Space Chair Project

Post by Mark

For their new HD TV commercial, Toshiba attached some of their HD cameras to a weather balloon along with an arm chair and sent it up to space. Looks pretty peaceful up there. [YouTube]

Here is a link to the making of [Link]

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Drobo Update

Post by Mark

I got my Drobo tonight and just wanted to post an update on how much it ended up costing me including shipping.

Price of Drobo: KD100
Price of shipping to DHL mailbox: Free
US Tax: None since it shipped to my DHL mailbox
Shipping to Kuwait: KD31
Customs and handling fee: KD8

Total price of Drobo: KD139

It looks very cool and the size isn’t that big. My 1.5tb hard drives just arrived to Kuwait tonight so they should be ready to pick up tomorrow so I could install into my Drobo. You don’t need a voltage converter, the Drobo adapter is 100-240v.

Here is the link to the Drobo on Amazon [Link]

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First Impression: DHL EasyShop

Post by Mark

I just received my first package with DHL today and I have decided they will be my primary shipping courier from now on and here is why.

1) I was able to sign up, open an account and pay for it all online and in a few minutes

2) Their mailbox is located in Ohio which means I no longer need to pay the 8.375% New York sales tax

3) It seems they ship packages the next day which means my package doesn’t sit in the mailbox in the States for long

4) They have EXTREMELY detailed tracking (check this)

5) Because they have extremely detailed tracking I can use the iPhone app Delivery Status to keep track of my packages

6) They’re fast. Package shipped December 2nd, arrived to Kuwait December 5th, cleared customs and was ready to pick up on the 6th

7) They don’t deliver but they have 4 pick up locations, Khaleejia in Kuwait City, Ardiya, Fahaheel and Camp Arifjan. The Ardiya branch is open till midnight everyday except on Friday they close at 9. The Kuwait City branch closes at 9 every day.

8) You pay based on weight and the size of the package doesn’t effect how much you pay

9) It’s KD3.5 for the first half kilo and then its KD2.5 for every half

Now to clear something up. Like Aramex, you also have to pay customs for packages over $100. The stories about Aramex making up this 5% to make more money is not true. But, unlike Aramex, with DHL you pay 5% customs and KD3.5 handling fee. With Aramex its just a KD1 handling fee. Now the advantage of DHL is they clear the package the same day while with Aramex it currently looks like its taking over a week.

I picked up my Drobo today and I paid KD31 shipping and KD8 for customs and handling. Overall I found DHL cheaper than Aramex. Why? Because you save on the New York sales tax, because you pay based on actual weight and not volumetric weight and because you pay KD2.5 for every half KG instead of Aramex’s KD2.750.

If you want to sign up for an account here is the link to their website [Link]

Note: Ignore the shipping price that’s displayed in your DHL account when tracking a package. My Drobo according to the online invoice was going to cost me KD70.57 in shipping fees but that was based on volumetric weight which was calculated to be 11.02 kg. Before I picked up my package they put it on the scale and it weighed 5.5 kg and thats what I paid for.

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First Impression: P.F. Chang’s China Bistro

Post by Mark

Before I found out someone had broken into my car I was enjoying dinner at P.F. Chang inside the Avenues. They haven’t opened up to the public yet, it’s just by invite since they’re still training and I managed to get one. The first thing that struck me about the restaurant (other than the fact it was packed) was how big it was. According to my friend they’re either the largest or second largest P.F. Chang’s branch in the world. They’re also the 200th P.F. Chang branch to open and only the second to open outside the US. The other international branch is in Mexico.

I had the crab wanton for starters which was amazing and then for my main course I had sweet & sour chicken and this other dish that had prawns, melons and walnuts. The sweet & sour chicken looked nothing like the usual ones I have, it didn’t have the regular red sauce nor any vegetables or fruits but it still tasted really good (I actually always order my sweet & sour without fruits or vegetables anyway). The prawns and melons dish was a very strange but interesting combination, I can’t believe someone actually came up with this mix, very cool.

There was a ton of staff in the restaurant since in addition to the P.F. Chang Kuwait staff they’ve brought in over 20 more staff from the States to help with the training. Paul Fleming the creator of P.F. Chang was even in the kitchen overlooking everything. Our waiter was one of the local staff and was very friendly.

The prices haven’t been finalized yet but they’re supposed to be even cheaper than what was currently on the menu. The sweet & sour chicken was around KD4.400 and the prawns dish I think KD5.450 so if they drop the price it should be pretty affordable. The quantity of the food was too much and I think they know that because they were quick to offer to pack my leftovers to take home. Too much food is always better than too little. While there I also got confirmation that Shake Shack will be opening up in Kuwait early next year and the first branch will be at the Avenues. It was a pretty nice evening overall until the car incident…

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Breaking and Entering

Post by Mark

Someone fucking broke into my Z4 this evening. I went to Avenues for dinner and because it was packed I parked my car across the street from Avenues. I was gone maybe an hour max and when I got back to the car the passenger window had been smashed in. There wasn’t anything in my car except for my house and wrangler keys which I had put behind the hand brake (check picture below). They took my keys and I have no idea what they are planning to do with them. I am going to change my home locks now and will probably need to change my Wrangler locks which is probably going to be expensive. Why would anyone steal my keys? Are they seriously contemplating on robbing me? How would they know where I live? Will they try to steal my Wrangler? Who the fuck steals cars in Kuwait? I’ve never heard about anyone’s car getting stolen…

My theory is someone smashed the windows to see if there was anything they could steal from inside (a phone, glasses, radio etc..). They then saw my keys and took them thinking they were the Z4 keys and maybe they could open the trunk or something. When they realized it had nothing to do with the Z4 I would assume they would throw the keys away. That is why I am going to go back now with a flashlight and look around and see if they threw my keys somewhere. I’m pissed.

Update: Went last night looking for the keys with a flashlight. Searched the whole block around where my car had been broken into but didn’t find anything. Passed by the BMW dealer earlier to have my window fixed. The window will cost only KD50 which is not bad except for the fact they don’t have it in stock. Will take over 2 weeks for them to get the part so I’ve got to search the scrapyard or glass shops in Shuwaikh for a replacement.

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Aramex Shop & Ship Wet Service

Post by Mark

A reader sent me the following email with a few pictures (of which I’m sharing two).

i received my aramex package today , i saw the package little bit outta shape i thought something was up. i payed shipping charges then i headed to my room opened the box and here comes the SHOCK there is a puddle of water inside and the items are soaking wet. the funny part that the box contained a 400$ digital camera :S. i called aramex they told me customer service should contact you soon and hoping a refund for the item and shipping charges. been waiting and no one called :S. waiting till tomorrow.

I’m guessing the shipment got damaged while waiting to be cleared at the airport customs so it’s interesting to see how this will pan out. According to their terms & conditions:

Aramex is not responsible for any customs or duties incurred on any package contents. Furthermore, Aramex is not responsible for penalties, loss or damage of shipments while in possession of customs.

Aramex is responsible for the customer’s packages only while they are within Aramex’s custody and control. Aramex’s LIABILITY IN ANY EVENT IS LIMITED TO ONE HUNDRED DOLLARS (US $ 100/=) OR ITS EQUIVALENT PER SHIPMENT as stated on the back of the Express/Air freight waybill.

So legally Aramex are no liable for any damage and even if they are they only cover up to $100 which is not much. Has anything like this happened to anyone? What was the outcome?

Note: Btw if you ever wondered how Aramex’s building looks like in New York, a blogger 3baid found it using google street view. Looks cool, maybe someone from Aramex could get us pictures of the inside? That would be an interesting tour. [Link]

Update: Aramex resolved the issue with the damaged package and refunded the reader. Here is what the reader (Sam) had to say about it:

Dear Members,

NEW UPDATE regarding my issue.

i just got a call this morning from Aramex Shop and Ship Manager notifying me regarding my damaged package, he was very helpful and he took full responsibility of the damage caused, told me to bring the package to Aramex Arthiya for a full Refund of the product & shipping charges.

I went there got my refund and the manager was kind enough to explain to me the cause of the incident due to a leakage in customs warehouse, where they are taking action to solve this issue.


Thank you, Shop & Ship Manager for Handling this Issue Professionally.

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Before you text, give it a ponder.

Post by Mark

Very weird commercial. [YouTube]


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THE 99 Animation Preview

Post by Mark

THE 99 is a locally created comic book featuring a team of superheroes based on Islamic culture and religion. Although it’s been only 2 years since the comic got published it quickly became a bit hit and is now licensed in 8 languages including Chinese. Next year Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman and other members of The Justice League of America will team up with THE 99 in a global series by DC Comics. In addition to that THE 99 is being turned into an animated series and the video above is the preview. 26 episodes are currently in production written by top names in Hollywood who’ve also worked on Ben 10, Spiderman, X-Men and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. [YouTube]

Here is a link to THE 99 website [Link]

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Track your EasyShop packages with the iPhone

Post by Mark

Since EasyShop uses DHL I just realized I can track the status of my packages with an iPhone application. There are a ton of applications to use but I am using one called “Delivery Status“. Since the DHL tracking is EXTREMELY detailed the application is very useful. Another reason so choose EasyShop over Aramex.

Note: One more thing, you can create an account with Delivery Status on their website and that way you can copy and paste all your tracking numbers there and it will sync it with your iPhone app. That means you don’t have to type them one by one on your iPhone, very practical.

Note2: The application can also track your Aramex packages but it will only start tracking once the package ships from the US and since their tracking isn’t very detailed it’s not useful.

Update: Turns out the application can sync with your Amazon account and provide even more details. Just added my Amazon order number from yesterday and it collected all the information from my account.

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Maid suicides in Lebanon

Post by Mark

Whenever I get back to Lebanon one of the things that pisses me off is the amount of racism that still exists there. I was just checking CNN and noticed an article called Maid Suicides and it turned out to be an article about the recent spate of maid suicides in Lebanon. This is extremely depressing and honestly I am not sure what can be done to educate the employers of those maids. Anybody have any ideas? How do you educate a whole country? [CNN Link]

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