once more but I just kind of brushed it off so nothing became of the situation.

Some years later when I was in high school I got an unexpected call from another girl I went to school with. She asked me if I told one of her friends to ask her out. I was really confused by what she said because I had no idea what she was talking about. I thought she thought I told one of her friends to ask her out on a date. I told her no, and she was like “Oh... Ok bye.”

Then like a minute later she calls back. This time she asks me directly if I want to go out with her. Unfortunately I was not interested in this girl either so hesitantly I said “Not really.” Again she was like “Ok. Bye.” I was still a bit confused by the whole situation. After thinking about it, I determined what had happened.

Most likely, her friend for whatever reason told her that I wanted to go out with her. I'm not sure why she would do that. I didn't even really know her friend. I think maybe she just thought she could be a matchmaker and set something like this up.

Looking back, I do feel kind of bad about it. This girl probably thought I was interested in her and she was going to get to go out with me only for me to reject her. It was not my fault though since the friend had lied to her. I hope she did not get too upset about it.

A couple years later we did end up in a class together and even had to do a small group project together. Needless to say, it was a bit awkward. Neither of us said anything about it. We managed to do the group project and everything turned out ok.

Those were the main times I was asked out in real life, but I have also been asked out via online dating websites. One in particular, a girl was kind of persistent with messaging me even after I told her I was not really interested. It's a shame that it seems whenever something like this happens, it is with someone I'm not interested in.

That is one of the things that makes finding someone to be in a relationship so difficult. You may find someone who you think is just perfect and matches with you in every way, but the problem is, they have to feel the same way in return and this rarely happens, at least in my experience.

I have not asked out many girls myself as I am pretty reserved and shy in real life. I have sent out messages on the dating sites expressing interest in girls I like but rarely do I get a response and in the few cases I do, they usually say they are not interested. It seems to be the running theme when it comes to trying to find someone to date.

Because of this, I find it hard to believe how so many people are actually in relationships and how so many people actually find people to date that are compatible. In my experience it is very rare to find someone who you like who also happens to like you in return. Maybe it is easier for some people than others. It could also be that a lot of people get into relationships with people who are actually not that compatible.

This looks to be true based on the number of people who break up, get divorced, or remain stuck in bad relationships. I think sometimes this happens and people just try to stick with it even if they are not happy for whatever reason. Maybe they have kids so they do not want to break up the family. Maybe they think their current relationship is their best chance and they will not be able to meet anyone else.

As a single person who is getting older, I am still picky about who I would consider getting into a relationship with. I'm not going to just go out with people for the sake of going out unless I feel there is a a strong level of compatibility and the potential for a good relationship. Up until this point I have not had much success, but I continue to keep the door open to potential relationships. It can be difficult but you never know when the right person might show up!

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Skin Care Products Review – Washes, Cleansers, and Moisturizers

With the amount of skin care products on the market, it can really be overwhelming trying to find the best one that works for you. It can be even more difficult because everyone's skin is different and what works for someone else, may not necessarily work for you. Not to mention, it can be hard to know which reviews online you can trust.

Over the years I have tried and reviewed many skin care products to treat conditions such as oily skin and acne. Some worked better than others but I was still not satisfied with the results. So recently I decided to do some more research and try out some new skin care products that I had not tried yet. Below I will review each of these products.

CeraVe Hydrating Facial Cleanser – After years of using products marketed towards oily skin, I read that sometimes the face can actually produce more oil to compensate for being too dry. The solution recommended was to try a wash that is actually for dry skin. So I tried out this one by CeraVe which is for normal to dry skin.

With this cleanser, you can definitely tell it is more moisturizing and less oil stripping compared to some of the other products geared at oily skin. It has a mild scent and with a translucent white appearance. I found it did an ok job of cleaning the face and getting the oil off without overly drying it. Still, I feel like it does not really clean the pores quite deep enough. For winter months when the air is more dry, I will probably use this one more, but for the summer months when it is humid, I have only been using it sparingly when my skin gets too dry.

Cetaphil Daily Facial Cleanser – This wash is marketed towards normal to oily skin. It is a light clear substance that is just a straight forward cleaner. It also has a mild scent like the CeraVe. This cleanser does do a pretty good job of cleaning away the oil but it can leave the skin a bit overly dry. I use this product every so often when my face is pretty clear in terms of acne, but still oily.

Neutrogena Clear Pore Cleanser / Mask – To help teat acne, I decided to try out this cleanser by Neutrogena. It contains benzoyl peroxide which I had not tried before but heard good things about it. It is a cream like substance that feels pretty refreshing on the face. It can be a little more harsh compared to some of the other cleansers, for example, they say to avoid the eyes when putting it on. I found it does a pretty good job at deep cleaning but it can dry out the skin so I only use this one once in a while when the acne is starting to act up. 

Up & Up Oil Free Acne Wash – I have reviewed this one in the past, but I wanted to make sure to include it on the list because it is another product I am still using and one that I tend to use frequently. It is a salicylic acid wash which is pretty much tried and true. It does a good job of cleaning the oil as well as helping to prevent acne. Like many of the other washes, it can be a little drying so I find it works well in combination moisturizers or sunscreen.

CeraVe AM Facial Moisturizing Lotion with Sunscreen – In the past I had been using a general sunscreen for the face, but I decided to try out this product which is a facial moisturizer as well as a sunscreen. It is a bit expensive compared to what I am used to spending on skin care products but I figured it was worth a try. Overall is seems to do a pretty good job at moisturizing as well as protecting from the sun. It can be a little hard to blend into the skin if you use too much, so I find applying as little at a time works best. I would probably get it again, but I will also keep an eye out for other products like this that are less expensive.

I hope these reviews help narrow down the search for the best skin care products. If you have any tips or other products you have had success with, feel free to leave a comment about them below!

Friday, July 6, 2018

Amazon Returns at Kohls Retail Stores – Trying out this new feature

Recently I had made a purchase on Amazon that did not meet my expectations. It had the option to return within 30 days for a refund so I decided to make a return. Upon seeing the return options, I noticed they had an option to make the return at a local Kohls retail store.

I thought this was pretty interesting, especially since it said they will do the packaging and cover the shipping, so really all you have to do is bring the item to the store and they will take care of everything. Seems easy enough, so I decided to try it out.

They send you an email with a QR code that you will need to bring with you so they can scan in the item at the store. I brought in the item and they were able to scan the code from my phone. I got a receipt with a tracking number and it was good to go! I had elected to have the refund credited to my Amazon account and within a few hours the credit was already issued!

They even gave a coupon for 25% off at Kohls for making the return which was nice because I had planned on doing a little shopping in store that same day. I think this is part of the reason they partnered with Amazon returns, to help drive more traffic to the stores and apparently it is working.

Overall I have been pleased with the services provided by Amazon recently from the locker delivery option to the Kohls retail store returns option. It looks like the Kohls returns are only available in select markets, but if it is available in your area, I highly recommended it based on this experience.

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

The Concept of Karma – Good Things Happen to Good People

If there is one thing I believe in, or at least hope is true, it is that good things happen to good people. This is similar to the concept of Karma where one's outcome is determined by what they do and the decisions they make. The idea being if you are a good person and do good things in your life, you will be rewarded or paid back in an equally positive way.

The same concept would apply the other way as well. For example if someone is bad and does bad things, bad things will happen to them and their life will be worse off in the future.

With Karma, the idea is that when you die, you are reincarnated in another form or another life and this is determined by who you were and what you did in your previous life. Now of course there is no concrete proof of this concept as we are not able to know what actually happens after death, but I think it is a good concept to keep in mind.

While the afterlife part of Karma may be theoretical, the real life effect of Karma is true and observable in every day life. When you do good things in your life by helping others, it makes you feel good and makes them feel good. This positivity can spread and come back to you in return. When you are good to others, it makes them want to be good towards you.

On the other hand, it is also very apparent when bad things happen to bad people in the form of justice and punishment. When people commit crimes and are caught by law enforcement, they are punished often by having to pay fines or do time in prison. People who do bad things also suffer the consequence of their actions in social settings as people may not want to associate with them anymore if they are doing things that are wrong.

Does this concept of Karma always work? Unfortunately not necessarily. Often times unexpected tragedy happens good people. The same things goes for the other side as well when bad people get away with doing things that are wrong or immoral. Real life Karma does not work 100% of the time as examples like these happen quite often.

Because of this, it would be nice if the concept of Karma in regards to afterlife were to turn out to be true. This way, everything would be evened out in the end and those who are good would be recognized while those who were bad and went unpunished would ultimately have to come to terms with their actions.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Method Bathroom Cleaner Review

Recently I had purchased a bleach-based all purpose cleaner, and while it was strong, the odor was very unpleasant enough that I did not want to use it anymore. So I decided to look for some alternative options. One that caught my eye was the Method Bathroom Cleaner, available at Amazon and Target. It is a natural cleaner without bleach so I decided to give it a try.

Upon trying it out, I found the scent to be quite good! It has a refreshing clean smell which I found to be much better than the bleach smell of some of the other cleaners. I have been using it mainly for cleaning the tub and toilet and occasionally the sink.

In terms of effectiveness, it seems to be just strong enough to get the job done. Whenever residue starts appearing around the toilet bowl, a few sprays of this cleaner and some brush action get it back to its original condition. So far the tub has remained pretty clean as well with a weekly cleaning using this spray and a sponge.

My only complaint would be that the design of the bottle is not the most ergonomic, meaning it does not really fit the hand very well, so it can sometimes take two hands to hold it in place and spray it.

I will probably purchase it again once this one runs out. Overall if you are looking for a natural bathroom cleaner with a fresh scent, I recommend trying out the Method Bathroom Cleaner.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

MPOW Noise Reduction Safety Ear Muffs Review

While my living environment is generally pretty quiet, sometimes there can be some unexpected loud noise. For example, someone might be doing construction, or playing loud music, or maybe the house or building is just making some weird noise.

As someone who tends to be sensitive to noise, situations like these can be bothersome especially if they are out of your control and go on for an extended period of time. I had tried ear plugs in the past but found they didn't really work too well and I didn't really like putting things in my ears.

So I did some research and found noise canceling ear muffs. They are like headphones but they just block out noise, don't play music. After comparing a bunch of different kinds, I decided to go with the MPOW Noise Reduction Safety Ear Muffs. They had many good reviews and were reasonably priced at about $16 so I decided to try them out.

Upon putting them on for the first time, I was surprised at how well they worked. For example I was next to the refrigerator at the time which was running and making the usual noise a refrigerator makes. With the ear muffs on, I could not hear it at all.

I went over to the tv and put it on at a normal volume to see how they would work against a medium volume. With the ear muffs on, I could not hear the sound from the tv, so I would say they work pretty well in this case.

A couple days later someone was doing some construction work upstairs and they were drilling into the floor which was very loud. I put on the ear muffs to see how they would handle it. This time, I could still hear the noise, but it was much quieter and less bothersome. So with very loud noises, you will still hear it, but they will be reduced quite a bit.

These have a noise reduction rating of 36dB which is about the highest I found. I also got a chance to test them out against low frequency bass such as what you may hear from a subwoofer and they did help reduce this kind of noise as well.

As for comfort, upon wearing them for a short period of time, they feel pretty comfortable and well cushioned. The cups have a deep depth inside so there is plenty of room for the ears. The length of the band is adjustable on each side so it will fit most people. While the size can be adjusted, I found you can't really adjust the tightness. They are not overly tight, but I would have liked the option to be able to make them less tight if desired.

Overall build constriction seems sturdy and good quality. They are also fairly light weight at 8.4oz. Visually they do stick out pretty far to the sides. I imagine they have to be pretty wide to get this level of noise reduction.

I have not tried them for long term wear yet, but from what I have tried so far, I think they are best for short term wear for example if you will be exposed to loud noise for a short period of time. These would be good for situations such as lawn mowing or a shooting range. They are also good for home use in case there is noise going on that you want to block out.

Overall I am pretty satisfied with the MPOW ear muffs and would recommend them to anyone who is looking for a good solution to help reduce or block out noise.

Saturday, June 2, 2018

Why you should not use credit cards to pay for gas at the pump

The other day I got a text message asking me if I just made a large purchase using my credit card. I had not, so I was immediately concerned and suspicious. I ran to check my wallet thinking maybe I lost my credit card, but it was still there. I wasn't sure if the text was a scam or if it was actually from the credit card company, so I log into my account and sure enough there was a charge that I did not make.

Immediately, I call up the credit card company and let them know that someone is making fraudulent charges on my card. They reviewed the details with me and were able to cancel the card. They said they would send me out a new card and that I would not be responsible for the charge. That was a relief, but still I wanted to figure out how this happened.

Usually I am very careful with things like this so I found it odd that someone used my credit card considering it was still in my possession. The agent from the credit card company said it was swiped at a grocery store which means somehow someone got my credit card number and created a duplicate counterfeit card.

From doing research, it looks like this would have happened by something called skimming. This is when someone puts a card reading device on or in a place where credit cards are used such as at gas pumps, ATM's, car washes etc. Any place where cards are swiped in an unattended location have a possibility that someone my have put a skimmer there to steal people's credit card information.

I usually only use my card at grocery stores and gas pumps, so with process of elimination, I'm pretty sure this happened by a skimmer at one of the gas stations I went to recently. Unfortunately it is hard to know when it happened as it could have been skimmed a few days ago or a few weeks ago.

While consumers are usually not held responsible for fraudulent charges made on their card when reported right away, it still causes a big inconvenience for the person whose card was stolen. I had to contact the credit card company, put a fraud alert on my credit, file a report with the FTC, and file a report with the police. Not to mention, I am going to be without a credit card for about a week until the new one arrives.

So as far as I'm concerned, I will no longer be paying with credit card at gas pumps or any unattended credit card swiping machines. Until these things are updated to be more secure, it is not worth the risk of having your credit card information stolen.

You may think, “This won't happen to me because I am careful and I always check the gas pump to make sure it doesn't have a skimmer attached.” I was like this too, but it still happened. From doing more research, I learned these card readers can be installed inside the machines so there is no way to know from the outside if they are compromised.

I recommend avoiding paying for gas at the pump with credit card to help prevent this from happening to you. Try to pay with cash, or if you are going to pay by card, go inside to the attendant and pay. Yes, it may be a little more inconvenient, but not as inconvenient as getting your credit card information stolen.

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Should neighbors in apartments and condos be able to play loud music?

There are many benefits to living in an apartment or condo or even a town home, for example it tends to be more affordable and less work to maintain. There are however some downsides to living in close quarters to other residents and one of those is the issue of noise.

Anyone who has lived in a building with neighbors either next door or above or below knows that it is common to be able to hear your neighbors sometimes. It might be footsteps from above, talking, or tv from next door. While some daily living noise is expected, it can become a problem if your neighbors start getting too loud for example playing loud music.

As someone who lives in a building with neighboring residents, there have been times where I have noticed loud music being played and it can be very bothersome, especially if there is a subwoofer with bass that tends to travel through walls and is hard to block out. So the question is, should people who live in an apartment type building be able to play loud music?

Out of consideration of fellow residents, I think people should not listen to loud music if it can be heard easily through the walls by other residents. This noise causes a disturbance and disrupts the peace of nearby neighbors. While listening to music or tv at a reasonable level is ok, people need to be respectful of others when it comes to making noise like this that may bother their neighbors.

There is however a contrasting point of view, one that may be had by those who like to listen to loud music. They may say that it is their right to listen to music at a level they want and that if someone wants complete silence, they should not choose to live in a place such as an apartment or a condo building.

So who is right? I think in this case, there has to be a bit of a compromise from both perspectives. Complete silence is unreasonable to expect when living in close quarters to other residents. At the same time, a neighbor should be able to listen to music at a reasonable level but it should be low enough so that it does not bother those around them. They should also be respectful of the time of day they are playing music and should not play it late at night when most people are trying to sleep.

Do you have noisy neighbors or are neighbors complaining about your noise? Feel free to post thoughts on this issue in the comments below.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Needle.com Chat Job Review – What it is like to work for Needle as Chat Advocate

I have worked for Needle as a chat advocate for several years. During this time there have been plenty of ups and downs and here we will go over what it is like to work for Needle as a chat advocate.

So what is Needle exactly? Needle is a company that provides the chat feature that is used for many online stores. Companies who want to have live chat help on their website will partner with Needle to get this service. Needle then hires and trains people who will be the ones to chat with customers and help them on the client's website.

Back when I started, I was looking for work from home type jobs because I was tired of working at my regular job out in the field. I tried a few different things such as affiliate marketing and internet content reviewing until I heard about an opening at Needle.com for chat jobs. I had never done a job like this before but it was for a company that I liked so I decided to give it a try.

The on-boarding consisted of filling out the application, taking a few basic skills tests, studying some tutorials, and eventually doing practice chats and final interviews through chat. If you do well on everything, you may be invited to start taking chats shortly after.

There is some training, but much of the content and website catalog must be learned on your own. It will be up to you to stay on top of any new products, policies, or information so you will be able to help the customers with any questions they have.

Taking chats can be fun especially if you are passionate about the products and enjoy helping people. The type of customers you interact with can depend on which client you work for, but for the most part customers are appreciative of the help. Of course there are times when you get unhappy customers and there is not much you can do, but you just try to do your best with the resources available.

Earnings can also depend on which client you work for. Some pay money per chat while others reimburse with a points system that gives points based on performance. Points can then be redeemed for things like gift cards and products from the client websites. Since earnings are based on chats, it can be good when it is busy but not so good when it is slow. Advocates can take several chats at the same time which can increase your pay/points but can also be more stressful trying to manage several conversations at the same time.

The chat system works pretty well for the most part, but there can be a few bugs here and there. For a workstation, I recommend a desktop with a dual monitor setup to allow two screens at the same time. A laptop or just one screen is ok but it will be more difficult switching back and forth between windows.

Hours are flexible but schedule priority is based on average points earned for the week. Points are earned from things like making sales, having a good satisfaction rating, and having a fast response time.

The experience you have can depend a lot on the management assigned as well as the other advocates you work with. Over the years, we had some good managers who were very involved and gave a lot of encouragement, but we also had some at times who were not as involved and did not provide much help.

The platform allows you to interact online with the other advocates so you can get to know them as co-workers. As with any job, there may be some you get along with well and possibly others not as much. Some communities are more active in communicating with each other than others so this can depend on which program you work with.

This job provides a lot of independence so most of the time you will be on your own. You may not hear much from the managers unless there is some important news or updates or unless there is something you really need to improve on. Recently, they have made efforts to get the management more involved with the advocates.

Overall, if you are looking for a part time work from home type job and you are a decent typer and have good internet research and navigation skills I would recommend trying out the chat advocate job with Needle.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

What would you do if you were the last person on Earth?

Suppose you woke up one day and realized you were the only person around. All other people and animals had vanished, but other than that, everything else was the same. What would you do?

This is fun question to think about, and there really is a lot to think about if you put yourself in this situation. For this scenario, one direction to take it is that of survival. This would involve making sure you had food and basic necessities to survive for many years.

To make the scenario more fun, lets assume everything keeps running as usual even after everyone has disappeared. This means all utilities such as electricity, water, and internet still work. We will even say that resources like food will be automatically replenished so you do not have to worry about food expiring.

So basically everything would be the same but there would be no people or living things. Although there would still be things like the internet, it would not be populated by new content since there would be no people to create it.

If you found yourself in this situation, what would you do?

Where would you live?
Where would you go?
What would you do for fun?
What things would you try to find?
What would you like about this new situation?
What new challenges would you face?

I recommend try thinking about what you would do before reading what others would do. Below is what I came up with if I found myself in the situation of being the last person on Earth:
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At first, I would probably start out very cautious and not do too much out of the ordinary. I would probably explore a bit locally until I got to the realization that there were no other people around and this would be the new reality.

Next, I would probably start venturing out and head over to a car dealership to pick up a nice car. I would probably get one sporty car for fun, and also a van or SUV to use for transporting things.

Then I would probably go to the grocery store to pick up a bunch of food. I think it would be fun to have the store all to yourself and be able to get anything without having to worry about the cost.

I would probably go to some of the local stores and pick up any supplies that might be needed such as tools or extra clothes. I might also go to a toy store or sporting goods store to try to find some activities for fun.

For safety, I would probably find some weapons as well because you would have to ensure your own protection now that there are no other people to protect you. There would be no threat of other people, but you would have to be prepared for anything just in case.

After having explored everything locally, I would start to venture out to other cities and start traveling around the country. For living situations, I would find homes or hotels at each location to stay at.

I might pick up a large RV camper to make traveling more comfortable and convenient. I would check out notable destinations like big cities, landmarks, and national parks. I think the traveling would help give a sense of purpose and would help prevent boredom.

One of the biggest challenges other than having to deal with loneliness would be safety. Since there would be no one to take care of you, you would have to be very careful not to get hurt. You can't call 911 if there is an emergency because there would be no one to respond.

Also you would have to be careful not to get stranded in the middle of nowhere. For example, if you were traveling long distance, you would have to make sure to have plenty of fuel as well as things like food and water in case anything were to happen.

After years, if I had explored everything within the country, I might consider trying to get to other countries. The challenge would be, it would probably involve travel by airplane or boat. These are skills that would need to be learned and even once learned would still involve some level or risk.

While I think being the only person on Earth would be fun at first, I have a feeling it would get boring or lonely sooner than expected. This might lead to a desperate attempt to find if there were any other people out there.

If years of searching did not find anyone, I would probably just continue trying to find new things to do and find ways to keep myself busy. It's hard to imagine a long term plan in this setting. I think it would involve just trying to stay healthy and keep searching to find any signs of life.

What would you do if you were the last person on Earth?

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Cobra Kai Review – Karate Kid Youtube Red Series

Karate Kid is one of those iconic movies everyone should see. I remember watching it many times back in the 80's so when I saw they were continuing the story with a Youtube Red series, of course I had to check it out.  



The series is called Cobra Kai, named after the dojo from the original film and it takes place in modern time where we see what former rivals Daniel Larusso and Johnny Lawrence are up to now. While both had tried to put their karate past behind them, it manages to resurface again.

Johnny gets inspired to start up the Cobra Kai dojo again. Daniel is not happy about this as it brings back all the old memories and goes against what he stands for. There are a lot of new intertwining story lines that continue the rivalry between these two as well as the new generation of karate kids that are introduced in this series.

The Cobra Kai series features 10 episodes, about a half hour each in length. It is on Youtube Red which is a paid subscription version of Youtube, but you can watch the first couple episodes for free. Also you can get a free 1 month trial of Youtube Red in case you want to watch the full series.

After watching the first 2 episodes, it was surprisingly better than expected! It has a good amount of nostalgia with callbacks to the original. They even mix in some never before seen clips from the original movie when they do flashbacks which is a great touch! I was convinced to sign up for the free trial of Youtube Red in order to watch the full season.

After watching the full season, I would say it was pretty good! The series does have a fair amount of cliches and it is somewhat predictable, but that is ok. They do a great job at showing Daniel and Johnny in modern day with new struggles as they run into each other again.

Overall the series is pretty lighthearted and has a good mix of humor, drama, and action. I think most fans of the original film will enjoy it and even those who are not familiar with the original can still enjoy this series.

I figured this series would wrap up at the end of the last episode, but the way they left it, there is plenty of opportunity for the series to continue of they choose. You could say it was risky trying to make a reboot of a classic movie like Karate Kid, but I think in this case it was a success!

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Shipt vs Instacart – Which grocery shopping and delivery service is better to work for?

App based gigs are really booming right now and grocery stores are taking advantage of this trend by partnering with services such as Shipt and Instacart. These apps allow customers to order groceries from their local stores and have them delivered quickly. I have worked for both of these companies and have found each has their own strengths and weaknesses. In this article we will compare what it is like working for Shipt and Instacart.

Getting Started / Applying
Both companies are fairly easy to apply for and do not require too much experience or prerequisites. You will need your own car if you will be delivering. Driving record and background is also checked to ensure there are no issues. There are basic training tutorials for both that need to be completed before you start. If you are accepted, you receive a company credit card and can begin scheduling hours to shop.

Basics
While both services work a little differently, the main concept is the same. You are given a customer's list of items and are assigned to a store to shop for them. In the store, you scan the items using the camera on your phone. You check out using the company pre-paid card. Then you deliver the order to the customer. It is pretty straight forward and not too hard as long as you are organized and enjoy grocery shipping.

Scheduling / Getting Orders
This is one of the biggest differences between the two. With Instacart you are able to schedule hours for the week starting at a certain time. Some people who maintain a high amount of hours each week are able to schedule earlier. You are only allowed to schedule for hours that are open so it can be hard to get hours depending on how many shoppers are in your area and how busy it is.

With Instacart you basically have to be on call when you are scheduled and if there is an order, they will send it to you during this time. You are expected to accept it and be on your way to the store quickly once you are sent an order.

With Shipt, you are able to put yourself on the schedule for any hours you want, and they will send you orders that are to be delivered during those times. They send you the orders ahead of time so you will have time to prepare and plenty of time to shop for them.

Using the App
Both the apps for Shipt and Instacart work fairly similar. They each use a scanning feature to check off items on the list. They also allow you to contact the customer by text or phone if there are any issues or questions. I find Instacart's app to be a little more responsive and the scanning feature works better. I also like that they show the pictures of the items in the list without having to click on each one manually to see the pictures as is done in the Shipt app.

The Shipt app does have some benefits of its own for example you can customize the layout of the categories which can make it easier to navigate the shopping list. Also I find the customer text communication to be more reliable with Shipt.

One really helpful feature with Shipt is they tell you the item location such as which aisle it is in. I believe some stores with Instacart have this feature but none of the stores I have shopped for in my area have this option.

Delivering
The delivery procedure is very similar between the two. Each gives you the delivery address which opens up in your map app of choice and then you just use the navigation for directions. Once you arrive, you give the groceries to the customer and mark it as delivered. That's about it!

So what are the strengths and weaknesses for each?

Pros for Instacart
- Better pay. While the pay can vary greatly depending on which zone or location you are working, I found that when comparing similar sized orders, Instacart pays significantly more per order. Shipt does offer bonuses sometimes, for example if an order is getting close to when it needs to be delivered and no one has picked it up yet, they may offer to pay more.

- Better bar code scanner. It's really amazing how well the Instacart scanner can pick up the bar codes. You can hold it at any angle or distance, moving around, crinkled packaging, and it will still pick it up. I find with the Shipt scanner, it takes much longer to read and sometimes it will not read at all even when it is very clear, still, and centered.

- Images in shopping list make it easy to scan quickly. In the Shipt app, to see the pictures, you have to click on each one individually which takes up time.

- Less things to worry about. With Instacart, it is more automated, for example it lets the customer know what you are doing from the time you start to the time you mark the order as delivered. With Shipt you have to text them to let them know when you start and when you are on the way. Also with Shipt for some reason you have to fill out a tax exempt form for each order. You also have to scan the receipt and take a picture of the receipt, all steps which make the process more difficult compared to Instacart.

- More stores to shop for. It can vary depending on the area, but for example in my zone, Instacart partners with about 10 different stores and many locations for each of these stores. With Shipt, my zone has only 1 partner and one store so it is much more limited in terms of shopping locations. Shipt may grow over time, but right now it seems to be more limited.

Pros For Shipt
- Better transparency. With Shipt, you are given all the order details ahead of time so you know what you are getting into. For example, you know the customer name, address, number of items, and list of actual items in the order before you commit to head out to the store. With Instacart, some of this information is withheld and not revealed until you have agreed to shop the order, are at the store, or have completed shopping for all the items.

- Better morale / community. Browsing the Facebook support groups for each service gives two very different impressions. With Instacart, most of the posts tend to be negative and complaining in nature while most of the posts in the Shipt group are more positive. This could be because the Shipt group is managed by Shipt, while the Instacart group is managed by the shoppers, but the difference in morale is very noticeable.

- Easier to schedule. With Shipt, there is no fighting for hours or constantly checking the app for new openings. With Instacart, everyone is trying to schedule at the same time and it can be hard to get hours.

- No Timing. With Shipt, since you are given the order details ahead of time, you can go to the store as early as you want so you can give yourself as much time as you need. The shopping is not timed either. With Instacart, everything is timed and you are expected to act immediately when you are sent an order.

More details for finding items. For many stores, Shipt gives the aisle and exact location in that aisle for the items. This makes it much easier to find items especially if you are unfamiliar with the store layout or if something is very hard to find on the shelf.

Conclusion
As you can see, there is no clear cut winner as to which grocery delivery service is best to work for since each has their own positives and negatives. While Instacart tends to pay better, the morale of the shoppers tends to be lower. With Shipt, it does not pay as much, but shoppers tend to be more happy overall.

The good thing is, with these apps, the developers are constantly working to make them better so hopefully they can both get better over time. Businesses like these in the gig-based economy can change overnight so it is a good idea to keep your options open. If you like grocery shopping, I recommend trying out both Shipt and Instacart first hand to see which one you like best.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

A Series of Unfortunate Events – Season 2 Review


The 2nd season of A Series of Unfortunate Events was released on Netflix recently and I just got a chance to complete the full season. I was pretty excited to watch it after having enjoyed the 1st season last year. Season 2 picks up where the last one left off and covers books 5-9 of the novel series by Lemony Snicket.

For those unfamiliar with the show, it is a fictional series that has a unique visual style and almost a world all its own. The 3 main characters, the Baudelarie siblings lose their parents and are bounced around from guardian to guardian as the notorious Count Olaf tries to figure out how to get their fortune they stand to inherit.

The series has a good amount of humor, creative characters, an adventurous story line, and is just overall fun to watch. I had not read the books prior to watching the show so it is all new to me, but as I understand, it follows the original material very well and fans of the books seem to enjoy it as well.

Violet and Klaus, the two older siblings do a great job as they strive to find decent living conditions and find out more about the organization their parents belonged to. Their baby sister Sunny is one of my favorites who is super cute and surprising helpful and talented when she is needed. Neil Patrick Harris plays Count Olaf with an over the top personality who is evil yet funny at the same time.

There are many new stand out characters such as Carmelita, the rude obnoxious girl who they meet at their boarding school. Also Esme Squalor who makes a great addition to Count Olaf's troupe as is the Librarian who joins forces to help the Baudelaries.

The 10 episodes cover the middle 5 books of the series and each one takes place in a different location so there is a good amount of variety throughout the season. It should come as no surprise given the title of the series, that it seems the Baudelarie orphans just cannot catch a break. They are resilient though and one can only hope one day some good fortune may come their way.

So should you watch this show? As the theme goes “Look away, look away.” But really you should watch it because it is a great show! If you are looking for a creative and imaginative family friendly series that is fun and has great characters and visual style, I highly recommend checking out A Series of Unfortunate Events!

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Fixing a zipper that keeps getting stuck and won't close

I have a jacket that I like but recently it started having trouble with the zipper. It would get stuck and sometimes it would zip up half way and sections of the zipper would not close together so there would be openings where it is supposed to be zipped. This became very inconvenient because I could not rely on the zipper to work properly, so I started looking for solutions to fix it.

First I tried putting some oil on the zipper to make it go more smoothly. This worked a little bit but after a few days it would start getting stuck again and had the same issues with the teeth not closing like they should. I also tried to use a small pliers to see if I could adjust the slider piece in case it was stretched out. Unfortunately I was not able to do much with this.

Finally I decided to look for a replacement zipper slider. They come in different sizes and styles so you have to to try to find one that is the same size and for the same materials, for example metal or plastic. They usually have a number on the back. Mine had a 5 and a 6. Also you can measure the width of the zipper when it is closed to get the millimeter measurement.

I went to a hobby store and found some replacement zippers for a couple dollars in size 5 which looked to be about the same so I picked them up.

The next part was kind of tricky because you have to figure out how to remove the original zipper slide. They usually have pieces at each end of the garment that prevent the zipper from coming off the top or the bottom. I tried to pry one of these pieces off but it was really stuck on there. Finally I just decided to cut off the piece at the top which would allow the zipper to slide off the top of the jacket. I never zip the jacket all the way to the top so I figured it would be ok.

Once the old zipper slide was off, I put on one of the new zipper slide. I tried it out and sure enough, it worked! I was able to zip the jacket and it did not get stuck or have any sections that were not connected. So it looks like it was in fact an issue with the original zipper slide. It is possible it may have worn out or stretched out over time.

If you are having a similar issue with a zipper, I recommend try replacing the zipper slide like this as it is an affordable option and is pretty easy to do. Also it is much better than having to buy a new jacket!

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Netflix Picks and Recommendations for 2018

Last year around this time, I did a recap of some of my favorite shows and specials on Netflix and since some time has gone by and new titles have been added, I figured I would make another list of recommendations to check out. Here are some of the tv series, comedy specials, and movies worth checking out now on Netflix:

Glow
Set in the 80's and based on a women's professional wrestling organization, Glow is one of my favorite new series available now. It features Alison Brie and Marc Maron as well as a large cast of characters as they try to put together a women's wrestling show from scratch. There is a good deal of drama, emotion, and even a great soundtrack! 

Haters Back Off
I reviewed the first season of Hater Back Off last year which I really enjoyed. Recently I got a chance to watch the 2nd and final season which was very good as well! It is about a girl who wants to make it big as a singer and entertainer but is oblivious to the fact that she really does not have that kind of talent. This show is not for everyone but if you like quirky off beat style shows, I recommend checking it out. 

Somebody Feed Phil
Phil Rosenthal, the creator of Everybody Loves Raymond has started making documentary style shows such as “I'll Have What Phil's Having” and his most recent series “Somebody Feed Phil”. In these shows, he travels around to different countries and tries out some of the best local food. If you like travel shows and shows about food mixed with a little bit of humor, this is the show for you. 

Ozark
Ozark is about a family man who gets mixed up with the wrong crowd and ends up laundering money and working with drug cartel leaders. If the description sounds similar to Breaking Bad, it is because it is very similar. While it may not be quite as good as that show, it is still very suspense filled and enjoyable to watch. If you like thriller type shows, I recommend checking out Ozark. 

Ryan Hamilton – Happy Face
If you have not heard of comedian Ryan Hamilton yet, now is a good time to check out his new comedy special. His routine is professional and well polished and covers many original topics in a funny way. His style and even his voice can be compared to Jerry Seinfeld, so if you like Jerry, chances are you will enjoy this special. 

Fred Armisen – Standup for Drummers
One of the most unique and interesting comedy sets I have seen recently belongs to Fred Armisen with his Standup for Drummers. It is a combination of stand up comedy mixed with musical drumming performance and really shows a wide range of talent in both areas. Even if you are not familiar with drumming, this special is very funny and educational as well! 

Dave Chappelle – Equanimity
No stranger to the stand up comedy world, Dave Chapelle has some new specials on Netflix now including this new set entitled Equanimity. Dave has confidence and stage presence and is not afraid to talk about controversial issues and tell it as it is while maintaining a sense of humor. 

Crisetla Alonzo – Lower Classy
Another funny special is this one by Cristela Alonzo where she talks about her life growing up and some of the events that shaped her life to what it is today. It a good mix of comedy, nostalgia, and even some emotional stories mixed in at the end. 

The Founder
Also streaming now is the movie The Founder which is the story about how McDonalds was started and how it grew into the biggest fast food restaurant in the world. It stars Michael Keaton as Ray Kroc, the man behind the success of the franchise. It is an interesting story and fascinating to see what can result from hard work and perseverance. 

If you have any favorite series, specials, or movies on Netflix now, feel free to recommend them in the comments below!

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Tub Spout Dripping – How to fix with new cartridge and tub spout diverter

For a while I noticed the tub spout in my shower had a slow drip when it was turned off. While it wasn't losing that much water, it was more of an annoyance because it would not stop dripping. Also even when the diverter on the spout was pulled up to turn on the shower, water would still drip out the bottom. I did a little research to figure out what needed to be done to fix these problems.

For the the slow drip when turned off, the cartridge needed to be replaced. This is a cylinder piece that is behind the handle that lets you turn the water on and off and adjust the temperature to either hot or cold. This can be done on your own, but I did have some help to replace this part. The exact steps to replace can depend on the model of cartridge and faucet you have but mainly it involves taking off the handle and pulling out the old cartridge for replacement. Also make sure the water is turned off before taking out the old cartridge.

Once the cartridge was replaced, it became so much easier to turn the water on an off. If the knob or handle in your shower is hard to pull or turn, chances are it could use a new cartridge. Not only is it much easier to turn on and adjust but now it no longer has the slow constant drip when the water is turned off.

Next it was time to replace the tub spout with the diverter. I picked up a universal tub spout at the hardware store for about $15. There are a few different kinds of spouts and different ways they can be attached. Mine was a screw on kind but some have a little screw on the bottom that must be unscrewed to pull it off. For the screw on kind, you just twist the spout in a counter clockwise direction. It might be a little difficult if it is stuck on there so it may need a little effort.

Once it is off you will be able to see how to attach the new spout. If it is a universal spout, it will have directions on how to attach the new spout. Also it is recommended to use plumbers PTFE tape to put around the threaded parts to help seal the connections. I actually had to adjust it a couple times and re-tape it a couple times because it was dripping from the back when I first put it back on.

Also before putting on the new spout, I noticed there was some space around the pipe and the wall where you could see in. I decided to cover up this extra space with some clear tape to help prevent any water from leaking through and going behind the wall.

As I installed the new spout, my main concern was that it might not line up exactly right, but the way it threads on a little bit at a time and has the rubber washer inside, it gives it some ability to adjust more than you might expect. To get a good seal, I found it became pretty snug with the spout facing upward and then I just turned it an extra half turn to line it up with the bottom. This gave it a secure fit and seal so no water dripped out.

Once it is all done, test it out to make sure everything is working well and there are no leaks from any of the connections. If there are still leaks, you might have to try it again and add some more tape and try to tighten it a bit more. Hope this helps and good luck!

Monday, March 5, 2018

Amazon Locker Review – Trying out the self service delivery option

Recently I was making a purchase at Amazon and while I usually have it delivered to home as usual, I noticed they had an option called Amazon Locker where you can have it delivered to a secure location near by. This option is particularly useful for areas where it is difficult to have packages delivered safely. I never had a problem with the traditional delivery, but I was curious to try out this service so I decided to give it a go.

At checkout, it asks for your location to help find the nearest Amazon Lockers. I found one near by located in the Whole Foods a couple miles away so I set it as the delivery point. What's nice is there is no extra charge for this service so anyone can use it to have packages delivered without having to pay anything extra.

Before placing the order, I played around with the shipping options to try to compare the prices. Amazon seems to make this more difficult than it needs to be because it will not tell you the cost of shipping until you get to the end. I usually go with the free shipping but I was in a bit of a hurry so I tried out the 1 day shipping. Somehow it gave free shipping even with this option. I'm not sure how that happened, but usually it would charge for the 1 day shipping.

So the next day, I keep an eye on the tracking but it does not show up on time as expected. The tracking showed they tried to deliver it late at night after the store was closed so they were not able to get in to access the locker. A little inconvenient but it should be delivered first thing the next day right?

Another day goes by and still it does not get delivered. So I contact customer service to see if they can check on the status. They said it was supposed to be delivered on the first day or the 2nd day but for some reason it was not. They said they would send out a new order and the original order would return to them.

Again this was more of a delay than I expected, but the new package did show up in about 1 day. They emailed me an access code and barcode to take to the locker. I went to the Whole Foods and found the Amazon Locker up at the front.

With the barcode from the email pulled up on my phone I approached the screen and scanned the barcode to the scanner. Immediately a locker opened up and I was able to retrieve my package. It was surprisingly simple and fast once it actually got there. I figured there would be a bunch of screens to go through and it would be confusing, but it was about as simple as can be.

Later that day I get another email saying the original package has now been delivered. Somehow it must have gotten re-routed back to the locker. It said if it is not picked up within 3 days it will return automatically for a refund, so I let the 3 days pass and it was picked up to be returned back to Amazon.

Overall, even though there was a little bit of a delay and confusion on the shipping, I would use the Amazon Locker service again. I think it is a great way to have packages delivered securely especially if the item is valuable and you do not want it left outside unattended. I recommend giving it a try in case there is one near you.

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Fetch Rewards Review – Trying out the receipt scanning rewards app

As someone who does a good amount of grocery shopping, it peaked my interest when I heard about apps that allow you to earn rewards by scanning receipts. In the past, I had looked up several of these apps, but none of them ever panned out or turned out to be worth the trouble.

Recently, someone recommend trying out Fetch Rewards. It is an app for iOS and Android that lets you earn rewards points for scanning your receipts, so I figured I would try it out. Downloading the app and setting it up was pretty easy. They don't ask for too much information other than the basics like name, email, and phone number.

You can start off with 2,000 points by using a referral code such as Q8RWJ. This is pretty good because 2,000 points is equal to $2 worth of rewards and you can start redeeming rewards at 3,000. I used a code and it applied the points to my account after I scanned my first receipt.

The rewards are e-gift cards to many popular retailers like Amazon, Target, Walmart etc. They start at $3 for 3,000 points and go up as more points are earned.

So how does the app work? Basically you just use the app to take pictures of your receipts. It gives you points for each receipt and gives bonus points if items on your receipt are from the participating brands. These are popular brands that you will recognize in most stores. As long as the pictures you take are clear, it usually processes the scan within a few seconds and awards the points.

In case there is an issue or the images were not clear, it may say “processing” and can take a little longer. I have found that even when they have to check it, the turn around time is usually pretty quick. Also make sure to double check that you get credit for all your items. Sometimes items do not get picked up in the scan depending on how a store lists them on the receipt.

For example say you buy Lays chips, but the way it was listed on the receipt did not get recognized by the app, you may have to put in a request for it to be reviewed so the proper points can be added. They are good about this and usually they review and give you the points within a few hours.

You are able to scan receipts from the past 14 days so if you have some older receipts, you may be able to scan them right away. They have a limit of 14 receipts per week. I had some saved up from the past 2 weeks so I scanned them in. I actually got to 3,000 points within about 1 day so I was ready to cash them out for a reward.

I decided to redeem them for a Target e-gift card. At first when I went to redeem, it said I did not have enough points even though I did. I sent them an email to see what was going on. Then I checked later in the day and it worked so maybe it needed some time to process before redeeming the points.

Redeeming the points was pretty easy. They send a confirmation text and then they send you the code for the gift card. I double checked the balance on Target just in case and sure enough it had $3 credit.

So I would say if you do a lot of grocery shopping it is worth trying out the app to scan your receipts. It can take a while to earn the points, but if you start with the 2,000 from the referral code, you can get to 3,000 points pretty fast.

I will probably stick with it since it is kind of fun and pretty easy to scan the receipts. If you would like to try it out, you can download it for free from App Store or Google Play.

Friday, February 16, 2018

Lightning Cables Review – Apple vs Five Below vs Anker

If you have an iPhone or any portable Apple device, chances are you are familiar with the Lightning USB cable used for charging and data transfer. I started out with the stock Lightning cable that came with it. It was good for a while but one day the phone dropped from about 2 feet up while the cable was plugged into the phone. It landed in a way that bent the tip of the cable and cracked the plastic casing.

Luckily the cable still worked, that was until months later when it dropped again in the same way and bent the cable even more. This time it must have damaged the cable enough because it did not work anymore. So I had to find a replacement cable.

I did have an extra cable on hand because I had previously purchased a Lightning cable to go with a car charger to use in the car. Lightning cables tend to be pretty expensive, for example the stock cable sells for about $20. You can find them cheaper made by other companies. I ended up finding one at the store Five Below for $5. This was about as cheap as I could find them.

The Lightning cable from Five Below is a couple inches shorter than the Apple cable. The one I got has a woven texture and it is thicker compared to the Apple cable which is more of a rubber like plastic and thin. They also have the traditional rubber plastic cable option. The ends of the cables are similar in construction and size. After using the Five Below cable only a few times, I noticed the casing on the ends started to separate. The cable still works and they are still in place, but I have to be careful unplugging it because the plastic can slide off. The cable was cheap so I guess you get what you pay for, but I would have expected it to be a bit more durable than that.

I still wanted a replacement for the stock Lightning cable to use as my main charging cable inside so I could keep the Five Below cable in the car. After doing some research, I decided to go with the Anker PowerLine Lightning cable. I had purchased a battery from Anker a while back and was pleased with it so I thought I would give the cable a try.

The Anker PowerLine cable was about $8 so it was a little more than the Five Below cable but less than it would cost to buy a replacement cable from Apple. It is about 6 inches shorter than the Apple cable which is not great but it is still usable. The PowerLine series is one of the better cables from Anker and you can tell by the build quality. The cable itself is thicker than the Apple cable and the end parts are more significant and have a sturdy feel. They make it easy to grasps the ends of the cable to make easy to handle and unplug.

So far I have only been using the Anker cable for a short time but it seems to be charging fine. I was worried the larger end parts of the cable would cause an issue when trying to plug it into the phone with a case, but it fit perfectly even with the case. I will update this article if there are any changes over long term use.

If you are looking for a cheap cable, the Five Below will work in a pinch, but don't expect it to be the most durable over time. The Anker seems to be have a good combination of quality and reasonable price so I would recommend checking it out in case you are in need of a replacement lightning cable.